Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Slowly getting back in the kitchen and decided to go the easy route for a quick recipe. Michael loves these. Some call it "Mexican Cake" or "Tea Cookies". They have a shortbread type texture and very addictive. The recipe comes from an old Home Economics Teacher's cookbook that both our mothers used.  

Mexican Wedding Cookies
(adapted from "Favorite Recipes of Alabama Vocational Home Economics Teachers")

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar.
Add flour gradually, mixing well.
Add the nuts and vanilla.
Shape the dough into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-18 minutes.
Roll the cookies in powdered sugar before they cool.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, June 19, 2017


As a follow-up to my Bloom Day post, I am doing one especially on the roses that are currently blooming. I have planted about two dozen roses if my mental count is correct. Almost all of them are blooming or have bloomed. Some are still very tiny but most have grown quite a bit. The largest is the climber 'Westerland' and it is stunning. I grew this one in Alabama but it was in way too much shade and never really took off. The one in our new garden is growing on next to an archway. It needs some assistance with climbing the structure and that is on my list of things to do.

'Westerland' close-up

The very first rose I planted - 'Lady of Shallot', a David Austin variety, is also quite large, about 4' high and wide, growing along the fence row near the street. I hate that I did not get a photo of it blooming in its full glory earlier in the spring. I did take on on my Instagram account but even it was not a full-length shot.

'The Lady of Shallot'
 You will notice a peachy/orange theme going on here. I am suddenly crazy about orange in the garden, especially roses. The following is 'Peachy Creeper,' a rose that stunned on our visit to Heirloom Roses last year.

'Peachy Creeper'

Another purchase from Heirloom was 'The Impressionist', a stunning rose, but the bush itself has been a bit wimpy and the canes tend to nod. However, I do believe that the location where I planted it (alongside the driveway) is not as fertile as other locations in the garden. I will probably be moving it this winter.
A rose that has really impressed me is 'Kardinal Kolorscape', a Kordes rose. New growth has really shot up since spring (4' ft. tall so far), and it is almost always loaded with blooms and I had yet to see a speck of blackspot. Mental note - look for more of the Kordes roses. This came from my "go-to" source for roses - Chamblee's in Tyler, Texas. Even though shipping prices are God-awful expensive, their rose prices are unbeatable and their quality is superb.

I said I would not buy roses on a whim - of course I did not hold true to that. This rose - 'Sunbelt Plum Perfect' was an impulse buy at City Farm, a nifty little nursery in St. Johns. The label on the plant, however, was from Xera, another fabulous nursery in Portland. It has been a nice little rose and a blooming machine.

'Marie Pavie', a rose that I loved in Alabama, has quickly formed a 3' x 3' mound right off the deck in the Pan Garden. A truly hassle-free rose for me.

I tend to avoid Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora roses but one that Michael and I always loved was 'Gold Medal.' The blooms on this bush have been incredible. It isn't planted in the best location - along the back wall of the house and underneath an eave - but as long as I keep it watered, it seems to be happy.
And to close, probably my favorite hybrid tea - 'Double Delight'. It was also planted along the back wall of the house and looked miserable last year. I transplanted it earlier this year and it has improved tremendously.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy