Ten Gables Cottage

Ten Gables Cottage
Ten Gables Cottage

Monday, January 31, 2011

Harvesting Radishes

Hi everyone,
We are having lovely weather and I spent yesterday afternoon planting all the plants I have bought for the vegetable garden. I put in several kinds of lettuce, tomato, pepper, zucchini, red cabbage, basil and marigolds (bug prevention plants).I harvested most of the radishes and as you can see, they don't look all that great. Some had split and others grown very long, while a few were perfectly round. I will be planting more, so maybe this time around they will do better. I did clean these up and got a nice teacup full and they were very tasty.
I stir fried cabbage last night, as http://Marksvegplot.blogspot.com/ suggested for using my cabbage, and I added crumbled bacon, a dash of garlic powder, some fresh ground pepper and when I served it, a sprinkling of Parmesan/Romano cheese. It was superb!! So last evening I had three things from my little garden, broccoli, cabbage, and radishes. Fit for a king!
As you plan your Spring garden, have fun and imagine all the good and healthy eating you will have!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Welcome to my studio

Hi and come into my studio today and see where I work and "play"...to me my work is play. The studio is just a step across the back porch to a separate building that is the size of a large 2 car garage. I am so fortunate to have a place to paint, sew, use my computer and do all the projects I want to do; then, I can leave the mess if I have to stop, and come back to work later without having to tidy up. I love that! I display the finished paintings here as well, even though it is not a gallery space but a work space.

I have many books here and props for still life paintings as well and quite a few antiques, too.
Here you can see some finished paintings. Many of the ones shown here have been sold...things are constantly changing in the studio. I have wonderful light from 2 north-west sky lights and 5 windows with adjustable blinds.

The ceiling is very high, so there is a space for objects on top of the closet wall. I have a huge closet all the way across one end and there are actually 2 doors to it. Believe me it is so full, and needs a good clean out. I store canvas, paper, easels etc. there, as well as some craft supplies and seasonal decorations. Is there ever enough storage room?
As you can see, I have an old quilt hanging from the top of the closet wall, and I think you can glimpse an old crockery churn, an old telephone, etc. up there. I also have a beautiful antique cash register that came out of the first and oldest department store in Harlan, Ky. where I was born. It is dated 1900, and when I bought a florist shop there in the 60's, the cash register was in the building. When the shop sold in later years, I kept the cash register. It was cleaned and restored to its first glory. It is polished brass with a marble piece on the top where the drawer goes in. I have actually used it in 3 shops, but now it is retired just to enjoy looking at. I have an old railroad stove (you can see the pipe). This is for charm only, as the studio has central air and heat. Some of the paintings in this photo have been sold, also, and others have been hung in their places.

Hope you enjoyed this peek inside my studio, where I spend a big part of every day. Sometimes I walk in the door and say out loud to no one, " I love this studio"!

Hope you are having a great weekend. Egretta

Friday, January 28, 2011

Perfection: The sky and a cabbage

Hello from Ten Gables,
The sky last night was awesome as the sun went down. We were just walking out of the fellowship hall at church where we had a meeting and thankfully I had my camera with me and could snap a couple of amazing photos.

The colors are lovely and I love the way the wispy clouds are moving!

This may have been the first photo---I'm not sure of the sequence. But in this one, I love the
transparent looking shapes of bluish grey and white over the coral layer. Amazing and pure perfection!

And here is a photo of my harvested cabbage which is perfect---not one worm hole or bug! All I did was plant some marigolds near by, but they died during the freeze. I have several more to harvest. I will have to find more ways to fix cabbage. One thing I love is stuffed cabbage, stuffing with a ground beef and rice mixture and cooked in a tomato sauce. Yum!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making a Heart Pillow

Hi everyone from Ten Gables,
I spent time in my quilting group meeting Tues. to make this patchwork heart shaped pillow. I used old, vintage bits of lace and embroidered pieces that had been too well used to be useful anymore, but still had lots of embroidery intact. I cut a base of muslin and another one for the backing. I took one piece of heart-shaped muslin and sewed the various pieces of lace, fabric, and embroidery on it. Then I sewed the two hearts together, leaving an opening to put the stuffing in through. After stuffing the pillow, I tacked up the opening and embellished the pillow with a bow and a little heart shaped trinket that said love. It is an AUTOGRAPH PILLOW. I will give it to someone, in this instance a sick little girl, with an acid free permanent pen attached and she can have her friends who visit autograph it.
Before I stuffed it, I placed it on my dining table and decided it looked great as a placemat, so now I have another project to do using all my old scraps and bits....a set of placemats for Valentine's Day! There just isn't enough time to do all the fun and creative things that give pleasure to this life!! Happy Creating to you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A dessert for Quilt Group

