Last year, a storm took down a major part of a large, Snow Crabapple tree in our yard. Later, the remaining part of the tree was cut down, leaving a large stump. Lately, I have been pondering what I could do with the leftover stump. The top of the stump has a hollowed out spot with some good, loose organic material. My first thought was to buy an ivy and let it trail down the side of the trunk. But, before I headed to the greenhouse to pick one out, I thought about the morning glory starts that were coming up from last years seeds in the side garden. I dug up 5 little seedlings, and planted them in the top. I covered the soil with a few cedar chips and gave them some water.
I’m hoping to have beautiful blue flowers trailing on the old stump by mid summer.
When thrift shopping, I keep my eyes open for wicker or twig baskets, that would be suitable for summer planting. I found three that would make wonderful planters. Two for my parents to use on their deck and one for the front of our house.
To begin my project, I needed to line each basket so the soil would not fall out. My husband offered a large, heavyweight, contractor garbage bag, which was just the right thickness. I cut the side and the bottom of the bag so I would have one sheet of plastic. Next, I trimmed the plastic to be large enough to cover the inside of each of the baskets and leave a one inch border to fold over. The plastic was tucked and folded so it fit nicely into each basket. Using small upholstery tacks and a hammer, I secured the plastic to the wicker. I tried to find areas where the wicker was thicker so there was enough material to tap the tack into. The tacks were placed about 2-3 inches apart.
After the plastic was tacked in, I poked several small holes in the bottom of the plastic for water drainage. Then I filled the baskets with potting soil. I have found it is not worth trying to save a few dollars on potting soil. The better the soil the nicer the plants. I used the moisture control soil with added fertilizer.
Finally, I was ready to plant my flowers. The bigger baskets were treated to a variety of plants; petunias, geraniums, verbena, cosmos and zinnias. The smaller basket was just right for two, beautiful hot pink geraniums. Many of the plants were not yet in bloom, but that is how I prefer it. I enjoy having dibs on the first flowers, buying my annuals when they are budding, but not in bloom.
It won’t be long though until my newly planted baskets are brimming with color!
*At the end of the season, the plastic and tacks can be removed and thrown away and the twig baskets can be crushed and tossed into the compost bag.
Yesterday, my husband and I went on our third annual date to the Blue View Greenhouse. On our first outing, he brought his camera along and asked the owners if they would mind if he took pictures while I shopped. They did not and so began our annual “click and pick” date. I picked out some beautiful hot pink geraniums for my parents deck, some alyssum and pansies for the back corner and cosmos to mingle into my front garden. My husband clicked away, capturing some wonderful photos.
I was torned last night between wanting to get out in the garden and weed (now that we finally had rain) or make something wonderful for supper. Inspiration came when I realized I that I had the perfect trifecta of meats in the refrigerator for a tasty calzone — pepperoni, salami and ham. Maybe I could do both. I could work in the garden while my trusty bread machine worked on the dough! I started to look online for a good dough recipe. (Which is fine, but a person can get stuck reading recipe after recipe.) Finally, throwing caution to the wind, I put some classic ingredients in my bread machine and out the door I went.
I had just a bit of weeding left in my daylily garden when I came in to check on the bread machine’s progress. 11 minutes left. Back outside to finish up. It was so nice to see my daylilies, all in bud, with no weeds at their feet. Now to give my hands a good scrub and see how my dough came out.
I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured board and punched it down. Then I divided it in to 8 pieces and shaped into balls. I covered them with a towel, so they wouldn’t dry out. Now to make the filling. Ham cubes, chopped up salami and pepperoni went into a bowl along with tomato sauce and pizza seasoning. I gave it a quick stir and went back to form the dough.
The dough was easy to work with. Soft, but resilient. Each dough ball was rolled out into a circle to approximately seven inches in diameter. A quarter cup of meat filling plus a small handful of mozzarella cheese went in the middle. I folded the dough over around the filling, and pinched the edges tight to make a good seal. It took two cookie sheets to hold all eight calzones. I placed them into a 400° F oven to bake, it took about 25 minutes to reach a nice golden brown.
They turned out beautiful. The bread inside was not soggy and it had a great taste and texture. Not only did I have my “wonderful supper” but leftovers for lunch and a few to freeze for later. Plus, I had a new dough recipe of my own!
The best part about calzones is that there is no limit to the type of filling you can put inside your bread pocket. I will leave that to your imagination. You will need two cups of filling to make eight calzones.
Calzone Dough (using bread machine to process dough)
Makes eight calzones
Pour the water, olive oil and honey into the bread machine pan. In a separate bowl, add each of the flours and salt. stir with a whisk to give them a quick blend and then add to the wet ingredients. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Set the bread machine to the dough cycle and start. Check to make sure all ingredients have incorporated nicely and that dough is not too dry or sticky.
When dough cycle is finished, turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Punch dough down to remove air. Divide dough into eight even pieces and shape into balls. Roll each dough ball into a 7-8 inch circle. Place 1/4 cup of preferred filling into the center, keeping filling away from the edges. Fold dough over and pinch edges together to seal tightly. Place on cookie sheet, at least one inch apart to allow for dough rise when baking.
Bake at 400° F for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with favorite dipping sauce that corresponds to filling.