Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Spring Favorite

Unlike the rhubarb, we have managed to keep two patches of asparagus going that my in-laws started years ago. So long as the neighbor stays out of it, we usually have a decent amount each week. So I started looking for a different way to fix it besides steaming. I found this recipe for an Asparagus Soup in my weekly newsletter I receive from South Beach I don't exactly follow their diet, just like some of their recipes. : )

Serves 4


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2" lengths
4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add onion, garlic, and asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown.

Add broth, bring to a simmer, and cook until asparagus is just tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and carefully puree with a blender or hand blender. Return to the pan, gently reheat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each serving with some freshly grated Parmesan.

I adjusted the recipe a little because I only had 2 pounds of asparagus, so I only added 3 cups of broth and the consistency was just right.

DUCK UPDATE: As expected, the Blue-winged Teals have moved on, but the pair of Mallards have stayed around. The female has been investigating the edge of the hay field next to the pond.....maybe looking for a nest site? We can hope!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We have Ducks!

We have been a stopping/resting point for quite a few Canada Geese for the last few months, but yesterday I noticed something smaller on the pond, so out came the binoculars! It was a pair of Blue-winged Teals! They stayed around all day even when a killdeer seemed to be trying to chase them off by diving at the male. The later in the afternoon I also noticed a pair of Mallards swimming also. Both pairs were still on the pond when we checked as the sun was setting, so hopefully they have decided to stay. I have been trying to get pictures, but they don't seem to want to cooperate, so here is a picture of a Blue-winged Teal from Ducks Unlimited's website.

       Female & Male
They are probably just stopping on their way through, but we can hope!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Recipe

RHUBARB! I love rhubarb! My grandma use to grow it and made strawberry rhubarb pie & stewed rhubarb. I have had a "history" trying to grow rhubarb. When they had to replace a septic system at my husbands grandmother's they had to dig through her large patch of rhurbarb so knowing how much I loved rhurbarb, my father-in-law kept as many plants as he could find containers for and brought them to our house. Even though it was not the time of year to transplant it, all of the plants made it through the first year. I figured I should put them in two different places just in case one location was not a good one. One was by the garden and the other was in a herb garden. I left them alone that first year, not wanting to tramatize them further by harvesting some. So I anxiously waited to see them come back up the next spring - which they did! I should also explain this is the rare very red rhurbarb - I do not know the name, but have not found any like it since! Well I carefully marked the patch by the garden with a bright blue pole and let a note for the man that was going to till up our garden "please do not till up the rhurbarb marked by the blue pole. When I pulled in the drive later that day I glanced out to the freshly tilled garden - THERE WAS NO BLUE POLE! He had ignored the note, removed the pole and TILLED THE RHURBARB UNDER! I was beside myself! It took it another year to come back up, but it was never the same.......the other patch did ok for a few years then it didn't come back up either. During that time I had taken two starts and given to a cousin that wanted some of "grandma's rhurbarb". Well both of those starts were either sprayed with weed killer &/or repeatedly mowed off by her husband. So unfortunately there is not any more of "grandma's rhurbarb" left. So I bought new plants when we moved, both of which said they were "red rhurbarb". This is the first year I could pick some - it is not red! Well anyway, my youngest (19) daughter has been asking for a rhurbarb is the only way she will eat rhurbarb. A very dear friend of mine (Maxine) gave me a recipe for rhubarb cake many, many years ago. She has long since passed away, but I think of her every time I make this cake along with a favorite aunt of my husbands (Norma Jean who is also gone). At every family reunion or get together, her first question to me was - "did you make rhubarb cake?" So I found the old, faded recipe card and made her a rhurbab cake. Below are the pictures.

                             The batter of this cake is very good! Probably because of the buttermilk!

Batter sprinkled with cinnamon/sugar 
Fresh out of the oven!

This is the well worn recipe card.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1/2 cup margarine (I use butter)
1 1/2 cup sugar
Cream well then add:
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Beat well, then add:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
Blend well then add:
2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2" pieces
Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar & 1 tsp. cinnamon, sprinkle on top of batter.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Latest Projects

Here are two of my latest projects:

Sweetpeas to climb the trellis/arbor this year. Maybe next year I will plant some climbing roses...

Our back patio, finally just about done. I have more daylillies to plant in the flowerbed to the right.

Here is a closer picture of the cedar trellis/arbor. We went with the cedar instead of metal so it would stand out more. I really like the look!

Only two more flowerbeds to go before the landscaping is finally finished!

My flowerpot chairs - after sitting in the sun all summer, they needed a fresh coat of paint so I decided to go with bright colors! As you can see one will be red - it has one coat, needs a second coat. The other one will be yellow. I am thinking about putting some yellow accents on the red and vice versa. One will go on the front porch and the other will go by the back patio. Both will have pots of nasturtiums in them.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Pond

The pond is not completely full, but apparently full enough to start the stocking process. We put in 12 White Amurs. They are suppose to eat the grass and algae so we don't have to put any chemicals in to control that. We don't want our pond looking like a toilet bowl - blue! The amurs went from a 14x14 box to a 1 1/2 acre pond - what a change!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

30 seconds of my morning

I tried loading a video clip from yesterday morning - birds singing, toads trilling and just neighborhood sounds, but it was too large. So here is the photo. I will work on the video clip. I do love the mornings now that it is warm enough to sit outside and watch the sun come up! So peaceful and a great way to start the day!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Backyard Birds

I had seen a few female gold finches at the regular feeders during the winter. I have always loved to listen to them so I put up a feeder for them.

First Gold Finch of Spring!

Both male & female woodpeckers on suet

We also have tufted titmice, white breasted nuthatches, mourning doves, brown-headed cowbirds and a couple different sparrows - I have trouble telling the different ones. There have been numerous tree swallows over the field & pond and a couple bluebirds looking for a house lately!

Blooms are coming!

Here are some updated pictures of what is popping up around the house.

The flowerbed is going good now!

I do not know what this is - it came up on it's own on the north side of the house.

First tulip open!