flower pot bread

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a fellow gardener and Midland resident gave me this recipe for flower-pot bread.  many years ago we used to visit Columbus Ohio on a regular basis, and often stopped at a restaurant that served this bread at the table with every meal. i used to make the bread recipe on my own, and then discovered this easy shortcut from my friend.

my flower-pot was purchased at a kitchen store many years ago, and it does not have a typical hole in the bottom of the clay pot.  these baking flower pots are available most everywhere now, and certainly online. the bread is delicious served in this way, with the slices turning out to be round.  it makes a nice presentation and guests will love that you baked in a flower-pot.

to make the recipe:

choose your favorite bread dough loaf.  remove from the freezer.  prepare the flower-pot with spray oil and dust with cornmeal.  thaw and roll the bread dough into a long rectangle.  sprinkle with dried herbs of choice. Frawley’s fine Herbary (www.frawleysfineherbary.com) sells many blends including ones just for bread making.  roll up the bread from the long side and then cut the loaf into thirds.  place each piece with the swirl side up into the flower-pot.

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allow the bread to rise over the top of the flower-pot.  bake the bread in a preheated oven at 375 degrees. bake 20 to 30 minutes based on accurate oven temperatures.  the bread should be browned nicely on top.  allow to cool and slice.  serve with herb butter or jam.

herbs from home

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one of the best things about having a home garden is being able to snip a sprig of an herbal plant to brighten the kitchen table.  i selected several herbs from my garden and created a simple arrangement in several small vases.

after the dinner, i can use the herbs for upcoming recipes.  the sage can be used to flavor roasted potatoes, the rosemary could be added to mayonnaise for an herbal spread on a sandwich, the oregano can be added to a pasta sauce, the basil is used to flavor cold beverages or ice cream, and finally the thyme will be used to season grilled chicken.

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growing herbs is easy and fun.  a beginning gardener can be very successful the first year.  herbs are great to grow in pots, need very little water and lots of sun.  there are so many varieties of each of these plants with hundreds of recipes online for ideas to use in meals.  herbal vinegars and flavored salts are just two of the most current ways to use herbs from the garden.  in Michigan, all of these herbs are perennials except for the rosemary.  i have to plant rosemary each year in the garden.

fragrant, useful and so economical–herbs are healthy and delicious.

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old fashioned floats

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summer isn’t summer unless special cool beverages are served.  i think the tradition of an ice cream float might be termed dated.  i seem to only see advertisements for smoothies, shakes or iced coffee drinks. i hope not, because floats are my favorite for summer barbecue dinners.

there is really nothing easier than an old-fashioned ice cream float.  the ice cream just floats in the carbonated beverage.  that could be soda, fizzy water, club soda, or seltzer.

growing up in Michigan, we were surrounded by Vernors ginger ale.  it is the oldest ginger ale in the United States.  it was created in 1866 by James Vernor, who was a pharmacist from Detroit. Vernors was sold everywhere and popular at Sanders ice cream shops.  Mr. Vernor had an original shop on Woodward Avenue where he first sold his beverage.

over the years the brand changed ownership, and today Vernors is owned and sold by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group of Texas.

i use diet Vernors for my ice cream floats with vanilla ice cream.  Vernors is highly carbonated and has a sweet golden ginger taste. some people call this float a Boston cooler in the Detroit area.  it did originate on Boston street in Detroit.

i usually add a bit of whipped cream to the top of the float, and a pretty straw for decoration.  so much fun !

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cucumber harvest

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my small cucumbers were ready for picking this past week, and i made Martha’s classic refrigerator pickle recipe.  it is easy and delicious. i posted the recipe on my blog back in 2010 and have made this recipe every year since that posting.

the recipe can be found by searching the blog for refrigerator pickles.  it can also be found through the angel food garden archives window, July 2010.  the posting was on July 5th.

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i would encourage all my blog readers to search the archives, as the first couple of years of blogging, i was still learning the process.  i do not have all of those early posts in the tag system. however, i am working on linking all of the recipes to the search window. my goal is to have all of them linked to an easy search method very soon.

at this time, i have 854 blog posts, including recipes and gardening education.  my readership has been growing, and i thank everyone for your visits to the blog and to my twitter or google + platforms. if you haven’t followed me on twitter or google +, check it out.  the google + community is amazing, and i encourage everyone to join.  i post my blog to both platforms and the blogger community is growing on both of them.

these easy pickles are delicious on their own or served as a summer side dish with many summer grilling menus.  and just think, no need to do the canning and processing method for this recipe–super simple and perfect every time. this was my first year of growing my own small cucumbers, and they were easy to grow.  my first year’s harvest was 6 small cucumbers for just three plants.  if you don’t have five to six hours of sunshine for a patch of your own, shop at your local farmer’s market for the freshest small cucumbers that can be found.  enjoy !

