Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fried Froot Loops

This weekend was the first Denver County Fair. Denver is both a city and a county, but doesn't have much in the way of a rural component. So the fair was pretty much about urban homesteading, with a high hipster quotient.

Sure there were some mini-goats, chickens and rabbits being shown, and judging of pies and preserves. But there was also a holistic pavilion, a concert by Devo (!) and this guy handing out fried cereal.

I thought he was just some random Denver wacko with a lot of enthusiasm for kitsch, but apparently he does this professionally.

Froot Loops fried in butter is one way to get everyone's attention (Day-Glo spray paint aside). I'm guessing a lot of kids are bugging their parents to try it at home now.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Brunch at Wild Eggs in Denver

We had a hankering for brunch and headed to Lucile's on Logan at Alameda, but the wait was something like 40 minutes, out in the heat. Instead we ambled over for a look at the new place across the street, where Blockbuster used to be.
Turns out this weekend is the soft opening for Wild Eggs, the first Denver branch of a Louisville, Ky.-based chain. It was by invitation only, but we were told we could eat at the bar, if we didn't mind slow service. Oh, and by the way? Breakfast would be on the house.
Sweet! We bellied up to the circular bar. I was trying to figure out why they would have such a fixture. Maybe just a design element to vary the seating options. I overheard one woman complaining vociferously about the uncomfortable bar stools, but I thought they were all right. The rest of the space is tables and booths.
The ceiling is high and the space is nice and airy, with artsy pictures of eggs on the walls and other eggy touches, such as egg-shaped salt and pepper shakers.

The menu is extensive. I was torn between the "ACE" of a "BLT" (Avocado, Cheddar, fried Egg, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato on toasted sourdough with skillet potatoes) and the Jimmy the Greek Frittata (Oven-dried tomato, kalamata olive, fresh spinach, onion, basil pesto, feta cheese and pepperoncini). I opted for the latter.
It was quite tasty! A little on the salty side, but anything with olives and feta will be. I ate it all. I liked the potatoes, too. Three pepperoncini was overkill for me; I think they could probably put one on there and call it good, or ask people if they'd like more than one (I hate to waste good pepperoncini).

The Sergeant had the "Violet You’re Turning Violet" (Three buttermilk cakes, blueberries, whipped cream and maple syrup. The name is a nod to Willy Wonka).
He thought the pancakes were quite good. Not too sweet. He also was impressed with the bacon we'd ordered on the side. "This bacon is perfect!"

We also had an "everything muffin," which is little bit sweet and a little savory. I think I would've like it more with some butter on it. The flavor was interesting but not what I was expecting.

Wild Eggs serves fresh-squeezed juice, and they've invested in a robot squeezer that's amazing. I took a video of it in action:

That's a $5,000 juicer, but considering how much juice they were processing, it will pay for itself in man-hours saved quite quickly.

Wild Eggs opens for real on Tuesday, Aug. 2. You can look at their website for hours and their menu. (I can't get their menu to display in Firefox, only Safari. Might be a problem on my end.)

Wild Eggs
300 East Alameda Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80209
303-744-EGGS (3447)

P.S. They do have a liquor license and what looked like a pretty interesting drink menu. I didn't take a picture since I thought it would be available online. I'll just have to go back!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Here there be dragons

I was sitting on the front steps this morning, waiting for a mouse to scamper by so I could get a picture, but those little buggers are fast.

Instead my patience was rewarded by a passing dragonfly.
He settled on faded iris stalk and posed with a saucy air.

"I'm ready for my close-up!"
Quite a different fellow from the blue beauty I captured three years ago (if you haven't seen that one, do take a look). As with the others, you can click on the photos to see them larger.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


This Western Tiger Swallowtail came flitting down to the echinacea in my front yard and obligingly posed for several dozen close-ups.
I was on the phone with Mom at the time (with a headset) and didn't notice until too late that the camera was on the wrong setting. So instead of a dozen awesome butterfly close-ups, I only have one OK shot. He or she took off just after.

Identification was easy because I remembered a similar butterfly on the Perennial Favorites website. Yep, it's the same one! You can click my photo to see it larger.

Another visitor to my front yard lately is a little brown mouse who has been busily harvesting the abundant seeds from all the flowers. He's too fast for photos but is surprisingly unconcerned about being seen otherwise. I just hope that he doesn't try to move indoors come fall.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blue something

I should know what this is, but I don't. We scattered a packet of mixed flower seeds and don't have the packet anymore.
Do you know what it is?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tidying up

It took me a couple of hours to reclaim the curb and walkways from the riot of both good plants and weeds. I feel a twinge of guilt ripping out "perfectly good" flowers, but really, I have no shortage of California poppies, bachelor buttons, yarrow, salvia and lamb's ears. And I like being able to get out of the car and up to the sidewalk without having to wade through a jungle.

