Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spectacular Peonies

If the Peony is in bloom, it must be Memorial Day...give or take a few days.  At more than twice the size of a large rose, the bloom lasts much longer.  A newly planted Peony can take up to three years to bloom, but it's well worth the wait, and will last for generations.  I adore their romantic, cottage garden look.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Falafels & Tzatziki

I have been a fan of Falafel for many years and decided it was about time I started making them in my kitchen.  In an attempt to find the best falafel recipe, I'd say I've kissed many falafel frogs.  The true origin is unknown, but the popular belief is that it originated in Eqypt. They can be made with fava beans, chick peas or a combination.  Personally I like them made with chick peas. They are high in protein, complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber, which has been shown to be effective in lowering  blood cholesterol.
This recipe is slightly adapted from Recipe Guru.
2 Cups dried chick peas
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste
flour- I use rice flour, but all purpose is good
canola oil
Soak the chickpeas with the baking soda in water overnight.  Drain and rinse.  Mash the peas into a fine paste in the food processor.  Add the onion, parsley, cilantro, egg, garlic, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Mix well in the processor.  Let the mixture stand for atleast half an hour, or up to overnight, in the refrigerator.
Shape into small 1 inch balls and dust with flour.
I poured about a 1/2" of oil in the pan and turned the balls while they browned, about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.  Yields about 40 balls.

Here is an easy version of Tzatziki to go along with it.  
6 oz plain yogurt
1 Tb mayonnaise- I use Veganise
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp champagne vinegar (or any vinegar)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 of a large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
salt & pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, combine well, and chill for atleast half an hour.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sesame lime roasted tofu

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare tofu, so that I can snack on it all week.  I've doubled the recipe and taken it to parties and everyone loves it, even those that say they don't like tofu. 
The recipe is from Eating Well Magazine
1 14 oz package of extra firm water packed tofu, drained
1/3 C reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 C lime juice
3 Tb toasted sesame oil
1. Pat tofu dry and cut into ½ inch to ¾ inch cubes. Combine soy sauce, lime juice and oil in a medium shallow dish or large seal-able plastic bag. Add the tofu; gently toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 4 hours, gently stirring once or twice. (I've let it marinate overnight.)
2. Preheat oven to 450
3. Remove the tofu from the marinade with a slotted spoon, discard marinade. Spread out on a large baking sheet, making sure the pieces are not touching.  Roast, gently turning halfway through, until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
 Bon Appetite!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Looking forward to summer blooms

Memorial Day is next weekend, but wasn't it just New Years Eve?  I know the days are numbered for the last of my flowering bulbs and early spring flowers, so I'm setting my sights on the glorious summer bloomers.
These three feet tall Fritillaria bloom in late April or May and have colorful downward facing flowers on the top of their stem, like upside down tulips. 
Iris's are one of the easiest perennials to grow.  They like to be in full sun and well drained soil.  For optimal growth they should be divided every three years, about two months after they've bloomed.   Looks like it's time for me to do that to this iris bed.
Columbines have a lot to offer.  They attract hummingbirds, are drought tolerant once established, come in a variety of colors, and don't require special soil conditions.  Mine have reached their peak.
Now we are looking at summer:  Lupines have a unique palmate leaf shape with flowers that grow erect as spikes.  They add such an ornamental look to any garden.
Wisteria is from the pea family.  It thrives in full sun and can handle poor soil but likes it moist and well drained.  The flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year's growth.   
Colorado produces delicious peaches that are grown on the Western Slope.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I can do the same in my yard.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Planting at the Speedway

A week ago I planted 22 pots for the opening of the summer season at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado.  It was originally planned as a girls day with my friend, but due to a few outside factors: a deadline of May 18th, a two day rain forecast that moved up the scheduled work day, and finding ten hours in one day to do the project together, the day turned into a husband and wife outing. 
After three hours of shopping for all the plants I had decided to use, we loaded two vehicles, filled the truck bed with a load of planting mix, an umbrella, a table and it was off to the races.   

Fortunately, we had a golf cart to run the pots around on the large property, but we didn't have an elevator to get them to the 3rd and 4th floors.  I can't say that my husband did any planting, but he sure did some lifting. 
I planted the pots on the back end of the golf cart, added time released fertilizer and a nice layer of cedar mulch to help keep the plants from drying out quickly.  They were watered after we drove them to their locations.
Five and a half hours later, with a total of 251 individual plants potted, the job was finished.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


The Ladybug is not a bug at all, but rather a beetle.  According to National Geographic, there are 5,000 different species of these tiny, short legged, half-sphere shaped insects.  Most people are fond of ladybugs because of their colorful, spotted appearance, while gardeners and farmers love them for their appetite.  Ladybugs voraciously consume plant-eating insects, such as aphids, and in doing so they help to protect the crops.  Ladybugs lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests.
When they hatch, the ladybug larvae immediately begin to feed. The average age of a ladybug is one year, and in that year one may eat up to 5,000 aphids.  With spring emerging, the aphid battle begins again.  Here my Feverfew plants are armed by ladybugs waiting to do their job.
Another interesting fact from National Geographic is that their distinctive spots and attractive colors are meant to make them unappealing to predators. Ladybugs can secrete a fluid from joints in their legs which gives them a foul taste. Their coloring is likely a reminder to any animals that have tried to eat their kind before: "I taste awful." A threatened ladybug may both play dead and secrete the unappetizing substance to protect itself.