Calamondin Orange Marmalade: Homemade Beauty for Breakfast . . .

March 23rd, 2018 § 7 comments § permalink

Beauty for Breakfast: Calamondin Orange Marmalade & Vintage Roses 

I really, really wanted a vacation this winter, but fate had other things in mind and personal responsibilities held me close to home. So, I’ve been giving myself mini-staycations to compensate a bit. These weekend retreats —usually nothing more extravagant than a new book, homemade pâtisserie or a trip to the greenhouse— have really made a difference. This new awakening —a beauty renaissance of sorts— seems to be giving my days the je ne sais quoi that I have been seeking. Can the key to happiness be as simple as setting a lovely breakfast table with flowers, fresh-baked bread and homemade Calamondin Orange Marmalade? Perhaps it is not so easy, but I think I may be on to something. There is joy to be found in the creation of a beautiful, everyday experience.

Calamondin Oranges are One of the Easier-to-Grow, Indoor Citrus Trees. For Tips, Click Here to Visit My Previous Post on Growing Citrus Indoors.My Own Calamondin Oranges, Freshly Picked from the Tree Making Your Own Pot of Gold: Calamondin Orange Marmalade

Today’s lesson: celebrate the beauty surrounding you by appreciating, using, and savoring what you’ve got. If you’re a gardener, this is pretty simple in summertime. But in winter? You’ll have to look a bit harder. Have a terrarium or beautiful houseplant? Set that in the middle of your dining room table. Have frozen blueberries in your freezer? Make blueberry popover pancake. Grow herbs on your windowsill? Bake a loaf of No-Knead Rosemary Bread. Have a citrus tree? Harvest some fruit and make a batch of marmalade. It’s amazing how gratitude fosters happiness.

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C a l a m o n d i n   O r a n g e   M a r m a l a d e

Special Equipment:

Food processor, non-corrosive saucepan, candy thermometer, canning jars/lids and canning kit

Ingredients:

1          cup calamondin orange juice/pulp/rind (40-50 calamondin oranges)

1          cup water

2          cups granulated sugar

Have an extra-large harvest of Calamondins? This recipe can be doubled.

Method: 

Wash 40-50 calamondin oranges and pat dry. Slice fruits in half at the equator. Holding fruit over a large liquid measuring cup or small bowl, remove seeds and discard. Fit a slicing blade inside a food processor and toss fruit, rind, pulp, juice and all, into the bowl. Pulse two or three times until the rinds are cut up to the consistency of marmalade. Do not over-process or puree. You can also squeeze the juice/pulp into a bowl and slice the rinds by hand if you don’t have access to a food processor.

Pour the fruit juice/pulp/rind into a large, liquid measuring cup. You should have about 1 cup, but the juiciness of fruit varies. Add water to the reach the 2 cup line and stir well.

Pour the orange/water mixture into a medium sized, non-corrosive saucepan (large if you are making a double batch). Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Slowly, over 10-15 minutes time, add sugar in small amounts and continue to stir the boiling, bubbling mixture. Be sure each amount of sugar dissolves before adding more. After approximately 20 minutes, use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. Remove from heat when the marmalade hits 228°F.

Carefully pour marmalade into sterilized canning jars and seal. Process marmalade in a boiling water canner (5-15 mins according to your altitude and USDA safe canning instructions). USDA instructions for safe canning may be found here.

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Vintage Roses. Oh. Vintage Roses . . .

March 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Vintage Roses: Beautiful Varieties for Home and Garden

There are books a gardener buys to further her education; design specific titles or academic tomes covering the nitty gritty details of horticulture like entomology, botany and soil science. Practical books. Then there are the books a gardener orders just for sheer, visual pleasure. This latter group is the secret stack you pull up on your lap when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing sideways and you just can not stand another moment of dreary weather. You crave the sun-drenched hues and sweet fragrances of summer. This has nothing to do with practicality. It’s time to dream. You need Vintage Roses.

Rx for Winter-Weary Blues: Pull on Your Most Decadent Robe, Pour Yourself a Glass of Bubbly and Dream Away the Hours with Jane Eastoe’s Vintage Roses

I confess that I am on a complete, unabashed, beauty kick. This whole thing got started a couple of months ago, with a copy of Georgianna Lane’s Paris in Bloom (and yes, to be honest, you’re probably going to want to order it, too). That delightful Pandora’s Box —a gift, courtesy of my dear and thoughtful friend Mel— lead me to European trip dreaming, beautiful tart baking and some mighty-gorgeous garden book buying; including a copy of Jane Eastoe and Georgianna Lane’s Vintage Roses.

