Friday, February 18, 2011

Howdy Hellebore & Muffin Recipe

White Hellebore (Lenten Rose) in February
One of the earliest flowers in my garden is the Lenten Rose. I have a friend who has them growing in mass profusion in the shade under her forest of crepe myrtles. I just planted mine two years ago, and they love the dappled shade of my front fence garden. They are super simple to grow, will come back year after year with little care, and will multiply very respectfully. I love the glossy, dark leaves. My yard deer don't like them at all.

Hellebore in White
 You must turn the flowers up by hand to see their beauty.

Hellebore in Purple

Purple Hellebore Flower
 When I walked out on our back deck with my coffee this morning, the maple tree at the steps was humming. Upon closer inspection, I found that it had bloomed! Thousands of honey bees already knew that. I guess Punxutawney Phil was right after all. Happy Spring!

Maple Tree Flowers in February
It's still officially winter, but I'm really hungry for fresh strawberries. They're not in season yet here in South Carolina, and the grocery store strawberries don't even have an aroma so I won't waste my money on them. It's not yet time to turn away from the fruits of winter, so I think I'll use some of the oranges I have in the wooden bowl on my kitchen table, and fresh cranberries from the freezer to make muffins today. They will be sweet and orange-y and the pop of tang from the berries will be just right. These freeze really well, so they're great for making ahead. If you're alone or empty-nesters, as we are, just remove the amount you need from the freezer and microwave them a bit to warm them. They will be a perfect little breakfast with a cup of coffee or a cup of that raspberry tea one of my girlfriends and I bought a couple months ago when we visited the Charleston Tea Plantation.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 c. flour (about 9 oz.)
1 c. sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. grated orange rind
¾ c. orange juice
¼ c. canola oil
1 lge. egg, slightly beaten
2 c. cranberries, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
1/3 c. chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine all ingredients until just moistened and fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until done. Cool on rack.
Note: To freeze, wrap individually in plastic wrap and seal in a zippy bag before freezing. Use in about a month.

With love from me to you,

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