Friday, September 07, 2007

September Garden Chores

Some Things can Wait until Spring.
Here is some info from Jan Riggenbach about Chores to do now and Chores to do Later.

The next few weeks are the right time for several outdoor jobs. It's prime time to reseed bare spots in the lawn, or completely renovate the lawn, if necessary. Controlling dandelions and other perennial weeds is also a job best done in fall, not spring.

September is the traditional month for planting new peonies or digging and dividing old peony plants.

If you have bare spots in garden beds, now is a good time to shop for perennials and small-sized shrubs to beautify those areas. You may even find some end-of-the-season bargains.

The next few weeks also offer an ideal time to dig and divide crowded daylilies, hostas and garden phlox.

The cooler days of autumn are perfect for refreshing perennial beds with a layer of compost, topped with new mulch.

I love puttering in the garden in autumn as the weather begins to cool. It's nice to get as much done as possible now, rather than in the hectic planting days of spring.

But amidst all the things you can do now, there are some garden chores best left undone.

Just enjoy asters as they come into their full fall glory. Although these perennials look and perform best when dug and divided every two years, that job is best done in spring.

The same goes for chrysanthemums, which would be unlikely to survive the winter if divided after blooms fade. (Research proves that mums fare best when plants are left alone, with tops uncut until spring.)

Also leave alone for now any plant that will provide beauty in the winter garden, such as tall sedum, coneflower, Russian sage and ornamental grass.

Put away loppers, pruners and hedge shears. Roses, shrubs and trees pruned now are apt to put out new shoots that would die when the weather turns cold.

Don't fertilize gardens or trees now, either, to avoid pushing tender new growth at the end of the season.

While autumn is generally fine for planting, there are some perennials, shrubs and trees that tend to fare best when planted in spring, not fall.

Wait until spring to buy and plant shallow-rooted plants such as coral bells and strawberries. Spring planting is also best for bleeding heart, columbine, Japanese anemone, Lenten rose (Hellebore) and shasta daisy.

Also delay planting roses until spring.

Trees that many nurserymen recommend planting in spring, not fall, include redbud, ginkgo, magnolia, weeping willow, tulip tree and oak. (If you want to try anyway, cover the ground around your new tree with a 4-inch mulch blanket.)

Here are a few September chores from Backyard Gardener:

Zone 4

* Harvest apples and store in a cool place
* Plant garlic
* Dethatch and aerate the lawn
* Clean out rose beds and apply fungicide one last time to susceptible varieties
* Plant perennials
* Move tender houseplants, etc. indoors after rinsing and repotting, and set up a grow light to supplement natural light
* Clean and restock birdfeeders
* Begin to move tropical water lilies and other tender aquatics indoors
* Plant spring-blooming bulbs; refrigerate those you intend to force
* Set out bareroot peonies

Zone 5

* Set out transplants of cool-weather vegetables
* Plant winter-hardy pansies and fall annuals (calendula, dianthus, ornamental cabbage and kale)
* Plant tag teams of perennials and spring-blooming bulbs that will complement each other or bloom in sequence next season
* Water trees and shrubs when rainfall is scarce to "winterize" them
* Dethatch and aerate the lawn
* Dehead chrysanthemum plants to keep flower buds forming through the fall
* Clean out rose beds; apply fungicide; leave hips for winter color and bird food
* Prune summer-bearing raspberries
* Mow back strawberry plants; remove weeds and remulch
* Move tender houseplants, etc. indoors after rinsing and repotting, and set up a grow light to supplement natural light

Baking: Lemon on Lemon Shortbread Cookies

These very lemony cookies make a great after school snack. Very quick to make and very few ingredients. Recipe was found in the September/October issue of Midwest Living.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1/2 cup butter
lemon icing ( recipe follows)
course decorators sugar

1. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, and lemon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Knead gently until dough forms a ball.

2. On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat dough into an 8 inch circle. Make a scalloped edge. Cut into 16 wedges. Leave wedges in circle (do not seperate)

3. Bake at 325 degrees about 25 minutes, or until edges start to brown and center is set. Recut circle into wedges while still warm. Cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.

4. Make Lemon Icing; drizzle over wedges. Sprinke with course sugar, if you like.
Makes 16

Lemon Icing:

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Stir in additional lemon juice 1 tsp at a time until icing is a drizzling consistency.

Cooking: Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a great Indian dish to make at home. It has a bit of spice. It was great served over Basmati Rice.
You Can Find this recipe in the current issue of Cook's Illustrated.

