Monthly Archives: June 2009

Forget-Me-Not

 Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,

   Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

                                                                         ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 

 

goodbye blue sweetness

The mercury is climbing past the 90 degree mark, and the humidity proclaims it is summertime. My sweet, little blue mouse ears–myosotis–are feeling pale. Whilst firefly fairies dance in celebration of Midsummers, the forget-me-nots scatter their seeds into the rich, black humus beneath them following each cooling breeze. The seeds will lie fallow until the spring rains bring new starry blooms once again.  Yes, it is time to say “au revoir” to the last harbinger of spring at Rose Cottage.

Forget me knot and Heidi

Planted in little clumps by the kitchen entry along the south porch, the little blue flowerettes faithfully send out a cheery greeting as the sun comes up over the river valley each day. The large hosta leaves are protective umbrellas for the sweet spring flowers–allowing them to twirl one last time at the Midsummer’s Eve dance.

Forget me knots 1

We are thrilled the little blue stars have twinkled so long this year. The forget-me-nots have loved their moist, rich soil beneath the cool, shaded refuge of the nearby river birch and Deborah maple.

Forget me knot 3

Each day, the lovely myosotis remind me of  Grandmother. She so enjoyed the minature blue flowerettes growing along the spring-fed waters of Swan Lake.  I cherish all the time spent with her as a young girl at her lake home in the far north, and all the little bouquets picked for Grandmother. Every morning or evening, I pause by the unmistakeable blue starry plants and recall with fondness the gift my Grandmother was to me.

Forget me knots 2

Do certain flowers remind you of the gift of special people in your life?

Midsummer’s Eve is approaching–a time we enjoy for the long daylight hours that extend well into the evening in the north. I think it is time to celebrate the longest day of the season by freshening up several of the window boxes at Rose Cottage… and, giving the sweet blue forget-me-nots another dance!

The root of a forget-me-not caught the drop of water by the hair and sucked her in, that she might become a floweret, and twinkle as brightly as a blue star  on the green firmament of earth.

                                                                                           ~Frederick Wilhelm Carove

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Market-fresh Morels

The greatest gift of a garden is the restoration of the five senses.

                                                                                                                              ~Hanna Rion

farmer’s market {Seattle-style

Rise and Shine! It is early Saturday morning, and not difficult to jump out of bed. One of my favorite days of the week–the Saturday outdoor farmer’s market! All week, I anticipate how my senses come alive with the tantalizing aromas of fresh herbs and  flowers mingled with the melange of color, form and texture of fresh-from-the-grower vegetables and fruit. I enjoy getting a few things that we don’t grow in the Rose Cottage kitchen garden.

This particular Saturday market is different–we are visiting our Darling Girl and her sweet hubby in Seattle. The four of us load-up in the Jeep, our market baskets at-hand, and head off to the local market. We want to arrive at the market “before the crowd”–the sun is just barely up. In the back seat of the Jeep, Darling Girl and I are quite animated as we chat about the fresh produce that is likely available at the market, and share ideas of amazing menus for the upcoming week. The guys in the front seat are unusally quite and stare off into the distance. They need a little more java.

We arrive at the market. Some vendors are just finishing unloading their trucks–they were up at 2 a.m. to cross over the mountain passes to the Seattle market.

Soon, we are dazzled by the offerings at each vendor/grower’s stall that are not seen at the markets near Rose Cottage–freshly pulled ramps, just-off-the -boat salmon and oysters, wooley pig sausages and meats, tender fiddleheads, ground hazelnut flour, wooden crates of the rosy-golden Mt. Rainer cherries and the brillant red bing cherries… and more. 

Market Fiddleheads

Then, at the end of the far aisle is a vendor in a small stall with several wooden boxes of wild morels–just forged from a forest floor in an undisclosed location! In front of each box is a hand-written description about morels. Also gathered, are gorgeous spring-green fiddleheads and lovely sea beans that taste like the ocean.

Market Morels

Be still my heart! My mind starts whirling about a possible dish or two using the morels to celebrate our time spent with the newlyweds. The coral-like morels are a distinctly unique mushroom. The elusive spongy fungi are so earthy looking with their odd textured caps. The aroma is lovely and their flavor is quite delicate, inspite of the funny appearance of the fungi. The biggest benefit of morels are the nutritional value–reportedly high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants, and are low calorie, too.

Market morels close

I sort through the cavernous morels and place them in a brown paper lunch bag–weighing the bag periodically to monitor how much the little gems are costing. Joining in the search of the perfectly-sized fungi is another morel fancier. We start chatting as we sort through the wooden boxes. I learn that Ty and his wife, Gail, are quite the connaisseurs of these earthly delights. Recipes are soon swapped as are email addresses with the promise to send additional mouth-watering favorites.

pike place market

Next stop–fresh, whole salmon from the legendary Pike Place Market. We are looking for the fabulous short-seasoned Copper River Salmon. In our quest, we frequently duck to avoid the flying fish tossed by the fishmongers wearing bright orange hip waders.

market salmon

The final stop  is for a lovely market bouquet. The fresh-cut flowers are absolutely gorgeous at Pike Place Market. Who can resist a bouquet or two for the dinner table?

