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image courtesy photos8.com

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Seasoned flour is fabulous to coat any meat before cooking.  It's also delicious added to onion-ring batter.  All you do is mix 1 cup pancake batter with 1 Tbsp. seasoned flour.

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Slice an onion and separate it into rings.  I like to leave the center tiny rings together.  Dip into batter, and drop into 375-degree oil.  It will take only 1-2 minutes per side to cook.  Drain on paper towels.

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One giant onion (18 ounces!) and a half-hour later, we have a giant pile of delicious onion rings. 

This recipe is kind of a shake-and-bake thing, but cheaper and fresher.  It is really delicious with any kind of meat- chicken, beef, pork, fish, you name it.  Put ½ cup of this on a plate, then dredge (dip) raw meat in it, coating both sides.  The mixture is pretty salty, so use serving-sized chunks of meat.  If you’re going to coat chicken-nugget-sized pieces, combine mixture with an equal amount of cracker crumbs or flour, or the meat will be too salty.  (Lesson learned the hard way.)  Heat up 1-4 Tbsp. of oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat, then cook the meat until as done as you like.  Any leftover (used) seasoned flour can be kept in the freezer until you need it, or mix it into a batch of biscuits, breadsticks, or cornbread.  My new favorite use for seasoned flour is Onion Rings: make pancake batter (any recipe, don’t add oil or butter) but add 1 Tbsp. of Seasoned Flour to it for each cup of flour or pancake mix you used.  Slice an onion and separate it into rings, dip them into the batter, and deep fry a few at a time until golden.  NO restaurant onion ring in my memory can compare to this!

 Seasoned Flour 
4   cups   flour   
3   Tbsp.   seasoned salt
3   Tbsp.   garlic salt   
3   Tbsp.   onion salt   
3   Tbsp.   pepper   
3   Tbsp.   salt   

Mix together and store airtight in cupboard.  Makes about 4 ½ cups.

 If you don't have garlic salt or onion salt,  use 
4 cups flour
3 Tbsp. seasoned salt
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
3 Tbsp. pepper
1/4 c. salt
 

If you don't want to keep more than a quart jar's worth, give the extra 1/2 cup to a neighbor to try- they'll want the recipe too!

_______________________ 
Have you heard this before?  It’s a quote from Brigham Young  (if you’re short on time, just read the bold):

  “Were I to ask the question, how much wheat or anything else a man must have to justify him in letting it go to waste, it would be hard to answer; figures are inadequate to give the amount. Never let anything go to waste. Be prudent, save everything, and what you get more than you can take care of yourselves, ask your neighbors to help you. There are scores and hundreds of men in this house, if the question were asked them if they considered their grain a burden and a drudge to them, when they had plenty last year and the year before, that would answer in the affirmative, and were ready to part with it for next to nothing. How do they feel now, when their granaries are empty? If they had a few thousand bushels to spare now, would they not consider it a blessing? They would. Why? Because it would bring the gold and silver. But pause for a moment, and suppose you had millions of bushels to sell, and could sell it for twenty dollars per bushel, or for a million dollars per bushel, no matter what amount, so that you sell all your wheat, and transport it out of the country, and you are left with nothing morethan a pile of gold, what good would it do you? You could not eat it, drink it, wear it, or carry it off where you could have something to eat. The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat. Gold is not to be compared with it in value. Why would it be precious to you now? Simply because you could get gold for it? Gold is good for nothing, only as men value it. It is no better than a piece of iron, a piece of limestone, or a piece of sandstone, and it is not half so good as the soil from which we raise our wheat, and other necessaries of life. The children of men love it, they lust after it, are greedy for it, and are ready to destroy themselves, and those around them, over whom they have any influence, to gain it” (Journal of Discourses, 1:, p.250).

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The onion rings and some hushpuppies.  This was from a 2-cup batch of onion ring batter.  Next time I'll use 1 cup and a normal-sized yellow onion.

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If you have extra batter, you can add a little oil or melted butter (for tenderness), and stir in cornmeal and/or flour until it's thick enough to get round spoonfuls.  Also nice with some dried parsley for color.  Drop the spoonfuls into the hot oil, flip to the other side after a minute.  Drain on paper towels, too.

 
 
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Both the red-twig dogwood, left, and pine tree, right, will benefit from pruning. There's also a rosebush behind the pine tree that needs it.

Why should you prune and fertilize?

