Friday, January 26, 2018

first blooms and almond cake~

mid January had me dreaming in a blizzard of white blooms.
first to open were the dependable evergreen pears.
on my early morning walk the moon still hung high in the trees, but soon the sun sent its warming glow awash over the almond trees.

the almond blossoms had my mouth watering, I couldn't stop thinking how much I would love a slice of warm almond cake with my morning tea...


3/4cup butter or margarine, softened
cup granulated sugar
oz almond paste (1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
       Powdered sugar for dusting

  •                                                        Heat oven to 350°F                                                           

  • In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and almond paste with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in almond extract and eggs until well blended. On low speed, beat in flour, baking powder and salt just until blended. Spread batter in pan; sprinkle with almonds.

  • Bake 45 minutes or until tooth-pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour. Use foil to lift cake out of pan; cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

garden chronicles, the trees~

its a rainy day, the perfect time to curl up by the fire with my new kitty and garden books...

mystery must have lived here before, the first night I crawled in bed I heard a cat yowling on my deck, my heart stopped, I have enough cats... for the next few months anytime I was at the house I spied her, at the barn, hunting, on the deck, at the back door, drinking from our fountains, she was ever present. and skinny... I cannot turn my eyes from animals in need. soon she was sleeping on the deck nightly...
I was bringing her food one morning with fuzzy slippers on, she RACED to me, I was afraid she was going to attack my feet as prey, then she began weaving round my legs, she wasn't feral! I quickly called a clinic to get in my little mystery cat, scooped her up and locked her in a bathroom for a week in case she had anything contagious. fast forward, she is one the THE BEST cats I have ever owned! poor thing had been shot, she is barely a year old, but she has zero fear. she is as loyal and smart as my border collie, she comes running to her name every time. she fits in perfect with the other cats and plays with katie. we named her mysty, she is our mystery, and for the mists that weave through the hills and her soft gray fur...

on to the garden, I like to keep records, at my age I need to remember what names I planted!

trees planted

 from the crescent ...
variegated box elder
star magnolia
white dogwood 4
florabunda crabapple
White dogwood
akebono cherry tree
mt Fuji cherry
lawsons cypress

Star Jasmine
Pink Jasmine
White clematis armandii early sensation
Guernsey cream clematis
Almond tree
Lawson cypress
mt Fuji cherry
akebono cherry
florabunda crabapple
star magnolia
Japanese maple

to north perimeter...
texas privet 8
green giant thuja 10
deodor 3
tupelo 2
lawsons cypress
green giant 6
redwood 5
prunus blireana
Krauter Vesuvius Purple Leaf Plum 2
trident maple
blue point junipe
Fort mncnair horse chestnut red
7 green giant thuja
lawsons cypress
pin oak or red maple
red maple
japanese maple
Japanese maple
Red oak/maple
baileys acacia
china berry 3
(sango kaku coral bark maple
Blood leaf Japanese maple
butterfly maple (variegated))

thuja yellow ribbon 3
liquid amber burgundy 3
Raywood ash
tafts golden cypress
box elder
festival liquid amber 7
corckscrew willow
Vitex blue
silver dollar eucalptus
ca pepper tree
Bradford pear
red maple
jaquemonti birch 2
Chinese pistache 3

Rose garden
Green giant 20
Laburnum 2


15 moonglow juniper
16 green giant thuja
16 moon glow juniper
6 Bradford pear
5 Italian cypress
5 Italian cypress
6 Bradford pear
16 green giant thuja
16 moon glow juniper
3 Italian cypress


native pines 4
Arizona cypress
oleander pink standard
oleander white standard
oleander pink standard 2
redwood 3
green giant 3
redwood 4
green giant 2
redwood gray 2
native pine
green giant 2
redwood 3
green giant 3
redwood 5
ginkgo 6
red maple 5
gingko 6
Chinese pistache 10
Redwood 4
California buckeye 2
sekkan sugi japenese cedar
lavender crepe myrtle
Snow drift crabapple 2
baileys acacia
purple fountain beech
nigra magnolia
eastern redbud 3
Blood leaf Japanese maple
western redbud 3
black diamond purely purple crepe myrtle 2
black lace sambucca
peppermint lace crepe myrtle 2
redwoods 6
Smoke tree royal purple 2
black walnut
baileys acacia
coffee cake persimmon
hychiya persimmon

west perimeter...
(see orchard)
yoshino cherry

front yard...
10 sky rocket juniper
ceonothus ray hartman
3 wilsonii olives
6 meyers lemons
eureka lemon
 Ca pepper
2 wonderful pomegranates
pink crepe myrtle
radiant red crepe myrtles 3
3 arbequina olive trees8
lawsons cypress
2 evergreen pears
robinia purple robe
red sunset maple (center)
raywood ash
autumn blaze maple (left)
oct glory maple (right)
liquid amber
black diamond radiant red crepe myrtle 3
2 Cleveland pears
Bradford pear (center)

rose garden
2 golden chain

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

lemon asparagus~

steam asparagus, mix and toss with
lemon juice
olive oil
fresh tarragon
 hard boiled egg

