Friday, September 23, 2011

Caramel Treats for Fall

Certain flavors, scents and colors remind me of fall. Pumpkin, apples, and caramel are the taste of fall for me, and I'm sure for many of you. Today I have a few recipes to try now that we can heat up our ovens on cool, fall days.

Caramel Crispy Bars

1 package (14 ounces)caramels
3 tablespoons water
5 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Melt the caramels with the water in double boiler over low heat, stirring until caramels are melted and smooth. You can also do this in a microwave, heating a minute at time, stirring in between until smooth.

Place the cereal and peanuts in a large bowl. Pour over the caramel and toss until well coated. Using buttered fingers, press the mixture into greased 9x13 inch baking pan.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Sprinkle the chocolate and butterscotch chips over the mixture, then bake 5 minutes, or until the chips are soft.

Remove the pan from oven and spread the warm chips over the top of the bars with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cool, then cut into bars.

Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cups chopped pecans
3 cups cored, peeled and chopped apples

Combine the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl. Beat until creamy with an electric mixer. Sift flour and measure into a bowl. Sift again and add the salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time, beating after addition. Fold in chopped pecans and apples. Spread evenly into a 9x13 baking pan that has been buttered or sprayed well.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 55 or 60 minutes. Cool, then frost with the frosting below.

Caramel Frosting

2 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. heavy cream or half and half
2/3 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/8 tsp. salt
3 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the butter, cream, brown sugar and salt in medium pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the vanilla, then gradually add the confectioners' sugar until it's the thickness desired.

Caramel Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture. Beat until light. Combine cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecans in small bowl. Grease and flour 9x13 baking pan. Pour half of batter into pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle half of filling over the batter. Pour and spread the remaining batter over this and sprinkle with the remaining filling. Bake for 35 minutes at 350ยบ F. Remove from over and pour the caramel topping over the cake, spreading evenly. Place the cake under the oven broiler for about 3 minutes until the frosting begins to bubble. Cool.

Caramel Topping

1/2 cup butter
6 tablespoons milk or cream
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup pecan pieces, finely chopped

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the milk, brown sugar, and pecans to the melted butter, continue to heat, and stir for 3 more minutes.

On OFL we have apple recipes for a fall brunch:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Adventure in Bulbs

One of my favorite garden writers is Louise Beebe Wilder because of thoughts like the one below. She was speaking about Fritillarias and how they can be difficult to grow:

I have at times thought that like some persons, they do not, themselves, know what they want. Just plain cussed, as our farmer friends would say.

I own a copy of Adventures with Hardy Bulbs, from which this quote comes from. It was written in 1936 by Mrs. Wilder, and illustrated by her husband Walter. Today I wanted to share a little bit from her book about naturalizing bulbs, plus a few of my own thoughts.

" naturalize bulbs means to merely plant them in an informal and unstudied manner in contradistinction to their use in formal beds."

"it means to broadcast them on a generous scale in woods, in meadows, by pond and streamside, along winding paths, on rough banks or about the outskirts of the garden, to suggest, as best we may, Nature's handicraft, not man's."

These bulbs tend to naturalize well: galanthus, scillas, crocuses, muscari, daffodils, most tulips, alliums, and anemones. One method to use for naturalizing is to pick a location then simply toss the bulbs out by the handful, starting with one to two dozen bulbs. Grab the kids and dig under where each bulb landed. Each bulb will have it's own depth listed on the package, but it's usually at least 2-3 times the length of the bulb itself. Don't worry about spacing. The whole point is to make the planting look "natural". This is what Mrs. Wilder has to say:

"...we must clear our minds of the idea of boundaries, forget the girdle of the garden hedge, get right away from the memory of straight lines or of beds."

One word of warning: you will NOT be able to mow the area until the foliage has browned after they bloom. This could take a month, sometimes longer, so bear this in mind when choosing a location. Consider the edge of a wooded area, or out of the way places that can be enjoyed when the blooms are out, but can be left alone for awhile afterwards.

The last thing to consider is the combination of bulbs you will use for naturalization. Choose bulbs that will compliment each other when it comes to color and size. Small daffodil varieties will mix well with other short bulbs, but will be overwhelmed if sharing a space with a tall, larger variety of bulbs. Here is one last bit of advice from Mrs. Wilder:

"It is losing a great opportunity not to give a floor of bulbous plants to such flowering trees and shrubs as Dogwoods, Almonds, Forsythias, Crab-Apples, Japanese and orchard Cherries, Witch Hazels, Magnolias, Peaches, Laburnums, Lilacs, Mock Oranges, Thorns and Azaleas. The shade of most of these is not too heavy for even the sun lovers to survive."

If you've never attempted to naturalize before, consider starting with a small out of the way area using inexpensive varieties of bulbs this fall. If it goes well, a larger area can naturalized the next year. Plan ahead, be creative and have fun!

On OFL we have a list of bulbs to plant for early spring bloom: