Friday, December 20, 2013

Beauty in the details

Raindrops on Japanese maple

It is 70 degrees today, cloudy with the threat of rain. Stormy weather is predicted for Saturday and of course has people on edge. The tornadoes that came through a few years ago is still fresh in the memory.

There is beauty in the garden this time of year, you just have to look for it. Often, it is lurking in the small details.

The vibrant winter foliage of Viburnum "Mohawk" with Holly "O'Spring" in the background -

Camellia "Chansonette" -


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December garden

n34 n1 n28 n23 n26 n31 n10 n9 n29 n3 n27 n30 n33 n25 n16 n11 n15 Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I spent the day in the kitchen yesterday and made our entire Thanksgiving meal. This is unusual for me since I'm not good at multi-tasking. We didn't have any Thanksgiving plans this year so we had a great dinner last night and now we have leftovers!

I posted yesterday on Facebook about my Broccoli Salad and Cranberry Sauce. I will repost those recipes here. I also made dressing for the first time in my life and I made it in the crockpot. It was fantastic! Michael said that it reminded him of his mother's which was the ultimate compliment.

We also made Alton Brown's Green Bean Casserole (with some changes) and it was wonderful. I will have to post that recipe another time since I'm not sure exactly how Michael did it. 

And, of course, turkey.

Slow Cooker Cornbread Dressing

6 cups prepared cornbread (Michael made me some cornbread the previous night. You can also use Jiffy mix cornbread but I suspect it would not be as tasty).
8 slices of day-old bread (I just used regular loaf bread)
4 eggs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 TSP. of poultry seasoning or Sage (I used a combination of both)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 10 1/2-oz. cans of cream of chicken soup
2 10 1/2-oz cans of chicken broth
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. salt

*Lay your bread out on the counter the night before you prepare the dressing so that it will dry.
*Crumble the breads.
*Add all other ingredients except butter. Salt to taste.
*Pour into a sprayed crock pot.
*Dot with butter.
*Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

Broccoli Salad - my favorite side dish!

1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces, washed and driedb
bacon (6-8 slices)
1 bunch green onions, chopped (blades)

1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans
2 TBS. cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Cook bacon, cool and crumble.
Toss broccoli, bacon, onions, raisins and pecans.
Whisk together the vingegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Pour over the broccoli mixture and refrigerate.
Chill overnight.

Cranberry Sauce

1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
1/2  cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup water
2 T. Grand Marnier liquor (optional)

Dash of cinnamon (optional)

Plop all the ingredients into a heavy stock pot. Simmer on low (be sure to cover!) for about twenty minutes. You will hear the berries start popping and that is OK. Stir occasionally and make sure heat is very low. Refrigerate. Can be made up to four days ahead.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Falling leaves and pimento cheese


Today was sunny, cold and blustery. A carpet of red Japanese maple leaves cover the ground right outside our front door.  They are absolutely stunning. I ventured out this afternoon and did a few chores, closing up the outside vents to our basement, bringing in some containers and replacing some of our clear globe lights that hang in the trees. Tomorrow is predicted to be a frigid day with temperatures only reaching into the high 30s. 

We've been blowing the leaves into the borders every week but this is a futile job and you can't hardly tell anything has been done the following day. However, we would be buried in leaves if we didn't do it.

Where does the pimento cheese in the title come in? Well, after doing our weekly Saturday morning chores, Michael and I spent quite some time in the kitchen. He made us delicious vegetable soup and I made him another batch of pimento cheese. I've never seen a person who likes pimento cheese as much as that boy does! It is quite good, if I may say so myself. Very easy to make and it sure beats store-bought. I give you the recipe below.
And, if you read my baking blog, you will remember that I started making my first ever fruitcake last week. Today the fruits had basked in a mixture of Grand Mariner and brandy for one week and it was time to bake the cake. It bakes for 5 hours! It is nearing the completion time and I will then let it cool and brush with more liquor. Then it will sit for weeks and weeks before it is served. I'm curious to see how this turns out. Stay tuned.


Pimento Cheese

2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. onion powder
4 oz. diced pimento
Few dashes of Tabasco
Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a mixer bowl. Beat until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a covered container before serving. 

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Morning Sunshine

sunrise4 This morning I was having a cup of coffee and glanced outside and noticed the sun coming up and casting a very cheery effect on the autumn foliage. I grabbed the camera and went outside in my robe and house shoes and was taking photos. It was very cold this morning! But that is nothing compared to this weekend when Sunday's high will only be in the 30s.

Everyone is saying that we are in for a cold winter. I hear this every year but this time I think they may be correct. It seems that the colors of the Japanese maples have intensified over the past week. The trees around town and those on the UNA campus are just spectacular. I love this time of year!
sunrise6 Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Sunday, November 17, 2013