Monday, January 22, 2018

banana chocolate chip cream cheese muffins~

rise and shine!
 moist, not to sweet, cream cheese filled with cinnamon topping~

Cinnamon Pecan Streusel
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • tablespoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
Banana Cake
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large ripe bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
Cream Cheese Filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup Reserved Batter (see instructions)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla Glaze
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Garnish (optional)
  • Garnish (optional)
  • milk chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray all inside surfaces of a 16 cup nonstick tube pan with nonstick cooking spray WITH FLOUR or grease and flour the inside of your pan. Set aside.   *** I made 16 large muffins***
  2. Cinnamon Pecan Streusel: Add pecans to your food processor and pulse 3 times. Add flour, brown sugar and cinnamon and pulse a few times to combine. Sprinkle cold butter over top and pulse until chopped and the mixture resembles small pebbles. (You may also combine in a bowl and cut butter in by hand). Set aside in the refrigerator.
  3. Cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy on medium high speed, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears after each egg. Mix in vanilla and bananas until just until combined.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to banana/butter mixture in thirds, alternately with sour cream in between each third. Beat until just combined. Measure out 1/4 cup batter and set aside for cream cheese filling. Stir chocolate chips into remaining batter until just until combined.
  6. Measure out 1 cup batter (to top cream cheese layer) and spoon the rest of the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. To your now empty mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup reserved batter, cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat on medium high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over batter and gently smooth, but do not touch the sides of the pan. Spread reserved 1 cup batter evenly over filling (it will be very thin).
  8. Tap pan on counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles then sprinkle evenly with Cinnamon Pecan Streusel.
  9. Bake for 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees F or until toothpick inserted comes out clean (without inserting in cream cheese). Let baked cake cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto a baking sheet, remove pan, and invert back onto cooling rack streusel side up. Let cool to room temperature. ***I baked in convection oven for 22 minutes***
  10. When ready to serve, whisk Vanilla Glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl and drizzle over cake. Sprinkle cake with mini chocolate chips (optional)
  11. Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Garden chronicles, the orchard~

It's been thirty years since I planted an orchard, today felt like Christmas when I added over a dozen more varieties of fruits, some I never even heard of. With level land I can't wait to harvest buckets full of goodness in the years to come!

I use my blog like a reference library, recipes I love, moments in time I enjoy and now recording my garden layouts so five years from now I can check back to see which cultivars names worked out the best. 28 years ago I planted a pluiot, no one had even heard of them, today you can buy them by the box full at Costco. As exotic as pluiots were decades ago, now spelled pluots, but I am old school, I had that same wild thrill today adding aprium, nectaplums and pluerrys. While the rest of the country is freezing, I have been planting on the dry days between the rain, flighty to enjoy our first springs rewards.

Nestled around the barn I surrounded the area with fruit~

Row one...
Bartlett pear
Comice pear
Comice pear
Red Bartlett sensation
Asian pear housi
Sugar twist pluerry
Kadota fig
Brown Turkey fig 2
Panache tiger fig
Black mission

Brown Turkey fig

Row two...
Satsuma plum
Pluiot flavor supreme
Santa Rosa plum
Existing old apricot
Flavor queen pluiot
4 way pluiot
         White splash
             Green geopride
                   Blue emerald drop
                        Yellow flavor grenade
Fuyu persimmon
Arctic star white nectarine
Honeycrisp apple
Golden delicious apple
Bing cherry
Royal Rainer cherry

Row three...
Blenheim apricot
Old apricot
Leah cot aprium
Goldmine nectarine
Arctic glo nectarine
Spice zee nectaplum
Granny Smith apple
Gala apple
royal rainer cherry
Royal rainer cherry

Black tartarian
Black tartarian

fence line...
6 Spartan blueberries left side
3 bluecrop blueberries  right side

 by casita...
Santa Rosa plum

Front areas....
Hychiya persimmon
Coffee cake persimmon nishimua wase *

Black walnut

Old apple tree
Pomegranate wonderful 2

Meyer lemons 3

Navel orange
Meyers lemon

Side deck

Kitchen garden
morro blood orange

Tarocca blood orange
Bears lime
Grapefruit Rio red

White garden

orchard fence
gold flame honeysuckle
Spartan blueberry 6
bluecrop 3
bridal veil spirea 10
variegated weigelia
leptospermo patricia ann (pink)
leptospermo ruby glow
Leptospermo Martin's (pink)
weigelia pink
lilac pale pink
weigelia pink
Leptosperum Helene strybing pink
leptospermo ruby glow
Leptosperum Martinii (pink)
leptosperum Helene strybing pink
red tree peopny
camellia debutante pink


White crepe myrtles 2

White daffodils

Cecile Brunner
Eureka lemon

Red canna
Red and white rose of Sharon
Red roses 2