Hi everyone,
We had a storm last night, but we did get much needed rain. I was afraid to plant my garden plants yesterday because of the forecast for a storm with heavy rain and strong winds, so I will plant as soon as I can. I am trying to plant by the end of the month.
Yesterday was my turn to take a dessert to the Quilt Group, so I wanted to do something simple, yet good. I bought a gingerbread mix the other day, so I decided on an Apricot Upside Down, Gingerbread Cake. It was pretty and delicious! All I did was melt a stick of butter in an large iron skillet, add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 Tbs. of Apricot syrup from the can of Apricots, and let that boil a few minutes to form a thick syrup. Next I took the skillet off the burner, placed apricots with rounded bottoms down on the syrup ( I used a large can and a small can, draining off the rest of the syrup). Then I poured the batter of the gingerbread (made by package directions) over the apricots and baked according to gingerbread package. I took Cool Whip along to the meeting to put a doloup on each slice. It was really good and everyone wanted the recipe! Years ago, an old lady neighbor gave me this recipe. I have made pineapple upside down cake, but never thought about making apricot-gingerbread upside down cake!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Turtle Visit and Signs of Spring

Hello everyone,
I had a visitor yesterday in the back yard! I think she is what they call a Chicken Turtle. I know she came from the canal and up into the yard to dig holes and lay eggs. You can see she is digging a hole (in back). When I approached, she quit digging and pulled her head back a little bit but didn't hide in her shell completely. I left her to her Spring time chore, thinking, "Spring is here....almost!

Today I went to the garden center to start mygarden stash and I plan to start planting tomorrow. I need an almanac, though and find out the best planting days. Does anyone else plant by the almanac? My parents and grandparents did and they were very successful gardeners. For example, if the "signs" are not right for beans, then you would have nice plants and few beans! The almanac tells you the best time to plant most everything.
I bought some sweet onion bulbs. I hope they do well. The price seemed right---50 bulbs for $1.50

I got carried away with lettuce, buying Bibb, Romaine and Angula. Yum! I got a basil, 4 eggplants, a tomato and a pepper, some red cabbage and 2 marigolds. I will also start some marigolds from seed. I always plant them in with my veggies and it really deters bugs. I also got some seed packages--oregano and parsley and Zinnias, which I love to plant---just throw out the seeds and Zinnias will come up.

My Florida gardening book says that January is the beginning of Spring in Florida. Even though we had frost a couple of weeks ago, it is more like March or April in the North. It is time to put out veggies and flowers. My book recommends beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, collards, cucumbers, eggplants, endive, garden peas, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion sets, parsley, potatoes, pumpkins radishes, romaine, rutabagas, spinach, squash, sweet corn, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips and watermelons. Wow! What a garden THAT would be!

I am still harvesting broccoli every few days! I have frozen many packages from my 8 plants and they are still producing. After the first "head"is cut, then little pieces just keep coming on. I have really enjoyed this broccoli, one of my favorite vegetables. And not a bug. Tomorrow I need to harvest some cabbages, too.

I picked about a bushel of Navel Oranges today. They are so sweet and juicy---just delicious! I have a meeting at church Thursday and will be decorating the dinner tables with some Plumosis fern that is growing on my fence out front and oranges laid among the fern. It is nice to walk outside and find something one can decorate with right in the yard!

I hope you, too, have some nice garden plans going. Growing things is so good for the soul!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Loaf of Wheaten Bread

Hello from Ten Gables Cottage,

After church today, I decided to try a different wheaten bread recipe. I got this one off the Internet at allrecipes. It is very much different from the one I made last week (check out older posts). This one has margarine and vegetable oil both in it and is baked in a ball shape with a cross indention on top, buttermilk spread over it and sprinkled with a little sugar. The crust is
really, really good---a deep crisp crust. The bread is not as dense as the first recipe.

Here it is with a slice just ready for me to sample and I did! It was delicious. But did it taste like the Northern Ireland Wheaten Bread? Not really! It must be the difference in flour there and here.
However, I do recommend both these breads---the first recipe was chewy and satisfying and this one is lighter with a great crust. So here is the recipe if you want to try it. Both are quick to mix up, the first recipe being the quickest. This one has a longer baking time.
Wheaten Bread #2
1 cup bread flour
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 and 1/4 tsp. salt
1 and 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. white sugar
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tb. buttermilk
1tsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray. Sift dry ingredients in bowl. Cut in the margarine until mixture is just coarse. Make a well in the center and add oil and buttermilk. Stir until moistened. Move dough to lightly floured surface and knead one time only.
Put dough in a round ball on the baking sheet. Cut a cross into the top with a finger. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake another 30 minutes, rotating pan .
Happy baking! A good thing to do on a winter day! I will be eating Wheaten bread with soup and cheese tonight!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Signs of Spring!

