Friday, April 20, 2012

Tree of the Week

Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana L.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Small tree or shrub, often colonial. Leaves simple, alternate, oval or obovate, 2 to 4 inches long with petioles ½ to 1 inch long; margins finely toothed, the tips of the teeth sharp and pointing outward; two glands normally present on petiole near the base of the blade. Winter twigs slender, glabrous, gray or red-brown; leaf scars small, half-round, with 3 bundle scars. Buds long-ovoid, 3/16 to ¼ inch long (sometimes larger), terminal and laterals nearly equal in size; scales 6 or more, glabrous, brown with light-colored margins. Flowers similar to black cherry but commonly blooming earlier in spring; petals nearly round. Fruit a drupe ¼ to 1/3 inch in diameter, red or dark purplish red when ripe; calyx deciduous. Bark gray, smooth.

SIMILAR TREES: Black cherry has narrower leaves with incurved teeth. Wild plum has its flowers in small, umbellike clusters, and its fruits are much larger. In winter, black cherry has dark red-brown bud scales; other trees with similar twigs have false terminal buds.

IOWA DISTRIBUTION: Native throughout the state.

Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa by Peter J. van der Linden and Donald R. Farrar

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Comfort Foods from Iowa

Scalloped Corn Casserole

1-pound can cream-style corn
1-pound can whole kernel corn (drained)
¼ cup minced onion
¾ cup milk
½ cup light cream or half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups crushed soda crackers
2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces

In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients except butter and spoon the mixture into a buttered 1 ½-quart shallow baking dish. Dot with butter. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, then stir the mixture and reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Winter Story

March 15, 1917 / Ft. Pierre, So. Dak.
To Mrs. M. M. Corey

It's great weather we’re having. Some days like the good old summer time and some like Greenland’s icy mountains. Most every one around here is “fighting a cold.” A small lad of my acquaintance seems to be suffering with a cold in the head and as a matter of course his friends suffer with him. I asked him once if he hadn’t a handkerchief. He felt in his pocket and replied “No, but I got a cork.” He was so amazed at my amusement that I didn’t even suggest him using the cork.