Warning: Paris in Bloom is a Beauty Addict’s Gateway Drug

Thanks to Georgianna Lane’s Paris in Bloom, I’m Baking Beautiful Tarts and Ogling Beautiful Flowers (yes, more tart recipes are forthcoming).

It’s late March in New England —land of the purposefully prepared— and I’m fed up with all things practical. I’m sick of wool hats, jumper cables, emergency flashlights, ugly plastic shovels, AAA membership renewal notices and road salt. I’m done with bulky coats, studded tires, four-wheel-drive, insulated coffee mugs, hand warmers, road flares, snow blowers, winter weather advisories and ice scrapers. It’s time for summer dresses, sandals, garden parties and ROSES.

One of my favororites: Munstead Wood, a David Austin introduction, beautifully photographed for Vintage Roses by Georgianna Lane

Roses aren’t practical. In fact, roses are so far from practical, they almost make me dance with giddiness. I’ve been a professional horticulturist all my working life, and if anyone tells you that roses are low-maintenance garden plants they are a) selling you something or b) delusional. Roses are prickly, fussy, demanding divas! Blackspot, powdery mildew, wilt, spider mites, rose slugs, aphids; if you are going to grow roses, this is just a short list of your new enemies. So, call me crazy . . .But what is a garden without a rose?

True, when it comes to the genus Rosa, some species and cultivars do make better garden plants than others. This is where a bit of plant-to-garden matchmaking comes in handy. Thanks to Georgianna Lane’s gorgeous flower portraits, Vintage Roses is a virtual who’s who of garden beauties. But beyond it’s obvious aesthetic allure, Vintage Roses also functions as a wonderful, modern rose-match-making tool for gardeners. In addition to providing historic background on each beautifully photographed rose, Jane Eastoe also carefully lists the growth and flowering habit as well as the cultural requirements of each cultivar.

Another David Austin introduction, Fighting Temeraire is a tall, fragrant, mixed border favorite. This Turner fan also loves the historic art reference. Beautifully photographed for Vintage Roses, in situ, by Georgianna Lane.

I grow a number of the shrubs featured in Vintage Roses, and have planted many in client gardens. I will happily vouch for both their beauty and vigor. Constance Spry —that voluptuous, pink coquette— covers an entire wall with thorny, nasty canes and yet she blooms only once per season.  B U T . . . Oh how I relish the memory of those three, glorious weeks in June for the rest of the year. She’s truly a favorite. And then there’s Rose de Rescht. Such a reliable beauty. Sure, I’m fighting her prickly thorns whenever I snip those short-stemmed blossoms for a bud vase, but she blooms to beat the band. And come late September? Oh those fragrant, cold roses are truly unforgettable.

Vintage Roses Gathered from My Own Garden: Rose de Rescht, Constance Spry and Bibi Maizoon

Sick of winter? Well, join me then. Brew a pot of Earl Grey and serve yourself a decadent plate of pâtisserie. Then, wrap yourself in a luxurious hour or two with Vintage Roses. Soon, the snow will melt and Springtime will draw near. Those dirty snowbanks will soon be but a distant memory. In meantime, you’ll have your vintage roses ordered and be ready to slip those beauties in the ground.

In My Garden, Vintage Beauty Rose de Rescht Blooms Past the Frost

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Neither product nor compensation were provided for the review of Vintage Roses.

Photography, with exceptions noted above, is copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Welcome, Spring?

March 20th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Camellia japonica ‘Imbricata Rubra Plena’ at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden

The Vernal Equinox occurs at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time today, but it sure doesn’t feel like spring. True, there may be signs here and there —increasing daylight, bird song, pussy willows— but the air is still chilly and a thick blanket of snow covers the ground. For a couple of weeks, I entertained the idea of jetting off for Spring in Paris, but it seems Winter has that on her itinerary as well. Ho well. Guess I’ll be hibernating in the kitchen with my citrus trees and humidifying my skin at Lyman Conservatory for a wee bit longer!

While Waiting for the Thaw: Tarty Lime Tart to Nibble & Blooming Books to Review

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It Sifts from Leaden Sieves, It Powders All the Wood . . .