Hello from Ten Gables Cottage,

I am thinking of Spring, aren't you? What a rough winter the whole U.S. is having! Of course, here in Florida the cold weather we have is just a few days here and there, nothing constant.

My Bougainvillea was damaged by the cold, but the part nearest to the studio still looks great. The bracts are such a gorgeous color.

Here is a close up of the tiny white flowers ...each group of bracts has three of them.

Not far from the bougainvillea, I have three pineapple plants. They are doing really well, and I hope to have a pineapple on one of them this summer.

Just look at the gorgeous colors in the pineapple plant!

I have discovered that the impatiens I planted around a little palm tree that I thought died with the freeze, have come back! They look great, so that is something exciting I found today! It is 65 degrees right now with 14 mile an hour winds, so it seems much colder, and tonight we will reach a low of 34 degrees. So I hope this cold snap will not bother any of these plants.

Life is good! Have a good evening, Egretta

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wheaten Bread

Hello everyone,

I just finished reading a book my daughter got me for Christmas, called An Irish Country Doctor
by Patrick Taylor. It was good reading and at the end were a few recipes from Ulster, Northern Ireland. That is where my daughter lives and I have visited quite a few times there and just love the wonderful Wheaten Bread they have. So when I saw the recipe in the book, I got busy and made a loaf! Here is a slice with butter melting on it, just fresh from the oven!

This is how the whole loaf looks. It turned out very good, but still not as good as that I've eaten in Norther Ireland. It may be that our whole wheat flour is milled differently. Or maybe this recipe is not the best----I don't know. Don't get me wrong, though. This bread is delicious. It is thick textured and chewy. But there is something different about it and the bread in Ireland. For one thing, it is darker--I wonder if the bread I ate there might have had a little white flour in it too. I will do some research.

Anyway, here is the recipe. It is quick and easy, so you may want to try it and see what you think!
Wheaten Bread
10 oz. whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
14 oz. buttermilk
Mix dry ingredients very thoroughly. Then add buttermilk to make a thick paste---not too dry.
Turn it into a well greased and floured medium loaf pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and
then for 40 minutes at 350. If top starts getting too brown, cover loosely with foil or parchment paper. Happy Baking!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh, My! Do I have photos!

Hi dear friends from Ten Gables Cottage,

In the afternoon before sunset is one of the nicest times to take photos! I just came in from a walk around the property and took so many photos, some that I just must share with you!
It is about 70 degrees here and lovely today. This first one is of the beautiful clouds with some hanging moss to the side.

Then here is a view of some palms on the northwest of the yard and I was trying to get the white Egrets flying in the sky. Click on this to see if you can make them out.

I spotted a squirrel in one of the huge Live Oaks and you can see him paused and eating a nut there high in the tree, with all the Spanish Moss hanging around him. He did not care that I was snapping away. Click on this one, too, to see the squirrel better.

Here is a photo of a big, big Cypress tree, which by the way, is endangered in Florida and it is unlawful to cut one down. Why would anyone want to? They are beautiful trees. As they get older in swampy areas they have upshoots, called knees. This one is near a little canal, but I haven't seen any "knees" there.

It made a big mess in the yard about 2 weeks ago when it was so cold--lost most the leaves, but the whole place smelled heavenly of Cypress. It will soon show some green shoots coming back.

Here is a photo of Ten Gables cottage framed by the Oak with hanging moss. I love the deep shadows this time of day!

O.K, Is this not one of the prettiest trees you have ever seen? Just look at the bark, the texture, the color! What a gorgeous tree! Click on it and you may see a cactus that lives on its branches--I suppose it does no harm---it looks kind of snakey, though.

Another view of the beautiful trunk.

And, the trunk in a different light.

And speaking of light, look at the shadows produced by the sun behind this tree. I loved this photograph. It is probably my favorite of the lot!

And here is a big surprise. I walked over to view the veggie garden which is short on things at the moment. I have cabbage and broccoli and radishes, but unexpectedly I found 3 leaf lettuce plants that have just appeared on their own! How great is that! Last garden I had, I grew lettuce and it must have seeded itself. I am thrilled and will try to eat it while it is nice and tender. One of my favorite things is "Wilted lettuce", a nice Southern recipe, where you fry bacon until crisp, then add some vinegar to the bacon drippings and pour over fresh lettuc and crumble the bacon over top. Such a great salad!
Oh, and I forgot---add some chopped green onions, too. Yum!

