Early Start

Since I was awake at 3:00 a.m. for the third time this week, I ended up with a little bit of time to write a blog post this morning.  Lisa's train doesn't arrive until around 3:30 this afternoon, and she says they left Sacramento late.  Amtrak says the train is still on time, but we'll see what the day holds.  In any case, I had some things to do this morning, and pretty much everything was finished before 8:30.  (No, I did not start at 3:00 a.m., but I was awake and up by 4:00.  Sheesh.  Not my plan, but there you go.)

Anyway...I wanted to tell you about the dessert I made for our dinner tonight.  This is the easiest dessert you will ever see, and it is so delicious and refreshing.  I'm talking about the Root Beer Granita Float.  If you love a good root beer float, you will love this dessert even more.  It requires two ingredients, and one optional ingredient if you're feeling fancy.  Here's how you do it:

Get yourself a big old two liter bottle of root beer.  I happen to like A&W because it says it's flavored with vanilla right on the bottle.  Maybe they all do, but anything with vanilla has to be good, right?  Besides, the other ingredient you'll need is some vanilla ice cream.  (Sounding better and better, isn't it?)

Pour half of the root beer into a metal 13 x 9 inch baking pan and carefully (so as not to slosh it over) place it in your freezer.

Check it about every half hour or so and when it starts to get slushy, start scraping it with the tines of a fork.

Keep checking and scraping until it reaches the consistency of snow cone ice.  Depending on when you're planning to serve it, you'll want to scrape it every so often so that it doesn't freeze solid.  Once it is at the right consistency, you won't need to check it as often.

The main goal is to keep it, um, fluffy.  

Meanwhile, pour the rest of the root beer into a sauce pan and boil it until it's reduced to 1/2 cup.

After about 40 minutes, mine was ready.

Let it cool, and then put it in some kind of container.  If you have one of these, it's a good choice, but something like a cream pitcher works just fine too.

The third and optional ingredient is a few of these Pirouette cookies.  I chose the vanilla ones because of the vanilla in the root beer, but any flavor would work.  These are going to be the "straws" for your root beer float.

When you're ready to serve it, place a scoop of the root beer ice in a rocks-type glass.  Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Then squirt some of your root beer syrup over the top.  Stick in a couple of cookies and there you go.  (Since I won't be serving mine until much later, I stole this image off the internet.)

This is so simple you won't even need a recipe, but if you want the recipe, you can find it right here.  It came from Bon Appetit.  I have served this quite a few times, and it is always a big hit.

So when I had that finished, I made some crab cakes to put in the refrigerator for dinner tonight.  I just need to make a quick salad, and dinner will be served.  After that I took the compost pail out to dump it.  Smitty ran up to greet me (he's been going since 4:00 a.m. too).  I was just dumping the compost pail, and went back inside.  He stood at the screen door and cried for me to come back outside.  Feeling pretty much done with what I needed to do, I decided to oblige the little crybaby.  Besides, he's awfully cute.  It was a good excuse to see how well my camera is working too.

We noticed that the artichoke plant has some artichokes on it.  I'm not sure these will ever be edible.  They look awfully wicked thorny to me.  Still, they are kind of cool.  If we don't eat them, they bloom into the most incredible prehistoric looking flower.

And there are a LOT of them.

Look at how tall this plant is now.  That is an 8 foot fence, and it's nearly as tall as the fence.

Erik keeps telling me to divide the plant, but I'm a lazy gardener, and so that ain't happenin'.

The plum tree is positively loaded with plums.  I keep checking the ground beneath the tree, and so far, I don't see any evidence that it's shedding its plums.  

Hello, my lovelies.  You are going to have a bright future...as chutney!

My dahlias are getting ready to open.  It seems early for dahlias, doesn't it?

The bluest of the blue hydrangeas is blooming.  This image doesn't do it justice because it's much more blue than it shows here.

Now here's something that will break your heart.  This poor cherry tree is not looking good at all.  (Thank you former tree service.)  It's hard to tell in this image, but only half the tree is affected.  If you look at the trunk, you'll see that it forks into two trunks about two feet above the ground level.  Only the trunk on the left side is affected.  The new and hopefully better tree guy came up and treated it.  It started looking worse, but he and I have communicated.  He says the dead foliage will fall off and new shoots will form.  No guarantees, of course, and the recent hot weather doesn't help.  We may lose this half of the tree, but it looks like the other side will be okay.

