Friday, April 29, 2016

Vegan Chocolate Cake (gf,df,sf,ef)

Earth Day required something special.
We decided to make a "no-bake" chocolate cake
to honor our dear Mother Earth.
The bonus is that it's allergy-friendly!
Any excuse for something made with cocoa!

These are dates,
and they are the only sweetener used in this recipe.
Love that!
When C and I were shopping for the ingredients,
we said out loud,
"We're looking for dates" and laughed at how silly that sounded.
Good times...

Along with pecans, walnuts, cocoa and vanilla,
this cake comes together with ease.
I've grown to appreciate recipes with only a few ingredients.
This one fills the bill.

It was so rich and so full of chocolate flavor, but not too sweet.
I wasn't sure if the ganache would work using olive oil
(C is sensitive to coconut), so it was omitted.
I was also thinking it might make it too sweet.
It is a bit dry without the ganache, so I think I'd add a strawberry topping next time.
The other idea I had was to make the cake mixture
and roll it into balls to keep in the freezer.
Any time the chocolate cravings hit,
you could just pop one into your mouth.

I love that there is no processed sugar in this recipe,
and yet there's no mistaking that it's dessert!
I will have to look into baking more with dates, 
as we try to keep our sugar intake low.
I hope you'll give this one a go,
and add your own twist to it.

Taverna Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Tina L. Singleton

3 C shelled pecans
3 C shelled walnuts
32 medjool dates, pitted and cut into quarters
1 1/2 C cocoa powder
3 t vanilla

1 1/2 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 C maple syrup
2/3 C coconut oil, melted
1/4 plus pinch salt

Process pecans and walnuts in food processor until finely ground.
Add dates and process until mixture comes together.
(We did this in 2 batches because it wouldn't all fit in our bowl at once.)
Add cocoa and vanilla and process to combine.
Add 4 t water and process to combine.
Transfer mixutre to 8" springform pan
(we used a round Corningware baking dish)
and distribute evenly, pressing into pan.
Place all ingredients in blender, blend until smooth.
Frost top and sides of cake with ganache and chill 30 minutes before serving.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Seed Bombs

Earth Day was a great excuse for me to try something new.
Seed Bombs!
The idea originally was to beautify abandoned lots in the urban landscape
by anonymously tossing these into vacant lots.
The rain helps them to randomly bloom.
Of course, they can be used elsewhere,
but the idea is the same.
Fashion the bombs and let Mother Nature work Her magic.
It sounded too fun to pass up,
so we made ourselves some.

Here's all you need:
potting soil

Our soil mix already contained compost,
so we didn't need to add it separately.
It was also fairly moist, so we didn't need to add water.

The air-dry clay can be found almost anywhere.
It's a bit soft to the touch right out of the container.

Golfball-sized spheres were formed and placed aside.
It was easy to do a dozen at a time.
The container of clay we bought
made a little over 50 seed bombs.

An indentation was made in the center of the clay.

Time for the seeds!
You can use any type of seed,
although easily-germinating seeds or wildflowers do best.
We used 4 types:  
beach sunflower, cosmos, marigold and zinnia.

A few seeds were added to the soil mixture.

The open end was closed.

The bombs were left outside to dry during the day.
It took about 2 days for them to become fully dried out.

I ended up marking the bombs 
with the first letter of the seed type,
in case they got separated from their containers.
This was a fun project 
and I can't wait to see them come up!
Magic, I tell ya!

If you don't want to make your own seed bombs,
you can order some here.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 130

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

This week we have a bits-n-pieces post.
 A bit o' this, and a bit o' that.

But first, let me convey to you the most exciting thing that happened on Sunday morning!
Before heading over to Faye & Lynn's for Farm School,
I was checking on a couple of plants that had been recently transplanted in the back bed.
I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye.
Right there in front of me,
hovering in mid-air mind you,
was a hummingbird!
Not 2 feet away from me!
It stopped for about 3 seconds there
and then soared off for parts unknown.
My heart was racing and I was absolutely gobsmacked!
You see, I have never witnessed one in person,
and it was totally humbling and I truly felt that
It Was a God Thing.
I am trying to be more congizant of these events.
Miracles are always around us.   
What a rush!       

In the last week or so,
I've watched this mystery plant change before my eyes.
(It's only a mystery because I forgot what I bought.
Does that happen to anyone else?)
It's always had interesting leaf structure,
but the branches carry thorns.
I found that out the hard way!

The buds started forming for the first time since I've had it.

