I've just been out in the garden, weeding in the dill patch. There's a lot of love about dill. I love how my skin smells after contact with it...a prickly, pungent smell. Its soft, ferny leaves stroke my arms as I pull weeds, and I'm entertained by the tiny flowers on the seed head, fluttering open as they're warmed by the sun. As I work, I daydream about what I could make with a handful of the green sprigs...a white sauce for salmon? A spicy soup? I never make anything with dill, though. I just grow it because it's beautiful.
Here's something functional, though. My tomatoes are coming in, and soon I'll have more than I know what to do with! I see a lot of homemade sauces and salsas in my future. I liked these particular tomatoes. Each is an exact replica of the one before, slightly enlarged.
At long last, my cosmos are up! I've planted bright orange, pink, and cream colored varieties this year, and they are cheerfully nodding in the breeze as I write.
Cosmos are so easy to care for...a recurring theme in my garden plan.
When these flowers bloomed, they made a liar out of me. I'd written earlier about my mysterious self-seeding hollyhocks...imagine my surprise when these great spikes of purple and white bloomed, and proved to be mallow plants. Still, they're quite lovely, and very similar to hollyhocks. I'm pleased that they've come.
A soldier beetle (Cantharidae) marches with purpose across the head of this yarrow plant. Soldier beetles are wonderful additions to any garden. They eat a number of pests and do no damage to garden plants.
A grasshopper (Caelifera) relaxes in this daylily. I chased a lot of grasshoppers as a little girl and was rewarded with frequently stained clothing...as a defense mechanism, grasshoppers will "spit" a dark brown fluid that's distasteful to attackers. I'm not fond of large brown grasshoppers with their staring eyes and scratchy, spiny legs, but these small green ones are pleasant.
As I quietly watched, a large katydid (Tettigoniidae) clambered over the left side of the lily and chewed busily on a petal. The grasshopper fled, and after having a quick nibble, the katydid disappeared into the greenery.
I've been busily knitting this week on several different projects. A 12-pointed star is halfway done, but still lying like a deflated balloon in my knitting basket. A pair of fingerless gloves and matching neck wrap, knitted up for my swap partner on Ravelry, is waiting patiently for last-minute buttons. An accusing glare comes from my red knee socks, which have not yet been repaired. Two balls of cheerful orange cotton wait to be formed into an elephant, my first commissioned project, for a friend of my husband's. A big project has been completed, though. Eunny Jang's Tangled Yoke Cardigan, begun in January, is finally blocking in my sunroom.
I had a lot of trouble with the braid that twists across the sweater yoke. It's from a 17-line chart that requires up to 400 stitches across at times. Being off by just one or two stitches could ruin the whole pattern, so frequently I frogged back hours of work to get a correct count! I ran out of yarn several times. At the end, I had to order an entire skein just to complete my final 20 inches of work. A sigh of relief...and I think I'll take a break on sweaters for now!
Busy in the kitchen, as usual. I found a good recipe for sourdough bread on the King Arthur website. These two loaves were finished just in time for our Fourth of July celebration.
Today I felt inspired to rework an old recipe. I'm a huge fan of Cinnabon's cinnamon rolls, but I don't like the heavy, sick feeling I get after eating there, or the nagging feeling that cavities are forming at an accelerated rate with each and every bite. I decided to play with the recipe and make it a little lighter, easier, and dare I say...healthier?
Don't worry, if you're a die-hard fan who can't bear the thought of sacrificing one iota of sugar, just send me a request and I'll post the original recipe.
Copycat "Healthy" Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Todd Wilbur's More Top Secret Recipes
Makes 16 cinnamon rolls
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup skim milk, warm
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk, 2 egg whites
2 cups white flour (I prefer unbleached)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
dash of vanilla
1 tablespoon reduced fat cream cheese
Skim milk - enough to make a thin glaze
Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the rest of the dough ingredients and knead for 5 - 7 minutes. Cover dough and let rise for an hour. Next, roll dough out in a long rectangle (it was easier for me to split dough into two portions and work with each portion individually). Once dough is about 1/4 inch thick (or a bit thinner), spread evenly with 3 tablespoons softened butter. Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and sprinkle over dough. Use a pizza cutter to cut even 1 inch strips and roll each strip up.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cover your pan and let the dough rest for another 30 - 60 minutes. It's hard to wait, but this second step really improves the flavor of your final product! You should see a fine rise before too long.
When ready, bake rolls for 10 - 12 minutes.
While baking, mix your sugar glaze. I used a pastry brush to lightly glaze the tops of the rolls after they came out of the oven. They looked great!
But what about the taste? I'm pleased to report that they're just as good as the cinnamon rolls I remember from my food court days. They're soft, chewy, and flavorful, with caramelized bottoms and sweet, sugary tops. I tried one right away, still warm from the oven. Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke (ahem), I tried a second roll. Yum!
This will be my new go-to recipe when friends are stopping by.
No one has to know that they're practically good for you!