March 15th, 2018 § 4 comments § permalink

It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain, —
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem, —
The summer’s empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen, —
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

Emily Dickinson

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Nibbling Lemon Tart as the Snow Falls

March 11th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Meyer Lemon Tart 

What is it about late-winter snow storms that inspires me to bake? Perhaps it’s the warm oven and comforting aromas, or maybe it’s post-snow-shovel sugar cravings? Either way, this has always been the case for me. Of course, baking during a blizzard —when the threat of a power outage looms large— is a big risk.  So, I try to think of things I can bake in less than an hour. Snow also means using the ingredients on hand, since travel is out of the question.

Walking back from my tractor after making a quick, snow-clearing pass down the drive, I paused to admire the snow-dusted Witch Hazel. Oh, sugar-sprinkled lemon tart? Inspiration struck! Homegrown citrus —lemon, lime and calamondin— I usually have from my own trees (see tips for growing your own citrus here). This year, my Meyer Lemon has been a little stingy —I think I brought it inside a bit late, exposing it to frost— but it has finally relented; offering up 3 ripe fruits. Fresh eggs? Check. Butter? Check. Cream? Oh yes . . . Always. Time for a lemon tart!

Inspiration for a Sugar-Dusted Tart: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’

Dressed with Half a Container of Organic Raspberries & Dusted with Confectioner’s Sugar

Hamilton Beech Commercial Citrus Juicer. Less-than-Perfect Lemons = Perfectly Fine Juice for a Perfectly Delicious Tart

I am a fresh citrus lover. Long before I began growing my own lemons, limes and calamondins, I started pressing fresh juice for drinking, cooking, baking and cocktail-making. For years I had a cumbersome and flimsy citrus press, then voila, this fantastic, Hamilton Beech commercial citrus juicer appeared beneath the tree one Christmas and I have never looked back. If you love pressing citrus, this tool will make short work (and fun), of the process. I find that I get more juice (and if double pressing, pulp too), when using a strong press.

M e y e r    L e m o n    T a r t

I n g r e d i e n t s 

One pre-baked, sweet tart shell (see recipe below)

½     cup Meyer lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons & their zest, depending upon size)

2     eggs

3     egg yolks

6     tbs sugar

2     tbs cream

pinch of fine salt

6     tbs best-quality, unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Confectioner’s Sugar & Organic Raspberries for Decoration/Serving

M e t h o d 

Juice the lemons, (I love my Hamilton Beech commercial citrus juicer), pressing as much pulp as possible through the strainer, and grate the peels. Add both juice and peel together, in a small bowl (watch for and remove seeds, if hand pressing). Beat eggs and egg yolks together with sugar until just mixed. Add egg/sugar mixture to a heavy saucepan and warm over low heat. Add cream, stirring constantly. Add the juice mixture, again stirring non-stop as you go. Add the salt and then the butter pieces, slowly stirring as they melt. When the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon, remove from the heat and allow to sit 5 minutes. Whisk to smooth and pour into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate to chill for about a half hour or keep chilled for up to two weeks.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Fill the cooled, pre-baked tart shell (do not over-fill), and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just set (slightly puffed and firmed but still a bit wobbly at center). Remove and allow to cool for an hour before serving or place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

If refrigerating, allow the tart to come back to room temperature (about an hour), before serving. When the tart has reached room temp, garnish with raspberries, dust with confectioner’s sugar & serve.

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P â t e    S a b l é e

(Sweet Dough for 9″ Tart)

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi

I n g e d i e n t s 

1 ½     cups (201 grams) all-purpose flour

½     cup (60 grams)  confectioner’s sugar

¼     tsp grated lemon zest

¼     tsp fine sea salt

9 tbs (4 ½ oz/128 grams) chilled, best-quality, unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

1     large egg yolk

M e t h o d

Place the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Lift the lid and scatter butter over dry ingredients. Cover again and pulse until the mixture is roughly the size of peas. Slowly add in yolk, mixing in short pulses. Then, increase pulsing to 10 second intervals until the dough forms small clumps. Stop here. Do not overwork. Rinse your hands in ice water, dry and turn the dough out onto a work surface.

Mix with the heel of your hand, smearing across the counter, rather than kneading, until blended. Gather up in a ball and flatten to a disk.

Butter a tart pan (I like to use a removable bottom tart pan), and evenly press the dough over the bottom and up the sides. Do not overwork. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and cover with foil. Place in a freezer for about an hour or longer —or overnight— before removing to bake.

Center an oven rack and preheat to 400°F.

Place the frozen tart on a cookie sheet and bake blind for 25-30 minutes (or until golden brown). You need not use pie weights if you have properly chilled the tart, it should not shrink much. Remove from the oven and cool for at least ½ hour before adding lemon filling.

