Graham Crumb Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Graham Crumb Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies When I decided that I was going to bake these cookies, my initial thought was to hold off on publishing the recipe until Christmas. For me, graham crumbs conjure up images of Christmas. I guess that’s when my mom would use graham crumbs the most. Well, she did make a no-bake cheesecake almost every Sunday for dessert. That had graham crumbs. Maybe I’m wrong about them being a Christmas thing. So, I’m going to go ahead and publish this recipe now. Besides, I already have more than enough new cookie recipes to fill my Christmas quota! Chocolate Chip Cookies Yes, Dear Reader, you know I’m already busy at work on my third annual Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas series! The cat’s out of the bag now, but I think most of you already expect it to happen anyway. You know how much I love Christmas! And, I love graham crackers and crumbs, so let’s talk about this recipe! THE BOY WHO STOLE CRACKERS I remember when I was a kid, I would steal my mom’s graham crackers. If she was out of graham crackers, I would steal her graham crumbs. How could I help myself? They were so delicious! Besides, she’d never let us eat them because to her they were only meant for baking! I’ve shared with you before, Dear Reader, that I have never in my life tried a s’mores. Nope! Sure, we had backyard fires just like everyone else. We roasted wieners and toasted marshmallows. But, to this day, I’ve never paired a toasted marshmallow with a graham cracker and chocolate. Just a few days ago, we purchased a fire pit for our backyard. I have purchased marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. Even John.e, the vegetarian, will get to partake, because I managed to find vegan marshmallows! Our plan is to light a fire and makes s’mores in the evening on Canada Day. Chocolate Chip Cookies Finally, after over 40 years of feeling guilty about eating my mom’s graham crackers, I’m going to live my childhood fantasies! Come to think of it, I’m not sure I can remember any of my childhood friends making s’mores either. Were they just not a thing in 1980s Newfoundland? GRAHAM CRUMB CONSISTENCY There are really two options when it comes to making this cookie recipe. You can purchase the graham crumbs. Or you can make your own crumbs from graham crackers. To be…

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Buttermilk Dill Ranch Pasta Salad

I’m all about pasta salads. I can eat pasta salad every day. There’s just a few caveats. First and foremost, they have to be delicious. Texture is an absolute must. And, they have to be easy to make, inexpensive, and they must be still just as tasty the next day! The best thing about past salads is that they can be made ahead of time. You can easily adapt them to your liking too, because they’re very forgiving. And, it seems that everyone loves them! That’s probably why they are such a popular side dish at many restaurants, and certainly at every summer picnic or backyard bbq! IS THIS A COLESLAW OR A PASTA SALAD? You’ve got a keen eye, Dear Reader. Indeed this dish has the makings of a coleslaw, but it also has everything you need to make a delicious pasta salad. I’ve seen a coleslaw pasta salad circulating online for the past year or two. I tried the recipe once. And, we loved it. I just thought I could do better. I’m not being conceited! Really! I just firmly believe that a simple recipe is great, but you can always improve upon it. How did I improve on the original? I made a homemade dressing for starters. And I added dill to the dressing – lots and lots of dill! The original has carrot and cabbage. My version has jalapenos, red and yellow bell peppers, green onions, corn, and even chopped hard boiled egg! These are all simple ingredients, but they’re fresh and there’s a lot of them. They all work together to create a very delicious pasta salad. THAT’S A LOT OF CHOPPING! Yes, it really is. But, I love it. I find chopping vegetables to be very pleasing and theraputic. Not everyone agrees with me, so you can certainly take shortcuts. You can eliminate the need to chop carrots and cabbage. Purchase a bag of pre-chopped coleslaw mix at the grocery store. The 14 ounce package will give you pretty much the same amounts as if you were to cut whole veggies. Just dump in the entire contents of the bag! In some grocery stores, you can find pre-chopped carrots and peppers too. They can usually be found in the cooler section of the produce department. If you want to speed things up, you can opt for that route as well. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of…

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How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Off the Vine
Ripen Green Tomatoes

