Blueberry coffee cake

We go to DH’s aunt’s house in Nebraska for Thanksgiving every year. We love it. It’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s conservative in every sense of the word.

In one of those senses, it is very difficult to add different things to the menu, or leave anything off. This is probably true of Thanksgivings everywhere, it seems to be a menu we are married to, for better or for worse.

So, I like to bring things that fill in the gaps, stuff for breakfast, stuff to snack on with leftovers.I avoid anything that is too traditional, because when you mess with tradition, people are always disappointed. Nothing with sage, nothing with pumpkin.

DH brings avocados and makes his world- famous guacamole- (the secret ingredient is love).

Last year I brought cinnamon twists, which I baked on Tuesday night, brought in the car Wednesday, fed to people on Thursday and Friday morning, then when we were getting ready to leave, people hugged us, and murmured, “are there any of those cinnamon things left?” To my mind they were kind of stale, but how often do you get real homemade sweet rolls?

This year, I am trying coffee cake. I don’t know how it will go over, will people reminisce about the cinnamon rolls? Is that how menus become fixed?

I seem to remember an old issue of Cook’s Illustrated with a perfected coffee cake recipe. I’ll have to dig through my copies of the magazine, because the coffee cake story on the Cook’s website is behind a pay wall.

You won’t get my credit card number, Christopher Kimball!!! Actually, he probably will eventually, but not today. Even though I complain that Cook’s Illustrated is mostly just American food, and pretty meat-heavy at that, sometimes you want, even need, Meat Heavy American Food. Particularly at Thanksgiving in Nebraska.



Bagged Apples, update

It isn't beautiful, but it isn't as visually intrusive as I thought it would be. That is, I never looked at the tree and thought, "dang, that's ugly!"

Back in June, I wrote a post about growing apples organically by using paper lunch bags to form a barrier against the critters that might want to lay eggs in my apples.  I just picked the apples a few weeks ago, and it worked pretty well.
Some of the bagged Golden Delicious fell off in July or so. My total “harvest” from the Golden Delicious tree is only 7 apples. Sigh.
My other tree (name unknown) had a zillion apples on it, and I only wound up bagging a dozen or so before my stapler died. The bags have to be removed before I pick them so they have a chance to redden. I did pick one, to test for ripeness, and it did need more time.

I will definitely do this again next year, with two differences.

I will put the bags on earlier, and thin the fruit at the same time. I’ll get bigger individual apples, without spraying poisons.

I will pay better attention to when to harvest. The sour apples, from the tree that was here when we bought the house, need time in the sun to ripen. I’ll have to pull the bags off well before the first frost date, which on average is mid September here on the Front Range of Colorado although we didn’t freeze in my yard until October, which is crazy.

Actually, one more difference- I’ll get a better stapler.


Yes, that is a pink venus flytrap...

The boy brought home a piece of art created in computer class the other day.
I love it. It goes without saying that I am thankful for photosynthesis myself. I am also thankful for my favorite planet, Earth, and the sun that shines.
I am thankful for my boy with a quirky sense of humor, and my girl who is balancing the twin loads of trying to make her parents happy and trying to become independent.

I am so grateful for DH, who can somehow get like 5 hours of sleep, and still wake up dutifully to drive carpool. Notice that I didn’t say wake up “cheerfully.” He’s not superman.
I am grateful for the kids at my school- that the girl who moved here 2 months ago from Korea laughed at my story of hitting the coyote with a rental car, because that means she understood the story. I am also grateful for the other kids, who know more English than she does, and were able to explain to her what a coyote is, and how it’s different from a fox or a wolf, and draw a picture on the board, and ask, “Don’t they have coyotes in Korea?” Apparently, they don’t.
I am grateful for the public school system I work for, and the public school system my kids attend. I appreciate the difficulty of meeting all children where they are, and bringing them farther down the road to an educated adulthood.
But most of all, I’m grateful for photosynthesis.

This wetland is close enough to my house to make a lovely walk- one I should take more often.

Ummm…should the apple tree be horizontal?

A few more inches fell after this. See the oak tree- it looks like a candy cane.

We had a wet heavy snowstorm last week, and people all over town lost electricity from branches falling on power lines, lots of tree damage all up and down the street. We got lucky- full power all day and just a couple of branches gone from the ash tree in front.
I thought we had gotten lucky until I did a fuller inspection of the back yard. My golden delicious apple tree was uprooted. Completely knocked flat.
It is in a shaded spot, so the snow took a long time to melt from it, the way it has melted from the other young trees and bushes. I was hesitant to go out and mess with it right away.

Do you see the apple tree? Me neither.

That's better.

My plan:  first drive some stakes into the ground (it wasn’t staked previously, and it had started to lean when it was weighed down by apples) then pull it upright, stomp on the soil all around it and add some mulch.

It might not survive the winter, which is really too bad, because it had just started to produce.

I always read in garden design books and magazines about planning for “winter interest.” That means making sure there are evergreens and structures that look pretty in the snow. It is not supposed to be interesting like the Chinese curse,”may you live in interesting times.” Winter interest is not looking out the window and wondering if your trees are going to die!
This storm was unusual, but not unheard of. There’s a reason why this region is not forested- there are enough pre-halloween storms that break lots of limbs, and enough May freezes that kill buds to make this a very tricky place for trees to survive.
I keep trying, though.