Meyer Lemons and Tart

Post-Nor’easter: Eighteen Inches of New-Fallen Snow in the Garden

Meyer Lemon Tart: Antidote to Late-Winter Blues

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Narcissus, Tulipa & Fragrant Hyacinth: Smith Botanic Garden’s 2018 Bulb Show

March 7th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Tulipa, Narcissus & Sweetly Fragrant Hyacinth at Lyman Conservatory

It’s 3:30 p.m. and snow is falling steadily here in Southern Vermont. The forecast is calling for 5-8  inches overnight. These late winter storms can really give a gardener the blues, but I knew this nor’easter was coming, so I prepared. Bread and milk? Oh, no, no, no. Tulipa, Narcissus and Hyacinthus, thank you very much. I skipped the grocery line and did my pre-storm prep at Smith College Botanic Garden’s 2018 Bulb Show at Lyman Conservatory . . .

Layers of Beauty: Narcissus & Tulipa Stepped Below a Regal Cycad in Lyman Conservatory

Gloriously Fragrant: Deep Violet Hyacinth with Osteospermum & Primula

Classically Arranged Tulips and Daffodils Surround Statuary, Backed by Columnar Thuja

Visiting the Smith Botanic Garden Bulb Show is great fun, of course. However, it can also provide wonderful design inspiration for your own springtime garden. I love seeing how the show is curated each year. With beautifully combined tropical plants and wild tangles of bare and blooming native branches, 2018’s Bulb Show is a strong thematic departure from last year’s Impressionist-inspired installation. The color combinations and fragrant selections were particularly stellar this year.

Bold Color & Texture to Inspire: Red Twig Dogwood & Pussy Willow Branches Combine with Hot Hued Tulips and Clivia at Lyman Conservatory

If you’ve popped a few daffodils in here and there, but never seriously considered planting bulbs en masse, visiting a spring bulb show or a large public garden in April or early May is quite likely all the convincing you’ll need. Looking critically will also provide evidence for why the creation of a well-considered design and planting plan is so important. Flower color, fragrance, form, texture, foliage and plant height are just a few of the obvious considerations when planting spring bulbs. Bloom time and length of flowering, moisture and sunlight requirements, drainage, foliage yellowing/die-back and perennial cover as well as nearby shrub or tree companions must all be taken into account. Bulb shows provide the perfect opportunity to spot flowers you like and combinations you prefer, in real-time. Take a notebook and use your camera to snap shots of plant tags as well as individual flowers and vignettes.

Stepping Up and Back on the Stairs to Observe the Drifts of Color in the Planting Scheme at the 2018 Smith Botanic Garden Bulb Show

Nothing compares to the joy of the first blossoms of springtime. If you happen to be in Northampton, Massachusetts between now and March 18th, 2018, I highly recommend a visit to the Spring Bulb Show in Lyman Conservatory at Smith College’s Botanic Garden. Visiting hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday extended hours 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM. The suggested donation is $5 per person. With so much fragrance and color, it’s like stepping out of a black and white film, on over the rainbow, and into the Land of Oz.

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Who, Who, Who? Who Cooks for You? The Beautiful Barred Owl, Of Course!

March 3rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Barred Owl (Strix varia), Surveys the Garden from a Fence Post

If you’ve spent time in the woods at dusk or dawn —or gone camping anywhere along the east coast— chances are you have heard a Barred Owl, even if you’ve never seen one. This beautiful raptor’s call, “Who cooks for you, who, who, who“, often followed by a maniacal cackle, is one of the first birdcalls that I could identify as a kid. To this day, I delight in barred owl eavesdropping at night. Their conversations (click here and listen to ‘duet’), fascinate me.

Barred owls are quite common in my deeply forested landscape. I often spot them at daybreak or in the lingering twilight —frequently along the edge of the woods. My garden fencepost (as you can see above), is a favorite hunting perch for rodents. How convenient for both of us! The Barred Owl prefers mature, mixed forests, where it nests in hollow tree cavities. Learn more about this important predator here, at All About Birds.

Now all I want to know is, what’s for dinner!

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Forward March: Signs of a New Season

March 1st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) greets the sun

Although it’s a mostly-winter month —and oh how I dread the lion’s roar!— March is filled with the promise of springtime. Witch Hazel, Pussy Willow, Spring Heath, Snowdrops, Crocus: everywhere I look, the signs appear! And so I venture forth, into the garden, calling out the lamb.

Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

 

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