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Off the Vine

How to Use Fruit to Ripen Green Tomatoes You can ripen green tomatoes by picking them before the first frost of the fall season. Choose one of the proven methods that can turn green tomatoes into delicious red ones. Green tomatoes will continue to ripen after they've been pulled from the vine. You can speed up the ripening process by placing green tomatoes with  other tomatoes  that are in the process of ripening. You can also place them with fruit, such as a  yellow banana  or apple that hasn't finished ripening How to Tell If a Banana Is Still Ripening It's easy to tell if a banana is still in the process of ripening. You can find green tinges along the tips of the banana. Supplies for Using a Banana to Ripen Your Tomatoes Within a few days, of placing your green tomatoes with a ripening banana, your tomatoes will begin to turn red. Brown paper bag big enough for several tomatoes and one bananaGreen tomatoes1 yellow banana with slightly green areas Instructions Wash and dry the green tomatoes.Place the tomatoes in the brown paper bag along with the banana.Fold the end of the bag loosely closed and store in a warm dark place.Try to ensure the tomatoes aren't touching each other. Check on Your Tomatoes and Banana Be sure to open the paper bag to check that the banana hasn't fully ripened since it will attract fruit flies. If the banana no longer displays any green tinges, especially on the ends, replace it with a fresher banana still sporting a few green signs of ripening left to occur. Why Bananas Help Green Tomatoes Ripen The old tale that placing a tomato on your kitchen windowsill in the sunlight will make it ripen isn't true. That's because green tomatoes continue to ripen once harvested. Natural Ethylene Gas Responsible for Ripening Process The sun has nothing to do with the ripening. In fact, it's the gas, ethylene, is naturally produced by ripening tomatoes, bananas, apples, and other fruits and vegetables and is responsible for the ripening process, not the sun. Place Tomatoes and Bananas in Shoe Box If you have a larger amount of green tomatoes, you can us a cardboard box instead of a paper bag. Supplies Shoebox or boot boxGreen tomatoesFairly ripe yellow banana with some green areas Instructions You can place the cleaned green tomatoes in the shoe box. If you need a…

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What Are the Easiest Foods to Grow?

Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Your Home Garden You can grow different vegetables during spring, summer and fall to maintain a healthy supply of foods. Seasonal eating has regained popularity and makes homegrown vegetables more fun to plant and harvest. Beets The root crop, beets thrive in spring and early summer and the fall. You'll most likely harvest your last crop in mid-June and begin harvesting again in late September or early October. Maturation is usually between 55 to 70 days, depending on the variety. Plant succession crops every week to ensure you have all the beets you want. When you harvest, don't throw away the leaves, which are delicious and very nutritious. Carrots Carrots are simple to grow. Make sure the soil is loose enough to allow this root crop to grow freely. You'll want to grow in the spring and early summer since carrots don't tolerate summer heat very well. Your last harvest will most likely be mid-June. You can plant your fall harvest toward the end of July for an October harvest. Check your seed package for maturation dates and plan accordingly. Cucumbers Cucumbers can be grown vining on the ground, but for best results try growing vertically. Cucumbers don't like wet soil, so water regularly but just to keep the soil slightly damp. Harvest daily to keep the cucumbers producing. Cucumber production begins to slow midway through the growing season. You can breathe new life into your plants by sprinkling 2-3 tablespoons of Epsom salt on the ground around the plant. Garlic Chives Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) is perfect for anyone who wants the taste of garlic in a convenient clump-forming plant that won't overtake your garden. This plant is part of the onion family, although you can't eat the bulb like an onion. Instead, you'll harvest the grass-like long shoots. Just cut what you want, and this perennial will keep producing all summer and year after year. It may just become one of your favorite plants. Green Beans Bush or pole green beans are an easy food to grow. Bush green beans tend to continue producing through summer heat better than pole beans. Most beans stop growing when temperatures reach 98°F and higher. As soon as the temperatures drop to the mid-90s, the plants began growing/producing again. Make sure you check beans daily for harvesting since they grow very quickly and the more you harvest, the more they produce. Lettuce If you love salads,…

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Very Berry Virgin Mojito

I hate summer – really, I do!  But, that’s no excuse not to partake in a refreshing and delightful summery drink like this Very Berry Virgin Mojito.  Before you get your knickers in a knot, yes, you can most certainly undo the virgin part by adding a good splash of rum! WANT AN ALCOHOLIC VERSION? JUST ADD A SPLASH OF RUM! As for me, John.e, and of course, McKenna, we like our drinks to be virgin.  John.e and I never consume alcohol. He doesn’t like the taste at all. And, I tend to be very picky with what I like and dislike. No matter the type of alcohol though, I will immediately break out in sweat. I get so overheated on just a sip or two. For those reasons, we tend to make virgin drinks only. Because I am not very well versed in the amount of alcohol to add to a drink such as this, I had to research it. From what I can tell, most people add just one shot of their favourite rum to one cup of the mix. Does that sound right to you? It sounds like a lot to me, but then again, I have no experience with it. When it all comes down to it, the amount of alcohol you use is up to you. It’s all about personal tastes after all! HYDRATION IS IMPORTANT! I love to sit outside on a hot day with an ice-cold beverage.  Last year, I was big on the Sweetened Peach Iced Tea, but this year, I think the virgin mojito has won me over.  I love the bright, crisp flavour of the bruised mint leaves, and the pop of colour and burst of flavour from the raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. We’ve been drinking more lemonade and limeade type drinks as well. I think my favorite was the Strawberry Lime Lemonade, but the Old Fashioned Limeade and my Homemade Lemonade were delicious too. I can’t decide! Summer drinks have to be tasty. They need just the right amount of sweetness. I think that too much sugar in a drink ruins the taste of it and makes one feel bloated and tired. There’s no room for being tired in the summer! We’ve been enjoying these mojitos so much in fact, that I’ve made it my mission to find a winter version of a virgin mojito so that I don’t have to wait until next summer to enjoy another…

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HOW TO GROW PLEIONE ORCHIDS

Learn how to grow Pleione orchids indoors or outdoors with this easy to follow gardening guide. Pleione orchids, also known as “windowsill orchids”, Glory of the East, Indian Crocus, and Himalayan Crocus, are known for their large, oversized flowers and their small stalks. Unlike regular orchids, Pleione orchids have annual pseudobulbs, which means they only grow for one season and then need to be replanted again next year. The Pleione orchid can be grown either indoors or outdoors. Growing Pleione orchids indoors is similar to growing regular orchids. Outdoors, these orchids are hardy to about 5F, and if taken proper care of, can usually survive mild winters. THE ORIGINS OF THE PLEIONE ORCHID Pleione orchids are native to Nepal, China, Taiwan, and Tibet. As such, they're usually found on moss, trees, and rocks. The enlarged flowers (3-4 inches across) will usually bloom in spring, with 2-3 more flowers blooming throughout the spring and summer growing season. Once the flowers fade, a single leaf will emerge and usually last all summer long. A new bulb forms at the base of each leaf, the leaves will die down in the fall, and the old bulbs will wither in the winter. HOW TO GROW PLEIONE ORCHIDS SOIL: For successful Pleione growth, ensure that you use a good quality potting soil with good drainage. Additionally, Pleione orchids should be placed in an area where they are sheltered from high winds. Mulch around the plant using pine needles to protect the plant during the winter. WATER & FERTILIZER: Once the bulbs are planted, water the soil immediately just until it is moistened. Then, do not water again until the soil has become completely dry. Overwatering Pleione orchids can result in root rot, which can kill the plant immediately. Once the plant has established roots, fertilize using a balanced soluble fertilizer. Do this while the soil is moist, but not wet. Be sure to only water in early mornings, while it is not too hot. Avoid watering completely in the winter. Once the flowers die, the roots start to grow. At this point, only water occasionally GROWING MEDIUM: You can also grow Pleione orchids in pots or containers, by following the same guidelines as above. Pleione orchids prefer mostly shade and do not do well in full sun. If grown outdoors, choose a spot where the plants will only receive 30% sun maximum. TEMPERATURE: In their natural environment, Pleione orchids prefer a climate that…

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What is Diatomaceous Earth? How to Use DE for Garden Pest Control