Market Rebekah and Peony Bouquet

 

market sweet peas

a feast fit for queens and kings 

Once back at the 1920’s bungalow, we gather fresh garlic, shallots and herbs from my Darling Girl’s garden in preparation for the celebration dinner. Amazingly, the rosemary is cut (nearly chopped!) from a rosemary bush that is over eight feet tall and nearly as wide! We will be using the rosemary with the grilled Copper River salmon. The pungent rosemary fragrance fills the kitchen, and lingers on our fingers as we mince, chop and dice garlic, shallots, Italian parsley and rosemary.

Fresh Rosemary

 

Just before we start to make the stuffing for the salmon, we trim ends of morel stalks. Wash them carefully to remove any debris from the forest floor or any little critters hidding out in the morel caverns. Then, the morels are dried.

Market morels. garlic. bread

The morels are sauteed in extra virgin Italian olive oil. The amazing fragrance fills the kitchen. Then, we add minced shallots and saute a little longer. And finally, the minced fresh garlic and is sauteed for 30 seconds. Generous handfuls of Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely minced herbs, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper are tossed with the sauteed mixture. The salmon is stuffed with the mushroom, shallot, garlic, herb and cheese mixture. Sliced lemons and oranges are placed on top of the salmon. Then,  it is drizzled in unsalted butter and wrapped tightly in foil. It is ready to be grilled.

market fresh salmon ready to grill

The aromas from the grill tease us for45 minutes. We are so eager for our celebration dinner with the darling newlyweds. We soon feel like kings and queens, and are so thankful for the generous gifts from the earth and the sea!

Market salmon off the grill

What are your favorite outdoor farmer’s markets this year? How do you prepare your morels or other market finds?

You may want to stroll over to The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

Enjoying the simple pleasures of the gifts of the garden and awakening all the senses is one of my favorite ways to help create a beautiful life. What are yours? For more about creating a beautiful life, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room.

 

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Vintage Artisan Bread Bags {les sacs de pain

If thou tastest a crust of bread,

thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.

                                                               ~Robert Browning

tasteful simplicity

Frequently, the most satisfying meal features a simple loaf of freshly-baked bread.  What says “welcome home” or “I am so glad you are here for dinner” more than the heart-warming aroma of  bread that greets your family and friends at the door? Sharing a freshly-baked loaf of artisan bread is a wonderful and honorable hostess gift, too.

BreadBag3_goldturquoise_0509

what is vintage is fresh

It is the end of a very busy day and I stop at a  favorite shop to visit with my dear friend. Knowing it was a long day, Mi graciously invites My Best Sweetie and me to her home for a serendipitous meal. A quick call home and it is all arranged. The aroma of a home-cooked dinner and fresh-baked bread warmly welcomes us at the door just 20 minutes later.

After a lovely dinner, our creative spirits are refreshed and we start designing in Mi’s well-stocked studio. Her studio is bursting with amazing inspiration–including one of my favorites–vintage millinery and trims. The guys discuss the latest projects in the woodworking shop–they are deep in conversation. 

 BreadBag1_stripe_drawstrings_0509

Mi has a new collection of vintage linens. We start brainstorming projects with the new finds. One thing leads to another…soon the idea of creating bread bags for storing artisan breads or for gift-giving a warm loaf of bread to a friend emerges–les sacs de pain. I think we are inspired by Bob’s artisan bread served during dinner!

BreadBag2_goldturquoise_0509

We select several embroidered and vintage printed linens. I scour the fabulous old-fashioned wood and glass front drawers in a tall, wood cupboard that was re-claimed from a shop in England. The well-organized drawers are filled with millinery from around the world. Dreamy…

BreadBags2_5_0509

Our imagainations are bubbling over with an endless succession of ideas! Soon, two les sacs de pain are created–one is perfect for a baguette and the other a boule loaf. The designs for several other bread bags are laid out ready for assembly on another day. I am reminded of the five-word acceptance speech at the recent Webby Awards given by Biz Stone:  “Creativity is a renewable resource.” Are spirits are renewed with all of our creativity. Do you have those moments when the more you create the more you are inspired?

BreadBag3_stripe_gold_0509

fresh is best

When I bake bread, I hear Mom’s voice saying, “It is only good when it is fresh!” This saying is particulary relevant for artisan breads–crusty breads are best eaten fresh–usually within a day. Breads baked at Rose Cottage usually don’t last beyond 24 hours!

Often, we bake several loaves of bread at one time so that we can share with others. It gives us great joy to bring a still-warm crusty loaf as a “thank you” for dinner hosts or to share a loaf with a neighbor or two. What fun it will be to share some fresh artisan bread with another in one of the vintage les sacs de pain like the ones Mi and I made!

