Plant Shares

 

The last time I went to purchase a plant at the local nursery, I paid a small fortune.  Not that I blame them for their prices… they need to stay in business and they work hard for every penny they earn.

It’s just that there has to be a better way to beautify your yard than purchasing 100s of plants for $1,000s of dollars or hiring landscapers for even more money.

I believe that there should be more “plant shares” in small towns rather than “plant sales”.

Let’s all share our plants!

It doesn’t cost us any money to share a piece of what we already have growing and thriving in our yards.  And it means a lot when you share it with someone you know.  And would be  a great way to make new friends.

So next time you’re cutting your hosta plant in 1/2 to make room in your shade garden, or drying out your dahlia bulbs for the winter, or pruning your ornamental cherry tree, bring some to your neighbor or friend or church or book club to pass along.

Not only will you be starting a trend, but you’ll be leaving your legacy behind.  Every time I go out to my garden, I tenderly brush my hand over my beautiful creeping thyme plant from my Mémé in France who has passed but is alive for me in my herb bed.  Makes me smile every time!

The Rosie Project

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The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion.

Oh so cute.  A perfect beach read.  Light, enjoyable, compelling, smart and fun.

This book is about a Professor of Genetics in Australia who is extremely introverted, scheduled, has a literal view of conversation and bases every decision in his life on logic with not any regard to emotion.  He decides that it is high time he get married and puts together a questionnaire for potential partners to fill out in order to find his perfect woman.

And then accidentally befriends a young woman who would never make it past the 1st question on his “Wife Project” survey.  He temporarily abandons his project to help her with hers, finding her biological Father.  And along the way, both Rosie and Don realize that finding love can happen even with the most unlikely of candidates.

This is a great analogy of online dating today;  The “profile” of who you are.  Your opinion of yourself or more often than not, who you’d like to be.  And then a list of “criteria” to weed out the ones you’d deem not a fit as a life partner.  How do you know that the 40 year old Republican who smokes cigarettes and goes hunting wouldn’t make all of your dreams come true?  Just because you’re looking for a 33-36 yr old left-wing hipster?  How do you know that’s the perfect match for you?!

This book definitely gives you a lot to chew on…finding love where you’d never think to look, giving more thought to the meaning of your words and getting out of your comfort zone every once in a while!

The Weight of Silence

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The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf.

I cannot believe that I have to relive this book to write this review right now.  Yup.  That’s my visceral reaction to it.  Kinda like when PeeWee Herman is saving all of the animals from the burning Pet Store and keeps bypassing the snake tanks, looking at them out of the corner of his eye and shuddering.  (PeeWee’s Big Adventure – probably dating myself with that one…)

This book is not for the faint of heart.  And I don’t mean that if you choose not to read this you’d be considered a wimp.  I just mean that if you do decide to read it, this book might make you throw up, have a panic attack and definitely lose sleep if you have a little girl.

Not to discredit this author.  She was obviously extremely effective at making you feel as though what was happening in her novel was happening to you and yours.  And the book was compelling.  Like watching a car accident.  You can’t turn away and you need to know what happens next.

It’s a story about 2 families who’s daughters go missing and what happens that day unfolds through the alternating perspective of six characters affected by the events.

 

 

 

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

I was over my girlfriend’s house a month ago and we were talking books.  She gave me 2 books to bring home, saying that she’d thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I said, “OK.  Just as long as neither of them has any child abuse in them.”

She thought for a minute and then said, “nope” and handed them both to me.  And I didn’t bother reading the back of either book because I took her word for it and didn’t want to find out anything about them.

Shoulda read the back of this one…

I suppose not everyone will have or has had the same reaction that I did.  It is, after all, just a book.  So, if you have no problem separating yourself emotionally from books and movies and news stories, than you can handle it.  But if you freak out about any mention of harm to children, you might want to pick a lighter read….

Crispy Cheesy Zucchini Flowers

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Don’t be intimidated.  Don’t be!

They’re soooo fast and easy to cook and they make having a million zucchinis to harvest throughout the summer worth it!

So, as you know, anyone with even one plant encounters the excessive zucchini harvest each summer.

What to do with so much zucchini?  You can only make so much sautéed zucchini, zucchini bread, muffins, cake, pastas, etc.  And you can’t give them away.  Because everyone else has the same idea!  They’re giving them away at book club, at church, on your doorstep, aaaaaaahhhh…..

Well, cooking and eating your zucchini blossoms not only give your palate a much deserved break from the flavor of zucchini, but it also halts the growth of more zucchini!  That’s right.  You can stop eating zucchini from your garden guilt-free, without throwing anything away.

By harvesting the female flowers of the zucchini plant, you stop fruit production of the plant.  Of course if you’re still looking to experiment with new and exciting zucchini recipes, just harvest the male flowers, since the female ones are the ones who bear the fruit.

Which blossom is male and which is female?

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The female blossom is attached to the zucchini itself and the male is attached to a long stem.

Let the savory adventure begin!

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Pick the blossoms that day.  I have heard that they can keep on a paper towel on a plate in the fridge for up to a week, but this isn’t true.  After the first day, they start to dry out and the petals get all stringy.  And they are not as tasty, at all.

Pick the blossoms in the morning.  As they open up for the day, they attract all manners of insects which tend to hang out there and inevitably don’t hear the announcement for last call and get stuck in the flower when it closes up in early evening.

I can tell you from experience that it is extremely unnerving to hear your zucchini blossom “buzzing” on the kitchen counter and then watch it morph & stretch in every direction as its alien being tries to find its way out.  My advice is to quickly take said alien-invaded blossom onto your patio so that the angry bee stuck inside can fly away from your head when he finally emerges rather than right at it.