ave you heard about diatomaceous earth, or perhaps a recommendation to “use DE!” to solve a pest issue, but aren’t quite sure what it’s all about? You aren’t alone! DE is an excellent organic material to use in the garden (or around your homestead in general) but is often misunderstood.  Read along to learn all about DE and get answers to your frequently asked questions. This article will cover exactly what diatomaceous earth is, and how to use DE in your garden for organic pest control. We’ll explore what pest insects DE is effective against (or not), a few notes on safety and limitations, and how to apply it for the best results. What is Diatomaceous Earth (DE)?  Diatomaceous Earth, known as “DE” for short, is a very fine, chalk-like white powder. It is made up of the fossilized remains of single-celled aquatic microorganisms called diatoms. In a nutshell, it is ancient phytoplankton. Diatomaceous earth is found naturally in sedimentary rock and mined to use in industrial products, swimming pool filters, as an organic insecticide, in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and even in food. Like its many uses, diatomaceous earth comes in many grades. We always choose to use food-grade DE for our garden and chicken coop, which is the most gentle and safe form. Filter or industrial-grade DE has a significantly higher concentration of silica and is considered toxic to mammals. MY LATEST VIDEOS How to Harvest Greens Using the "Cut and Come Again" Method - for kale, chard, lettuce, & more! How Does Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Work to Kill Insects? The diatoms that make up DE have tiny rock-hard shells. Those shells are made of silica, which happens to be one of the hardest substances on earth. Fun fact: the Earth’s crust is 59 percent silica, and the main constituent of more than 95 percent of all known rocks. To us humans, diatomaceous earth feels silky smooth! However, when the powder comes in contact with certain target pest insects, the microscopically sharp edges of silica in DE creates hundreds of abrasions on them. The tiny glass-like shards deteriorates their body’s protective outer layer, making them desiccate – or dry out, and die.  Diatomaceous earth under the microscope. Image courtesy of David Siodlak via Wikipedia What Types of Pest Insects Does Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Kill? Diatomaceous Earth is effective against any insect that has an exoskeleton. This includes fleas, mites, lice, ants, millipedes, earwigs, cockroaches, silverfish, bed bugs, crickets, cockroaches, centipedes, pill bugs, sow bugs,…

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Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

Last weekend, while John.e and McKenna went into town to pick up pizza for dinner, I decided to make some appetizers. One of those was 3 Cheese Jalapeno Poppers. With quite a few jalapenos and lots of cheese on hand, I knew they would go great with pizza! The other appetizer I prepared were these Homemade Mozzarella Sticks. We are cheese lovers, so we could handle three food items with lots of cheese. You have live a little once in a while, right!? Besides, we have been staying at our house since the lock down started, so we can indulge a little. EATING IS WHAT I DO BEST LATELY! Everyone on social media seems to be talking about the fact that they are eating more now that things are at a standstill. The same applies to me. There are a few reasons for this. First, I blog about food, so I’m always baking or cooking something. Seriously, Dear Reader, I prepare recipes every single day. When we were told that we could start working from home, we packed up our computers and the cats and all three of us headed to the house. After all, there was really no reason to stay in Toronto if we didn’t need to be at the office. The problem with being at the house though, is that we are in the country. We have been at the house since March. Do you know what the country in Canada is like in March and April? Cold!!!! So we stayed inside. We worked during the day and watched movies at night. All the while, we ate. Here we are in July and we are still at the house. I’m still eating. My clothing is growing smaller. But yet, I continue to make foods that I know I shouldn’t be eating – like these mozzarella sticks! But, I can’t resist! They are so delicious! CHEESE STRINGS ARE THE BEST! If you decide to forget about your weight for now – like I have! – and you want to make these mozzarella sticks, there are a few things you should know first. The most important thing to consider is the cheese. Cheese strings will make your life so much easier! It might be just me, but I find cheese strings to have less oil content than regular brick cheese. This means that they will meltdown better and become gooier. If you’re in a…

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Classic Ermine Frosting

When I was younger, my mom would often make a cake on the weekends. She loved to bake and would make many cakes from scratch. I have fashioned my Tomato Soup Cake after her version. And she would make Gumdrop Cake quite often too. But when it comes to regular, everyday baking, she would just break out a boxed cake mix. It was very rarely chocolate or vanilla though. Nope, she preferred the flavoured cakes. Should loved the yellow cake, and she would make the cherry chip cake often enough. Whatever flavour she picked, it was topped with one of two things. The first was Dream Whip. There was always a box of that in the cupboard. If it wasn’t that, it was Ermine Frosting. Of course, she never used the word frosting in her life. She called everything icing. I remember mom using the flour-based frosting, but it took me years to track down the recipe. Finally, here it is in all it’s glory! WHAT IS CLASSIC ERMINE FROSTING? I’ve tried to put into words – to describe – what this frosting is, but I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. I found this description on the Wilton website and it describes it perfectly! It is a French-inspired topping that is smooth and rich. The flavour is very similar to a cream cheese frosting. Known also as heritage frosting, boiled milk frosting, and flour buttercream, it is firm enough to hold its shape, but can also be used as an airy filling. This unique twist on vanilla buttercream frosting is light, not as sweet and also egg-free. It’s perfect for pairing with rich cakes like red velvet, butter, or chocolate. Although it takes a bit longer than other frostings to make, it’s simple to whip up and pipes beautifully. A FROSTING BETTER THAN THE REST To be perfectly honest, Dear Reader, this frosting is just plain wizardry. If you make it, you will know exactly what I mean. When you see the gloppy, glutenous mixture from the boiled flour and milk, you might be tempted to toss it out and start again. But, don’t – it supposed to look like that! The secret to making this frosting super creamy is to cook the flour and milk mixture until it becomes extremely thick. To do this, you will need to stand over the pot for the entire 20 minutes. You need to keep…

