Luna Moth Or Not – You Be The Judge

This is what we saw out of the upstairs window.  Stuck to a piece of the house facing North.  It appears to be a Luna Moth.  Does it look like a Luna Moth to you?  It was also one of those full circle moments as well.  First a little about luna moths.  Actias luna, commonly known as the Luna Moth, is a lime-green moth in the subfamily Saturniinae.  It has a wingspan of up to four and a half inches,  making it one of the largest moths in North America.

Based on the climate in which they live, the Luna Moths produce differing numbers of generations.  In Canada and northern regions, they can live up to 7 days and will produce only one generation per year. These reach adulthood from early June to early July.  In the northeastern United States around Connecticut, the moths produce two generations each year.  The first of these appear in April and May and the second group can be seen approximately nine to eleven weeks later.  In the southern United States, there can be as many as three generations.  These are spaced every eight to ten weeks beginning in March.

When my brother and I were little boys in Iowa, my parents used to take us camping every weekend.  We had a nice fold-down camper and used to rent a space at a place called Roberts Creek.  Lots of families in their campers meant lots of fun for us over the weekend.  There was boating, there were bonfires, there was fishing and then there were the Mason boys.  The Mason boys were older and obsessed with butterfly and moth collecting.  My brother and I helped them catch butterflies and moths so they could mount them in shadow boxes.  They had quite a collection.  To this day, I remember my parents letting us stay up late so that we could rub sugar water all over walnut trees and return the next morning hoping that the area would be infested by Luna Moths.  To our dismay, there wasn’t a Luna Moth in site, but I never forgot the Mason brothers stories and pictures of these magnificent moths.  In fact, their stories made the moths sound so big that we were a little afraid of what we might see if they had come that sugary and cold morning.  I never saw one then or ever…until today.  It’s taken 40 years for one to show itself to me.

This is another example of when Nature does something that you never saw coming.  You have to really be in the moment to catch something so spectacular sitting on your house siding.  The Mason brothers would be proud.  I’m glad I can finally say I have seen such a magnificent moth.  Do you think this is a Luna Moth and, if not, what is it? 

New Additions In The Garden

This has been a terrible week for gardening.  We have had a solid week’s worth of rain.  Sometimes, we feel the best time to plant and garden is on days when there is no direct sun and a little drizzle.  This wasn’t the case the entire week.  Most times, the rain came down in a torrential downpour.  Crazy rain is tough for a gardener here in Connecticut at the end of May.  The end of May is when it is time to get most things planted in the soil.  We were getting nervous.  Finally, there was a small break and so it was time to run out and plant.

There are two new plants that we added into our garden that we would like to introduce.  The first is Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’ seen above in its new home on the far left.

The old-fashioned bleeding heart has been one of our garden favorites for years.  They are substantial plants that bear long, arching racemes of pink flowers.  ‘Gold Heart’ is the same classic beauty, but with one marvelous variation:  it has metallic gold leaves and peach-colored stems instead of the usual green.  Blooms start here in Connecticut in May and last several weeks, finally subsiding with the arrival of the summer heat.  They are long-lived, reliable and they will self sow.  We planted ‘Gold Heart’ beside its cousins.  Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ is in the middle.  ‘Alba’ produces white versus the more common pink flowers.  A regular Dicentra spectabilis finishes out the row to the right and is already giving us a show of beautiful pink flowers.

The next new member of the garden is Uvularia grandiflora.

Also known as large-flowered bellwort, Uvularia grandiflora is a plant in the family Colchicaceae, native to eastern North America.  It blooms in May, producing large yellow flowers.  The top parts of the plant tend to bend downward due to the weight of the leaves and flowers.  The light green stems are round and the leaves are perfoliate, meaning the stem appears to come through the leaves at the base.

We love planting new plants into our garden.  We especially like plants that are more on the rare and unique side, like the plants we just added.  There wasn’t much time for us to plant more than these two new additions into our garden.  Unfortunately, the rain returned.  We are going back to building our ark in the meantime.  Do you have any rare or unique plants that you like that you could share with us on Acorns On Glen?

Friday Dance Party – Revenge Wanted With Adele

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for living another week. We give thanks for making it through the journey and for being able to celebrate this fact.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  Sometimes life gets so hectic that you forget that you are so lucky to be on this planet.  Friday Dance Party just wants to make sure that you take that needed second to realize this fact.  We want to make sure you are truly living in the moment.  So, to that end, are you alive this Friday?  Have you given thanks for this?

Good, now let’s dance.

We want revenge on the weather this week.  OK, we did ask for some rain this week so that our newly seeded lawn could grow, but this is ridiculous.  All week, we have seen a downpour of rain.  Enough already.  Do we seek my revenge on the Weather Gods, the Weathermen and Weatherwomen on TV, Spring or maybe its evil cousin, Winter?  We don’t know exactly who we need to get our revenge on, but we do know that it needs to quit raining.  There is a garden to plant.  There are plants to trim and flowers to pick.  We can’t do any of this if we have to stay indoors and worry about building an ark or not.  We need to see some sun.  This crazy weather needs to stop.  While we’re plotting our revenge, we thought it would be perfect for us to dance to the revenge-tinged hit from Adele, ‘Rolling In The Deep’.  Whether it’s a love gone wrong or an overdose of bad weather, we need to get even with somebody.  Not sure we can outsmart Mother Nature, but we’re putting our money that Adele is more than capable of getting the revenge she is looking for from her ex-love.  So let’s celebrate another week of living with Adele.  Get to shaking and clapping and be happy that you made it through another week.  You deserve it.  Has it been crazy weather in your neck of the woods too? 

