Sunday, April 16, 2017

Every day something new appears-April 16, 2017

Happy Spring
Happy Easter
The birds are awake. It is Sunday morning and time for the blog post for the week.

We have reached the point where the garden is overwhelming. Everything is not only coming up but growing like crazy. Even the dandelions have begun to bloom.
Early in Spring everything is new. even when the crocuses have started blooming, most of the snowdrops  and aconite are still blooming. Now some things are done.
But so many things are taking their places.

The bluebells have started to bloom. Peak time will be this next week. Did you know that bluebells have pink buds?

Last week I let you vote for the favorite flower just from the previous week. There were that many great pictures just in that week.
Here was the flower that you liked last week. It is the yellow hellebore.
I have a folder already marked contest 2017-18. The winner in these weekly contests will go into that folder. I try to get about 60 pictures into that folder during the growing season. Out of that group will come the 48 pictures to entertain us all in colder weather.

In last week's voting the results were
Purple Windflower  10
Yellow Hellebore   8
Little trillium  3
Single bloodroot  3
Star Magnolia  2

This week's pictures.

I have this week's marvelous flowers, just for you. It really is the case that there is something new almost every day. These were the pictures just from Sunday to Thursday. If I started adding pictures from yesterday... Well, let me just say yesterday could have had its own contest. Maybe I can show you some of them nest week.
Would you care to cast a vote this week?

#1 Purple Pasque flower
It seems fitting that it is blooming at Easter. I find this plant reasonably hardy, even though this past winter was hardly a test.
Pasque flowers come in purple, red and even white. I think my white has gone missing. Maybe I will find it hiding under some bluebells.

I really like that little purple tuft in the middle of the purple.

#2 The double bloodroot.
They are back. I planted them about a month ago. I now have three clumps around the garden. Moreover I think there are more where these came from.
For those of you who don't remember I lost my wonderful clump 2 winters ago. It has multiplied over 5-6 years.

Apparently this variation on the wildflower is sterile. For that reason the blooms last much longer than the single flower.
It is a joy to have it back.

#3 The black Hellebore
If you liked the yellow hellebore last week, you should like this one. In Iowa City I wonder if people would plant a bed of black and yellow hellebores? Those are the colors of the University of Iowa. It would be a rather long term project.

In this picture I like the sharpness of the shadow of the center of the flower.

#4 A daffodil
Daffodils are so cheerful. I do not have thousands. But I do have them splashed around the garden. Actually splashing around is one of my techniques.
I like the yellow that leaks into the petals around the cup.

#5 The tulip
Speaking of splashing, how about this color. This came from Katie last fall. For some reason she sent me 3 tulips. What was I going to do with 3 tulips? Well I put them by the kitchen door where we would see them every day. We can see them from the kitchen.
This fall I think I should get 2-3 dozen bright tulips and plant them in 3's around the garden.
The bluebells are starting now. The combination could be stunning.
That's one of the things about gardening. You garden for now, and  plan for later.

All these pictures were taken before this weekend. I give you five. I could find many more.
Let me know which you like. Tell me in a comment what is good in your garden.

Bonus pictures

There are dog tooth violets. This native wildflower has started to bloom. This picture is from the portion of my garden where there must be a thousand of these little guys.
Lindsey- I do not know if you remember, but I think I got a clump of these from your house not long after you moved in. How long ago was that? 25 years? They spread in a non aggressive way. They will completely die back in a month. You can also weed them without making much of a dent. They have hopped the bricks into the garden paths. If you want some come by. I always let people weed my paths.

Cropping is good.
It is sometimes necessary with tiny flowers.

More cropping is better.  If only I could take the picture looking up at this flower.

Here is a variety that I think was developed by some plant guy. It comes back but does not particularly spread. It does need a marker so it is not displaced by some annual or some weeder.

Here is the pasque flower group.

Most of the colorful coralbells survived the not so much winter. These hybridized varieties have been developed over the last few decades. I have not been convinced that they were hardy. Some are trying to convince me this spring.

More windflowers.

Julia's recipe this week.
Baklava by Julia Mears

Today is Easter in both the Eastern and the Western Christian traditions, or as we used to say,  it is both Greek Easter and American Easter. I am part Greek, having one grandparent each from Greece and Poland (my mother's folks) and Germany and Hungary (my father's folks). The Germans and Hungarians (not to mention the Poles) all lived in the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire, where my father was born in 1921 after the Empire had died with World War I, paving the way for Serbian hegemony. This was not viewed, in my family, as a positive development.

Anyway, on my mother's side, we had more exposure to Greek cuisine than to Polish, and the why is a long story which I will not digress into now. Back to Easter. Easter is not usually the same day in the Greek and American churches. Greek Easter is usually later, and the weather is nicer and this is taken as an indication that the Eastern Rite folks calculated the date correctly and the Western Rite folks didn't.

Which brings me to baklava which my Aunt Julia (I am actually not named for her. My Polish grandmother was also named Julia. Lots of Julias, mostly in translation) made on festive occasions, like Easter. I decided to make baklava, in honor of the coincidental Easters.

It is not hard to make, but you do need to be focused and be a bit fearless. You will be rewarded.

