Irises are starting to open, and I’ve been enjoying these icy white irises, called Iris x germanica var. florentine–the orris root iris. There is a romance to these irises that I really love. Their dried roots smell like violets, and the flowers were grown in medieval herb and castle gardens. The petals of the flower on the left aren’t quite open, and look like Yoda ears to me!
The columbines are also opening. This is a wild columbine called Granny’s Bonnet.
This is a native american columbine.
Giant purple alliums.
Heucheras doing well, too.
As for birds, I’ve read that catbirds are rather reclusive, but we see them at every turn, so apparently we have a more outgoing variety. This looks like a young catbird.
Meanwhile, the robins are making another go at building a nest under the eaves of the neighbor’s house. Here the robin is sitting out the rain.
Meanwhile, I have run across another good low-sugar brownie recipe. When I run across an unfamiliar recipe, I bake it as per directions just to see the lay of the land. This brownie, which must be chilled after baking, immediately reminded me of an old-fashioned candy bar called the Chunkie Bar. Chunkies were chubby cubes of chocolate with Brazil nuts, walnuts, and raisins. Back in the old days, candy bars cost five cents, which I know sounds impossible, but it’s true. At any rate, I baked the brownie again, adding even less sugar than called for, and adding dried cranberries to sub for the raisins. They cut beautifully when chilled, and would be perfect for a picnic.
I’m displaying this brownie on a background of robin fabric, which I purchased long ago for a dollar a yard. I wondered what I was going to do with it, but every now and then it comes in handy!
1 cup (6-oz. package) semisweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Grease an 8″ pan and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for a metal pan, 325 degrees for Pyrex. Melt the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool. Beat eggs and sugar together thoroughly. (I beat it with a large spoon for 100 strokes). Beat in vanilla extract, salt, and baking powder. Stir in chocolate mixture. Stir in oat, nuts, and dried cranberries. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
The fact that these need to be chilled might seem inconvenient, but if cut while still room temperature, they crumble. This could be turned into a plus, however, if the crumbles are sprinkled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.