26 August 2010

Hot Mormon Muffins: August Edition

August has been a stressful month for me, so I was glad to finally have an opportunity to take a break and make some muffins. Hot Mormon muffins! Specifically "Latter-Day Lemon," presented by Yayoi, mother of 2 and looking good at 53. Click photos to enlarge.

The necessities:

I grew up in a house with no food processor, but with a beloved and much-used mortar and pestle. I still like to use mine (I have three) for small quantities or or when I want to get a little more interactive with my ingredients. There's something enticingly primal about crushing food with your hands and a blunt instrument! In this case I couldn't find any pre-chopped almonds, so I bought the slivered variety and broke them into smaller pieces.

Nutmeg and flour:

Lemon zest and sugar:

Free-range (and organic) eggs always have such richly coloured yolks. How eggs should be.

Fresh out of the oven:

Looks good enough to eat!

Yayoi's Latter-Day Lemon Muffins

[My notes/changes in brackets. Also, the instructions left much to be desired, so I've rewritten them.]

6 tbs chopped almonds
3 tbs sugar

1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups [all-purpose] flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 cup [granulated] sugar
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
2 eggs [slightly beaten]
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
3 tbs lemon juice

[The original instructions basically said to dump everything into the bowl all at once and mix. You can try that but I don't recommend it.]

In a small bowl mix chopped almonds and 3 tbs sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl thoroughly combine flour, nutmeg, and baking powder.

In a medium bowl mix together until combined 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest, eggs, oil, milk, and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Spoon into prepared muffin cups (greased/lined). Sprinkle reserved almond-sugar mixture (about 1 tsp per muffin) on top. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins

My verdict: This recipe makes smallish, dense muffins with a light, fresh lemon flavour well-complemented by the almonds and nutmeg.

If you like a stronger lemon flavour, you might want to add a bit of lemon extract (maybe 1/4 tsp).

If you're not a big fan of nutmeg, use half as much or switch to cinnamon instead.

Although the topping is nice and crunchy, I think it could use another element. Next time I'll try mixing the nuts and sugar with 2-3 tbs of melted butter. You can never go wrong with butter!

Want more Hot Mormon Muffins (and really, who doesn't)? Check out my previous posts:

January (Lisa's Priesthood Praline)
February (Amy's Relief Society Raspberry)
March (Kourtnie's Mormon Marmalade)
April (Charli's Seminary Streusel)
May (Tami's Zesty Zion Zucchini)
June (Lynda's Seven Wives Grain)
July (Cami's Bring'em Young Blueberry)

Photos by Domicile

18 August 2010

Pretty Poison

I seem to have an inherent attraction to poisonous plants. Despite not making any conscious effort to choose these types of plants, a good proportion of what I grow is toxic to one degree or another: hydrangea, morning glories, larkspur, bittersweet, hellebores (if I can ever get them to grow--don't get me started), tomato and potato plants (not to worry--the edible bits are safe), sweet woodruff, periwinkle, and, of course, Datura. In this case, the 'Belle Blanche' variety. As with people sometimes the prettiest are the ones you need to worry about most. And when it comes to Datura, I think you'll agree that it's just too pretty not to grow...

(click on photos to enlarge)

The seed pods are a lot of fun--especially when they resist being pulled off--ouch. They also smell just delightful (at least the plant lets you know it's not good to eat). But if you don't remove them (a) your plant will stop flowering, and (b) you'll end up with a Datura plantation.

Welcome to my garden...just proceed with caution.

Photos by Domicile

13 August 2010

Toronto Botanical Gardens/Edwards Gardens

Have I ever mentioned what an awesome place the Toronto Botanical Gardens/Edwards Gardens is? My introduction to the gardens came way back in the 1980s when my sister had her wedding photos taken there. But it was in the 90s that I really got to know and love the gardens, hanging out there with my friends and going for long walks. And now that I'm living not too far away, I'm rediscovering them! The TDB offers so much: classes, tours, teaching gardens, groups to join, events, sales, information. I'm probably forgetting plenty more too. Wander slightly farther afield and you're into Edwards Gardens, with walking/hiking/biking trails and paths, wildlife (the chipmunks are a personal favourite), and tons of plants to discover--both wild and cultivated.

I didn't take too many photos this last visit, but I plan on making up for that on future trips. Click to enlarge and enjoy...

This gorgeous sculpture was the first thing that caught my eye at the TDB. It's like something out of a really cool fairytale:

There's a stream that runs through the gardens, with picturesque wooden bridges spanning it every so often:

I love willows. Their roots invariably get into water pipes and cause a lot of damage but I don't think there's any reason why they shouldn't be planted in every possible location that's a safe distance from homes:

The dragonflies are not only plentiful and beautiful, but they're very good about posing for photos. Just remember to thank them when you're done:

This plant seems to have been deliberately sown, but I have no idea what it is (the gardens could probably use a tad more signage). It looks intriguing, and the fruits resemble unripe persimmons. Anyone have an idea what it could be?

