Thursday, June 30, 2011


I just got a new camera and had to try it out...  For a closer look, you can double-click on the photos.

The end of my peonys.

Photos from my back garden.

Since part of the back garden is raised, I'm able to set up little scenes. Two Chinese fishermen.

Photos from the front garden.

It's that time of the year for garden tours. This lovely and interesting garden was on the St. Anthony Park Garden Tour.

These chess pieces were solid wood and about 3' tall.

My friend, Jeanne, walking on the Labyrinth path.

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Monday, June 20, 2011


The budget issues, both locally and nationally, are complex and extremely contentious.  See if you can fix the budget using this New York Times budget simulator -

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


My niece mentioned that she had seen alot of recipes for rhubarb on the site  It's an interesting site with beautiful photos of food.  One thing led to another and in no time I was in the kitchen making a recipe I found on the site for a rhubarb martini.  Long story short... here is the recipe I found:

Chop up 12 ounces (about 5 stalks) of rhubarb.  Cook with 1/4 cup of water over medium heat about 5 - 10 minutes until the rhubarb softens.  Mix in 1/4 cup (or to taste) of sugar.  Push the mixture through a strainer to end with a smooth puree.  To make a rhubarb martini, mix 3 ounces of the rhubarb puree with 2 ounces of vodka in a shaker with ice.   Rim a martini glass with sugar, pour in the martini and garnish with mint leaves.

There were all sorts of problems with the above recipe, most of which were evident at the start.  Thus, here is the recipe I developed:

*  12 ounces rhubarb (about 9 stalks), well chopped
*  1 cup water
*  1/2 teaspoon vanilla
*  1/4 teaspoon cardamom
*  1/4 cup sugar (I used Splenda)
     Add the rhubarb, water, vanilla and cardamom in a large sauce pan; cover pan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft.   Use a blender to puree the mixture, then add sugar to taste, about 1/4 cup.   This makes enough puree for about 6 - 8 martinis. 
     To make a martini, add to a shaker:
*  3 ounces of rhubarb puree
*  2 ounces of cranberry juice
*  2 ounces of Absolut Citron Vodka
Shake very, very well... the longer the better.  It will be much colder and the ice will break down somewhat into fine crystals.  Pour into a martini glass and enjoy!

It was about 6:15 p.m. when I sat down to enjoy my rhubarb martini.  The outside temperature at the time was 102º.   Seems that summer has arrived!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


For centuries rhubarb was ground into a powder and used medicinally in Europe; and it wasn't until the late 1700's that people started using it in desserts.  Although we typically eat rhubarb in desserts, it is a true vegetable.  When cooking rhubarb, never use aluminum or cast iron cookware since the chemicals in rhubarb will react with the metal. 

Now is the time of the year to harvest and/or to buy rhubarb.  With two plants to harvest from, I was looking for a recipe that called for alot of rhubarb.  This recipe not only uses alot of rhubarb, it is relatively low carb, easy and delicious.

I "garnished" this with a drizzle of thick whipping cream and liked how it cut the tartness somewhat.
*  8 cups (about 2 lbs.) of roughly chopped rhubarb
*  6 cups water
*  1 cup sugar
*  1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*  1 cinnamon stick*
*  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*  1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
*  1 quart fresh strawberries, washed & hulled
Preheat oven to 400º.  Combine first six ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until rhubarb is very tender, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, place whole strawberries on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake until strawberries begin to soften, about 12-15 minutes.  Add strawberries to soup and blend all with a stick blender.  Chill immediately; add lemon juice when cooled. 
*     Cinnamon stick has a more intense flavor and aroma than ground cinnamon.