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Friday, May 27, 2011

This Week in the Garden

Nasturtiums!

I was a bad girl this week. A very bad, bad girl. I repotted a few Nasturtiums when I wasn't suppose to. Oh, I do hope they make it. Funny thing about Nasturtiums, they are probably one of the least finicky flowering edible herbs to grow, as long as you leave them be. Peppery as they are, they just don't take kindly to being uprooted. An absolute No. No.
However, I do it all the time and each and every time I do, I stay awake nights hoping they make it. I kid you not:) As luck would have it, my sleepless nights usually occur in the month of May. (I start my seeds indoors mid April) The month of May is the best month to sow Nasturtium seeds directly in the ground or in their permanent, albeit, seasonal home. (since they are annuals here in PA, they must be sown each year.) No biggy though because they are as carefree as the hummingbirds and butterflies they attract. (they also attract aphids but that can be a good thing, sometimes)
This year, I'm growing a few Nasturtium seeds that I saved from last year. Problem is, my labeling system needs to be reorganized. I'm not sure of their color or variety. I'm really hoping they're from this trailing variety. Not that I remember its name, but it sure would look pretty in that new makeshift planter I snatched at a yard sale this weekend. (in between raindrops and tornado warnings that is)
Although, this variegated yellow is pretty too. I can just imagine its tumbling leaves cascading the shed's windows like living floral curtains.
Remember the other day when I posted about my snipping and cutting escapades? Well, you too can get your very own "free" seedling, legal like:) (I never destroy anyone's property when I whip out my trusty scissor, although, I'm not sure about the legality:) Save seeds! Not only are Nasturtiums nurturing free bloomers that display a profusion of brilliant splashes of color all summer long, once you see what the seeds look like, you too can easily dry them and save them for next year. How cool is that!!! Just check out this video @ Mr. Brown Thumb, and you'll see how easy they are to spot.
Okay, so you are either thinking, what the heck is she talking about? OR, "unlike Mr. Brown Thumb, my thumb is really brown. That's just it though, Nasturtiums are so easy to grow. They are one of the best flowers used for introducing children to gardening. My grandson, Noah planted his first Nasturtium seeds a few years back. After I told him how little care they needed, he chose to sow them in a rotted out tree stump. Yes, they grew! Nasturtium seeds are large, (easy handling for little hands) they germinate quickly, and with the exception of "damp feet," the new seedlings aren't at all fussy. As a matter of fact, they are quite adaptable. If you want lots of leaves and few flowers, plant the seeds in a shady area. (good idea if you plan on lots of Nasturtium salads:) If you plant them in poor soil in a sunny location, you will get lots and lots of tasty flowers for stuffing, floating or garnishing but we'll get to that as we go along.
No space in your humble abode? Have I got an idea for you. A Flower power window garden! Like many culinary herbs, Nasturtiums will grow right on your sunny window sill. They don't attract bugs because of their pungent peppery odor if anything, some say they ward off flies. The best house varieties are compact such as Copper Sunset, Empress of India, Whirlybird, and Alaska.
Why all this fuss about Nasturtium? Let's put it this way, they are the flower that just keeps giving and giving. Not only is it a polite guest in the home or garden, Nasturtiums are a ray of sunshine in the kitchen. Just look at this pasta dish prepared with Nasturtium Butter.
Imagine my delight when I discovered it in the fabulous Complete Pasta Cookbook from the Williams Sonoma Pasta Collection first published in 1996. Window Pane Pasta with Nasturtium Butter. It has a nice ring doesn't it? The recipe is rather lengthy so I'll try and break it down a bit. I've also scanned it below.
"The windowpane effect is achieved by sealing parsley leaves between two sheets of fresh pasta rolled so thinly that they are nearly translucent. In place of the parsley, try also making the window panes with other decorative, pleasant tasting fresh herbs such as small basil leaves or little sprigs of chervil or dill. As shown in the photograph, edible violas and nasturtiums provide a clorful garnish. You might also want to try sealing some of their petals in between the sheets of pasta. Other edible flowers you can use include more of the yellow to bright orange to orange-red nasturtiums used in the sauce; orange to deep violet pansies; and bright purple borage blossoms..."
The recipe suggests using egg pasta which is on a different page in the book. Although this recipe for egg pasta isn't exact, it does come from Williams-Sonoma Cooking At Home by Kristine Kidd and Chuck Williams. Of course, we can't forget about the delicately delicious nasturtium butter. You'll need 4 tablespoons. It too is on a different page so I've included the recipe below. If you would like detailed instructions, head on over to Food Wishes where not only will you find a recipe, but also a video.
Nasturtium Butter
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
40 nasturtium flowers, stemmed, and chopped (I'm sorry I can only give you a guesstimate on how many plants that might be. I'd say at least 10 organically grown nasturtium plants; or more:)
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Butter made be blended up to 1 day in advance in the refrigerator or up to one month before use in the freezer.
I have a feeling Window Pane Pasta with Nasturtium Butter was not the reason why French impressionist Claude Monet liberally planted the entrance gate to Giverny with meandering blooms of nasturtiums. This image was scanned from Monet's Table; The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet. I'll be sharing recipes from it in November in celebration of the day he was born. If you click the image, it will take you to a better image.