I hope you have enjoyed my walk today! Thanks for looking. Egretta

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Saturday Tea and A Sunny Sunday!

Hi from Ten Gables Cottage,

What a gorgeous day it is today! The sun is out brightly and it is about 70 degrees. I can see rain clouds forming, though, and hopefully we will get some much needed rain!

Yesterday my friend and I set up a table of food for an afternoon tea for 20 people. As you can see, we had the apricot scones with "Cornish" cream ( I used to call it Devonshire Cream, but one of my fellow bloggers pointed out my error!).

We had curried chicken salad on rolls, Benedictine sandwiches (cucumber) and pimento cheese sandwiches, assorted cookies, chocolate covered pretzel,nut and cranberry stacks, and chocolate dipped strawberries. We served delicious strawberry flavored tea that the guests adored!

This is the front porch of the house where the tea was held. It is a historic house build in 1926, I think, and has been restored by my friend. The inside is beautiful with the original wood floors,original kitchen cabinets, etc.

Here is the outside of the house. It is what is known as a "cracker house", the old original style of homes in Florida.

I loved the beautiful bright green moss growing near the side of the house. In fact, things are beginning to green up just a bit here after our bad weather.

This is a photgraph of my dianthus which is very green and blooming. The cold did not hurt it at all.

You can see that there are still some green trees in our landscape, and the hedge in the back garden doesn't look too bad. Let's think Spring;.......it helps!

Be creative and have a great day, Egretta

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Making Apricot Scones

Hi Everyone,

I do hope you are keeping warm today! It is cold in Florida, so it is a perfect day to bake and I made Apricot Scones for the tea I am helping with on Saturday.

This recipe was my mothers and they are very delicious! What you see here is the flour, baking powder and salt and grated orange rind and chopped apricots. I am ready to mix them together and add butter and then whipping cream. Sounds yummy!

I stirred just enough to moisten the dough, kneaded it a couple of times and am going to cut them into little heart shapes. Normally I make a six inch circle of dough and cut into 8 wedges, but for this tea, I will make them smaller and daintier.

Here is how they look after baking, and I sampled one just to see if it was good, of course. So flaky and delicious! I serve these with Devonshire cream (my version) and Guava jelly, which I usually buy--it is a Florida favorite--or with some I have made myself. Recipes follow.

Apricot Scones
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter to fine crumbs. Add apricots, peel. With fork, rapidly stir in 1 cup whipping cream just til moist. Turn onto a floured surface, knead a few times. Divide in half: shape each into a ball. Flatten each ball into a 6 inch circle. Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Brush with a little whipping cream. Bake at 375 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes until lightly brown. Serve with Devonshire cream and jam or jelly. Yield 16 scones.
Devonshire Cream
Pour 1 pint of heavy whipping cream into a quart jar. Add 2 or 3 Tablespoons (3 is better) of fresh lemon juice. Shake jar and leave overnight on counter. Refrigerate the next morning and let cool. When you are ready to eat, it will be very thick. Spread on scones and top with jam or jelly. I love Guava jelly with Apricot Scones. Refrigerate left over cream and it will keep several days in the fridge. So simple and so delicious!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting ready for Valentine Day

Hello from Ten Gables cottage,
It is a beautiful sunny day here and I am thinking about having some friends over for a Valentine's tea soon. So I have been checking out my china patterns and have decided to use the Old Country Roses from England. My children started me a collection some years back and relatives have added to it until I have service for 10.
On the server, I used a tea time runner with a few favorite pieces, including the tea pot. Of course now, they are just for display, but will be put to use on the day I entertain. I used a pretty white berry and green leaf sprig and tiny white lights on the back of the server to give a party flavor.

Here is a bigger view of the Country Rose pieces on the serve. The candy is fake--little candles, actually! My sister-in-law and brother sent me the cute little cat container. It adds a touch of whimsy. It is unbelievable the things you can get in the Country Rose pattern.

I left the little feather Christmas tree in the dining room and took off the Christmas decorations and replaced them with little hearts that I found on sale last year. This adds a very festive touch to the room and brightens up a corner. It will be a few weeks until I will have my tea, but in the mean-time, I am getting ready to help a friend present a tea for a birthday girl. I will be making apricot scones, Devonshire cream, some tea sandwiches and everyone's favorite, Strawberry Tea.
I will be giving you some special recipes for this tea in a day or so, so keep following my blog! So nice of you to look and I always love your comments. Have a happy day, today. Egretta

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Decorating for Valentine's Day

When I took down the Christmas decorations in the dining room, I decided to give it a cleaning and then decorate a little for Valentine's Day. I hung a few handcrafted felt hearts in the windows and put out some pink placemats my mother made. I didn't do much, but it looks festive and I might just have to have some friends over for tea, now!

This photo is quite dark, so click on it for a closer view. I painted the wall deep red about twelve years ago and have just loved it. It took three coats of paint to get the deep, rich color. The room does not look dark like this picture is, and I have white mouldings and white valances, etc. so it all works together to make this my favorite room in the house. I only wish it were bigger! The stained glass window has a story behind it.

I found this stained glass window hanging in an antique shop. I was able to buy it at a very reasonable price. I was so happy, but then on the way home with it, I actually dropped it and cracked a piece of the glass! I was angry with myself, but there was nothing I could do. So it is all together and looks great, but upon close observation, one can see the cracks!

Do you see the cracks near the bottom on the left? Such a shame!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Making Cabbage Soup

Hi everyone,
Put on the pot, because it is time to try and check off one of my New Year's resolutions.....Diet! Hopefully it will start off well with this yummy looking soup! This photo shows all the vegetables with some nice low-fat chicken broth over it. I added some herbs (love Rosemary in soup!) and some water and it is simmering. The recipe calls for tomatoes, but you know me and recipes. I decided to make a roux later, add a small bit of cheese (there goes the diet!) , forget the tomatoes, and thicken it, add some low fat milk and have cream of veggie soup, instead of cabbage soup.
Sometimes I wonder why I can't just follow a recipe. Is it because I am a defiant person at heart? Or am I just being creative. The latter, I hope. I almost never follow a recipe exactly. And I really think my success rate is higher than the failure rate! If this soup isn't exactly diet soup, it will at least be healthy. It has cabbage and broccoli from my garden, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, red and green peppers, parsley, a tiny touch of garlic, low sodium chicken broth, low fat milk. Did I mention that I plan to fry up some bacon really crisp to sprinkle on the top of the soup. Oh, no. There I go again!
Here is the original recipe:
Dolly Parton's Diet Cabbage Soup
1 head of cabbage, shredded or chopped
2 large onions, chopped
16-28 ounces of canned tomatoes, crushed
2 peppers, one red, one green, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, sliced
black pepper
any fresh herb(s) that you like
Optional 1/2 lb green beans, sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Add all to a big pot, and cover with water and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are soft. Stir in pepper and herbs.
Eat as much as you like, whenever you like.
Note: on her diet, Dolly ate fruit some days and other days chilcken broiled and of course, all the soup she wanted!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cleaning up after the freeze

Hello from Ten Gables Cottage,
It is a glorious day today with temps. in the high 60's, low 70's. We are trying to clear out some dead vines, twigs, etc on the North side of the house. Florida has been so dry lately that there have been brush fires, so we are clearing dead brush away. Look closely and you can see a man we hired who is cutting vines with a machete.
He is a whiz!

You can see the dead bits and also a big bush of Florida Holly which is a big nuisance, so some of it is going to go, too.

What a job, but it will be much neater and a lot safer, too, as this brush is on our fence line about 20 feet from the house. There is a small canal behind it, too which has a small amount of water and is home to an alligator in the Spring when she nests. We can hear her grunting, so we stay safely away in the Spring!
By the way, Wed. we had a wonderful rainfall, so things will begin to green up.

I checked out my garden, too and pleasantly found that the veggies look great! I have just neglected them since Christmas and since covering them during the freeze. Everything looks great. This shows a radish...I am getting a few now. The first ones were pretty strange and not worth eating, but I think the others will be fine. The pinks in the photo are blooms from a nearby bougainvillea that blow into the garden and provide nice natural compost.

This is the second crop of broccoli and I need to start cutting it. I have put several packages in the freezer.

The cabbages look great and one of them is ready to cut. I always hate to cut them as they are so pretty, but I will need one soon. I have a delicious recipe for cabbage soup that is supposed to be a diet soup and I surely need to diet!!

I think this one is definately ready to cut. I am so glad that the freezing temperatures did not hurt my little garden, except for the basil and the peas! It will soon be time to plant another garden here in Florida. I will wait a few more weeks to plant, but I doubt we will have any more nights below freezing. If we get a freeze at all, it is usually just one or two nights out of the whole year. Not too bad, huh?? Winter is really our most pleasant time of year!