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Take a small paring knife and make a small slit from the base of the flower all the way to the petals. (If the flower is closed.  If it’s open, remove the stamen and stuff down into the “mouth” of the flower.)IMG_1343

Remove the pollen-covered pistil, the yellow tube-shaped part.  It is quite bitter.

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Stuffing:

Add 2 teaspoons heavy cream to 3 tablespoons room temperature cream cheese, in a medium bowl.

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Combine with fresh ground black pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon,

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at least 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt,

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1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves,

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and garlic scapes (those delicious curlicues that top off your garlic plants in late spring).  If you don’t have anymore or never did, you can grate 1 small garlic clove or chop up 1 tablespoon of scallion instead.

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Anyway, add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic scape to this glorious mixture and stir and taste tp make sure there’s enough salt!

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Now, stuff those flowers!  But don’t leave the filling hanging out like this.  This is just to create a pretty picture for you to see.  You really want the filling to be hidden inside the flower.  Twist the petals around the filling to seal them up!

Batter:

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In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 cup of club soda . (Any seltzer works great too.  Really, any type of carbonated drink will give the same result but may change the flavor a bit if it happens to be Cherry Coke, for example!)

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Dredge zucchini flowers in batter,

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until completely coated, allowing excess to drip off.

Fry in about 2 inches of vegetable oil at 350 degrees, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes.  Salt lightly right after you’ve pulled them out of the oil.

Place on paper towels to drain.

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Serve alongside a little bowl full of your favorite jar of marinara.

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Serves about 4, if you harvest 8 flowers.

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

 

 

Reach the Finish Line

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Reaching the finish line.  That’s the goal in life, right?  Be it finishing school, completing a job assignment, cleaning out the closet, competing in a race, etc.

For some of us, the motivation to push through, all the way to that finish line isn’t as strong as others.  You can easily talk yourself out of it, postpone it and eventually give up on it.  “Well, I should really finish what I started, but it’s not life or death if I don’t do it right now.  I can come back to it.  There’s always tomorrow.  I don’t feel good.  The weather is not cooperating.  I’m too busy.   I’ve lost interest.”

In most instances, the plain truth is that the finish line seems too far away, intangible, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of reaching it.

The secret to reaching that finish line banner is to add a milestone at the mid-way point.  Studies have shown that if you have something to look forward to halfway through the “race” you are more likely to put forth the energy to finish that race.

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Throw yourself a little party at the halfway point to your goal.  Celebrate yourself!  You’re almost there and the likelihood that you’ll finish has now increased exponentially!

You can do it!

French Fries -Homemade made easy!

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It seems so intimidating.  And like so much work.  And really- why bother?

Aaaaah, because…there is nothing like homemade!  And they are a cinch to make.

You just have to think about and plan to make it a day ahead of time.  Because you need them to soak in a bowl of water overnight, you can’t decide to make these spur-of-the-moment.  But, I bet you could get away with starting them the morning of…

Anyhow, let the savory adventure begin!

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I usually use 1 smaller russet potato per person as my gauge. So, if I’m making french fries for 4 people, then 4 small russet potatoes.  And then I throw in an extra large potato for good measure.  So, 4 people, 5 potatoes – 4 smaller, 1 large.

Peel.  (Or not.  Your preference!) Slice thinly.  And then cut into fries.  Whatever thickness. However big or small you like.

Place in large bowl, cover completely with water, and refrigerate overnight, uncovered.

The next day, 30 minutes before you plan to start frying them, drain them and dry them in a kitchen towel, blotting gently.

Put about 2 inches of vegetable or canola oil in a large stock pot, over medium heat.  Use a frying/candy thermometer to determine when it reaches 350 degrees.  Or if you don’t have one, no problem, test by placing one end of the french fry in the oil and if it starts to sizzle all around the fry, it’s ready!

Put your fries into the oil, one big handful at a time.  Don’t overcrowd the pot.

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What you are looking for before you pull them out is a translucent, limp french fry.

Drain on paper towels.  Let the oil reach 350 degrees again before you throw in the rest of the potatoes to fry.

Once they’ve been “fried” that 1st time, and drained let the oil heat up to 350 degrees again and repeat the process.  That’s right!  These delectable morsels of food are so incredibly tasty because they are fried twice!  The French Way!

Salt immediately upon removing from the oil the 2nd time around.

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Yum!  Serve right away, or even better, heat your oven to 200 degrees and keep them hot on a plate in there till you’re ready to eat!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

The Da Vinci Code

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This is a must-read and a must-have in your library/collection of books.

I’ve had this as part of my library since it was published in 2003.  My hubby read it and really got excited about it then.  I, of course, just looked at him endearingly as he carried on and on about an alternate ending to the Bible and thought to myself, “Isn’t he dreamy when he gets so involved in his books that their fantasy becomes a reality to him?”

13 years later I decided to pick it up and read it.  I’d heard, over and over, how it was one of those books that needed to be read before you died.  A “bucket list” book, if you will.

Well, no wonder.  This book is not brilliant literature.  The characters are not complex and multi-layered.  Most of the story is predictable.  It reads like an action movie.  Oh yeah.  It is an action movie now!

However, the history in the book is genius.  The research that must have been done to write this is so impressive.  And the conspiracy behind this storyline is fascinating and unnerving and eye-opening and frustrating to contemplate.

And yet, it is necessary to read this, and to question what you think you know.  That’s what life is all about.  Becoming wiser only because you learn how little you really know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

************SPOILER ALERT**********

How many people do you think have made the pilgrimage to the Louvre, since this book was written, to see LaPyramid Inversée  perfectly aligned with the miniature pyramid?

I’d go.

And I want to visit Sir Isaac Newton’s grave and The Temple Church in England, and Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

Goodness, I wouldn’t mind retracing Robert Langdon’s footsteps and searching for the Holy Grail myself!