Sunday, April 2, 2017

April 2, 2017 Team Competition

I have thought about a team event all winter.
This will give you another opportunity to exercise your voting skills.

Here it is. All team members are from the contest. (I held the winner out partially because it did not clearly fit into a defined color.)

First, here is team yellow.

Can you identify all the plants?
Who would you have as the team captain? I might pick the iris.

Then there is team Red.

My choice for captain would be the twin poppies.

Team White

With two of the finalists on the team, this team may be the heavy favorite. I like the spidery orchid cactus for the captain.
That big white crocus was blooming yesterday, April 1. Last year the picture was taken on March 25. We think of this as an "early" spring. We are not much ahead of last year. Our utility bill said that March last year was actually warmer than this year.

Finally there is team pink.

The waterlily would be my choice for captain.

How is that for a competition. No rules. Which color group do you like? You could also comment and say why. But you don't have to.

Bonus Pictures

The sun came out for a while yesterday. It was the first time we had seen sun in ever so long.
Partly because it has been overcast and rainy we have not had a frost.
With clear skies Friday night we came close. It was 32 degrees on the front porch this morning. But all the plants and many people were glad of the sun this morning.
This coming week gives us the same pattern. Cloudy and rain mean warmer temperatures. Sun means a danger of frost. I guess that is the trade off in winter.

The big crocuses were putting on a display yesterday in the sun. How is this picture for color? I think this picture might go a long way in next fall's contest. I have started a file for possible participants already.  The name of this grand crocus is "tricolor", for obvious reasons.

Here are more pictures from yesterday.

The hellebores are doing well. I do wish they would hold their faces up.

Moist Corn Bread
by Julia Mears

I have written before about Frances Moore Lappe, a dietary disciple of Adele Davis from the 1960s and 1970s days of nutritional theories and earnest vegetarianism. Case in point: she made up the Very Brown Rice recipe that I shared earlier. She also made cornbread, called Moist Corn Bread for reasons which will become obvious. Ms. Lappe had theories about combining plant proteins to make complete proteins, which led her to use soy grits and whole wheat flour in her baked goods. I do not have such theories, and I don't like soy grits at all or whole wheat flour in most things. So my version is an adaptation, undoubtedly less nutritious than the original.

I made the recipe set out below when I was in Maine in February, and I could not remember the amounts of baking powder or baking soda so we tried to find the recipe on the internet, without success. I called Philip, who found the cookbook on the shelf, and all was well. This does suggest, however, that this cookbook (Recipes for a Small Planet) and its contents may be harder to find than, say, recipes from an old Betty Crocker or Joy of Cooking cookbook. Fortunately, I still have a tattered paperback copy of the cookbook, and I have made a further adaptation of the original recipe, as below.

I made this batch of cornbread last week when we were having bean soup with ham. It has been cold here, and bean soup seemed like a good idea. At right are the assembled corn bread ingredients, next to the tattered copy of the cookbook open to the recipe.

I don't know why all the drawers are open in this picture. Please note that I made this recipe in a 9" x 13" pan (as pictured), which I lubed up. I turned the oven on to 350 degrees.

I started by putting 1 cup of cornmeal and 1 cup of corn grits (aka polenta) in a big bowl. I added 1/4 cup of King Arthur gluten-free all purpose flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon regular salt in a big bowl. I stirred the dry ingredients around with a big wooden spoon.

Next I added 1 egg, 1/4 cup of plain vegetable oil (not olive oil and I think not coconut oil), and 1/4 cup of honey.

I measured the oil into the 1/4 cup measure first, then after I added the oil to the bowl, I measured the honey into the same 1/4 cup. It slid right out nicely into the bowl. Science! Next I added 3 cups of plain yogurt. Yes, that's right - 3 cups of yogurt.

Here is what the bowl looked like after all of the ingredients had been added and before I mixed it up. I mixed thoroughly, poured the resulting mixture into the prepared 9" x 13" pan and baked it until a bamboo skewer (my baked goods tester of choice) came out wet but not goopy. In my oven, that was about 40 minutes.

And here you have it, with the pot of bean soup, off camera is a salad, and on camera, the last two lemon pudding cakes and a bowl of strawberries to top them. It was a nice supper.

This cornbread will not resemble the dry and crumbly kind of cornbread that one sometimes encounters. Nor the less crumbly but sweet cornbread one also sometimes sees. This cornbread is not dry or crumbly, but rather, moist. It is a bit tangy, but not overly so. We like it with butter, or sitting in the bowl of soup, or plain for breakfast on the way out the door.

Until a few months ago, I made this recipe with 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup of flour (either all purpose white flour or gluten-free) and 1/4 cup of corn grits, with everything else the same as above. Then in a fit of absentmindedness, I put 1 cup each of cornmeal and corn grits in the bowl. Unwilling to throw anything away, I reduced the flour and proceeded. The result was tasty, a bit firmer in texture than the recipe with more flour but very good. The version with more flour and less corn grits is also very good - it's the way I made the recipe for years.

If a 9" x 13" pan of cornbread seems too much, you can cut the recipe in half and bake it in an 8" x 8" pan. It is easy enough to do the math to make one-half of the recipe, except for the egg. I would use the entire egg (what would you do with 1/2 egg?) and maybe reduce the yogurt by a tablespoon (or not). This is a pretty forgiving recipe, and a bit of extra egg will not make a difference. After all, I substituted corn grits for all purpose flour and it turned out fine. What's half an egg in the eternal order of things?

Odds and ends

While we had sunshine for a change yesterday, we should extend our sympathies to Katie, Elisabeth, and Christopher Philip, in Maine. Katie informed me that it was not an April Fools' Day joke that they just had another foot of snow. I think I do remember Katie telling me last spring that they had daffodils in May.

The two tree peonies that I have grown from seed look good. I see them both blooming by mid April. One should have 3 flowers and the second, two.

I think about other specific excitements that we may have in the next month. The Crown Imperial Fritillaria will bloom sometime in the next few weeks. Then of course there will be the bluebells.

The Caladium should arrive soon. April 1 is about the shipping date I like. I will start them all inside. The plan would be to have growing plants by June 1.

As I say often, if you are in the neighborhood please come by.  You are welcome to just wander around. The show has started.



Catherine Woods said...

Thanks for the yummy cornbread recipe! It sounds and looks delicious. Gotta give it a try.

I guess I was into yellows this week, both cornbread and flower group. The white group was a close second. But the yellows lifted my spirits more.

Pat O'Conner said...

I had to go for Team Yellow. It came with that wonderful row of cheerleaders--the red-centered daffs that look like they're about to turn somersaults. ... Pat