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Archive for the ‘gardens’ Category

First Day of Spring???

Spring is very reluctant to make an appearance in our part of New England this year!  Even though it is snowing outside, the flowers I brought inside last fall are doing their best to proclaim that spring is here.snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

Two types of green flowering tobacco. ❤

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

White geraniums and my potted fig tree are both brushing the ceiling…

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

A snowy start to spring 2015!

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

snowy spring www.paulawalton.com

Not a good day to plant peas along the picket fence in my vegetable garden.

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Today was one of those perfect days that should be layered in tissue paper, packed carefully away and saved, to be unwrapped and savored again and again…

small delights... gathered and gleaned during a morning walk... an enchanting glass bottle from the midden heap, a handful of violets, a hawk's feather, a single mushroom and a sprig of lily of the valley

small delights… gathered and gleaned during a morning walk… an enchanting glass bottle from the midden heap filled with lily of the valley, a handful of violets, a hawk’s feather, a single mushroom

the pleasure of wearing crisp layers of antique white clothing on a warm spring morning...

the pleasure of wearing crisp layers of antique white clothing on a warm spring morning…

Searching for wild violets among the blades of grass.

Searching for wild violets among the blades of grass.

Listening to water rush and tumble over rocks and pebbles in the brook that runs behind our barns.

Listening to water rush and tumble over rocks and pebbles in the tiny brook that runs behind our barns.

Picking the first asparagus of the season from my garden.

Picking the first asparagus of the season from my garden.

Filling the house with tiny bouquets.

Filling the house with tiny bouquets.

violets www.paulawalton.com

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I woke up to find snow covering the pansies I planted on Sunday.

I woke up to find snow covering the pansies I planted on Sunday.

Remember my post from yesterday?  Something along the lines of “spring is here to stay”…  Well just about the time I finished posting it last night, the rain that had been falling all day turned to snow!  So we went from 65 degrees in the morning to snow at night!!!  Apparently the Snow Queen marshelled  her forces for one last sally before her long retreat.

Warm weather over the weekend encouraged my rhubarb to emerge from it's winters nap, which turned out to be a very rude awakening!

Warm weather over the weekend encouraged my rhubarb to emerge from it’s winters nap, which turned out to be a very rude awakening!

www.paulawalton.com

The snow came along with blustery winds, which caused us to loose power several times today.  Fortunately electricity is somewhat optional around our house.  I was snug and warm in the studio, with a cheery fire blazing in my wood stove, while I caught up on some of my hand sewing.

The first of my daffodils opened yesterday, just a few hours before the snow started coming down.

The first of my daffodils opened yesterday, just a few hours before the snow started coming down.

www.paulawalton.com

By early evening most of the snow had melted.  We are in for one or two more cold nights, then the weather is supposed to improve.  Hopefully all of my plants will hang on.

By early evening most of the snow had melted. We are in for one or two more cold nights, then the weather is supposed to improve. Hopefully all of my plants will hang on.

 

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Aunt Ruby's German Green tomato seedlings.

Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomato seedlings.

The tomato seeds that I started last week have germinated just in time to usher in the first day of spring!  After a very white winter these tiny green sprouts are a welcome site.  Thanks to slightly warmer temperatures and yesterday’s down-pouring rain most of the snow has melted off of my vegetable gardens.  It looks like spring has finally come!

This is our "big" vegetable garden.  It's a bit over 60 feet long

This is our “big” vegetable garden. It’s a bit over 60 feet long

The small garden still has a bit of snow.

The small garden still has a bit of snow.

If the weather stays nice I'll be planting rows of sugar snaps peas along the white picket fence in this garden in a few weeks.

If the weather stays nice I’ll be planting rows of sugar snap peas along the white picket fence in this garden in a few weeks.

The cilantro seedlings are starting to unfold... searching for the sunbeams shining in through my windows.

The cilantro seedlings are starting to unfold… searching for the sunbeams shining in through my windows.

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Tobacco barn in the mist www.paulawalton.com

During the past few weeks I have been walking straight into a fairy tale each morning, as I make the short journey between my kitchen and studio doors.  The weather has been changing the story, from a tale about a misty elven forest to one about the ice queen’s glittering domain, but one thing remains the same… they have all been mornings when anything can happen, because there is magic in the air!

www.paulawalton.com

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                                  The End…

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quince marmalade www.paulawalton.com

For me the sharp tang of quince marmalade captures the essence of a New England autumn.  I am fortunate enough to have multiple varieties of quince growing around my property.  We purchased our house on a late autumn day in 1990.  The following spring brought daily surprises as we identified new plants emerging from their deep winter sleep.  In May the enormous shrub, growing just outside our kitchen windows, burst into a glorious explosion of deep  pink blooms.  The reflected glow from the blossoms turned the kitchen into a rosy wonderland.  I loved it, and had absolutely no clue what type of bush it was!  I’d never seen anything like it in the Midwest.  After making inquiries of some of our neighbors, who are lifelong Connecticut residents, I learned that we owned a quince bush.

