I love cooking for friends....

I love cooking for anyone actually but especially friends and this special friend Cristina  loves to cook as much as I do.  For years and years we've gotten  together on Sunday afternoons with our husbands  and played bridge and had dinner.  Not as often lately because they started going to CA in the winter and her mother has been sick and required trips away.  So to have our "usual" Sunday get-together was  special. 

I didn't get a picture of the table setting  but it was fall colors as that is where we are headed now.    The menu included broiled halibut, crispy rice cakes (made with a mix of brown rice, wild rice and white rice), sliced tomatoes from the farmer's market and a side dish of spaghetti squash mixed with kale, caramelized onions, chickpeas and grated parmesan cheese.  For dessert I baked cannoncini and filled them with Italian cream and wild huckleberries.  They were pretty sad looking when I was first learning how to wrap the puff pastry on the molds but now I can do them very quickly.  Its a great dessert because you can do the pastry the day ahead and it's not too sweet and you can fill them with anything.  I did some filled with peach sherbet and berries...


And what have you been doing they ask!!!

Pruning and pruning and pruning I say!!!!!
And DH is getting to help every step of the way.  This is a fabulous climber on the chicken house but it has not only grown over the roof, it has grown under the eaves and just about this big on the inside of the coop.... I have been running around like a mad woman with clippers on my belt and both the loppers and the power saw in hand.. If you look back at the barn another big rose bush has completely blocked the window.  I started on it but there is a big yellow jacket nest by the window...

 Here is the climber  all nice and tidy and ready to set the new growth for next year's blooms. It still needs a few cuts high on the roof but DH can reach that better than I can.. It is DH's job to follow behind me and rake and clean all the pruning and haul them to the county clean green operation.  He has made many many trips already and will make  many more before I'm done.

Today it was 95+ degrees so I quit early and will blog.  It is supposed to be that hot for the next few days so I might take a break for a few days  and do some cooking and other inside chores.

 Another huge task finished this week was taming this autumn clematis. This is the before picture.  I have written often about my love/hate relationship with this vine.  Here it has engulfed the lilies, rhubarb, and the mahonia.  In addition it has gone over the roof of the wood shed and is heading toward the garage.  But (and a big but) it smells absolutely heavenly in the spring when in bloom, birds nest in it and also the birds go crazy over the seed heads in the fall.  So I keep it... and it is pretty easy to cut back... Whoever buys the farm will probably get rid of it..sadly.

The trees you see behind it are saplings of Hawthorne that need to be cut down. I do have one Hawthorne tree about 100' from these that I did plant.   I did not plant these.  The problem with planting things that fruit for the birds is that the birds spread the seed everywhere.  These are under a power line and need to be gone...next week.

Then there is the beauty bush I planted 35 years ago behind the antique farm wagon... It is indeed a beauty and if you look closely at the bottom of this picture you can see one of the wagon's wheels peeking out.  This has to have a major pruning  about every 4-5 years/

Below is a picture of the wagon when we got it and when I planted a tiny little beauty bush behind it.  You can see how sparse the garden was then.  Even though we are zone 4 and have only about 12" of moisture a year, we are blessed with very heavy rich clay soil and if you plant carefully things will grow and thrive.  My garden receives NO supplemental watering except for the veggies.

Our veggie garden has an deer fence all around and a divider besides  and one side is DH's corn and on the other side I grow squash for the chickens, a few veggies and mostly clematis on the fence. The purple clematis on the right is early and just finishing and the white center one is in full flower.  The duchess on the left is quickly spreading over the old gate and will bloom into September.  There are species clematis for every season.  The sunflower are courtesy of the birds...

 I can't remember if I posted this but it was taken last month when the purple clematis was in full flower at the same time as  the lavender in the foreground.

If we move into a place that has even a tiny patch of earth.....the clematis and peonies are coming with me.
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