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Tuesday
Jan202015

Turn a zesty cheddar bread into Parmesan chile-cheese bread

The loaf of Parmesan Chile-Cheese Bread cools on a wire rack.Last winter, I fell in love with the recipe for Zesty Cheddar Bread from Betty Crocker's "The Big Book of Bread."

The recipe is perfect for winter soups, and it is so easy and so successful that it just makes sense to try making it with other cheeses.

So far, I've baked it with Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses, substituting canned green chilis, which I usually have on hand, for the canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce used in the original recipe. I use a whole 4-ounce can of green chiles in the recipe. They are pretty mild, with only the slightest kick, and the green specks are attractive in the loaf.

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Tuesday
Jan202015

Forcing amaryllis and muscari bulbs: An At Home Journal (Week 6)

Muscari (grape hyacinth) bulbs continue to grow stems. A thickening stem cracks the neck on one of the amaryllis bulbs.Jan. 20:

Amaryllis bulb #1: This week's exciting event is the sight of a thick, stiff stalk bursting through the neck of the amaryllis bulb in the tallest vase.  The bulb is also showing the tips of three more stems. 

Amaryllis bulb #2: The bulb in the shorter vase has a thickening shorter stem with three more layered stems emerging on the opposite side. 

Muscari bulbs: The grape hyacinth bulbs have an abundance of lush, thick green stems. I resisted the urge to pluck off a wayward stalk just to make a better photograph. The purplish bump at the end of one stem is still there, making me hold hope for at least one flower.

I confess that I have little hope that these bulbs will bloom. I figure that like larger hyacinths, they needed a cooling period that would replicate winter. Since they were sprouting, I decided to just put them on top of marbles in water to see what would happen. That was before I read up on forcing bulbs in water and learned that they might grow, but are unlikely to flower without the requisite chilling period of about three months.

Either way, I am appreciating the thick growth of stems as an unusual houseplant. It's pretty amazing that they are growing vigorously in the wide vase with only water and marbles.

 See previous bulb posts in the Gardening section.

Saturday
Nov082014

Amaryllis bulbs: Winter flowers on a houseplant that's perfect for gifts

In a few months, when winter days are short and color is craved indoors and out, the big, bold flowers of amaryllis can come to the rescue as a houseplant.

Amaryllis are surprisingly easy to grow indoors as a winter houseplant. Their colors range from brights to pastels and bi-colors. There are shades of red, orange, pink, white and even green. Amaryllis 'Monaco' (shown) is a vibrant cherry-red accented by a white eye and white stamens. 

All that’s needed to grow them inside is the large bulb, potting soil and a six- or seven-inch pot with a drainage hole, says horticulturist Christian Curless of Colorblends.com, which sells a broad selection of amaryllis and other fall-planted bulbs at wholesale prices. 

To begin, simply pot the bulb with its top third positioned above the soil line. Water well at planting, then water only as needed --  when the soil becomes dry to the touch. With proper care, the first blooms will appear 8 to 12 weeks from planting, Curless says. One large bulb produces at least two stems, sometimes three, each bearing four or more velvety flowers.

For a broad selection of amaryllis and other fall-planted bulbs at wholesale pricing, see Colorblends.com or call (888) 847-8637. The minimum order is $60

Longfield Gardens, a New Jersey-based bulb company, also sells a number of options, including amaryllis, tulips and hyacinths at Longfield-Gardens.com

 

 

Saturday
Feb112012

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