Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What a surprise!

Though these lilies are sometimes called surprise lilies, they shouldn't be such a surprise to me since they have been blooming each year, in August, in the middle of my lily bed. They put on a better show than my white lilies that grow all around them.

Their common name is Spider Lily or Lycoris radiata and apparently, their thin green leaves make a showing in the spring, then die down and in August, they shoot up from the ground putting on a display I am always excited about.

At some point, someone either planted the bulbs, were mixed with the lilies already planted, or my favorite, some ingenious bird found a great spot to drop a "deposit" that contained something that became a Spider Lily.

I only know that I didn't plant them--yet I am thankful for them each year. Nothing else is blooming at this time of year so they are a very welcome sight.

They seem to appear, like a magic show, every year.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Research and Education Garden

A little more than a week ago I visited the Education and Research Gardens in Griffin, Ga. It was a beautiful day and I saw some inspirational sights, including this grasshopper on a red leaf.

The great thing about the gardens is that they are open to the public and were built by donations and though they have a very experienced horticulturist on staff, much of the labor is provided by volunteers.

They are learning areas, where you can learn to do what they do in your own landscape. Almost every kind of garden area you can imagine is included. There are pergolas, a shade, butterfly, water, rock, and container gardens. It is quite spectacular and I know I will have to go back just to get more inspiration. They also have experimental gardens you can walk through and I was fascinated by everything there.

Events are scheduled throughout the year and I can tell you this is one of those places a gardener would love to visit. In fact, you are invited anytime they are open.

Check them out at and go there for a real treat. My photo of the green grasshopper on a red leaf is pitiful compared to what you can see when you visit.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

It's time for Apple Pie!!!

This is the time of year to go out into your backyard and pick apples. The only problem is that I don't have an apple tree. I keep thinking every fall that I will plant one, but so far I haven't gone to Ison's Nursery, (a great nursery in our area that specializes in fruit trees) to buy one. Thankfully, I have a good friend, Angela McRae, who gave me some really great apples from her father's apple tree.

These apples were so good that I knew they would make a GREAT apple pie--like my Mother's apple pies during my childhood years. My husband thought so too, and they is why he volunteered to peel the apples for me while I mixed up a crust. (That is pretty amazing.)

As I pulled out all the ingredients I thought I would just make it from scratch like my Mother did and to make it easy, I didn't measure very much or look in a cookbook, but did the following:

My Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, cold
Ice water

I mixed the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut up my cold butter in my flour mixture and drizzled on the honey. I then took a pastry blender and mixed in the butter, then added ice water in small amounts until it formed a dough ball. I wasn't too fussy about it and left some butter flecks I could see. I then rolled it out on some waxed paper sprinkled with flour. The bottom crust takes a little more dough. I put the bottom crust in the pie plate, then added the fruit filling. I rolled out the top crust, placed it on the top. Pressed the edges down into the bottom crust with a fork and then cut some slits into the top.

Here is my filling:

Apple Pie Filling

8 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 stick of butter

In a bowl mix the apples, corn starch, and sugar. Pour into an unbaked pie crust. Dot the top with the butter. Cook on 375 degrees for 1 hour.

We always have it with ice cream or whipped cream.

Some people add cinnamon but I didn't want that for this pie. Because of the great apple, it tasted like the apples from the tree in our backyard. Perfect!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pear sauce

We've been busy on a number of things this past weekend. One of them has been canning pear sauce. It's very much like applesauce but made with stewed pears.

My husband's mom has a huge backyard pear tree that he figures has been around for half a century. This antique tree that is at least thirty feet tall was filled with pears. In fact, we only picked up pears that had fallen on the ground. We canned a gallon of pear sauce and about the same amount of pear preserves.

Why pear sauce? It is tasty and sometimes easier on your stomach than applesauce. It is surprisingly smooth and flavorful and very good with a little honey added and good as a low-fat topping for oatmeal. It is good for babies and also older people who might have compromised digestion.

It is VERY easy to make. Just peel the pears. Cut them up into a large saucepan. Don't add water. Pears contain SO much water, and are more flavorful if cooked in their own juice. Just start them on low and let them slowly come to a boil. The pears will be covered in liquid in no time.

After they become soft, remove from the heat, allow to cool and strain out most of the water. Grind the pears in a blender or a food processor. The excess juice can be saved, too, for smoothies or other things.

Pear sauce can be canned or frozen. To can, just pour into clean jars, clean the tops of the jars and put on new lids and rings, tighten and out then in a bit water bath for 20 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and allow to cool. That's about it, but pear sauce is quite good as a low-cal treat with just a drizzle of honey.

Pears may not be an interesting and fun topic but it is great to know you have a gallon of pear sauce sitting on your shelf waiting to be used and it's fairly easy to make--good for you, too,