No matter how large or small it is, sharing is one way that helps to create a beautiful life at Rose Cottage. How do you create a beautiful life? For more ideas about creating a beautiful life, visit The Inspired Room.

Don’t miss all the fun! Julia is hosting a hooked on Fridays post party — visit Hooked on Houses.

BreadBag6_millinery_0509

(Thanks, Mi, for sharing the photos!)
What is your favorite kind of bread that makes you feel like you are tasting “all the stars?”

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Dreaming in a Kitchen Garden

One of the most delightful things about a garden

is the anticipation it provides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             ~W.E. Johns

the early bird gets the worm

Bob the Rooster starts his wake-up call about 4 a.m. at Rose Cottage.  Usually, it is fairly easy to think about an early start to the day when the morning is clear and fresh, the sky is starting to brighten with the first hints of sun and the song birds are warming up their voices for the “Sunrise Chorus.”

Miss Kim Lilac looking west toward the teak swing

This morning, it is different. It’s about 40 degrees with a high probability the mercury won’t budge much, and the needed rain is expected about 8 a.m. Knowing there is a lot to accomplish, I decide to get up when Bob the Rooster sounds the alarm… in hopes of staying ahead of the rainfall.

In spite of weather predictions, my walk up the hill to the kitchen garden is full of energy and enthusiasm. Jenny Wren twitters away that I am disrupting her sleep as I bring the hoe, rake, cultivator, spade and pruners into the garden.  It’s just not spring and summer without several families of wrens in the birdhouses. Jenny Wren intermittantly peeks out of the old gnarly gourd birdhouse hanging from one of the rustic cedar arbors between the 4 x 8 raised beds. She scolds me for nearly an hour, and finally gives up and goes back to her cozy little nest…leaving me to my early morning folly and dreams. Ah, the dreams…the hopes…the optimism…

I bring out a few packets of garden seeds–a source of inspiration, I suppose. Adding compost and other magical organic nutrients to the raised beds, I have visions of exuberant lushness in just another month or so. I frequent sideway glances at the basket filled with some of the magical seeds that will make my garden dreams come true. What are your garden dreams? What do you like to grow in your kitchen or vegetable garden?

Seed Packets 1

first fruits

The rhubarb plants (Canada Red and Victoria) are exceptionally lush this year–inspite of the the near-record drought conditions in May. The leaves are supersized–as if on steriods over the winter months. Most are over three feet long, and as much again as wide. I notice a lot of pollen from the white pines on the rhubarb leaves. The rains later this morning will wash all the pollen off. The rhubarb stalks are red and seem quite tender–perfect for a rhubarb dessert. The plants have not yet developed a seed head. Although, it can seem as if the seed head can shoot up well-past the plant in just one day. This time of year, I watch for seedheads and remove them until July 4th or a bit longer depending on the growing year.

Wouldn’t some fresh, warm rhubarb crisp be delicious? Or maybe, rhubarb cake or rhubarb sauce? I am reminded to look for the refreshing rhubarb punch recipe received from a dear neighbor almost 30 years ago. What is your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Rhubarb2 

The ever-hardy chives are already showing off their lavender-colored flowerheads. The garlic chives have a pungent fragrance as I brush past them while working around the garden beds. The chive bloosoms, along with minced Italian parsley and green onions wintered over, will make a nice addition to the spring greens salad for supper tonight.

Chives3

and the bells toll

It seems like I have only been in the kitchen garden an hour or so. The distant chimes of the carillon from the Lutheran church just down the hill from Rose Cottage tells a different story–it has been over five hours! Time for a  cup of tea.  Walking back towards our cottage, I notice that more flowers are blooming. One of the favorites–the white bleeding heart–is blooming near one of the bird baths and hostas. They are so beautiful with their nodding blossoms! I am reminded that there are probably 50 or more pink and white bleeding heart on the woodland path to le palais de poulet (Bob’s house) that should be moved. So many things to be thankful for this morning.

White Bleeding Heart and Bird Bath1

White Bleeding Heart 2

The sweetly fragrant white alyssums are quite romantic as a border flower, and are filling out beautifully near the bleeding heart and hostas. The alyssum will be so fragrant on warm summer evenings.

allysum

After a cup of tea and some dry clothes, it is time for more day dreaming in the kitchen garden while gently working the soil for planting. I decide to walk around the other side of Rose Cottage to see if the pink lilac is finally blooming. Though not as fragrant as the white and lavender lilacs, it has a soft, lovely fragrance all it’s own.

Pink Lilac

There is a welcome surprise in the next garden bed on the way up to the kitchen garden–blooms on the Frau Dagmar Harstropp! While simple and no bother at all–Frau Dagmar Harstropp produces the first roses of the season and signals the beginning of the best season of all–that of roses! The heady rose fragrance of this rugosa fills the June air, and will have almost continuous bloom throughout the summer. The rugosas are perfect landscape roses that can tolerate our severe climate changes. Now, time for more dreaming…

Fra Dagmar Hastrop

 What are your garden dreams this year?

You may want to talk a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

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