Baked Fruits for Desserts


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Do you offer ice cream as a dessert in your house? I think that my wife and son alone could go through a gallon container in two days. I am a baked goods fan myself, so I wanted to have a quick dessert that I could make to have ready after dinner, which was baked with fruits.

Do not get me wrong, store bought baked goods and ice cream will be eaten quickly in my home. I wish that were not the case. My grandmother made Saturday her baking day. She had so many baked treats that neighbors looked forward to coming over for a kaffeklatsch. She was so prolific that she ended up in the newspaper. German baked goods are easier to find. In fact the pan mexicana is quite similar to many treats that I knew growing up. I do not have the time to bake as extensively as my grandmother did, but I do want to move away from the bakery.
    Have you tried preparing dinner with three children on the prowl? After school snacks are sought. Dinner should be ready now.  Do you have any treats, Papa? Then the two little ones want to help, so I have to find a way to include them in the meal preparation. This has left little time for preparing a dessert. I do not mind a cut piece of fruit, yet the children want more excitement. Whether my family is going to be eating ice cream again, or something from home is down to me, so I needed to find the time. That is when I hit upon a simple cake (if you will).
    I slice whichever firm fruit is in season, so apples, peaches, nectarines would be my fruit of choice. I saute these slices with a little sugar and butter. I mix up a batter for pancakes (one egg, one cup of flour, and enough milk to moisten). I add cinnamon or vanilla to the fruit, then pour in the batter. This goes into an oven (350F for fifteen minutes). I flip this out onto a plate. If it is cool by the end of dinner, I sprinkle powdered sugar on this cake. Usually, everyone has begun to eat it when it is warm. I use a small cast iron skillet for this cake.
    This cake has been good, and with changing fruits and flavors, the cake has surprises. There are more baked goods which I could prepare. I was thinking about quick items to make. I loved baked apples when I was younger. You core the apple to rid it of seeds. In the place of the core you can add raisins, butter, sugar, and spices. The apple was covered with a basic dough (2cups of flour, 1 stick of  softened butter, 1 egg, and some cold water).  Since an entire apple may be big of a portion, I have sliced the apple and folded the dough over it like an empanada. Baking this at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes works well. I imagine with other fruits this can be an interesting change to the apple.
    On the quick baked goods side, I have also baked fruits by themselves. I like the taste. There is a comfort in eating warm fruit which has been lightly sugared. The family may want more, so I do make a crumble to top this mixture. Sugar, flour, and butter mixed to a sandy consistency, and then crumble this over the fruit to bake. Again, this bakes for the same amount of time as the others. What is nice for me, is that these fruits can bake while we are eating. We talk at the dinner table, so meals last for a bit. Then after the dishes have been cleared, we can have the dessert a bit later. I think that this is a nice way to eat.
    Maybe I should plan on baking cakes again. I used to be known for it. Like my grandmother, I would pick one day to make a treats for those around me. I think that it made me more popular at work. The task is not so hard; I have to decide upon the time.

How to Inspect Your Lawn Sprinkler System


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Every so often, it is not a bad idea, to see if your lawn sprinklers are working as intended. A quick inspection can save you money, and help your plants.



I think that most lawn sprinkler systems that I have inspected where originally installed by the builder. I find few homes where the homeowner may have installed a sprinkler system. Installation is a fairly simple task, and a well maintained, thought out system may be better at watering than you can with a hose. I prefer watering with a hose though. My wife did not understand how relaxing it can be until she decided to water the plants once. However,  I feel that most homeowners do not want that form of meditation, and a sprinkler system may help them maintain their gardens.
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The School Lunch and My Vegetable Garden


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How healthy is your child’s lunch? Is making a lunch so hard to do? I am looking for ways to bring more vegetables into my children’s lunches.



At the store, my daughter begs for one of these lunches in a box, but I am not happy with the idea. Have I ever bought these quick lunches for the children? Yes, I have given in to their pleas. Not often mind you. I think my four year old daughter has has these boxes four times in her life. I like the idea of a bento box, but these temptations are not in my plan for a healthy meal. I have also noticed a greater push for processed goodies from my children. Soda is only purchased on special occasions, but this is creeping in to our lives more. They do eat fruit; however, I would like this balanced with vegetables. When I peer into my daughter’s lunch kit, I see that she is eating, but she is eating selectively, so I went on a quest to improve the offering.
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Earlier Work Pays Off


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Gardening is not always about instant gratification. Work done last fall and spring has benefits in late summer.

