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Baby please don’t go. May 31, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood (along with our friend Ben and Richard Saunders) here. Please forgive the Led Zeppelin ref, we just couldn’t resist. Sunday, a fellow blogger kindly linked to one of our posts here at Poor Richard’s Almanac because it was germane to her topic. We were thrilled, and will tell you all about it in our next post. But for now, we want to harp on one of the saddest things we know about blogging, which Entangled’s linked post brought to the forefront once again.

You see, Entangled linked not only to one of our recipe posts but to several relevant recipe posts. I wouldn’t be Silence Dogood if I could resist a good recipe, so I rushed to click on one of the links, which led me to a wonderful blog with really wonderful recipes called Salt and Pepper. (More on this in the next post, too.) I thought the recipe looked great, and was checking out the lineup of previous posts when I saw that the posts stopped abruptly in April.

Oh, no. I clicked on the April posts and saw a couple, with the usual disclaimer that the blogger had tired of writing posts and pretty much struggled to keep the blog alive for another year or so, then given up. I clicked back through the previous months when the blogger had posted anything, and she was right: She hadn’t really been motivated to write much of anything for two years, after blogging faithfully and fabulously since 2006.

Our friend Ben, Richard Saunders, and I have encountered this tragedy before. We were going to name names in this post, lamenting some of our favorite blogs that seemed to be in demise, but decided in favor of generic comments, since sometimes blogs do in fact come back to life, and we don’t want to seem to be criticizing anyone by pointing a finger at them for falling off.

God knows, blogging is work, and the chances of it paying off in terms of income or fame are right up there with winning the lottery. Either you blog because you have something to say and you love the reader interaction or you stop blogging because a) you thought blogging made bazillion dollars and gee, you haven’t seen a cent come in yet or b) it’s too time-consuming and you have better things to do.

But we just hate it when our favorite blogs go dark, with no new posts for months or—worse—an announcement that this is the end for the blog. Or they shift focus and become commercial outlets rather than personal blogs. (This is quite another matter if the blog is an outreach for a commercial venture to begin with, but please, don’t stop being your wonderful selves and switch to “Buy this! Buy this!” all the time. Instead, set up a commercial blog for your stuff and keep your original blog for yourselves.)

We have seen blogs revive after dramatic announcements that they were quitting for good, or make strong comebacks after months of sporadic posting. But these are the exceptions. So often, once someone drifts away from the discipline of blogging, they find it too challenging to come back to it. It was fun when they started, but now they’ve found other things to do. They’ve moved on. If we’re lucky, they keep their blog and its archive of delightful posts up for us to continue to enjoy and learn from. But we miss them, the freshness, the sense of presence and interaction.

So, if you’re blogging, please don’t go. We know it’s not easy speaking into the void, putting yourself, your passions and projects, out into cyberspace and hoping that someone will hear you, find you, like you. But they do. They will. And, like us, they’d hate to see you go.


Best of the week at PRA, May 24-30 May 30, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we have a lot to say for ourselves. We post at least once a day, on a wide variety of topics. You can never be quite sure just what we’ll tackle next.

However, we recognize that it’s not easy to keep up with all this verbiage from us, your own blog, and every other blog on earth. So to make things easier, every week, we select our own favorite posts from the week’s pickings and list them here so if you’ve missed any that sound intriguing, it’s easy to catch up. Just scroll down or search the title in our search bar at upper right.

Here are this week’s picks:

Help! The greeblies have gotten my geranium! We confess that this isn’t necessarily a great post, we’re just trying to urge more of you to read it and tell us what’s attacking our plant.

Good times for the traditionally built. A new novel and a cookbook spell excitement in the world of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and its heroine, the “traditionally built” lady detective, Mma Ramotswe.

Scottish spices. Read this one for the Drunken Rhubarb Crisp recipe.

Speaking of spices. Silence Dogood, the original Spice Girl, discovers that recent research reveals that the average American keeps 40 spices in the home. We’ve come a long way, baby!

The best mayonnaise. Leave it to Cook’s Illustrated to discover what Southerners have always known. Find out which mayo won, then use it to make a luscious homemade pimiento cheese spread.