The deep reddish pink blossoms on the left are from the quince bush that grows outside our kitchen windows.

The deep reddish pink blossoms on the left are from the quince bush that grows outside our kitchen windows.

After doing a bit of research I learned that flowering quince bushes like ours are not true quince.  Flowering quince is a group of three hardy, deciduous shrubs: Chaenomeles cathayensis, Chaenomeles japonica, and Chaenomeles speciosa , in the family Rosaceae. Native to eastern Asia in Japan, China and Korea, flowering quince is related to the orchard quince (Cydonia oblonga), which is grown for its edible fruit, and the Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis). Flowering quince is often referred to as Japanese quince.

Almost harvset time.  Our quince are never beautiful, as we garden organically and are quite frankly negectful orchard keepes... I comfort myself with the thought that 200 years ago quince would not have been perfect and pest free.

Almost harvest time. Our quince are never beautiful, as we garden organically and are quite frankly neglectful orchard keepers… I comfort myself with the thought that 200 years ago quince would not have been perfect and pest free.

Somewhere along the way, my search for information about flowering quince turned into an obsession with true quince trees, their place in history and early 18th and 19th century receipts (recipes) for cooking quince.  In 1908, 14 varieties of common quince were being grown the United States, but by the start of the 21st century that number had shrunk to four or five cultivars that are still widely planted.  When I was searching for quince trees to plant, I wanted older varieties.  Initially I planted Orange and Van Deman trees, and later added  a few Smyrna.

The heavy fruit had bowed this branch of from our quince tree almost to the ground.

The heavy fruit had bowed this branch of from our quince tree almost to the ground.

The varying varieties of quince trees produce fruits with distinct flavors, shapes, and scents, much like different types of apple varieties (although no apple has the intoxicatingly lovely fragrance that ripe quince has).  Some years I keep the fruit pick separated by variety when I cook and other years I don’t.  I love them all and the rest of my family can’t really distinguish the difference between  Van Deman and Orange or Smyrna, although they can tell them apart from the fruits of the flowering quince bushes.

Some of my favorite things about quince are the fact that quince marmalade was actually the first kind of marmalade, the more familiar citrus marmalades came later in culinary history.  Another bit of trivia that I love is the fact that some people think that the apple Eve gave to Adam in the garden of Eden was actually a quince.  Aside from history, I would grow quince just so that I could have a bowlful of them scenting the air in my house every fall!  The fact that they have beautiful blossoms, produce amazing edible fruit, and are related to roses are all just bonuses 🙂

Here is my favorite receipt for Quince Marmalade which is taken from The Williamsburg Art of Cookery which may be purchased online here :

quince marmalade www.paulawalton.comQuince Marmalade

Boil the quinces in water until soft, let them cool, and rub all the pulp through a sieve: put two pounds of it to one of sugar, pound a little cochineal, sift it through fine muslin, and mix with the quince to give a colour; pick out the seeds, tie them in a muslin bag, and boil them with the marmalade; when it is a thick jelly, take out the seeds , and put in pots.

I usually pick the fruits from my quince bushes and make them into juice, by slowly simmering them with just enough water to cover, mashing them, then straining the juice.  Then I use the juice, along with thinly sliced quince from my trees to make the marmalade.  This year I read a recipe that called for grating the quince, instead of slicing it.  It worked very well and went much faster, as you do not need to peel the quince before grating.

Slowly cooked quince usually turns a lovely pinkish, red color on it’s own.  If is doesn’t you can add a drop of food coloring, rather than the cochineal.

Quinces are very high in pectin, so you usually do not need to add any, other than your quince seeds in a muslin bag :), but if you are worried about your marmalade setting up, the new Ball brand powdered pectin is very easy, flexible and forgiving to use.  It also lets you easily adjust for varying size batches of marmalade, jam and jelly.

One of the best  simple pleasures on a cool, crisp fall morning is warm toast, made over an open flame.  I especially love making toast with the toasting fork that my son, Blair, made for me <3

One of the best simple pleasures on a cool, crisp fall morning is warm toast, made over an open flame. I especially love making toast with the toasting fork that my son, Blair, made for me ❤

My son,Colin and daughter-in-law, JungHwa brought me quince tea from South Korea.  You could make a similar tea by infusing a spoonful of quince marmalade and a dab of honey in hot water.

My son,Colin and daughter-in-law, JungHwa brought me quince tea from South Korea. You could make a similar tea by infusing a spoonful of quince marmalade and a dab of honey in hot water.

 

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are.”
Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”
Said the Piggy, “I will”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

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You can now visit A Sweet Remembrance on facebook and Pinterest!

Pinterest boards.  I think you will especially like the one I have set up that shows images of antique clothing, as well as my Dream Home, garden, 18th century kitchen and portrait boards.

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