Just when I was done, it started to rain. You can barely see a rainbow over the top of the house.

The weeds in front consist mainly of whatever comes through the cracks in the flagstones, some persistent grass, and the bane of my gardening existence: bindweed.
Can you spot it here? It's the pretty white flowers, like morning glory and in the same family. Unlike most weeds, it's not content to just grow wherever it can; it has to wrap around and through and over until it has thoroughly strangled all its neighbors.

It's like the kudzu of Colorado.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hoe hoe hoe

It feels a little like Christmas in July, with all this rain we've gotten and consequent garden abundance.
The vegetable garden is perpetually on the verge of being overtaken by weeds. The tomatoes really are taking off. I've been trying to stay on top of keeping them tied up to their towers. I need to stay on top of the weeding, too.

The squash plants are a little frightening in size. And we have a lot of mystery plants, thanks to the Sergeant's liberal sowing of old seeds. "We might as well use them!" he said. The brassica that this bee is enjoying is one of them. It might be yu choi.

The entrance to the hive is a constant traffic jam, with no air traffic controllers in sight.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I chopped the heck out of that fennel today, pulled out all the seedlings and tied the remainder up to the fence. I should've stayed more on top of it. There was one very dead perennial under it (I don't remember what it was), and a seriously struggling campanula and leggy artemesia.

The bees were all hovering around as I chopped, as if to say, "Hey, I'm still working on that!"
Sadly, that now-dead birch tree in the back yard is coming down tomorrow. I will miss its shade and its screening from the neighbors.

I'm thinking of putting a linden in its place.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I know dill can get quite large and weedy. Fennel is in the same family, and given a couple of years can turn into a real monster.
Yes, that's a six-foot fence! I planted this Florence fennel as a seedling and failed to harvest the root bulbs. I didn't imagine it would survive Colorado's chilly winters, but it has survived two and thrived. It has also produced numerous seedlings. I've given away some, and need to pull out others and eat them! I also need to hack back the main plant, as it is smothering others around it.
The coreopsis, or tickseed, being one. Or two, since I planted another right next to it, not realizing coreopsis and tickseed are the same thing. They're two different cultivars, though, and a mass of cheery yellow flowers is never amiss.
A little farther down the row is that monarda I posted about earlier. This is the same bloom I showed, a couple of days later.
It's really starting to take off, so I expect that next year it will be quite shrubby.

Yesterday I spent several hours removing more sod to make another perennial bed. My original plan was to just clear a ring around the peach tree we planted, but then I got ambitious. More on that later.

Back in my day ...

I took a little trip down memory lane today when Manisha posted a photo on Facebook of a Commodore Pet she encountered. The Super Pet was the first computer I learned how to use regularly. A college boyfriend introduced me to the engineering school's computer lab and showed me how to use a word processor. What? I don't have to retype papers to revise them? Awesome!

That was a very brief period in which you could wave an 8-inch floppy at an English professor and say, "My paper's on here but the printer's broken," and he would be impressed.

I also learned to play Adventure on the DEC-10 mainframe, and took part in the development of one of the very first social networks ... as a socialite, not a programmer.

Yeah, my geek roots go way back.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not a bee

A while back, I posted about a bee imitator that I thought was a syrphid, or flower fly, but it turned out to be a wool carder. Yesterday I found an actual syrphid on my daisies.
Though it buzzes and hovers like a bee, it does not sting or bite. The bee-like markings also help fool predators. The larvae eat garden pests such as aphids.
This one has a vertical black stripe, which drew my attention, and it has a white face and big fly-eyes. There's a poster of some Syrphidae on Wikipedia that shows some of the many varieties.

My garden sure is pollinator central!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back to blooms

Do you recognize this flower?
If you live out East or in other colder, moister climes, you probably don't see these much. It's a cactus flower, on a specimen we just planted a couple of weeks ago.
Our friend Bob gave it to us in trade for a bristlecone pine we ordered by mistake from High Country Gardens. We thought we'd ordered a dwarf tree, but the tag on what we got (Pinus aristata "Blue Bear") said it reaches 30 feet! Happily, Bob said he had a couple dwarf conifers he'd trade for it, and he threw in a couple of agaves and this cactus as well. I didn't dream that it would bloom so soon!
It has some pretty serious spikes, but it's the teeny barbed ones under the larger ones that will really getcha. (We both were "got" a little.)
We planted it in a rocky area near the street, where it gets plenty of sun but is well away from where anyone might step on it. The agaves and conifers are planted in the yard.

