Sunday, August 31, 2008

Planting Peonies

Yes, it is just about that time of year when you plant peonies, or if you have existing plants you may divide them up to replant or share with a neighbor. This is a picture of my Sara Bernhardt that was taken last Spring. Where do you get peonies? A good source has been given many times by Martha Stewart. Klehm's Song Sparrow is a wonderful nursery in Wisconsin.You order bare root peonies in the Summer, and they ship them when it is time to plant according to your climate zone. Another good source, I am afraid and embarrassed to tell you, is Walmart. Yes, I know! I do sneak in there during bulb season. A couple of years ago I bought several for five dollars each. I just could not resist the price! They did nothing for two years. Not even a peak out of the ground. Then one year I did not get all of my leaves cleaned up in the Fall. They mulched all Winter. When I gently raked the wet leaves away in the Spring, there they were. Infant peonies! Only one shoot. I wondered if they would ever flower. They did -- one flower each. Many nurseries in the Spring will have peonies in large buckets already to go into the ground for the big flower show. They usually are extremely over price. If you have an adventure to choose exotic plants, and want to have sure luck, I would shop on-line at Khelm's Song Sparrow. If you have the time to nurture a cheap bare root that may never do anything, shop at a store like Walmart. If you are in a hurry for beauty in your Spring garden, spend the money and buy the plant that is ready to flower. No matter how you get peonies in your garden, you can rest assured that you will be amazed at the powerful beauty that will hopefully grace your home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Flowering Herbs

I love it when herbs flower. You do not think of them as a flower when you
buying them either fresh at a market or perhaps in a dry tin at the store. I think some of the most magnificent flowers actually come from herbs.

For instance, the purple frilly chive flower is not only beautiful, but if eaten has a strong bite to it. Some can even make your eyes tear up! The echinacea flower comes in many colours. My favorite is a velvety purple colour. Rosemary makes a beautiful blue little flower, while we all know how the purple flower of the grey lavender brings the essence of relaxation. Anyone can have an herb garden. I have had one on a patio three stories up, in containers on a porch, and also in a lush garden setting. Wherever the place may be, let those herbs bloom instead of snipping them all the time. After they flower they will seed. You may save the seeds in an envelope. If you have a nice garden just shake the plant, and let the seeds fall wherever they may. Enjoy this last bit of Summer and the beginning of a new Fall.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cookie Mania

I use to have my own catering business. When I was a thirteen I wanted to go to the American Culinary Institute in San Fransisco. I would scan my mother's Bon Appetite & Gourmet Magazines over and over again. I watched all of the cooking shows on the PBS channel, & cooked to the greats like Georges Pepin. I'd make Salzburger nockerln, Doblos torte, and Miniature French Tarts. Baking was my favorite. Unfortunately, I never made it to San Fransisco to cook, but I did inherit my mother's antique French tart pans, as well as her many tried and true recipes. We are very lucky in this day and age to have recipes available to us via the Internet & from the plethora of cookbooks by the many famous chef out there. Nothing, however can beat the old Bon Appetite & Gourmet magazines of the 70's & the 80's (I bought many of my favorites from ebay). And most of all, nothing is better than the old school Julia Child shows that aired on PBS. I hope as the holidays are in view that the bakers of the world do justice to the great cookies, cakes, & pies of the cooking world. Try something new, out of the ordinary, something that takes a little time and love. Don't just plop a blob of dough on a cookie sheet, or pour an artificial box cake in a pan. Feel the spirit of the season, and make the magic come alive with your inner gourmet.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Smell of Autum

Autum is just around the corner. Seeing the children getting new school supplies at the stores, and knowing that the summer vacations are just about over, makes me nostolgic of past Autums when the leaves turned golden and then into orange. The nights and mornings became crisp. Apples fell from in our yard from a neighbor's tree. Most of all, Autum reminds me that the last canning of the season is due. For me tomatoes and chili sauce rounds out my pantry. I think of making pies, picking pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, and looking forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and family memories.