Friday, August 31

Vegan Cooking Red Lentil Soup

I'm continuing this adventure into plant based cooking with a familiar recipe I've made often over the years as a vegetarian- lentil soup. My favorite lentils are red lentils, however any lentils will do. As I've mentioned before, I don't tend to follow recipes but use what I have on hand. So this particular version of my lentil soup included the following veggies:

1 large carrot
1/4 cup of cabbage
1/8 cup white onion
1 chopped red pepper

I sauteed these in coconut oil while the lentils boiled, and then added them to the pot of lentils to continue cooking. I boiled the whole thing for about 15 minutes.

To this I added the following spices:

black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sazon
1/8 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

Usually I use my electric hand blender to blend everything into a puree, but when I plugged it in, it wouldn't work. I have no idea why, it worked perfectly the last time I used it. Such is life. So I improvised with my favorite kitchen tool- a stainless steel tooth edged manual chopper. I inherited this from my grandmother when she passed away. I use it so often for so many different tasks, and every time I do, I remember Grammie in her kitchen. It's a small treasure that came to the rescue when my electric hand blender went kaput!

I used it to grind up the soup by hand. It didn't come out as smooth as usual, but I think I like the rustic texture better.

I love lentil soup, so I was happy with this one, but the true test will be if my daughter likes it. I hope she does because it's packed with nutrition.

Thursday, August 30

Gorgeous Gardens: Trapp Family Lodge Stowe, Vermont

Edelweiss, can't help but hum that song on the mountain road approaching the Trapp Family Lodge. I will warn you right now, I took way too many photographs. At every turn I saw something beautiful....gorgeous flowers, colorful gardens, beautiful alpine architecture, breathtaking vistas. Where to begin? 

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!

These pictures need no words.

More to come.....stay tuned for part two!

Wednesday, August 29

Rooting and Over-wintering Annuals

This impatien plant seeded at the end of last summer. I brought it into the house before frost and grew it in my kitchen window. It bloomed all winter long. By spring, it was quite large, so I took cuttings to root in water. Impatiens are easy to root simply by putting cuttings in water. It takes about a week or two. 

I also overwintered these coleus from plants I grew from seed last year. I took cuttings in the fall and put them in water. Coleus are probably one of the easiest plants to root in water. I overwintered them as well, planting them in this container in June.

Rooting annuals from cuttings is one easy way to keep costs down in the garden. Another advantage is you will get a plant exactly like the one from which you took cuttings, so you can control the look of the plants in your garden. I've also done this with petunias and geraniums. I have also saved seeds from all these annual plants. I do find cuttings to be more successful than seeds. It is much quicker and less mess and fuss. Cuttings root the fastest in the spring, especially with geraniums, but this method works almost any time of year.

Tuesday, August 28

Note to Michele: Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Vermont


This is not garden related, other than a few photos I took of some landscaping at this location but it's such a fun place I want to share it with you. It's Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream factory in Vermont. This place is amazing, not to mention the delicious ice cream. I took enough pics so you could take a virtual tour of the exterior. We didn't take the tour this time- the lines were incredibly long and we've been on it before. But the grounds are so much fun, starting with the ice cream flavor graveyard! This is where discontinued flavors are laid to rest. 

 It's on a hill near the gigantic parking lot, surrounded by a quaint picket fence.

I love the Adirondack chairs in pretty colors by the fence! I didn't take a photo, but on the side of this hill, several cows were grazing. I'm not sure if they belonged to Ben and Jerry's or a neighbor. 

Each discontinued flavor has a headstone with dates and brief information about it.

Take a look at this field next to the parking lot filled with solar panels! 

Here's the famous Ben and Jerry's bus.

Since this is a gardening blog, here are a few photos of some plantings near the building. The hanging baskets are lovely.

 I'm not sure what this shrub is below, but the blossoms are so pretty. I think it may be a type of hydrangea.

These are definitely hydrangeas in full bloom beneath the big hand holding an ice cream!

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour. It's one of our favorite places. If you come to visit, we could take a day trip to visit it. And the ice cream is delicious, too.


Monday, August 27

Dinosaurs in the Garden

This is a super cute idea for anyone with children or grandchildren visiting the garden. I spied this raptor looking down at me on a recent trip to a garden center.

