Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rain Garden Plants

We are creating a rain garden at one of the master garden sites that I volunteer at. I am trying to gather some plants before next week to plant in that garden. I found this helpful list for a start.

Midwest and Great Plains states and south central Canada
Wildflowers, Ferns, Grasses, and Sedges:

* Aster puniceus, Purple-stemmed aster
* Caltha palustris, Marsh marigold
* Eupatorium maculatum, Joe-pye weed
* Eupatorium perfoliatum, Boneset
* Geum rivale, Bog avens
* Helianthus grosseratus, Big-toothed sunflower
* Liatris pycnostachya, Prairie blazing star
* Lobelia spicata, Pale-spiked lobelia
* Mimulus ringens, Monkey flower
* Solidago spp., including S. gigantea, S. ohioensis, and S. riddellii, Goldenrods
* Verbena hasta, Blue vervain
* Vernonia gigantea, ssp. gigantea, Tall ironweed
* Thelypteris palustris, Marsh fern
* Calamagrostis canadensis, Canada bluejoint
* Carex comosa, Bottlebrush sedge
* Carex muskingumensis, Palm sedge

Trees and Shrubs:

* Alnus incana ssp. rugosa, Speckled alder
* Asimina triloba, Pawpaw
* Betula nigra, River birch
* Decodon verticillata, Water willow
* Myrica gale, Sweet gale
* Sambucus canadensis, American elderberry
* Spiraea virginiana, Spirea
* Viburnum dentatum, Arrowwood

"Rain gardens are attractive landscaped areas planted with perennial native plants that do not mind getting "wet feet." Build in a saucer shape, rain gardens allow water to percolate into the ground. The benefits of rain gardens are multiple. Rain gardens:

* Help keep water clean by filtering storm water runoff before it enters local waterways
* Help alleviate problems with flooding and drainage
* Enhance the beauty of yards and communities
* Provide habitat and food for wildlife like birds and butterflies

Recent studies by the US Environmental Protection Agency have shown that a substantial amount of the pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by runoff from practices we carry out in our own yards and gardens! Some of the common "non-point source pollutants" from our yards end up in our local waterways include soil, fertilizers, pesticides, pet wastes, grass clippings and other yard debris.

Planting rain gardens is a great way to help our communities "bloom," making them more attractive places to live while maintaining watershed health!"

Here are a few more choices from Northern

Here are a few of my favorite rain garden plants:

* Butterfly Flower (Asclepias tuberosa)
* Yarrow “Coronation Gold” (Achillea “Coronation Gold”)
* Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpureum)
* Feather Reed Grass “Karl Foerster” (Calamogrostis “Karl Foerster”)
* Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
* Bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)
* Blazing Star (Liatris spp.)
* Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
* Black-Eyed Susan “Goldsturm” (Rudbeckia fulgida “Goldsturm”)
* Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginianum)
* Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Plants for Consistently Wet Soils

* Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
* Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
* Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis_
* Pink Turtlehead (Chelone spp.)
* Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) shade
* Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)
* Switchgrass “Heavy Metal” (Panicum virgatum “Heavy Metal”)
* Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)

Baking: The best Cooky of 1940-1945 Caramel Refrigerator Cookies

I have been enjoying this stack of old cook books that was given to me by my mom. I reshuffled my bookcase and found a spot for each of them.

I was excited to find the recipe for date pinwheel cookies in this vintage Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. In the back of the book they have a section with the best cookie of different times and a little history as well. In order to make the pinwheel cookies, the first step is to make the dough for the Caramel refigerator cookies- which is the best cooky of 1940-1945.

"War effort brings simplified baking- Men went off to war and women took their places in the production lines. Thus, cooky baking and home tasks had to be speeded up. Refrigerator cookies like these were popular because the dough could be mixed one day, sliced and baked the next."

Caramel Refrigerator Cookies

1/2 cup shortening( part butter or shortening )
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix Shortening, sugar, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. Measure flour by sifting. Stir flour, soda, and salt together; stir in. Form in roll 2 1/2 inches across. Wrap in waxed paper. Chill until firm. Heat oven to 400 degrees ( mod hot ) Cut in 1/8inch slices. Place Slices a little apart on ungreased baking sheet. bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Date-nut pinwheels

Make dough for caramel refrigerator cookies. Divide dough in half. Roll each piece of dough on waxed paper into rectangle about 11x7". spread rectangles with date-nut filling. Roll up tightl, beginning at the wide side. Pinch edge to seal. Wrap each roll in waxed paper and chill in 1/4 inch slices. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Date- nut filling

Cook 3/4 pound moist pitted dates, cut up; 1/3 cup sugar; 1/3 cup water in saucepan until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cool. Stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A great Picnic Salad: Fancy Bean Salad

This recipe comes from Taste of Home. I did not have honey mustard salad dressing on hand so I just mixed up one cup mayo with 1/4 cup mustard and a couple Tablespoons of honey for the dressing of the salad.

16 ounces frozen corn, thawed
16 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can garbanzo bean, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1 cup fat free honey Dijon salad dressing

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Pour salad dressing over mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Yields: 12 servings ( 3/4 cup each)

Monday, August 18, 2008

1st Day of School

No, They do not look sad because School Starts today- They are really not thrilled about their mom taking a "First Day of School" photo in the school parking lot.
Wow! time flies - I can't believe they are in 2nd and 5th Grade already!

