Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 7, 2017 A short Week

Between last weekend's rain and this weekend's trip to Chicago it seems like it was a very short week, particularly for the garden.
The sun did come back. It usually does.
This past week was the week for the tree peonies. You wait for certain garden events each year. The cactus flowers are in that category.
The tree peonies I grew from seed are another.
They bloomed this week.

Julia also had her birthday this past week. It was on May 1.
I got her a new spinny thing for the back yard.

Ever since we put it up on Monday evening there has not
been much wind. Isn't that how it goes.
As I think about changes in the blog for the future I would like to figure out how to add short video's, maybe even with sound. I think that would be fun. I could then show this spinny guy when it is in motion.
It does illustrate how lots of things that can be spread around the garden, adding amusement and sometimes color. (I think the term sometimes is "hardscape.") These decorations are also there for that time of year that will not be mentioned, when the color is gone.

In last week's voting the favorite was the rescued tree peony.

What a pretty flower.
I have always under used cut flowers.
I am rethinking that attitude. My mother has always been a big proponent of a flower arrangement for the dinner table...and the kitchen table... and maybe the living room.

The full voting was
Rescued peony     19
Lime pixie dwarf iris  13
Pulmonaria   10
Dogwood group   10
Euphorbia  5
Rue anemone   4

This week's voting.
In honor of I am not sure what,  I have decided to give you two voting features this week. There are the pictures from this past week of course. But I also have selected a few of my favorite hardscapes in the garden. You can tell me what you like.

First, here is some color for your consideration this week.

#1 Multicolor little iris
These little iris really do provide color when the spring bulbs have mostly ended.

#2- yellow iris

They were so good this year I have already looked at the catalog to find some more. You buy and plant bearded iris in August.

#3-This is cypripedium orchid Gisela.
There a number of hardy orchids that grow here in zone 5. Cyprpedium orchids are one group. I have tried 4 varieties over the years. This one, Gisela, has survived. This year, after being in the garden for 5-6 years, it increased to 3 flowers.
I do have to move part of the Montana hosta next to it. Those darn hosta have a habit of getting bigger.

#4- Pink tulips- Are these tulips for real? Actually they really are close to that color.
They are also lasting for a long time. Cool weather has that real benefit.

$5 Blue Camassia

What a wonderful color. This is a late blooming spring bulb. They fill in this in between time I had mentioned last week.

#6  White tree peony.
At long last here is my tree peony. Last year it had a single flower. This year there are three. The flower on the left must be 7 inches across.

In case you do not remember I got some tree peony seed from my sister, who lives in the D.C. area, maybe 6-7 years ago. I carefully tried to make it sprout, without success. I then just put the seed in the garden and left it alone. 4 plants grew. I still have them 4-5 years later. That first year I do not think they were more than 3-4 inches tall. They died back to the ground. The next year they came back. Two of them did not die all the way back the next winter. The next winter, 2015-16, one had a bud. It bloomed a year ago. This year 3 have bloomed. The fourth is doing fine. They all are clearly related. They give me a big white splash right there along Fairview Street.

There you have the flower pictures
I will again let you vote for two.

In addition this week there can be voting for the favorite hardscape.
Favorite Hardscape?

#1-This is a glow in the dark chicken. Every garden should have one.

#2- This is a ceramic llama head, made by my talented sister in law Jane.
Hardscape can have a back story.

#3 This is a...well, the head bounces. Does that make it a bobble head bird?

#4 Every garden should also have a motion detecting squirting big plastic frog. If it only worked it would really be something. I could use it on the ducks. They remain a menace. Actually I think the frog  would make a noise if there was motion. Squirting at movement would have been really good.

#5  Sometimes you need a garden alien.

#6  I think this is a Langworthy concrete pig. Langworthy is a little town  just north of Anamosa. There was a business making concrete everything. There is a big concrete life size rhinoceros outside of Iowa City going east. I always assumed it came from Langworthy. The business also had a fun part of the yard where there were the rejects.

#7 Goose head.
Sometimes I think it could be like a scavenger hunt in our garden. Here is the goose head, in with the hellebores.

