Digital Postcard: Glover Gardens Hibiscus

I love hibiscus! And hibiscus seem to love Glover Gardens. Here are a few of my favorite Glover Gardens hibiscus pics, a late-summer garden digital postcard.

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I love the bright yellow

 

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A white Texas Star Hibiscus

 

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A red Texas Star Hibiscus

 

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Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus; it’s relatively rare and hard to find

 

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Another Mahogany Splendor

 

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Hawaiian Hibiscus (I think)

 

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A beautiful pink double-bloomer

 

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Tall and leggy Lord Baltimores; that’s Godfrey on the left

 

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A Lord Baltimore, close up

 

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Lord Baltimore Hibiscus, blooms as big as dinner plates

 

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I don’t know the name of this beauty

 

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The red bud to the left is the newest hibiscus, with an interesting shaped-bloom (pics to come)

 

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See the bee?
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Another white Texas Star, which bloomed for the first time on Dad’s death day

 

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A rose peeking through the hibiscus bush

 

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A double bloom, in the midst of opening

 

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (feel free to share with attribution and links)

Cool Off in the Hot Summer with Salmon Louie Salad

In the late summer when the heat is getting you down, it’s time for a gigantic salad for dinner.  The Grill-Meister is partial to Crab Louie (or is it Louis?) Salad but also loves when we have plank-grilled salmon for dinner, so one night we decided to combine the two ideas and make a Salmon Louie Salad. And we threw on some grilled shrimp, too. Yum!

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Doesn’t that just look like it will cool you down on these blistering August days?

This is a super-easy one-dish meal, although you could serve a crusty french bread with it.  There isn’t really a firm recipe or amounts for the salad part, but I’ll talk you through it. Leave out the shrimp if you want; it’s good but not necessary for the meal to be glorious.

Ingredients

  • Your favorite salad greens (we like a mix)
  • Enough boiled eggs so that you won’t be fighting over them
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
  • Sliced red onions
  • Croutons
  • Grilled shrimp (1 lb peeled and cleaned shrimp, 1 tbsp olive oil, seasoning mix)
  • Plank-grilled salmon (recipe here) – see ingredients list in that recipe, and don’t forget the plank!
  • Thousand Island dressing or your favorite (no need to stick with tradition here if there’s something you like better); I like this Remoulade
  • Salt and liberal amounts of freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Start with the plank-grilled salmon recipe, because you’ll have to soak the plank for at least 30 minutes, make the spice rub and apply it to the fish, and heat up the grill.

Salmon After Spice Rub
The spice rub assembles quickly and is just the right balance of sweet and spicy

Toss the shrimp with olive oil and about 2 tsp of your favorite Southwest or Cajun spice mix (we always use my Zippy Southwest); if you don’t have a spice mix on hand, try 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).  Set aside with the fish.

Prepare the plates and start layering on the goodies, starting with a big fluffy base of greens and arranging the rest of the ingredients except the croutons all over each plate, leaving space in the middle for the salmon filet. Store the plated salads in the refrigerator until you’re ready for them.

If you’re making the remoulade, now’s the time.

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Remoulade before mixing; it goes really well with salmon

Grill the salmon according to the directions in the recipe.

Salmon in the Grill
I add a few sliced red onions and poblano peppers if there is room left on the cedar plank.

Throw the shrimp on the grill after you remove the salmon (tent foil over the salmon while it is resting and after adding the honey drizzle called for in the recipe).  The shrimp cook pretty quickly on a hot grill, about 2 minutes per side.

Add a salmon filet, some grilled shrimp and the croutons to each plate, then add a sprinkling of salt and generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Serve with the dressing of your choice; I like to serve it on the side.

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This salad goes really well with a crisp Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc, if you’re a wine drinker.

Enjoy! (And cool off.)

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

haiku: hungry hummingbird

hello, hummingbird!
drink up before your journey;
~ thanks for stopping by ~

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This hungry little beauty zoomed up to the feeder at Little House in the Rockies within two minutes of my filling it, and then posed for me for a moment.  The early bird gets the bright red go-juice! Migration is just a month away for this Black-Chinned Hummingbird.

