Thursday, April 19

Mama Kat Thursday: Kitchen Mistakes!

The Mama Kat blog writing prompt I chose today is, "tell a story about a mistake in the kitchen."

I've made my share.  

Rules to Live By with a Gas Stove:
1)  When boiling water to make ice tea on a gas stove, never add tea bags while the burner is still on. 
The little tea bag tags draping over the side catch fire.

2)  Always check out the smell of something burning. 
My previous gas stove didn't have sealed burners, but had burner plates I kept covered in foil. It wasn't uncommon for bits of spattered something on the foil to occasionally catch fire and burn off quick, so I didn't really think much of brief smells.
I guess one time I accidentally left a small wood-handled cutting knife laying across the iron grid and it fell through, so it was laying across the burner itself, so when I put a pan on (probably to boil water for tea) I didn't notice it.
 I did smell something burning, but, you know, that wasn't terribly abnormal.
The next day, I found a charred knife on the burner and thought, "Huh, that's what that smell was."

3)  When you put on a pan of water on to boil (like for making ice tea), don't forget about it.
I don't know how many times I've remembered it after the water has all boiled away leaving me a nice deposit of lime powder.

Microwaves Incidents:
I had one of these just the other day.
Certain plastic containers often have a foil seal, like frosting containers, and not all that seal peels completely off.
I like to microwave my frosting for 30 seconds before use so it will spread easy and sometimes I forget to make sure every bit of that foil is off.
Result: sparking and flashing in the microwave.

I had a jar of coconut oil that was down to the bottom and I wanted to melt it for use in peanut butter bars. I did check the top. It had bits of paper seal still along the top edge. I didn't realize there was a foil embedded in that paper!
Put the jar in the microwave, hit start button for a 30 sec run and suddenly---sparking and flashing!
I rushed to turn it off and when I opened the door, the inside of my microwave was covered in black soot.
I had to use Dawn to get it off.
But it cleaned up fine, no harm done.

What sort of kitchen mistakes have you made?

Thanks for Visiting!
(gifs are from Giphy.)

Wednesday, April 18

Garden Pic Wednesday: Vase Of Japanese Privet!

The air around her right now is heavy with the sweet perfume of Japanese Privet flowers!
Here's a vase I've had on my table this week!

Japanese Privet is a pretty common landscape shrub around here.  There's a whole subdivision along the drive to our house with unruly, tree size Privet draping over the backyard fence line, their flowers filling the air with fragrance!
The only thing nicer then that smell, is driving by an orange tree field when the flowers are in bloom.

Japanese Privet flowers perform very well in a vase. I brought these in to make the house smell nice.
The leaves are a nice glossy green and I left a few on each stem near the bloom head, plopped them in a clump right into a vase and viola---beautiful arrangement! 

The Privets I have were actually given me by a friend years ago, when we first moved into the house. He was something of a scrounger and got his hands on some pink Indian Hawthorne and Japanese Privet shrubs someone else was apparently digging up and rather then allowing them to be discarded, he brought them home and offered me several. 
They require hedging, but no more or less then Azalea's or Gardenia's.  If you think about it, hedging shrubs to a certain shape and size is really working against the plants natural bent, which is to grow upward and outward.  So, therein lies the battle with any shrub.
Aside from that, they seem pest free, drought-tolerant, grow in sun or shade, are thick with glossy leaves and have delightful smelling flowers every spring.

Monday, April 16

Good Eating Monday: Chocolate Nut Bars!

Eagle Brand is famous for their "Magic Bars," made with their Sweetened Condensed Milk, but they actually have tons of recipes.
I have a Eagle Brand recipe book and that's where this particular recipe came from.
For someone who doesn't like coconut, these Chocolate Nut Bars
are a perfect solution! They taste very much like Magic Bars, but just chocolate & nuts!
(Photo is my own)

Chocolate Nut Bars
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 (14oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips, halved
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 10 x 13 baking pan with cooking oil spray. 

2)  In small bowl, combine crumbs and melted butter, then pour into baking pan and press evenly over bottom. (I usually use my hand.)

3)  In a small saucepan over medium heat: combine 1 cup of chocolate chips, vanilla and Eagle brand, stir together over heat until chips are all melted.

4)  Spread chocolate mixture over crumb crust---I found adding it by spoonfuls until the crust was mostly covered worked easiest, since chocolate cools and stiffens up pretty fast, so "spreading" seemed to tear up the crust. It will even out while baking, so it doesn't have to be perfect.

5)  Sprinkle melted chocolate first with 1 cup of remaining chocolate chips, then nuts, then lightly press down.

6)  Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool. Chill, then cut into bars. 
I kept my in a covered container in the frig until needed.

Thursday, April 12

Mama Kat Thursday: Spring Views!

Spring is really the best time for a good show of blooming flowers here in Florida---before the heat sets in! Here's some views of spring around my yard:

My container of Gladiolas and Creeping Jenny
Moved this container here last fall. Now it gets lots more sun. I've never seen the Creeping Jenny looking so golden!

My Containers in the Semi-Shade of the Gardenia:
The purple plant is a Wandering Jew houseplant that I keep in a vase of water all winter, then in the spring plant it in this pot, where it will generosity spill over it's container.
(The old crock pot liner under it provides height)
The double clay pots I just replanted last week with Hen & Chicks on the bottom and Chinese Stonecrop and Creeping Jenny on top. 
(Hen & Chicks, Stonecrop and Creeping Jenny are all so prolific, I just move bits and pieces around wherever needed.)

Spring Means Planting Petunias!
I love Petunias! They're a must-have in all my patio containers! Usually I combine them with Red Saliva. They don't do well in the ground here and in containers, they're easy to dead-head.

My Front Container Garden:
After years of adjusting and trying this and that, it's finally starting to look really good. That pink Day Lily, with it's varied heights is unexpectedly perfect for a "thriller."
I just planted a Calla Lily bulb in that bare spot behind the ceramic cat indicted by the red arrow. It has a tangerine bloom, but more importantly, the leaves are white spotted, which will hopefully make a nice contrast.
(In the background you can see the 3 trees were having the Tree Arborist trim a few branches off next week.)

What's spring looking like where you live?

Thanks for Visiting!

Wednesday, April 11

Garden Pic Wednesday: Nests & Blue Buntings!

I finally got that block project done and planted! 
Remember, my goal was to replace grass that wasn't thriving with something I don't have to mow.
Hopefully, it will make a nice picture later in summer.

Chickadee Nest!
We have Carolina Chickadees here, which look very similar to the Black Capped, just smaller in size. This is what a typical Chickadee nest looks like: lots of moss topped with fine hair and grasses filling the cavity 3/4 full! Pretty amazing!
They raised a brood earlier in March, so I was emptying the house.

Indigo Buntings
I called Hubby to the door to peer out at this rare sight: a pair of Indigo Buntings and their fledging picking up seed off the ground under the feeder and in the feeder!
There was a male (pictured) and a female and a fledgling with them.

Indigo Buntings are a deeper blue then Bluebirds and all blue.
They're very common throughout the Eastern United States, but they tend to prefer brush-covered fences along roadways or the edges of woods. Not a bird house nester, though they'll visit a feeder for millet and other small songbird type seeds.

Below is their fledgling: he's just getting his color. I have another photo and I could see he was splotchy.