My Green Thumb Eats Apple Cake

Last Friday was my monthly Green Thumb meeting. This is a group of gardeners who are members of the St. Michaels Woman’s Club. We get together for informational meetings, gardening workshops and road trips. This year I am co-chairing Green Thumb with my friend, Carol, who is terrific to work with. We have some different skill sets which makes for a good partnership. Plus, she always makes me laugh which is a very good thing.

The speaker at this month’s meeting was a local floral designer, Nancy Beatty. She was showing us ways to use greens to fill our outdoor containers and window boxes. And she also demonstrated some fantastic indoor arrangements. The tillandsia (air plant) in the arrangement below acts like a bow, but it’s a tropical plant that would not tolerate outdoor freezing temps. Replace the tillandsia with a red bow, however, and this arrangement would easily transition to the winter holidays.

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Nancy lives in the country and scavenges the fields and forests near her house for plant material and interesting embellishments. She found the turkey feathers and even the deer antlers used in the arrangement below. Nancy assured us that she gets permission from her neighbors to forage in their woods. The  scrolly things are copper wire.

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An outdoor container with the summer plants removed makes a perfect foundation for a tall, sculptural arrangement that will last through the winter. The plant materials are just stuck into the potting soil. The wrought iron tower is wrapped with honeysuckle vine Nancy found in the woods. When it’s fresh, she told us it doesn’t have to be soaked. A white pine cone garland drapes the edges of the pot. She showed us how to make them with only pine cones and wire.

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We always have refreshments at our meetings and women take turns being “hostesses.” At this meeting another friend, Diane, baked an Apple Cake that was outstanding. She said I could share the recipe on my blog. I think I sent my bundt  and angel food cake pans to the thrift shop. Seems every time I do something like that I need the darn things later.

This recipe might just make it to the Thanksgiving table.

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DIANE’S APPLE CAKE**

3 c. unsifted flour                  2 ½ tsp vanilla

2 ½ c. sugar                          1 tsp baking powder

1 c. oil                                    4 large apples, thinly sliced

4 eggs                                    2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt                               4 T. Sugar

7 T. orange juice

  1. Lightly grease large angel food or bundt pan
  2. Beat together until smooth: flour, sugar, oil, eggs, salt, orange juice, vanilla & baking powder
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together apples, cinnamon and 4 T sugar
  4. Alternate layers of batter and apples in pan, beginning with batter and ending with apples
  5. Bake approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes at 350

** Also known as “Jewish Apple Cake”

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Cranberries and Community

Monday morning I went to the St. Michaels Community Center where I was picking up a projector to use in a presentation Laura Ambler and I are giving to the St. Michaels Woman’s Club. We’ve been asked to speak about how our Christmas memory Book, The Santa Diaries: Memories of a Small-town Christmas became a play.

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Director Trish Payne was kind enough to spend time showing me how to work the projector and get it synced with my laptop. I wrote everything down and will practice at home before we take it on the road.

The Community Center was a busy place that morning. Trish and her helpers were getting ready for the annual Thanksgiving dinner they organize. It’s held at one of the local churches. Trish mentioned that she had to get to the store to buy cranberry sauce. My hand shot up. “I have ten bags of cranberries in my fridge,” I said. “I’ll make a big pot of cranberry sauce for the dinner.” I was going to make cranberry sauce and can it, but I can always get more cranberries.

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Tuesday morning I delivered the cranberry sauce to the Community Center. The large, covered pot had cooled overnight on my deck, the lid weighted with a brick. I didn’t want any curious neighborhood cat getting into it. On Wednesday it won’t be enough to serve the 125 -150 people who will come to the dinner, but it will be a contribution. I was glad I’d been in the right place at the right time.

During this season of gratitude, I’m thankful that St. Michaels has a Community Center with programs for our youth and seniors. The center is one of the important threads that, woven together, makes up the fabric of our little town.And  I’m grateful that indefatigable Trish Payne keeps it all running.