The main alley of Monet’s garden at Giverny is invaded by nasturtiums. Monet planted them this way, but originally, it was not on purpose. Monet wanted to soften the straight lines of his alley by an edge of small flowers, and he planted what he thought were dwarf nasturtiums. They began ramble along eventually creeping though and over the gravel. Monet liked this effect so much that he repeated it intentionally every year. (source)
Did you know ground up nasturtium seeds were used as a substitute for pepper during WWII? I didn't. I did however know that the peppery flavored flower buds cured in vinegar make a wonderful substitute for capers. Gather up the partially ripened seed pods after the blossom falls off. They should be a light green. Clean them off and steep them in white vinegar. If you don't have enough to fill up a jar, start the ones you do have and then just keeping adding. Some call them Poor Man's Capers. Some go as far as pickling the flowers too. Here's a recipe for pickled flowers that I found in another one of my favorite cookbooks, The Bountiful Kitchen.
Pickled Flowers
Your guests will love the novelty of edible pickled flowers, served up as a garnish or an antipasto platter.
4 cups water
1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 ounce nasturtium (about 20 flowers)
1-1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
Combine the water and salt in a sterilized 1-quart Mason jar or glass clamp jar, stirring to dissolve the salt.
Add the flowers and seal securely.
Set aside in a cool, dark place for 2 days.
Drain and transfer the flowers carefully to a sterilized 1-pint Mason or clamp jar.
Slowly add the vinegar and seal. (The jar will be less than full)
Set the jar aside for 3 days.
The pickled flowers have a shelf life of about 6 months.
Nasturtium leaves have a peppery-mustard taste much like water cress or arugula but with larger leaves and no tough stems. You can use them like watercress in sandwich spreads, or in soups, minced in vinaigrettes, and chopped in mayonnaise as a sauce for chilled fish. For sauces and salad dressing, use about one to two tablespoons of minced fresh leaves, depending on the amount needed. If you wait for the seeds to dry and choose not to pickle them, grind them up in a pepper grinder. Use as you would pepper or add to your favorite savory herb blend.
No need to be too fussy handling the flowers. One of the reasons they make an excellent garnish is because, although they look fragile, they are quite enduring. Use the spicy blossoms either whole or chopped to decorate creamy soups, salads, butters, cakes and platters. The leaves and flowers offer a delicate touch to tea sandwiches. My favorite is cucumber sandwiches with the yellow flowers like those from the Alaska series.
How patient are you? Stuff the blossoms! A simple egg salad is brought to life nestled inside that itty bittty cup. If you followed that link, you will be pleasantly surprised. No egg salad in that work of art. I was at one website where it was suggested to stuff the vibrant flowers with guacamole, Imagine how pretty that must look. I will be trying it!!!
Hummingbirds love nasturtiums. You too can enjoy their delicious nectar. Make vinegar. It's easy, really. Place about 5 nasturtium flowers in a one-cup jar and cover with hot (not boiling) white vinegar. If you like, add a sprig or two of fresh dill. Cover the jar and let the blossoms steep at room temperature for about 4 or 5 weeks. You can use it unstrained, or strained in salad dressing, marinades or added to sauces for a peppery flavor. Personally, I sometimes use rice vinegar and a clove of garlic. I also strain the spent flowers and replace them with fresh blooms. Great for gift giving!!!
Before I leave you, I'm going to drop off this video on How To Make Nasturtium Pesto. (Yes, pesto:)
And also another recipe. This one is from another excellent book titled The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley. It was a toss up between Crab Salad with Nasturtiums or Smoky Tomato Soup with Nasturtiums. I'm going with the tomato soup. After all, tomato season is right around the corner!!! One more thing. Well, there's lots more I'd love to share about nasturtiums but alas...The spiciness you will discover in nasturtiums is somewhat regulated by the summer heat. I usually plant some nasturtiums in partial shade so the spiciness is a bit milder for those who prefer it. Radiating sun equals a spicier taste!
Smoky Tomato Soup with Nasturtiums
2-1/4 pounds ripe Italian plum tomatoes
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seed
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 small onion, minced
1 cup loosely packed nasturtium leaves, plus 4 nasturtium flowers.
Prepare the grill or preheat broiler.
In a large bowl, toss the whole tomatoes with olive oil to prevent them from singering on the grill. Grill about 5 inches from heat source, turning frequently, until tomatoes are roasted and tender, about 5 minutes. They'll pop and spit while grilling so be careful. As the tomatoes are done, return them to the bowl.
Toast the cumin seed in a dry nonstick pan over high heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. The seeds pop and jump around while toasting, so pay attention.
Tip the roasted tomatoes into a processor or blender along with the roasted cumin, garlic, onion, and nasturtium leaves. Whiz until smooth. Serve warm at room temperature, or very slightly chilled, garnished with the nasturtium flowers.
Hopefully, my sleepless nights will be over soon. I've tucked the newly transplanted nasturtiums into their cozy fresh home and hung it between the two windows on the shed. I'm going to be redoing the window boxes while I wait ever so patiently for their little leaves to pop over the rim. Rest assured, I will be sharing that day!!! Thank you for spending the time in the garden with me this week. I do hope you will plant a few nasturtiums this year, Not only will they reward you with their vibrant simplicity, they make good kitchen pals too!
I really enjoyed gathering this post together. As I smile to myself at the thought of a few other new guests to the garden, I'm contemplating doing a post such as this again. Louise:)

Resources
1. Finding Cinderella in a Bleeding Heart

Sunday, May 22, 2011

An Uneventful Jelly Roll Update

My plan for today was a really quick post. I was just going to drop off a picture of my jelly roll, as promised in the pectin post I did the other day, and a short list of tasty days for the week. Well, guess what? The post just got even shorter!!! Here's the picture of the jelly roll. I'm posting it under protest but a promise is a promise and anyway, as Marion says, "it tastes better than it looks."

I tried to get a picture of Marion devouring the cake but it seems she's getting camera shy "in her young age." Update Sunday Evening: The Jelly Roll is gone, every last bite of it:) We had very little help from my son John, Kyla his lovely wife and Katie & the kids.

As for the list of tasty days, well, it appears I already have one made up. Some of you may have seen it last year. If not or if you just want a refresher, here's the link...May Food Celebrations 23rd-29th. Don't mind the introduction, it seems I was a bit under the weather last year when I posted it. I'm feeling much better now, however, I am going through a bit of a cooking crisis. Not only am I not happy with this cake, I also burned a huge pot of home made tomato sauce just the other day. I think I need to reassess my cooking expectations, soon.

Have a GREAT week everyone!!! I hope to be posting on Wednesday. See ya then:) And, thanks for dropping by...Louise:)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cause and Effect; No Jam for Me

Oh where, oh where has my strawberry jam gone
Oh where, oh where can it be
With its lid capped tight and its glistening smile
Oh where, oh where can it be?