Mindfulness is so easy in the quiet of a mountain cabin.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

My Room with a View: Nautical Twilight in Aberdeen

If you ask a Scottish person what time the sun goes down, they’ll say “Ach, not late, aroun’ aboot half-ten in the summer.”  DON’T BELIEVE IT.

The sun never stops giving a wee bit of its glow to the summer night sky in Scotland.  It sinks beneath the horizon in what is called “nautical twilight”, and never lets the sky get completely dark.  Not that I’m complaining – it is beautiful.

I was reminded of the nautical twilight phenomenon during a brief stay in Aberdeen this week.   Aberdeen is a coastal city perched on the east side of Scotland right on the North Sea.  I had a room with a view and snapped these pics to capture that ever-changing but never-dark sky while enjoying the cool night air and familiar cries of the seagulls.  (This lass grew up amid sand and seagulls in a wee coastal town in southeast Texas, albeit with warm nights and actual darkness after twilight.)

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An afternoon shot of the church across the road from the hotel
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At 8 p.m. from my hotel window; the church is mostly behind the tree on the right, but there’s a beautiful bell tower being restored
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At 10:00 p.m.
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At 2:00 a.m. – can you believe it?
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At 4:00 a.m.
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At 6:00 a.m.; check out one of the many seagulls in the top left

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Margaritas, Perfected Over Time by the Raconteur

I have a friend who is a margarita-maker extraordinaire.  My son’s godfather, he is a true renaissance man with a variety of interests, a broad palate for both food and libations, and an uncanny ability to describe the essence of a thing in humorous, quirky way; you might call him a raconteur.  In fact, that’s what I’m going to call him here in the blog:  the Raconteur. He has perfected the mixology for this ubiquitous cocktail through years of practice, experimentation, and feedback. I’ve blogged about the Raconteur and his ‘Ritas before, when I profiled the marvelous Krups juicer he uses. A Friday night tradition for years back when I was a single mom was enjoying pizza and wings with the Raconteur and Kat-Woman, his wife; we washed them down with his hand-made tart margaritas.

We’d laugh and talk and catch each other up on happenings at work and in our extended families, and often share the food and drink with random neighbor friends who somehow began to realize that the party was always at my house on Friday nights.

On several occasions, we put together taste tests to try out the absolute best combinations of a variety of tequilas and orange liquors; these things are important to get right.

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A taste test with three different tequilas during a group trip to the Rio Frio in West Texas, more than a dozen years ago
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He was tickled by the idea of the taste test, even before he started mixing
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All ready for the tasting
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We served everyone three small margaritas, so they could judge the best.  The “cocktail waitresses” are me on the left, and “Kat-Woman” on the right; she’s my son’s godmother

I’ve been working on the Raconteur to be a guest blogger for Glover Gardens, and recently, Kat-Woman sent me the photo below with a suggestion to do a Margarita post.

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The current favorites for tequila and triple sec

These days, we enjoy the Raconteur’s ‘Ritas at Glover Gardens when they visit, or Little House in the Rockies.  He finally agreed to share his thoughts on the topic:

“The margarita recipe is simplicity itself, although different than the the ones that are so often published.

My recipe is 2:2:1. Two parts tequila, two parts fresh-squeezed lime juice and one part triple sec.

Some published recipes call for 3:2:1. Too much tequila for me. Tequila by itself has a taste that is similar (in my imagination, never having tasted the real thing) to kerosene. That is why you balance it out with the lime and the triple sec. And, I like lime juice.

One often sees a recipe that is 2:1:1:1. Two parts tequila, one part triple sec, one part lime juice, and one part simple syrup. If you compare this to my recipe, you will see that it is similar, except that one of the two parts lime juice has been replaced with simple syrup. Makes a sweeter drink, and one that is cheaper to make. Great for restaurants, and the patrons get a sugar rush with their drink.

But I don’t need the sugar rush, I think excessive sugar increases the chances of a hangover (think champagne!) and it masks the taste of tequila. I know that I said just above that straight tequila tastes like kerosene, but lime and triple sec transform it.

So, do yourself a favor and stick with 2:2:1. If it isn’t sweet enough, add some sugar. I do that for my mother-in-law. Just beware of the three consequences I listed above. And cook your steak well-done if you want to. (Note from Glover Gardens – he’s being sarcastic here.)

