Winter Fruit Gratin with Rum Raisins

February 1st, 2019 § 2 comments § permalink

Sugar-Dusted, Rum-Soaked, Winter Fruit Gratin

It’s 7 a.m., February first, and I’m sitting beside a roaring fire, watching the hot pink sunrise. So far, I’ve done nothing more ambitious than scatter bird seed and add a couple of birch logs to the wood stove. My outside thermometer reads -1F. Mornings like these always stir the baking bug, sometimes just for the comforting fragrance of warm vanilla.

When I’ve got a busy schedule —and I haven’t been to the market in a few days— I often bake something simple, utilizing an ingredient I always have on hand: fruit. I’m still waiting to harvest enough ripe Calamondin oranges or limes for a tart, but as usual, apples and pears from the local market are overflowing my fruit bowl. Time for another winter gratin!

Gratins are endlessly adaptable and come together in a snap for a simple weeknight dessert or, when glazed with jelly or dusted with a bit of confectioner’s sugar, a pretty brunch. I’ve made them in baking pans and cast iron skillets; often using unpeeled apples or firm pears, and if I have both I will combine apples and pears together. Quince makes a delicious gratin as well, when in season. I love adding cranberries or raisins to fruit gratins; especially when soaked in spirits like rum or brandy. You can make this dessert gluten free by using almond flour and/or vegan by swapping plant-based milk and butter for the dairy. In other words, this is a crowd-pleasing, house favorite.

Winter Fruit Gratin

Ingredients:

2 lbs apples, pears or quince (3-4 apples), cored & thinly sliced. Peeling is optional (I prefer a more rustic & colorful gratin)

1/2 cup flour (use 1:1 gluten free if you like, or almond flour)

1 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs at room temp (vegans can try Just for All’s egg substitute)

pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract (sub rum or brandy if desired)

1/2 cup milk (sub almond or other plant-based milk if vegan)

2 Tbs butter, melted & cooled (coconut oil/butter sub for vegans)

1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries), pre soaked in spirits if desired

2 Tbs rum or brandy (calvados) for soaking raisins (optional)

Confectioner’s sugar or cinnamon for dusting or apple jelly for glazing (optional)

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (a divine option)

Directions:

Preheat an oven, with rack centered, to 400 degrees F. Butter (or spray) an 8” square baking dish or cast iron skillet.

Set 1/2 cup of raisins in a small bowl with 2 Tbs rum, to soak.

Place sliced apples/pears/quince in the baking dish or skillet.

Mix the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and salt with a whisk for a couple of minutes until the eggs are light and the sugar is well blended. Add the vanilla, milk and butter, whisking all the while. Add the flour mixture and whisk until you have a smooth batter.

Add the raisins or cranberries (no need to drain), to the sliced fruit and toss to combine.

Fold the batter into the fruit mixture with a spatula, gently turning until all the fruit is well coated. Level and slightly smooth the lumpy top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until risen at middle and golden on top. You can check for doneness with a knife inserted at the center. If it pulls out clean, the gratin is ready.

Cool for 20 minutes before dusting with confectioner’s sugar, or brushing with jelly, and serving.

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Frost Flowers & Gifts of Cold Weather

January 31st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Frost Flowers: Gift of Still, Cold, Dry Winter Air

Mid-Winter in north country can be brutally cold –I’ll be the first to admit that single digit and sub zero temps aren’t my favorite– but if you’re willing to bundle up and explore, you’ll find that even the most frigid days have their beauty. Frost flowers are one of the great gifts of cold, dry winter air and smooth, clear, frozen bodies of water. Have you spotted these icy ephemerals this season?

Frost Flower Drift on Thin Ice

Frost flowers aren’t flowers at all of course, but a rare, natural phenomenon, usually occurring on windless mornings when outside air temperatures are below 5F. These exquisite, frozen “blossoms” form when water vapor —slightly warmer than surrounding air— crystalizes on the surface of smooth ice. When conditions are just right, entire meadows of frost flowers will bloom on open waters. If you hope to spot a field of these frozen beauties, you’ll have to be an early riser; frost flowers only bloom in extreme cold, and they quickly fade away with the warmth of even the chilliest winter sunrise.Warm, Winter Sunlight Quickly Melts the Crystal Flowers Away 

Find more fascinating ice formations —including a different kind of frost flowers— and scientific explanations for the phenomenon, here

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A Rendezvous with Exotic Beauty: Camellia Confessions on a Winter’s Day

January 26th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Camellia japonica ‘Tama-no-ura’ in the Camellia Corridor at Lyman Conservatory. My House Favorite.

Camellias are not cold hardy, and although there are a few exceptions (recent introductions claim survivos in USDA zone 6), they are considered zone 7-9 plants. Perhaps that is why these alluring beauties haunt my dreams. Why do we long for that which we can not have? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love to garden in New England, but if I could grow Japanese Camellias, I certainly would! In meantime, there’s always the Camellia Cooridor at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden.

And so —on a bitter, sub-zero, January day— I bundle myself up and head out for a steamy, glasshouse rendezvous. Camellias come into bloom anytime from mid to late winter (December to March) when grown in glasshouses, or outdoors in warmer climates. At Lyman Conservatory, peak flowering in the Camellia Cooridor begins in January. Opening the side door and slipping inside is like catching the sweet breath of springtime . . .

Powdery, flushed & breathless. Dressed for a glasshouse rendezvous. Camellia x ‘Ballet in Pink’ at Lyman Conservatory

Camellia japonica ‘Monjisu’ in the Camellia Corridor at Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory.

Camellia japonica ‘Rose Pink’, Showing Off My Favorite Form. 

The Camellia is native to Asia. A sign at Smith College Botanic Garden tells me that there are more than 250 wild species growing in sub-tropical regions of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Whether grown indoors or out, Camellia japonica (and popular hybrids), prefer semi-shaded positions and well-drained but rich, moist, acidic (pH 5.6-6.5), soil. When grown in pots, Camellias enjoy the same ambient temperature as many citrus trees (a perfect, cool glasshouse companion), with a maximum indoor range around 55F. That’s a little cool for my house, but it’s perfect for a orangerie. Shall we build one? I confess a glasshouse is a long-standing fantasy but it does seem rather extravagant. Perhaps someday. But for now the winter flowering Camellias are one of many great excuses to spend a day in my favorite conservatory. Thank you for a lifetime of pleasure, Smith College.

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Here Come the Citrus!

January 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Calamondin Orange Trees Blossom & Fruit Simultaneously, Providing Sporadic Harvests Throughout the Year and a House Filled with Seductive Scent

It’s citrus season here in my indoor eden, and although the harvest does not include larger fruits, these Meyer lemons, Calamondin oranges and Key limes still pack a powerful punch. Is there anything more uplifting than a jolt of tart-sweet flavor and brilliant color on a northern table at this time of year? It’s almost enough to make you forget the coming nor’easter!

I’m sure I’ll be sharing a citrus-based recipe or two over the coming weeks, but in meantime you may want to consider adding a tree to your own home. Calamondin oranges are easy to grow and perform much better as houseplants than other citrus trees. Meyer lemons are another good choice, and Key limes also do well. Travel back to last year’s post —Calamondin Orange: Sunshine in a Pot— to learn more about selecting and growing Calamondins and other citrus trees indoors.

The Calamondin’s are Comin’ On

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Sweet & Spicy Southwestern Frittata: Vegetarian & Delicious!

January 8th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Sweet & Spicy Southwestern Frittata Warms Chilly Winter Days

On these dark, chilly winter days, I often crave something hot and spicy to warm me up and get me going or to provide cozy comfort after a raw afternoon spent sanding the driveway. With a freezer full of colorful summer vegetables —like corn and bell peppers— big, fluffy frittatas have been finding their way to the kitchen table at least once a week for breakfast or dinner.

