Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tough little buggers

Bright, graceful, cheery, ephemeral, and unexpected: early spring bulbs at their best.
February 12.
The yellow crocus were blooming in full force on Feb. 11.
February 12.  At least 15 yellow crocus in full bloom.
Here they were on February 12.
February 18.  Several hundred small bulbs were sprinkled into the lawn in the fall.
February 18.

They looked great on February 18, and the Iris reticulata started blooming among them.
 Here they are on February 23 in the remnants of the ice that fell on February 21.  A few lavender and white crocus opened by the evening of Feb. 24.
February 23.
February 23.

February 25, 9 a.m.
 February 25, 9 a.m.
February 25, 9 a.m.

February 26, 11 a.m.

Make that bright, graceful, cheery, ephemeral, and super tough.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rosy Rodents in Love

Groundhog Day celebrated late = Groundhog Day + Valentine's Day = Groundhogs in Love Party
Groundhogs in Love Party + Floraganza = dramatic rose things
I purchased rose water and rose syrup at the Asian supermarket in The City, intending to make a big batch of a signature rose cocktail for the party.  And then I tasted the water and syrup.  Truthfully, they taste like almost nothing.  Except that you can't taste them without smelling them.  And they smell like roses.  Too many of the same roses stuffed into a bottle.  Overly perfumy cloying fake roses* used to disguise some off scent and only making it worse.  It is not actually a bad smell.  But the overall effect is definitely not good.

So I made a batch of my signature spring party punch (pink lemonade and lemon zinger tea with a little bonus ginger and lemon), added a few drops of rose water, added a chunk of dry ice and let attendees dose with rum and rose to taste.  Collectively they added far more of the former than the latter, and I don't blame them.

Dianthus insisted on baking cupcakes (a great cocoa, boiling water, and oil chocolate cake recipe from Tish Boyle's fabulous  The Cake Book), and I let him talk me into the horrid looking marshmallow "cupcake toppers" because they were half price and I was throwing a Groundhogs in Love Party during Floraganza.

Oh, and for those of you pay attention to tradition will be happy to know that pork (aka ground hog) dumplings were eaten, pin the shadow on the groundhog was played, and the rodents came out to frolic.

*Even though I think it is not fake.  The only ingredient on the rose water is "distilled roses"

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stock in Roses

Buy some stock in roses
Millionaires will always woo
Don't be shocked if roses
Make a millionaire of you
-The Magnetic Fields
"Roses" from Sixty Nine Love Songs

Friday, February 15, 2013

Floraganza: the long list of lesser resolutions

This year, through the flower resolution, I resolve to
7.  Grow flowers.
8.  Plant a cutting garden
9.  Attend a flower arranging workshop.
10.  Learn how to take a decent picture of a bouquet while it is in my poorly lit kitchen.
11.  Buy some serious floral supplies.
12. Run the experiment to determine if flower powder actually helps.
13. Force some bulbs.
14. Learn about and "try" ikebana.
15.  Try other floral techniques I can't name yet.
16.  Send friends flowers.
17.  Receive flowers.
18.  Send something that utilizes the "langauge of flowers".
19. Dry some flowers and use them for something other than collecting dust.

What would you add?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And I'll wear something flowery

Specifc plans for Floraganza (continued)

3. I will eat flowers on at least 6 occasions.
4. When given a choice, I will use flowery things.
5. I will read flower-themed books and listen to flower-themed music and watch flower-themed movies (suggestions most welcome).
6. At least once a month, I will wear something floral.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crocus in the snow: Floraganza Plans Part II

As part of Floraganza,
2) I resolve to regularly post phenology updates.

To kick it off: Last Monday, February 4, the maples and the elms started blooming. Yesterday, February 11, we had about 15 yellow crocus (in three distinct patches) blooming in the lawn on the north side of our house. 
I'd post a picture except today they are under four inches of snow.

Monday, February 11, 2013

And so begins Floraganza

Happy New Year!

I pickled some daikon on Saturday, the Mister preserved some lemons and I think I inadvertently am growing a vinegar mother, so never fear, acid explorations will continue; but the new moon was yesterday, Janet's birthday was weeks ago, the year of the snake is here and with it the new resolution.
It's flower year.
Welcome to Floraganza!
This year I will celebrate flowers.
I will be spreading out my specific goals and the rationale behind Floraganza* over the week (among other things, we have a different sickness in our house and I must attend to the youngest member and his feverish rasps) but we will start with the big one.
1. I will have flowers in my house or office (and preferably both) every week.

*The term Floraganza is from the Mister.  It was a joke.  One can't make many suggestions in jest around here without someone taking them seriously.

**The photo captures the lingering nature of these resolutions.  Flowers (2013), sparkling wine (2003-- this bottle a gift from FiL and MiL from Greece) and pink (2004) are all represented.  And somehow I didn't even discuss the acidity of wine in acid year (2012).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Following Recipes (I looked at the list of ingredients)

The Mister purchased five pounds of turnips from the Oklahoma Food Co-op in January.  The first night I roasted them, I proudly proclaimed that I had actually followed a recipe (from Diane Morgan's beautiful Roots).
The Mister eyed the book in front of him, open to Turnips and Leeks in Miso Butter, Roasted Turnips with Thyme, and White Balsamic-Glazed Turnips, glanced at the turnips I cooked, which were noticeably lacking in leeks, glaze, or thyme, and asked quizzically, "You did?"
"Yes, I did.  Well, I looked at the list of ingredients.  That counts."
Doesn't it?

I follow recipes when I bake (much of the time).  I read cookbooks.  I read food magazines.  I like recipes.  I like them a great deal.  I just rarely cook with them.

So it's a good thing that this cookbook using, recipe following resolution is the Mister's and not mine, because, well, what can I tell you?  The roasted turnips (turnips and olive oil, finished with sel gris but otherwise unadorned) were really good, as far as roasted turnips go.  That's hardly a revealing review of the book.

Since the Mister (and everyone else in the household) has been under the weather with various cruds.  I'll kick off the much-delayed cookbook reviews.  Two weeks ago, I followed the "Master Recipe" (pg. 480) for rack of lamb in Bruce Aidells and Dennis Kelly's The Meat Cookbook.  Here I present photographic evidence that I both cooked meat and used the cookbook.  I followed the directions closely (searing in a cast iron skillet before roasting) and the lamb was delicious, as evidenced by the Mister picking up my bones to scavenge any remaining bits.  The pan sauce from page 481, was great, too, and I followed the recipe for that as well.  Except that I tripled the garlic, added some port, didn't have any stock or thyme, used twice as much of a different kind of mustard and supplemented with cherry preserves . . . 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Groundhog Day!

I hope you are taking some time to celebrate the season (whatever season it is where you are) and to appreciate the humble rodent.

The big party here has been postponed due to illness and inertia until February 16.  That gives you two weeks to supply ideas for the first "Groundhogs in Love" party.