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Quote About Dandelions

"You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity."

-- Hal Borland

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Don't Fail the Family

Let me tell you a story.

It began when my father was a little boy, when he was still catching frogs and playing well into the Summer nights. His mother was given a recipe by a girl at work, a recipe that has since become a Very Big Deal. The recipe called for apples, it called for cinnamon, it called for sugar, and it called for a cup-and-a-half of oil. Egad.

When she mixed all of the ingredients together and baked them, it created a crumbly creation that has won over even the meanest of critics. Granny brought the cake out on special occasions, and it was always devoured. I can remember waking up to the smell of the cake in the oven, a warm scent that is forever stamped into my mind as a smell that belongs solely to her.

I love this cake. It is so valued that we keep the crumbs from the cake at Christmas in a bottle in the freezer to put on ice cream over the summer.

I would beg for the recipe, and every time she would find some way to distract me. Not on purpose, perhaps, but somehow that recipe never saw the light of day around me. Until this past Christmas, that is.

She pulled out her recipe box, “I don't even use these anymore; they're all in my head now. Here, I want you to have this.” Wide-eyed, I accepted the worn piece of paper. It had ingredients whited out, “I didn't like some of the stuff it called for, my recipe’s better.” And it had notes added in, “Just so you know what you're doing, until you learn it.”

I had it. The Apple Cake recipe was finally mine.

I framed it and hung it on my wall as soon as we got home from Christmas vacation. And I kept looking at it, thinking that I should try it, just to see if I could work the same magic that Granny can. But I never seemed to have the time or ingredients, so it hung there for months. Until yesterday.

Our neighbor rolled over in his electric wheelchair and gave us a huge bag of Red Delicious apples. The gesture was appreciated, but sadly, no one in my family likes those soft apples – we're a Jazz or Fuji family.

So I pulled my hair back and got to work.

A little of this. A little of that.

And a whole lot of that.

I put it into a well-greased bunt pan, because I don't own a tube pan like the recipe calls for.

And I let it bake, for a whole hour. Then it cooled for a half hour in its pan. I turned it over to cool on a rack. At that point it was midnight, so I called a friend to tell her happy birthday. Then I went to bed. (OK, fine. I snuck a few crumbs at that point.)

This evening, we went to my other grandmother's house for supper. I brought the un-tasted cake (except for those few crumbs.) We ate a beautiful meal of BBQ and roasted potatoes, then I brought out the cake.

My father had the first piece. I waited, holding my breath. “I am an Apple Cake connoisseur. I've been eating this cake since I was a little boy. That is an Apple Cake among Apple Cakes. Your Granny would be proud.”

Relieved I hadn't failed the family, I plopped myself down and ate a huge slice myself. And you know what? It really was amazing.

(I would share the recipe, but I think Granny would drive the hours it takes to get here and bop me on the head with her rolling pin. And if there's one lady I'm afraid of, it's my Granny.)


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Plan Your Garden

Last year, I had a garden.
It was beautiful.
I learned that you shouldn't start off with more than you can really handle. I could handle growing all of it just fine, but I had so many vegetables that 3/4 of it went to waste. I don't want that happening again this year! Plus, I will be heading off to school in the fall and won't be able to tend to the extra produce that seems to blossom overnight around October.
This year, I'm only going to grow:
  • Cucumbers (The 4 plants I grew last year produce almost 200 cucumbers!)
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin on a stick - it's actually an ornamental eggplant! (Check it out here)
  • Any flowers/herbs/misc. veggies my family wants to add in
Another thing I'll be doing is making my compost pile more productive! Composting is a branch of the soils sciences and is a lot of work.
This will be fun!
What are you doing in your garden?