 

 

 

 

fruit and berry cheesecake parfaits

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are you looking for a no-bake dessert that is delicious?  i found one in Kraft foods’ Food and Family newsletter. it was very tasty.  this is a great recipe to use those very small dessert glasses that are often used for small single desserts in restaurants.  this one would be perfect for any summer party.

when the berries are fresh, choose strawberries and blueberries for this dessert.  i also used the recommended shortbread cookies for the parfaits, but i am sure crushed graham cracker crumbs could also be substituted.

clear glasses are a MUST for this recipe.  any size will do, although the cheesecake is very creamy and sweet, so i would limit the amount in a smaller glass.

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to make the dessert:

gather your ingredients–one package of Philadelphia cream cheese which has been softened to room temperature, 1/8 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, lemon zest and lemon juice, 3/4 cup or more of cool whip topping, crushed shortbread cookies, strawberries and blueberries.

beat the cream cheese with a handmixer, adding sugar, milk, lemon zest and juice from one lemon until well blended.  stir in cool whip to form a nice creamy filling.

crumble the cookie crumbs.  depending on the amount of servings, crumble them in a plastic bag with a rolling-pin.  this technique works for me every time.  spoon one tablespoon or more into the bottom of each glass.  top with 1-2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture.  layer small slices of strawberry next.  add more crumbs and filling to reach the top layer.  blueberries for the top and a sprinkle of cookie crumbs to finish off the dessert.  chill until firm, at least 3 hours before serving.

this recipe could be used for Valentine’s day and omit the blueberries.  raspberries could also be used. red, white and blue is perfect for all summer holiday weekends–Memorial day, 4th July, and Labor Day.

 

roasted shrimp with basil butter parmesan

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shrimp is a great “go-to” protein for summertime meals.  it is lighter than most proteins and cooks very quickly. usually, a goal of a summer dish is to limit cook time in the kitchen, reducing heat generated by the stovetop or oven.

these shrimp roast in 12 minutes in the oven and are delicious served with crusty bread, rice, or any other starch.  the fresh herbs make them especially delicious.  any white wine or beer could be used, with the wine or beer being the key to the layer of flavor in the shrimp.  serve this recipe to your guests and they will think you are a master chef.

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to prepare the shrimp:

gather these ingredients:  1/2 stick butter or margarine, white wine or beer, white onion, 1-2 lemons  chopped basil and parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and grated fresh parmesan.

using a ceramic baking dish, clean the shrimp and place in the dish.  slice white onion and lemon.  place in the dish.  add butter, wine or beer to cover the bottom of the dish, and seasonings. other suggestions for seasonings could include: Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, seafood seasoning, rosemary leaves, or thyme.

in a preheated oven to 350 degrees, place the dish and bake for 12 minutes or longer depending on the size of shrimp. serve with grated parmesan cheese, after removing the lemon slices.

 

harvesting garlic

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another first for me this year was to grow my own garlic.  last fall, i planted the purple glazer variety.  purple glazer is a hardneck garlic, with very beautiful purple stripes.  it is said to have a strong spicy flavor without the heat, making it perfect for baking.  the storage time on the dried garlic is 4-6 months.

while the garlic was growing, i admired the green stalks which are very similar to onions.  since purple glazer is a hardneck variety of garlic, it produced scapes.  i harvested the scapes, since they can be used in a variety of recipes.

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garlic requires about six hours of sun per day and will grow in cold, cool or warm temperatures.  these plants were very hardy for me, growing throughout the fall, winter, spring and summer. i would classify them as very easy to grow.

when the stalks began to yellow, i pulled the garlic and allowed it to dry on newspaper for a couple of days, before hanging to dry in my garage.

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the outer layers of the garlic began to take on the characteristic papery texture after just a couple of days out of the ground.  i cleaned the garlic bulbs just a bit and used twine to hold them to a drying rack.  i have them hanging in my garage and am thrilled to have garlic to use this fall.  I plan to make a classic roasted garlic appetizer spread, for use on crusty bread or crackers for one of my college football viewing parties.

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