Sunday, June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024- on the road


Greetings from Chincoteague, Virginia. We arrived yesterday, after a long day of traveling.  It is someplace else. After almost ten hours of sleep Christopher and Maisie are up and playing quietly. Actually Christopher is quietly playing the piano, which has been silent for most of the last twenty years.

Today we go to the beach along with lots of other people.

You know you are someplace else when the sea gulls are the early morning birds.

We left Iowa yesterday at a rediculourly early hour. There are echos of drought years.

The last measurable rain was June 2. No rain appears in the forecast on the phone. The heat is coming.

However at least for the first few times, watering is a pleasure. You can water and think about that part of the garden, in a rather quiet way.

Let me put in some pictures.

It is Asiatic lily time.

The display is rather muted as the deer primarily ate those buds. Now their attention may be turning to daylily scapes.

This is Ruby Spider, which always gets an extra dose of deer spray. It is covered with buds.

Speaking of critters, with Scott's help I put up the first fence in the garden, that I can remember. Inside the fence there are the uneaten poppies along with several ounces of new Shirley poppy seeds. That would be several thousand seeds. I do not know if they will grow in the heat. They at least at this point are on the watering schedule.

Speaking of seeds, I got and we will be planting 125 ornamental kale seed. Those will go to a greenhouse to grow for 6 weeks. Then I will have to think about how to protect them from cabbage worms.

Still no cicadas in Iowa City.

The pink orchid cactus was blooming all week.

The other big one will have yellow flowers.  It has quite an number of buds. Scott moved it to the front yard, under the walnut tree, for better viewing.

Other pictures from this week

This lantana was brought inside last fall. The question will be how big will it get by September.

Sometime you just like patterns. This is Hosta Inniswood.



Julia's recipe

Another Egg dish

This is another recipe from the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Michael Knock, the food guy, is a Lutheran English teacher transplanted to the big city from a small town in western Iowa. Some of his recipes, including this one, are informed by his having been a Lutheran in a small town. His church youth groups ate versions of this egg dish. Casseroles with egg and milk and bread are common in this part of the world. Homey. Comforting. Adaptable. Can be thrifty. 

The ingredients:
2 cups sliced andouille sausage;
1/2 cup diced onion;
1/2 to 1 cup diced green or red pepper;
6 eggs;
1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon creole or cajun seasoning;
1/4 teaspoon black pepper;
1/2 teaspoon salt;
4 slices nice sandwich bread which somehow did not make it into the picture;
1 14 oz. can drained diced tomatoes; and
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese.
Also no-stick spray for the baking dish.

I had some leftover asparagus, which amounted to about 1/2 cup. I think 1/2 cup of green or red pepper is important. But feel free to add 1/2 cup of something else that is sitting in your refrigerator. 1/2 cup of asparagus? corn? a handful of spinach or arugala? I don't eat peas. Ever. But if you do, 1/2 cup of peas would work. Or 1 cup of diced pepper.

The recipe called for creole seasoning. I had cajun. Same part of the world. I used andouille, but you could use other kinds of sausage and then experiment with seasoning. 

First I cut stuff up. I sliced the andouille.

And diced the green pepper and cut the asparagus spears into bite-sized pieces. And diced the onion.

I lubed up a 9" x 13" pan and turned the oven on to 350 degrees.

I put the sausage and the onions and the peppers into a non-stick skillet. The sausage meant I didn't need any oil or butter in the pan. I cooked these things over medium-low until the vegetables were softened. 

While the skillet was working, I cut up the bread. I had bread from the Co-op. Not crunchy but not wonder bread. 

I cut the bread into cubes. 

I added the asparagus pieces  part way through the cooking. The asparagus was already cooked so it did not need as much cooking. 

I scattered the bread cubes around the bottom of the pan.

I drained the tomatoes and added them to the skillet. 

While the skillet was still on the stove, I cracked the eggs into a big old measuring cup with a spout. 

I added the milk to the eggs, and also added the creole/cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.  And whisked all of that together.

Not sure what the aura is in this picture over the skillet. What was actually happening: I was using a slotted spoon to sprinkle the mixture from the skillet over the bread.

Somewhere in here I grated the cheese. Big slivers are fine. They'll melt. I scattered them over the top of the vegetable/sausage mixture.

The casserole ready for the last layer.

