Saturday, August 29, 2015

Caterpill on Dill

I think I'm going to have to get a book on caterpillars soon. I'm never quite sure if I really should have left them eating happily away on a plant. 
Somewhere in my memory something says the ones feeding on dill
are swallowtails (if my memory is to be trusted).
Was that a beautiful butterfly doing minimal damage? Or was that a garden scourge waiting to happen, and I should have dealt with it while I had the chance? 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dragon Tongue Beans

I like to try things in the garden. Someday I think I might find the perfect plant of everything. One of the new things this year was an heirloom green bean called Dragon Tongue. A well behaved bushing type, it has pretty purple flowers and pretty purple streaks on the beans. And the flavor is decent.

But they lose their fun colour when they are cooked and end up looking like ordinary green beans. They are supposed to also be good as a dry bean too, and the plants are working on getting me a batch to try that way still. So I'm going to say the jury is still out on if this variety will become a regular in the garden. I've got to say though, the loss of colour is leading me to think I'll maybe just plant out the rest of these seeds and then not bother getting more. I mean, if it's just going to look like a regular green bean in the end anyway... what's the fun in that?

Snapped beans, before cooking.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And The Tomatoes Are Still Flowering

Are you tired of tomatoes yet? I'm not.

Tomatoes toasted with a Spanish Sheep's Cheese
on (homemade) Portuguese Bread. Good Combo!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Meanwhile, in the Garden

Rainbow Swiss Chard (Fall Planting)

Heritage Everbearing Raspberries (2nd flush)

My New "White" Rosebush in Bloom.
The label said it was "Summer Snow" a white climber.
The climbing is now also in doubt; and not knowing the name, I admit
I've been calling it "Yellow Snow." 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Botanicals and Tarts

Moda Fabrics and Spoonflower decided this year's Fabric8 competition theme would be Botanical Sketchbook. I've never designed a Botanical before. I love the way they look but, there are only so many things you can do with them and so many other people have done such lovely work already... But you know, I would love to be a Moda designer. Moda cottons have such a lovely hand to them and so I had to try.

Practice botanical... (not actual entry)

I lost track of Fabric8, but realized at the last minute that it was still happening and the deadline was looming. I had to scramble to enter. The deadline was yesterday, and I just made it. (Whew!) Ongoing computer issues made it deplorably slow to upload and it was anyone's guess if the internet would stay connected long enough to actually load, ...But it finally did. 

[My internet connection has decided to not work when it rains, or there's a wind, or the sun is shining, or if it's too dark... I'm more offline than on these days, though not by choice!]

Blushing "Green" Gage Plums
During this time the Plums have decided to ripen. They are lovely! Although they are not so Green as I expected my Green Gages to be. I suspect they are either a nursery mislabel, or a scam of sorts (what do stupid Americans know about European fruit anyway?) They are perhaps still a Gage Plum, but one of the red sorts, or more accurately a  Reigne Claude, as they are blushing away like crazy out there. 

Five years later it is a little late to return them; if I remembered which nursery they were from or wanted to dig back through paperwork, which I don't. So it is just as well that I am happy with them. 

The question is: When life hands you a nice lot of ripe plums, what do you make of them? Tarts, of course.

A Nice Plummy Tart

Begin by blind baking the crust and enough plum halves (sprinkled in sugar) to fill the bottom of your tart pan later. I used 18 here but you may need to adjust if your plums are larger. If your plums are smaller you actually may be looking for a cherry tart recipe. Add a tablespoon of sugar to this recipe for shortcrust and you will have an excellent crust for this tart.

Empty crust on left, pre-baking plums on right.
Bake at 325 degrees about 15 minutes.
I leave my pizza stone in the oven to help distribute and radiate
the gas heat a little better (that's what you see at the bottom there).

For the rest of the filling we make a custard. And we will make it with non-fat powdered milk instead of cream. After all, we just used real butter in our shortcrust. We have to pretend to be healthy somewhere -- also I was out of cream and who has time to run to the store for that?

3/4 cup milk, mixed according to directions on the box
1/4 cup extra, dry powdered milk
3 eggs beaten
1/4 cup sugar 
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg 

Combine in bowl.

Put pre-baked plums into blind baked crust and pour custard over them.
Then back in the oven to bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Spoonflower Contest: Please Vote for Me (and any other favorites you find)

Dear Readers,
Please follow this link to vote for your favorite Butterfly Collection in this week's Fabric design contest (August 13th - August 20th). My collection is called "Butter and Toast" and my Spoonflower shop is "Rabbit Trail." Thanks!
My Spoonflower Butterfly Collection Contest Entry (Four Fat Quarters)
Top Left: Large Butterfly on "Monarch of the Glen" plaid ground,
Top Right: "Woven Wings" which made me think of burnt toast,
Bottom Left: "Scattered Butterfly Stripe" (butterflies with toast stripe),
Bottom Right: "Butter Pat" (squares of small yellow butterflies)
I'm getting ready to enter another design contest where the prize is having a traditional fabric company offer you a design contract. More on that, maybe even a few sneak peeks of that collection, later.