About Mala Burt

Mala Burt writes fiction and non-fiction, screen and stage plays.

Six on Saturday – Texture in the Winter Garden – February 1, 2020

So foggy this morning it was after 9 when I ventured out. And I was glad I did because look what I found — the first hellebore blooms. The evergreen helebore leaves provide texture in my winter garden. The blooms are a bonus.

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2. I love this crepe myrtle bark.

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3. The silver maples have wonderful craggy bark with lichens and moss at the soil’s edge.

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4. Contrasting textures of Hollywood juniper in the background, and rhododendron to the right. In the forefront a euonymus (Silver Queen? it looks more white than in the photo) and liriope. You can see the fog still hanging in the air.

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5. A mahonia that I stuck in a back corner of the garden is doing just fine. It provides some texture against the solidago stems which need to be cut back.

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6. And finally..the hope of spring… buds on some daffodils.

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That’s my Six on Saturday, this foggy February morning, as I found textures in the winter garden. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

Six on Saturday – Eye Candy – January 18, 2020

After unseasonably mild temperatures and some rain, today is frigid – in the twenties. I realize that is balmy compared to the places where two of my children live (Montana and Colorado), but I am staying inside and looking for some of my favorite photos from last summer to share. No commentary, just eye candy.

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That’s my Six on Saturday, a collection of six pretty photos. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

Six on Saturday – A Retrospective – January 11, 2020

There’s not much going on in my garden this week so I thought I would look back six years for photos of this date. Enjoy.

  1.  January 2014. We were in Key West, Florida. This photo was taken on one of my morning walks.

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2. January 2015.  Key West again. Brugmansia is a genus of seven species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae. They are woody trees or shrubs, with pendulous flowers, and have no spines on their fruit. Their large, fragrant flowers give them their common name of angel’s trumpets, a name sometimes used for the closely related genus Datura.

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3. January 2016. Key West, Florida. I love the way houses are painted in this quirky town.

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4. January 2017. St. Michaels, Maryland. In my backyard. What a glorious sunrise.

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5. January 2018. St. Michaels, Maryland. A little snow is just fine with me.

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6. January 2019. Inside the house geraniums are blooming.

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That’s my Six on Saturday, a retrospective of past years. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

Write on Wednesday – Christmas Dinner Disasters – January 7, 2020

My writing partner, Laura Ambler, and I met for lunch at Olive Garden yesterday. Their soup and salad combo is really good and a booth gave us privacy to discuss a new writing project.

With two produced Christmas themed plays we have a tiny wedge into a niche. So we were brainstorming about other possible Christmas play ideas. One of them involved all the kinds of family drama that can happen at the turkey laden table. 

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Laura told me about a couple she knows. On Christmas day the wife had a terrible migraine so took some medicine that will put her to sleep for a couple of hours. But before she leaves the kitchen she instructs her husband about how to cook the turkey. When he smells something burning he realizes he has set the stove to clean and now the oven door is locked.  That topped the Christmas dinner my elderly mother put the turkey in and set the oven to broil.

But things can be worse than incinerated turkey or a less than perfect meal. The uncle who always gets drunk and starts a political fight. The football game that eclipses the dinner you’ve been working on for days? The relatives you see once a year and that’s too often. Sometimes there is tragedy. Death does not take off on Christmas day.

What Christmas disaster stories does your family tell? Give me your story. It might make it into a new play.

Six on Saturday – A New Year Begins – January 4, 2020

It was misting when I went out this morning to see what I would find in my garden. We’ve had rain again, but with warmer temperatures. Puddles in the beds and the Burt lake is back. But, really, no complaints. It could be icy rain or snow.

  1. Nandina berries. I love the reflections in the water drops.

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2. Why is a reblooming iris which didn’t rebloom last fall think now is the time?

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3. Allium bulbs are stirring among a blanket of leaves.

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4. I’m so glad I didn’t cut back these grasses. They are a spot of light in an otherwise drab winter landscape.

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5. Can anyone identify this plant? I’m not sure where it came from but it is growing in my small nursery bed. Someone must have given me a slip. It’s now about 24″ tall and has wicked thorns. My brain is saying perhaps some sort of orange but how it would have survived last winter’s cold I don’t know.

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6. Last fall I divided my clivias and only kept one. People who were gifted with plants have told me theirs have bloomed. Mine has been in the garage for two months without being watered so it is time to bring it in and see what happens.

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That’s my first Six-on-Saturday of the new year in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener.  This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

#lovemygarden   #mid-atlantic garden   #Six-on-Saturday  #malaburt

Write on Wednesday – Welcome 2020 with Gløgg – January 1, 2020

My very best wishes to one and all for a happy, prosperous and healthy New Year.

For years my parents had an annual New Year’s Day party where they served Gløgg, a Norwegian mulled wine. I didn’t continue this tradition, but my brother and sister-in-law did for many years.  Recently I found a notebook with my mother’s recipes and notations for many years of that party. This was from 1963.

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For each party Mom annotated the amount of shrimp, how many Swedish meatballs she made and what she put on the veggie tray.  I don’t know if you could buy a pre-made tray then. She always made her own and one of the items was sliced spiced apples…they were bright red and came in a jar. The 1963 New Year’s Day party had the notation: “Invited 120 people. Half showed up. Lousy weather. Ice. Parking difficult. First guests arrived at 4 promptly. All gone by 7:45.” That year she tripled the recipe below. I suppose they bottled the leftovers which would have lasted a long time. My folks weren’t big drinkers.

That party was in Bethesda a few weeks after I was married for the first time — a week after President John Kennedy was assassinated. I had moved with my new husband to Pennsylvania, so I wasn’t at that party. However, I do remember these get togethers as far back as South Bend, Indiana when my dad taught at Notre Dame.

Here is the recipe for Gløgg.

  • 1 gallon port wine
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 24 whole cloves
  • 2 dozen blanched almonds
  • 1 stick whole cinnamon
  • 2 dozen cardamom
  • 2 cups sugar caramelized (Be careful doing this. Very hot.)
  • 2 cups boiling water added to sugar when browned
  • 1 quart rye whiskey

Brown sugar, add water. Cook wine and spices together for a few minutes. Put sugar mixture in wine. Add whisky. Serve hot. One recipe serves approximately 30 people. Serve sour, tart and meats with gløgg. No sweets or cakes.

If Gløgg doesn’t tempt you, here is my recipe for my Crack Pecans, otherwise called cinnamon sugared pecans. Eat them on a salad or by the handful.

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Be advised that checking for crunch in the final stages is where an addiction begins. Consider yourself warned.

Mala’s Crack Pecans (from Cookingclassy.com website who stole it from allrecipes.com where I made tweaks)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pecan halves (4 cups)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • ½ tsp vanilla (up to 1 tbsp)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (can be half white, half brown)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (can add ½ tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp cayenne for kick)
  • ½ tsp salt (can be up to 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt)

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk egg white with water and vanilla until very frothy. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add pecans to egg white mixture and toss until evenly coated. Pour half of the sugar mixture over pecans and toss several times, then add remaining sugar mixture and toss until evenly coated. Pour coated pecans over a parchment paper lined backing sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container.

Notes: If you double this recipe you could keep the cinnamon sugar amounts the same. It’s plenty of sweet. If you do this, make it in two batches using two sheet pans. Four cups is just the right amount for one sheet pan. The nuts won’t get crunchy if there are too many on the sheet at one time.

I use sheet pans with a silpat liner.  You can also use parchment paper.The sheet pan has sides so the nuts don’t fall out.

The final 15 minutes in the oven is crucial to make them crunchy. I checked them after what I thought was the final time and they still weren’t dry in the middle, so I put them in for another 15 minutes. The first two times you stir them they will be sticky. They may need a little additional time in the oven. Just keep checking for crunch. I like adding that little bit of cayenne for a little heat. If you’re planning to use them as an appetizer with cheese and fruit, you could add more salt as well.

 

Six on Saturday – Baby, It’s Cold Outside – December 21, 2019

On this shortest day of the year we have winter temperatures. Ours are moderate compared to many places in the United States, but 26 degrees Fahrenheit means the ground was crunchy underfoot when I went outside this morning to see what I could find in the garden.

  1. Before I headed outside I pulled my chicken stock bag out of the freezer and put a pot to boil on the stove. By the time I came in the house was fragrant. My mother taught me to put a little apple cider vinegar in the pot when making stock. She said it pulled the calcium out of the bones. I have no idea if that is true and suspect cider vinegar was a replacement for white wine in the stock pot of a cook who grew up on an Iowa farm. IMG_9899

2. Last weekend I was in Tennessee with Laura Ambler attending opening night of our play, The Santa Diaries, at Encore Theatre Company in Mt. Juliet. This photo is us (in the middle) with the cast. This small community theater did us proud. A memorable production.

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3. The window boxes are full of greens from my property. Not as full as in years past when I had bags of greens left over from a wreath workshop at the St. Michaels Woman’s Club, but it will do. The box of red ribbons is still on the shelf in the garage. I have a few days to get them in place.

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4. My husband has refilled the woodpile on the deck and the level behind the shed is falling. We will have enough to get us to spring and then he will restock for 2020.

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5.  A camellia is full of buds as is a rhododendron. I doubt that purple rhodo bud will make it through to spring.

 

6. I rooted around in the hellebore bed but found no buds. However, at the roots of one of my old maples I found a moss garden. I think the fairies are tucked under those cozy green blankets and will emerge in the spring.

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That’s my Six-on-Saturday on the Winter Solstice in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener.  This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

As we head toward Christmas, may your days be merry and bright. Happy Holidays to one and all!

#lovemygarden   #mid-atlantic garden   #Six-on-Saturday  #malaburt