Fertilizing right makes a huge difference in how quickly your trees grow, and how healthy they are.
Pruning also helps their health; you cut out anything broken or diseased, remove branches that rub (these would open them to more disease and breakage), helps make for strong trees (by selecting and balancing good branches with strong angles), and opens the tree up to allow more light onto the leaves and fruit/flowers, making it more productive.  Some shrubs give more blossoms and better stem color (like the red-twig dogwood, above) when pruned. 

Most trees handle pruning best while dormant, so right now is perfect.  Fertilizing fruit trees and other fruit-bearing shrubs is best done before you see the flowers.  You can still do it after, but the resulting fruit will be softer and bruise more easily.  Now is a great time for this, too.

These great videos and links are from the USU Extension site.  Right now is a perfect time to prune.  So if you have been wondering how to really prune a fruit tree, this video's for you!


§  Step By Step Orchard Pruning (video) - techniques demonstrated by Matt Palmer

Here is info on pruning other things:

§  Pruning Landscape Trees

§  5 Minute Pruning Shrubs (video) 

How to Prune A Rose Bush (video)  

 

If you don't know how to choose a fertilizer, see  Selecting and Using Inorganic Fertilizers

To fertilize a fruit tree the simplest way, measure the width (diameter) of the trunk.  You need 2-4 ounces of actual nitrogen per inch of diameter. If you have a new tree, 1" diameter trunk, let's say you'll need 2 ounces.  If you have a bag of fertilizer that says 33-0-0, that means it is 33% nitrogen by weight.  To get 2 ounces of nitrogen, you'll need 6 ounces of this particular fertilizer .  If you have a bag of 10-10-10, you'll  need 20 ounces of that one.   (see the fertilizer link above.)  If you already know this and want to know more, there are more details here, Fertilizing Fruit Trees.

 

--Rhonda

http://www.theprovidenthomemaker.com

 
 
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Rice and more...

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Barbecue Sauce.  Make it quickly using tomato sauce as the main ingredient.

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White Sauce- simple to make, and the base for several recipes.

Main Dishes card 3  Recipes for pureed (any)vegetable soup, simple pasta sauce (starting with a can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce, rice- basics, fried rice, Spanish rice, and rice pudding (which is breakfast food around here).

Main Dishes card 4 covers how to roast meat, methods of tenderizing it, simple soup, and white sauce with instructions to make it thin, medium, and thick.  Includes options for making it gluten-free.

 
 
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Oregano volunteer between flagstones.  The garden started itself, hooray!  This one needs moved since it gets tall.

Are you itching to grow a garden this year?  Whether you're planning big, or starting small, here's some great information.  When you buy seeds, keep any you don't use.  They will be good next year if you take good care of them- cool, dry, and  dark.  They will last at least a few years if you store them properly.   I usually get a good four or five years out of my packets.   After that, not as many of the seeds germinate.  Edibles look good in your flower beds!  Planting a few of those in existing beds is an easy way to get started.
For more information, click on this link,
Gardening 101:
-
choosing a garden spot
-preparing your soil
-fertilizing
-choosing seeds
-saving seeds you grow
-when to plant them
-helpful links
-an area-specific freeze chart for SLC, Utah (USDA Zone 5)


See Gardening On A Dime for some cheap ways to help you garden.
To get a chart showing what you can do each month in your garden, see Glover Nursery's excellent  month-by-month planting guide.

Happy gardening!
-Rhonda

Flour Tortillas-
makes 12
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
about 1 cup warm water

The simple instructions:  mix dry ingredients, add water and knead til smooth.  Form 12 balls, let rest covered, flatten with hands, roll thin, and cook in a hot pan, flipping once.  Cover with a kitchen towel.

If you want more details:   Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually stir in the water, then mix with your hands until it holds together.  If it's very tough, add another teaspoon or two of water.  If too sticky, add a little flour.  Knead until smooth.  Divide into 12 balls.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rest 10-15 minutes to let the gluten relax.  Flatten a ball with your hands until it's about 4 inches across, then roll with a rolling pin, working from center out, until very thin and about 9 inches across.  It helps to use very little flour on the counter and a little more on the top of the tortilla so the rolling pin doesn't stick.  Cook over med-hi heat in an ungreased skillet.   When top is covered in blisters, flip it over and cook until the other side bubbles up too.  The blisters should be golden brown. Each side should take a minute or less.  When each tortilla is done, put it in a plastic bag or on a plate; cover with a towel to keep them warm and moist. 

If you're saving them for the next day, they stay soft but not soggy in a plastic bag with a paper napkin inside to absorb the excess moisture.

To make tortilla chips, cut into triangles and deep fry, or spray with Pam and bake at 375 degrees for about 7-10 minutes, until crisp.

Make tortilla bowls by either baking or frying, too.  Baking- drape over an upside-down ovensafe bowl, spray or brush lightly with oil, bake until golden.  Frying- make a few holes around the bottom of an empty 10-oz soup can, heat oil 2" deep to 375 degrees, put a tortilla on the hot oil, and immediately press down on it with the soup can.   Cook about 30 seconds or until crisp.  Lift out, draining off extra oil.  Set on paper towels.  

Simple Gluten-Free Tortillas-makes 8
2 cups oat flour (I use whole oat grouts, and grind them into flour with my wheat mill. You can also use rolled oats and grind them in a blender)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup warm water (using warm or hot water allows the oats to act 'glutinous', no xantham gum needed.)
Mix dry ingredients. Add water slowly and mix evenly with a fork til moistened. Gather dough into a ball, adding more water if needed. For pliable tortillas, I've found it's important for the balls to be moist(not sticky once kneaded, though). Knead well. Split into 8 sections, then form balls with each section. Cover for 10 min. You may want to cover with moist towel to keep them moist.

Shape into tortillas 7 - 8 inches diameter. Cook on hot griddle or medium-high heat frying pan(heat these first), for 1 -2 min per side. Stack on plate and cover with a dish towel. Serve warm. These will toughen quickly when reheated.

The basic recipe can also be rolled out and baked for crackers.  For more details on that, go to 
http://wheatdairyeggnutfree.blogspot.com/search/label/Tortillas%20and%20Crackers 

 
 
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Card 1 includes chili, cooking beans, white sauce/gravy, and omelets.

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Card 2 is all about potatoes: potato pancakes, mashed, roasted, oven-fried, and baked.

 
 
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Here's the next bit of the book.    Have you had enough time to look through the other sections yet?

Desserts
- apple crisp for one (or more!), other flavors of Crisp, no-baked Cheesecake, lowfat New York style cheesecake, Pudding/ Cream Pie filling and variations.
Fruits and Vegetables- dressed-up green beans or other vegetables, the 'creamy' salad family: Coleslaw, carrot salad, Waldorf salad; ways to cook vegetables and flavors to add, how to steam-saute vegetables; roasted winter squash, green salad ideas, fruit salad ideas.
 
 
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Little purple pansies...

Did you know that both the flowers and leaves are edible? They're nice in a salad.

Hey, it’s that time again- the snow has melted, the soil is drying, and some things can be planted!  Depending on where in the yard your garden is, it may be dry enough to till, at least as soon as yesterday's rain dries up.  A way to tell is- walk on it or stick a shovel in it.  If big chunks stick to your shoe or shovel, it’s not ready.  If you tilled now you’d compact the soil and have big hard lumps all over.  My garden area used to be a sandbox, so it has good drainage-- yes, I had to add a bunch of good stuff to it!--, and it was absolutely beautiful tilling condition this week, at least until it rained.   Early season crops that can be planted outdoors now include potatoes, peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, radishes, onions, asparagus, and rhubarb.  Most of the nurseries, both big-box and local- now have seed potatoes, asparagus, rhubarb, onion sets, and bare-root  berries (strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries) and fruit trees waiting for you.     For a GREAT information sheet you can print out, listing when to plant different seeds here on the Wasatch Front (USDA Zone 5), go to http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/Horticulture_Garden_2009-01pr.pdf   If you live elsewhere, look up your state's extension office- they'll likely have a list for your area.  For a list of what you can plant without having to go buy seeds, see my blog post, More Seeds From Your Kitchen.

Next week I’ll send “Gardening 101”, info on finding a good spot for your garden, how to prepare the soil, and when to plant what.

After the recipes is a condensed version of an essay, "The Proper Role of Government", that President Benson wrote while an apostle.  It is classic, timely, and every American, LDS or not, would be better off reading it.  Please look it over.  I know the principles in it are true.

-Rhonda

Honey Butter (simplest version)
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 oz. (3/4 c.) honey, room temperature
 
A tiny bit of salt and vanilla is good, too.  Stir or whip until all smooth. Whipping it will give you a fluffier texture. Refrigerate.
 
This kind sometimes separates.  Just stir it again to recombine.  Or to keep it from separating, add either ½ c. powdered sugar or one egg yolk.  The Lion House recipe calls for the egg yolk.  It makes it silky-smooth, too.  Make sure to use an egg with no cracks, then wash and dry it well before using in the recipe.  Then using it raw will be safe.  
 
