30 March 2010

Getting Seedy Pt 1

It's that time of the year again: when I have to scramble to find space in sunny spots--away from the cats--for my seed-starting trays! After a couple of years of poor results, I've moved the trays from the cool, east-facing basement window to the radiator in our south-facing living room. It's working well so far; I just have to remember to move the trays if we turn the heat up.

Planted indoors 21 March:

In peat pellets:
--pink lupine from seeds saved by my mom (sprouting!)
--mixed lupines 'Russell'
--garlic chives
--chives
--Canterbury Bells
--Datura 'Belle Blanche'

In small plastic pots with Miracle Gro potting soil:
--Armeria 'Joystick'
--Tomatoes (med-lg): Coustralee, Brandywine, Patio (sprouting!)
--Tomatoes (cherry): Snow White, Christmas Grapes (sprouting!)
--Tomatillo (sprouting!)
--Peppers: Cubanelle, Cayenne, Serrano, Anaheim, ornamental 'Holiday Cheer'

To be started outside in the next few days:
--Cilantro
--Leeks 'Ramona'

I don't have much hope for some of the seeds as they're fairly old, but I just can't throw them away without trying. That's okay, though. I'll use what I have and buy plants if I need them. It all works out in the end.

Photos of Lupines and Leeks from Dominion Seed House. Photo of tomatillos from Wikimedia Commons. Click photos to enlarge.

18 March 2010

Hot Mormon Muffins: March Edition

It's that time of the month again! March brings us Kourtnie, 31, mother of one, dressed in a Kelly-green ensemble and showing off her, um, pot of gold (no, really--see for yourself: Kourtnie). This month's muffin: Kourtnie's Mormon Marmalade.

Mixing the topping ingredients. The mixture ended up a little lumpy as the moist orange zest clumped together, but it turned out okay (click on photos to enlarge):

Action shot of the mixer creaming the butter and sugar:

First I thought I'd use paper liners, but it turned out I only had three left. Then I decided to use some silicone muffin cups I have (they work great, btw) but there were only six. I just gave in and greased the last three cups:

Delicious marmalade filling:

Muffins ready to go into the oven:

Yes, I over-filled the muffin cups. More on that in a bit.

Ready to eat! This photo actually came out too dark, so for the first time I experimented with some of the settings on my photo-editing software. I really like how it turned out:

Kourtnie's Mormon Marmalade

[My notes/changes in brackets]

Muffin:
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup [granulated] sugar
2 [large] eggs
3 1/2 cups [all-purpose] flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbs baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sour cream
marmalade [any brand]

Topping:
6 tbs [granulated] sugar
grated zest of 2 oranges
1 tsp cinnamon

[Prepare topping and set aside.]

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients. Combine milk and sour cream. Add milk mixture [and egg mixture alternately to the flour mixture, beginning and ending with the milk mixture], mixing by hand. Fill muffin pans 1/2 full with batter. [Use spoon to make slight depression in centre of mixture.] Insert 1 tsp marmalade in each and top off with batter until pans are about 2/3 full. Sprinkle a little topping over the top.

Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

My verdict: The muffins are beautifully light and airy and taste delicious. On the other hand, they were a lot of work. I'm still not sure why you have to mix milk and sour cream together instead of just using buttermilk. And, oh yeah--this recipe makes a metric tonne of batter! Not only did I overfill the muffin cups (before I realized there was no way I could use all the batter in one batch), but I had enough batter (and topping) left over to make 11 mini muffins. I'm not sure how you could adjust the recipe to make less, so make sure you have at least two muffins tins available when you start making these.

Want more Hot Mormon Muffins? Check out my previous posts:
January
February

All photos by Domicile.

08 March 2010

Seeing Red

Around here the signs of spring are everywhere: energetically chirping birds, buds on trees, bits of green showing up amid all the brown. My crocuses are starting to poke up out of the ground! But spring isn't quite here yet. So to tide over those of us longing for the blooms that arrive with warm weather, enjoy these photos of a pretty bouquet the SO gave me when I was having a bad day (why yes--he is awesome!)

(Oh, and for anyone who can confirm: are those hypericum berries in the mix?)

Click on photos to enlarge.






Photos by Domicile.