Watermelon Salsa

We had this great Watermelon at Gavin's Party- We had to try to make some yesterday-

It is perfect with those Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips. I found this recipe on

Watermelon Salsa

Makes 8 servings, 1/2 cup each

3 cups finely diced seedless watermelon (about 2 ¼ pounds with the rind) (see Tip)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (see Ingredient note)
⅓ cup chopped cilantro (about ½ bunch)
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup minced red onion (about ½ small)
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
eating well Watermelon Salsa Ingredients Cont.

eating well Watermelon Salsa Instructions

Place watermelon, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice and onion in a medium bowl; stir well to combine. Season with salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Gavin's Happy Day: 2nd Birthday

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Banana Crunch Bars

Banana Crunch Bars
Originally uploaded by missagnes1
We loved these unusual bars - Bananas and Chocolate!!YUM!


* 1-3/4 cups crushed chocolate wafers (about 36 wafers)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/2 cup butter, melted
* 3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 medium bananas, sliced (1-1/2 cups)
* 1 teaspoon rum flavoring
* 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
* 1/2 cup peanut butter-flavored pieces
* 1 teaspoon shortening


1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. In a medium bowl combine the crushed wafers, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Stir in 1/2 cup melted butter. Press into bottom of a greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack, about 10 minutes.
2. In a small saucepan combine corn syrup and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir over medium heat until melted and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in bananas and rum flavoring. Spoon banana mixture in an even layer over baked crust.
3. In a small saucepan combine the chocolate pieces, peanut butter-flavored pieces, and shortening. Stir over low heat until melted. Drizzle over the banana mixture. Cover and chill until set. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before cutting into bars. Serve the same day.

Baking: Surprise Cookies

Surprise Cookies
Originally uploaded by missagnes1
Cookies with the classic combination of chocolate and marshmallow.

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart Cookies.

The Surprise Cookies are chocolate cookies with a melted marshmallow under a chocolate fudge frosting.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.
3. Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begins to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
5. Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.

Chocolate Frosting
3 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 t. cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 T. milk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in butter and cocoa powder. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baking: Giant Calzone

Originally uploaded by missagnes1
1/12 cups water
2 T. olive oil
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 pound bulk italian sausage
1 can (26 ounces) garlic and herb spaghetti sauce, divided
3 T parmesan cheese grated
1 jar mushrooms sliced and drained
1/2 finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
1 egg, beaten

Mix dough ingredients , knead 5 minutes, let raise for about 1 hour. Punch down dough. Roll dough into a 15 inch cirlce. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. drain and cool.

Spread 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce over half of the circle to within 1/4 of the edges. Sprinkle sauce with parmesan cheese, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onion and mozzarella cheese. Fold dough over filling and pinch edges to seal.

With a sharp knife, make 2 slashes in dough; Brush with egg. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into six wedges. Warm remaining spaghetti sauce; serve with calzone. Yeild: 6 servings

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Boys are Busy collecting Bees, Bugs and Butterflys

It is Beautiful outside right now and the boys have spent the past 3 hours armed with nets and honey jars capturing bees and butterflies. They have several different kinds of butterflies in each jar along with several bumblebees. They said the bees are pretty mad about being captured so they release a few at a time and then go and catch more. I think Cade has made Quinn the official bee catcher.

Monday, August 04, 2008

BuTtErFlIeS Everywhere

It is finally getting warm enough and now the flowers are blooming like crazy and all this creates a wonderful backdrop to enjoy many butterflies fluttering through the garden.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

What to Make with Swiss Chard: White Bean and Ham Soup with Chard

We have a large healthy crop of rhubarb swiss chard growing and need to start using it.
We enjoyed the chard in this great soup recipe:

White Bean and Ham Soup with Chard
(8-10 servings, recipe from kalyns kitchen This will freeze very well.)

3 cups dry white beans, soaked 8 hours or overnight
10 cups homemade chicken stock or 6 cans chicken broth (1 can is slightly less than 2 cups)

1 T minced garlic
1 tsp. dried sage
3-4 dried bay leaves
1 tsp. ground fennel seed (optional but recommended)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced ham plus ham rind if available
1 bunch chopped red chard (about 4 cups)
Goya ham buillon if needed (depends on how flavorful your ham is)
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Soak dried beans in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Rinse well.

Put beans in large soup pot. Add chicken stock, water, garlic, sage, bay leaves, fennel, onion, celery, carrots, and ham rind if available. Simmer on low heat for one hour.

Add diced ham and cook 30 minutes more, or longer if needed, until beans are quite soft.

Trim center stem from chard leaves and discard, then cut each leaf in fourths lengthwise, and slice crosswise into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Wash chard after chopping. (If the leaves are big, cut the pieces in half again.)

Add chard to soup with one cup additional water. Taste for flavor and add ham bouillon if desired. (I nearly always add a small amount.) Cook about 20-30 minutes more, until chard and beans are starting to break apart. Season with fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Zinnia 'Daffodil'

Zinnia 'Daffodil'
Originally uploaded by missagnes1
Now Blooming is this bright yellow zinnia called Daffodil. It looks like a giant marigold from a distance. It is the First of the Zinnias to bloom.

china tea pot

china tea pot
Originally uploaded by missagnes1
I found this pretty tea pot and the other china tea cups to add to my collection of tea-time things

Tea cups

Tea cups
Originally uploaded by missagnes1
Here are a few of my latest thrifty finds -lots of different china tea cups and and a beautiful rose Tea Pot. I even found a few pink depression glass plates.

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