My kids would have loved dinosaurs in the garden when they were little. I may hunt for that old box of toy dinosaurs in my attic and place them around the garden for a little Jurassic whimsy! 

Sunday, August 26

Packing a Vegan Meal to Go

I'm learning to cook vegan meals because my daughter has decided to follow a totally plant based diet. I've been a vegetarian for a good portion of my life, eating plants, eggs and dairy, but cooking vegan is new to me. I thought I'd share my attempt at creating a vegan meal which she could take to work with her. I generally don't follow recipes and do my own thing depending what I have on hand, but I'll try to be specific with this recipe.

I cooked a cup of rice (use whatever rice you like best) then fried it in a little coconut oil. I added a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of Braggs Liquid Amino Acids.

In another pan, I stir fried the following veggies-

  • 1/2 head of shredded cabbage
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1 sliced red pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced white onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/4 cup of corn
  • 1/2 cup small florets of cauliflower. I also peeled and diced the core of the cauliflower and tossed that in.

I sprinkled with Sazon and stir fried the veggie mixture in coconut oil. Then, I incorporated the rice. I marinated extra firm silken tofu cubes in a mixture of soy sauce, Braggs Liquid Aminos, and Sazon. I stir fried the tofu in a separate cast iron pan, then added it to the mixture. This made enough for several meals. My daughter added hot sauce to it, so maybe next time I will spice it up more as I'm cooking it.

Finally, I sprinkled some dried cranberries on top of her lunch. My family loves dried cranberries and we add them to just about everything- salads, shepherd's pie, casseroles, sandwich spreads, home fries, baked goods, cold cereal and oatmeal.

Separately, I packed her some trail mix made of sunflower seeds, peanuts and raisins. She can have this for a snack, or sprinkle it on her meal for some crunch. I include a piece of fresh fruit to the meals I pack for my kids, usually a banana or apple.

As I delve further into this new world of plant based cooking, I will try to share the meals I make here on Sprouts.

Friday, August 24

Yellow Jewelweed, Impatiens pallida, in Smugglers' Notch Vermont

On our recent trip to Vermont we spent some time in Smugglers' Notch, one of our favorite places to visit. This is the only place I have ever seen yellow jewelweed. In my area along the coast, I've only seen orange jewelweed, Impatiens capensis.

Perhaps I just haven't noticed the yellow variety in other areas, but as I was walking the paths in the area, I happened upon this sign explaining the rare alpine plant community in this area due to the minerals in the rock. I'm wondering if the yellow jewelweed is part of that group of plants. However, I have found this article about Yellow Jewelweed in northern Illinois. Click here to read it.

Click here for my post from 2014 about Smugglers' Notch.

Let us know if you have jewelweed in your area. Is it yellow or orange?

Thursday, August 23

Throwback Thursday: Bean Tipi

I think this was one of the first pictures I posted on Sprouts was back when we started years ago. This was our bean tipi. My little girl is not so little anymore! We no longer plant a bean tipi every year like we used to. I sure miss those days!

Wednesday, August 22

Flowers Around Town: Burlington, Vermont Part 1

While walking along College Street to the waterfront in Burlington Vermont, we passed these beautiful gardens. My family was more interested in finding ice cream than gardens, so I quickly snapped these pictures before I found myself lagging too far behind them. I was so impressed with these gardens. 

At the time, I didn't see any signs to identify the brick building, but have since done a little digging online. I think these are College and Battery Luxury Condos. I wasn't all that interested in the building, but the gardens were amazing. 

A wrought iron fence enclosed the entire garden.

They reminded me of English garden style, planted on a narrow terraced strip of land between the street and the building. It's difficult to tell from the photo, but the garden runs up a hill. 

Stay tuned for more lovely gardens I saw in Vermont.

Tuesday, August 21

Moss and Succulent Garden in a Bird Bath

On our recent trip to Vermont, we stopped for a visit to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. I was impressed with the gardens on the property. This is just one little gem I saw in the gardens there. The container is a bird bath top, filled with moss, succulents and violas. It is placed on natural stone in a mountain top garden. I really like this idea and may try it next year in my garden.

In case you aren't familiar with the Trapp Family Lodge, it is a beautiful 2400 acre mountain top resort in Stowe Vermont owned by the famous singing Trapp family of Sound of Music Fame. The lodge is managed by Sam von Trapp, grandson of Maria and Georg von Trapp.

Monday, August 20

Daisy Fleabane North American Wildflower

This is a wildflower, a native to North America, grows all over my property. Wherever possible, I allow it to grow and spread.

 I love the tiny little daisy flowers, but also it provides food for the bees and other wildlife. Bees love it as well as other pollinators. Some animals will eat it. And I just think it's pretty. It tends to grow where it wants to, but when it's mixed in with a perennial garden, it looks so pretty. One year, it filled up my garden and grew to 4-5 feet tall. My daughter's friend commented, "Your garden is just magical!" I think Daisy Fleabane has that effect when allowed to grow unhindered.

Sunday, August 19

Beet Micro-greens

My beet micro-greens have sprouted. I'm hoping there are more ready to grow. I planted the whole flat with seeds. Time will tell. If these are all that I get, I think I will plant them to grow for beet greens and root for a cold weather crop.

Friday, August 17

My Phlox is Blooming

I always look forward to this plant blooming near the end of each summer. This was one of the first plants I put in the ground at this house decades ago. It was a clump from my mother's garden. Every summer it perfumes the air with the most lovely smell. I have some growing under my living room window, so I like to open the windows at night and let the perfume in. This is a cultivated phlox. I also have the wild phlox that has volunteered and blooms in the spring, but this one is very special to me.

I also noticed this phlox, which is a different shade of pink than most of my phlox. This is the frist year I have noticed this pink with white color. I like it!

Thursday, August 16

Throwback Thursday: U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.

Several years ago, I visit Washington D.C. with my children. I recently happened upon this picture from that trip, which I took inside the U.S. Botanic Garden. I was so impressed with this indoor garden. It was filled with such a variety of plants I didn't know where to look first. I can't wait until I have a chance to return. 

If you ever get the chance to visit D.C., I do recommend a stop at this wonderful place. 

Wednesday, August 15

Something Is Eating My Elderberry Bush

For the second year in a row, something has eaten most of my elderberries from the bush. I don't mind, as I can find plenty of elderberries in the wild and this bush attracts wildlife to my garden.

 It's hard to see in this photo, but this cluster of elderberries is nearly gone. I'm curious what is eating it. I can't imagine green elderberries taste very good!

Tuesday, August 14

My Little Greenhouse

This little greenhouse has served me well.

 I've used it for starting seeds in the spring, and putting out plants before the first frost. I've used it to extend my growing season. One year I grew tomatoes in it.  This year, I am using it for some of my container plants to get a break from all the excess rain we've had. I'm hoping my peppers might blossom and produce some more before the season is out, since the rain caused many to rot on the vine. In the greenhouse, I can control the amount of water the plants get.

It's easy to put together. I do take it down each winter. If left out in the cold all winter, the plastic will deteriorate and tear.

It's also light weight and easy to move around. I have had it in a number of locations over the years.

The best location I have found is on a deck for a good foundation, but I've also set it on the grass and on a stone patio. This little greenhouse has served me well.

Monday, August 13

Gorgeous Gardens: Carmel Mission California

I've been looking through old photos recently and found these from our trip to California in 2009. I can't believe it's been so long since we visited. This is one of my favorite gardens of all time. Peace and serenity fill this special place. 

One of the things I loved about California was the bougainvillea. I wish we could grow it in Maine, but unfortunately, that will never happen.

I remember this garden was filled with birds. There were birds nesting in the rafters of this veranda and little hummingbirds flitted among the blossoms. 

I loved all the missions we visited on that trip, but Carmel was my favorite.
I hope someday I will be able to visit Carmel Mission Gardens again. 

Sunday, August 12

Note to Michele: Zinnias


Here's a report on the zinnia seeds. I remember you said yours were not doing well this year. So here's a photo of my small patch. They are healthy but small for this time of year.  I planted most of this raised bed with zinnia seeds and this is all that sprouted. I'm not sure I will get any blossoms before frost but we will see. I hope at least a few blossom so I can save some seeds with the hopes that they will do better next year. This year seems to be a bust for my garden in so many ways. I mixed a little alyssum in with the seeds, which you can see just on the edge of the photo. These did well, but I didn't get it in the photo.

I'm posting some of our zinnias from past seasons, so we can enjoy their cheerful colors and have hope that next season will be better!

~ Caroline

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