You may remember at the beginning of the month I mentioned that May is National Strawberry Month. You may also remember these jars of Strawberry Jam prepared by my daughter Michele and her "jammin' friends.

Well, as luck would have it, I still haven't received my forgotten jars of frozen home made strawberry jam but, I did retrieve the recipe once I remembered Michele buying boxes and boxes of SURE.JELL®

The likelihood of me preparing my own frozen strawberry jam is nil. I do hope Michele eventually finds the time to send my jars (hint hint daughter:) In the mean time, I thought I would further investigate The Secrets of the Jam Cupboard. (© 1932)

Before there was SURE.JELL®, there was Certo and before that, plain old pectin.

Pectin extracted from plants has been used as a gelling agent in food for many years. In fact, the invention of using pectin as a gelling agent dates from the 1820s when the Frenchman Henri Braconnot prepared a synthetic jelly with alkali-extracted pectin. However, the first recorded commercial production of pectin extract was in Germany in 1908, after which the process spread to the U.S. where Robert Douglas obtained a patent.
Historically, apple pomace was the major source of pectin, but in recent years, an increasing use of citrus peel has taken place. An additional but less important source of pectin is sugar beet pulp. In recent years, new application opportunities have emerged and pectin is also used as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks and as a source of dietary fiber. It is also used as a thickening agent. (Food Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents by Alan Imeson; John Wiley and Sons, 2009 @ google books)
Click to enlarge:
continue @ google patents

If you noticed in the above patent information, Robert Douglass received his patent on May 20, 1919. Excuse me for a moment but I must take a second to announce that today also happens to be Dolly Madison's birthday. If you click the image below, it should take you to a post I did about her and her "fashionable" contribution to dining at the White House.

So, who was Robert Douglas? It seems, Robert Douglas' father, David Douglas, founded the Scone Jam Factory in Perth Scotland. "Robert Douglas moved to America where he discovered fruit pectin and became President of the Certo Corporation," later sold to General Foods.
...Here his sons learnt the business of jam making and when they went to America they devised a means of extracting from fruit, mainly apples, a setting agent called fruit pectin which was used by preserve manufacturers. They later commercialised the product under the name of Certo for the use of the housewife which proved to be highly successful...

Just what is CERTO?

Let's take a peak into the Secrets of the Jam Cupboard:
Certo is a solution of that constituent of fruit which makes jelly "jell." It is a pure fruit product extracted from fruit, refined and concentrated to a definite jelly-making strength. Added to fruit or fruit juices, Certo supplies the exact amount of jellying substance needed.
Liquid pectin, Certo, was first produced for commercial use only. Around 1921, Certo Corporation introduced liquid pectin to the retail market. It is said that the name for Certo was suggested my a maid at the Douglas household who came up with the name because it proved certain to make jelly, "jell." Who knows for sure? We do know that a pectin in powdered form, Sure-Jell, was introduced around 1934.
Personally, I have never "jelled." I don't even know the difference between jelly, jam, preserves and Jell-O. I need to know, is there a difference? Why yes there is. For one thing, pectin is a carbohydrate where gelatin is a protein. Here are a few other basic differences, just in case you too need to know:)
  • In jelly, the fruit comes in the form of fruit juice.
  • In jam, the fruit comes in the form of fruit pulp or crushed fruit.
  • In preserves, the fruit comes in the form of chunks in a syrup or a jam.

Make Your Own Pectin

Did you know you can make your own pectin right in your home kitchen? Understand, I said you. The chances on me making homemade pectin is more niller than me making my own homemade jelly or jam. (is niller a word I wonder:) First, I need to refresh my memory as to what pectin is. Bear with me for just a quote:)
Pectin is a natural carbohydrate that is extracted from the inner peel of many fruits; it is most commonly extracted from lemons, as well as limes, oranges and grapefruits. It is the interaction between pectin and sugar that causes jams and jellies to set. The PH of the food also plays a role in this interaction between pectin and sugar, so some recipes call for lemon juice in order to make the recipe just acidic enough to set. The peels are washed, ground and processed to extract the pectin. (Kraft)
Many fruits such as apples, apricots, quince, pears, plums, gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits, contain pectin naturally with the white part of citrus peels containing the highest amount.

Fruit like cherries, grapes, strawberries and blackberries contain little pectin and either have to be concentrated down or need to be mixed with apples and other fruit to set. Seeds often contain lots of pectin which is why grape jellies are always made with grape seeds and why plum seeds are often added in a muslin bag to plum jams. You can also add citrus peel to other jams to add more pectin to them. Carrots can contain up to 1.5% pectin so you can add a muslin bag of grated carrot to a fruit jam or jelly to help them set. The same is true of rhubarb which also contains about 1.2% pectin. Kitchen Butterfly has an excellent post available on How to Make & Preserve Apple Pectin which is introduced by a lovely poem. Such talent!!! There's also a Jam Making Pectin Chart for Fruit here.

An excellent source of instructions, for preparing your own pectin at home, can be found at Oregon State University. I was going to include them here but they are so thorough, they just plum got in my way!

However, I would like to add just a little addendum to their wonderful directions. It's a bit "old fashioned" and perhaps not as accurate as their suggested test but I did have to mention it.

Test for Pectin: Their way:
An alcohol test gives a rough estimate of the amount of pectin in fruit juice. In a small dish, put 1 teaspoon juice and 1 Tablespoon 70% rubbing alcohol. Stir slightly to mix.

Juice high in pectin will form a solid jelly-like mass that can be lifted with a fork, Juices low in pectin will remain liquid or form only small particles jelly-like lumps. Note: Do not taste this mixture. Rubbing alcohol is poisonous. Keep the container out of reach of children.

Another Way:
I found another method for testing for pectin in the American Woman's Cook Book published in 1947. If I were a jelly making type of girl, I'd certainly give it a whirl. Epsom salt sounds so much better than rubbing alcohol. Don't you think? If anyone trys it, I'd love feedback!!!

