Houseplant Musings – Mums

I have had an aversion to fake plants and flowers in my own home for years. In others homes and public areas they are fine and acceptable and sometimes even very well suited. They are just not for me. Why because I have to dust them.

They are outlawed form my house because someone I knew used them as an excuse not to have to buy flowers on special occasions. Although that person is long gone the ban on them still stands. Only bouquets, live or potted flowers in the house.

_20171117_110609.JPGMums, Chrysanthemums or Pot Mums are lovely guests in my house and they used to be put out to waste when their best was done but what a waste. I realized that I was putting a good plant to death by putting them outside to die off and then into the composter so I read up on them. My first few attempt felt dismal but I stuck by them. It has taken months but my first second generation flowers have now appeared and I am so chuffed.

The nurseries seem to have secrets to force them into flower at their most awkward times so they are available year round for a splash of color. From what I have read Mums like short days and longer nights. They are autumn flowering plants. This is the time of year that they flower naturally.

I love yellow mums – yellow is a color flower I gravitate towards but these are white. I have bought yellow and white mums but have forgotten which is which. I know the purple ones are fed a dye but I am not sure if the yellow ones are. It is really not important if the yellow ones are dyed because they are lovely too.

Whichever pot has decided to flower I am just happy I have achieved this little moment. I guess this means I will have to reconsider each time I see a lovely pot of mums available to bring home any season of the year otherwise I will have a house full of blooms each autumn and my other half may have to relocate to his beloved shed to make room.

Perhaps one day I will have to time to find a corner in the house to set up a space with a small controlled environment and see if I can trick them into blooming off season like the nurseries do.

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Kitchen Things – French Toast.

After some twelve years of marriage my husband still enjoys the many wild combinations I throw his way from the kitchen. I am a super believer in trying new combinations and one I tried the other day was excellent.

I had some left over pulled pork I made in the slow cooker. I always tend to cook more than I need only because leftovers, not only rock, they save me having to cook the following night and require me to pull my imagination into overdrive to think up something new.

I love french toast because it is not just for breakfast with butter and syrup.

I threw some sticky BBQ sauce into the pulled pork. Heated it up and made french toast and BBQ’ed pulled pork for dinner(with broccoli as veg but then any veg would have worked for me because the mains were just that good). Think Beans on Toast with a twist (ok more like tornado than twist).

It didn’t take much more than 15 maybe 20 minutes from the fridge to serving (making the toast, heating up the pork and steaming the fresh broccoli (which I put on first)) and it was delicious.

French toast is something I make to use up eggs and/or bread that is past its prime. I use it to make sandwiches when a plain sandwich just seems a bit boring. It is great with sloppy joes.

If you want a savory breakfast treat make some french toast, top with mushrooms, peppers or just about any omelet ingredient, put some cheese on top and pop it under the grill. Job done!

Oh and definitely try making a grilled cheese with French toast. As my granddaughter would say. It’s gummy (good).

A Grandmother’s Art Gallery

Sometimes I stand and admire my refrigerator door. It is an art gallery of which I am full of pride – a grandmother’s pride. I was proud when they were just scribbles because in their eyes they were well imagined works of art.  I was proud when it was their mother’s scribbles that hung there (different refrigerator).  These squiggly artist are our future and they deserve our pride, our appreciation, our encouragement and always our love.


“Lily (age 6) chicken don’t teeth.” Her mom said.
“My chicken has teeth.” Lily replied.

 

 

 

Wally320

 

 

 

 

This is Wally. ===>

 

 

 

 

Unicorn Wagon320

 

 

 

And then there are Princesses that love their unicorns so much they take them for a ride.

Lets Talk Wine

Another sort of kitchen adventure started about seven maybe eight years ago. The bounty of free foods or edible items here in Britain is amazing. I love the idea of getting something for little or nothing (and on the premise I am not taking advantage of others to do it).

My throw into wine making was the seemingly unlimited amount of elderberries I would see but was not sure about what I could use them for until I was reading more about nature’s bounty in various books. Elderberry wine came up again and again. I had never made wine and so started an unending adventure.

Wines I have made over the past seven to eight years include – Elderberry, Rosehip, Apple, Pear, Carrot, Parsnip, Ribena, Rose Syrup (as in Turkish Delights), Potato, Green Tomato, Elderflower, Lemon Balm, Tea and Raisin, Rhubarb, Apricot, Dried Apricot, Port. Plus a few others which I can’t remember.