To make this favorite dish healthier, yet still substantial enough to serve at the center of a meal, I’ve been swapping a favorite, new vegan option —Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage in place of the usual chorizo or bacon in recipes. The first time I tasted Field Roast’s delicious alternatives to animal products, I was wowed by both their flavor and texture. Soon, I found myself slipping them into chili, casseroles and pastas. When I snuck Field Roast’s Mexican Chipotle Sausage into my southwestern frittata, not only did the vegan sausage slip by unnoticed, but the delicious, spicy links actually drew compliments from devoted carnivores. Served with a fresh salad and oven-roasted potatoes, this southwestern frittata is great for Meatless Monday and even makes a brunch or dinner guest worthy meal. How are you using up your frozen garden bounty this winter?

Sweet & Spicy Southwest Frittata

Special Equipment:

12” cast iron skillet (or other oven-proof skillet)

Ingredients:

8 Large eggs

1/4 Cup milk

1 Cup grated cheddar cheese

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Links (184g) Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage, cut to bite size pieces

1/2 Cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 Orange or red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into bite size bits

3 Scallions, including green tops, coarsely chopped

1 Jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven to upper rack & preheat to broil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, reserving remainder of the cheese for later.
  3. Heat the olive oil in cast iron skillet on medium-high.
  4. Add sausage bits and sauté on medium high until lightly brown. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, remove to plate and set aside.
  5. Add scallions, jalapeño, bell pepper to skillet and sauté until soft (3 minutes). Add corn and sauté another minute. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
  6. Return sausage to skillet and immediately pour in the egg mixture. Adjust heat to medium and cook, stirring and turning, scraping from bottom up, creating loose curd throughout (about 2 minutes).
  7. Top the frittata with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese while continuing to cook, undisturbed, another couple of minutes to set bottom and sides.
  8. Using an oven mitt, place the skillet in the oven and broil for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Watch closely!
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro. Allow frittata to cool a few minutes before cutting and serving

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Welcome Stick Season: In Praise of Beautiful Bark & Colorful Twigs

January 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Cornus sericea : Fire in Ice

In New England, winter is often referred to as stick season. It’s not a term of endearment. November, December, January and February are long, dark months, and by March we are truly longing for the green leaves that won’t appear ‘til May. Six months is a long time to live without color and for this reason alone, planning a winter garden is important.

Betula papyrifera: Chalky White Beauty from a Distance and Peachy Peels Up Close

Why do so many gardeners overlook this long season when planning and planting in springtime? My guess is that by May, when garden centers finally open, it’s just impossible for for twigs to compete with flowers! Perhaps anticipating the distraction will provide incentive to design a four season garden in January!

The Backlit Beauty of Acer griseum’s Auburn Curls

Feeling bit of mid-winter cabin fever? Travel back to my winter garden design posts —such as this one from last year— for a little insiration, then take a stroll around your yard with a camera in hand. Now come back inside where it’s warm, pour a hot cup of tea, and pull out your photos and a notepad. How could you add to the picture? Cornus sericea twigs for vertical red or chartreuse lines? Betula papyrifera for peeling, peachy cream scrolls or Acer griseum for curls of orange and rust? Perhaps the multicolored exfoliation of Stewartia pseudocamilla, Cornus kousa or Halesia tetraptera, among others. And remember the many flowering beauties with hidden, winter interest: Heptacodium miconioides, Hydrangea quercifolia and Physocarpus opulifolius to name a favorite few.

I Enjoy the Brilliant Bark of Cornus sericea and Cornus alba Cultivars on Garden Walks as Well as from Windows, Throughout the Winter Months


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Happy New Year & Welcome 2019

January 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Acer palmatum Wears a Cloak of Ice

Welcome, a very warm welcome indeed, to 2019. Last year was a tough one, filled with great loss, and I am eager to turn the page. Although we must wait until March for rebirth to begin in the garden, extra minutes of daylight have already begun to add length to our days.

I am grateful.

Secret Garden, Bejeweled for New Year’s Celebrations

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Song of the Solstice

December 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Low, the Winter Sun . . .

SOLSTICE GREETINGS

Winter begins today at 5:23 p.m. EST (22:23 UTC), and although we’ve been experiencing wintry weather for more than a month in Vermont, shortening days remind me that the long, cold season has only just begun.