To determine the proportion of pectin present in a fruit juice, combine 1 tablespoon extracted juice, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons Epsom salt. Stir until salts are dissolved, let stand 20 minutes. If a solid mass or large flocculent particles are formed, the juice contains enough pectin to make a satisfactory jelly.

How about when it comes to Powdered Pectin vs. Liquid Pectin? This is what Kelly, an experienced "jammer" has to say. (Thanks Kelly:)

"I have made a LOT of Jam this summer. I have come to notice that several of the recipes I use call for liquid pectin instead of powered pectin.  I am a frugal person and it pains me to have to pay twice as much for the liquid pectin.  So I did some research and have learned that you can use powered pectin in a recipe that calls for liquid pectin, but you have to add the ingredients in a different order.  The two pectin’s are not quite interchangeable, but all of my results have been fabulous.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: When using powdered pectin for cooked jam, add it to the strained juice or chopped fruit BEFORE heating. Next, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). THEN add the sugar. Bring to a boil again and boil for 1 minute.

When using liquid pectin, first combine the chopped fruit (or strained juice) with the sugar and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil; (stir constantly so you won’t scorch the mixture). Then add the liquid pectin, return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute."

Freezer Strawberry Jam

The long awaited strawberry jam Michele and her pals congealed is absolutely delicious. She's been making the same recipe ever since the kids were able to eat peanut butter and jelly. Last summer, she didn't make as much as normal and boy oh boy, did Noah miss his strawberry jam!!! Noah has recently been diagnosed with numerous food allergies. Thank goodness neither peanut butter or strawberries were on the list!

It winds up that I did manage to take the Sure.Jell recipe leaflet home with me even if I did forget the strawberry jam. (in my own defense, I wasn't thinking about hitting the freezer at 4AM) The recipe leaflet followed me home because it is enroute to Katie's house. When Katie heard there was an easy, sweet way to make strawberry jam that didn't require a lot o fuss, she requested the recipes, as she said, "for the kids. I know better:)

Michele swears by the above recipe, while others have had to make a few adjustments.

As I looked for a special recipe to include in todays post, I happened upon this thing of beauty in The Reader's Digest Book of Cakes.

Isn't it just gorgeous! The book labels it Rosita Charlotte while the hostess over @ Bonbini calls it Charlotte Royal, also an acceptable name, don't you think:) Quite frankly, when I first laid eyes on this cake, I knew I was going to have to attempt to bake it myself. As I write this post, my roulade is chilling in the fridge. I'm not sure I'm up to preparing the bavarian cream which goes into the center of the mold but, I may just give it a whirl. We'll see:) In the mean time, I must leave you with directions for preparing this cake. It is such an elaborate looking cake that I know many of you will lift to graciousness. Just look what Lauren did!!!

Rosita Charlotte
This recipe calls for a jelly roll filled with strawberry jelly or in my case strawberry-like jam. Roll the cake up tightly, wrap in waxed paper, and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour to make for easy slicing. I suggest choosing your favorite roulade recipe first. I went with a chocolate sponge roll recipe that I adapted using a cake mix. (I was determined to at least try and for me, these days, that means cake mix) I was, however, quite tempted to attempt the Chocolate Sponge Cake recipe I found at The Joy of Baking. You're also going to need to check your recipe files for your favorite Bavarian Cream recipe. Your choices are numerous. I would have loved to try Mary's recipe over @ One Perfect Bite. I just wasn't sure I would do it justice though. As I said, I'm hesitant when it comes to Bavarian Cream. Bavarian Creams are thickened custards fortified with gelatin and lightened with whipped cream. Bavarian Cream fillings are very firm and hold their shape when sliced or unmolded. The directions in the book suggests a Classic Bavarian Cream.

Once you have your tasty "tools," it just a matter of assembly:
1. Rinse a 1-1/2 quart charlotte mold or souffle dish with cold water.
2. Without drying, line the mold/bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Cut the jelly roll into 1/2 inch thick slices
4. Line the mold/bowl with the slices, fitting them tightly.
5. Spoon the Bavarian Cream over
6. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until set.
7. Place a serving plate over the mold/bowl and invert.
8. Carefully remove the wrap.

Tune in Sunday to see how my roulade shaped up. I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with it. And, before I forget, tomorrow is, you guessed it, National Strawberries and Cream Day!!!

Resources
1. International Pectin Producers Association (I was surprised too:)
2. Food Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents (@ google books)
3. How To Make Jams And Jellies
4. Making Jam And Preserves
5. Making Jelly
6. Using Honey and Corn Syrup in Jelly
7. History of the Jelly Doughnut @ Leite's Culinaria
8. Powdered Pectin vs. Liquid Pectin
9. Gelling problems
10. Pectin for Arthritis Pain?
Recipes
1. Make Your Own Apple Pectin (step by step info)
2. Sure-Jell Strawberry Jam Recipe
3. Lemon-Poppyseed Jelly (@ Lynn's Queen of the Castle)
4. Luxury Strawberry And Champagne Jam
5. Forever Amber: Versatile Apple Jelly
6. Pomegranate Jelly
7. Garlic Lovers’ Tomatillo Jam (no pectin required)
8. Unusual Jelly Recipes
9. Mom's Fig Jam (@ Cucina Panzano)
10. Sour Cherry Freezer Jam
11. Reduced-Sugar Blackberry-Plum (or Raspberry-Plum) Freezer Jam
12. Freezer Apricot Jam
13. Long list of recipes
14. Extensive Recipe List; Food in Jars

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's National Chocolate Chip Day!!!

Happy Chocolate Chip Day! I know I said I wasn't going to be posting today however, when I told Marion it was National Chocolate Chip Day, she insisted (in a very kind way, of course:) that I celebrate the day with this recipe for Chocolate Walnut Tart. I just couldn't say no when she informed me that she spent an hour going through back issues of Taste of Home Magazine that she caveated at the community yard sale yesterday. (I'm sure she enjoyed every moment:)

So, Happy National Chocolate Chip Day from Marion. (click to enlarge)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sleep, Creep, Leap and a Bit of Sweet

I must apologize for my lack of posts and visits lately. The culprit, Fishing Creek Greenhouse. Remember this picture from way back in March?