Thanks, Bob!

The opposite of flowers

When your house is more than 100 years old, you end up fixing stuff a lot. Often, you're fixing stuff that has already been fixed before, sometimes in the loosest sense of the word.

This is a long boring story with only two pictures, so move along if you're not into home repair.

We had a sprinkler leak but didn't know about it until I was in the basement one day and heard "drip drip drip." The ground was so saturated outside the window well that water was coming in. A stack of suitcases got wet. An old one on the bottom was moldy. I threw it out.

We got the water line repaired. The Sergeant cleared out the window well and discovered a huge gap under the window where the framing was missing. He fixed that and sealed all around the window.

A few days later, we noticed a little more water on the floor. "What the hell? Where's that coming from?" Hmmm. There were drips on the underside of the sewer pipe. We got a stepladder. The Sergeant climbed up and started laughing.

Yes, someone's long-ago half-assed repair on a large crack in the iron sewer pipe had finally failed. The crack was along the backside and the top of the pipe, high enough that only a little, um, liquid was sloshing out at a time.


The Sergeant wrapped plastic and duct tape around the pipe until a plumber could come replace the pipe with PVC.
Thanks goodness for that sprinkler leak!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Monarda "Gardenview Scarlet"

This bee balm is just about to bloom in a bright red that attracts pollinators. It's also called oswego tea, horsemint and wild bergamot (not to be confused with the tropical citrus plant that flavors Earl Grey). Click on the picture to see it larger.

I picked it up in May when Mom and I visited Perennial Favorites in Rye, Colorado. I plan to write about that soon. I think about it every time I check on the plants I got there. I did buy a few. You know I have no self-control.

(P.S. You can see this bud in bloom in this post.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

This is that mojito

The one I can't blame for ordering bulbs.
The bouquet is from our garden.
The picture is from my cellphone.

Pomegranate mojito
  • 1.5 oz. rum (I used Pampero Aniversario)
  • .75 oz pomegranate simple syrup (heat 1 cup pomegranate juice, stir in 1 cup sugar, cool, store in fridge)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 7-8 mint leaves
  • Fizzy water
In a tall glass, muddle the rum, lime and mint, add the simple syrup and fill the glass with ice, then add fizzy water and stir. Enjoy it after a long, hard day. Order some flower bulbs. Then go to bed.

My mouth, my money

I could blame the mojito, which is made with mint from this buried pot. Or I could blame you enablers out there (you know who you are). But really, it was my own decision.

Yes, I just pulled the trigger on an order of bulbs from Brent & Becky's. Lots and lots of bulbs, including five kinds of alliums.

"Aieeee!" says the Sergeant. "Then we'll have to plant them all!"

Yes, that's the plan.

Monday, July 04, 2011

A wee dram

We had some friends over to sample the Sergeant's Scotch collection, which is extensive but largely unopened. He gets a lot of liquor gifts through his work. We couldn't possibly drink it all ourselves.

Of the 18 bottles, six were sampled. The goal was not to try everything. We asked our guests to note down their opinions.

The Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban seemed to be the favorite: "Warm and mellow" "Yummy."

The oldest, a 25-year-old Gordon & McPhail Reserve, was deemed too strong and peaty, though with a little water it was good.

I liked the 10-year-old Speyburn, which was lighter than the others.

The 14-year-old Oban was also "harsh at first, then nice and sweet."

I made a big pot of green chili and there were plenty of snacks to keep the group from getting too tipsy. The lampshades remained on the lamps.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sweet surprises

I wasn't expecting to find any ripe raspberries for a couple more weeks, so it was a pleasant surprise to spot a little flash of red in the back of the patch.
There are a couple of canes that seem to have gotten a head start on setting fruit, thanks to the extra warmth thrown off by the cinderblocks of the raised bed they're behind.

Then there's the scruffy tree that I thought was a volunteer (and maybe it was?) that turned out to be a plum:
It's not terribly prolific, but maybe as it matures it will produce more.

Finally, the shrub that hasn't done much in previous years got an extra dose of watering this year thanks to a sprinkler leak. It has a ton of berries on it and I wondered if they are edible. So I went googling around.
Why yes, they're serviceberries! Otherwise known as juneberries or Saskatoon berries. I don't think I've ever eaten one, but I will as soon as these turn purple.

What does one do with serviceberries? Can you make jam with them?