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Sweet Jalapeno Pork

It seems that I cannot get enough of jalapenos lately. I’ve been experimenting with them a lot. If you’re a Lord Byron’s Kitchen fan, you might have noticed that I have been posting jalapeno inspired recipes lately. I swear, I’m almost over it! What happens to me quite often. I will find a new ingredient and I’ll run with it until I grow tired of it. I’m doing it with jalapenos now, but I’ve done it before with shallots, butternut squash, and even Brussels sprouts! But, I think jalapenos have been winning in terms of recipe popularity. It seems that everyone loves jalapenos! Once you’ve finished with this recipe, I encourage you to consider my 3 Cheese Jalapeno Poppers, these Jalapeno Corn Muffins, and also, my Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad. If you’ve never grilled jalapenos before, you must try it! FRYING JALAPENOS In this recipe, the pork and the sliced jalapenos are tossed in the same batter and fried in the same manner. I sliced the jalapenos about 1/4 inch thick and left the seeds in. As you know, Dear Reader, it’s the seeds that make the jalapenos spicy. If you remove them, the jalapeno is mild and sweet. Because I wanted the spiciness, I left the seeds in. If you want to remove the seeds, I would suggest you prepare your jalapenos differently. Rather than slice them, cut the jalapeno lengthwise. Remove the seeds with the back of a spoon. And then you can cut the jalapeno into chunks. Don’t be tempted to dice the jalapenos. If you do, they will be hard to fish out of the frying oil! Also, because the jalapenos have moisture content, they will not be crispy when fried. So, don’t think you’ve done something wrong. The batter will crisp up, but the jalapeno itself will be soft. THE BEST CUTS OF PORK FOR THIS RECIPE When using pork, there are three cuts that are very popular. The first is pork tenderloin, the second is pork butt, and the third is pork shoulder. You can use either for this recipe, but I used pork butt. If you decide to use pork loin, keep in mind that it’s a leaner cut and can easily be overcooked and tough. Pork butt, because of the marbling and fat content, will most always be the safest choice. Pork shoulder will promise the same result. Just an FYI, pork butt is sometimes called Boston butt. Likewise, pork shoulder…

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Chicken and Asparagus Teriyaki

This is one of those recipes that I threw together for myself one night and loved it. Sometimes, I swear, I put more thought into what I’m going to prepare for John.e than I do myself. Being that he’s a vegetarian, it requires more thought and more planning. One particular night I had dinner all planned. But I forgot about what I was going to have. I had chicken and asparagus in the fridge. There was also a jar of my homemade 10 Minute Teriyaki Sauce. That’s pretty much all I needed to make this delicious stir fry. Let’s talk a little bit about the ingredients, and then I’ll tell you all about my homemade teriyaki sauce. You should have a jar of it in your fridge at all times. It’s so versatile! CHICKEN BREASTS AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS Our fridge is never without boneless and skinless chicken breasts. Yes, I know they can be quite boring. But, they’re also quite fast to cook. Chicken breasts have a bad reputation for being dry. But, that’s only because they were not prepared properly. Chicken breast meat is very lean, healthy, and high in protien. That leanness is exactly why the cook up very fast. Because they cook fast, they’re also very easy to over cook. Nothing is worse than over cooked chicken breasts. That’s why they get dry! The secret is to preheat and to cook over a very hot heat. When baking chicken breasts, I season them and place them on a baking sheet. I preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chicken goes in for exactly 25 minutes. If they’re really big, I leave them in for 30. But, never longer than that! If I’m frying them, the pan is really hot. I toss them in and move them around. And, I never overcrowd the pan, because they will not brown fast enough, which means I have to cook them longer to get the desired look. You can use chicken thighs for this recipe. They’re great with this! I used chicken breast only because it’s what I had and they’re leaner and healthier. CHOOSING THE RIGHT ASPARAGUS For this dish, you want asparagus that is not too thick and not too thin. Thick asparagus will take longer to cook in order to get rid of the woodiness. Too thin and it’s going to overcooked and limp. This is exactly how I choose the right asparagus. I…