Now, feast your eyes upon this!

And this!

Yes siree "Bob", We're a bloomin', Bigtime! Well, Fishing Creek is anyway. Me? Not so much.

Mound October 2010

You see, last year I decided I wanted to plant a simple flower garden; my first. Although I have planted quite a few larger flower gardens in my time, I've never actually had one of my very own. I've designed herb gardens and perennial gardens and even one knot garden for others, just as a hobby, but personally, except for a few decorative accents, I've always gone by the way of a veggie garden. Now that I live in "farm country," here in Central PA, and don't actually have to do farm work, I'm delighted to visit the neighborhood stands for the fresh produce of the day.

I haven't learned the seasonal calendar quite yet but I don't mind, surprise crops excite our menu. I have, discovered however that the season begins with baked goods. All kinds of goodies!

My approach to my new flower garden was rather cavalier. Oh, mind you, I drew sketches and graphs and wrote little note cards just like normal but, I pretty much tossed them mid stream. Figuratively that is. You see, I'm a clipper. If you spy me snooping about one of your plants or trees, don't be too alarmed until, you see this.

These are my trusty scissors. They are with me at all times. (not on my trips to Idaho of course:) I can whip them out in a moments notice if something strikes my fancy.

For instance, see this Red Twig Dogwood? I call it my Pizza Hut plant. Two years ago last December, when I was still living in New York, I made my usual 5 hour trek up to PA to check on the house. Alone and hungry, I decided to pick up something to nibble at on my way home. As I pulled into the Pizza Hut parking lot, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but this blazing red twig of a thing resting on a blanket of snow. I'm not sure if it was the way the neon sign was glowing or if my tired eyes were playing tricks on me but I immediately knew I had to have a piece. Plant piece not pizza piece, yet:) Out came my trusty scissor. Ever so gingerly I plowed through the snow bank, looked left, then right and then, SNIP! It was mine. Little did I know what it was and little did I care. I liked it and that, was That. The personal pan pizza supreme, not too much. There are many more clipping stories but I'll spare you, this time:)

Besides my clipping escapades, I'm also a seed snatcher. One morning late last summer, when I stopped at the local post office, I noticed the prettiest Marigolds caressing the cool white limestone. I always had Marigolds growing in the vegetable garden, it's one of the best companion plants there are for keeping aphids away. However, I don't think I ever appreciated them for their simplistic beauty. The post office Marigolds, that's what my labels read on my seedlings that are beginning to sprout, were a must have. La de la de la, with scissor in pocket, I slip into the post office to drop off my package. Dum dee dum dee dum, I lean over, dead head a few pretty marigolds and drop them in my pocket and quietly drive away.

Of course, I also enjoy actually buying plants too. That's when I met Katie. Katie has expanded her growing selections quite a bit this year. For one thing, this year she's growing Cockscomb. Yes, there's a story. I bought this Cockscomb flower head at a local flea market back in 2009. It stayed a striking bright red for months and months. As it began to fade, I noticed these teeny tiny seeds flaking around the bottom of the vase. Gee, I wondered, could they really be viable seeds. Will they grow? The answer dear readers is YES! You see that fuzzy trim near the top of the stem? The specks are hidden inside. How cool is that?

Well, as you can imagine, I managed to collect quite an assortment of seeds and twigs. I also bought way too many plants as the season progressed. Not knowing which would reproduce and which would not, I carefully labeled the seeds I was sure of and slipped them into envelopes. The seeds and twigs I wasn't so sure of I simply labeled don't know. Very scientific, don't you think?

Which leads us to the mound.

Mound April 2011

Funny thing about Pennsylvania soil. It's clay. I haven't quite gotten use to it yet. Coming from Long Island, I never really had to deal with clay soil. Although Long Island soil needs to be dressed to suit a plant's needs, you can pretty much get away with planting most zone friendly plants with little consideration. That has been my experience anyway. Okay, so I am accused of having a pale green thumb. That's not to say the soil doesn't have to be worked. It does. However, conditioning soil in Central PA is from the ground up, literally. Which is more than surprising to me. I'm in the center of an agricultural community and quite frankly, I am sometimes amazed by the cream of the crops. We're talking toiling here, back breaking work! I now understand why landscaping Long Island "style" is not Pennsylvania style. By the time residents have worked the fields, who has time for flower gardening. And yet, professional landscaping is a booming business around here. I figured that out too. There's just so much land and open space. It needs to be tending to. Good thing for me I don't have quite an acre. If I had more than that, I'd be going by the way of pro landscaper or au naturel. (I may not even take care of the weeds in the yard. I may leave them natural as well. We'll see:)

Okay, so at the end of the season last year, I scavenged around for compost, top soil and all the trimmings. My plan was to plop a mixture in a mound and plant it with whatever my little heart desired. Not so fast. Remember those plans and sketches? Well, they called for a little less plopping and a bit more planning. But, what do do with the stash of seeds and twigs? Plant, plant, plant. Out the window went the best laid plans. I've got seedlings growing everywhere! I had so many youths hanging around here that I had to send some off to Katie's greenhouse for her to grow and sell. And, Marion hasn't been totally innocent in this questionable endeavor. Let's just call her the mail order gardening Queen. Seriously, we get nursery deliveries nearly every day. Mostly bulbs. All kinds of bulbs. Most of them are planted in big tubs so I can move them around the yard or put them in front of the shed. However, right smack in the middle of the mound are planted four tulip trees. Yes, tulip trees. I must admit, I'm new to Tulip Trees. I haven't seen one up close and personal, but if they grow as the directions say they will, they should be 6 feet in three years. Now, I call that leaping!!! Beautiful gifts from Marion:)

I'm focusing more on perennials while Katie is growing wild in annuals. People seem to like instant color after a long winter such as we had this year. Me, I don't mind waiting. As a matter of fact, Katie has a saying about perennials.

The first year they sleep.
The second year they creep.
The third year they Leap!

Tis true, you know:) My bird inviting butterfly inspiring flower bed is going to be my back yard sanctuary you just wait and see!!!

