Category Archives: garden seasons

joy in every season

Winter Magic

Life is magic.  Two days after the heavy winter storm, life proves itself.

winter aconite, eranthis in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And magic begins.

The snow has melted!  In just 2 days?  Even here on the coast, that seems crazy-fast.

I tentatively wander through the yard assessing the damage.

snowdrops galanthus primula wanda after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

My muscles certainly remember shoveling sidewalks & shaking shrubs.  But the winter blooms?  They’re like children in a hospital ward.  Perhaps a little bent & broken, but mostly they’re just happy to be alive and enjoying the sunshine.

snowdrops and primula after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The yellow cups of the winter aconite (Eranthis) don’t seem to have noticed they’ve survived 33 cm of snowfall since they showed themselves in January.   (That’s more than 12 inches – a full foot – – radical for balmy Victoria  BC!)

cyclamen coum in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The snowdrops (Galanthus) have also held up well.

The Primula Wanda leaves are super-sad, but who can’t smile at those tough purple flowers?

I hadn’t even noticed the crocus buds before the snow.  How did they arrive so quickly?

snowdrops galanthus after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The Cyclamen coum unfurl their petals as the sun warms them.  More blooms are on their way, too!  Soon they’ll be a mound of pink.

I’ve just gotta smile.

🙂

 

A Heavy Snow Load

It was a dark and snowy night…

This is not normal for Victoria.  The snow might be pretty but this is a rain-forest.  We’re not set up for snow.  Neither are our gardens.

the Yew bending under the weight of snow
photo by SVSeekins

Tonight’s concern is the snow load on the hedging.  It’s amazing how flexible some branches can be as snow gathers & literally weighs them down. But some wood fibers are breaking as the branches bend.  The sooner the weight is removed, the more likely a branch is to bounce back & resume its regular shape for good.

the Yew recovering from the weight of snow
photo by SVSeekins

Out comes my trusty rake.  Wielding it backward, I thrust the pole end into the lowest branches & give the shrub a light shake.

It’s best to start low & gradually work up.  Release the load from lower branches before risking adding more to them with the snow falling off upper branches.

Arbutus unedo bending under the weight of snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Once broken, there’s no mending a branch.  All those years of growing into a full-sized shrub…
the lovely shape…
our increased privacy…
can be ruined overnight.  Heart-wrenching.

Arbutus unedo recovering from the weight of snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by sVSeekins

Although hedgers like yew & cedar are especially susceptible, same goes for the broadleaf evergreens.  Rhododendron.
Strawberry Tree.
Camellia.

Flower buds are already well-formed on the rhodos & camellia.  So if I want many blooms this spring, it requires a delicate shake to remove the snow & only the snow.

After that, it’s good to head inside, dry off & treat myself to a hot chocolate (with Frangelico). After all, it’s a dark and snowy night…

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Cookie Press Magic

“Danish Butter Cookies” is one of my favorite Christmas baking recipes*.  I like to use it as a warm-up for some of the more serious baking.

Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

YOU’LL NEED:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour

TIP: The key to this recipe is to have the ingredients at cool room temperature.

If the butter is straight out of the fridge, it’s too cold.  BUT too warm isn’t good either.

mixing the butter & sugar, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

Forget about microwaving the butter for just a few seconds to take the chill out. The result is lovely, smooth dough which mushes into a mess in the oven.

I’ve learned to keep my hands out of the dough for the same reason.

STEP ONE – Cut the butter into small pieces.  Add the sugar.  Mix well.

blending the butter & sugar well, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

STEP TWO – Add the egg, beating until the mixture is light & fluffy.

More beating is better than less.  When I think it’s enough, I do it some more just to be sure 🙂  Using the electric mixer is super easy, so I’m not exhausting my arm like I’d be using a spoon.

cookie dough mixed, firm & not too soft, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

STEP THREE  – Slowly blend in the flour.

Slowly being the trick to stop the flour from flying all over the room when the mixer paddles hit it.  No need to over do it.

The dough should be firm & a bit crumbly.  I usually feel like I’ve added too much flour, but this is the way it needs to be to go through the cookie press well.

filling the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
Christmas Elf Barbara Hansen, photo by SVSeekins

STEP FOUR – Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
(190 C)

STEP FIVE – Fill the cookie press with dough.

Yup, I’m tempted to use fingers to stuff it all in faster, but a spoon is best for keeping the dough cool.

Pack in as much cookie dough as possible, pushing out air pockets.

filling the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

Screw on the top handle & click it a couple of times until the dough oozes through the cookie-form disc.  Click once or twice more to prove it flows smoothly.  Break off the excess & return that to the bowl for later use.

STEP SIX – Press cookies onto a ungreased cookie sheet.

using the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

One click –
One cookie.

The cookies will spread out only a little bit during baking so they can be arranged fairly close to each other on the pan.

It’s the quick flick of the wrist when shifting the press that breaks the dough cleanly between cookies.  If the dough is too warm, it’s not as easy.  When it’s all working, it’s like magic.  It makes all that prep work worth it  🙂

using the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

If it’s just not working & I’m getting really ticked off, I take a zen moment & eat a little cookie dough.  An easier option is to roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball with my hands & place on the cookie sheet.
Not as fun, but it works.  Less angst.

STEP SEVEN – Bake in a 375 F oven for 8-10 minutes.

Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

Yeah, that doesn’t seem like much time, but it works.  I watch through the window until there’s just a hint of brown along the edges. The cookies at the very front of this pan are over-done.

STEP EIGHT – Cool the cookies on the pan for a few minutes to let them stiffen.  Then shift them to a cooling rack.

Enjoy some yourself while they’re still warm 🙂

cookie forming disc selection for the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

* I copied the original recipe into my cookbook so long ago that I really don’t remember who or where it came from.  I can’t take credit for the list of ingredients, but I’ve embellished the instructions through many failures & successes. 

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