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HOW TO GET RID OF POWDERY MILDEW
HOW TO GET RID OF POWDERY MILDEW

HOW TO GET RID OF POWDERY MILDEW

If you're here, you may be wondering how to get rid of powdery mildew. But, what is powdery mildew? Powdery mildew is actually a group of fungal diseases that usually develop in warm, humid weather. It is one of the most common and most noticeable fungal diseases in plants, and today we'll show you how to get rid of it once and for all! Surprisingly, almost no plant is immune to powdery mildew, and there are a few plants that are especially susceptible to this disease including cucumbers, squash, grapes, lilacs, phlox, and roses. WHAT IS POWDERY MILDEW & HOW TO RECOGNIZE IT As you may have already guessed from the name, powdery mildew looks much like a powdery deposit on the leaves and stems of plants. Sometimes, these deposits are in splotches, and sometimes, they're blanketed on. These are a number of different powdery mildew fungi, but they're very hard to tell apart because they all look the same. Powdery mildew will usually start underneath the leaves, and can also spread to the flowers, fruits, and buds, before finally depositing onto the tops of leaves. The interesting thing about powdery mildew is that it can be plant-specific. A different type of powdery mildew will affect your cucumbers than your roses, for example. That means, that for the most part, the powdery mildew fungus affecting your cucumbers cannot affect your roses. POWDERY MILDEW SYMPTOMS Thankfully, powdery mildew is not usually fatal to the plant, unless the mildew is not treated. Just like a human body, the plant will weaken and therefore be susceptible to other, more fatal diseases, if not treated. If powdery mildew is not treated, the plant will also not be able to grow properly, and this is especially important in edible plants such as fruits and vegetables. These types of plants need photosynthesis, and with powdery mildew on the leaves, that can be very hard to achieve. In turn, the number of sugars produced will diminish, which can deeply affect the flavor of the fruit or vegetable. Additionally, if the buds of a plant become infected before flowering, the plant may not set fruit or bloom at all. Pale yellow leaf spots.White and powdery spots that can affect the tops of leaves, underneath the leaves, the stems, the flowers, the buds, and the fruits.Large, white and powdery blotches that can cover certain spots or entire areas. CAUSES OF POWDERY MILDEW Unfortunately, powdery mildew can happen…

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Red Berry Swirl Tartlets

In the world of food blogging, Canada Day is one particular celebration that’s almost completely void of food that mimics the colours and/or patriotic symbolism of this beautiful country. Here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen, I have a few recipes that celebrate America’s Fourth of July. So, this year, I decided to up my Canada Day recipe game as well. ARE CANADIANS AS PATRIOTIC AS AMERICANS? Using the word patriotic to describe Canada is not something I feel really comfortable with doing. It’s not that Canucks aren’t a proud people; I think it’s the fact that Canadians are modest and humble. Of course, I’m not stating that in contrast, Americans aren’t those things as well. But, it seems that America loves a good excuse to host a party! You must admit, my Dear American Reader, the Fourth of July is a huge deal for you. Just a few years ago, while writing up a recipe, I found some facts about America’s Independence Day. I stumbled upon a fact sheet which I found extremely interesting. The website had compiled a list of Fourth of July food consumption. THE TRUTH IS IN THE NUMBERS Americans consume around 155 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July.  They also spend 92 million dollars on chips, 167 million on watermelon, and 341 million on beer. If you were to do the math, our numbers would be a small fraction of those. So, why is it that Canadians don’t celebrate Canada Day with more red and white food? Do a search on Pinterest for Canada Day food and then do another search for Fourth of July food. See the major difference? The only reason I can think of is that Canada Day is not usually celebrated like Independence Day. THE CELEBRATION IS DIFFERENT Americans tend to celebrate Independence Day with with fireworks. They have parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies. In addition, events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States take place on July 4th as well. In contrast, Canadians usually celebrate Canada Day with fireworks and live music. Large outdoor concerts featuring some of Canada’s best musicians and singers are a very common attraction. In smaller towns there might be a parade or a community volunteer-based pancake breakfast. It is surely not a large spectacle like it is for our neighbours to the south. THE RED, WHITE,…