That’s it for this week! We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

First sign of summer. May 30, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben supposes that for each of us, there’s a distinct moment when we recognize that, no matter what the calendar says, summer has arrived. Your roses are blooming. It stays light until almost 9 p.m. You can smell grilling up and down the street. It’s time to take the cover off the pool. Your tomato plants are setting fruit.

Our friend Ben experienced my own personal “summer is here” moment this past Friday evening, when I saw that the first lightning bugs (aka fireflies) had appeared in the backyard here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home Silence Dogood and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA.

Silence and I had decided to relax out on the deck with our black German shepherd, Shiloh, and watch the dusk come down. Suddenly, I saw a lightning bug. And then another. And another. Silence and I were as excited as kids with our first tricycles. Lightning bugs! The lightning bugs are here!!!

Our friend Ben loves lightning bugs because they remind me of constellations in the sea of darkened grass, earthly echoes of the unreachable sky. They also bring to mind fireworks, shooting upward from the ground in a grand display before blinking out, or perhaps shooting stars in reverse. And the leisurely pace at which they blink on and off, drift here and there, will set a frantic, chaotic mind at ease faster than anything I know.

Lightning bugs: The illuminators. The peacemakers. Our link to the distant stars.

But this year, our friend Ben was happier to see lightning bugs than ever before, given that in recent years their populations have been threatened by urban and suburban sprawl and the light pollution they bring, fatally disrupting the lightning bugs’ mating cycle. (See my earlier post, “When the lights go out,” for more on this threat.) Thank heavens there are still some lightning bugs in my world and in my yard.

Welcome summer. Welcome lightning bugs!

The best mayonnaise. May 29, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Because I subscribe to Cook’s Country, my favorite cooking magazine, I receive an e-mail of cooking tips and ideas every week from its parent magazine, Cook’s Illustrated. This week’s featured a comparison of different brands of mayonnaise, and there was one clear winner in their taste test.

Being a native Southerner, nobody had to tell me what it was. It just had to be Hellman’s Mayonnaise, the only brand of mayo recognized as such in the South. All other brands are dismissed as sadly inferior imitations, and the presentation of Miracle Whip in lieu of mayonnaise is considered as egregious as the appearance of margarine under the guise of butter. Eeeewww! If Cook’s Illustrated didn’t present Hellman’s as the winner, they were going to hear from me.

Fortunately, they did. What they didn’t do was taste-test Hellman’s against homemade mayonnaise, something I’ve never tasted. I suspect it would taste quite different from any prepared mayonnaise, and that the texture would be different, too. I’d be interested to see what people raised on store-bought would make of homemade.

But for those of you who avoid mayonnaise because of its calories (in the case of Hellman’s, 90 per tablespoon), for health reasons (high fat and cholesterol), or because you’re vegan and don’t want to eat something containing eggs, there’s good news: I’ve found two alternatives that taste as good as Hellman’s, and they’re both widely available.

The first, for the calorie-conscious, is Hellman’s Low-Fat. At just 15 calories per tablespoon, it’s amazing how similar it is in both flavor and texture to the real thing. But don’t be fooled: Hellman’s also makes a Light Mayonnaise, which only has 35 calories per tablespoon but definitely does not taste like Hellman’s Mayonnaise. It’s easy to get confused at the store. I find it easier to remember to buy the jar with the bright green cap, not the pale blue cap.

One reason Hellman’s Mayonnaise may taste so good is that its ingredients list is remarkably free from additives and unrecognizable ingredients. The list is short and sweet, which is good news for those of us who prefer to recognize what goes into our food without having to keep a phone-directory-sized lab manual at our side.

But if you’d like to up the health factor while still enjoying the flavor and texture of mayonnaise, I recommend Vegenaise. It’s made from grapeseed oil, that much-touted healthy oil, rather than soybean oil like Hellman’s. (Hellman’s has canola oil and soybean-olive oil mayos as well, but I’ve never tasted them and can’t comment. Anybody tried them? What do you think?)

Vegenaise is also preservative- and cholesterol-free. It contains no eggs or dairy products, so vegans can enjoy mayonnaise that tastes like mayonnaise, unlike so many vegan substitutes for standard foods that bear scant resemblance to the original product. I love Vegenaise and am happy to put it on my sandwiches. The only downside: It, too, has 90 calories per tablespoon. You’ll also probably have to head to a health food store, or at least a supermarket with a big healthy foods component like Whole Foods or Wegman’s, to find it. But—thank God—these days, that’s no big deal.

Now that we’ve gotten the mayo review out of the way, let me share a recipe for a summer favorite where mayonnaise is one of the key ingredients. It’s an easy, perfect spread or dip to take along to a summer picnic or backyard barbecue. Mind you, if you grew up with adults serving pimiento cheese from a jar or a can, you probably feel, as I did, that it’s one of the nastiest foods on earth. But once I tried my father’s girlfriend Alice’s homemade pimiento cheese, I discovered that pimiento cheese can actually be, gasp, good. Even yummy. 

I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit to make it even easier and, to our taste, better. The one thing I left in that we normally avoid is orange cheese (officially called “yellow,” but you know what I mean, that dyed orange color). Generally we go for the undyed (“white”) cheeses, but in this recipe, the mix of orange and white makes for a warm, inviting color, so I bend our house rules just this once.

Like so many spreads, this one is flexible. Our friend Ben and I love bold, sharp Cheddar flavor, but Alice prefers a mix of sharp and mild Cheddars and you might, too. You could add another flavor note with chopped scallions (green onions) or diced red or sweet onions (like WallaWalla or Vidalia). You could substitute diced red bell pepper for the pimiento for more freshness and crunch, or mix the two, or use roasted red peppers instead of pimiento peppers. Minced black, green, or kalamata olives are delicious in this. You could add matchstick or shredded carrots or radishes. You could go for the vegan version with Vegenaise, soy cheeses, and soy sour cream, maybe adding a splash of tamari or a tiny bit of miso for a deeper, more complex flavor. So be bold! Experiment and see what you like best. But trust me, the basic recipe is oh-so-good! It keeps well in the fridge, too.

                Homemade Pimiento Cheese

1 bag shredded sharp yellow Cheddar

1 bag shredded extra-sharp white Cheddar

small jar chopped pimiento or roasted red peppers, 1/2 liquid drained, minced

Hellman’s Mayonnaise

splash hot sauce (we like Pickapeppa and Tabasco Chipotle)

ground black pepper or powdered paprika, cayenne, or chipotle pepper to taste

salt (we like RealSalt) or Trocomare to taste

1 tablespoon sour cream

Whisk together all ingredients, adding enough mayonnaise to bind everything together into a thick sandwich spread/dip consistency. Unlike storebought pimiento cheese, this version will have a lot of texture, especially if you add fresh veggies. (If you’d prefer a smooth dip, use your blender or food processor to smooth it out. But we love the texture of the whisked version.)

Let your pimiento cheese spread sit, covered, for at least 1/2 hour for the flavors to blend. Then use it as a sandwich spread on toasted multigrain bread with Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and/or bell pepper rounds (our favorite way to enjoy it). Or spread it on crackers (we like Triscuits and flatbreads), or as a dip with crudites like broccoli and cauliflower florets, bell pepper strips, baby carrots, celery sticks, snap peas, or radish slices. Or make rollups with Belgian endive or radicchio leaves stuffed with pimiento cheese and arugula or watercress.

This pimiento spread would be fantastic on hot dogs, burgers, and baked potatoes. It might make the ultimate mac’n’cheese, flavorful and full-bodied. There are wilder possibilities, too, like bacon-pimiento rollups, warmed pitas with pimiento spread and scrambled eggs, pimiento quesadillas, pimiento omelettes, even pimiento pizza. English muffins with this pimiento cheese spread and Canadian bacon, bacon, sausage, or ham.      

Let me know what you try and what you think of it! And thanks, Alice, for a great basic recipe. If it weren’t for you, I’d have never tried pimiento cheese again.

               ‘Til next time,


Speaking of spices. May 28, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here (again). Just yesterday, I was posting about Scottish spices. Then our friend Ben called my attention to an article called “A Taste for Hotter, Mintier, Fruitier” in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. (Read it for yourself at www.wsj.com.)

The article itself was about how American companies are making their foods’ and drinks’ flavorings more extreme, from Third-Degree Burn Doritos to Wrigley’s Orbit Mist Gum with flavor crystals called Micro-Bursts. “In short, American cuisine is adrenaline cuisine,” author Miriam Gottfried says. This is not what I—or presumably anyone who prefers to taste real food with real flavors, not lab-created coatings for tortilla chips and the like—would call good news, though it’s hardly a surprise. I recommend the article to your attention.

But what amazed me was a spice-related statistic: “At home, seasoning company McCormick & Co. Inc. says Americans now keep an average of 40 different spices, a figure that has grown roughly twice as fast in the past two decades as it did in the previous 30 years,” Ms. Gottfried reports. Forty spices! We’ve come a long way from salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and dried mustard, baby.

Thinking this through, I could see a sort of timeline. First were the regional herbs and spices used in traditional cuisines like that of this area’s Pennsylvania Dutch (caraway, coriander, sage, dill weed, dill seed, fennel, yellow mustardseed, horseradish, and anise) and the fiery dishes of the Southwest. Next, the Mediterranean herbs: oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, rosemary, garlic. And then French cuisine, adding tarragon, lavender, and fines herbes to the mix.

Then the spices of India and Pakistan (curry leaf, fenugreek leaf, fenugreek seed, cardamom, black mustardseed, cumin, ginger, turmeric, and innumerable others) and their spice blends (curry powder, garam masala, chaat masala, and so on, in all their variations). And then Asian cuisine, with its wasabi, star anise, sesame oil, lemongrass, chillis, coconut, and distinctive curries.

These days, we can enjoy the spicings of Ethiopia or Senegal, Lebanon or Turkey, Thailand or the Philippines, Jamaica or Barbados, with hardly more effort than it takes to go online or open the spice cabinet. Still, I’m kind of awed.

Admittedly, I have hundreds of spices, herbs, and blends. But I’m a spice junkie. That the average American kitchen now has 40 spices simply blows me away. I can’t think of stronger proof that our culinary horizons have expanded. Maybe our national obsession with fast food, junk food, and fake food will finally fade in favor of real food with real flavor. But then again, maybe we’ll just reach for another bag of Third-Degree Burn chips.

                ‘Til next time,


Scottish spices. May 27, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Over the years, people have come onto our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, every now and again searching for “Scottish spices.” I’m not sure how they ended up on our blog with this search phrase, but it happened again this morning and intrigued me. Having seen some marvelous Scottish cookbooks, I know that modern Scots* cuisine uses a wide range of spices. But what about traditional Scottish cuisine?

Heading to my good friend Google, I typed in “spices used in traditional Scottish cuisine” and came up with quite a number of articles on Scottish cooking, but a disappointing dearth of information on spices. (“Haggis is made of blah, blah, blah and spices.” Gee, thanks for letting us know.)

From what I could discover, it appears that black pepper, both whole and ground, and salt, unsurprisingly often sea salt, were the primary spices used in traditional Scottish cuisine. Ginger, nutmeg, caraway, bay leaves, and mustard were also occasionally mentioned. Other flavorings came from parsley, celery, onions, leeks, gherkins (little sour pickles), lemons, wine, and vinegar.

This paucity of spices is explained by Wikipedia: “Scotland’s natural larder of game, dairy, fish, fruit, and vegetables [Oops, they forgot grains. What about oatmeal and barley?—Silence] is the integral factor in traditional Scots cooking, with a high reliance on simplicity and a lack of spices from abroad, which were often very expensive.” But it goes on to say: “…Scotland was a feudal state for the greater part of the second millennium… In the halls of the great men of the realm, one could expect… expensive spices (pepper, cloves, cinnamon, etc.)…” Wikipedia also notes that 20th-century immigration to Scotland from the Middle East, Pakistan and India introduced more spicing to contemporary Scottish and Scottish fusion cusine.

So that’s what I learned about Scottish spices. If anyone knows more, please check in and tell us all!

Meanwhile, in the course of my researches, I found a website just packed with Scottish recipes. It’s called Traditional Scottish Recipes. Check it out at www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/. I can’t resist sharing one with you. No, it’s not haggis, cullen skink or colcannon! It’s rhubarb season around here, and my eye was caught by a recipe for “Drunken Rhubarb Crumble.” As they note, “whisky adds zest!” Note that in addition to the whisky, spicing is provided in this recipe with coriander, allspice, and grated lemon and orange peel.

                   Drunken Rhubarb Crumble


1 1/2 pounds raw rhubarb

3 fluid ounces (6 tablespoons) Scotch whisky

grated lemon and orange rind to taste

4 ounces demerara sugar (or 1 cup light brown sugar)

1 teaspoon allspice


6 ounces (2 cups) plain flour

3 ounces (1/2 stick) butter [er, that’s 4 ounces in the U.S.—Silence]

3 ounces caster sugar (scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar)

grated rind of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon allspice

Clean and chop the rhubarb into pieces and put in a 2-pint pie dish. [Hmmm. Not sure of the U.S. equivalent, but I’d try a square 8-inch brownie pan, since it’s a crumble.—Silence]  Add the other ingredients for the filling and stir well. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter—the mixture will eventually look like small breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, grated lemon rind, coriander, and allspice and mix well. Spread the topping over the rhubarb. Bake in a preheated 200-degree C./400-degree F./Gas Mark 6 oven for 30 minutes, by which time it should be golden brown. Serve hot with custard or ice cream. Serves 4. [Four?!!—Silence]

Yum! Sounds like a winner to me. Let me know what you think if you try it! And once rhubarb season is over, the recipe notes that you can subsitute sliced apples instead.

               ‘Til next time,


*Note to American readers: In the U.S., “Scotch” correctly refers to whisky made in Scotland and to 3M tape. It is also used lower-cased in a number of colloquialisms (“we had to scotch that plan”). But the people of Scotland and all other references to things Scottish are correctly referred to as either Scottish or Scots.

Good times for the traditionally built. May 26, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. If, like me, you’re a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its “traditionally built” heroine, Mma Precious Ramotswe, these are very good times.

Mr. McCall Smith has just come out with a new novel in the series, The Double Comfort Safari Club, and reviewers are all praising it as the best one yet. I just got my copy from Amazon yesterday, and am hoping that it contains larger roles for two of my favorite characters, Mma Potokwane, the redoubtable matron of the local orphanage and creator of the famous fruitcake, and Phuti Radiphuti, hapless proprietor of The Double Comfort Furniture Shop.

A new No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel is always cause for rejoicing. But there’s more good news for cooking fanatics like yours truly: I discovered that there is now a cookbook accompanying the series, appropriately called Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook: Nourishment for the traditionally built. (Alert readers may recall that about two years ago, I e-mailed Mr. McCall Smith and begged shamelessly that he write one.) 

As it turns out, the book is actually written by Stuart Brown, though it carries an introduction by Alexander McCall Smith and apparently features lots of gorgeous photos of Botswana and its life and culture as well as of the food. Here’s what Amazon has as the product description:

“Pull up a chair and join Mma Ramotswe at the table as she celebrates the flavours of the bestselling series ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’. Discover the favourite recipes of our ‘traditionally built’ heroine and her friends, accompanied by lavish photography—sumptuous stews for sharing, fabulous fruit cakes for eating under shady trees, with redbush tea of course, and the spices, traditions and culture of Botswana that make every meal together special. Welcome Precious, her friends and the sunshine of Botswana into your kitchen. It offers a traditionally-built feast for all the senses!”

Needless to say, I ordered a copy immediately. What fun! Unfortunately, it’s shipping from Britain, and is expected to take up to two weeks to reach me. But I plan to make good use of the intervening time. I’ll finish The Double Comfort Safari Club. I’ll watch the TV series, also called “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and based (sometimes rather loosely) on the books, again. And I’ll also watch the delightful documentary,  “Botswana: In the Footsteps of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency with Alexander McCall Smith,” again. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it. By the time the cookbook arrives, I’ll be ready for that cup of red bush tea.

If you want to join me in ordering a copy of the cookbook, better get a move on: Amazon has just 16 new copies available, and the used ones are way too pricey. Again, it’s Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook by Stuart Brown (Polygon, hardcover, 144 pages, 2009, new from $20.14, used from $65.07 on Amazon).

Never fear, I’ll give you a reveiew (as opposed to a preview) once I’ve had a chance to check it out and (gulp) try a few of those recipes!

              ‘Til next time,


My favorite rhubarb pie. May 25, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, recipes, Uncategorized.
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Silence Dogood here. It’s rhubarb season here in scenic PA, and our friend Ben and I have been making the most of it by visiting the local Amish and Mennonite farm stands in search of rhubarb pie. Coming from the South, rhubarb was an acquired taste for us, but once we worked up the nerve to try it, we came to love its distinctive tangy-tart flavor.

Rhubarb is very popular in our area, and you can even find pies and baked goods made from the old-time green-stemmed varieties, which are reputed to be far more flavorful than the red-stemmed rhubarb which is so popular now. You can find strawberry-rhubarb pies at practically any farm stand and farmers’ market here, some with elaborately latticed top crusts, others with an oatmeal crumb topping. (Both are good.) Rarely, I’ll find a plain rhubarb pie—no strawberries—which I like better. But my favorite rhubarb pie is rhubarb custard pie. The tangy rhubarb and the sweet custard make a delightful combination.

Looking through my collection of area cookbooks for a rhubarb custard pie recipe to share with you, I decided that the one in The Palm Schwenkfelder Church Cookbook had too much flour and too little milk. The Kutztown Area Historical Society Commemorative Cookbook also failed me—the rhubarb pie recipe it featured included red Jell-O (eeewwww)!

Fortunately, the recipe in Boyertown Area Cookery looks more promising. It still uses flour, which I’d avoid, simply cooking the pie a bit longer to get the right thickness without the floury undertaste, and it doesn’t add vanilla to the custard, which I would. But it looks tasty and easy to prepare, so here’s the recipe, just as it was submitted by Cora Hasson. Try it, I hope you’ll like it!

                      Rhubarb Custard Pie

Stew rhubarb, using as little water as possible, until soft and mushy. (Do not add sugar.)

1 1/4 cups stewed rhubarb

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

Beat eggs and sugar together then add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Pour into a pastry-lined 8-inch pie plate. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, then at 350 degrees until done. A little nutmeg or cinnamon can be added. If you want to use leftover stewed rhubarb that has been sweetened, use less sugar.

It’s only appropriate that the beloved “pie plant” is so popular in Pennsylvania, since rhubarb was introduced to America by none other than the great Benjamin Franklin, our hero and blog mentor here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, in 1772. (He’d apparently taken a fancy to it in England.) So thank the good Doctor Franklin and treat yourself to a slice of rhubarb pie!

                     ‘Til next time,


Help! The greeblies have gotten my geranium! May 24, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, Uncategorized.
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Silence Dogood here. This weekend, I noticed that some kind of greeblie had gotten all over the stems of one of my pelargoniums (aka zonal geraniums). It’s my biggest, and I’ve had it for years with no problems, so I was horrified. (In fact, the only problem any of my pelargoniums has ever had is my sporadic winter watering in the greenhouse.)

Needless to say, the plant is now off the deck and well out in the backyard away from all the other house/greenhouse plants. And after close inspection, I can say with some confidence that whatever it is isn’t on any other plant.

But what is it, and where did it come from? It looks like the kind of hard frost that makes tiny icicle-like crystals stand out from the stem. The stems are coated with these greeblies, which appear to be multiplying rapidly. But they don’t fly or even move. Perhaps it’s a disease, but experience tells me to think bug. Hmmm, that would be a mealybug or scale insect, I thought. But it doesn’t resemble cottony cushion scale or any mealybug that I can find a photo of.

So help, please! What is this, and what should I do about it? Will neem save my poor plant, or am I going to have to get out some cotton balls and alcohol and (eeewwww!!!) rub the stems down by hand?

Eeeewwww. Miserable greeblies!

               ‘Til next time,


Best of the week at PRA, May 17-23 May 23, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, pets, recipes, Uncategorized.
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Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we’ve made a practice of picking our favorite posts from the past week to make it easy for you to find any especially good ones you might have missed. To read them, simply scroll down or type in the title in our search bar at upper right.

This week’s picks include:

The perfumed air: Silence Dogood discovers the heavenly scent of dame’s rocket at dusk.

Spaghetti sauce and splatter shields: Silence shares her delicious (vegetarian!) recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce, and praises the inventor of the splatter shield. No more sauce-splattered clothes!

What do you feed your dog? Silence ponders the intricacies of canine nutrition.

That’s it for this week. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them!