Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's all about timing!

I was trying to time it just right so that the majority of the rose bushes would flower when my rosy friend and her husband visit us here in early March. So I did the pruning and deadheading two to three weeks ago estimating by the time they arrive two weeks from now, it should be the right time for their beautiful blooms en masse.However, that was theoretically speaking and one can only plan so much, but one can never control what the weather would do. The last two weeks were so perfect, maximum temperatures in the twenties, so much so that it fooled me into thinking it was going to continue like that and everything was going like clockwork. But alas, come this week, everything has changed. It's been scorching hot and I'm frantically trying to ward off the heat from my roses by giving them extra water. It seems to do the trick, even though a very time consuming task. With the extra heat and water, the roses speed right up with their flowering so much more, and you can imagine me trying to tell them to slow down. Many of them look like they'll just go ahead and burst into flowers the next few days, while some already have. That goes to show how little power I have over these roses and there's only so much I can do to control their cycles. Sigh!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Choc Almond Biscotti

Biscotti in Italy is a generic name referring to any type of biscuit/cookie. But in Australia (and North America), it refers to a dry, crisp, "twice-baked" biscuit/cookie which is very good for dunking into coffee, hot chocolate etc.
Often when we go to a cafe, a slice or two of biscotti is served with our cup of coffee and I feel like they're only like teasers. I love munching on Biscotti and so I make them at home myself. This is one of the recipes I love. Very more-ish as they are not too sweet and the nuts are simply delicious and nutritious. Happy munching and crunching!

Here's the recipe:

3 egg whites
1/3 cup (75g) of caster sugar
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cup (120g) blanched almonds, toasted

(1) Preheat oven to moderate (180C).

(2) Lightly grease 8cmx26cm bar cake pan; cover base and sides with baking paper.

(3) Beat egg whites in small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form; gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved between additions.

(4) Fold in combined sifted flour and cocoa powder, then almonds; spread mixture into prepared pan.

(5) Bake in moderate oven about 25 minutes or until loaf is browned lightly. Cool in pan for 2 hours.

(6) Preheat oven to slow(130C)

(7) Using a serrated or electric knife, cut loaf into 1cm slices. Place slices in a single layer on ungreased oven trays.

(8) Bake in slow oven about 15-20 minutes or until crisp and dry, cool on wire racks.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Summer Growth

No doubt summer is a time for growth. I noticed my rose bushes were growing wild both sideways and upwards in this season, some of them sending out long canes and they simply want to reach up high and climb on the fence or anything in the way that supports them and some bushes have become huge. It's often said that many of David Austin roses can be climbers, and in Australia they are vigorous and grow to be double the size and height of what they would normally be in England. I had a "painful" time attempting to "tame" them and make them look more orderly the other day. I always wear a long sleeved shirt and long pants plus a pair of heavy duty gardening gloves so I can save my skin whenever I deal with these lovely but not exactly easy beauties, and even then there's no guarantee I won't get poked, since wearing an armour is simply not practical. I think it's rather inevitable rosarians have to put up with being poked and scratched (sometimes in the most uncomfortable places) here and there if they want to enjoy the beautiful Queen of Flowers. Some of the most magnificent roses have the nastiest thorns that ever existed, I guess it's a case of "No pain, no gain". It's great to have freshly cut flowers in the house, I forget about the pain when I've got roses in my sight and their fragrances wafting through the house. They really have a soothing effect on me. Hmm! That's the good part. It's all worth it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Tomorrow will be Valentine's Day, what better ways to wish all of you lovely readers and friends a Happy Valentine's Day than to send you roses from my pictures. Hope you'll like them, may your life be blessed and may you find the greatest true love of all- the love of Jesus Christ, who gave His life because He loves us!There's been a Council Bulk/Verge Rubbish Collection around our area and one day while driving my kids to school, my son spotted something and yelled out "Mum, something curly-whirly and white, you might like it!" I didn't see it, so I went back to have a look, and here are some of the things I found (on different days) - A rusty old metal stand, two metal chairs (in the background, not the small ornamental chairs) and a shabby (natural shabby chic) old painted table. As if I haven't got enough to do already, I thought I could give them some TLC and a lick of paint, and they'll be as good as new. And for now, they make good props for photos with my roses.