C is for Cranberries

It is cranberry season. Yum! I would like to share two of my favorite cranberry recipes and my budding ideas about growing cranberries in my garden.

First, I am sure you understand why I try to eat foods that are well known as cancer fighters. Cranberries are one of these foods. They are high in antioxidants, known to reduce inflammation and are high in Vitamin C. As you know cranberries are tart and not sweet at all, obviously they aren’t really edible fresh. I am searching for more recipes that include cranberries (share your ideas with me by posting a comment). I also try to freeze several fresh bags of cranberries for later use when fresh cranberries are no longer in season.

Here are two of my favorite cranberry recipes:

Cranberry Sauce

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (you can use store bought but do not use frozen orange juice)

1 cup of honey or sugar (can be reduced by 1/2 but the flavor will not be as good)

1 bag fresh cranberries (sorted, washed and dried)

1/4-1/2 cup water (depending on the thickness you like)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a saucepan combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve in a white serving dish and it will look fantastic on your Thanksgiving table.

Cranberry Muffin Pudding with a Butter/Cream Sauce

Muffin Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 can evaporated milk

1 bag fresh cranberries (sorted, washed and dried)

Sauce

1 stick real butter

1 cup sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup eggnog (Optional add only if you enjoy eggnog) This add came from this past weekend when we forgot the cream and only had eggnog. We used it and it was actually delicious!

Muffins

Combine all the ingredients except the cranberries. Hand mix. Add the cranberries and mix again. This recipe is best if mixed by hand as over mixing can occur. Using a muffin or ice cream scoop to fill each muffin tin full of the batter. Bake on 350 for 18 minutes.

Sauce

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Serve the warm muffins with the cream sauce drizzled on top. Don’t be skimpy on the sauce.

Adapted from a Recipe from my mother-in-law Susan Stallings

Growing cranberries in your garden:

Finally, here are my ideas about growing cranberries in a home garden. Watch the three YouTube’s below if you are interested.

How cranberries are grown.

American cranberry or high bush cranberry

Growing cranberries in your garden

What I learned from a small amount of research is cranberries do not grow in water but the plants are bogged with water twice a year on large commercial farms. Cranberries make great ornamental plants in containers or as ornamentals along pathways or entry ways. The typical cranberry plant takes about eighteen months before it will produce fruit. There are many varieties of cranberries, one I would like to try growing is called the American cranberry. It is actually not a cranberry but resembles one. It is a bush that can get up to 15 feet in height. I am hoping to try cranberries starting early next spring. Enjoy cranberry season.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sharing Seeds Near and Far

Our gardens contain an ever changing assortment of experiments. Perhaps one explanation for my love of gardening is because it is so connected with my passion for learning and continuous improvement. Much of my learning comes from discussing ideas with other avid gardeners. I also read books, magazines and blogs about gardening, and I follow the progress of numerous gardens and their gardeners by witnessing the happenings they post to Instagram. I also learn all that I can about new plant varieties and new culture techniques, which I put to use where beneficial. I’m filled with curiosity as I peruse favorite seed catalogs, talk with friends about their gardens, or as I read of recommended varieties from contacts on social media. While I have a number of regular go-to varieties that I tend to plant every year, I make room for growing varieties that are new to me. Would gardening be so engaging if we planted the same things every season?

Buying a packet of seeds for everything I’d like to trial would get costly. Growing just a bit of so many seed packets would get expensive! While I do grow a large garden, the quantity of seeds in most of the seed packets is far more than I could use in a season or two. Instead of letting these seeds age and go to waste, I share seeds with other gardeners. I meet annualy with a colleague at work who also likes to grow vegetables. We talk about what we hope to grow in our gardens during the coming season. Where our plans overlap, we decide whether we could share. Knowing what my friend plans to buy and would be willing to share enables each of us to buy fewer seed packets. Once our seed orders arrive, we get together in person, where to the outsider we probably resemble two little kids at Christmas. We divide up the packets and talk excitedly about our plans for the spring.

pumpkin-seeds-1738174_1920

Many of us have local seed exchanges and swaps in our areas attended by many people with a similar desire to experiment and share. I have attended one each spring for the past few years. I shared seeds that I had saved with other attendees, which was exciting. I also came home with more than a dozen new varieties from other gardeners in attendance to grow in my garden.

Last month I participated in a virtual seed exchange. The participants were all enthusiastic gardeners who came together because of an Instagram post. There were 130 participants from 36 different states. Two individuals organized and “hosted” the swap. Participants sent in 22 packets of seeds and a check for return shipping. We were shipped a box of 22 various packets in return. So many possibilities!

National Seed Swap Day is coming up January 30th. Do a bit of research in advance so you can plan to attend a swap in your area.

