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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

Japanese Maples Fall Color

Frost on 'Beni Hime'

This year, fall color has been somewhat disappointing. It came late and I don't think the colors are as vibrant. I am still waiting for the ginkgo to turn color but hear that there is a possibility it might not change at all (apparently they sometimes skip a year or so). 

For dependable fall color, Japanese Maples are usually a soul pleaser but of course it all depends on the variety. I'm still waiting on 'Osakazuki' to wow me. It is supposed to be the reddest of reds but I've yet to witness the spectacle. It is always very late to change but the colors seem muted to me. Here it is so far this year. The colors actually are prettier in the photo than in real life.


'Sango Kaku', the "Coral Bark" maple always has vibrant golds and yellows and this year is no exception. This tree is right outside my office window and it is a nice view.

'Sango Kaku'

Another tree outside my window is 'Skeeter's Broom' (or is it? I've been suspicious that it is another variety). I do like the way Michael has pruned this one up.

'Skeeter's Broom'

Some trees are quickly loosing leaves like 'Bihou' but it has beautiful colored bark to leave behind.


A new addition is 'Ryusen', a weeping variety.


The remaining maples are in pots. The most colorful one is of course an unknown. I don't even remember where it came from.

I'm always surprised at how quickly they can change color. For example, 'Moonrise', sitting on the back deck in a pot, changed overnight.


Another beauty is the Full Moon Fernleaf Maple 'Dancing Peacock' (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium') - 

'Japanese Princess' remains green -

'Japanese Princess'

And finally 'Geisha Gone Wild' - 

'Geisha Gone Wild'

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I've noticed too that it's been a lagging year for fall color. Still, you have some good ones showing up. I agree on Michael's pruning job - very well done!

  2. Beautiful Acers. Nice to see them where they color up in such splendor. Here, mostly, and especially in a dry dry year, the leaves just turn brown.


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