Red Tulips Brighten the Monochromatic View

The next week or so will be filled with baking, cooking, eating, drinking, socializing and celebrating. But what after that? How do we remain active and connected to nature throughout these dark and chilly winter months? On warmer days, I try to get outside for long walks or snow shoe treks through the forest. During cold spells, regular trips to local conservatories and greenhouses can help to lift my spirits, as do bouquets of brightly colored flowers. I’ve got a stack of garden and landscape books to inspire springtime dreaming and a collection of houseplants help to keep me connected to nature as well; especially the citrus trees! How do you get through the stick season?

Waxing Cold Moon through the Silverbell Trees. December’s Full Moon is Tomorrow!

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Winter Wild: Eastern Bobcat Sighting

December 20th, 2018 § 1 comment § permalink

A Visit from the Eastern Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

One of my favorite things about the start of this quiet season is feeding birds and squirrels on the back terrace. Sipping coffee and watching noisy, red squirrel antics and beautiful birds gathering seed is a great way to start the day. The breakfast crowd varies from year-to-year, and sometimes, I get an unusual morning guest or two. Deer, moose, red fox and black bear are relatively common, but two winters ago, I spotted something a bit more unusual: a bobcat (Lynx rufus), skirting the edge of the forest. Once I confirmed the ID by checking its tracks, I waited and waited for a return visit. Bobcat sightings, even in prime habitat such as this —wooded, ledgy and remote— are fairly unusual. The stealthy species is solitary, crepuscular and naturally camouflaged with a gorgeous, white splotched, black spotted, tawny coat. And then there is that short, twitching, bobbed tail. What a sight if you can catch it!

Fast forward a year, and lucky me, the bobcat returned. Late last winter, I noticed a glowing set of eyes peering out from beneath the juniper bushes. A booming gray squirrel population seemed to be drawing the cats closer. And then, one morning, I awoke to the sound of frantic claws and loud scolding from my roof. Curious, I crept downstairs to have a look and there, perched atop the woodpile, was an amazing sight: a beautiful, large bobcat, fully engaged in a squirrel hunt. I knew I’d never reach my camera in time, so I held my breath in wide-eyed wonder and simply enjoyed the show. After a tense few minutes, the standoff between wildcat and gray squirrel ended with a disappointed feline retreating to the forest.

Hello There, Gorgeous!

I figured I’d forever missed my opportunity for such a close-up photo, but ever the optimist, I kept the camera close-by for a couple of weeks. Good thinking! Not only did my beautiful neighbor return, but I was treated to a repeat show. Apparently, bird feeders provide a tempting target. I quickly snapped a few photos and then the graceful hunter disappeared for the season; thwarted once again by fast-moving squirrels.

Though infrequently spotted, the elusive eastern bobcat is a relatively common species in Vermont and elsewhere in New England. Swamps, bogs, wooded mountains and ledgy areas within coniferous forests —like my property— are the bobcat’s preferred habitat. Reaching approximately twice the size of an average, domestic house cat, this 15-35 pound predator’s diet consists mainly of small birds and mammals; including mouse, chipmunk, squirrel, cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare. In winter, when snow depth serves to advantage, white tailed deer become an important part of the bobcat’s diet.

Hope to See You Soon . . .

Will I be seeing more of this beautiful wildcat? I sure hope so, though the neighborhood squirrels and rabbits will certainly disagree! Have you spotted a bobcat in the wild? Any other unusual wildlife sightings in your garden?

Article and Images copyright Michaela 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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Early Winter

November 20th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Secret Garden, Mid-November 

Winter arrived early this year —more than a month early, with 8″ of snow on November 15th, to be exact— leaving me a bit underprepared. Mother Nature decides when the seasons change, and she couldn’t care less about our plans. Those bulbs you bought on sale in late October? Guess you’ll be potting those up now, silly fool. Put off that brush clearing? Welcome to the jungle next spring, sweetie. Half-stacked firewood? Baby, it’s cold outside and it will be inside as well if you don’t smarten up. Old Man Winter caught you lounging on the terrace with that mug of hot chocolate, and he had a good long laugh. You call yourself a New Englander? Oh, now you shall pay!

