Backdoor Beauty

This pink and blue beauty has always amazed me with its striking color combination.  My Aechmea gamosepala has had a long but difficult life. It lived in the ground for a while until the rabbits found it.  Its life in a pot has kept it alive, but not totally thriving.

This past summer it had to live in my wooded area and as luck would have it, the Aechmea loved it and put out more flower spikes than it has in years.

Now it is positioned next to my backdoor, so my cat and I can enjoy it all day.


Update on Looking Like Spring

After posting today, I took a walk around the yard and found Azaleas blooming.  Normally, they do not bloom until the second week of March.


It’s Beginning to Look Like Spring

I found it surprising that Spring seems to be on the way.  Maybe it is because I have not done my Fall clean-up.  The first two photos are two different salivias that are holding on to old growth while the new stems are already quite tall.  The other photo is rosettes of the cardinal flower well under way.

It has been an unusually warm winter and the cannas, gingers and drimiopsis seems to be coming up too early.

The native onion grass is popping up in the leaves along with corocosmia and snowflakes.

Even the Rose of Sharon seems to have had a short rest.  As always, there is good and bad with all this growth.  The good part is looking forward to a wonderful early blooming spring, but winter is not over and a hard freeze will knock all this new growth back to start over again.


Forty Clove Chicken – Naturally GF

Eating gluten free does not have to be boring and many recipes happen to be naturally gluten free, such Forty Clove Chicken. This recipe does take some time to prepare and it is nice to have an assistant to stir the sauce.  The sauce is a thick gravy and no flour is needed.  Even though there is a lot of garlic in the recipe, it doesn’t have a garlicky taste (or after taste). I like to serve this dish with rice, mashed potatoes or polenta and a vegetable choice of summer squash or broccoli.

This recipe calls for a wide Dutch oven that can go into the oven.

The original recipe uses 2 four pound chickens cut into 8 pieces.  I keep it simpler and buy the chicken pieces that I perfer.  You can be very versatile in your choice and as I am usually cooking for two, I use 2 bone-in breast and 4 thighs which is about 5 pounds and assures left-overs.

Ingredients

8 lbs of chicken (see note above)

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons of olive oil

40 garlic cloves. peeled

1 tablespoon of fresh minced rosemary

1 tablespoon of fresh minced thyme

dried herbs work just as well

zest of 2 lemons  zest is the outside rind of the lemon

1/4 cup of white wine (can use all chicken stock instead of wine)

3/4 cup of chicken stock

3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature cut into pieces

***

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

***

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in the Dutch oven with medium high heat

Brown chicken in batches 2 to 3 minutes per side and transfer to a plate

Add garlic to the pan and stir for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat

Add chicken, rosemary, thyme and zest stirring to combine

Cover the pan and roast in the oven for 20 minutes then baste

Remove lid and roast 30 minutes or until done at 165 degrees

***

Put chicken on a platter and cover loosely with foil leaving the garlic in the pan

Put pan on medium heat and mash the garlic

Add wine and cook for 3 minutes

Add chicken stock and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally

Whisk in butter a few pieces at a time

Pour into a gravy boat and enjoy!

PS  If you know someone who has to eat GF, especially if they are newly diagnosed, please share this blog.  Most of my recipes are easy to make with everyday ingredients and I included a variety of dishes including desserts.


Nice Days and Hard Work

Our unseasonably warm and sunny January days prompted me to  do long neglected yard work.  I pulled a bushel or so of weeds from the front yard and filled the big container in the picture 3 times with spent annuals and cuttings.

After all that work, I rewarded myself with tea and cookies on the porch swing.  A cold front is on the way that will provide me with a much needed rest.


A Perfect Day

We have been having perfect days in this part of the country.  The January sky has been blue and sunny with the ideal temperature in the low seventies.  In the summers it is too hot to indulge in sunning, but on some winter days it is glorious to feel the warm rays.

And to make the day perfect, my Sugar Bird has returned along with a winter hummingbird.


Pine Needles

Lobolly Pine Trees, Pinus taeda, surround my house and grow in my yard.  They grow up to 110 feet and drop their lower branches leaving bare trunks with the branches and needles at the top. They are found in low, swampy areas (or my yard) and their name means mud hole.

The long needles fall on everything and give trees and shrubs fringes.

They bury plants.

And pierce leaves and flowers.

Pine needles fall on the ground, sidewalks and roofs.  But they are very useful as mulch.  They cover the ground in my natural areas and help keep moisture in.  I collect the needles and use them to mulch my beds, as they do a good job keeping weeds and fungus down.  And best of all they are very light and easy to gather.