Northern & Central Midwest
Favorite or New Plant
Although not a beauty in the familiar sense, medicine plant or aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is a favorite simply because of its usefulness. A friend offered me an offshoot he'd had sitting in a drawer for several weeks and I greedily took it. It was scruffy, yellow and looked quite dead. But I planted it in a cactus mix, began watering it, and it now is about a foot tall with light green long, spongy leaves speckled with white. It is missing a few bottom leaves which have been snapped off to stop the hurt of a burn or sunburn. If applied immediately, aloe vera gel can even prevent blistering. Not to be completely critical of their looks, these carefree plants complement a southwestern decor.
To care for them, allow the soil to dry out between soakings, provide direct sunlight if possible. Fertilize three times in summer only with a standard all-purpose fertilizer, and keep an eye out for mealybugs.
Frozen Vegetable Timbale
Frozen Vegetable Timbale (pronounced like thimble) is a great way to clean out the freezer in preparation for this year's produce.
1 cup cooked frozen vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, swiss chard, summer squash)
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon toasted bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350. Puree vegetable; add rest of ingredients except breadcrumbs. Butter (or coat with cooking spray) two six-ounce souffle dishes. Pour mixture into dishes, top with breadcrumbs and bake 25 to 30 minutes.