Chicken Tikka:
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp table salt
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press- 2 tsp
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce:
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Medium onion, diced fine (1 1/4 cups )
2 Medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press ( 2 tsp)
2 Tsp grated fresh ginger
1 serrano chile, flesh minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon garam masala
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. For the Chicken: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 30 to 60 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. For the Sauce: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until light and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and return to a simmer. Remove from heat and cover pot to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position. and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken in yogurt mixture and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest part registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is slightly charred in spots. 10 t0 18 minutes, flipping chicken half way through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch pieces and stir into warm sauce. Stir in clilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Eating: Fresh Garden Tomatoes

We have loads of tomatoes to use up . The variegated tomato plant has been a very heavy producer of some plum-sized tomatoes and the Black Krim and the Brandy Wine plants have produced some large and heavy picture perfect tomatoes.

So here is what we have been making:

We have made several batches of this fresh Salsa- a recipe I got from mom

Fresh Salsa
8-10 Garden Tomatoes
1 large white onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 can diced green chilies or jalepeno peppers
Big pinch coriander
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon lime juice
chopped cilantro

BLT Pizza
1/2 cup Fully Cooked Bacon , crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1 batch of homemade pizza dough- or use the store bought pizza shells
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
shredded fresh basil
sliced red onion


Make pizza dough. roll out into 2 , 8 inch rounds and place on a cormeal covered pizza pan. bake for 10 minutes in a 500 degree oven. remove and add the following.

Spread each pizza crust with 1 T. mayonnaise. Sprinkle cheese over mayonnaise. Top with sliced tomatoes and bacon, shredded basil and slices of red onion. Bake at 400°F until bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes. Spread lettuce over pizzas. Slice and serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup from You Grow Girl

I used this recipe for a base to the soup and then added it to a basic white sauce to make a thicker tomato soup. This would also be a great start to a sauce for pizza or pasta.

1. Place a bunch of tomatoes in a pan with some fresh basil, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Apply a little balsamic vinegar or throw in some garlic cloves.

2. Roast on a High Temperature (400) until the tomatoes are cooked and swimming in their own juices about 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Run the tomatoes through a food mill to seperate the seeds and skins from the good stuff.

4. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Mr Brown Thumb: Creative Garden Gate

Mr Brown Thumb: Creative Garden Gate

Making: Garden Arbors from cedars

Here are a few photos of the arbors that Scot has created from cedar branches just laying around or from neighbors that cut the cedar trees down to make room for building. The only cost involved is the nails and time and hard work. now, by the end of summer, they really are covered with morning glory vines. I think I will look for some clematis vines to plant next to them soon.
Mr. Brown Thumb has a cool garden gate featured on his blog. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Baking: Recreating Cheesecake Factory's Chocolate Oreo Mudslide Cheesecake

We ate at the Cheesecake Factory the past weekend and Cade ordered this particular kind and took the remaining two bites home. Well I sampled it while he was at a friends house and didn't think he would even remember he had this in the fridge. Well, boy was I wrong. I was in so much trouble for eating his cheesecake that he demanded that I make one while he was at school. It had to be just like the Cheesecake Factory's Chocolate Mudslide Cheesecake. I made this yesterday while he was at school and we ate it for dessert after dinner last night. I guess it passed. Warning-- this is very, very, full of chocolate.
I found several very similar recipes on the internet. This one is from razzle dazzle recipes.

Chocolate Oreo Mudslide Cheesecake Recipe

1 1/2 C. chocolate (Oreo) cookie crumbs
3 T. butter, melted
1/2 C. chopped almonds

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 C. sugar
4 extra large eggs
3/4 C. whipping cream
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 C. semisweet chocolate chips, melted
12 chocolate-creme-filled Oreo cookies, each cut in half

1 1/2 C. semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 C. whipping cream
1 T. butter
1 t. vanilla

For Chocolate Crust:
Mix together cookie crumbs, butter and almonds until blended. Press evenly into bottom and 1-inch up sides of a 9 1/2-inch springform pan; set aside.

For Cheesecake Filling:
In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until thoroughly blended. Blend in cream and vanilla and beat 3 to 4 minutes longer. Beat in melted chocolate, beating 2 minutes more.

Turn 1/2 of filling into crust, spreading evenly. Top with a single layer of cookie halves (using them all). Carefully top with remaining filling, spreading evenly and smoothing top.

Bake in preheated 400° F. oven 20 minutes. Without opening oven, reduce oven temperature to 300° F. and continue baking 40 to 45 minutes longer until cheesecake is set around edges but still jiggles slightly in center. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until well chilled, 4 hours or longer. Run a sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen cake.

For Topping:
Combine chocolate chips and cream in a 1-quart glass measure. Heat in microwave oven on high power 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until smooth when stirred. Stir in butter, until melted, and vanilla. Refrigerate until thickened to spreading consistency, about 25 to 30 minutes or longer. Spread evenly on top of cake and return to refrigerator until firm.

To serve, cut into slices with sharp knife. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes 12 to 14 servings.

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