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Puff Pastry Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts

If you’re a loyal reader, you will mostly like know already that home for me is Canada. To be more precise, we call Toronto home. There’s a positive side to living in a metropolis. Everything is readily available and pretty much at your finger tips. But, I long for a quiet life in the country. But, just because I live in Canada, that does not mean that I cannot celebrate and prepare a recipe for Independence Day. I love living in Canada, but I’m very much drawn to the United States. You know, Dear Reader, that I have a weakness for shopping and for country decor, and I find those things in the US. I have a full on love affair with Trader Joe’s (which we don’t have here in Canada) and I love Target and Barnes & Noble. In addition to my attraction to obviously materialistic things, a large portion of subscribers and readers of Lord Byron’s Kitchen resides in the United States. So, for those readers, I prepared these delicious and super easy Puff Pastry Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts. (Don’t worry, my Canadian readers, there’s a special Canada Day-based treat coming for you in a few days!) STORE BOUGHT PUFF PASTRY BECAUSE WHY NOT!? So, let’s talk puff pastry. First of all, let me just go on record and state that I have never, and probably will never, attempt to make puff pastry from scratch at home. It’s a skill that takes time to master and I have not yet mastered a simple pie crust, so I’m not about to attempt puff pastry. WHAT IS PUFF PASTRY? Puff pastry is a light, flaky, and buttery dough. It is thin layers of dough separated by a thin layer of butter. The dough is rolled out with a rolling pin and a layer of butter is smeared on top. Then, it’s folded over and rolled out again. This process is repeated over and over. Commonly, puff pastry can have up to 1,000 layers! Do you see why I’m not attempting to make it from scratch? Once puff pastry is baked, the butter melts to create steam. This is how those flaky layers are formed. Each layer of dough is separated from the next to create a puffed dough that’s golden brown and super delicate. You can buy puff pastry in the frozen section of most grocery stores. Look in the pie crust and cool whip section of…

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HOW TO PREPARE SOIL FOR GARDEN

If you're deciding to grow a vegetable garden, knowing how to prepare soil correctly is crucial. But did you know that the best time to prepare the soil is at the end of the growing season? Depending on where you live, this will usually be in early or late fall. Preparing soil during this time will enrich the soil for the next season, in spring. Today we will share some tips and tricks with you where you can first identify the type of soil you have the things you can do to prepare it for the next growing season. Before we get into that, let's take a look and see why preparing soil is crucial. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD SOIL? If you're new to gardening, you may think that you can just plant directly in the ground, in your backyard. But, that may not be the case. Gardening soil is not just dirt and pebbles – it's usually amended with minerals and nutrients which your plants feed on. Just like we need nutrients to grow and survive, so do plants. Providing them with a nutrient-rich soil is very important, especially if you're growing edible plants, such as herbs, vegetables, or fruits. So how can you make good, quality soil for your plants? First, you'll need to test your soil's pH. DO A SOIL TEST Before you go ahead and amend your soil, it's very important to test the soil yourself, to see exactly what type of soil you already have. Knowing that you can then go ahead and add the nutrients that the soil may be missing. There are a couple of ways you can do this: Purchase an inexpensive soil test kit from your local nursery, hardware store, or online.Test the soil yourself with an at-home soil pH test that's cheap and quick. This method uses baking soda and vinegar. WHY DOES A SOIL TEST MATTER? Knowing what type of soil you have is crucial to know what you can and cannot grow in your garden. Additionally, it'll help you understand what type of minerals and nutrients your soil may need. Knowing the soil's pH will help you determine what you can grow in it. Blueberries, for example, prefer more acidic soil, while alkaline pH soil is best suited for brassicas such as cabbage.By knowing whether your soil is neutral, acidic, or alkaline, will help you determine what type of amendments to add to the…

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