I salt the rim, but I drink from the same spot on the rim, so I don’t take in much extra salt. Mostly decorative, but it does tone down the sweetness from the triple sec.

I mostly use el Jimador Reposado for the tequila and Hiram Walker 48 or 60 proof for the Triple Sec. Luxardo triplum works well, too.

Cheers!”

A final note on margaritas:  always, always, always use fresh-squeezed lime juice for margaritas. Anything else is simply criminal. For more about the Friday night Pizza, Wings and ‘Ritas tradition with Kat-Woman and the Raconteur and the perfect juicer, here’s The Juicer for Me, for You, for Ritas.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

A Memorial Day Menu from Glover Gardens

The Memorial Day forecast calls for rain in Southeast Texas, but that’s fine by me.  A rainy Monday Memorial holiday calls for sleeping late, a date with a good book, some barbecue in the afternoon and a war movie or two.  Whether or not you’ve got rain in your forecast, here are a few tried and true recipes that are just right for the Memorial Day table.

My Spicy-Sweet Honey Chipotle Pork Spareribs are cooked “low and slow” in the oven and then given a quick finish on the grill for that time-honored char. Give ’em a try!

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If you’re vegetarian, try the rub from the ribs recipe on grilled eggplant; my blogger friend at Pleasant Peasant Cuisine suggested that in a comment on my post about the ribs.  He used the rub on his Stuffed Squash Blossoms, which would be a great vegetarian main dish for Memorial Day or a lovely side.

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Photo credit to Pleasant Peasant Cuisine; these beautiful squash blossoms have been treated with the rub from my ribs recipe

What’s a barbecue without a slaw on the side? Here’s my slightly spicy Pepper Jelly Slaw recipe.

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Or you could opt for a Throw-Down Side: Quick and Easy Black Bean Salad.

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Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding is a great side for ribs (actually, I think it is a great side for anything, and it’s not even one of my original recipes).

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Why not finish off the meal with some great big cookies that are chock-full of cookie goodness?  You’ll like my Glover Gardens Comfort Cookies, and since they have nuts, oatmeal and dried fruit, too, they qualify as “healthy”.  That means you can eat more of ’em!

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No one can stop at just one Comfort Cookie

Happy Memorial Day! And no,  even though I’m blogging about the menu, I haven’t forgotten the reason we celebrate: those who gave their lives for our freedom.  In their memory, here’s a photo of our flag, taken at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. I love how prominently it is displayed there.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

 

Tom’s Spicy Tomato Juice

In addition to his many BBQ accomplishments, the Grill-Meister makes a marvelous homemade tomato juice.  When we started growing tomatoes at Glover Gardens, he found a recipe online and then honed it over several summers, tweaking the spices, amounts and fresh peppers.  Here it is, hopefully in time for your summer tomato crop, or, if you don’t have a garden, those deep red beauties you’ll find at your local farmers’ market.

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This amped-up tomato juice doesn’t need anything but vodka and a squeeze of lime to make a perfect Bloody Mary. On the other hand, it’s so good, you don’t really need the vodka!

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 serrano, cayenne or fresno pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (you guessed it, we use 4)
  • 1 TBSP kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 c water
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • celery stalks (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Blanch tomatoes and remove skin and core (see pictures below for how-to instructions); cut into large chunks. Dice peppers and onion; mince garlic. Combine all ingredients in large pot; simmer for 30 minutes. Allow mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes; puree in blender. Use medium sieve strainer to remove pulp from tomato juice (reserve the pulp to use as base for soup, salsa, guacamole, etc.) Cool in refrigerator for minimum of 3 hours. Serve chilled, garnishing with black pepper and a stalk of celery.

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Fresh ingredients make for a fresh, robust-tasting juice
Tomatoes on Scale
Start with 4 lbs of the juiciest tomatoes you can find
Tomato Blanched for Easy Peeling
Remove each tomato as soon as the peel splits
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You can see how the peels have separated from the flesh
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The peels slip right off
Core While in a Bowl
Core the tomatoes while in the bowl so you don’t lose a drop of that wonderful juice
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The vegetables are roughly chopped for cooking
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This is what the cooked mixture looks like
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The Ninja blender purees in about 10 seconds
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Tom’s Spicy Tomato Juice is thick and slightly chunky, almost like gazpacho (yum!) 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook