Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fruit Trees and Pumpkin Muffins

We bought two fruit trees this week. They were to replace the other trees we had bought and planted that died. I got money from our girls for replacement trees for Christmas and spent it on a plum tree and an apricot tree. When the millennium comes we should be OK. Wait, that already happened. Ok, in a few years we should have fruit.

My sister-in-law once asked me if I knew when the best time to plant a fruit tree. Her answer, 10 years ago. Ok, so I have to wait.

First I went to the compost pile and filled the back of the mule. It turns out the horses ARE good for something! They are able to process hay and expensive grain into the perfect compost for gardens. Our soil on the top of the hill is rocky and REALLY hard to dig. Fortunately, we had previously planted trees and used a lot of compost in the old holes so digging went a lot faster than before. I was able to use a shovel and did not have to resort to the metal bar we use to break up rocks.

This time we used two stakes for the trees. The top of our last apricot tree snapped off in high wind. So we don't want to have that happen, again. I have no idea what happened to the plum tree. It just died.

So now we have 2 peaches, 2 Granny Smith apples, 1 pear, 1 Gala apple, 2 cherries and a plum and apricot. We also have acres of wild blackberries and a plan for planting a small garden of blueberries. We have to prepare the soil first. The last ones we planted didn't do well because they like a very acidic soil and ours was not. Once we figure the best way to do that we will work on the soil. My PLAN is to work in a BIG bunch of our "processed hay" and then some peat moss for the acidity. Then do a soil test. Then plant the blueberries.

But first I have to finish the quilt and then go visit my mother in California and then deal with the architect for the B&B and then trim the drive, oh, and I really need to dust this place... Sheesh!

After planting the trees and some bulbs (they TOLD me it wasn't too late to do that) we had Norma and Shirley over for tea. These are two lovely ladies that are sisters and live in Buchanan. They feed our cats and let out RJ when we can't and this year they agreed to take care of the horses. Lee and I haven't been on a vacation together in years except for a day here or there, because it is hard to find someone to deal with all the animals. So we boarded the dog and had Norma and Shirley do the horses and cats. They did a great job and we had them up to tell us all their stories and to give them a tea party for all their hard work. It doesn't hurt that when we start the B&B they can then recommend us...or not!

I made lemon poppy seed scones with lemon curd, pumpkin muffins and a fruit cup. Here is the recipe for the muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, I use a micro plane so I guessed on the measurement
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, I used about 1/2 of a can and froze the rest for future use.
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts

Pre-heat the oven to 400. Dump the dry ingredients into a mixer. Mix on slow. You don't want a cloud of flour in your face. Beat the eggs slightly in a bowl and add to the mix. Then add the milk and pumpkin. While it was mixing on low I drizzled in the melted butter. I was afraid it was still hot from the microwave and I didn't want to have scrambled egg in the bowl! As soon as it looks like all the wet ingredients are incorporated, add the chopped nuts if desired. Don't over mix.

Spray a muffin pan with Pam. I have a large ice cream scoop that I use for muffins. It makes a nice rounded top and is the perfect size for filling one muffin "dent".

Unfortunately I didn't get the sizes exact and had to borrow a bit of muffin from each overly large "scoop" to make the 12th muffin! I like to over fill the muffins so that I get a large crown. The BEST part!

Next mix about 1/4 cup of white sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix well and then sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake for 18 minutes.

Fruit Cup

1/2 cantaloupe
10 strawberries
1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Cool Whip
Optional cherry

The fruit cup was easy and good. I cut up a cantaloupe in small cubes and placed in the bottom of a ramekin. I made four at a time, so actually four ramekins. Slice some strawberries and put in a bowl. Sprinkle a bit of Splenda on them and toss gently. The divide among the ramekins.

Place the blueberries in a small saucepan. Cover with Splenda and heat until it cooks down to a sauce. Stir occasionally. When it cools, put a dollop on top of the strawberries. Place a large spoonful of Cool Whip on top of the blueberries. I happened to have some cherries in the fridge and put one on top, just because. If I had had some mint, I would have put a sprig of mint on top. Pretty!

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