Spring is coming, soon I hope, and I have been planning my garden. I love to garden but I always hated the aches and pains from bending over to plant and weed. A while back I worked at a local greenhouse and found myself with an abundance of plants. I had access to many varieties I had not seen before so I decided to make a large garden. After the first year I was so achy from bending all the time that my husband suggested raised beds.
We built them waist height and nice and deep. The hardest thing was filling them because they are quite a ways back on the farm from the drive where the soil had to be left. I would not have any other kind of garden now. My back never hurts and they are so nice and high that I can see my lovely plants from the house.
I like my back garden so much that when our son was having his wedding reception here two years ago and we were landscaping the front of the house, I did a raised garden there too. Not table height but it still is very easy to care for. This spring we are doing a raised vegetable garden on the sunny side of our property.
The nice thing about raised gardening is not just the physical aspect, you can also put them anywhere even a small one on a deck or back porch.
You do not have to have a wooden raised garden either. These fabulous galvanized water containers used on farms are perfect. Just plop them down, fill them up and you are ready to go. No matter what you use give raised gardening a try. Make a small garden or a large one, you won't be sorry it saves your aching muscles and your time because weeding a raised garden is a breeze.
As they put the finishing touches on the Red Carpet for the Academy Awards Ceremony tonight, I find my mind wandering to something else I adore that is red. Red Velvet Cake! Yummmm. I am fairly new to this delicious delight, it has only become a recent phenomanom in Canada. I have now found that there is not only Red Velvet Cake and Cupcakes but many other scrumptious incarnations.
32 chocolate sandwich cookies, finely processed into crumbs (cream and all – it’ll disappear when you crush them up!)
5 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
3/4 cups heavy cream
10 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used half semisweet and half bittersweet chocolate chips)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ounce red food coloring
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Decorative Toppings (optional):
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
white chocolate for drizzling
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and the sides of an 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides to make it easier to lift the cake out of the pan when it’s done. Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs. Make a paste of the cocoa and coloring and add to the shortening mixture. Add salt and vanilla. Add buttermilk alternately with the flour, beginning and ending with flour. Mix vinegar and soda right before using and add to mixture by folding in. Pour batter into the cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely, cover in wax paper, and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.
Make the cheesecake: To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan (at least 3 inches up the sides).
Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed. Pour 1 – 1.5 cups of the ganache over the bottom of the crust. Freeze until the ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve the remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature for later decorating.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Beat in the flour. Add in the vanilla and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.
Pour the filling over the cold ganache in the crust. Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the top is lightly browned, puffed and cracked at the edges, and the center moves only very slightly when the pan is lightly shaken, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and let cool at least 3 hours, until completely chilled and set.
Assemble topping: Whip room temperature ganache to create a fluffy texture perfect for piping. In a separate bowl, mix together cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar to make a small amount of cream cheese frosting for decorating.
Assemble the cheesecake: Wrap a warm towel around the outside of the springform pan to help loosen the crust from the sides. Carefully remove the springform. Transfer the cake to a serving platter. Here, you can schmear some ganache on the cheesecake to help the red velvet cake adhere. I didn’t, but it’s a good idea. Then place your red velvet cake layer on top of cheesecake (right side up). Decorate top of cake with drizzled white chocolate, piped cream cheese frosting, whipped ganache, and strawberries.
1/2 cup butter
2oz dark coarsely chopped chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp red food colouring
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
8oz. room temperature cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1. Prehat oven to 350.F. Butter bottom and sides of 8 inch metal baking pan. line with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper.
2. Melt butter and chocolate together in smal heatproof bowl over simmering pan of water. Cool for a few min.
3. In large bowl whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla and food colouring. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined and no streaks or dry ingredients remain.
4. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
5. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Pour 8 dollops over brownie batter and swirl in.
6. Bake 35-40 minutes until set. Insert knife into brownies it should come out clean. Edges should be lightly brown. Cool completely before removing brownies from pan.
So at the end of this evening when all of the little gold men have found a home, I will be planning a Red Velvet Ceremony of my own. For tonight I will settle for a lovely cup of Red Velvet Hot Chocolate while I watch the walk down the Red Carpet.
