Saturday, October 31, 2009

Got pumpkin?

I found a recipe here at Hobby Farms Magazine website for stuffed pumpkin. I cooked this the other night (modifications below) and it was great! I think you could stuff it with just about any meat/grain/seasoning combo, like turkey, wild rice, and dried cranberries. Now I can't wait for Thanksgiving!

My Version of Stuffed Pumpkin

1 small sugar pumpkin, lid intact and seeds removed (while cooking and eating dinner, soak seeds in cool water)
1/2 pound ground pork, unseasoned
1-1/2 c. cooked brown rice
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small stalk celery, with leaves, finely chopped
4 leaves of fresh sage, chopped
fresh thyme from a few twigs
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (don't overdo!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prick top half of pumpkin shell on the outside. Place in a shallow pan and add about 1/2-inch of water to pan. Bake 20 - 30 minutes, until tender but still firm.

Meanwhile, brown pork with onion, celery, garlic, sage, and thyme. Add rice.

Stuff pumpkin with pork mixture, adding the rosemary. Top with lid and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes. Pumpkin should be very tender.

Serve by cutting pumpkin and contents in half vertically - the pumpkin makes its own edible bowl!

After dinner, preheat oven to 325 while cleaning pulp from pumpkin seeds. Dry the seeds a bit, then toss with a bit of olive oil and salt in a shallow pan. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the seeds are a little brown and crunchy. Remove from oven and cool. Warning: these are addicting!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Homemade granola

One day a co-worker told us a story about the breakfast her daughter made herself: toast with peanut butter and chocolate chips. Mom and dad did not think that was a very good breakfast, but I said it was not that far off from a granola bar.

This recipe is based on the Almond Crunch Cereal recipe in The Rodale Cookbook (1973). I wanted something simpler than what even our health food stores sell, something I could use in my yogurt parfaits with a variety of fruit and nuts or sprinkle on salads instead of croutons.

Since this granola cools in the oven overnight, it is best made in the evening, at least two hours before bedtime.


Preheat oven to 225 degrees

Stir together 3 cups uncooked rolled oats, 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup wheat germ (optional), and 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds.

Whisk together 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup honey. (Edited to add: If you omit the wheat germ, you might want to cut back a bit on the oil, honey, and water.)

Mix oil-honey mixture with dry ingredients. Add 1/2 cup cold water, a little at a time. Stir until mixture is crumbly.

Pour into a shallow pan that has been lightly oiled.

Bake in oven for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until the cereal is dry and lightly browned. Turn off oven and allow cereal to cool in the oven overnight.

Keep in an air-tight container.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Before I forget

Today I planted garlic, 39 cloves of German Extra Hardy from 5 bulbs and 21 cloves of Broadleaf Czech from 2 bulbs. I've never grown garlic before, so I hope I did okay.

My lasagna beds are not very deep yet, so I spread the contents of two of my big containers over the garlic. Hopefully, the potting soil will provide enough food to get the garlic growing well in the spring. Meanwhile, those worms I saw today better get in gear!

Also planted jonquils (Giant Yellow for Naturalizing), Fondant hyacinth, and pink grape hyacinth. The hyacinth went around the smoke bush, while the jonquils wound up here, there, and everywhere.

And my SO, aka Mulch Man, spread more mulch around the shrubs.

Oh, and that tree from my previous post? Not a maple. We got up close and personal and discovered it has small purple fruit. I'm guessing flowering crab. Of course, when I try to find photos online of flowering crab trees, all I can find are spring pix, not fall ones.

Now, because I am too pooped to write anymore, here are a few pictures from around the yard.

Serviceberry (AmElanchier x Grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'):

Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliant') (and my neighbor's sailboat, which is for sale, if anyone is interested):

Sargent viburnum (Viburnum sargentii 'Onondaga'):

Rhododendron 'PMJ':

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'):

Burning bush:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What kind of tree is this?

There are several specimens of this tree in my general neck of the woods. I assume it is a maple, but what variety? Maybe 'Fantasy'? With the gradations of color, it is perfectly gorgeous. (Photo by my SO.)

I did not take advantage of the Indian summer weather earlier in the week, and now it is cold, wet, and windy. Still have not finished putting the garden to bed for the winter, still have not planted bulbs. Maybe tomorrow, when the sun is supposed to make an appearance.

The plumbers ran a new gas line in the new laundry room. There is a building permit posted, but no inspections yet. Tick, tock, tick, tock, people!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cheaper than therapy and more fun than a fitness center

That is gardening in a nutshell.

Today's activities included mowing (hopefully the last of this season), garden cleanup (no more zucchini!), and garden shed organization. My SO spread mulch, reducing the pile by half, and he planted the wild petunias that have been sitting in a bucket of water for over a week.

We moved the Simon and Garfunkel herb pot (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme) into the West Wing, and I potted some Greek oregano. I plan on saving some chives, too. I wonder if I can find basil seeds this time of year.

Still have not planted bulbs, garlic or otherwise. There is still time. All unprotected shrubs are now surrounded with poultry netting, to foil those wascally wabbits this winter.