Canadian White Honey 
3 lbs (1 qt.)  honey   warmed just till softened
2 (7-oz.) jars  marshmallow cream   
1   cube   softened butter or margarine   
 Combine all and whip until blended. Makes about 2 quarts. 
 
 To make true creamed honey, (which is EASY, just takes time for it to sit) see the page at
http://www.betterbee.com/resources/creamedhoney.html 
 
__________________________________
 
 
The Proper Role of Government
by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson (excerpts)
Former Secretary of Agriculture to President Eisenhower
Published in 1968

see full text at
http://www.bigeye.com/The_Proper_Role_of_Government.htm 

THE MOST IMPORTANT FUNCTION OF GOVERNMENT  It is generally agreed that the most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. But, what are those rights? And what is their source? Until these questions are answered there is little likelihood that we can correctly determine how government can best secure them. Thomas Paine, back in the days of the American Revolution, explained that:
"Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another… It is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man." (P.P.N.S., p. 134)
Starting at the foundation of the pyramid, let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise. As the French political economist, Frederick Bastiat, phrased it so succinctly, "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." (The Law, p.6)

A  FORMULA FOR PROSPERITY

1. Economic security for all is impossible without widespread abundance.

2. Abundance is impossible without industrious and efficient production.

3. Such production is impossible without energetic, willing and eager labor.

4. This is not possible without incentive.

5. Of all forms of incentive – the freedom to attain a reward for one’s labors is the most sustaining for most people. Sometimes called THE PROFIT MOTIVE, it is simply the right to plan and to earn and to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

6. This profit motive DIMINISHES as government controls, regulations and taxes INCREASE to deny the fruits of success to those who produce.

7. Therefore, any attempt THROUGH GOVERNMENTAL INTERVENTION to redistribute the material rewards of labor can only result in the eventual destruction of the productive base of society, without which real abundance and security for more than the ruling elite is quite impossible.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NEEDY?  On the surface this may sound heartless and insensitive to the needs of those less fortunate individuals who are found in any society, no matter how affluent. "What about the lame, the sick and the destitute? Is an often-voice question. Most other countries in the world have attempted to use the power of government to meet this need. Yet, in every case, the improvement has been marginal at best and has resulted in the long run creating more misery, more poverty, and certainly less freedom than when government first stepped in.

THE BETTER WAY  By comparison, America traditionally has followed Jefferson’s advice of relying on individual action and charity. The result is that the United States has fewer cases of genuine hardship per capita than any other country in the entire world or throughout all history. Even during the depression of the 1930’s, Americans ate and lived better than most people in other countries do today.

FIFTEEN PRINCIPLES WHICH MAKE FOR GOOD AND PROPER GOVERNMENT

(1) I believe that no people can maintain freedom unless their political institutions are founded upon faith in God and belief in the existence of moral law.

(2) I believe that God has endowed men with certain unalienable rights as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and that no legislature and no majority, however great, may morally limit or destroy these; that the sole function of government is to protect life, liberty, and property and anything more than this is usurpation and oppression.

(3) I believe that the Constitution of the United States was prepared and adopted by men acting under inspiration from Almighty God; that it is a solemn compact between the peoples of the States of this nation which all officers of government are under duty to obey; that the eternal moral laws expressed therein must be adhered to or individual liberty will perish.

(4) I believe it a violation of the Constitution for government to deprive the individual of either life, liberty, or property except for these purposes:
(a) Punish crime and provide for the administration of justice;
(b) Protect the right and control of private property;
(c) Wage defensive war and provide for the nation’s defense;
(d) Compel each one who enjoys the protection of government to bear his fair share of the burden of performing the above functions.

(5) I hold that the Constitution denies government the power to take from the individual either his life, liberty, or property except in accordance with moral law; that the same moral law which governs the actions of men when acting alone is also applicable when they act in concert with others; that no citizen or group of citizens has any right to direct their agent, the government to perform any act which would be evil or offensive to the conscience if that citizen were performing the act himself outside the framework of government.

(6) I am hereby resolved that under no circumstances shall the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights be infringed. In particular I am opposed to any attempt on the part of the Federal Government to deny the people their right to bear arms, to worship and pray when and where they choose, or to own and control private property.

(7) I consider ourselves at war with international Communism which is committed to the destruction of our government, our right of property, and our freedom; that it is treason as defined by the Constitution to give aid and comfort to this implacable enemy.

