Agog with Colours

So, my Zinnias are here! Yay!

I love the sturdiness of the flower. It’s like a woman — one part mush, three parts strength! When you touch the petals, the papery feel of it leaves you wondering about the artist who envisaged such an innovation.

The shrub is of course, prone to pest attacks. The leaves are so green and plump, who wouldn’t like to munch on it! Either your soil has to have a good dose of pest repellent mixed into the mulch or you have to spray a mild amount of water-induced pest-repellent (3 1/2 parts water and 1/2 parts repellent) on them, when and if at all required. Sometimes the leaves wilt because of such intrusion, so avoid it as much possible. But if it still requires a spray and your leaves wilt, do not worry too much. Your flowers are going to bloom and new leaves are going to sprout anyway.

I grew the saplings from a bunch of seeds this time. And though some failed me, I did get quite a good collection of saplings to plant. Nipping them off halfway for a bushy growth called for patience really. I had to be away at the moment when they needed the pinch-off. By the time I did it, it was a bit late and so the growth didn’t turn out as fluffy as I wanted them to be.

But the colours are majestic. The ones blooming right now are totally astounding my humble garden!

Here, have a look:

I have a few more, lying in wait, to ambush me with their colourful explosion. They have been thickly planted because of the previously snubbing response. We put a few saplings of the blue pea flower behind them to grow up into the bamboo mesh I got rooted for them.

I’m also waiting for the mangoes to ripen. They’re small, the breed I have at home, but they’re yum! Hubby had a brilliant idea (according to him) to stave off over-eager birds from pecking at the mangoes. So he got a mesh-net covering the exposed parts of the tree. I don’t know if the birds will get discouraged by this attempt. But it does keep away from being obvious if birds have a juvenile attention span.

Next up, are the balsams I got planted in the pots. It’s my maternal grandpa’s favourite. And why not, they’re so luxuriant! So here’s a ‘hello’ to grandpa Up There, though I never got the chance to meet him.

As for the evergreens, or rather the ever-yellows-and-pinks, Portulacas, you reign!

 

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Eggless Alphonso Cake

Spring has been behaving rather bizarre these days. I think it mistook May to be July. Nights have been ending with a downpour and mornings beginning with the hangover of one. If not for my spring flowers, I’d be misled to think of the day as the sluggish reminder of the upcoming monsoons. So I baked a happy cake. A happy, eggless, Alphonso mango cake! I had baked a (mousambi) sweet-lime cake, on Mom’s birthday in April. Its popularity encouraged me to try this.

Alphonso mangoes are happy by default, both in colour, texture and softness of tang, unlike our desi aam! The rich yellow colour of its purée is so enlivening, I decided to offer my eyes some succour in the otherwise dull morning today.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 flour (whatever suits you, although gluten-free ones usually require a little more baking powder/soda for upliftment)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda (Or more precisely, two pinches if you please. I have had disasters with a little too much of this petty little thing, so I’m extra cautious)

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup regular veg oil

1 cup of Alphonso mango puree (homemade or otherwise)

3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk (works for the sugar as well)

2 tbsp milk* (The recipe I used, didn’t call for it, but I used it to loosen the condensed milk)

A pinch of salt

Blend it all and bake it for 30 mins. Done-done-a-done!

For frosting, you can use puree with whipped cream (or low-fat cream) and honey. I had neither. So, Clumsy Kitchen blended the puree with condensed milk and 1/2 tsp salt and spread it over the cake. The taste was what Sheldon calls — bazinga!