Early Summer Yard

A vacation to Vegas and Dallas to be with my ever so wonderful boyfriend was unbelievable fabulous.  It interrupted my weeding, but seriously, who cares for weeds when there is such a man to love?  Not me.  So these pictures include lots of weeds.  Whatev’s.

The last couple years of Mom’s life, a number of the beds in our yard became neglected.  Then for a couple of years after we did a bit here and there to keep it up, but not really renovating and pruning like we needed to, so now there are beds that are really overgrown with weeds, mostly Melissa – wild generic mint.

This bed under the back window is horribly overgrown.  It still has the callas, yucca and a few hellebore, but not much else.  I want to save the calla lillies and the hellebore and move the yucca to the sun.

Sometime last year, Charlie and Sue from church gave me a huge palette of old bricks they were pulling out of their yard.  We had a short pass through path about 2 feet by 2 feet from the patio to the lawn here.  Dad wanted to extend it, so he’s been working two rows a day for a few weeks.  I think it looks great.

Sue said that some of these bricks are 100 + years old.  They are lovely.  Some were used to pave Annapolis, now they have a home in my backyard.  I really like it, Dad’s happy and it makes him even happier to know that Mom would have loved it.  The path will take a jog there at the end because of some big tree roots we can’t dig out.

I’d like to add some hydrangea, cranesbill, wild ginger, giant hosta and coral bells to this bed. I’d like to redo the clematis climbing the house next to the windows like Mom had about 15 years ago, but Dad doesn’t like anything on the house.

My window box.  It continues to please me.  I like the way the creeping jenny drapes over the edge.  And I’m seriously happy that the hydrangea in the pot is going to bloom this year.  It’s a florists plant I bought on a lark a few years ago.  I’m happily suprised that it’s survived and thrived in that pot to decorate our front door.  The stone patio is still looking good.  Yay!

My current favorite plant (one of them, anyway) is this one – Gaura or Wand Flower.  Delicious, no?  It will bloom all summer, which makes me happy, and the blooms will wave about in the wind.

This is the rest of the front bed, it gives us a bit of privacy at the front door without cutting it off from the street.  I love the tiny plants I have here, a miniature rose, hollyhock and some lavender thyme.  Also, that silver mound is artemesia – wormwood.  It’s all about being fun to touch, and it is.  It also smells lovely.

This is the front bed on the edge of the property.  It used to be covered in ivy, both the Boston and the poison kind.  Now it’s filled with lovely lovely shade plants. 😀

Coral bells.  I love these flowers and their plants.  Huechera is another name.  They come in all sorts of colors and love shade.

YAY! for color in the shade.

Right behind it you can see the starts of a plant I’ve been jonesing for – a Japanese forest grass.  When full grown it will be like a waterfall of green loveliness.

Beyond that are several giant hostas getting their giant on.

This is another new path.  We’ve given up trying to grow grass there, so now it’s been covered in mulch for a decade.  When the tree fell in last year’s hurricane, we had some pavers to move in order to clean up.  They fit right here.  I want to plant a few more monarda to decorate this corner, which leads to:

The roses.

 

 

 

 

They are at the end of their run, but that area remains lovely and smells amazing.

Grandma Whelan’s Roses.  I love these.

This is a moss rose.  It’s fragrance is simply incredible.  Love these, love love love.

Next – the vegetable garden.

 

 

 

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Hurricane Causa

My nephew Dirk will be heading out for Navy boot camp in a few days.  YAY! Dirk!

His brother planned a lovely party.  And then it became a going away/hurricane party.  We ended up not going because Dad. Don’t ask.

Anyway, I’d made Causa for the party and ended up having it for the next few days here.  It’s a yummy delicious Peruvian potato thing. It is usually layered with canned tuna, mayonnaise, olives, tomatoes, eggs and sliced avocados. Cold mashed potatoes.  Really.  And they are amazing good.

Yeah, well.  NO.  I do not like the tuna or the mayo.  The olives are okay, but really, I think it just needs a nice guacamole and maybe boiled eggs and tomatoes.  So, since I am partially Peruvian, I changed it.

Here is my version of Causa.  The potatoes are exactly as my Peruvian cousin, Yolanda, taught me only a wee bit spicier because I like it that way.

Ingredients

  1. 5 pounds of potatoes – yellow, even more betterer if you can find the Peruvian yellow potatoes, but you don’t have to go that far.  Yellow potatoes are non-negotiable.
  2. 1 jar of aji amarillo paste.  you can find this at any Latin grocery store.
  3. 5 limes
  4. Oil – I used olive oil because that’s what I had. You can use vegetable oil or anything really.
  5. Salt – you will need more than you imagine.  But not tons.