We started by grinding (or maybe better, chopping kind of fine) 5 cups of walnuts. If walnuts give you hives, use skinless almonds, although they are harder to process, or pecans.

Philip did that part because the food processor baffles me. He did the chopping up in two batches, and he pulsed each batch about 6 to 8 times. The nuts do not need to be powdery. They should not be oily (which will happen if you process too much).

I poured the nuts into a bowl and added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of cloves (see picture, above), and I stirred it up (see picture below and to the right).

That's me stirring the spices in. I melted 3 sticks of unsalted butter in a pan on the stove, and I brushed some butter on the bottom and sides on a 9" x 13" glass baking pan.

Brushing with melted butter, as reported above.

I bought a 1 lb. box of filo dough at the New Pioneer Food Co-op. I believe filo dough is now pretty widely available in regular grocery stores. It is sold frozen, probably near the puff pastry in the frozen food aisle. I let the filo dough thaw out in its original box, in the refrigerator, overnight.

Filo dough is like paper. It comes in sheets that are about 13" x18", which means each sheet will fit into a 9" x 13" pan, folded in half. At left is the filo dough, removed from its box and unrolled.

Next I assembled. This is where the focus and and fearlessness come in. I put one sheet of filo into the pan - actually I put one-half of one sheet in the pan, brushed some butter on it and then folded the rest of that sheet into the pan. One sheet = two layers. I did that again so there were 4 layers (that is, 2 sheets), each brushed with butter, in the bottom of the pan.

Then I started adding nuts. I kept placing sheets half in the pan, brushing with butter, sprinkling with the nut mixture (a bit less than 1/4 cup per layer) and then folding the other one-half sheet into the pan and repeating.

I paid attention to the number of filo dough sheets that were left. When there were two sheets left, I repeated the sheets-plus-butter- only pattern as at the beginning. Thus, in sum, there were 4 layers of filo plus melted butter, a bunch of layers of filo and butter and nuts, and then 4 layers of filo plus melted butter.

I poured the last of the butter on top and brushed it around. Filo dough dries out so one needs to work fast (or at least not be interrupted). And it sometimes wants to tear, being thin and papery. Don't worry. If that happens, just smooth it out as best you can and brush on some melted butter. It will be fine. No one will know that there are imperfect layers.

After the whole thing was assembled, I took a serrated knife (a steak knife actually) and made diagonal cuts both ways. I cut slowly and used my fingers to hold down the top layers which wanted to pull up.

Another picture of cutting. Notice the pieces emerged in diamond shapes.

Cutting in the corners can be tricky. It is okay to have the corners be larger, non-diamond shapes.

I baked the baklava in a 300 degree oven for about an hour, at the end of which time it had started to turn golden brown (a bit) on top. If your baklava is golden brown before an hour passes, take it out because it's done.

You may have noticed that there is nothing sweet in the baklava. True. The sweetness is in the syrup, which I made while the baklava was baking. I took 1/2 cup honey (measured at left in the push-up measuring thing that played a role in last week's peanut butter cookies).

I put the honey in a pan with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, the rind from that lemon (I used a vegetable peeler to make the lemon rind into strips), a 2 inch cinnamon stick, 1 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water.

I simmered the syrup gently while the baklava baked. When the baklava was done, I fished the lemon rind strips and the cinnamon stick out of the syrup.

I put the baklava on a trivet, put the syrup pan on another trivet, and used a small ladle to ladle the syrup over the hot baklava. It sizzled in a satisfying way.

And it will largely soak into the layers of filo dough and nuts, and it will be delicious.

Odds and ends. (These are comments about things I find odd or that come at the end of the post. I suppose it could be called "Odds and the end".)

We went for a walk at Ryerson Woods last weekend. That is down by the County Fairgrounds, just south of Iowa City. It has a nice 2 mile loop through some of the most flower-full woods I have seen. It is enjoyable to go there several times over the spring, to see the progression of wild flowers.
Here are pictures. Try them as a slideshow, by clicking on a picture and going to the next one. As I type this at 5-6 am on Saturday I notice that the birds have just started. 5:45 seems to be the time at the moment. Sunrise will be at 6:25, but it will be cloudy today.

Wait-wait. I actually heard a quack in with those bird songs. The pair of ducks that like my little pond are back. Like Mr. McGregor I must now go chase the ducks. It is as good a start to the day as at least one cup of coffee.

In these pictures you will see bloodroot, rue anemones, dutchman's breeches, and some early mayapples.

As mentioned the bluebells have started.Bluebells go together with almost anything. Emerging hosta are one of my favorites to join up with bluebells in pictures.

I will close by remembering that some person in the grocery store once introduced me to her children. I was the man who has pumpkins in his trees.
Here is the pumpkin today that kept its personality over the months.

Have a quiet week.

1 comment:

Judith Crossett said...

I am always happy to see & read your blog, and someday will try a recipe. Meanwhile...I have this new-to-me shady but enormous yard and am told I can do as I please. Well, I would please for some bluebells and some Solomon's Seal (mine did not emerge in time to rescue a clump from the previous house). Where can I look to buy some without spending more than reasonable? don't want fancy.