Pecan coffee cake

Pecan Coffee Cake turned over so the nuts are up

Wadly gets to eat pastry and baked goods all the time and I don’t.  <pout>  Occasionally I manage to come up with a keeper recipe that’s gluten, sugar and soy free.  This one’s a winner.

  • 1½ cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit and Baking Mix
  • 1 cup cold coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup real maple syrup (not that fake corn syrup stuff)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • ¼ cup real maple syrup (not that fake corn syrup stuff)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • chopped pecans to cover a 9×9 dish (¾ cup, more if you want it really nutty)

Preheat the oven to 325°.  I use my toaster oven so you’ll have to adjust your time/temp accordingly if you’re using a “real” oven.

Topping – In a small (I use the smallest available) cast iron frying pan melt the butter.  Add the maple syrup, stir it into the butter and turn the heat down.  While you’re mixing the body of the cake shake the pan occasionally.  It doesn’t need stirred, it just needs slopped around in the pan.  You’ll know it’s done when it moves like gelatinous slobber (I can’t think of any other description or I’d use it).  If you undercook it, no biggy.  You’ll have a runny caramel topping.  If you overcook it the topping will be chewy . . . I like it that way.  I use this topping (same ingredients) for mixing into popcorn instead of just using butter.  It’s heavenly.

Cake – Beat the eggs.  Mix in vanilla and maple syrup.  Stir in the coffee.  Add the baking mix and baking soda mixing until smooth.

Spread the topping evenly into the bottom of a 9×9 pan.  Spread the pecans over the top of the caramel mix.  Pour the cake mix over that.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.  You can let it cool before you eat it if you’d like.  I don’t.  <grin>

Airlift pumping

I’ve been searching for a site with instructions for building an airlift pump for pumping well water.  I found the site last year when I was looking at windmills running compressors.  In today’s search I ran across a cute little Instructable on airlift pumping for a hydroponic system.  I have to do some testing but I think this might be a good way to supply water to a plant wall.  As spring gets closer I’ll have to test this technique to see how much water it will pump and how high.

Here’s the Instructable.

English ivy

English Ivy running across the top and cactus in lower left corner

I got both my English ivy in the wall far to the left about midway up the wall.  One had roots on it, the stem on the other broke when I was removing the dirt so it’s in the wall as a cutting.  I won’t fasten the stem of the ivy (the oldest of the two is about 12′ long) to the wall until all the other plants are in and established.  At that point I’ll u-pin the stem to the felt around the outer edge until it gets roots to hold the stem in place.

I also got one of the cactus that LouAnn gave me planted as well as three jade plant cuttings (almost to the bottom, just right of center).  You can click the image to enlarge it to see the detail.

The wood fern front looks great.  It doesn’t grow terribly fast but it will be striking as the wall growth matures.

The unwilts

The unwilted waffle plant

I started this post a couple days ago but lost power and apparently lost the partially completed post.  I’m kinda baffled as WP does an auto-backup and there should have been a draft . . . ?

I wanted to share the wilted waffle with you . . . now that it’s recovered.  I think this is a salutary lesson.  If planting bare root or cuttings, as long as it hasn’t dried out which really signifies “dead plant”, give it time.  I’ve got about a dozen cuttings in the wall which were whacked off the parent plant and stuck in the wall.  So far I’ve got some wilting but no death.

The second point I want to make is . . . if you CAN provide warmed water to your wall you’ll get better growth.  During the summer and once I started running a heater in the water, plant growth increased and blooming increased.

New plantings

New plantings. Right is Cape Primrose, centerish is gloxinia. The tiny thing with lots of velvety petals is the African Violet. Bottom left corner is the Hawaiian Begonia.

I worked a bit more on the wall yesterday despite a back that doesn’t like me.  I got the streptocarpus, gloxinia, Hawaiian begonia and African violet planted.  I also got two of the three (or four – I haven’t decided) ivy planted.

The begonia is a rhizomatous that produces plate sized leaves.  It isn’t the biggest leafed begonia (largest leaf is bigger around than a 15 gallon trash can lid) but it is a nice green leaf in an interesting shape.  I’ve already seen growth and it’s only been in the wall a couple days.  I think it’s going to like its new home.

Mary (neighbor of the donated fish tank) brought by a couple more begonia cuttings this morning.  With the one in the original wall that gives me three different begonias for this wall, all different sizes, shapes and colors.

Wadly tested the tank water this morning.  Ammonia, nitrate and nitrate are at the bottom of the scale so everything’s working and we need more fish to feed the wall.  It was fun watching him try to figure out how to use the test kit.

He raided the quarters jar and is off to Kaija’s to get pretty fish.  Wadly’s so eager to get his guppies and comets and whatever else, he’s made a unilateral decision.  He’s having Mary’s take the goldfish home with her.  You say “weren’t those fish going to LouAnn?”  Don’t look at me, I wasn’t asked my opinion.  I’ll make him get the fish for her wall when it’s time.  They’re cheap (under a buck).

Parrots beak and sensitive plant

Sensitive plant

Remember the seeds I started?  I’ve had two parrots beak and three sensitive plant sprout.  One of the parrots beak has a root less than 1/8″ long so I left it in the sprouter.  I planted the three sensitive plant.  Only one has survived so far.

Parrots Beak

The parrots beak puts out long strong sprouts and roots.  The one with the most growth doesn’t have leaves on it yet but it has seriously outgrown the sprouter.


Cape Primrose

This one is really interesting!  I’ve been enjoying the blossoms forever but hadn’t really taken a close look at how it grows!  This sucker is PERFECT for a grow wall!  I bet it will happily climb up on the outside of the felt once it’s established!

Look at the bottom part surrounded by roots.  I have the plant sitting on a couple dead leaves so I could take a picture without having to rinse the roots again, so ignore those.  See the nubs that run up the stem like teeth on a zipper?  Those are where the leaves have wasted away and been removed.  That’s interesting, but not the really interesting bit.

Look at the base of the leaves.  Each leaf produces at least two stalks with the larger leaves producing 4 or 5 stalks.  Each stalk splits in two and produces a flower.  Every new leaf, multiple stalks produce blossoms.  No wonder it’s got blossoms all the time!