This was a sad, but beautiful, scene. Photos were difficult to get, though, because the water was moving steadily along:

One of those picturesque bridges I mentioned:

Some of the local wildlife (I like how they sleep with their heads tucked away):

More info about Toronto Botanical Gardens/Edwards Gardens here.

03 August 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Mystery

I have to start with an apology for the sheer number of photos I've posted. I haven't had much of a chance to upload or post lately, so you're getting about three weeks worth all at once. They're a little out of date in terms of what's happening in the garden right now, but you can see what's been going on. Click on photos to enlarge and enjoy the spectacle :)

Starting off with more pansy love (the colours and variations are just gorgeous):

Rose lollipop! Courtesy of the nameless pink rose:

It didn't do as well this year as last year, but I finally confirmed that this is, in fact, a 'The Fairy' rose:

Pansies again:

I liked this California poppy shot because it reminds me of a watercolour painting:

Hosta flower buds:

Blogger is being ridiculous today (I really need to look into porting my blog elsewhere). It decided to switch some of my photos from vertical to horizontal. This is one of the ones it switched. But it was such a nice shot of my 'Viking' rose I thought I'd just leave it.

Morning glory (I think it's 'Grandpa Ott'):

Remember a while back when I posted photos of potato flowers and commented that I didn't know what the point of the flowers was? Well, it turns out they have a point, after all. They appear to have turned into seeds, although I have no idea if they'll make new plants:

Tomatillo in bloom:
Morning Glory among the pansies:

Poppies in bloom! Although I've pretty much lost track of what variety ended up where. I just like them:

The only lily to have survived the squirrels and raccoons flowered for the first time this year! In the first photo it's surrounded by periwinkle and sweet woodruff:

Lady's Mantle leaves are covered in fine hairs that hold on to droplets of water. Diamonds wish they could sparkle this brightly:

Yup, another one:
Black-flowered Hollyhock, the only one to bloom this year (the others have been set back by hungry bunnies). We estimate this plant is now about 12 feet tall! The ones that do well do really well!

If you look closely you can see Morning Glory vines twining around the Hollyhock's stem:

My mom snuck this plant in with the dahlia bulbs she gave me. I wish I knew its name in English (if you're curious, it's called "zaharocalamo" in Greek). Like the dahlias it'll need to be dug up and stored inside before winter. It's a fairly common plant, and this one will eventually have red iris-like blooms. In the meantime, we get to enjoy the attractive foliage:

More poppies (taken a week or two after the last photos):

Swiss Chard and carrots--see how they grow!

I love how this hydrangea has multicoloured flowers on one plant! This is the only blue cluster; if you look at the photo below you'll see it at the back of the plant. The rest of the flowers are shades of pink and lavender:

Finally, I got these peony poppies to grow! My mom has given me a ton of seed from her own poppies, but for some reason they've never worked out for me before. Until now. Actually, I'm not sure whether the red ones are actually from my mom or whether they're another type I sowed, but either way--they're awesome. I've since had many more flowers, which I've let go to seed so I can get even more next year. I am poppy obsessed.

In the first photo below, you can see flowering hostas next to the poppies, and not-yet-flowering Rose of Sharon behind them:

Jacobii clematis, blooming at last:

Potted Hydrangea on the deck (this one's flowers are massive, and range from pink to lavender):

Visitor hanging out on our deck:
This one was harder to capture; it moved too quickly to get a really good shot...

...as you can see!
This mystery weed came out of nowhere and I left it for awhile because I thought the flowers were pretty. But check out those thorns! I pulled it up once I saw seed pods; the last thing I need is this populating my yard. But anyone know what it is?:

Another pretty weed (and another photo Blogger screwed up). This one is a Brassica of some sort, probably mustard:

Domicile is about the entire domestic sphere, so it wouldn't be complete without a couple of shots of my very domesticated felines:

Either the bed is too small or they're too big (actually, I think it was too hot--that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

This squirrel had a sweet deal going for a while there. It would show up and look cute and I would feed it. I've stopped feeding it now, even though it still shows up. I feel bad about it but the first step in protecting my tomatoes is to teach the squirrels that there is no food to be found in my yard. Just hang on until September, guy:

My strictly indoor cat letting me know how he feels about being left behind:

And, lastly a couple of photos taken by the SO. I love this poppy! It's the perfect shade of red--not at all orangey. I'm not sure if it's a biennial or a perennial, but I saved seed in either case.

And how does your garden grow?

Photos by Domicile