Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, December 29, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - 5th Day of Christmas

5th Day of Christmas - December 29th

A quiet time in the holiday season, several days after Christmas, many have returned to routine business and work, by this time — taking turkey and cranberry sandwiches with them. School is still out for many children and that means time for either boredom or activities.


Ready the garden area if you plan to grow potatoes (my tradition is to plant them the morning of January 1st). Rake up fallen leaves into the compost pile or for covering the potatoes. We built a moveable ‘bed frame' of 1 x 6s for our potatoes — this contains the compost while the plants are growing. Choose a spot which will be in sun all or most of the time. Harvesting will be done in April and later.

Plant winter flowers to brighten the garden's winter grays. Carnation, Calendula, English daisy, sweet alyssum, nasturtiums, pansies and violets, stocks and ornamental kales and cabbages all are edible and add glorious colors to the garden. Curly parsley plants make great edging and accents to flower beds. Don't forget all the great colored lettuces too.


If you and the children have not had enough chocolate, and since we live in the southwest, here is my secret truffle recipe with a twist — chili powder — if you are not interested in the chili, just leave it out, but I warn you will miss this incredible taste treat — the marriage of mild to hot chili with the dark chocolate is addictive (good for you too within reasonable consumption)

Notes: this is a very rich, soft (but not liquid) at room temperature truffle. Using the dipping chocolate option for coating will allow them to stay more solid at room temperature during parties and dinners. Otherwise it is best to keep all of them refrigerated until ready to eat. They will keep in the frig in covered containers for 3-4 weeks.
12 ounces (2 cups) dark semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chips)*
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup of eggnog (secret ingredient)
1-1/2 teaspoons of chili powder (heat of choice!)
Coatings: Red crystal candy sprinkles, chili powder, cocoa powder, or dipping chocolate **etc
Have plastic (like syran wrap) lined pan ready - pan should be wide enough to make shallow layer of truffle when poured.
In a double boiler or heavy pot on low heat, melt butter and eggnog, stirring constantly. Add chili to butter and eggnog, mix to incorporate chili completely before adding chocolate.
Add chips to melt, stirring constantly (if you do not stir the mixture may burn in not using a double-boiler). When completely mixed and melted (no lumps), pour mixture into prepared pan, refrigerator until firmed - about 2 hours.
Cut the truffle mix into small squares or use a mellon baller, to roll small balls in lightly-oiled or buttered hands, roll in coating of choice (if dipping instead see note below), place on wax paper lined pan, and chill until ready to use.
*If desired, use white chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet (use the best white chocolate made with real cocoa butter)
** Dipping chocolate is special tempered chocolate that creates a hard glossy shell of candy Can usually be found at Michael's (look for Wilton dark).
To Dip Truffles: Roll into balls as noted above and chill. Do not use any other coating if you want to dip the balls. In the top of a double boiler or a clean wide mouth class/china jar or bowl set in a simmering water bath, melt dipping chocolate stirring to keep liquid. IMPORTANT, do not let any water come in contact with this chocolate or it will ruin it.

Once the truffles balls are chilled, using a fork or toothpicks, dip each ball in the chocolate, place on wax paper lined tray and return to refrigerator or freezer to chill for about 15 minutes.


As I've mentioned before The Spirit of Generosity does not have to cost money if you do not have much — just a little time.

Remembering our military personnel. It does not matter what your thoughts about deployment or politics are — supporting the moral of our soldier neighbors and family members is letting them know we are thinking about "them" — not anything else.

For several years now Xerox Corporation has hosted a site to send a postcard to Military personnel stationed around the world. The cards are drawn by children — the selections are patriotic to sweet — the service is free and you can send as many as you like. How neat is that!

Old Time Radio:

Burns and Allen took their original vaudeville routines, to radio and then on to TV and the audiences never stopped laughing at the subtle wit.

Gracie is up to her old tricks again and she won't tell George what she wants for Christmas. She writes out a list of clues to get George to guess what she wants but he's clueless. George is forced to pay Gracie 50 cents for each wrong guess that he makes, eventually he sends Gracie to the psychiatrist. Hans Conried and Gale Gordon also star in this episode. Listen free.

Merry 5th Day of Christmas!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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