(8) I am unalterably opposed to Socialism, either in whole or in part, and regard it as an unconstitutional usurpation of power and a denial of the right of private property for government to own or operate the means of producing and distributing goods and services in competition with private enterprise, or to regiment owners in the legitimate use of private property.

(9) I maintain that every person who enjoys the protection of his life, liberty, and property should bear his fair share of the cost of government in providing that protection; that the elementary principles of justice set forth in the Constitution demand that all taxes imposed be uniform and that each person’s property or income be taxed at the same rate.

For the other principles see
http://www.bigeye.com/The_Proper_Role_of_Government.htm
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Ezra Taft Benson

 
 
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courtesy photos8.com

Today you get the cookie recipes.  Lest you think the whole cookbook is for treats-- because last week was cakes & frostings-- I'm also giving you the table of contents and index.  (The truth of the matter is that the categories are in alphabetical order.)

Cookies card 1
Cookies card 2
Table of contents and index

A post last week had a short list of seeds you may not need to buy because you have them already.  Here's a longer list of them.  It includes ones I've mentioned before, to put the info in one place.
There are lots of seeds that you may already have at home, that you can plant outside. For instance:

-dry beans  (i.e. pinto beans, Great Northern, kidney, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, Lima, etc.)
-seeds inside a tomato (may or may not be hybrid- look it  up online if it matters to you.  What it grows into will NOT be a hybrid, though!)
-seeds from melons or any winter squash (some are hybrids)
-wheat kernels (good for sprouts, wheat grass, or let it grow to maturity)
-amaranth (good for greens, as well as the seeds)  or quinoa

-flax seed (gives you beautiful blue flowers, more seeds, and fiber if you're interested in spinning...)
-coriander (whole, not ground!) the plant it grows is cilantro; harvest the seeds for more coriander
-mustard seed- the greens are good eating, plus more seeds..
-fennel seed
-celery seed (actually is not celery, you grow this one for the celery-flavored seed)
-aniseed (anise seed)
-other whole spices or herb seeds
-raw unsalted sunflower seeds
-raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
-raw unsalted peanuts

And roots you can plant:

-carrots or parsnips (you'll get ferny foliage and lacy white flowers, followed by lots of seed for next year)
-other root vegetables- beets, turnips, radishes, etc- will give you seeds this season
-onions, garlic, or shallots that are starting to sprout (or not).  You'll get ball-shaped flowerheads, then seeds from them this year, too.
-potatoes that are shrivelling or sprouting- turn that one into several!  -don't throw them away!
-horseradish (a chunk of root from the grocery store will grow)- this is the 2011 Herb of the Year
-ginger root
-Jerusalem artichokes ('sunchokes')

And if you want a tree:

-raw tree nuts- walnut, pecan, hazelnut, almond, etc.
-avocado pits
-seeds from any citrus
-cherry, apricot, pear, plum, peach pits or seeds.  NOTE: these are almost always hybrids.  The fruit it grows will most likely not be the same as you ate.  But it's something, and it's food, and if you don't like it, you can always use it as rootstock for a graft from a neighbor's good tree.  Or firewood.   :D

It's helpful to look online to find the plant's ideal growing conditions and how many days until harvest. 

 
 
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My version of the finished cookbook.   What will yours look like?

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Title page: this is as close as I get to scrapbooking!  The book also has a table of contents and an index. 

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Each section has a tabbed divider stuck onto the page.  I just used the tabs you find in the office supply section of a store.

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The first recipe of each new section gets a colored 'scrapbooking' paper behind it.

I’ve put together a cookbook of basic recipes and cooking concepts (like how to take a basic yellow cake recipe to make any number of variations). It was designed to be portable and highly useful.   I hope it is!   I had non-cooks, college students, and young missionaries in mind.    It’s typed in 3x5/4x6 card format, so you cut out the cards and slip them into the sleeves of a small photo album. This collection fits perfectly in a 72-sleeve album.  If you only find bigger ones, you can use the extra spaces for blank cards to write recipe notes on, or slip a photo of the food in the sleeve next to the recipe.  If you like the photo idea, I already have pictures of lots of them.  Email me if you want them, rhair2473@gmail.com

Rather than give a link to the whole cookbook, I’ll put an installment of it once or twice a week here on my website.  That way you have time to really look through the recipes, at a manageable pace.  The first one is below:


Cakes and Frostings page 1
Cakes and Frostings page 2

Note on printing these pages:  the links open to GoogleDocs.  To print, select GoogleDoc's print button, don't do Control-P or you'll print the browser page and only get half the recipes.
 