Dark. Cold. Snowbound. More December 20th than November 20th in Vermont

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A Bit of Seasonal Hocus-Pocus

October 29th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Blood-Red Leaves and Blackened Wings? Must be the Season of the Witch . . .

Whispers of Fog Fade the October Garden

Muting Golden Hues to Bronze and Rust

Whilst Chilly Raindrops Shimmer the Autumn Weaver’s Webs

Lengthening Shadows Darken Pools & Haunt Mirrors

But Fear No Evil Spirits. Through Misty Glass, Ezekiel Guards the Wild Domain

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Second Thoughts & Encores . . .

October 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

With a Backdrop of Golden Clethra alnifolia and Side-Show of Blackened Rudbeckia Pom Poms, Glistening Asclepias tubersoa (Butterfly Weed), Parachutes Await a Breeze

Some things in life are one-hit wonders, and others are worth a second thought or three. When it comes to gardening in a cold climate, I’m always looking to get the most out of my growing year. With this in mind, I am generally pretty picky in my selection of plants. With rare exceptions (fragrant plants like peonies come to mind), I ask at least two seasons of performance before I’ll let any newcomer through my garden gate. Points of consideration: flowers are a real plus, but their absence is not a deal-breaker; good bones are always important, especially for trees and shrubs; foliage —dramatic or changing— is considered a high value asset in both herbaceous and woody plants; and colorful berries/drupes/seeds/calyxes/tufts/bark are always very desirable.

The three plants featured here are unusual knock-outs both in bloom and again, later in the season with other special effects. Butterfly Weed (Aesclepias tuberosa), gets double points as a beautiful butterfly magnet; foliage for caterpillars and later, brilliant orange flowers for adults. But it’s autumn that brings out this plant’s hidden treasure: spiky, dramatic seed pods that split to release silver-white parachutes into blue October sky. Magic!

Recently Featured, Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), is an Autumnal Double Feature worth Repeating. Here Seven-Son Flower’s Calyxes Shimmer Alongside Rose-Tipped Tufts of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), recently featured, is another butterfly favorite in the late-season garden. Watching Monarchs dance about the fragrant blossoms would be gift enough, but the long-showing rose calyxes offer an unusual hue at this time of year. I love this plant paired with purple-tinted Ninebark leaves (Physocarpus opulifolius, ‘Diablo’ is my favorite), and silken tassels of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Another less-common beauty, Fingerleaf Rodgersia  (Rodgersia aesculifolia), offers three season interest from early to late in the garden year. Creamy white or pink cultivars bloom on sturdy stems in late spring through early summer, looking fresh and cool above gorgeous, dark green foliage. Then, in early autumn, the boney remains begin to ruddy up to purplish ruby, just as the leaves morph to gold. Sweet alchemy! Don’t grab your shears just yet, though. Left standing over winter, the flower heads will slowly shift from dark brown to jet black —perfection with sparkling frost or a light dusting of snow.

With gorgeous foliage and beautiful summertime flowers, Fingerleaf Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia), is just a great garden plant, all the way around. Still, I think her best attributes are on display in autumn, when her gilded foliage is offset by a bejeweled crown, shifting from complementary ruby-violet to dramatic jet black bead.

So many garden plants offer more than one season of beauty, but sometimes, it takes a bit of sleuthing to discover them. Of course it helps to haunt great public gardens and commercial displays at this time of year. Make notes for shopping clearance sales at garden centers or return in spring to snap up those collectible, rare gems before they’re all sold out. The best plants are always worth at least a second thought!

Article and Images copyright Michaela 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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These Last Golden Days

September 13th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Monarch on Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

With little more than a week of summer remaining, I find myself looking back on the season with a twinge of sadness. Although I adore autumn, I wonder how it arrived so quickly. Spring was late this year, and our hot, rainy summer went a bit too fast. When did the Hermit Thrush stop singing? Where did the wild raspberries go?

September’s Garden: Rudbeckia fulgida, Miscanthus purpurascens, Miscanthus sinensis, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’, Hepacodium miconioides

Glancing across the room, blushing hydrangea, golden wildflowers and ripe peaches fill my countertop. It’s still summer, but it’s certainly feels like autumn on this misty, moody day. Perhaps a stroll through the garden and a home-baked galette will raise some cheer.

Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’

 

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Misty Glasshouse Dreaming

April 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Favorite Dreary-Day Escape: Seeking Inspiration at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden, Northampton, MA

Melancholy mornings, moody afternoons and long, rainy weekends; I can think of a hundred-and-one excuses for a trip to Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory. But when spring is this raw and wintry weather so unrelenting, I really crave the warm, humid comfort of a glorious greenhouse.

Fern House Magic: Lyman’s Wardian Case Vignettes Have Long Been a Point of Delight. This Spot Stirs Up My Shade Garden Fantasies  

 With planting season right around the corner —and annual pot displays on my mind— Lyman Conservatory has once again become my favorite place for a bit of tropical design inspiration.  It’s always great fun to play with exotic colors and textures in seasonal planting beds and summertime pots. Where perennials, shrubs and trees are permanent investments —requiring careful planning and placement— annual and tropical plants are temporary, lighthearted guests in our New England landscape. Like summer lovers, they invite us to kick off our shoes and relax a bit. Go ahead, let your hair down they say. Stop taking this gardening business so seriously.

Here’s a look at few more things that recently caught my eye in the greenhouse . . .

Clivia miniata ‘Grandiflora’. What About Orange? Such an Under Utilized Beauty in New England Gardens. People are Often Scared of Committing to Orange. So Try it in a Pot! 

Inspired by a Light and Airy Touch, I’m Thinking Palm Fronds and Swaying Blossoms to Catch the Breeze on My Balcony. Glowing Brazilian Candles (Triplochlamys multiflora, aka Pavonia multiflora, Malvaceae, Brazil), at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden And What About Those Shady Spots? Ooh, folia, folia. Double fantasia. Begonia brevimirosa ssp. exotica. Always Consider the Leaf! Hot Pink and Fuchsia? Yes, Yes, Yes! 

I can’t wait to get back to Smith Botanic Garden for another color charge!

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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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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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Welcome Back, Purple Finch

February 15th, 2018 § Comments Off on Welcome Back, Purple Finch § permalink

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus), Lights Upon Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) 

The Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus, pictured above), with its raspberry-stained plumage and sweet, warbling song, is an occasional guest at my bird feeders during the winter months. With color scarce at this time of year, I am grateful for the brilliant-colored beauty and musical backdrop provided by this lovely, native bird.

The plummy-red hued, male Purple Finches are easy to spot at feeders and if you are hoping to attract them, it’s helpful to know that they are especially fond of black oil sunflower seeds! The female Purple Finch is mostly brown and white, with a streaky underbelly and white brow. In winter, small flocks also visit my flower beds, feasting upon seeds from perennial plants and ornamental grasses. In the landscape beyond, I sometimes spot them in the lower meadow, where they hunker down to feed within weedy wildflower remnants (learn more about this beautiful species at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, here).

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A Winter Wander

February 7th, 2018 § Comments Off on A Winter Wander § permalink

A bit of golden sunlight through the trees. Traces of warmth in this cold, dark season.

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A New Year’s Wish

January 2nd, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Welcome 2018

Wishing you joy & happiness in the New Year!

Frosty Morning

Article & Photography 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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Late Autumn Hues in the Garden

December 2nd, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Late Autumn Hues in the November Garden

December may have arrived, but as usual, I’m not quite ready to let go of autumn. Apparently, I’m also not quite ready to let go of blogging. Hello, friends. It’s been a long while.

Outside in my garden, it’s a world filled with rust-gold remnants and brilliant-colored berries. Some mornings, frost and snow cap the stonewalls, but by afternoon the water bowl has melted. Inside, I have been catching up on a bit of garden reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow with a new book review. It’s nice to be here again. How have you been?Dancing Light and Color in the Icy Water Bowl

Article and photographs are copyright Michaela 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, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Crocus-Petals-Unfolding ©-Michaela @ TGE Crocus Unfolds a New Season

Welcome Spring Equinox!

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

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