Mound May 2011

I did need help putting up the fence but the rest, well you guessed it, little 'ol me. Hey, I even bought a dump truck that I can barely drive. What do you think of this, Marjie:)

How else would I haul manure? Yes, gentle readers, I've been working my butt off. That's okay though. It's been a long difficult winter all around and believe me, my butt has plenty to show for it:) I'll keep you posted on how the growing is going but for now, rest quietly knowing I'm thinking about you all and will try to at least post once a week until things are a bit more situated around here. Who knows, maybe I'll finally buy that laptop I've been promising myself and blog right from my own little corner of the world.

A Bit of Sweet

I just can't leave you without dropping off at least one note of trivia and a few recipes, now can I? How about something sweet? Karo for instance. According to the Karo website, on May 13, 1902, both Karo Light and Dark Corn Syrup were first introduced by the The Corn Products Refining Company of New York and Chicago. 1902? Wow! Karo is older than Marion. Marion, however, is much more refined:) It just so happens that I have a few Karo Corn syrup cookbooks. The Corn Products Refining Company was never stingy with their vast amount of promotions. But that dear readers will have to be a post for another day.

Since the state of Minnesota celebrated its statehood on May 11th, why not begin with a recipe from Minnesota? BTW, did you know, Minnesota is the "birthplace" of both SPAM & and Betty Crocker? As a matter of fact, like many states, Minnesota has an official state food. Curious? Check this out. You may as well check out the SPAM museum, also in Minnesota, while you're at it. I'll be plating up some Potato Piggies while you're gone. The recipe is from The New Karo All American Cook Book. (a collection of prize winning recipes from all 50 states and other favorites from the Karo kitchens)

Potato Piggies
2 cups cooked mashed potatoes
8 frankfurters, halved crosswise
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
1/2 cup Karo dark corn syrup
1 cup canned French fried onion rings
parsley, optional

Directions
1. Spread potatoes completely around each frankfurter half with spatula or knife.
2. Roll in corn flake crumbs
3. Arrange in lightly grease 8 inch square baking dish and drizzle with Karo syrup.
4. Sprinkle with onion rings and parsley flakes.
5. Bake, uncovered, in 350° F. oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until well browned and crisp.
Makes 4 servings.

And, you thought Karo was only good for Pecan Pie. Or is it? (see resource #1 for pecan pie info. Way cool...) The next recipe I'm just going to scan. It's way past my bedtime, now that I'm an official gardener, and I have to haul a few loads of mulch tomorrow:)

Sadly, I won't be posting this Sunday, which happens to be National Chocolate Chip Day. Yes, I know, some celebrate in August but Candy USA goes with May and I'm with them! (August Chocolate Chips? Not so much:) In the midst of everything, we're having our annual community yard sale this weekend. Oh I know, a city girl like me speaking community yard sale language. What has happened to me:) It should be fun with lots of food including a chicken barbecue compliments of our local firehouse. Those guys:) Marion is really looking forward to it. I won't even tell you how many hats, scarves and darling little purses she crocheted. Last year she simply gave them away to anyone who "looked" like they wanted one. There were many:) Enjoy the rest of your week everyone. "See" you next week, for sure!!!

Resources
Repast, the official publication of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor. (scroll to Summer 2006)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Day of National Celebration in Honor of Mothers

Happy Mother's Day to all you nurturers out there:)
Many people are under the misconception that Mother's Day was "invented" by Hallmark. Why wouldn't they be? Commercialism has taken hold on every holiday from New Year's to Christmas for countless years. I have in my hand a copy of a book titled Celebrations by Robert J. Myers AND, The Editors of Hallmark Cards. (1972)

Our observance of Mother's Day is little more than half a century old, yet the nature of the holiday makes it seem as if it had roots in prehistoric times. Many antiquarians, holiday enthusiasts, and students of folklore have claimed to find the source of Mother's Day in ancient spring festivals dedicated to the mother goddesses, particularly the worship of Cybele. Her cult was introduced into Rome some two hundred and fifty years before the birth of Christ and rites were performed for three days beginning with the Ides of March. This festival was known as Hilaria. However, the step from worship of the feminine principle of life to the honoring of our immediate mothers is not one that was taken in Roman times. The Hilaria was a religious holiday; Our Mother's Day basically is not.
From Mother's Day; its History, Origin, Celebration, Spirit, and Significance...(1915)
Our earliest record of formal mother-worship is in the stories of the ceremonies by which Cybele, or Rhea, "The Great Mother of the Gods," was worshipped in Asia Minor. In her worship it was the power and majesty of motherhood rather than its tender maternal spirit that the wild dances and wilder music celebrated. Cybele was represented as traversing the mountains in a chariot drawn by lions...The worship of this superlative "Mother of Gods" was introduced through Greece into Rome about two hundred and fifty years before Christ. There is was known as the festival of Hilaria and was held on the Ides of March...With the advent of Christianity, the old celebration was transfigured into a celebration in honor of the "Mother Church." It became the custom on Mid-Lent Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, for the faithful to visit the church in which they were baptized and brought up bearing gifts for the altar.
Some of these first myths of "mother-worship" became closely aligned with Mothering Sunday in England; a day when children returned to their homes bringing with them small gifts or a "mothering" cake for their mothers. From Chamber's Book of Days:
The harshness and general painfulness of life in old times must have been much relieved by certain simple and affectionate customs which modern people have learned to dispense with. Amongst these was a practice of going to see parents, and especially the female one, on the mid Sunday of Lent, taking for them some little present, such as a cake or a trinket. A youth engaged in this amiable act of duty was said to go a-mothering, and thence the day itself came to be called Mothering Sunday.
There was also a cheering and peculiar festivity appropriate to the day, the prominent dish being furmety which we have to interpret as wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced. In the northern part of England, and in Scotland, there seems to have been a greater leaning to steeped pease fried in butter, with salt and pepper. Pancakes so composed passed by the name of carlings; and so sonspicuous was this article, that from it Carling Sunday became a local name for the day.
Another popular delicacy held in high praise on Mothering Sunday was Simnel Cake. Simnel Cake is like a rich fruitcake with an outer crust made of flour and water. The crust is colored yellow with saffron and usually artfully ornamented. Etymologists refer the word simnel to the Latin word simila, meaning the finest flour. Others believe that the father of Lambert Simnel (Also known as: Edward, Earl of Warwick) who was a baker was the first to make these cakes naming them as such. If you would like to take a gander at a Simnel Cake recipe I posted on Mothering Sunday a while back, here's the link. (Not to worry, it isn't a long post:)

Mother's Day in the USA!



There wasn't much time to celebrate Mothering Sunday in those early years of America's English settlement. It wasn't until around 1872 when Julia Ward Howe, the author of the lyrics for the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," proposed an annual Mother's Day for Peace. Committed to abolishing war after seeing the devastating effects of the Civil War, Howe wrote:
"Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage... Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs".
Although the formal designation of a specific day as Mother's Day was proclaimed on May 9, 1914, by President Woodrow Wilson, the first Mother's Day observation in the United States was a church service held at the request of Miss Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908. It was not strictly a Mother's Day service in honor of motherhood but more of a tribute to Anna's mother.
...The following spring, Anna wrote to the Superintendent of Andrews Methodist Church Sunday School in Grafton, suggesting that the church in which her mother had taught classes for twenty years, celebrate a Mother's Day in her honor. The idea appealed to Mr. Loar and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother's Day service was held in the church. Anna established the white carnation as the symbol of the celebration and developed other text and visual tools in honor of the event. It was Anna who coined the term, "Mother's Day Association", used during the period she was developing her concept of what Mother's Day should be. Subsequently, West Virginia Gov. William E. Glasscock issued the first Mother's Day proclamation on April 26, 1910. In 1912, at the General methodist Conference in Minneapolis, MN, Anna was recognized as the founder of Mother's Day. A joint resolution in the United States Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The official resolution was approved by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
Once again from Celebrations and the Hallmark editors:
The carnations which have become such a familiar part of Mother's Day were introduced and supplied at the first church service held in Grafton, West Virginia by Miss Jarvis. They were chosen because of her mother's fondness for them. The flowers were immediately accepted as appropriate for the occasion. Red carnations in time became the symbol of a living mother, while white ones were worn as a sign that one's mother had passed.

They say that man is mighty,
He governs land and sea,
He wields a mighty scepter
O'er lesser powers than he;
But mightier power and stronger
Man from his throne has hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
W.R. Wallace

It's rather ironic that the woman behind the establishment of Mother's Day was never herself a mother. Unmarried for her entire life, Anna Jarvis devoted her life to taking care of her mother and her blind sister after her mother had passed. She became quite disillusioned with the way the holiday flourished into a day of commercialism.
It didn't take very long for Mother's Day to change from a semi-religious occasion of prayers for peace and appreciation of the work and love of mothers around the world to a gifts, flowers, candy and dining out extravaganza. Anna Jarvis was actually arrested at a Mother’s Day festival while trying to stop women from selling flowers. Jarvis said "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment not profit." (Mother's Day History)

Old Mothers by Charles S. Ross
I love old mothers--mothers with white hair,
And kindly eyes, and lips grown softly sweet,
With murmured blessings over sleeping babes,
There is something in their quiet grace
That speaks the calm of Sabbath afternoons'
A knowledge in their deep, unfaltering eyes,
That far outreaches all philosophy.
Time with caressing touch, about them weaves
The silvered-threaded fairy-shawl of age,
While all the echos of forgotten songs,
Seemed joined to lend a sweetness to their speech.
Old Mothers!--as they pass with slow-timed step,
Their trembling hands cling gently to youth's strength
Sweet mothers! as they pass, one sees again,
Old garden walks, old roses and old loves.

Mother's Day @ Our House



So what did Marion request for Mother's Day? Not much I'm afraid. We're having a pretty quiet day around here for Mother's Day. I persuaded Marion to at least select a special cake that we could share for Mother's Day and wouldn't you know it, she chose this Special Rhubarb Cake with a rich vanilla sauce that she found in the Taste of Home 2002 Annual Recipes cookbook. (readers may remember I'm not too fond of rhubarb:) None the less, I will be baking this cake later on today:)


Special Rhubarb Cake
Ingredients:
2 tbs. butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (frozen may be used)
Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar (I'll probably use vanilla sugar:)
2 tbs. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
Vanilla Sauce:
Directions:
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating just until moistened. Fold in the rhubarb. Pour into greased 9 inch square baking dish. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. For Sauce, melt butter in a saucepan. Add sugar and milk. Bring to boil, cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Serve with cake.

Have a wonderful day everyone. Now that things are pretty much back to normal around here, I should be back to my regular postings and visitings this week. It's been one heck of a week!!! BTW, Tomorrow is National Butterscotch Brownie Day!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Yummy Month of May!!!

The month it was the month of May...
And all the flowers sprang up to see...

Louise Moulton

Hi everyone! I had a wonderful trip in Idaho and my flights weren't that bad either. We won't talk about how much the kids have grown else, I will be posting today through teary eyes.

Through the years I have celebrated the month of May with GREAT gusto!!! Here's a rundown.

National Barbecue Month

Fire up those grills, May is National Barbecue Month!!! And, the first week of May is National Herb Week! Try this recipe for Lemon-Thyme Barbecue Sauce and let me know what you think. We love it around here, especially with a delicate fish.
Lemon-Thyme Barbecue Sauce
3 tbs. white wine vinegar
1 tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
5 or 6 green onions, white part only, chopped
2 tbs. chopped fresh lemon thyme (or 2 tbs. regular thyme, plus 1 tsp. grated lemon peel.)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3 tbs. vegetable oil
3 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
In medium glass bowl, combine all ingredients. Let sit at least 30 minutes before using. This sauce is best used the day you make it, but will keep, refrigerated, a few days.