I gave the egg mixture another quick whisk and then poured it as evenly as I could over the whole casserole. 

And here it is out of the oven after baking for about 40 minutes. It's done with the eggs are set and it's starting to brown around the edges.

It was good, with green salad and berries to round out the meal. It was easy to heat up in a skillet on top of the stove for lunch the next day.

The sausage was spicy, the eggs and bread sort of soft plus the cheese and the vegetables. One dish meal. 

Odds and Ends

Technology mostly defeated us this last week. Our email at the office mostly did not work. We are working on the problem.

Then there are those automated customer service numbers. We rented a car this week but never did get to speak to a person. I entered the credit card number into my profile, only to be told that the expiration date of 2026 needed to be fixed to be a date in the future. Over and over and over again.

The world is just really sad.

Climate change is more like climate deterioration. I worry about the next 2 months, in the heat. We were really spoiled with the rain for several months.

Pray for peace.

Be kind.

Find some cool.

We may get our feet wet in the ocean.

Pictures will be coming.


Sunday, June 9, 2024

June 9, 2024 -Summer is coming

The warmer weather is coming. The caladium are starting to grow. I got 100 of them this spring. As the emerge in their pots they go on the sale table. As I have mentioned I have this sale for the foodbanks.
It was a busy week for plant donations. Someone brought a gooseberry plant. Someone  brought some raspberry starts. And a sweetpepper bush.  What is that? I looked it up. Well, it is a flowering bush, that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. I am smarter already.

We had a nice rain early in the week, to go with nice rains for the last month. (3.5 inches for that month.)

I credit that rain for the glory of the 2 very large orchid cactus.

The pink one has been blooming for a while. To judge by the little buds just arriving, the plant should bloom for weeks. It really was the star of the garden this week.

Here is a picture. The video apparently is not working with the new computer. I will have to do something about that.

The buds actually swell. That is just like the night blooming cereus buds, opening about the same time, a little bit after dark. Unlike the NBC these flowers will stick around for the day time, showing their stuff.

This is at 6:15 yesterday afternoon.

This is a 8:15.

This is a flower fully open a few days ago.


 Here are NBC buds from several years ago. You know they are going to bloom the next day when they swell. 

Here is the second large orchid cactus, getting ready to have yellow flowers. The video that was to go here would not work.

The martaagon lilies bloomed but more were nibbled. I think next summer I will just put up a deer barrier in that part of the garden.

The early morning sun did interesting things with this picture.

The first daylily bloomed Friday. I do not know its name. That is a phrase I seem to use a lot these days.

Other pictures this week

This is Hosta Tom Schmidt. The clump might be ten years old. I really liked the patterns in the leaves. The cactus flower offers color contrast.

This is Valley Glacer. Where the name comes from I do not know.

The hosta are rather remarkable these days, showing what they can do with enough moisture. This is Hosta Inniswood.

Here are some of the tiny buds on the orchid cactus.

There have been some waterlily flowers. I still have too many for my sized pond.

There are lots of tadpoles. They seem to like being on top of the lily pads.

This is a flowering croton.

Some caladium are almost like stained glass windows.

Julia's recipe

Moist Rhubarb coffee cake

It's rhubarb season here in the midwest. I bought some rhubarb at the farmers market last weekend. and made some sauce and also this coffee cake. The recipe comes from the local newspaper (IC Press-Citizen) which had several recipes from Michael Knock featuring rhubarb, one of which was for a rhubarb margarita. Not tempting, but I liked the looks of the coffee cake recipe, so here you go.

In other rhubarb news, a day or two ago a gardening friend of Philip's dropped off a gigantic bag of rhubarb. She was going to visit her parenta, and she anticipated the receipt of a gift of rhubarb. So she asked if she could give her current supply to us, and we said sure. I chopped up the rhubarb - it turned out to be 36 cups - for sauce. The 32 cups of rhubarb turned into 6 quarts of sauce. Plus another 5 cups of the smaller stalks for pie. That's a lot of rhubarb. I won't be buying any more. I'm rhubarbed out.

The ingredients for the cake:
2 cups flour;
1-1/4 cup white sugar;
1 teaspoon baking sode;
1/2 teaspoon salt;
2 eggs;
1 cup sour cream;
3 cups rhubarb, sliced into small pieces.

