Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Merry Mixup December 2015 Warm Weather's Effect on Plants

 This December on Long Island, the weather has been unusually mild.  As a result the flowering shrubs and bulbs are mixed up!  They are sending out blooms and growth several months too early.  This is a Winter Jasmine flowering plant. 
 A beautiful Sky Blue Vinca blossom.
 Peach colored Japonica flowers.
 The next year's buds for the Montauk Daisey.
A male Holly
Mint leaves coming up in the Blueberry Box.
 Grape Hyacinth leaves popping out.
 A Raspberry!
 Cat Mint flowers in a planter box.
A new shoot for a Day Lily plant.
 My favorite late blooming Chrysanthemum, but this is really late.
The new plants at the base of each stem for that Chrysanthemum.
 Snow Drops shooting up.
 A Yucca which never looked this good all summer.
 Ferns around the White Walnut tree.
 Hydrangea buds showing up too early.
 One of the Knock Out Roses trying to bloom.
 I tip over planter pots for the winter months, so that the contents and pots don't freeze.  But the plants continue to grow.
 A remarkable photo of one of my Bridal Wreath shrubs.
 A purple bloom on a perennial.   What will happen to these plants come Spring.  I guess that I will have to wait, but after the last two really snowy and cold winters this is a gift!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Buttery Jam Tarts

It is getting so close to Christmas,and I hadn't started to bake cookies to give to friends and family.  So I pulled out all of my small books on cookie making that I have collected over the years and opened up to this recipe.  I always double original recipes:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup Butter softened
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup cherry (I used Raspberry) preserves
sugar for sprinkling 
Heat oven to 350 F degrees. Combine flour,sugar, butter, eggs, baking soda, salt, milk and almond extract.  Beat together until well mixed.  Roll out dough half at a time on floured surface, to 1/8" thickness.  Cut with 2 1/2" round cookie cutter.  Place half of the circles on an ungreased  cookie sheet.  Spoon level teaspoonsfuls of  preserves onto the center of each cookie. Top with the cookie tops that have the star cutouts. Press around the edges with a fork.  Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  ( I needed more time than that.)  Remove and sprinkle with sugar.  Cool and store.
I find that cookbooks put out by actual food companies work very well.  Their recipes are time tested and are easy to follow.
 Some of the ingredients for these cookies.
 I melted the butter in my mid sized cast iron frying pan.
 Unbleached flour
 The recipe calls for cutting the dough in half.
For the filling I used seedless Raspberry preserves.
I have several mini cookie cutter sets.
 This set had the star cutter.
 This is the round cookie cutter for the tops and bottoms.
The cookie bottom circles.
 Since th is was the first time that I tried these cookies, I spaced them too close together.  Then I replaced them and set them two (2) inches apart.
 When I spooned on the preserves, i didn't know if the filling would ooze out of the cookies.  I should have used more filling.  the recipe suggested s level teaspoon.  They were correct.  The cookies needed more.
 The preserves from Gross' orchard in Lynchburg, Virginia.
 The second half of the dough is rolled out and the star cutter makes the hole in the center of each circle top.
 I used a fork to crimp the two halves of the cookie together.  Looking at the perfect circles in the booklet, maybe I should have re-cut the circles after I did this.  Oh well.
 In the 350 F degree oven.
 Lastly after they were out of the oven, I sprinkled them with raw sugar.  The recipe used regular white sugar, and they might have twinkled better.
Money in the bank, when you have cookies stored in a plastic tub for holiday gifts.  I think that more filling and thinner circles would have made this cookie a better offering.  Next time! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sagamore Hill Long Island Home of Theodore Roosevelt Christmas with the Roosevelts 2015

Sagamore Hill, the  newly restored Oyster Bay, Long Island home of the twenty-sixth president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was the site of a special event, "Christmas with the Roosevelts."
 The National Parks Service spent three years carefully repairing and restoring the structure, the  interior, and the artifacts of this treasure on the North Shore of Long Island.
 They provided new pathways around the Roosevelt's family home for the public to enjoy the natural beauty of the property.
 A very impressive wooden windmill.  In the day, Sagamore Hill was a working farm.

 One can just imagine the president roaming across the family fields and playing with his children, pointing out the different plants and animals.  He was a very involved father and encouraged physical activities out doors.
 The beauty of the weathered split rail fencing and the mature plantings and trees give the visitors to this National Park a true view of what Long Island looked like during the days of the "Summer White House. "   President Roosevelt lived at Sagamore Hill from 1885 until his death in 1919.
Sagamore Hill is named for the Algonquin word "Sagamore" which means chieftain or head of the tribe.
 This is an enormous Copper Beech tree that stands proudly just outside the front entrance to Roosevelt's home. 

Sagamore Hill was truly a family residence for the Roosevelts and their six children. Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, Theodor's second wife, died there in 1948. Her working desk is prominently shown by the guides because she was in charge of the daily comings and goings and the finances at Sagamore Hill. Although Teddy Roosevelt was a prolific writer and author, naturalist, soldier, explorer and statesman, he left the handling of money to Edith. Good thing too, because he couldn't account for the spending money she would give him each day, according to the guides.
 Front door
 A historian giving a few anecdotes about the family.
 I noticed a mill stone near the curb.
 After the tour  of the interior first floor of Sagamore Hill, we were making our way to the parking field, and spotted James Foote, the twenty-sixth president re-enactor.
He as telling stories about the president, and was very
 gracious, so how could we leave without a photo with Teddy Roosevelt!
 Just before we got into our car, we noticed these beautiful cherry-like  fruit on a tree in the parking lot.
These are the leaves from that tree.  If anyone knows what type of tree this is please let me know.  Any plants that fruit or bloom this late in the season are interesting to me because I am sure that the fruit would be consumed by winter birds.  Natural berries or fruiting trees are essential to help encourage winter birds.
James Foote as the president.