Uses:
As a marinade or table sauce for grilled seafood, chicken, or vegetables. Also good over boiled potatoes. Or, double the recipe and use as both a marinade and table sauce.
The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce Cookbook

National Egg Month

Why does the egg industry hold National Egg Month in May, so soon after Easter? Because sales tend to slow at that time. So, May is the time the egg industry reminds everyone about the many benefits of The incredible edible egg™. (National Egg Board)
I find this recipe for Potted Peppers most intriguing. Yes, you cook them on the grill:)
Potted Peppers

4 medium green peppers
8 eggs
1/4 cup vodka
8 drops hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheese, (the recipe suggests processed American but I've prepared it with Cheddar and believe me, it's yummy!)
Salsa or picante sauce (see below for salsa recipe)
1. Remove tops and seeds from peppers. Stand upright. Beat 2 eggs into each pepper. Add 1 tablespoon vodka and 2 drops of hot pepper sauce to each. Top with cheese.
2. Preheat grill for 10 minutes. Bundle wrap each pepper. (see below)
Grill at medium heat with hood closed until eggs are set, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with salsa. 4 servings.

Gas Grill Cookouts

National Salad Month!

"Happiness is like potato salad, when you share it with others, it's a picnic"

A Dish of Salad
To make this condiment your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard boiled eggs;
Two boil'd potatoes, pass'd through kitchen-sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give;
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half suspected animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites too soon.
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault
To add a double quantity of salt.
And, lastly o'er the flavor'd compound toss
A magic soup-spoon of anchovy sauce.
Lady's Friend Magazine
April, 1867

National Salsa Month

Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) Just wouldn't be the same without salsa. Here's a simple recipe for Grilled Tomatillo Salsa from The Tomato Cookbook (2006)
Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1. Grill tomatillos over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning until all sides are lightly charred but vegetable is still firm. Remove from heat and cut in half or quarters, depending on the size of the tomatillo. Combine with tomatoes, cilantro and onion in a bowl.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Shake, pour over salsa and toss. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 4 servings.

National Hamburger Month

We Americans may have been slow to adapt the hamburger to our way of eating, but now, we have taken those little bundles to heart; literally. Did you know, Hamburger history began in Hamburg, Germany. Following is an excerpt from Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices by George Leonard Herter & Berthe E. Herter (c) 1973.
In 1891 Otto Kuase was a cook in a restaurant back of the waterfront in Hamburg, Germany. He made a sandwich as follows that the sailors who stopped at the port liked very well. Here is how he made it:

First take two slices of bread and lightly butter one face of each. make a thin patty of ground sausage beef and fry it in butter. Fry an egg lightly on both sides in butter. Place the fried patty of sausage beef on one buttered side of the bread, give it a touch of mustard and a slice or two of pickle. Put the fried egg on top of the meat patty, then place the buttered face of the other slice of bread on top of the fried egg.

This sandwich was known to the sailors as Deutsches Beefsteak. With a few steins of beer, a sandwich like this really did something for you.

In 1894 sailors, who had been to Hamburg and visited the port of New York told restaurant owners about Otto's good sandwich. The restaurants began to make the sandwich for the sailors. Pretty soon all the sailors had to do was ask for a "hamburger" and they got what they wanted. Sadly, however, the egg disappeared from the sandwich and catsup, which was cheaper, took its place. Buns were used instead of bread slices to make sandwiches quicker and cheaper.
While the origin of the American hamburger is hotly debated, Seymour, Wisconsin claims to be the home of the hamburger. Each August, Seymour holds a “Burger Fest.” While, Seymour may hold the claim, it looks like the Library of Congress has yet another view of where the first hamburgers in the US were served; New Haven, Connecticut at a place called Louis' Lunch Sandwich Shop in the year 1895. (The LOC website was down as of this writing but here's the info from wiki.)

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

From wikipedia

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of the culture, traditions, and history of Asians Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Congress passed a joint Congressional Resolution in 1978 to commemorate Asian American Heritage Week during the first week of May. This date was chosen because two important anniversaries occurred during this time: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad (by many Chinese laborers) on May 10, 1869. In 1990 Congress voted to expand it from a week to a month long celebration and in May 1992, the month of May was permanently designated as "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month."
I usually seek out my Asian inspired recipes at Pam's blog, For the Love of Cooking. Since it is Hamburger month, check out these Asian inspired Turkey Burgers too!!!

National Asparagus Month

Don't wait til Asparagus Day (May 24th) to celebrate National Asparagus Month, we've all been waiting patiently for the harbinger of Spring and in my book, Asparagus is surely the way to go...Unless, you would prefer to celebrate...

National Strawberry Month

I was suppose to be sharing my daughter Michele's Frozen Strawberry Jam recipe with you today but, not only didn't I get the recipe yet, I also forgot my glimmering jars of Strawberry Jam in Idaho. Oh yes, there was a full fledged jammin' session in Idaho. I did manage to get a picture for now. I'll be back later on this month with the recipe and the recipes!!!

Strawberry shortcake is one of the most common of strawberry desserts in America and actually dates back to the American Indians. The Indian dish consisted of crushed strawberries mixed in a sweet corn bread. With a few small changes and the addition of cream it became the delicious dessert we know today. (fun facts)
While I'm fiddling with recipes to include, just check out these Cream Filled Strawberries over @ Pattie's Olla-Podrida, Sinful I tell ya...

National Chocolate Custard Month

I had no idea May was National Chocolate Custard Month until I was sniffing around for National Chocolate Parfait Day which happens to be Today! (May 3 is National Chocolate Custard Day) I'm going to have to do a bit more research before I proclaim it on this blog:) It will be tough, but hey, someone has to do it:) While we're on the subject, I may as well mention that National Truffle Day which is tomorrow, May 2nd, is dedicated to the chocolate truffle. Didn't I tell you May was one Yummy of a Month!!!
P.S. Janet over @ Dying for Chocolate celebrated Raspberry Tart Day which also happens to be May 3rd. As for me, I should be back around Wednesday or Thursday with a few surprises, good Lord willing and the creek don't freeze:) Enjoy!

Resources
1. Sprout Your Own Salads
2. Hamburger Cited (previous post)
3. The First Asian Americans
4. Strawberry Fields Forever