Saturday, August 18, 2007

Good Gardeners, Good Cooks!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Still raining here on the hill. It's an even 50 degrees but with the slight wind it feels colder than it is. The rain is heavy enough that it's falling straight down despite the breeze. This is nothing compared to what is likely to befall Jamaica all too soon.

Karl the wonder dog and I attempted our morning walk together but he bored of a wet back quickly and I had to return him to the house before we got too far. He is a good companion when riding in the truck but during walks he is very particular about what he will tolerate. I hate starting something and then having to quit even if it's just a morning walk.

The lower hosta garden sadly displays my absence during the past month or so. I have been so busy readying the new property for next year's gardens and business that there have been days in a row when I haven't even chanced for a visit. Customers tell me it is special but they have to be offering gardening courtesy as I know the weeds are deep and the leaves haven't been raked from the walkways in at least two weeks.

The red baneberries are on the verge of dormancy, quick to follow Trillium grandiflorum which turned brown, whithered and dropped to the ground in hiding last week. The baneberries will fall from the mother plants and then the leaves will darken and gardens will have noticeable holes of missing plants until next spring. There is something about the red berries which encourages more and more gardeners to want to include them in their gardens even though I protest with each sale and remind what to expect. As the red baneberries fall to earth, chipmunks, mice and red squirrels gather them. At the same time the white baneberries, poisonous but eye catching, begin to form on bright red stems, a visual lure of sorts.

This morning Alex and I will go to the St Johnsbury Farmers Market. I really enjoy it but have been so busy this summer I haven't made it. There is a baker there with great ciabatta bread and some dill-garlic pretzels which Alex likes. The bread is Italian in origin and the name comes from it's supposed slipper shape. I can only verify that no two loaves are the same but every one is delicious and absents itself from our kitchen shelf all too quickly. I also want to stop at the Gadapee Sugar House booth where Dianne Gadapee will hopefully be selling her new sweet and sour sauce. This is another of her many great maple syrup recipes, home grown in the mountains of Danville where good cooks and hard workers go hand in hand. I tried some a couple weeks back and although it's designed as a traditional salad dressing, I put a small dollop on each pan seared scallop I prepared for an evening meal. The sauce brings out the sea flavor with a hint of maple and a slight bite that creates happy smiles and kind comments.

I better get going here but I can't leave without a long over due recipe for Coconut Carrot Cake. As you have seen before, The Vermont Gardener mentions good food because as well as being good gardeners, Gail, Alex and me are happy in the kitchen, clanking pots and pans and scraping bowls of batter. This recipe is one we serve this time of year when garden guests arrive and if Gail gets a minute she throws one together to offer customers. Like her blueberry coffee cake, this is a winner.

2 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c.chopped nuts
2 c. grated carrots
1 1/3 c. Baker's Angel Flake Coconut
1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple drained

Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt.

Beat oil, sugar, eggs thoroughly. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.

Add pineapple, carrots, coconut, nuts, pour into greased 9"or 10" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and frost.

For frosting:

Saute 1 c.Baker's Angel Flake Coconut in 1 1/2 tsp margarine until golden. Stir constantly, remove and spread on absorbent paper. Cool.

Cream 3 ounces of cream cheese with 1/4 cup margarine. Alternately add 3 cups sifted confectioners sugar, 1 tbsp of milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla. Add 1/2 the coconut and beat until smooth. Top with rest of coconut.

That's it folks. The only problem with this cake is you have to get the first piece or you may not get any piece. It's great!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where rainy days are good for gardens but make bakers comment on how baked goods rise in humid conditons.

Garden wishes,

George Africa

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