Archive for May, 2012

What’s wrong with my plant?


2012
05.26

Hey garden guru. Picked up some PW super bells. Yard boy (otherwise known as Dan) planted them… And two days letter they are a wilted dying mess. Any ideas what might have gone wrong?  Becky

Becky, You made a good choice. Superbells are a favorite summer anual. I suggest you give it plenty of water. Even if the plant was well watered the surrounding dry soil will wick off the moisture.

A newly planted flower has yet to establish it’s root system. It needs extra water and attention for a few days until it is well rooted in it’s new home.

The Yard Boy did everything right, in fact, he deserves many tall, iced drinks.

Last summer I grew some beautiful superbells :

Beautiful! Proven Winners Superbells

Because we had such a mild winter, these Superbells survied the winter and are blooming again this year.

I’m growing more superbells this year.There is a new bright yellow and white striped superbell coming. Next spring, look for ‘Lemon Slice’ at the garden centers.

 

This year, I’m growing containers of mixed annuals. It is a test, to see if I can keep these full sun flowers well watered and blooming.

Superbells are a Calibrachoa. This  new type of plants looks like little Petunias. They are related.

Plants in containers live or die because we remember to water and fertilize. I love that you dont have to deadhead old flowers or pinch back stems.

Once established, water only when the top of the soil feels dry. Too much water makes  roots rot. Full sun. Fertilize once a month.

Only 6 – 10 inches tall, these long, trailing branches cascade over the sides of hanging baskets and containers, or spread over flower beds.

These superbells are hummingbird magnets.

 

 

Cat Control


2012
05.18

Are the kitties using your garden as a litter box? Here is a solution that Betty Ward uses.

forked

Plastic picnic forks deter the cats from digging in the mulch. Photo by Betty Ward.

Momma Cat scaled a privacy fence to get in the back yard with a tiny kitten in her mouth. The fenced back yard seemed like a safe place for the momma cat to raise the little baby. Those two cats who sought shelter in Betty and Louie’s well manicured back yard decided to stay.

No telling what unfortunate circumstance brought  the cats to the back back door.

But the Momma Cat was weak and exhausted though she continued to nurture her kitten. She needed to eat, and there was no cat food in sight. That’s because  the residents didn’t want a cat, weren’t interested in ever having more pets.

Still, the cats stayed. But the poor momma cat needed to eat. So cat food found it’s way into the couple’s grocery bag.  The cats were finally safe and well fed. Slowly, the couple allowed then into their hearts.

And since the cats were now residents, they needed names. Momma Cat and Babe now officially live in the well manicured back yard. They go to the veteranarian. They have their own cat beds.

Just one problem. Instead of the littler box, the cats use the beautifully landscaped  gardens. So, that is why there are little plastic forks in the mulch. The forks are meant to be a cat deterrent.

It may work. If you have had success with this deterrent, or if you have a better idea leave a comment.

The kitten is grown and both cats are well cared for. They have no intention of leaving. And the couple have no intention of having more kittens in their back yard cat sanctuary.

The cats have  been been spayed and neutered.

What’s that? Spaying is a general term used to describe the ovariohysterectomy of a female animal. Neutering is a general term used to describe the castration of a male animal. However, neutering is often used in reference to both genders. The surgical procedure, performed by a veterinarian, renders the animal incapable of reproducing.  –  American Humane Association

Babe and Mama cat

Babe is the black cat. The tabby cat on the right is Mama Cat. photo by Betty Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mom’s German Chocolate Cake recipe


2012
05.10

Betty Ward in her beautiful back yard.

I love German Chocolate Cake. But it can never taste a good as a memory. I remember my mom’s was the best.

My Mom’s German Chocolate Cake recipe.

Germans Chocolate Cake photo by Kraft.

Original BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate Cake

1pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate
1/2cup water
4eggs, separated
2cups flour
1tsp. baking soda
1/4tsp. salt
1cup butter, softened
2cups sugar
1tsp. vanilla
1cup buttermilk
Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting

HEAT oven to 350°F.

COVER bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with waxed paper; spray sides with cooking spray. Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

BEAT egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

ADD egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.

BAKE 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Spread Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting between cake layers and onto top of cake.

Let’s admit it, this cake is really all about the frosting.

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting

4 egg yolks

1can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cups sugar

¾ cup butter or margarine

1 pkg. (7 oz.) BAKER’S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut (2-2/3 cups)

1-1/2 cups chopped PLANTERS Pecans

BEAT egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

ADD coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency.

This cake and frosting are on Kraft foods recipe site. Why mess with perfection? It is one of the very few recipes I do nottweek, add a little something or change in some small way.

When I was a kid, my Mom was famous for her German Chocolate cake and her pecan pie. When I wanted to know her secret, she showed me the recipe on the Original BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate package.

pecan pie. photo by Karo

Her secret pecan pie recipe – the one every body wanted her to make on Thanksgiving – was the recipe on the Karo Syrup bottle. click Classic Pecan Pie

Oh, yeah, she said. “They’ve got big test kitchens. Why would I want to try and make up something else?”

Grandma’s Chocolate Sheet Cake


2012
05.07

Grandma’s Chocolate Sheet Cake
aka Texas Sheet Cake

Sheet Cake

Quick to fix. Grandma’s Chocolate Sheet Cake. What a surpise to find out that it was also called Texas Sheet Cake. photo PBH

There are dozens of variations on this rich chocolate sheet cake. I think it is so enduring because it is simple, makes a big, affordable, sheet cake that is quick to fix and, uses common kitchen ingredients.

Pre heat oven 350 degrees, set the oven rack to mid level. Toast and chop ½ cup pecans. Watch carefully or they will quickly burm. Let cool.

Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder or flour.

To Make Cake:

Sift together first 5 ingredients. Set aside in large mixing bowl.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Add water, margarine and cocoa to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour into flour mixture. Beat until well mixed and smooth.
3/4 cup water
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Add final three ingredients. Beat until well mixed.
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs beaten

Pour into prepared pan. Tap pan on counter to release big air bubbles. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. (It’s exactly 33 minutes in my oven.) Toothpick test to check if it is done.

While cake is baking, make icing.

Icing:
1 stick margarine
1/3 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
While you bring to boil in medium sauce pan while you combine next three ingredients.

Pour hot boiling margarine, buttermilk and, unsweetened cocoa over next three ingredients.

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Mix together, add

1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix until smooth. Pour warm icing over warm cake. Allow cake to cool before cutting. Otherwise, half of this cake will disapear before before dinner. Strange, I know. But it happened to me.

Great for picnics or covered dish suppers. photo PBH

Cake Ingredient List

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs beaten

Icing Ingredient List

1 stick margarine
1/3 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

350° oven until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.
About 20 to 25 minutes for the 15X10-inch pan. (Happens to be 22minutes in my oven.) Or bake in a 13X9 cake pan for about 30 to 35 minutes.

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