Monday, July 25, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Love in a Jar

I was walking through my garden last night and saw something blooming that I knew would make a great "In a Vase on Monday" candidate. This something was something I don't grow much of, in fact, there are only two stalks of blooms of this something in my garden at present and that may likely be all I get for this year. This something is also something that I think really does look better in a vase than in a garden and I can't think of much of any other somethings that I can say something like that about.

So this morning, I took my pruners to the garden and of course, you know what happened... I saw something else that needed pruning, so I pruned it. And then I remembered I was going to tip out my milkweed to stimulate some new growth for the monarchs that are not laying eggs on it. (Okay, we've found two eggs, but it should be many more.)

So I pruned that milkweed and inspected it for eggs and caterpillars and found none. :-(
I got rid of that and then remembered the something that I was going to prune for my vase and knew if I waited much longer, the somethings weren't going to be anything because each bloom doesn't last very long anyway.

I cut them and then I cut something else to go with them and went in the house and arranged my bouquet. I'm not a very good bouquet arranger, but flowers are pretty no matter what you do with them, so it looked okay to me. That's what mattered.

I photographed the bouquet from this angle and that and got ready to do my blog post for the meme, "In a Vase on Monday, " hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. But the photos of the arrangement I did today will have to wait until next Monday. Because there's an even better arrangement already in my house.

You may recognize these as Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota). They can be seen with such frequency around here right now that they seem downright invasive. In fact, they are not only on Ohio's Invasive Species list, they're on the Well-Established Invasive Species list.

They're pretty, in their own right. But this bouquet is the most beautiful one I've ever seen or had the pleasure of having in my home. It was a gift, you see...

If you've ever received a floral bouquet picked by a child, you know what I mean.

Thank you, Hannah.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Chicks and Uh-oh . . .

Last fall, after giving our hens another year to start laying more, when they didn't, we decided to give them up to a local family, who's raising them on their farm. We're told that one of the Buff Orpingtons has turned out to be a good little mother hen, sitting on eggs that later hatched. That makes me happy.

On Easter Sunday this year, we got new chicks, eight of them again. Two Black Australorps, two Americaunas, one Buff Orpington, one Leghorn, one Rhode Island Red, and one ISA Brown. I just wanted a variety.

We took two of the grandkids with us to Rural King, which is where we got our last ones. We had great success with them, with virtually no problems, and we're hoping that will be the case with these too.

I thought the chicks looked older when we got them and I questioned the sales associate. She assured me they were just a few days old, that they'd just gotten them in.


The first clue was that several of them were quick to use their wings to jump up on the side of the container we started them out in. Within the week, they were hopping up there. Time to put them in the coop.

Owl, the white Leghorn on the lower left, was larger right from the start.

And then one of the Black Australorps started crowing. Crow. Ing.

When my husband first told me, I just went into denial. I researched to see if hens ever crowed. Oh yes they do! Yay for crowing hens!  With no signs of spurs growing on their legs, I remained hopeful. The Australorp kept crowing.

This photo, when posted to Facebook, yielded a number of opinions as to whether
or not one of them (or possibly both) was a rooster.

The Australorp grew beautiful iridescent tail feathers. My hope was fading.

And then I heard a crow IN STEREO.

Nooooooooooo...  NO ROOS.

If you're receiving this post via email, to view the embedded video,
click here.

So now what do we do with two roosters, who most assuredly will not lay eggs? We could eat them, but there's no way I'm going to butcher them. And no one wants roosters. Do they? I wouldn't mind having one, just for the novelty of it, because I actually do love hearing them crow. But not two.

We didn't get them for pets, we got them for eggs. Feeding two roosters who will not hold up our end of the bargain just doesn't work. Doesn't SOMEONE want a rooster? Or two? They're really quite handsome.

The one thing that saved the day that we discovered we had two roosters was this:

Owl, the Leghorn, was the first to lay an egg! How do we know it was her?
She's the only white-egg layer we have.

I just KNEW those chicks were older...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Tart Cherry Crumble Recipe - Yum!

This year, we had our first cherry harvest from the two 'Carmine Jewel' dwarf cherry shrubs we have. I'd gotten two seedlings from Gurney's at a regional GWA (Garden Writers Association) meeting in 2011, and after being gnawed to the ground one winter by rabbits, they came back like gangbusters.

I had my first experience at pitting cherries and I can tell you it was more fun than shelling peas. I don't enjoy shelling peas, which is why I no longer grow them, but pitting the cherries was another one of those tasks that you can do without thinking. Or you can think about the pie or cobbler or liqueur that those cherries will become.

There are several ways to pit cherries if you don't have a proper cherry pitter. I opted to use a straw - a stainless steel straw, which I knew would hold up well. I simply put the end of the straw at the stem end and pushed the pit out the other end. Don't wear a white shirt while doing this, although it doesn't seem to cause a permanent stain if you wash it right away.

The harvest yielded 207 cherries, which was about a pint of cherries, weighing ¾ of a pound after pitting. That wasn't quite as many as the recipe I used them in called for, but it was enough. And it was good.

I pretty much followed this recipe found on The Kitchn:

Tart Cherry Crumble

For the cherries:

1 pound tart cherries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger, optional (I didn't use this)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

For the crumble:

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
⅔ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten well

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spread the cherries in an ungreased 9x9-inch baking dish, deep pie pan, or similar-sized dish. Toss the cherries with the sugar, flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Cut the butter into several pieces and melt over low heat in a small saucepan. Raise the heat slightly after it has melted, and cook, swirling frequently, until the butter has turned nutty brown. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the beaten egg and use your hands to combine the dry ingredients and egg. As you work the egg into the flour, it will form small moist crumbs. Sprinkle these over the cherries, then drizzle the browned butter over the topping.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and the cherries are bubbling. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream.

I'd make it again.

Dwarf Sour Cherry 
(Prunus cerasus 'Carmine Jewel')

This is a dwarf shrub-type of tart or sour cherry. It is suitable for growing in Zones 3a to 8b, in sun to part-shade. It prefers neutral to alkaline soil, but is adaptable to most soil types, including heavy clay.

Developed at The University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and introduced in 1999, this black cherry is consistently highly productive, with a high fruit-to-pit ratio.

Field notes on 'Carmine Jewel'

*I received these cherry plants as seedlings from Gurney's in 2011, free of charge. I have not received any other compensation for writing about them.

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