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks that are all about the same size.  Boil them until they are fork tender. Drain.

Rice the potatoes while they are hot. Mashing them will not produce the smoothness you need.  Get a ricer and rice them.  Do this into a big bowl.

Add in about 1/2 the jar of aji amarillo, 2 tablespoons of salt and 1/2 cup oil.  Mix.  Juice the limes into a bowl, add half the lime juice.

Now, taste the potatoes.  You should have an idea of what they should taste like when you taste them at this stage.  These potatoes should taste really bright, limey and spicy. They should be a bright yellow.  They will also need to be more the texture of stiff hot mashed potatoes rather than cold mashed potatoes.  If that makes sense.  You’ll see.

Adjust the potatoes to your preferences.  You’ll need to add more oil to make the potatoes the right texture. I like to add lime juice to the nearly empty jar of pepper paste so  I can get all the paste into the potatoes.

For my potatoes I used 1 full jar of aji amarillo, 5 limes and 1 cup of oil, I can’t tell you how much salt, but I’d say at least 2 tablespoons.  Remember, this is served cold, so the flavors need to be strong.  Hot these potatoes taste differently than when they are chilled.

I made a smooth garlicky guacamole for the center.

So in a glass dish I layered potatoes/guacamole/potatoes.  If I was going to dress it up, I’d have put chopped cilantro, eggs and green onions on top.

Note: this recipe is more of a suggestion than a recipe.  That’s because I’ve altered it to my tastes.  I’ve made this and served it hot next to roasted lemon chicken.  OMG.  So delicious.

Note #2: Aji Amarillo.  This stuff is pure gold.  It is simply delicious.  I’ve used it in white bean dip. I make these potatoes. There is another recipe coming for a potato sauce that is outrageously tasty coming for this.  OMG. Go find it, use it, thank me later.

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Bacon and Onion Tart

I tried to find a classic french onion tart recipe on teh internets.  I got nowhere.  Most of the recipes were overly fussy and silly, like the one that wants me to both stir frequently and to cover the onions with parchment paper.  Or it wants you to make a redonkulously fussy crust.

So I printed out a ridiculously fussy recipe and altered it according to what I wanted to do. It turned out to be crazily delicious.

Bacon and Onion Tart

  • 6 or 7 strips of bacon, cut into 1/8 inch pieces
  • 2 pounds of yellow onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pie crust – pre-baked. *
* Pick a recipe, make it, roll it out into a pie plate, stab it a bunch, bake it for awhile, set it aside while you make the filling.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
– In a cast iron pan, brown up the bacon.  Cook it till it’s nicely crispy but do not burn it.  Set aside, drain off the bacon juice.
– The onions should be sliced, not chopped, so cut them in half, root to tip and then slice them thinly, as thin as you can.
– In the same pan you browned the bacon melt the butter and add the onions, most of the salt and most of the pepper.  Saute them on medium low.  Don’t hurry this process, it will take a while, you are going to caramelize the crap out of these onions.  You want them to slowly caramelize, so stay close to the stove and babysit these things.  Stir frequently but not constantly.  Expect this to take 30 to 40 minutes.  Grab a book and a drink and get cozy in the kitchen. This is worth it.
– When the onions are a lovely light brown color add the bacon back, turn off the heat.
– In a bowl, mix the eggs, rest of the salt, pepper and all of the nutmeg.  Whip the eggs well.
– Mix in the heavy cream
– Stirring constantly, mix in the onions and bacon.  You stir constantly when you add them because if you do not you will end up with half scrambled eggs and half batter.  Euw.  So stir constantly when you add the onions and bacon.
– Pour the mixture into the pie shell, make sure it’s spread out.
– Bake for 40 minutes or until set.
– Cool it for 15.
– Eat it.
Posted in Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dishes | Tagged | 1 Comment

It’s My Birthday Contest

Happy Birthday to me means you peeps get the chance to win a gift from me! Isn’t that fun? Yes.  Just say yes.

Like last year, I’m giving away a Goatboy Soaps gift box.

Lisa at Goatboy makes fabulous soaps. Her Red Clover Tea soap smells good enough to eat.

So, to enter, just leave a comment, also explain your biggest birthday FAIL. Your birthday, your kid’s birthday, a FAIL.  Funny is better. One entry per person, I’ll delete extra comments. I’ll be using a random generator to pick the winner.

Happy Birthday to me!

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Rain!

I love the rumbly, wonderfulness of storms.  I love the sound of rain.  I LOVE storms like this.

Now, someone remind me to turn my phone sideways to get the wide shot instead of the tall shot.

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Vegetable Garden 2011

This was the view from my backyard this evening, after a storm.  Lovely, lovely sky.

I had to rip out the old worn out oregano thyme.  In years past it was HUGE.  This year it was just dead.  There was a bit of it left, that bit right in the middle there.  YAY! It was Mom’s old thyme, I’m glad it survived.  In the pot I’ve got patchouli, to the left is oregano, garlic chives and a red geranium because I could.  To the left of the pot is a curry plant, closer in is a lavender thyme, behind is taragon.  In front of the dragon is winter savory, on the far side is caraway thyme and on the near is coconut thyme.  At the very end are classic chives.

My strawberry bed, I’ve got three sweet little elfin thymes growing inbetween the strawberry plants.

Tomatoes.  Well, future tomatoes. 😀

Raspberries!

Zucchini.  I’ll be picking these tomorrow for dinner.  Nummy.

 

Boysenberries, but for me they’re girlsenberries.

The garden gate, lovely clematis.  It blew down two years ago, then I had to cut it back severely last fall.  Hopefully in two years it will be back to it’s former glory.


Lemon Thyme.  This one is huge and very fragrant.  It’s got a bit of vinca growing through.

Strawberry blossom!

The Mullien Who Guard the Entrance.

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Flagstones and Tomatoes

Yesterday we had several MUST finish projects on the checklist.  We had to finish resetting the flagstones and I had to get the tomatoes planted as well as the squash, eggplant, cucumbers and herbs.  I also had ferns and some black mondo grass from a friend that needed to get to it’s new home.

The flagstone front patio still needs some work, there’s a low spot I need to deal with and it needs more sand.  But for now, it’s looking wonderful.

Sweeping the sand residue is a continuing thing.  Hopefully, that will be done soon.

Next I had to move a pineapple sage that kindly returned from last year.  These usually die over winter, so I’m thrilled.  But it was in the middle of the bed I’m using for tomatoes, out it had to come.  So the bed I moved it to needed to be weeded and cleared.

Here it is, with variagated oregano, two lemon verbenas and some marigolds.

Then, on to tomatoes:

There is exactly one peony in my yard, but oh, what a sweet thing it is:

Lastly, I have a flower that reminds me of Elvis Costello:

Veronica.

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CAKE!!!!!!!!!!

Posted in Dessert, Family | Tagged | 2 Comments

Gin & Watermelon Agua Fresca

This is one delicious drink.  Oh my lanta it’s delicious.

Make the watermelon agua fresca

  • chop 1 pound of watermelon into cubes. Pick as many of the seeds out as possible.
  • sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar & mix.
  • measure 1/2 cup water
  • put half the watermelon and water into your blender then blend it for about two minutes.
  • put it through a strainer and discard the pulp.
  • do the rest of the watermelon and water.
  • Chill for 1 hour.

For the drink:

  • Use a large iced tea glass
  • fill with ice
  • 2 shots of gin
  • fill the rest of the glass with half watermelon agua fresca and half tonic water

Drink carefully.  This stuff is addictive.

I think this would be fabulous if I added some fresh mint to the watermelon at the blendy stage.

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Gardeny Things 2011

We’ve been working hard on the garden this year.

Mushrooms

I don’t know what sort of mushrooms these are, so I won’t be eating them.  But they are cute, aren’t they?

Mushrooms Also

Then there is the hosta up front.  Hopefully the deer don’t read my blog.  I’ve got a giant hosta behind several medium sized hosta.  The giant one will be 3′ x 3′ when it’s fully grown!

Hosta

My white bleeding hearts are wonderous.  They make me happy.

White Bleeding Hearts

Then there are the Anemones in the front, 2 1/2 white anemones.  Hopefully they will be three again soon.

Anemone

The Clematis in the front yard is bloomy.

Clematis - dark pink

I don’t know the name of this clematis.  I just planted a new one in the backyard.  When I get it settled in with it’s hardware I’ll get a picture.  It’s a montana Rubens.  Next I want a yellow one and a blue one.  Just so you know, internets.

Dianthus & Two Shastas

A couple years ago, all I wanted were daisies.  Lots of daisies.  So far I have two.  One is a double and the other is a single.  Happiness.  And that dianthus?  Lovely.

Say hello to my little friend!

Just a preview of things to come in the next week or two.

Azalea!

Tis the season for azaleas.  My new everblooming azalea isn’t blooming yet. 😦 When it does, I’ll post a picture.

Now, I leave you with my girlsenberry blossoms.

Girlsenberry Blossoms

Other people call them boysenberries, but they are my bushes now.  Thank you.

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