Saturday, March 19, 2016

Gardening with Lilies of the Valley

In the past, I have told you how I love Lilies of the Valley and how I was thinking of putting them into my little garden out front.

My neighbor who had them growing in her front garden has since moved away and the ones she told me to take did not survive.I took about six of her plants which are pictured above and put them into my garden around the lone white lily that is coming up.

If there is one thing I know about Lilies of the Valley, it is that if they take hold they will multiply and in a couple of years my Lilies will have to vie for space in the garden.  My grandfather had a row of them along the back fence near the gate and every year they came up in profusion and the smell of the flowers was pungent when you went to the back gate.

Another neighbor has them growing in bunches by her back gate.  She also offered them to me.  This year I will either have to buy the plants or see if I can get them to grow in my garden.  Even though they only flower once around in June, the tight green foliage is pretty in itself the rest of the growing season.

This is how you can grow lilies of the valley in your garden:

  1. Make sure the ground where you plant them has good drainage.
  2. Lilies of the Valley like partial sunlight and shade.
  3. Soak the flower stems in lukewarm water to give them a faster start.
  4. Snip off the end of the roots before inserting them in the soil so that the plant will take up water and grow faster.
  5. After planting, soak the plants with water to get them started
  6. Snipping the blooms will not hurt them after they have bloomed but they only bloom once.
  7. Leave the plants in place after the flowers have gone to give the plants strength.
My first attempt at transplanting this flower was a complete failure but the second plant took and came back last year with bigger and more aromatic flowers.  As I said earlier, these flower tend to spread over the years and multiply.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Lenten Alternates to Fish

I'm someone who doesn't really like fish unless it's tuna salad on a bun with lettuce and tomato or a deep fried either beer batter or breaded piece of fish on a bun with ketchup.

Tuna Salad on White Toast

Otherwise, I just don't like ordinary fish.  When I was younger my mom made salmon coquettes but I find salmon to have a very strong taste and I'm not fond of it.

Lump Crab Meat
I do like shellfish and I'm partial to shrimp, crab cakes (either style, Maryland or spiced).  I like cocktail sauce on both of these.  I've eaten lobster but it's out of my price range and I don't use the drawn butter because the first time I dipped and ate butter lobster the butter was rancid and I got sick.  So I tend to just eat the lobster meat without any sauces.

Macaroni and cheese is an option and it's not that hard to make a homemade macaroni and cheese casserole that doesn't contain all the sodium that you get in the frozen trays.  My mom made hers with cheddar cheese that she cubed and mixed with the precooked macaroni.  She poured milk over the casserole and cooked it in the oven until the cheese melted and the milk soaked into the macaroni.

Broccoli  added to Macaroni and Cheese

If you are adventurous you can add a vegetable to your macaroni and cheese for the full meal flavor.  I prefer to use broccoli in my macaroni and cheese.  If you like broccoli with cheese sauce, you are sure to like this version of mac and cheese.

You can make various versions of pasta without using meat in them.  The sauces that you use can also be varied.  In the next few days we will continue to talk about Lent and Lenten Dishes.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Only God Can Make A Tree - Joyce Kilmer

To quote the poem:

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

This sycamore is majestically offering her branches to a dislocated and homeless robin family.

The tree in front of the offices was spreading roots below the foundation of the building.  It was decided that the tree must be cut down and cut down it was.  The only problem being that in the spring the robins would nest in that tree.

Hopefully the spreading leaves of the sycamore tree offered enough of an invitation to become the new home of the robins and that tree can become their new home.

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

We are once again bounding into spring when the tree will abound with buds for the coming season and to welcome back the robins.

What a wonderful example of what Joyce Kilmer saw in God's creation of a tree.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Another Friday In Lent - What's For Dinner

In our house today, I'm planning to make a favorite that my youngest step-daughter loved.  We are having pastaneggi.

This is a recipe that is so simple it only takes the time to boil the spaghetti and add some scrambled eggs along with your desired seasonings.

