Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Life

I was determined, this year, to force growth out of the little amaryllis I bought to commemorate my grandfather's death a few years ago. I haven't had much luck in the past, so I spent some time reading up on the subject. I learned that a well cared-for amaryllis can last up to forty years. Forty years? That sounds like a challenge to me!

The first recommendation, after the required 6 - 8 weeks of "quiet, dark time", was to soak the roots (but not the bulb itself) in warm water for several hours.

Next, plant the bulb, leaving a third of it above the soil level. Water it once, really well, and then let it dry out between waterings. Set it in a sunny place and cross your fingers.

I put mine in the sun room, which gets plenty of sun but also is terribly cold at night and on cold winter days. I worried that it was too cold to force growth and that I would rot the bulb by watering it in such cold weather. But, my worries were for naught. About a month after I planted the bulb, I was rewarded with beautiful green growth.

I also planted some Christmas paperwhite bulbs. There were a couple of anxious weeks as I checked the bulbs for signs of rot. One of the beauties of paperwhites, though, is that you don't need soil. You just need a container with rocks or pebbles to support the bulbs. Fill your container with water, making sure that the bottom half of the bulbs are submerged. After a few weeks, new life.

The blossoms were light green at first and then gradually turned white.

They hesitated to open at first...

Just a peek...
But one sunny day, they opened in all their glory.

They're so beautiful, and the blooms last for about two weeks. There's also a light fragrance. I'm going to grow these every spring! It's so nice to see fresh flowers.

And their roots are delightfully octopus-like.

There's other new life in our household. We adopted a little dog and named her Borga. The name is Norse and the sheltie part of her originates from that area (she's part corgi as well). We also chose the name because of its Star Trek ties...the Borg are our favorite Federation enemies.

The first week of dog ownership knocked me flat.

I was unprepared for the doggy neediness and the schedule disruption. She's had a few accidents, too, and is totally untrained. I'm used to cats, and lazy ones at that. It's good, I think, that Borga pushes me out of my comfort zone...I think.

When I'm feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I need comfort food. Good thing I found this scone recipe. I've continued my love affair with the scone this year, making up for lost time. For so long I thought scones were dry and tasteless. Now I know the truth. This is another Smitten Kitchen recipe involving my new favorite fruit add-in...the cranberry.

Lemon and Cranberry Scones
Slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen

Zest from two lemons (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, sliced
1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped or whole
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 cup heavy cream or milk

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, 1/2 sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest into a bowl. Cut in the butter until you're down to pea-sized pieces. In a separate bowl, mix cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir into flour mixture.

In a small bowl, beat egg and yolk slightly and stir in cream or milk. Add to the flour mixture and mix very lightly, until just combined. This is the secret to tender scones!

Pat mixture onto pizza stone, or into a greased cookie sheet, and press to 1 inch thickness.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden.

I topped mine with a simple cream cheese/powdered sugar/milk glaze.

They are so bright and soft. I highly recommend them...what better way to get your fruit?

Have a great week!

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