It has bloomed into beautiful cylindrical red blossoms.
I'm thinking it must be a hummingbird attractor.
Maybe that's what our visitor was after.
I'll have to research and see if I can identify this beauty.
Any ideas out there?

Our sweet potatoes have been cured
and some will be readily consumed this week.

Over at Faye & Lynn's, this cutie greeted us as we began our work
transplanting some odds and ends.
Funny how it doesn't go for the lettuce that's a few feet away.

In this picture, can you see the nest to the left of the white board?
It's the home of two Carolina wrens and their four hatchlings.
Faye & Lynn have been monitoring them for the past 2 weeks.
It seems that they return every year and construct a nest
right inside their garage door.
The constant cheeping is priceless.

Back at our place, these two have been frequenting our garden.
They have made themselves at home
and we are fortunate to be able to study them daily.

One day, the female (we think) came by herself
and we were concerned that something had happened to her mate.
She sat in the shade and looked kind of lost or out of sorts.
Thankfully, the next day, her better half was with her again.
What a blessing to be witness to such graceful creatures.

We still have quite a bit of caterpillar action going on.
So far, our milkweed has stood up,
and we relish the monarchs floating through the garden with ease.

That's some of what's happening around our Central Florida garden.
What's going on outside where you are?
HOP on!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day Poem

Our Dear Mother Earth
by daisy
The day in springtime
When we celebrate this place
We call home sweet home.

The soil, air and sea
Which help us enjoy each day
Her gifts abundant.

The earth, rich with life
Warmed by the sun's brilliant rays
Ready for planting.

The air in its flight
Bringing to us morning scents
Of lilac and dew.

The ocean, so grand
Its majesty unequaled
Magic in movement.

The role we now play
As stewards to Mother Earth
Providing Her care.

Every one of us
Can do something every day
To nurture Her soul.

So thankful are we
May we care for you always
Our dear Mother Earth.

Happy Earth Day! 

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thrifty Thursday-Eight Earth Day Ideas

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year.
Earth Day.
The day we set aside to honor our dear Mother Earth.
We strive to show respect for our Earthly home on a daily basis.
Over the years, we have made progress on many fronts,
but we still have goals on the horizon.

Here are a few ways we endeavor to do our part:

1.  Use the clothesline for drying laundry-
One of my favorite chores each week involves enjoying the feel of the sun on my back,
hearing the birds singing and knowing that solar power is taking care of drying our clothes.
Not only does it help us save on our electric bill,
it gets me outside first thing so that I can connect with the world around me. 

2.  Water reclamation-
We have three rain barrels in our backyard that collect water
for use in our garden.
A recent addition to our water conservation efforts is to
save the water used from cooking in a coffeepot that is kept on the stovetop.
Whenever veggies are steamed or beans are cooked,
the cooled water gets added to this pot.
Once a week it is used to water patio plants.

3.  Homemade cleaners-
We started making our own cleaning products years ago.
With a child with multiple sensitivities,
it just made sense to create a healthier environment
by ridding our home of toxic solutions.
Aside from the health aspect,
it saves us money and we feel good knowing that we are not
contributing to hazardous mixtures heading for the water source.

4.  Composting any way we can-
Since our HOA frowns on open composting,
we work around it.
We keep our compost scraps in the freezer
in a recycled coffee bin and add the contents
directly to the garden. 

5.  Using what we have to create something useful-
This birdfeeder was created with what was on hand.
A plant stand, some hose and an old cake pan
work well and we didn't have to spend a dime.
Less consumerism means less goes into the landfill.
We enjoy creating functional items 
and not having to buy anything to do it.

6.  Thinking twice before tossing things-
Along with creating new things,
we find new uses for broken items.
These shard feeders are used daily
to feed the birds in our yard
and they work perfectly for that purpose.
Once again, we've saved something
 from being added to the trash pile.

7.  Using everyday items to embellish-
These seed pots, made from toilet paper rolls,
will not only support new life,
but they will be added to the soil
once their job is complete.
Adding a beautiful new plant to the landscape
and nutrients to the earth is a win-win.

8.  Finding your niche-
Creating my handmade daisy totes helps me to
feel a sense of responsibility about how I am leaving this earth.
I have a choice to be part of the problem,
or part of the solution.
In this small way, I feel that I am fostering Mother Earth
by realizing that we must all do something.

I hope you are inspired to start something new
to support the planet. 
If not now, when?

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. Milton Berle
Read more at:
If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. Milton Berle
Read more at:
"If opportunity doesn't knock,
build a door."
-Milton Berle

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