Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

flag cupcakes

i was looking at photos this week of some of the different desserts i prepared this summer, and found these flag cupcakes.  for the fourth of July, i used the decorating techniques from Martha's blog and created a few cupcakes for our family. 

these traditional flag cupcakes can be adapted for any of the flag holidays, including labor day, flag day, memorial day, or even the presidential holidays in February.  by using red licorice and blue candy dots, the decorating technique only takes minutes.

this design could be adapted for football season as well using team colors in dots or using the colored flavored licorice for the team letters. i am already planning some Michigan cupcakes with maize and blue candy decorations.

pizza garden

 i was reading an article the other day about growing a pizza garden.  i thought that was a really clever way to get more people interested in growing vegetables. although i truly love to grow perennials and especially old fashioned flowers and herbs, i have been tending to a small vegetable patch this year in one of my garden beds.

for the pizza garden, the author recommends growing tomatoes, basil, oregano, peppers and onions.  coincidentally, those plants are growing in my garden this year.  i have been harvesting tomatoes, green onions, and the herbs for several weeks now and enjoying them in a variety of dishes.  the salsa peppers are still maturing on the plants.

since i am a novice at growing vegetables, i have learned that keeping the green onions growing allows them to get larger by the week, and although the flavor is the same, the stalks of the onion have been growing thicker and truly impressive in size.  my four tomato plants will produce more than thirty-five tomatoes for a cost of only $1.79 when purchased this past may.

my herb garden includes both perennial herbs and annual herbs such as basil and parsley.  it has certainly been fun to make meals with fresh additions from my garden this year.  my success has inspired me to move some of my perennials this fall and expand my vegetable beds.

bee balm and obedient plant

 frequently referred to as monarda or bergamot, bee balm is a herbaceous plant that is in full bloom in my garden today.  over the past few years, i have planted several colors of monarda, including pink, light purple and dark purple.

i have an area in my side yard where i have begun to establish a naturalized garden space, where a large part of the day is sunny and warm.  this year, the bee balm has grown and spread very nicely in this garden, while attracting many bees, butterflies, and even a hummingbird one day.  i was thrilled to see the hummer going from blossom to blossom as i was enjoying my flowers as well.

also blooming now is my obedient plant, often referred to as false dragonhead.  this tall white plant is growing in partial sun outside of my garden fence.  the clusters of white flowers are very attractive and unusual.  since this is a newer plant to my garden, i was very happy to see it blooming for the first time this year. 

the vineyards of northern michigan

i was up north this past weekend and visited several vineyards to see how their grapes were growing this year.  the last few visits to the vineyards have been early or late season, so i was pleased to see the beautiful grape arbors filled with clusters of grapes. 

chateau grand traverse on the old mission peninsula features Riesling grapes that grow well in our northern Michigan climate.  the brys estate vineyard is eighty acres with forty acres of arbors, which harvest a variety of grapes.  we saw chardonnay and pinot noir clusters growing on Saturday.
i learned that the wineries on the peninsula are situated at the earth's 45th parallel, which is the ideal climate for growing these wine grapes.  seven wineries are located along some of the most relaxing country roads.
also contributing to the ideal climate of the peninsula, is the grand traverse bay; which i believe moderates the temperatures for these fruits.  for more information about either of these two estates, look at http://www.brysestate.com or http://www.cgtwines.com