I'm sure we did more, but I'm too tired to think.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


We definitely got some frost last night. I wish I had a better indoor situation for plants so I could move some of my herbs inside for the duration. Meanwhile, time to clean out the garden.

No more progress on the laundry area. The contractor and I had a little discussion on whether building inspections were really necessary. On the advice of his subcontractors, he was hedging, but I don't think we want to go there. The value in inspections lies not in the inspection itself, but in the inspectee knowing someone will be checking up on the work done.

The garlic bulbs arrived this week, from Seed Savers Exchange. The two varieties I purchased are German Extra Hardy and Broadleaf Czech. I know nothing about growing garlic, so this will be yet another experiment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Plumb crazy

The plumbers were here! The plumbers were here! They aren't done yet, but I was pleased with their progress.

The lines and drains come in...

... the toilet hole...

... the lines and drain continue...

... to their natural ends.

Today my daughter and I picked out the toilet - a Gerber Viper - and a light fixture and paint samples. I did not want to be the critical path in this little endeavor. I still need a utility sink, although - worst case - the old one can be reused.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Want a little WHINE with that cheese?

The contractor was hoping I could wait until November to convert the garage workshop to a laundry room. I was hoping it could be done in October, as I am expecting company the weekend after Halloween. Even though I tried to sound neutral about it, he could tell I really wanted it done sooner rather than later. And so, today they started.

This is the current laundry area.

A doorway will be cut in the wall behind the dryer, and the 220 and gas line will be moved. I asked them to leave the current outlet and faucets behind the washer because I plan to put a freezer there, plus sometimes I need hot, treated water outside and I will be able to hook a hose up here and run it out to the garage, hopefully with minimal mess.

This was the entry to the workshop at the back of the garage. (The basketball net and swinging doors came with the house.)

I liked the idea of having a workshop here, but realized I used it only to store junk.

Here you can see that the floor has been raised. That may look like a big step, but the floor height will match that of the current laundry area. The interior of my house will be step-free.

Also notice that there was drywall behind that paneling, an unexpected bonus.

The workshop contained a utility sink, the service panel, and after last year's renovation, the dryer vent.

The sink is gone, but the dryer vent remains for now, as theoretically, there will be laundry between now and when they are done. A toilet is going in the corner and a new utility sink will be where the current doorway into the garage is (and that doorway will be closed up). I'm not sure what those new holes in the wall are for, though.

It is not a big project, but it involves several different crews. I think the carpenters are done for now and the plumbers and electricians need to do their thing next, but since everyone is kind of busy, work may proceed in a start-and-stop manner. That's okay, as long as I have some place to put the cat litter box before my company arrives.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Signs of October

My SO claimed he had fall-blooming, perennial petunias in his yard. I did not believe him, so he not only showed me, he brought me some.

These must be wild petunias, which can reseed themselves. They prefer partial sun and well-drained soil, but I thought I would give them a try anyway.

My lone backyard tree survived the summer.

The tulip tree's leaves are turning a lovely shade of yellow.

Not as spectacular as my neighbor's two new red maples, but mine will have blossoms in the spring.

The burning bush is on fire.

The sedum is fading from red to copper.

The Japanese maple is also turning copper-colored...

... as are the sea oats.

We haven't had a hard frost yet, but I'm basically done with the vegetables for this year. Oh, except for the fall snow peas. And garlic should be arriving soon. And there are bulbs to plant. When does a gardener get to rest?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lucky in in-laws

Yesterday my daughter and son-in-law came over to install the microwave/exhaust vent over the new stove.


Notice how the old exhaust vent drooped in the back right corner. I paid for that lousy installation, and at the time felt fortunate to do so.


Notice the jog in the exhaust duct. My SIL had to make that jog, as things did not line up quite right. Also notice the outlet in the cupboard. He added that, as the original exhaust fan was hardwired and the new one is not. Shims were required as well.


Before installation, all three of us were questioning just how the microwave was going to fit over the stove and still allow normal cooking operations. But it turned out great. And it required only two trips to the hardware store.

My dad has been nagging his state horticultural society to identify his petunia-eating caterpillar. They responded to his original query with a commentary on slugs. His pest is obviously not a slug, so he sent them a better photo of it.

I still think it is a tobacco budworm. What do you think?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

First frost, sorta

Last night there was a threat of frost, so I covered the peppers, herbs, and some of the tomatoes with sheets; the zucchini were on their own! This morning, my thermometer read 35, and the dew on the grass was frosted, but the zucchini came through relatively unscathed.

Not much new in the yard, except for these struggling asters.

But in my dad's yard, something happened. He captured the critter that has been eating his petunia blossoms!

He even verified it prefers blossoms over leaves. I think it is a tobacco budworm, aka geranium budworm. If the winter is sufficiently harsh, it should not live to see the spring.

Tonight I watered a few thing, so of course, now it is raining. But after a crummy day at work, puttering in the yard puts my mind right.

Re this year's construction project, i.e. converting the workshop to a laundry room, the contractor called tonight and I think we have a price. Then I dropped the bomb that I would like to get it done by the first week in November because I am having company then. He is going to talk to his crews and see if that is doable.

I'm so excited!