Grow well,

The Midnight Gardener

A previous post about this topic: Start With Good Seeds

  Three Years and Thriving

I have walked down this long, drafty, hospital breezeway too many times; some times moving very slowly, such as during periods of recovery, and other times suffering considerable anxiety. Last Friday I walked away with resolute purpose. Moments before I had met with my thoracic surgeon to review my CT scans, which I am excited to share indicate that I am clear from any sign of cancer! As I was departing, a feeling began to spread within me, one I recognize–it was a realization that I am beginning to thrive.


Recovery for cancer patients is not simply a physical recovery, it is also an emotional, and a very much a mental recovery too, and these last two take much more time than the physical healing alone. I have come to understand from my own experiences that any trauma our bodies go through affects our whole system and it takes time and work for these to adapt into their new normal state. Patience is required of caretakers (my family) and of the patient themselves. If you know anyone that is recovering or in treatment, I highly recommend the book After Cancer Care, written by three oncologists.

I do feel pleased “with me” right now, in part because I have taken time for myself,  and you know for the first time in so long, I feel I am starting to thrive. Yesterday, for example, I had been working on a piano piece to accompany my daughter and a friend. I have never been able to play for others without anxiety my whole life–not even during practice. After my cancer surgeries and treatment, I stopped playing all together. Yet today I played one whole song through without stumbling over the notes. All this time I just thought I was an untalented piano player who could not focus long enough to practice well. It was an overwhelming feeling to realize, “Hey, I may have some talent in me after all!” 😊

Before I started to take time for myself I was merely getting by, just trying to survive. As I am recently focusing more on caring for myself, not being self-absorbed, but taking the time to ensure that my whole system is functioning at it’s maximum potential, I am starting to feel that I am entering a thrive-mode instead of just a life spent surviving.

My take away from year number three is this: It is okay to love yourself enough to ensure that your mind and body are well cared for! If you are limiting yourself to just surviving, this is a sign that you may need to make time for your “whole person.” Listen, I know we have so many things to do and so many people that need us, but when we give time to ourselves we actually become more capable of giving to others in a way that is useful and helpful because we are well.

Taking time for my whole self is little by little helping me to become a better everything to everyone! Perfect? Not a chance! Not even possible–but better? Yes! Celebrate with me year number three! My heartfelt gratitude goes to everyone who offered a prayer on my behalf.

My gratitude also continues to God for the miracle of life.

Live well.

W is for a Winter-Ready Garden ❄️

It is time to begin garden preparations for winter. In the fall, there are a few preparations that are needed for the garden to be at rest during the winter and ready once spring arrives for another season. The principal activities involve cleaning up crop residues, cultivating the soil to remove weeds and shape the rows or beds, and feeding the soil by sowing cover-crops and/or applying compost.

Last year the rains came before we took these steps and when spring arrived, everything was a mess and my kids and I paid the price of endless hours spent weeding and preparing the garden. This fall we are trying a new technique. We purchased a massive tarp (24′ x 100′), and once an inch or two of compost is in place, we plan to fully cover our garden soil. The tarp will function as an occultation cover that should eliminate surface weeds and weed seeds, as well as create a rich environment for earthworms. Additionally, come spring, the plastic will allow us to plant the beds right away, rather than have to wait for the soil to dry out. What we have learned about this practice leads us to have faith that this method will prepare our soil to be weed-free, rich and fertile for a productive garden in the coming year.garden-1176406_1920 (1)

Due to a mistake on my part, this entry was published last week, before I had finished it. So, you got a sneak peak! Last week I was also sick with a stomach virus. My parents were visiting, so they took care of my kids as my husband was traveling for work. I was sick enough that I couldn’t get out of bed and I was unable to attend the performance dress rehearsal of the Ensign Symphony & Chorus, of which I am a member. As I was trying to fall asleep that night, I thought about all the work I have put into learning and memorizing the music, learning the lyrics and traveling back and forth to Seattle to practice. I was determined not to miss the performance! So I did what I was taught to do from my childhood. I asked my Dad for a priesthood blessing. If you don’t know what I mean by a blessing, and want to understand more then please click this link to learn about Blessings of God’s Priesthood Power. My Dad gave me a blessing and left the room so I could rest. Within myself I exercised my own faith to be healed, and I then fell asleep. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and I felt so much better.

What is faith? To me it is knowing that good will come no matter what happens to us. Live, die or suffer the challenges in between, good will come through faith in God and Jesus Christ. This simple faith is one of my greatest strengths. For me, the hard part has been developing a depth to my faith that enables me to believe that no matter what difficult winters I must go through, good will come of the trials.

Since my cancer diagnosis in 2015, I have struggled to keep the sunshine in my life when everything seems to be dark. I have been buoyed up by courage and faith. At times I have felt covered over by a large tarp within which the sunshine just cannot get in. I have often felt that the “me” within is working to outlast the winter, and to witness the snow and the cold turn to a beautiful spring. I am getting there little by little, day-by-day, continually working on my faith that no matter what, good and God will come.