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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!

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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!

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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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Patty pan squash, pink eyed purple podded peas, and heirloom tomatoes growing in my garden.

Patty pan squash, pink eyed purple podded peas, and heirloom tomatoes growing in my garden.

Every year I grow an abundance of summer squash in my gardens.  One of my favorites is patty pan squash.  The doll making retreat that I held last fall was in late September, when my squash were still plentiful, but my tomatoes and eggplants were at the end of their seasons.  You can change the proportions of the vegetables in this recipe to fit what you have available.  Ratatouille normally has quite a few tomatoes in it.IMG_2049

Ratatouille

3 large Vidalia onions

4 assorted heirloom tomatoes

2 small eggplants

6 medium patty pan squash

8 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese

6 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

sea salt

Wash the vegetables and cut them into 1 inch cubes.  Put the vegetables  into a crock pot with a removable stoneware insert.  Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  Place the stoneware insert in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours.  Remove from oven and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, put the insert into the crock pot.  Add Parmesan cheese and the basil, stir lightly to mix.  Cook in the crock pot on high for 4 hours.

IMG_2057

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Freshly washed Dragon's Tongue beans on the left and Pink Eyed Purple Podded Peas on the right.

Freshly washed Dragon’s Tongue beans on the left and Pink Eyed Purple Podded Peas on the right.

As part of  my Izannah Walker Doll Making Retreat in September, I cooked lunch for everyone, using some of the fresh produce from my gardens.  I promised to post recipes for a few of the favorites, so here they are.  Just in time for your 2013 garden planning!

Black Eyed Pea Salad

1-2 cups of shelled, cooked and cooled black eyed peas, pink eyed purple podded  peas or other field/cow peas (you may also substitute 1 can of rinsed black eyed peas)

1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into thin rings

4-6 cups of washed and dried field greens or young lettuces

optional: 1 cup of cooled, steamed “tender-crisp” young black eyed peas or pink eyed purple podded peas in the pod – cook them just as you would young green beans

1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar – or to taste

1/2 cup of olive oil

3/4 teaspoon sea salt – or to taste

1 teaspoon sugar – or to taste

Mix last four ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well.  Place black eyed peas, pea pods and onions in a bowl.  Pour all of the vinaigrette over the top.  Refrigerate at least one hour.  Before serving, place lettuce in a large salad bowl or individual bowls.  Spoon marinated peas, pods and onions over the top along with some of the vinaigrette.  Serve with croutons if desired.

Heirloom Dragon Tongue Beans in my garden.

Heirloom Dragon Tongue Beans in my garden.

MORE…

Another similar recipe, that is a favorite of mine, is this one that I’ve adapted from an heirloom Shaker receipt.

"Dill Marinated Beans" Dragon Tongue beans, Pink Eyed Purple Podded Peas and dill in jars, before adding vinaigrette.

“Dill Marinated Beans” Dragon Tongue beans, Pink Eyed Purple Podded Peas and dill in jars, before adding vinaigrette.

Dill Marinated Beans

6 cups of fresh beans and/or young field pea pods – cooked tender crisp in boiling salted water – then cooled

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (or to taste)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)

1 cup of fresh dill – roughly chopped

Place cooled, cooked beans and peas in clean jars with tight fitting lids (canning jars work perfectly for this).  Divide dill between the jars.  Pour the remaining vinaigrette ingredients into a separate jar, screw lid on tightly, shake well until thoroughly combined.  Pour the vinaigrette over the beans and dill, dividing evenly amongst the jars.  Cap the jars of beans and refrigerate at least overnight.  These are delicious served as a cold side dish, or spooned over mixed  greens as a salad.  They make wonderful picnic food too!

Fresh dill grown in a recycled granite-ware canning pot.

Fresh dill grown in a recycled granite-ware canning pot.

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May Day

Corinna’s Going A-Maying

by Robert Herrick

GET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air :
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bow’d toward the east
Above an hour since : yet you not dress’d ;
Nay ! not so much as out of bed?
When all the birds have matins said
And sung their thankful hymns, ’tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.


Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora.  Take no care
For jewels for your gown or hair :
Fear not ; the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you :
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept ;
Come and receive them while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth.   Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.


Come, my Corinna, come ; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimm’d with trees : see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch : each porch, each door ere this
An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields and we not see’t ?
Come, we’ll abroad ; and let’s obey
The proclamation made for May :
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying ;
But, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.


There’s not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
Some have despatch’d their cakes and cream
Before that we have left to dream :
And some have wept, and woo’d, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
Many a green-gown has been given ;
Many a kiss, both odd and even :
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, love’s firmament ;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick’d, yet we’re not a-Maying.


Come, let us go while we are in our prime ;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun ;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne’er be found again,
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

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