The initial costs might be a little bit of an investment but most of the items except for things like yeast, nutrient, pectin enzyme, sugar etc, will be one offs. Demijohns cost a few pounds used and are cleanable. If you are thinking about trying it, keep an eye out at the local boot-sale, jumble sale, flea market for people selling assortments of equipment for wine making.

It is a creation that requires patience to some degree, only in reference to having to wait once it is racked off into the demijohns. Wines need time to make their alcohol, age and settle. I have over the years lost my taste for the effects of alcohol so I have all the patience needed.

The best book and my very first (widely recommended by any well-seasoned wine maker) is First Steps in Winemaking by C. J. J. Berry. Can’t rant enough about it. I learned so much from reading it and the recipes are straight forward. It is still my first go to book although I do have an assortment of them now.

The first wine I recommend trying is elderberry. Other than being a little messy cleaning the berries, it is one of the simpler recipes to work with. Starting simple is better than jumping in at the deep end.

I could ramble on and on about wine making. In the future I will share some of my experiences making it and sharing it as well as some ideas, tips, tricks.

African Violet Update

My single sprouting African violet has turned into three. I planted four leaves in a tub and hoped for the best back in April. Strange that it was a month between each leaf sprouting but I am thoroughly happy with the results.

They are potted and progressing. Planning to give away two of them – one has already been promised when it gets a little more robust. I know I don’t need more than one African violet but my houseplants are like pets and you always keep at least one of the litter.

I have successfully started several Boston Ferns from my main large one. I mean it is not like I did much work providing the runner a pot of soil to root into. Still it makes for happy moments. Planning on keeping those for their contribution to our air quality.

Future house plant adventures include attempting to grow Peace Lilies from seed and propagating my Dumb Cane and Prayer plant (which feels a bit daunting.

 

Kitchen Shenanigans

I get up to some frightful things in the kitchen. The kitchen is a creative outlet for me (one of many) and I spend a fair amount of time in one (I also work in the catering field) on a day to day basis. But my kitchen at home is by far my favorite kitchen to spend time in. It is a place where I can try outrageously strange or optimally normal experiments with food, canning and preserving (from pickling to dehydrating), baking, bath and beauty products, mixing herbal teas and more.

I have more than a few experiments to share but a recent experiment turned out better than hoped for. I had and still have a regular amount of veg rolling in from the garden and I try to do a bit of preserving before giving away the surplus. Normal stuff like Chutneys, Bread and Butter pickles, Green Tomato Salsa Verde, spiced pears as well as pear wine, green tomato wine vinegar and more.

_20170912_152814I purchased an inexpensive dehydrator a couple years ago and it has turned out to be a favorite kitchen gadgets (although I may have to invest in another inexpensive model to replace this one soon, it is sounding more and more rebellious in its assigned tasks).

My most recent shenanigan is pictured here. They are bread and butter pickles made from cucumber and zucchini (courgette) dehydrated into chips (crisps). Bread and butter pickles are sweet and tangy and these dried ones are no different except perhaps they are a little more crunchy to start. Soon after you have crunched on them they become chewy delights to the taste buds.

The best part of making them is once you have made the pickles and they are ready to can you leave them overnight in the pickling solution, drain them well and place them directly on the drying racks. They take a good twelve to sixteen hours to thoroughly dry in the dehydrator but are a worthy snack for the time invested.

I do plan to try drying some store bought sandwich dill slices to see how they taste but for now, I have a few more batches to make before my garden runs completely dry with the end of season.

 

African Violets

We moved into our new house a year and a half ago and over the last few months I have been rebuilding my indoor plants. I had to pass on my plants before the move because we would be in transit anywhere from six months on and I didn’t want them to suffer. I have been choosing plants based on air quality and maintenance so some of the varieties I have chosen are new to me.

A couple have been just good old favorites and one of those is African Violets. They can be tricky I am told but I seemed to have found a knack with them. Water when dry, find a spot they like and leave them (not too much sun), avoid touching them and always water from the bottom – those are the rules I was given, when I given my first one decades ago.  I no longer have those first ones (for various reasons) but I recently bought a new one and it is bursting in its pot.

I remembered a little article I had read years ago about using the leaves to start new plants and as I love trying new growing and gardening things. I looked around for more info on the net and have given this a try. The old instructions required a few more steps if I remember correctly but times have advanced or we just got lazier.

_20170710_065850-1Instructions:

Cut leaves with plenty of stalk on them.

Push into pot with well draining soil until the bottom of the leaf is touching soil.

Keep moist but don’t drown and ….

Wait.

My Patience seems to have paid off. One leaf has sprouted and there is another that still may but the two that are yellowing probably will not sprout. One out of four is still success!