I have always wanted a glass garden room or a glass greenhouse. When I saw the one in the movie "Practical Magic" I wanted one even more. They are very popular in England , because of so much rain it is nice to have a place to sit and feel like you are outside.
I adore the old Victorian Greenhouses. They were used of course, for growing the flowers and produce for the large households. It must have been wonderful in the middle of winter standing in those sunny glass houses smelling the earth and watching the seedlings pop their heads out of the soil.
Although I am sure there are still many glass houses used for gardening they are becoming much more popular as actual rooms on homes. A place to sit and dream of warmer days.
One day I will have one, not to sit in, but to grow some lovely flowers and start my vegetables for the spring. I have been stock piling old windows and when I have enough I will have my glass house.
In honour of Mardi Gras I thought it would be nice to take a tour of some of the beautiful gardens of New Orleans, so grab a cup of coffee and a Beignet and let's go.
Wasn't that lovely and wasn't it nice to feel the sun again. Well, I would say it is time for some lunch. How about a nice pot of Jambalaya?
New Orleans Jambalaya
Serves 6 to 8.
This traditional New Orleans dish is frequently made with a combination of ham, chicken, shrimp and sausage. This recipe leaves out the ham, but you can put it in if you like. This version of Jambalaya is adapted from the Gumbo Shop cookbook, and is easy and very tasty.
1 lb. chicken breasts and thighs, bone in (or use leftover cooked chicken)
about 3 cups water to cover
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 lb smoked sausage (andouille), sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tsp minced garlic
1 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup converted long grain rice
1 1/2 cups stock (from cooking chicken)
1 lb raw peeled shrimp
Cover the chicken with water and set over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from pot and reserve the stock. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken meat from the bones and skin and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Reserve stock.
In a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, saute the sausage in the oil until lightly browned. Remove sausage from pot and set aside with chicken.
Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to the pot and saute until tender.
Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot.
Stir in the rice and mix well.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the reserved chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
Add sausage, chicken, and raw peeled shrimp.
Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice and shrimp are done (about 20 minutes).
It is still cold here this morning but there is a distinct change in the air. The squirrels are playing up and down the trees a little faster, the birds are actually singing and I can smell the earth rising above the cold. Yes, I think spring is around the corner.
Very soon, I will walk out to the garden and see the budding crocus and daffodil peeking their lovely heads out of the ground.
I wait in anticipation for that first sunny day when we can walk in the woods and enjoy the canvas of spring.
The countryside will be bursting with spring babies frolicking in the fields.
In honour of my optimistic Spring feeling today I am giving you a recipe for a lovely Daffodil Cake. I hope you try it and it brings a little sunshine to your day.
Your favorite angel food batter or a box mix
6 egg yolks, beaten
1 t. orange extract
3 T. cream cheese, softened
1/3. c. orange juice concentrated, thawed
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Make the angel food batter. Set aside about 3 cups; pour the rest into an ungreased tube pan.
Add egg yolks and orange extract to reserved batter and fold together. Spoon into tube pan over plain batter. Bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool and unmold.
To make the glaze, mix together the cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Whisk in the sugar. Drizzle over cooled cake.
Welcome to my new blog Lucys Garden. I already have another blog WICKED FAERIE QUEEN where I post about a variety of things such as decor, farm life, design and my art. I have two Etsy Shops the one WICKED FAERIE QUEEN the other is Lucys Garden. At Wicked Faerie Queen I showcase my artwork such as handsewn pillows and handpainted pieces. At Lucys Garden I sell primitive pine home decor.
On this blog I am going to post about two of my passions, GARDENING and FOOD. I am a self proclaimed FOODIE! I will share my creations with you and invite you into my kitchen and farm garden. I hope you also stop by WICKED FAERIE QUEEN for a visit as well.
I am proud of my Canadian, Norwegian and British heritage, it greatly influences my art and the way I decorate my 235 year old farmhouse. I am a vegan earth mother living in Canada. My passion is my family, my furry darlings and my art. I do all that I can for the welfare of all creatures great and small. I live a life that I fill with magic, blessings and bliss for myself and my loved ones.