Chocolate Love In A Bowl

This is heaven in a bowl.  Warm, gooey chocolate with a blast of vanilla ice cream.  What could be bad with a dessert like this?  My answer:  Nothing!  If you are a chocolate lover, this dessert is perfect for you.  It is also pretty easy to assemble and bake which makes it a great choice when you don’t have a lot of time.  I’ve made this dessert for a while and I think I got it from an Anna Pump recipe.  Anna Pump is a wonderful chef, cookbook author, baker and innkeeper famous for her Hampton’s bakery, Loaves & Fishes.  She is not what I would call a “famous” food personality like a Martha or an Emeril, but she is often mentioned by many famous foodies as one of their inspirations.  If you don’t know about her, I encourage you to buy one of her cookbooks and enjoy one of her recipes.  She knows how to cook.  One taste of this Brownie Pudding and you’ll understand what I’m saying. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (I have also substituted 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract when I didn’t have a vanilla bean in the pantry)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish.  Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow.

Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside. 

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds and the cocoa powder and flour mixture.  Mix only until combined. 

With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.  Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan.  Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. 

A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean.  The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.  Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

The part I like about this dessert is the fact that it is part chocolate brownie and part chocolate pudding.  You sort of get the best of two chocolate worlds in one dish with this recipe.  If you are having friends over for dinner, this is a great one to serve…it always pleases.  We hope you like this dessert.  Anna Pump never disappoints.  What chocolate dessert recipes are your favorites?

The Italian Grandmother Makes Cauliflower Macaroni

 

This is another great recipe from our Brooklyn Italian Grandmother.  It is quick, simple and delicious.  It is perfect for a weekday supper when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.  It also doesn’t use a lot of dishes which is great at clean up time.  We call it cauliflower macaroni, but feel free to use broccoli or zucchini if you like.  Our Brooklyn Italian Grandmother has made this recipe for quite a while and it is one of our favorites.  Our recipe makes a generous portion.  It feeds 4 to 6 people, depending on how hungry the crowd.  There is something so good when you keep the ingredients simple and fresh.  However, while the dish is simple and delicious, feel free to jazz it up with a few pieces of jewelry like our Italian Grandmother always does.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 large heads of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped (use more or less depending on how much you like garlic)
  • 32 ounces of chicken stock
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 pounds penne or pasta of your choice (we used whole wheat penne)
  • Grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

Clean cauliflower by separating each floret from the stalk and wash under cool water.  Don’t worry about the size of the florets because they will break down when mixed with the cooked pasta at the end of the recipe. 

Clean and chop garlic cloves into small pieces.

  Hot Spring trend…pearls, diamonds and garlic.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add garlic.  Sautee garlic until it is a golden color.

Add cauliflower.  Fill the pan with plenty of cauliflower as it will cook down. 

  A trifecta….three rings in one shot.  Isn’t that Catherine Middleton’s engagement ring on one of our Italian Grandmother’s fingers?

Add chicken stock and the chicken bouillon cubes. 

  Diamond ring alert at 12 o’clock.

Place a lid on the skillet and simmer the cauliflower in the stock until it is very tender.  You can do this ahead of time if you would like.  When the cauliflower is tender, remove it from the burner and set it aside or use it immediately.  If you do set it aside, make sure to reheat before you use it.

Place pasta in boiling salted water and cook until done.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. 

Place the cauliflower and broth on top of the pasta and mix with a spoon.  When mixing, the large cauliflower florets will break down into more manageable pieces.  Serve the pasta with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes on top.

The pasta is so delicious because there is rich chicken broth at the bottom that is so flavorful after being simmered with the browned garlic.  The garlic and the stock also add so much flavor to the cauliflower as well.  The grated cheese and red pepper flakes also add their own special kick.  Again, if you are not a lover of cauliflower, try using broccoli or zucchini instead.  We’ve used them all and the dish is always good.  The worst part is this–do you use a spoon (for the broth), a fork (for the pasta/cauliflower) or both?  Do you have any easy pasta dishes that you would like to share on Acorns On Glen?

Power Gardening Before The Rain

This is the garden after a power gardening session that got as much as possible in the ground before the rain hit.  We knew we didn’t have much time on Saturday morning to garden as the weather channels predicted a downpour of rain at some point in the afternoon.  Mother Nature at her finest.  We were actually able to get a lot accomplished before the first raindrops came down.  Our garden probably doesn’t look any different to you than when you first saw our raised bed garden earlier this Spring.  However, this time it is filled with seeds.  There are zucchini and cucumber seeds planted around the wire trellis in the back of the bed, followed by green beans, turnips, golden beets and red beets.  All of these seeds got planted and covered and then the rain started.  We’ll be honest.  We didn’t exactly meet our goal.  We had also wanted to get some live plants into the ground that were scheduled for planting this weekend.  These were some of the plants that are growing under our grow light in the basement.  Our eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts will have to wait.  Darn rain…good for the newly seeded lawn; bad for the backyard vegetable garden.  Take a few minutes to see our vegetable garden work this weekend and also see our gorgeous azalea bushes in full bloom.

So we didn’t get all of our gardening chores completed this weekend due to the weather.  Good Old Mother Nature is the hardest part of gardening.  You never know if she will be too cold, too hot, too wet.  The odds are sometimes better in Las Vegas.  Did the weather get in your way of a full weekend of gardening?