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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

Winter Jewels


Tsuga canadensis 'MonKinn' Golden Duchess(Eastern Hemlock)

The weather has been a bit wet and gloomy (with predictions of snow for next week) but there are some bright spots in the garden.  One of my favorites at the moment is this little hemlock called 'Golden Duchess'™. Every time I glance out the study window and look out into the front garden, it is the first plant I notice. When we got it at the nursery, it was inside the greenhouse and kind of a drab green, nothing like the photo on the label. After I planted it, in a mostly sunny spot, it brightened up and changed color in no time. The ultimate size is supposed to be around 4 x 4 feet.

Picea orientalis 'Tom Thumb'

Picea orientalis 'Tom Thumb' is a dwarf spruce that grows very slowly (only about 1 inch per year!), eventually reaching 1 ft. high.

Acer palmatum 'Bihou'

The Japanese Maple 'Bihou' just gets better and better and equals 'Sango Kaku' for its pretty winter bark. I bought this in quart-sized pot and it proves that smaller sized plants grow faster. That little slip of a plant, under 1 ft. tall, was planted in June of 2017 and is now almost 6 ft. tall. It is very narrow and I hope that it continues to grow that way.


Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' (Dappled willow) with the just-mentioned Japanese Maple 'Bihou' in far background

A few more lovlies -

Pheasant's Tail Grass (Anemanthele lessoniana)

Mahonia 'Charity'

Vaccinium M. 'Stevens'

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. You do have some lovely jewels in your garden. So much color for your winter garden.

  2. Bright colors in the winter garden is what keeps us going till spring. Acer palmatum 'Bijou' with it's stunning glowing branches has been on my want list for a while.


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