Friday, November 20, 2015

Plant Farm Poinsettia Tour

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!  Today I will take you on a little tour of a nursery in Spokane Valley, Washington, The Plant Farm.

This year the Plant Farm has grown over 74 varieties of poinsettias, with 28 of them being red-colored.  They have grown 40,000 poinsettias; it is a large operation.  This photo highlights the reds.  

 They have the pinks.  Most of their starts come from Equador.

While you are on a tour of their operation, you can pick out a poinsettia, and they will hold it for you until the end of the tour.  That is unless you happen to pick out one that has been previously sold, which many have been preciously sold, as they sell to wholesalers across Eastern and Southern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Western Montana.
They have the whites.  There is an incredible number of varieties of poinsettias.
They have the pinks.

They have the pinky reds.  This year they have many more varieties than usual.  It is an experimental year to see what customers like.

This is called Orange Spice.  It is really a lot more orange in color than my picture shows.

The cute ladies on my tour were in love with this Dark Red Carousel variety.  It has been cultivated for curly leaves.

I thought the Jingle Bells Rock variety was particularly cute.

If you cannot make up your mind, you can always go for the tri-colored variety.

As your probably realize, poinsettias are really kind of a finicky plant.  They do not like too much sun or too much shade.  They do not like too much water.  If you buy one, if it is a cold day, go directly home. 

 The Plant Farm is a family-owned business.  It is owned by the Creech family.  They have nine acres of greenhouses.  It all started back in the sixties with some tomato starts and has grown into a huge year-long operation.


 It was such a fun place to be on a cold day.  If you are interested in going, they are only holding the tours November 20th and 21st.  Click here for their website.  Soon most of these will be shipped away for sale at retailers for Christmas. 

In their retail operation they also sell some of the colored poinsettias.  They can die a poinsettia in any color you like.

The resident cat's name was fluffly.

 We also were able  to go through a couple of their greenhouses that held houseplants.  They showed us their planting operation.

The tour is very interesting, and they hold a drawing for tour participants and I won a little table top poinsettia.  It is so cute.

Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Aunt Ionia's Toffee Bars

The weather has snapped cold and we are getting a lot of rain.  It is kind of dreary, but the rain is very much welcomed.  I do not know about you, but when it is cold out,  my thoughts turn to baking.  These toffee bars were always on the cookie tray at my Aunt Ionia's for Christmas.  My sister Jacqueline and I are redoing a memory and recipe and memory book for our dear aunt; we are including pictures of her recipes. 
My Aunt Ionia passed away on Halloween night in 2003, but her memory lives on in her acts of kindness and in her recipes.  Aunt Ionia hosted the Christmas Eve party at her apartment every year.  For many years I was honored to be able to help her prepare for the tribe coming over to her home for the big Christmas Eve dinner.  One of my duties was to make up the cookie trays.  These toffee bars were always on the cookie tray.  If memory serves me right, these were a favorite of Mary, her sister.  I forgot how good these taste!  They DO taste like English Toffee, but they are so much simpler to make.  No thermometer needed to make these goodies.
The Cousins at Christmas Eve at Aunt Ionia's Apartment.  I am the one peeking my head in at the far right.
Aunt Ionia's English Toffee Recipe
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 (12-ounce) bag of milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter, sugar, and egg.  Add the flour and mix well.  Pat the mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.  Bake for 15 -18 minutes or until golden brown.  Do not over bake.  Remove from oven and place pan on a cooling rack.  Let sit for a couple of minutes.  While the crust is still warm add chocolate chips.  Let them sit for awhile, until the chocolate is melted.  Sprinkle the pecans on the bars before the chocolate is dry.
Notes:  I have also used a whole egg and the recipe turned out fine.  The Culps, my family, always liked nuts on them, and the Clark family, our cousins, never liked nuts.  Ionia would always be accommodating and make two batches of something or leave off nuts on half of a recipe.
I sure hope you make these as they are super easy to make and really delicious.
Thanks for dropping by the Couch.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Aunt Ionia's Cold Pizza

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes.  Everyone in life should have a wonderful Aunt like I did.  I had a lot of nice aunts, but my Aunt Ionia holds a special place in my heart.  My parents gave me her name as a middle name.  She did not marry and have children of her own, but she was a stellar Aunt to her 17 nieces and nephews.  She loved to entertain and have people over to dinner.  She hosted our annual Christmas Eve dinner at her apartment; it would not be uncommon for her to have 40 people.  It was a sit down dinner, so some times there would be four tables, always nicely set with a centerpiece.   She liked to cook for others and was always finding a new recipe to try.   

Ionia is on the right.  She was always there at all the family gatherings.

Cold Pizza was one of the recipes that she liked to make.  I think it makes a nice appetizer for the holidays, maybe cut into squares.   

She was like a second mom to us.  She took us out to restaurants and did other things that our parents did not have the time to do or did not have the money to spend.  After her death in 2003, my cousin Cindy put together a book of memories and recipes.  My sister Jaqueline and I are working on an updated version of that book, complete with pictures of her recipe.  In the next little while I will be making a few of her recipes to add to the book honoring her.
Cold Pizza Recipe
Bottom Layer:  2 (8-ounce) packages of Crescent dinner rolls
Smooth out the crescent roll dough into 1 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan.  If you are using a round (pizza)baking tin, make two of them.  Bake according to package directions, about 15 minutes.  Cool and set aside.
Second Layer:  2 (8-punce) packages of cream cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise (no Miracle Whip)
1 tablespoon dill weed
1/4 cup (low salt) taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired (taste to adjust)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mix together well with a hand mixer or with a spoon, making sure to incorporate the ingredients well.  Spread the mixture on the cooled crust.
Top Layer:  1/4 cup chopped fresh onion (green are fine)
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery (I usually omit this)
1/2 cup green olives
1/2 cup black olives
1 large tomato, diced
1-1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 pound shredded mild cheddar cheese
Distribute toppings over the pizza and top with the cheddar cheese.  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Serve cold.
Notes:  Sometimes I have omitted the taco seasoning, and I have liked it just as well.  Be extra careful with the salt, if you are adding green olives, because they are salty.  You can also add mushrooms, cauliflower,  broccoli, cucumbers or zucchini -- anything you like