February is dead, long live March

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That snow the other night was what you call late. At least it knew enough to leave soon. (I think it was embarrassed.)

snowdrop bloom in snowOh it was only two or maybe three inches of snow and then the sun came out all wintery glorious but it wasn’t like I could work in the garden.

snowy garden bed

The vegetable garden raised beds were similarly obstructed.
Really snow belongs with Christmas.

raised beds in snow

But the blue sky and bright sun were the snow’s undoing, so that we seemed to have winter and spring all happen in one day.

picket fenceI walked the gardens at noon, looking for signs of life while the snow receded like a spent ocean wave.

helleboreBlooms in ice–they make me think of that dessert called baked alaska.

Rhododendron cilpinenseThis is a dwarf rhododendron called R. cilpinense. This shrub blooms very early and very pinky and sweet looking, especially in snow.

greenhouse seedlingsI ended up in the greenhouse in the afternoon, which the sun warmed into open-window-and-door mode. I seeded more stuff, including tomatoes, and transplanted some seedlings, and felt so thankful that February is over, a perfectly dreadful month the details of which I do not wish to discuss– except that I feel certain I will be able to pay the $2400 bill for the car maintenance, and who cares if the dryer timer works or not, and it appears that domestic disaster of various other sorts has been averted…

Was this too bleak? Not my fault it snowed –or the other stuff. But as you know I have great concern for the well-being of my dear readers so I will now conclude with a top secret baking tip that you won’t be finding just anywhere.

Here’s the deal. If you want to bake crusty bread like you get in those restaurants you used to be able to afford to go to but now can’t because your stock investments went down or something, then just do this. When you preheat the oven to bake the bread put a cast iron skillet or saucepan in to heat up too. And its lid.

cast iron pot

When the pan, lid and oven are hot, place the dough in the hot pan, cover it, bake it for half the baking time, take off the pan’s lid and finish baking.

bread

Crusty bread results from the moisture in the pan during the early part of baking or possibly from the magic of the lid moving or maybe because the Bread Goddess thinks it is hysterically funny to watch you going through all this process and so smiles upon you and crusts up the bread. In any case it’s really good.

All for now, dears.

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About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in cooking, greenhouse gardening, Max the Westie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to February is dead, long live March

  1. Happy March to you Linnie! Here’s to spring!

  2. Alberto says:

    That bread looks yummy… I hope you removed the lid with some glove, otherwise you will have crusty hands too…

    I love the tidiness and lushness of your greenhouse but what happened to the creeping lemon tree?

    • linniew says:

      Why yes Alberto I did not grasp the 400 degree F lid with my bare hands. But what do you mean “creeping lemon tree?” That is my highly productive Dwarf Meyer Lemon and it is lemoning. Dwarfly. Well yes I guess it has grown sideways a bit, but I don’t want to discourage the lemons, which I use in my biscotti recipe, among other things. Yum.

  3. Grace says:

    I like the idea of a bread goddess blessing my bread. Now if she could just hail her cousins to help with the rest of my kitchen blunders. 🙂

    Yes, this snowfall was indeed a surprise, wasn’t it? There was ice on the driveway and the street on my hill so I waited for the sunshine to warm it up, around 9:15 before venturing out. By then the valley roads were clear.

    I too am glad February is over. I am going to write down the name of that early pink Azalea. There are a few blooming around here and I love, love love it!

    More later. Hope all is well.

    • linniew says:

      So far so good here Gracie. Glad you survived the snow and now just a bit (ha) more rain and we’ll be in springtime.

      When I find the Cleaning Goddess and one who materializes hot meals I will definitely let you know.

  4. kininvie says:

    So how come that rhododendron didn’t get frosted? Unbelievable! None of my early rhododendrons & azaleas are ever safe, and the earliest I have does not flower before mid-March. Really I think you have kept it in the greenhouse and just brought it outside to photograph it.
    I was reading how Fay has sent you some NEEP seeds. Have they arrived? Maybe the US customs were worried about just what NEEP might do if you smoked it? Maybe they will pay you a vist?

    • linniew says:

      Hi Kininvie
      That little rhodie lives outside in the ground in the cold. But American rhododendrons are very sturdy and able to endure great hardship and yes frost. And snow. Very impolite of you indeed to suggest it is a protected container plant.

      It’s true that the Neep seeds haven’t arrived. I’m not sure if they have been sent yet as Fay completes the exhaustive Neep Seed Location Project. I suppose if one carves a Neep (like you will be doing Kininvie when you lose our clematis cutting wager) and then puts a tiny candle in it perhaps the Neep could be considered to be “smoked.” But I doubt if the Customs People concern themselves with that eventuality, not like the Scottish police might if, for example, someone diverted someone else’s lovely little stream or something.

  5. Janet says:

    Productive looking greenhouse all ready for spring. February is bad car month for us too so the bread tip will come in useful!

  6. Bridget says:

    I agree, snow belongs to Christmas time. At this time of year I just want to get on with things. Don’t want unseasonal things like snow blocking progress. Good bread-making tip.

  7. Indie says:

    Such a beautifully written post! I think most of the snow that falls here is usually embarrassed as well – it’s not sure if it belongs in North Carolina or not.

    What an interesting bread tip! And what a great way to make round loaves! I usually make a baguette and put a pan of water in the oven with it, as my round loaves are sure to end up oblong or otherwise weirdly shaped.

    Here’s hoping for a much better March for you!

    • linniew says:

      Hi Indie
      The other day I made a pizza, baked on a preheated stone, and I tried a hot pan below to which I added ice cubes when the pizza went in. The steam did make a nice crust on the pizza. But I like baguette loaves and will try the pan of water 🙂

  8. Gorgeous photos!! What a beautiful garden!! It must be wonderful to walk out the door and stomp around in all of that beauty.

    I want to make some of that bread. Yum. Mostly, I want to smell some of it. Mmmmm….

    • linniew says:

      Well really the garden belongs to the dog. But I can open the refrigerator and he can’t so he lets me be outside some too. I like the owl songs in the woods at night, and the greenhouse is very entertaining. Oh okay I love it all. What’s really fun is to work outside all day and then come in and bake bread– I just wish you could be here with your guitar Moonbeam so you could sing to me while I cook.

  9. b-a-g says:

    Snowdrops in the snow ! – what more could a gardener ask for ?

    I like the comparison of the sunny/snow scene to baked alaska. I tried making it once but it didn’t quite match my expectations. On the other hand, your crusty bread looks great.

    • linniew says:

      I have never had the nerve to put ice cream into the oven– I’m very impressed that you tried that b-a-g. And I’m also STILL impressed with your biting the bullet on pulling up some of those pavers in your garden. I know you won’t regret it.

      • b-a-g says:

        Here’s a baked alaska recipe that you don’t need to put in the oven. It requires pouring boiling sugar onto egg-whites and adding a finishing touch with a blow torch though. http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/513087

        • linniew says:

          I visited the cooking site, and that dessert they made looks lovely. But it probably wouldn’t survive the kitchen fire that would follow the blow-torch step of the recipe. Now I DID have success once thawing out a frozen water pipe with a blow-torch, but that was outside in very cold rainy weather and the fire danger was quite low in that circumstance relative to what exists in my kitchen. Thank you b-a-g, I do appreciate your suggestion; it has Somehow fortified me to consider making actual baked alaska. If I try it I will be certain to report it here with my typical brutal honesty, disaster or not.

      • Did she find Paver People beneath?

        • linniew says:

          b-a-g reports all empirical data impeccably so I’m certain that any found paver people would have been announced and as far as I know they weren’t. But perhaps tiny people don’t ever live under bricks and pavers in London–there are a lot of houses there.

  10. Mmmm, that bread looks so tasty! We got 5 inches of snow yesterday and then a cold day today. Some of the snow melted, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a few days for a full melt. Still no blooms here. Happy spring!

    • linniew says:

      Oh dear Beth, now I feel I was sort of whine-y about our bit of snow. Well I take it all back. And I hope softer weather comes to you in Wisconsin soon.

  11. Alistair says:

    Linnie, I am also glad February is over, although to be quite honest it wasn’t that bad. The Fancy restaurants are a thing of the past not so much because of the financial crises, more to do with now living on a pension. Must get Myra to check your bread recipe while I go and do manly things like, change the cars engine oil, watch a game of soccer and write aboot flooers. .

    • linniew says:

      Oh Alistair your accent! I thought at first you were going to post on a home improvement site about floors.

      I’ve heard Canadians say “aboot,” too… And some American’s in the northern mid-west. –I do love your dialect writing.

  12. Lyn says:

    Linnie, you make me want to get a greenhouse (so neat and orderly) and bake crusty bread. If only they didn’t involve any work. After a so-called Summer of clouds and rain, we had one brilliant, sunshiny, blue-sky day yesterday, and today it’s back to grey. Localised doom and gloom has descended on this computer desk, bringing scattered whinging and low level activity in the short term (I hope).

    • linniew says:

      I hope you are feeling better already Lyn. We’ve had those gray rainy summers here occasionally. At least everything must be green. I only showed the tidy part of the greenhouse by the way, but the crusty bread is truly worth making.

      I need to get a Happy Widget for this blog.

  13. Sheila says:

    What a lovely little rhody! I didn’t know any bloomed so early… I appreciate the bread baking tip. Maybe it will spur me to graduate from the bread baking machine that someone abandoned in my husband’s office kitchen.

  14. Greggo says:

    Linnie O, its greggo. lol. anyways , you are such a versatile blogger that I awarded you the versatile blogger award. thanks! g.

  15. igardendaily says:

    Hi there! Just checking out your blog based on Greggo’s pick! Fun take on the snow and I appreciate the bread tip too. Would love to have that cast iron and a greenhouse too! Now that the snow is gone over here, the cold wind has showed up!

  16. bakingbarb says:

    I’m happy Gardening With Grace sent me this way. We have had our fare share of March snow slightly north of Seattle – I actually live in one of the convergence zones which means i get the crummy weather more. You have a beautiful garden, I can see it through the snow and I look forward to coming back and seeing it during the sun season.
    btw that bread is the best!

    • linniew says:

      Welcome Barb!
      (Thanks to Gracie for bringing you my way.) I look forward to visiting your blog too. We have snow again today and the “sun season” sounds very nice indeed.

      I may live in some other kind of convergence zone– not sure but I like the term.

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