Monday, May 31, 2010

What is prettier than a peony?

The peonies were so pretty this year. It always seems to rain just after they bloom out and they just hold so much water in their petals that they droop to the ground. I always try to pick some before that happens.
What is prettier than a peony? A lot of peonies! They make such lush and good smelling bouquets. I only wish they lasted longer.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nutter-Butter Banana Pudding

This is yummy. The original recipe came from the Feb. 2009 issue of Southern Living magazine. I made a few changes.

Nutter-Butter Banana Pudding

8 to 10 servings. Prep: 35 min. Cook: 20 min.
Stand: 30 min. Chill: 2 hours

3 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 medium size ripe bananas
1 (1-lb.) package Nutter-Butter cookies
1 cup heavy cream, whipped and sweetened to taste with sifted confectioner's sugar

1. Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted.
2. Fill a large bowl with ice. Place saucepan in ice, and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly chilled.
3. Meanwhile, cut bananas into 1/4-inch slices. Break cookies into thirds.
4. Spoon half of pudding mixture into a 3-qt. bowl or container. Top with half of bananas and cookies. Add rest of bananas and spoon remaining pudding mixture over bananas and cookies. Top with sweetened whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 2 to 24 hours.Garnish with a reserved cookie if desired.

The pudding has thickened enough when a distinct trail is left in the mixture when you stir with a spoon. The cookies will soften the longer the dessert chills.

This has become a favorite to take to potlucks or meetings. Everyone loves it. I found the glass bucket at an antique mall and bought it especially for puddings, trifles, and punch bowl cake. It's easy to carry and I love the way it looks.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Secret Garden Part Two

Welcome back to my secret garden. When we walk up a few steps we are on the deck and it looks out over the pool. To the right of the diving board is a little area where I have my herb garden.
Now we are on the deck. All of the petunias in these pictures reseed every year. I bought purple wave petunias about 5 years ago and they have shown up every year since. They do not always run true to their original color but they are always shades of purple down to pink. I just transplant them into pots and let them grow.

More of the petunias and the plant in the front that looks brown is not dead. It is really a bronze shade and is a coleus. I love foliage plants because they always provide color even when there is not a lot of blooms on the other flowers. The oval shaped planter on the bottom shelf is full of garden sage. I love to cook with it.

The thing hanging on the wall was purchased at a yard sale for $5.00. The green heart shaped plant is a wild morning glory that I just let grow. It actually gets too much shade to bloom but I love the leaves. The purple plant beside it is a purple basil. It reseeds all over the place and I usually keep a couple of pots of it because I love the dark purple.

I found this little set at a local antique store and fell in love with it. The chairs actually fold up. Of course the pot with the red is a mixed group of coleus. It sure looks like the deck could use a good sweeping.

I found these chairs at another local antique store. They just fit in this corner.
I guess you notice that I have an odd assortment of plants. I really don't have a plan in mind when I go out to buy plants. Lots of times I just buy what has been reduced because they are not in the best shape because I just feel sorry for them. I bring them home, repot them and they usually grow really well. I take cuttings from some of the coleus every year and keep them in my kitchen window all winter. Then they go into the garden in the spring.
It has been so hot for the last few days. I wish you could join me for a southern glass of fresh made sweet tea.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Secret Garden

It was very hot here today. 90 degrees. I worked outside most of the morning and nearly melted. My house sits on a very small downtown lot and we have no lawn at all in the back. Instead we have a small enclosed patio, a raised deck, a small herb garden, and an inground pool. Most people do not know that we have anything besides a pool back there and it is always a surprise when we have guests. I call it my secret garden. So please join me for a visit on my patio and later we will visit the other areas. If you will notice there are no hands on the clock. I removed them because time just seems to stand still when I am out here whether I'm working or just enjoying my coffee in the morning.

The wreath on the wall is a living wreath. I made it with moss on a wire frame and it has had different flowers or greenery many times. The large green plant below it is Sweet Annie. It is one of my favorite plants and I always put it near the entrance because when people brush up against it the sweet odor is wonderful.

The steps go up to a small porch and the deck. I always seem to have such a hodge podge of containers. Maybe someday I will try to coordinate it all a little better.

One of my favorite corners. Do you see the metal cat sitting under the birdcage?

In the background is an iron stand that holds three pots of pink begonias. I forgot to take a picture of the metal table and chairs. We also have the grill down here. These photos are from last year. I have just started planting this year. It pretty much looks the same each year because I have favorite plants that I like to use. Wish you could join me in the morning for a cup of coffee in my secret garden.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Easy Chocolate Pie

This pie is sooo easy. I'm very happy about that because it is one of my husband's and son's favorites. It is a very light chocolate mousse in a purchased shell.

Easy Chocolate Pie

1 4 oz. bar German's sweet Chocolate (Baker's)

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip, thawed

1 purchased graham cracker, chocolate, or Oreo pie crust

Break up the chocolate bar and place it and the water in a med saucepan. Place over very low heat until the chocolate is partially melted. Stir until it is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool. When completely cooled, add the vanilla and fold in the Cool Whip. Pour into pie shell and chill for several hours.

I usually keep some of the little dark chocolate Hershey bars to shave or make curls. They add a nice little touch. I also use this mousse in little handmade or purchased chocolate shells when I need something fancy for a tea or party.