 
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courtesy photos8.com

 It felt like spring today!  I love the warmth of the sunshine, the smell of the moist dirt, the sight of daffodils and tulips popping out of the earth, the plump firmness of leaf buds swelling.  If you’re thinking about gardening this year, the stores (and catalogs!) have the seeds and bareroot plants you may want.  For instance, this week’s CAL-Ranch ad features packets of seeds 10/$1.  (No, that wasn’t a typo.)  They also have onion sets, a bag of 100, for $1.99.  (Onion sets are baby onions, you plant them to harvest onion bulbs this year.  You could plant onion seed, but it’d likely be two years before bulb harvest.)  Smith’s Marketplace had bareroot raspberries and blackberries a month ago, and have their roses and fruit trees now.  I assume everyone else does, too.

 When you buy seeds, keep any you don't use.  They will be good next year if you take good care of them- keep them cool. dry ,and  dark.  They will last at least a few years if you store them properly.   I usually get a good four or five years out of my packets.   After that, not as many of the seeds germinate.  You can use seeds from your pantry, too: the dry beans you buy will grow in your garden.   Other seeds you may have in your kitchen are flax, mustard seed, celery seed (this one is NOT celery plant, you grow this for the celery-flavored seeds), coriander seeds (the plant is cilantro, the seeds are harvested as ‘coriander’), fennel seeds, aniseed, raw unsalted sunflower seeds, popcorn, raw peanuts, other raw nuts (if you want a tree!)….  If you have any onions, potatoes, or garlic that are starting to sprout, plant them instead of throwing them away.

Edibles look good in your flower beds!  Planting a few of those in existing beds is an easy way to get started. Leave a few carrots or parsnips in the ground for year #2, or plant carrots from the grocery store. They'll send up beautiful, lacy white flowers in the summer. (I love them in flower arrangements.) And then the next year, you'll have volunteer carrots 'naturalized' into your flower bed! Onions and carrots have some of my favorite flowers. 

Fresh herbs make nice companions in a flower bed, too. The foliage is great, and most have pretty flowers as well. My 'kitchen garden' is just off the front porch; hardly anybody even notices that it's food. It's only 6x22 but in the bed are LOTS of edibles. To get the whole mixed picture, here's what's in it: lots of spring bulbs (NOT edible), rock cress/aubrietta, pansies (edible leaves and flowers) a couple strawberry plants, a young crabapple tree, a really gorgeous yellow rose bush, garlic chives (white 'firework' flowers), chives (purple ball-shaped flowers), a trailing mini red rose, shasta daisies, lavender, catmint, oregano, parsley, lemon thyme, regular thyme, marjoram, purple-leaf sage, green-leaf sage, a few annuals, one ornamental grass (Miscanthus), sedum and aster for fall color. Even better, I can use the herbs in the dead of winter- I just plunge my hand down in the right place through the snow, and come up with a handful of parsley or thyme for the soup pot. Yummy.

Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) are beautiful, too; they look like small sunflowers. They're pretty pricy to mail-order the roots, though. I just bought a 1-lb bag from the grocery store, though, for $3. Much better. I also got my horseradish start from the grocery store, and I'm thinking of growing some ginger that way
.
 


There’s quite a bit of gardening, or ’pre-gardening’, that can be done right now.  For instance:

 -If you have fruit trees, now is the time to prune and fertilize them. 

-If you’re up for a bigger challenge, you can graft fruit trees right now. 

-You can till when your garden soil doesn’t stick to your shoes.  (Another test is to make a ball of it; if it compacts densely, it’s too wet.)  You COULD till it before that, but your garden will end up compacted and clumpy.  Your plants would not appreciate it.

 
There is a month-by-month gardening guide on our local Glover Nursery’s website.  Here’s a piece of it:

MARCH

• Early March is a great time to plan your garden layout.

• Make corrections and amendments to your garden if the soil has dried out enough.

• Start eggplant, peppers and tomatoes INDOORS. (6-8 weeks before setting plants out)

• Plant bare root raspberries and strawberries.

• Plant kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnip, potatoes, rhubarb asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsley, swiss chard, spinach, turnips,

onion, peas from mid-March until the first part of May.

• Plant carrots, beets and endive from mid-March until mid-June.

• Plant radishes from mid-March until September.

• Use floating row cover to help warm the soil for faster plant growth.

For info on how to start a garden, or improve the one you have, see Gardening 101  The how-to-start–it is the first page.  The other pages have the chart for last average frost dates in Utah, links to good gardening websites, ideas for gardening cheaply, etc.  Have fun!