Another fun dish would be Tuna Salad and pierogies.  I make my tuna salad the way my Dad did at his luncheonette.  Tuna drained of the oil or in my case, water, chopped celery and Miracle Whip (salad dressing).  This is one dish I don't use mayonnaise.  My neighbor always put a small bit of chopped onion to spice it up and I sometimes do also.  My mother liked everything sweet so she added pickle relish to her tuna salad and egg salads.  I've never liked it with pickle relish or chopped eggs.

The pierogies I put in boiling water until they rise to the top while I am melting a stick of margarine with onions sliced the length of the onion into little crescents.  I saute the onions and margarine until the onions are transparent.  Then I put the drained pierogies into a chafing dish and cover them with the margarine and onion mixture.  I put these into a low oven until I'm ready to serve them.  Some people prefer to pan fry the pirogi so that they get browned but I prefer mine soft.  We are using a frozen pierogi from the supermarket.  I prefer the potato and cheese variety but you can get sauerkraut.

If you want to avoid the fuss and mess and you don't have a fish fry to attend, I suggest you try some of the delights at Labriola's Italian Markets.  There are several in the Pittsburgh area.  They make wonderful fried fish.  In the past they only made one batch of fish and you had to be early to get some, but now they make it all day long and you can normally get what you want into the afternoon hours.

There are several Fish Fries that I know of in the northern area of Pittsburgh.  St. Scholatica Church in Aspinwall only does one during Lent.  Pittsburgh Moose 46 on Saxonburg Boulevard has one every Friday in Lent.

Oakmont Elks has a wonderful Fish Fry but they only serve between 5 and 7 p.m.  If you know of some good fish fries, please comment their location and maybe we will try those next week.

As I promised I did my homework and surfed the Internet for some great Lenten Menus.  The first dish I want to talk about is a Seafood Lasagna that take 30 minutes to prepare and another hour and a half to bake.  It sounds scrumptious but if there are some ingredients in the seafood you don't like feel free to just eliminate them.  This recipe comes from

The second dish I want to talk about is an Imitation Crab Seafood Salad.  This recipe only takes 10 minutes to make.  Not only is it easy to make it sounds delicious.  This recipe comes from

I hope you find some good hints here today and as always come back tomorrow to see what we have for you to try.  Since it is Lent the sales at the supermarket are all wrapped around meatless dinners.  Perhaps we want to make a simple chicken breast and broccoli casserole for dinner.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lenten Observation: What Goes Around Comes Around

It's not hard to continue going down the path you have chosen if you wear blinders.  By this I mean never looking left or right and never noticing what is going on around you.

I'm a professed people watcher.  When I ride the bus or I'm at the store, I notice the people around me and what they appear to be doing.  Just because the man who got on the bus is wearing well-worn jeans and a scruffy jersey that doesn't automatically tell you he's not someone to come in contact with.  His clothes may be tattered but his face is clean.  His hands show the signs of doing something that involves using them.  His clothes may not only show wear but have stains on them that many times in the washer will no longer remove.

You don't have to talk to him but you do need to show him the same respect you would give to the person who boards the bus behind him.

The second man is dressed in khaki trousers, with a nice polo shirt.  He is clean shaved or he may have a manicured beard.  His hands are squeaky clean and he is carrying laptop case.  When this man gets on you tend to move over to allow room for him to sit down.

Why didn't you make the same move when the first man got on?  It's a simple explanation.  He didn't present himself to be someone you wanted to be near.  His clothes appeared to be dirty so therefore he was an indigent who deserved less from you.
Crowded Bus

Give this person a chance.  Open your heart.  Realize that outward appearances don't make the man.  It's how that man acts towards the other people on the bus that should make your decision for you.  This very same man may find a seat and be aware of what is going on around him when someone with an obvious disability gets on.  He may be the one to get up and offer his seat.  While the well dressed man may be totally oblivious to this person who obviously needs a seat and stay seated in his own comfort.

Welcoming your neighbor is how you seek and find the rewards that God has for us in this world.  As the title of this blog states, what goes around comes around.