Friday, July 14, 2017

BLACKBERRY LEMON PIE


It's blackberry picking time and eating the sweet berries fresh is a special treat... but since pie is at the top of my food chain, I can't pass up making this awesome Blackberry Lemon Pie.  This is a deep dish pie and has a few more steps than a conventional "throw it all together and dump into the pie plate" routine.  I was watching Alton Brown from the food channel discuss the benefits of cooking a fruit filling before filling the pie.  This results in a perfectly shaped pie that does not collapse and has no bubble over making a mess in the oven.  In this recipe, I tried a little of each, some of the filling precooked and a fresh berry mixture added to it after cooking to retain the shape and texture of whole berries in the pie. This pie's a keeper and it's hard to keep from "just trimmming the edge"!

Blackberry Lemon Pie
Recipe: Makes 1 9-inch deep dish pie
Pie Crust:
2 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 stick of butter, cold and cut up into cubes
½ cup of lard, cut up in small pieces
7 tablespoons vodka
1 egg, slightly beaten
In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and shortening to the flour mixture. Pulse to combine all of the ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add the cold water, tablespoon-by-tablespoon, pulsing in between tablespoons. Seriously, pulse. You don’t want the heat from the motor interfering with the consistency of the dough. Add water until the dough comes together into a ball. The dough should not be sticky or crumbly. Divide dough in half and shape into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Filling:
6 cups of blackberries (set aside 2 cups whole berries)
11/2 cup of sugar
1 lemon, juiced and grated zest
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons quick tapioca

Mix the 2 cups reserved berries with ¼ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of tapioca. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine berries, 1 cup sugar, lemon juice and zest.  Cover and slowly bring to a simmer for 15 minutes, (not a hard boil) Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in ¼ cup water and stir in cornstarch. Add some of the hot berry mixture to warm the paste and then thoroughly mix into the simmering berries.  Stir constantly as mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add vanilla. Set aside and let cool.

*Note: Depending on the sweetness of the berries, you may need to adjust the sugar. Berries picked at the peak of season tend to be sweeter than the more tart ones supplied year round.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough until 10 inches in diameter. Gently place the dough into the pie plate and crimp edges. Place in fridge for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, place the cooled filling into the prepared pie plate. Roll out the other disk of dough and cut into ½- inch to 1- inch strips. Place strips horizontally onto the pie. Start placing strips one-by-one vertically, lifting every other strip to create a lattice pattern. Brush 1 slightly beaten egg gently onto exposed piecrust. Sprinkle coated crust with sugar. Place the pie onto a cookie sheet and place in oven for 25 minutes. Rotate and let bake for another 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

GARDEN PROJECT: Whimsical Toadstools and Succulent Tray


Here’s a simple but effective succulent tray you can make featuring toadstool accessories. 
 What you need:
-heavy plastic sheeting to cover work surface
-two equal sized pieces of styrofoam or insulation foam at least 12 inches square. One of the two pieces should be at least 2 inches thick. Rectangle shapes work fine as well. 
-ruler and a Sharpie pen
-keyhole saw
-3 inch common nails
-baking spray
-protective mud gloves (Your gardening gloves will work fine.)
-trowel and plastic mixing bucket
-a length of ½-inch pipe or rebar
-a brick
-a fresh batch of hypertufa.  Use your favorite recipe or try mine:
(http://fromthesummersgarden.blogspot.com/p/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-ja-x_10.html)
-permanent craft glue such as Goop or E6000.
-exterior craft paint of latex paint

What you do

1. Use one of the two pieces of foam as the base for your tray mold. If they are of different thicknesses, use the thicker piece for the top part of the mold.
2.  Draw a rectangle or square on the top mold piece leaving a 1 ½ inch thick border around the edges.  Use the keyhole saw to cut out the rectangle resulting in a foam frame shape.

3.  Position this frame shape on top of the bottom piece of the mold.  Use the nails to pin the frame to the base piece, spacing them about 4 inches apart all the way around the frame.

4.  Once the mold is assembled, generously spray the inside with the baking spray.

5.  Mix up the hypertufa to a clay-like consistency.  It should stick together when squeezed, resembling gray hamburger.

6.  Sprinkle hypertufa over the entire bottom of the mold in a one-inch layer. Press the hypertufa together with your gloved hands creating a smooth solid surface.   Tamp the bottom layer with the brick to get a smooth even surface.

7.  Out line the perimeter of the frame with a thick border of hypertufa.  Use your fingers to press it to the sides of the mold and smooth together.

8.  Use the brick to square the sides and corners of the tray.  You can create a fluted edge by pressing the sides in even increments with the ½-inch  piece of rebar. Finally poke one or two drainage holes in the bottom with the pipe or rebar. Set aside, out of the weather, to set and harden for at least two days .

9. Roll 6 baseball-sized balls of hypertufa.  This will make three complete toadstools.  If you’d like more toadstools, roll two balls for every toadstool.

10.  For each toadstool, roll one ball into a thick stalk-like stem.  Flatten a second ball into a mushroom cap and round the edges.  Be careful not to make the caps too thin or they will break easily. Use the rebar to flute the caps if you’d like.   Allow these caps to set over night.  The next day they should be hard enough to carefully pick up.

11.  Use the sharp corner of a trowel to bore a depression in the bottom center of each toadstool cap and allow to cu    

12.    Glue the toadstool caps to the stems with Goop Household Cement or E6000 craft cement.   

13.  Leave the toadstools plain or paint them with exterior paints.      
14.  Pot up the tray with succulents and add the toadstools for the finishing touch. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
If you’d like to make these toadstools and succulent tray but do not feel up to doing it yourself, join is in a creative workshop offered repeatedly through the summer.  For more info visit: peaceinmygarden.com

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Guest Artist: KAREN SKILLETT


Whimsical garden decor is Karen Skillett's focus for the 2017 FTSG Spring Sale! Inspired by her love of fairy gardens and her current obsession with vintage dishes, Karen combines her unique finds to create cheerful accents for your garden! She even searches high and low for hard-to-find vintage demitasse spoons (little spoons) to complete her chimes! And, well, her new bees and ever-present gnomes...she makes those just for fun!!





Monday, May 15, 2017

LAMB'S QUARTER- IT'S A WEED! IT'S A PEST! IT'S A SUPER-VEGETABLE!


You can garden for years and still learn something new...every year! Earlier this spring, I read an article on a plant called Lamb's Quarter in Organic Living. I got so fired up over this new discovery that I promptly ordered seeds. It is a "wonder plant", similar to Kale in the rich nutrients it provides.
The tender top two inches are picked and steamed, sautéed or added to soups and have a flavor similar to its close relative, spinach. Rich in Vitamins A, C, B1 and B2; iron and protein, this nutrient dense green is worth growing in the garden. When the seeds emerged, I was horrified to discover that Lamb's Quarters is none other than a prominent weed in most American gardens! I have pulled and composted it every year I can remember. After i got over this revelation, I decided to give it a chance but definitely will NOT allow it to go to seed. 
Lambs Quarter requires no cultivation and is relatively disease and insect free. Compare this to many of our cooking greens in the mustard family such as collards and kale which require vigilant bug protection. My mustard family greens are riddled with holes from beetles and the Lamb's Quarter are showing no signs of damage from bugs nor from drought. Rethinking our current cultures agriculture and culinary paradigms, we can adapt our tastes to the relative ease and nutrition of our weeds. My mind has been opened by the garden...once again!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

HOME IS THE HEART OF LIFE: WHAT IN STORE

video
You will find a wide variety of interesting handmade artwork at HOME IS THE HEART OF LIFE. We are open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday including Memorial Day Weekend.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

HOUSE PLANTING CONTAINER WORKSHIP

If you are looking for some creative fun this coming Saturday, you can make one one of these cool house containers. They are really fun on your front step or back out on your patio. The dirt is tamped into the contianer to form the roof and then you pop in your plants. You will make a mold that you can use again and then cast the container with hypertufa and take it home...all in one session! We have a morning session and one in the afternoon. Sign up for our creative workshop for this container at peaceinmygarden.com.
While there you'll be able to browse our Spring Sale, Home is the Heart of Life. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00-5:00 every weekend in May.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

NEW SPRING MESSAGE STONES


Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, grass and outdoor



Image may contain: plant and outdoor
The integration of inspirational messages with images is a key element in the design of our garden artwork. This spring we have four new message stones that reflect our theme, Home is the Heart of Life. Our FB friends voted these four as their top favorites. A message stones can be used in several ways; it can be hung as a plaque, stood up on its edge as a sign in the ground or on a table or placed flat in the ground as a stepping stone. A nice versatile gift for $15!