The other cherry tree is looking marvelous, but the new tree guy treated it too, as a precaution.

My little buddy was following me everywhere.  Occasionally, he rockets past me and dives under a bush or runs up a tree.

Both cherry trees have ripe cherries.  We never get more than a handful because the birds, squirrels, and raccoons always get the lion's share.  (No lions, as far as I can tell.)

There he is again.

The purple butterfly bush is in full bloom.

I can never get a very good picture of these, but I keep trying.

The raspberries are beginning to ripen.  We are always about a month behind anything that grows in the valley.

We have bunches of lavender, which I love.

Smitty likes it too.

Even Gracie came out to have a look around.  She is still considering the options for her first hork pie on the new carpet.  She's looking around nervously here because Smitty gets so excited when he sees her that he runs and jumps on her.  

Do you remember those Pink Panther movies?  (Please say yes.)  Remember how Cato would jump out at Inspector Clouseau at the most inopportune times?  

"Not now, Cato!"  That pretty much describes Smitty and Gracie's relationship.

Lying in the herb garden doing his impression of catnip.  (Ha!)

Our last stop was the greenhouse to check out the new plantings from yesterday.  I was glad I did because I cover the newly planted seeds with plastic wrap.  It keeps them wet because the moisture collects on the plastic and drips back onto the soil.  When the weather is especially warm, however, it weighs down the plastic and it falls onto the soil.  I can use stakes to keep it off the soil surface, and I needed to do that this morning.  Also, it gave me a chance to check in on the tomatoes.  They are getting huge, but they are going to get a lot bigger.

The first tomato is turning red.  These are sauce tomatoes.

And these are some slicers...bigger than my fist now.

And with that, I called it a morning.  I still have a few things to do, so I'd better get to it.  

He's looking pretty self-satisfied, isn't he?

Have a good day!

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I remember the Pink Panther movies - and the 'Cato' move!! And can relate that to poor Gracie and Smittie attacks.

Quilting Babcia said...

Your plum tree looks fabulous! Ours has probably a dozen plums that may make it to the ripe stage. The Granny Smith apple tree is loaded down and we'll need to thin them. Hork pie - bet she's saving that for Lisa's arrival! Have a wonderful time - this weather is perfect!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Our raspberries are ripening faster than we can pick them. The dogs just love them, and will pull them off the lower parts of the vine, and eat them. My Hibiscus is pink, not blue (something to do with the acid level in the soil)? I am NOT a gardener.

Sheila said...

Your gardens & greenhouse looks beautiful. I am sure they are a lot of hard work, but well worth it in the end. I think Smitty is trying to keep Gracie young :) Thanks for sharing.

Diane Wild said...

Love those early mornings. Best time of the day.

Jacque said...

Caa-to-o-o-o! (Scuffle, crash!) Love those scenes....I'm off to make a float, coke for me, instead of root beer! :)

Meg said...

The root beer float recipe sounds fabulous. Might have to try that next time we have company...

Love all your gardening pictures/posts. I don't garden at all but wouldn't mind it if the hubby was interested. Not at this point of our lives though - he travels a lot for business. You obviously have a longer warm season than we do here in MN.

You must be more of a morning person than a night person. I too, like you will wake up super-early but then I will get pretty tired at night, especially if I am sitting on the couch. Then I start to dose.

Hope you have a great time with your friend!


quiltzyx said...

MmmMMmmmmm that root beer granita float sounds divine. So do crab cakes. (Must be time for lunch!)

I hope the cherry tree makes it OK. Poor thing. All the other trees & plants look wonderful.

Gracie looks beautiful in the sunshine! Even if she is ready to leap away from Smitty! lol

Brown Family said...

I finally have one tomato. Mine are cherry 'sweet 100's', so one will not go far!

The desert looks yummy. Might have to try that!


Anonymous said...

I have never gotten one single cherry from my tree! The birds rule. I think that's happening with the blackberries, too. I keep meaning to put out bird netting, but .... Your raspberries look yum!

Kate said...

Hope your floats were just awesome, the recipe looks yummy. Beautiful garden shots. We've gone pretty much straight to dry and brown here.