Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bacon Roses

So I was browsing Pinterest and came upon a bacon rose bouquet posted by Heather over at United States of Motherhood.  Isn't this just the perfect gift for that special man in your life.  Actually this would also be the perfect gift for me since I am a bacon loving fiend (no lectures please).

Seriously these bacon roses just made my day. Go take a look and give Heather some love!

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Glazed Grapefruit Cake

Glazed Grapefruit Cake
So I went to Costco... any posts that begins that way is going to get interesting... and I was in the mood for produce. Costco had some great produce, including grapefruit. I would probably have been fine with just one grapefruit.  But I bought the 10 pound bag. I had one for breakfast and it was wonderful.  After I ate one, I looked at the bag.  There were a LOT of grapefruit left in that bag.
what to do with all that grapefruit - make a cake
My hubby just can't be persuaded to eat grapefruit which leaves a whole lot of grapefruit for me. Probably a few more than I can finish before they have "passed their prime".

This got me to thinking of grapefruit recipe options. Which lead me to try making a grapefruit cake.  This recipe is a glorified lemon cake meets not quite a pound cake.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup (one stick) butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 eggs at room temperature
zest from 1 grapefruit
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup grapefruit juice, divided
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon grapefruit juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Cream butter and 1 cup of the sugar in a stand mixer.  Once fluffy add the eggs, one at a time, mixing completely between additions.
Grapefruit zest and naked grapefruit
And this is what one grapefruit's worth of zest looks like along with a naked grapefruit

Add the grapefruit zest along with the second egg.
add the grapefruit zest
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl combine 1/4 cup grapefruit juice, milk, and vanilla extract.  Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix to combine.  While mixing add about 1/2 of the milk/juice mixture to the mixing bowl.  Next add about 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix to combine.  Mix in the remaining milk/juice mixture to the mixing bowl then the rest of the flour mixture.

Pour batter into greased and floured loaf pan.
cake ready to cook
Bake 50 - 60 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
ready for syrup and glaze
Make grapefruit syrup by adding the remaining 1/2 cup grapefruit juice and 1/4 sugar to small sauce pan. Heat over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.

Once cake is done, remove from oven and let sit in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to cooling rack. Pour the grapefruit syrup over the cake.  You can poke small holes in the top of the cake with a skewer if you like before pouring the syrup on the cake.

Once the cake is completely cool make the glaze.  Combine the confectioners sugar and grapefruit juice in a small bowl.  Whisk until completely combined.  Drizzle glaze over top of cake.
Syrup and glaze on grapefruit cake

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Planning for Spring - Use a Garden Journal

Plan for Spring planting with a garden journal
The Humble Garden Journal
It is hard to think about planning for Spring planting when the garden looks like this.  But eventually, Spring will happen.  And when it does, I need to be prepared.
Bird house in the snow in garden
Several years ago I began to keep a garden journal.  This has become vitally important to my garden planning and planting.  I primarily use this journal to keep track of the edibles in our various gardens, both annual (like tomatoes, greens, and carrots) and perennial (like strawberries, grapes and blueberries).  But sometimes I make note of the landscaping plants if something strikes me as important or something I should remember.
Plan for Spring with a garden journal
My journal is nothing more than a pretty spiral notebook filled with lined paper that I found on clearance. No tabs, categories, or calendars.  Just paper and pen.
Use a journal to remember what happened in your garden each year
In my journal I keep track of everything going on in my garden.  I start with putting the date on top of the page. Then I start to write anything and everything that crosses my mind that day in the garden.  I do not journal every day, but try to get something written down four or five times a month.  Some entries are only a sentence or two and some entries go on for page after page.

Each year I draw maps of where I planted what with detailed lists of the type and variety of seed including who produced the seed. Then throughout the growing season I write down how everything is doing.  This includes information on the dates seeds (or plants) were put in, dates of germination, dates of first true leaves, dates of first flowers/fruits, harvest amounts, and very importantly how the things taste and whether my daughter and husband would eat it.  I also track pest damage and control measures, and soil amendments.  All this information helps me rotate crops, figure out what grows best in each type of garden environment, and determine if I want to grow that variety again or not.
Use the garden journal to keep maps, plants used, and harvest totals
In addition, in my journal I track the dates the first migratory birds arrive, even the ones just passing through to more northern climates. I track the dates the butterflies arrive.  I track when the critters show up: everything from chipmunks, fox, opossum, turkey, deer, and the ever challenging ground hog (we get a different one each year).
Include plant dates, varieties, pests, soil amendments, and harvests
I have enjoyed going back through my garden journal when planning the next Spring's plantings.  It is like winter therapy.  And, it is interesting how many details I forget once winter sets in and we are housebound for six months.  During the growing season I always assume I will remember this or that.  Nope.  I never do. Writing in my journal the details of how the garden performed that year has become an invaluable tool to successful growing.

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