When it comes to fall colors on trees, you have to admit that Liquidambar styraciflua is in the top 10 most colorful. Liquidambar styraciflua is commonly known as the American Sweetgum, a native tree whose star shaped hand sized glossy green leaves change to just about every fall color you can imagine! Sweetgums are moderately fast large growing trees, somewhat conical in shape, and have a unique corky grayish brown bark – very attractive tree! But the biggest drawback to Sweetgum – those corky seed balls which begin to drop late fall and thru the spring (perfect for making pipe cleaner spiders or as a repellent mulch to keep rabbits and other critters out of the garden – easily collected using a ‘Nut Wizard’). But do not fear, as there are new selections being grown today that are seedless or bear very little fruit. There are even Sweetgum with variegated leaves, some with rounded tipped leaves, some narrow growers and some dwarf. Take a look at ‘
You already have the limoncello recipe posted in an earlier blog – here’s the other three. These make awesome gifts poured into a pretty bottle (check second hand stores for some gorgeous, inexpensive ones).
From bestest and oldest friend, Carol Spry Vanover – this is absolutely delicious and just about guilt free!
SUGAR-FREE KAHLUHA – in Carol’s own words
Since I am conservative in more ways than one, and closely watch my sugar and fat intake, I love making this simple liqueur and using it as the base for one of my favorite drinks, a Smith and Kearns (at the bottom of this recipe).
2 ½ cups of water
3 cups granulated Splenda (not the packets!)
3 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bottle (750 ml.) 100-proof inexpensive vodka
In a large pitcher or measuring cup, combine the water, Splenda, coffee crystals, and vanilla. Stir until the coffee crystals and Splenda are completely dissolved.
Using a funnel, pour this mixture into a large capacity (1.5 liter or greater) bottle or measuring cup. I use an 8 cup capacity measuring cup. Pour in the vodka. Either cork, the bottle and shake, or stir, mixing well. If using a large measuring cup, using a funnel, pour into pretty bottles. This does not need to be refrigerated.
Note: Shake well before using each time. There is a sediment that is harmless, and readily mixes in each time.
Smith and Kearns: I like to call this “Bailey’s light”. In a highball glass, add ice, either crushed or cubes, and add enough kahluha to equal about 1/3 of the total, add fat-free half and half to equal about another 1/3, and top off with club soda. A delicious, low-calorie treat! It does taste a lot like a light version of Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Hot buttered cider
Add more or less of any ingredient, to your taste. This is a nice offering before the Thanksgiving dinner.
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 gallon apple cider
2 oranges, sliced and seeds removed
Dash or two ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, 3” long ea.
1/2 cup dark rum (optional)
Melt butter and add brown sugar. Add cider and cook until sugar is dissolved. Add orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks and rum. Bring to boil and then simmer 10 minutes. Serves about 10.
For those of you who prefer all the calories of the “real” thing, here is a simple, cooked version of kahluha. This takes a minimum of 4 weeks to “cure”.
4 cups sugar
4 cups cold water
2 ounce jar instant coffee
Fifth of vodka
In a 4 quart saucepan, combine the sugar and 4 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the coffee crystals a little at a time, stirring until completely dissolved. Lower the heat, simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hours, until syrupy. Let cool several hours or overnight, until room temperature. Pour the cooled syrup into a clean glass gallon jug. Add the vodka and swirl gently to blend. Let stand undisturbed in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 4 weeks.
Yield: ½ gallon
Amy’s Peppermint Schnapps
This is a nice one from friend and colleague, Amy Tobin.
1/3 cup sugar
1 16-ounce bottle light corn syrup
2 cups vodka
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
Chocolate Covered Peppermint Martini:
2 ounces Chocolate Liqueur
2 ounces Vanilla Vodka
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
Garnish: Finely chopped peppermints and a chocolate dipped peppermint stick
All-America Selections (AAS) judges have again finished a rigorous year of trialing and now the AAS Board of Directors is pleased to announce the newest AAS Winners. For the first time in AAS history, the organization is recognizing regional performance and granting an AAS Regional Winner designation to five new Winners:
The Regional Winners are:
Penstemon ‘Arabesque Red’ F1 (Heartland, Mountain/Southwest and West/Northwest)
Sunflower ‘Suntastic’ F1 (Great Lakes)
Cucumber ‘Pick a Bushel’ F1 (Heartland and Great Lakes)
Pumpkin ‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ F1 (Southeast, Great Lakes and Mountain/Southwest)
Tomato ‘Mountain Merit’ F1 (Heartland)
The entries that did well in a majority of regions are designated as traditional National Winners and those are:
Petunia ‘African Sunset’ F1
Pepper ‘Mama Mia Giallo’ F1
Tomato ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ F1
Tomato ‘Fantastico’ F1