The storm hit. Power was out. Trees were felled. My family was at the mall, buying school clothes and supplies. I saw the clouds rolling in quickly, and the brief torrential rain, but it did not seem to bad. Coming closer to home, I realized how bad the storm had been. My neighborhood looked like a hurricane had hit. Still, I had surprisingly little damage. Most of my time cleaning up was spent picking up debris that had come to my yard from the neighbors.
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Do You Plant in This Heat?


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The staff at my local nursery were happy to see me. The parking lot was nearly empty, and the plant choices were not as extensive. Who wants to garden in these hot temperatures?



I have started seeds in various beds, and I am obtaining mixed results. I only chose plants which should have done well, but the bunching onions have succumbed to the heat. Cucumbers and winter squash are growing, as are different bean varieties and broccoli. I am also transplanting, a bit. The plants are already under stress, so I do not really want to stress them more, yet plants which are overgrowing their bounds are my targets. So far so good. The problem that I face is restlessness. In my head, I know that it takes time for the garden to develop, but I see the potential for a spot, and I want to work on it know. This leads me to the garden center.
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Pickled Asparagus in Meatloaf


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Finding ways to make my children happy through a wonderful meal of meatloaf.

The girls and I have been exploring animal life in the garden. Today we spotted a snake that we chased to see where it might go. We tried to  figure out where its home may be. I have not identified the snake yet, but it seemed quite afraid of us. We then spent time examining an emerald green beetle. Finally we harvested okra for dinner. Katya wanted to help make dinner, and Sakura seemed prepared to give her sister the space.  Katya wanted to use pickled asparagus in the dinner, so I was left to come up with a recipe.
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Spinach with Galanga


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With an abundance of spinach and galanga, you can can make a nice summer treat.



My New Zealand spinach is growing profusely, as is my ginger and galanga. July has not been the best harvesting month, so I was glad to have this vegetable in the garden. Insect attacks and rain have not been the best for my vegetable production. There has been okra, eggplant, and beans (along with a few micro-greens), but not in large numbers. I do not want to overload my family with spinach dishes, but this dish went down well, so I thought that I would share it.
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Making Your Own Modern Art for the Garden


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garden sculpturemodern garden artWe have a host of museums in Houston with modern art, and a trip to the de Menil collection inspired me to create a piece for the garden.


My wife thought that we were going to the Center for Contemporary Craft, which is a favorite, but I thought going to see the chapels and museums associated with the de Menil Collection would be nice. Walking in that neighborhood is fun. The sun is shaded by the trees, and I do like to see the gardens. I wanted to have a picnic in the park, but we went to visit a friend  for a late afternoon meal. If you are interested in a calm, modern garden design, take a moment to pay attention to the garden spaces around the Byzantine and Rothko chapels. Great places to sit and meditate. I also like the ground sculpture piece in front of the de Menil. This was all good; however, I was inspired by a sculpture that I had already seen inside the building (I also like how the buildings are made).
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Hiding Up In the Tree House


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A tree house made from scraps can be an exiting place for children of all ages

tree houseI have fond memories of climbing trees when I was younger, but I did not have a tree house. When my son was younger, we started a tree house in a maple behind my shed. It was made from various scrap pieces. The floor was a pallet; one wall was a door. My son mainly used this as a staging area to go and sit on the roof of the shed with his friends. Not a bad place to hang out. I remember spending a good deal of time on the roof of my parent’s garage.
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Potatoes Roasted in Yogurt


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I have not harvested a potato as of yet, but I wanted to have fun with this tuber.

    The rains are beating down many of my plants. The flowers which would lead to peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, and beans are not setting. The New Zealand spinach is going wild. This is one leaf vegetable that I have never really had a issues with. I do let it grown wherever it pops up. Pests do not seem to attack it, and the vines will be vigorous. With my family coming back from vacation, I wanted to prepare a special meal for them, and I was hoping for more from the garden.
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Greetings

This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank

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