Ingredients for the streusel:
1 cup sugar;
1/4 cup melted butter;
1/4 cup flour; and 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. 

My rhubarb stalks were small, so I just sliced them thinly. If you have big stalks, cut them in half lengthwise and then slice.  The little glass on the left side of the picture holds some parsley, which did not figure into the coffee cake. 

I turned the oven on to 350 degrees. I lubed up 2 8"x8" pans. The cake can also be baked in a 9"x13" pan. The area of 1 9"x13" pan is close enough to the area in 2 8" square pans so it works out fine. 

If you have a 9"x13" recipe and want to bake it in smaller pans, do the math. A 9"x13" pan has an area of 117 square inches. An 8" by 8" pan has an area of 64 square inches. So 2 8" square pans come in at 128 square inches. Close enough. Not the case if you wanted to use 2 9"x9" pans. They could come in at 162 square inches. In two 9" square pans, the batter would be spread too thin. 

But I digress.

I first prepped the rhubarb. Then I mixed the dry ingredients in a big bowl. I made sure to mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with a spoon so there would not be any unpleasant pockets of baking soda or salt. It happens. 

I cracked the two eggs and beat them a little. Then I added the eggs followed by the sour cream.

I stirred it up, which took a bit of effort. It was a thick batter. I has to be a thick batter to stand up to 3 cups of raw rhubarb.

When there were no more pockets of flour, I stirred in the rhubarb. Now it was a thick batter with green splotches. 

I scooped the batter, in roughly equal amounts, into the two prepared baking pans and turned by attention to the streusel.

I melted the butter in a small pan. When it was melted, I took it off the stove and added the other streusel ingredients to the butter right there in the pan.

The streusel came out thick and a bit lumpy. I used a small measuring cup to sprinkle it on the cakes. using my fingers to break up the lumps and spread the streusel around. I sprinkled 1/4 cup on each cake, taking turns so each cake got about the same amount of streusel.

I baked the cakes for about 40 minutes. I thought they might bake up faster than that in smaller pans, but no. I would suggest you start testing after 35 minutes. A cake tester or toothpick or bamboo skewer should come out clean or with crumbs. Not gloppy. You will need to poke several places; you need to test in a place where there's only cake, not rhubarb. 

And here it is. We took one cake to the office, as one staff member had never had a baked thing with rhubarb. They liked it. 

The cake is moist, but holds together. It can be eaten on a plate with a fork or out of hand.

Happy rhubarb season. 

Odds and Ends

Someone brought some very nice calla lilies to the backdriveway sale. I had just planted the calla bulbs I stored over the winter in the last two weeks.

WIth callas on my mind, I noticed I had several up about 5 inches in the front sidewalk bed. Then I realized they had survived the winter.

The Shirley poppies have reseeded themselves along Fairview. However almost all of them are much smaller than last years wonderful flowers.

This one got the award for the best flower growing in tough conditions. It grew in the crack between the curb and the street.

The mornings get earlier every day. I guess that will continue for another two weeks. Sunrise in Iowa City is now at 5:31. Sunset is 8:40. The birds are awake before 5. I do not think they wake me then. My biological alarm clock does go off about then. I do get tired by early afternoon.

No cicadas yet in Iowa City.

Do you know there is a cacada map?

We are off to Chincoteague next weekend. We are meeting Katie and family for a week at the beach. There may be a limited blog for two weeks.

I did get some rabbit fence yesterday. Now I have to put it up in a little bed along the street. I want to see if I can still grow the Shirley poppies.

The lupines are almost done. The last few spires are appreciated.

There are many little lupine seedlings ever expanding to other beds. 

The orchids are all outside at this point. 

Our friend Pat lives in Florida. She sent pictures of this orchid. It is called Myrmecophlia.

My goodness. What a remarkable piece of work.

It is almost post time. I was up this morning a little before 5. 

Today I am going to repot the 4 adenium plants we have. I also have to navigate the internet to get a car rental for next weekend. I hate that. Something on the computer will not work. I then call the 800 number and get stuck in a computer loop.

Peace remains an elusive creature. I suppose we should throw some prayers at it. 

So pray for peace, and reconcillation, and to get rid of those crazies who either are in office or aspire for it.

Mostly be kind. Find some little thing you can do to make this fragile world a little better.