Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Drought Pout

We're in the middle of a drought here in Indiana.  We haven't had any rain for two months...meanwhile, the temperatures have climbed into the mid to upper 90s.  It is hot.

This is our 'second' living room, which serves as our bedroom in the summer.  For reasons unknown, the A/C vent in the master bedroom upstairs was filled with cement before I purchased the home, so it is very hot up there in the summer.  The other bedroom is also upstairs, and the downstairs bedroom has been turned into Todd's study.  So, with upstairs temperatures reaching into the 90s by July, we drag our mattress downstairs and recline in the blissful A/C.  "The kids" love it and maintain a near-constant state of drowse nearby. 

 Tabitha in particular loves it when we move downstairs.  Instead of sleeping in the windowsill above our heads like she does when we sleep upstairs, she claims the chair next to the bed and spends 90% of her time there (the other 10% is spent at her food bowl).

She grooms...


...and then goes back to sleep.  Repeat as necessary.

The garden suffers in the heat.  We water for 30 minutes a day, but some things just can't handle the heat.

Our hydrangeas are crisping up...

...and our creeping thyme has broad swatches of brown.

The grass is...dead.

In this heat, some container plants need to be watered twice a day.  Sometimes I just don't get to it.

We exercise and run errands in the morning, and by the time we get home, it's just too hot to weed.  The hot weather keeps some weed growth down, but we're seeing a lot of this in the cracks of our sidewalk and patio:

It's not all bad, though!  Living in Indiana, I knew I had to prepare for this type of summer.  With heavy clay soil and frequent droughts, you have to plan accordingly.  Portulaca (moss rose) always grow well in the heat.  It's a type of succulent, and flowers in a variety of bright colors.

Herbs usually grow well when it's hot.  I'm growing chives, dill, catnip, mint, sage, lavender, and basil.

You can't beat zinnias for hot-weather flowering.  I didn't plant too many this year, but I've still got a nice group of them!

Cosmos grow well in the heat, but have to be frequently deadheaded.  If you're up for the challenge, go for it!  This year, I grew light pink cosmos...

...hot pink cosmos...

...and orange cosmos, which haven't bloomed yet.

In the area bordering our back slab,  I planted two other heat-lovers in mixed groups:  white geraniums and yellow osteospermums, which are a type of miniature sunflower.

They are unfailingly cheerful!

In the impossible-to-kill category falls Russian Sage.  From June to frost, it blooms in fragrant, purple spikes.  I planted Russian Sage years ago and the bush is now huge!

No one loves Russian Sage more than bees.  My bush is absolutely bee-covered...carpenter bees, honey bees, and other mysterious flying creatures that congregate to gather pollen.

Oh, we've got one other sun-lover:

All in all, I'm not really pouting over the drought.  Every gardener knows that sometimes you've just got to go with the flow and hope for better weather next year!  As long as I'm still able to pull enough flowers every week for my bouquet spread...

...although these beauties came from Marsh, not from my yard.  Aren't they beautiful?  Sigh!  I love peach roses.

Some purple Russian Sage and white Queen Anne's Lace really set them off nicely...all ready for the table!

I made something a little unique recently.  Normally I restrict myself to one sweet dessert a week, but I'm always casting about for that magic dessert that's virtuous enough to be consumed daily.  I had high hopes for this high-protein treat, but I just couldn't get past the fact that I was eating - beans.  Yes, these are the notorious Black Bean Brownies of circa-2000 Weight Watchers fame, made without a brownie mix.  You read the ingredient list right...these chocolate brownies are made with black beans and without flour.  

Black Bean Brownies
from allrecipes.com

1 15.5 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.  Place all ingredients into your blender.

Blend well (gag):

Pour into baking dish and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until edges are browned.

Here's the deal on these brownies:  they look like regular brownies, but the texture is light and whipped, almost like mousse.  You truly can't taste the beans, but there is a bit of a strange, almost tangy taste that didn't appeal to me.  To help, I made a quick cream cheese frosting for the top and made sure to chill these well before eating. 

I would say that if you're trying to avoid flour, these are a fair brownie substitute.  My husband really liked them, but as I was watching the beans whirl around in the blender, I was already thinking:  this is not a good idea.

But maybe you aren't as fussy as I am!  It's worth a shot...give it a try this week!

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