Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happy Halloween 2016

Happy Halloween and there is no frost in sight.
Julia joins us again this week and will tell you about the best apple crisp.

This week's feature picture provided several of us with one of those exclamation moments in the garden, this week. It is a reblooming iris called Pure as Gold.

It is beginning to get a little spooky, and I don't mean Halloween. We have not had a frost, and there is no temperature even in the 30's in the ten day forecast. Some of the hosta still look as good as new. Parts of the garden do know the days are shorter. The Christmas cactus are setting buds. Some hosta is turning colors, but like the trees. Speaking of trees, some are just magnificent on this crystal clear sunny day with temperatures up to 80 degrees. The great plant migration (moving the house plants inside) has gotten off to a slow start, as generally the house plants prefer the outside. For now.

But Monday is Halloween, and even with the high temperature on Monday being 70 degrees, it is time to think about pumpkins. I am going to let you see some of the pumpkins in the garden over the years. This first picture was from November 1, 2007. We had plant hangers in the trees, mostly they were used to hang orchid cacti. I think that 2007 might have been the first time I decided to try a few pumpkins. Here were some with their candles lit.

This was one of my favorite pumpkins, from January, 2008. There is a technique for hanging pumpkins over the winter. The biggest thing is that you cannot carve them until the temperatures are below freezing, and are apt to stay there. Sometimes this means a new Thanksgiving tradition. Forget football. Carve pumpkins. Actually the way the weather is going it could become a Christmas tradition.

So the plan is to carve them and hang them so that they freeze solid without rotting first.
The pumpkins can get to dress up for the particular season. This was a Mardi Gras pumpkin.

They are subject to the elements.

After they have been outside for a while they can get scary.

This picture from 2008.

This pumpkin was still relatively new, on December 28, 2008.

Pumpkins can measure how much snow there was.

Here are more.

Garden pictures 

I can to show you a few pictures from the garden this week. It turned out that as Saturday was such a beautiful day, there were more pictures.

This little cactus spent the summer outside with all its friends. It grew a bunch of buds, and started blooming as soon as it came inside. Like some number of plants it goes to the office for the winter.
Connie took the picture at the office. Thanks Connie.

Here is that reblooming iris. As you can tell it should bloom for at least another week. I will let you know next year if reblooming iris need to wait until almost November to bloom. This is my first fall with this beauty.

The winter aconite, or monkshood, continues to be a blue centerpiece,

Sometime this week something triggered something in some of the plants so they now know to start shutting down. It wasn't a frost, because we have not had one. But some of the maple trees have turned wonderful colors in the last few days. This is one of a number of hosta that has started to yellow. I really like the designs in these late season leaves.

The zinnias continue to provide color where it is much needed.
Go pink.

This is one of the several varieties of crotons in the garden. They put on a color show in the fall. They are house plants from November to April.

Go red zinnia. How about a closeup?

Here is that closeup.

Did you know that zinnias had that little ring of yellow stars?

This is a little air plant I got from friends in Florida last year. I understand they grow all over there. It came with some red on it. Then it all became green for 10 months. It started to turn red in the last several weeks. Last year it had tiny purple blooms too.
I suppose even things in warmer weather might react to shorter days and cooler temperatures.

Speaking of tiny flowers here is a little orchid that flowers all year long. This time of year it has many flowers.

Here are all the jade plants from that one plant that the deer knocked over.

All these cactus plants came from one plant. They make little off-shoots all around the pot. I let these go for several years. The side shoots are getting bigger and now I have too many.
I have found that most cactus are very manageable over the winter.

Apple Crisp
by Julia Mears

      The last regular Farmer's Market was yesterday, which means winter is coming even it it does not feel like it. One of the best things about the late part of the market season is the apples. We buy apple varieties that we do not see in the grocery store, although the folks we buy apples from do sell one kind at the New Pioneer (the food coop). In honor of the end of the season, I will tell you about apple crisp. 

       I used different kinds of apples - Ginger Gold, Summer Sweet, and Empire. I think different apples add to the depth of flavor. Do not use Delicious or Winesap. Just don't. And if you use Granny Smith, baking time will be longer as Granny Smith is one firm apple.
       I used four medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into sixths and then into small slices (1/8 to 1/4"). You want about 4 cups of apple pieces. A little more is okay; less is not. I put the apples in an ungreased baking dish. This oval dish is about 11" by 8". Next I poured 1/4 cup of water over the apples, and then sprinkled with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

      Next, I made a topping. I used one stick of butter -
that's 1/2 cup. I cut the butter into little pieces
and put the pieces into a medium to large-ish mixing bowl. I added 1/2 cup of brown sugar (light or dark); 1/2 cup of oats and 1/2 cup of flour. I used a pastry blender (a tool with a handle and a set of wires or blades to cut butter or shortening into dry ingredients) to mix. (If you don't have one, mix the topping with your fingers - the dry ingredients should be mixed together well and the butter bits should be small).
      Then I sprinkled the topping over the apples, and I baked the crisp in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer (I use bamboo skewers to test baked stuff) went in and out with no real resistance and there were bubbles around the edges. A picture of the fresh-out-of-the-oven crisp is above. Depending on what kind of apples you use, your crisp may take more or less time to bake. Let it cool a bit and enjoy, with or without a scoop of ice cream.

       There are variations for those who have dietary preferences or issues. One could use 1/2 cup of margarine or butter-flavored shortening instead of butter. I wonder whether coconut oil (which certainly seems to be a solid product) would work too, but I haven't tried it. If you don't like oats, use 1 cup of flour. If you don't like (or need to avoid) wheat flour, use 1/2 cup of cornmeal instead. If you don't have brown sugar, use granulated sugar. Or turbinado sugar or I imagine date sugar. But use a solid sweetener not a syrup. I have never used sugar substitute and in general, I avoid food made of science.

That's it for this crazy week. The picture contest is coming.


Anonymous said...

That flowering cactus that lives at your office is so sweet!! I love it!!

Catherine Woods said...

Apple crisp, yum! I baked an apple pie last weekend to share with friends. I used Jonagolds, spiced/sugared as per a Findhorn Family Cookbook recipe and Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking directions for pie crust. Then I learned my two adult daughters were also on the baked apple wavelength. Younger daughter, out in Oregon, had discovered Arkansas Black apples and a Ruth Reichl recipe for coring, filling and baking them in terra cotta. Older daughter, in Milwaukee, used honey crisps, as per her recipe, coring, filling, and topping with a streusel similar to your crisp topping. Perfect autumn food.

Love the colors in the garden even while admitting I'm spooked by the lingering warmth.