Have fun voting. I hope you are not confused.
There are two separate polls. You can vote for two on each poll.
Good luck.

It is bonus time

Monsella looks good even when it is past its prime.

The oldest tree peony.

A closer view.

I liked this closeup of the white tree peony.

This is the smallest of the three to bloom this year.

Now I am just playing with color. The center is really quite nice.

Julia's recipe
Beef Barley Soup

It got cold last week, not frost-warning cold but cold enough, and rainy and windy. So my thoughts turned to soup, specifically to beef barley soup. My mother made this soup, and I watched her make it and learned how. I am sure there are recipes for beef barley soup, but I have never consulted one. Rather, I make this soup as my mother did. With a few modifications.

This is a hearty, satisfying soup. It takes a long time to cook, but mostly it cooks by itself so you can do other things while it simmers. I often cook such things on Sunday afternoon, when we are home and puttering around or watching a baseball game or reading.  As the long-slow-cooking thing works its way toward being done, the house smells good and one feels productive even though one is watching a baseball game or reading a book.

Here are the assembled ingredients, along with a big stockpot. I bought the stockpot years ago at a restaurant supply store, which I recommend for big pots and shallow stainless steel bowls and big sieves (about which more below) and odd serving dishes.

I started by trimming the very top of the bunch of celery, and then I cut the top three inches off the whole bunch. I peeled the giant carrot, and I cut it into chunks. I peeled the onion (a little bit bigger than a tennis ball) and cut it in half through the root.

Then I put the vegetables into the bottom of the stockpot along with 3-1/2 lbs. of beef short ribs (with bones). My mother made the soup with beef shank, and I usually do too, but I was not able to find beef shank at either the Co-op or HyVee (the local grocery chain) so I bought short ribs instead. One is looking for kind of tough meat with bones and connective tissue because this makes for a good soup. Here is the stockpot with meat on top of vegetables.

I added 6 quarts of cold water, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt (or regular salt) and 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce. Not pepper. Why? Because my mother used Tabasco sauce, that's why. I put the pot on medium heat, and it took about 45 minutes to come to a boil. Alton Brown advises to make meat soup this way; that is, to let it come to a boil more slowly over medium heat rather than on high heat. Something about protein scum. I take his word for it.

After about 2-1/2 hours of simmering
(after simmering had been attained), I fished out the meat with a slotted spoon. At that point, the bones had either separated from the meat or would do so easily. I put the meat and bones in a bowl.

I strained the soup through a big sieve (two pictures down) into a smaller but still large soup pot. I discarded the big vegetables, which had done their job flavoring the stock.

I separated the meat from the bones. I left the meat in the bowl and put all of the bones and connective tissue into the pot with the stock. And I added a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce.

Here is the result - a big pot of tomato-y stock and bones. I let this cook for another hour.

Then I strained the stock again, this time to remove the bones and the tissue-y bits. You can see a big sieve perched over the stock pot. It is handy to have a big sieve with a handle and tines (if that's the right word) to hook over the edge of the pot. After the second sieving, I had rich, beefy, tomato-y stock.

I added 1-1/4 cups of barley (not instant or quick-cooking!) and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, until the barley was mostly done.

Meanwhile, I sliced up 3 stalks of celery (about 1 cup), 1 giant carrot (about 1-1/2 cups) and 1 tennis-ball sized onion (about 1-1/2 cups). I added the vegetables to the pot and simmered the soup with veggies for about 20 minutes. While it was simmering, I pulled apart/chopped the beef. I added the beef and simmered the whole thing for about 10 minutes more.

And here is the soup. I prefer to eat this soup a day later, but it would have been very good at that point. After all of that cooking and straining, I ended up with about 3-1/2 quarts of soup. If you heat and eat the soup a day later, you will find that it has thickened up, so plan on adding 2-3 cups of water when you heat it.

I looked barley up, and apparently it has some gluten in it. Not much, but some. I guess one could substitute brown rice, probably short grain and not brown basmati. The barley gives the soup body, and I think brown rice would do the same thing.

Odds and Ends
Since it is a short week for me, this is the end.

No comments: