Tag Archives: food

Summer Diva {the heirloom tomato

A world without tomatoes

is like a string quartet without violins.
                                                           ~Laurie Colwin

pretty as a picture

Late September. There aren’t any signs of a frost in our northern river valley even though October is lurking on the next calendar page, and pumpkins, gourds and squash are the adornment in markets, shops and houses. The mecury still dances at 80 degrees — what a spectacular first week of autumn! Can you hear a long sigh of gratitude on this warm, early autumn day?

The tomatoes are still producing beautifully at Rose Cottage. The late afternoon sun casts a golden glow on the kitchen garden’s sweet tomato offerings — just as if each were in the spotlight before taking a final bow for the closing night of the season’s production. I dream of this moment each January as I study dog-eared pages of seed catalogues stacked knee-high next to my comfy reading chair. What can be better than enjoying the garden offering of a just-picked-from-the-vine warm tomato?

Sugar Plum Cherry Tomatoes FAV

Grandmother’s vintage white enamel pan quickly fills with tomatoes of all shapes and colors. These are not the standard supermarket varieties–each is an abstract piece of art calling for my attention — they are divas, you know. I pause and consider the wide array of sunburst colors in the chippy, old dish pan. 

Some Tomatoes in a Pan FAV

Onward . . .  stay focused . . . the sun is behind the hill and it will be dark soon. The indeterminate tomato varities — those that keep growing and growing — are nearing eight to nine feet tall and are spilling out over their five-foot rusty concrete reinforcing wire cages my sweet one made several years ago.  The standard issuance available at most garden centers doesn’t support the likes of those grown at Rose Cottage.

sugar plum cherry Tomatoes FAV2

I pick a handful of yellow, orange and red cherry tomatoes. The simple goodness is so satisfying. (Wait! Do I hear violins?!) At the moment, I really don’t think about how these luscious jewels are filled with all sorts of good-for-me things. Nothing matches the taste or the varied loveliness of these fresh beauties! I have set aside a large basket for you. Shall I drop them by for you to savor, too? It is my gift to you.

tomato offerings FAV

 At Rose Cottage, we are ardent fanciers of these garden offerings — whether the heirloom dinner-sized plate version or dime-sized jewels . . . red, yellow, purple or orange . . .  lusciously sweet or acidic.

Just Picked Heirloom FAV

Although, heirlooms are the hands-down favorites in taste tests for family and friends.

Heirloom Tomatoes on wood tray FAV2

This year, over 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes found their home in the Rose Cottage kitchen garden. Some fared better than others in our little microclimate.

Yellow Heirloom FAV

While we are not tomato experts, we are surely tomato aficionados and have been growing them organically for over 30 years — usually 100 or more plants of numerous varieties each year. I just can’t get enough of those sweet offerings!

golden heirloom FAV

preserving the beauties

My fingers are tinged dark green from the tomato vines. The aromas of earth, tomato leaves and fall co-mingle as the night air cools. The tree toads and crickets gather for their soire and begin their evensong. The tomatoes are gathered.

bushel of tomatoes

We try to preserve all the goodness and full-flavor of the tomatoes as quickly as possible. The kitchen is briming with tomatoes every which way. Most of the tomatoes we simply “put up” into quart canning jars following the USDA Guidelines for home food preservation.

P8310032

Later on, these canned tomatoes are perfect for making tomato soup or pasta sauce, or adding to chili, stews. and more. What is your family favorite for using tomatoes?

tomatoes and a torchon FAV 1

Some of the tomatoes are simmered on the back burner for hours with savory herbs and spices. The result — amazing ketchup — so delicious that it can almost be eaten with a spoon out of the jar. Now, this does not taste like the usual varieties . . .  nothing compares to these little half-pint pots of gold. How I would like for you to try some, too!

P9080434

ketchup

 The ‘Principe Borghese’ variety and some other heirloom Italian paste tomatoes are oven-dried with a drenching of Italian olive oil and sea salt. They turn into candied tomato nuggets — similar to sun-dried tomatoes —  and then stored in tomato herb-infused olive oil. Perfect for the antipasti tray, pizza or tossing into a salald or sauce!

Principe Borghese washed FAV

Tomato Halves in bowl FAV

Tomato Halves for drying FAV 1

Tomato Halves on Tray FAV2

Oven candied tomatoes in a jar FAV 3

 The evening has quickly cooled down to 50 degrees. The sudden mecury drop is a reminder that summer is lingering for only a moment or two longer. What else is in the kitchen garden that needs to be gathered soon? Wondering . . . how can some of this lovely day can be captured in a “jar?”

Maybe . . . just maybe . . . if I put a bit more of this gorgeous summer in jar, there will be sunshine and warm memories when the windchills are 40 below zero.

  

How do you capture a bit of summer’s memories?

You may also enjoy:

Exuberant Garden Offerings

Beautiful Berries and Brambles

Fall Nesting {summer in a jar

This post is linked on Hooked on Houses, The Inspired Room and Designs by Gollum.

Post Script:

There is nothing better than enjoying a late summer offering of the sun-kissed tomato. Since she was just a toddler, Rebekah grows weak in the knees when she sees a tomato . . . she never misses a sample or two or three or more! If I couldn’t find her, I need not look any further than the tomato beds. (Note: The images are early digital — they are a few years old. The toddler picture is vintage — was scanned from a 1981 photo when Rebekah just turned one-year!)

Summer_in_a_Jar_1981_One_afternoon_of_picking_v2

Summer_in_a_Jar_003_RJ&Tomatoes2

Summer_in_a_Jar_001_RJ_cherry tomato2

Happy, happy birthday, dear Sweet Cakes!

All the tomatoes you want are waiting for you at Rose Cottage!

We have put some summer in a jar for you, too.

 

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Filed under Gardening

Exuberant Garden Offerings

Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment,

can be confused with paradise.

                                                                                                  ~Henry Mitchell

treasured gift

Gardens often are a source of inspiration for those who work the soil and tend the plantings, as well as for those who visit. There is such a deep, innate connection and love of nature for most of us. Do you feel that way?

Diane, a local poet extraordinaire, visits Rose Cottage on a late afternoon for a stroll amongst the early fall garden beds. The gardens at Rose Cottage are simple country gardens . . . and wax and wane dependent upon the weather and wildlife.

Old garden with stone bird bath FAV

Elizabeth joins us for tea and berries in the garden, too. She is an amazing gardener. Will you join us? There is so much to share . . .  The three of us laugh, talk and are frequently in our own thoughts as we are mesmorized by the exquisite lighting in the garden.

Fra Dagmar Hastrop FAV

The sun sinks low behind the trees and hills. The gardens glimmer in jewel tones while song birds sing from the tops of the white pine, red cedar and basswood. The leaves of the quaking aspen rustle in the soft southern breeze. The heady, unmistakable  fragrance of heirloom roses fills the air. Breathless.

Petunia Double Pink FAV

It is one of those times were magic abounds in the garden. . . our hearts sing with the beauty of the moment. . . our spirits are filled with peace and exuberance all at once. It feels like paradise . . .

Bird with a Broken Wing FAV

the heart sings in poetry

 A few days following our dreamy late afternoon in the garden, Diane is eager to meet. She hands me a sealed envelope. “It is my gift to you. After visiting Rose Cottage, I couldn’t sleep until I wrote what was in my heart and on my mind.” This is what she penned . . .

Light Play

In the garden of Debbykay (almost Monet)

In the village of Afton (almost Giverney),

We cannot even see Elizabeth’s hat,

One of the straw varieties reserved

For outings such as these,

Until she backs out, fanny first,

From the forest of tomato vines

Where she picks the still-warm

Exuberant offerings of late August.

 

Rub and sniff, fingers filled with pineapple sage,

Punctuations of pleasure that dart and surprise

Displacing the butterfly-bee rondelets, garden opera,

With botanical poetry from seed catalogues, we are

Divas in the moment when shimmer meets shadow.

This one’s and that one’s version

Of gardens known, imagined, want to be,

Would be if we were a bee (or a butterfly),

Revelers dancing in the sparkle of sunspray.

                                                     ~Diane Pecoraro

Pink Dahlia FAV

Diane’s poetry is an amazing gift. It is truly humbling to realize that our simple little parcel of land that we tend inspires another. Diane’s generosity is encouraging on days when it is easy to be discouraged and weary. Her poetry is a reminder of the brief glimpse, as if through a small crack in a window, of paradise captured on a spectacular early fall eve at Rose Cottage.

What inspires you about gardens you visit or tend? 

 

Stroll over to A Southern Daydreamer to see how others are enjoying the early days of autumn outdoors, and visit Melissa at The Inspired Room and Julia at Hooked on Houses.

34 Comments

Filed under Gardening

Fall Nesting {summer in a jar

The late summer garden has a tranquility

found no other time of year.

                                                              ~William Longgood

time for change

September is my favorite time of the year . . . the air is crisp, clear and fresh . . . the early morning and evening lighting is more enhanced as the angle of the sun changes . . . and fall colors are starting to emerge on the trees. Just this week, glimmers of vibrant reds and golden yellows sporadically dot the sugar maples and sumacs along our river town. The colors are promising to be a gorgeous contrast to the vibrant greens enjoyed throughout the summer.

Amur Maple FAV

I think about September as a time of change. It is a time of change in that new creative ideas and goals for the months ahead can be made. One way of change is to decorate for fall — simple ideas that make a home feel welcoming, warm and cozy. Jenny Wren needs a little update to celebrate fall around one of her many houses at Rose Cottage. Don’t you think her nest looks quite autumnal bedecked with broom corn?

Wren House and broom corn FAV 3

What fall decorations are you adding to welcome friends and family to your front door?

time of preparation

September is also a time of preparing and preserving the summer garden produce for the months ahead. I really feel that I am “nesting” as I put fresh vegetables and fruit in jars to be enjoyed in the months ahead or give as gifts with family and friends.

Marybeth shared a few of her antique canning jars with me — some are from 1858! I think about all the women (and men) who “put food up” for the winter months in these amazing hand-blown glass jars. I wonder what their lives were like as they began their fall nesting . . .

Ball and Jewell FAV

Canadian Jewel FAV

Green Ball Jar and Strawberries

Jewel lid FAV

While the dark olive green Ball is perfectly beautiful and rare, and the Canadian Jewel is a real treasure, I still am quite drawn to the lovely blue canning jars — all in various shades from a robin’s egg blue to cobalt. 

 Four Blue Canning Jars

1858 MASon and other antique blues with roses

EZ Seal Antique and Cobalt Blue FAV 1

1858 Mason FAV

Nov 30 1858 CLOSE FAV

While preserving and “putting food by” is a bit of work, it is immensely satisfying to see the glimmering jars of golden peaches, red tomatoes, perfectly sliced pickles, and an array of  jeweled jams and jellies lining the pantry shelves.

Pickled onions and bird FAV

Jeweled Raspberry Jelly FAV

Sweet Baby Crock Pickles

Crab Apple Pickles

Best Ketchup EVER FAV

Sometimes, I go down to the pantry cellar, turn on the overhead light and just admire the gifts of summer. 

Strawberry Jam

For me, canning or preserving is like putting summer in a jar to enjoy when the north winds howl and temperatures are well-below zero — just a few months away!

Peaches

Do you put a bit of summer in a jar? Do you have a favorite to preserve?

Perfect Seal and Brown eyed Susan FAV

You may also enjoy reading Beautiful Berries and Brambles and Antique Mason Jars {before and after.

This is also posted at Twice Remembered,  The Inspired Room,  A Southern Daydreamer and Designs by Gollum.

30 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Gardening, Home, Homekeeping, preserving

Market Fresh Treasures

It’s difficult to think

anything but pleasant thoughts

when eating a homegrown tomato!

                                              ~Lewis Grizzard

saturday morning ritual

The first glimmering rays of the early morning sun filter through the pines and ancient maples — the sun is just rising over the river valley. The cool morning mist lingers a bit, but is slowly lifting across the meadow below Rose Cottage. I look out a bedroom window. A doe and her offspring — a fawn still with mottled spots — are laying in the dewy meadow grass under the cedar trees. The chickadees, gold finches and cardinals are eating breakfast seeds at the feeders outside the kitchen windows. Boisterous Bob The Rooster proclaims to the world that it is another new day, and “it’s the early bird that catches the worm — so get out of bed you sleepy head!”

saturday morning

In the summertime, it is off to the farmers market in the capitol city — truly a highlight of each Saturday. My Favorite Son, recovering at home following his surgery, joins me on the early morning market adventure to gather the freshest, local produce. How sweet it is! Soon the sights of covered market stalls come into view.

market vendor 1FAV

market vendor 2 FAV

The market growers stalls are filled with a plethera of seasonal produce — brillant green romano beans, purple and yellow onions, perfect green peppers, aubergine and soft pink eggplant, lush red raspberries, golden corn with the silk still fresh and tender, heirloom Italian zucchini, yellow and green pattypan squash, crisp English cuccumbers . . . the fragrance of fresh produce is envigorating and fills the early morning air. Superb aromatherapy.

heirloom tomato and blueberries FAV

tomatoes and cauliflower

 apples and pear 2 FAV

sweet mama 2

corn

eggplant 2

Friendly “good mornings’” are exchanged as the market bustles with liveliness. The rays of the early morning sun brings some of the vegetable offerings to center stage — as if under spotlights. Ah, the tomatoes!

Cauliflower and tomotoes with sunlight FAV

Peppers and Beans FAV

The aroma of freshly-brewed peace coffee calls to the Favorite Son. The steamy dark roast brew fills his mug . . . a sip . . . a smile . . . and his eyes are opened! Now, we can continue on to visit some of our favorite market growers.

coffee FAV

a few favorites

Mark Christopher brings outstanding produce and product from the Maple Leaf Orchard to the market each Saturday. In March, Mark and Sue produce gorgeous amber maple syrup in their sugarbush when the sap starts to flow in their maples just across the river. “I have the dark, full-bodied syrup this morning — your favorite,” Mark says. A half-gallon goes into the market basket . . . Who can resist?

Mark and Maple Syrup FAV

 

Maple Syrup FAV 2

Mark reminds us it will be a good late afternoon for picking pie (sour) cherries at his orchard across the river. I ask, “will your new cherry pitter from Michigan’s Upper Pennisula be working?” Mark replies wholeheartedly and is confident we will shave hours off of the hand-pitting alternative. I am eager for the cherry picking later today, and cherry jam and jelly making tomorrow.

Cheeries and Honey FAV

Sour Cheeries Marks FAV

aromatherapy

Next stop is at Dan and Meryl’s herbs. Rub and sniff the distinctive fragrance of thyme, rosemary and lemon verbena. The yellow and red flowering maples are in this week. Sniff some more aromatic herbs.

red flowering maple FAV

yellow flowering maple FAV

Meryl learns that the Favorite Son wants to plant another pot of herbs for his house. She excitedly asks, “how do you want to use them?” A few quick recipes are exchanged between the two. Dan shows me a few treasured culinary lavender he brought in for us from last week’s request. Rub and sniff some more. . .  sweet memories of dream trip to France return . Several of the lavender are placed in my market basket. The Favorite Son proudly carries his tray of herbs to the car.

Thyme 1 FAV

more favorites 

We visit Otis Family Farms market stall down the same aisle for a few fresh cuts of pasture-feed meats. This stall is also one of the highlights with the flavored honey sticks — especially for those with a sweet tooth. Usually, a long line forms.

Otis and Maple Leaf Signs

eggs

honey sticks

bountiful gifts

More visits to other favorite vendors. The produce is gorgeous and bountiful . . . I am a little girl in a candy store! What would you like to take home in your market basket?

beets FAV

Cabbabe FAV

 bok choy FAV

eggplant FAV

garlic and tomatoes FAV

green onions FAV

onions red FAV

pickle cukes FAV

potatoes FAV

raspberries FAV

jeweled bouquets

The crowds start to arrive. We are finished with our weekly gathering of fresh treasures. One last item on the list — a bouquet of golden jewels. Aren’t they spectacular? Which bouquet shall we take home? I think all of them would be quite lovely, don’t you?

flowers and shoppers FAV

colorful bouquet2 FAV 2

colorful bouquet FAV 1

dahlia FAV 1

lilies FAV2

sunflowers

Flowers always make people better,

happier, and more helpful; they are

sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.

                                                         ~Luther Burbank

Rose Cottage Cooks! is coming soon

We are creating some fabulous cooking adventures at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm using mainly locally produced and seasonal foods. Watch for our first batches of “Cheery Cherry Jam” from cherries picked this afternoon at Maple Leaf Orchard. The Favorite Son will be sharing his fabulous home made pizza and other baked goods.

Hope you will like some of these tasty treats . . .and will share your recipes, joy of cooking and the fun in sharing meals with others, too! Stop by in a few days for a link to the new site.

What is your favorite recipe using market or garden fresh produce? 

We would be delighted if you shared a recipe in the comments section below.

Post note: Special thanks to the Favorite Son for all the photography at the market this morning!

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

See what other’s are “hooked on” at Julia’s Hooked on Houses, and find out more about Melissa’s inspiring beauty at The Inspired Home.

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Filed under Cooking, farmers markets, Gardening, preserving

Memories of France

God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December.

~James Matthew Barrie, Scottland 1922

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas and surrounding villages. This is the last in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Thank you, my dear friends, for following along on this dream trip to southwest France.)

time to say “au revoir”

The clocks are ticking too quickly. There is still so much to see and do, but the Chateau Dumas masterclass in the little village of Auty is ending. Wouldn’t it be lovely to stay a bit longer? What a fantastic time we would have together!

clock faces FAV

What shall we do together if we have more time in this lovely French countryside? 

Would you like to enjoy another cup of café au lait at a sidewalk cafe in the sweet village of Caussade?

Cafe au lait

Sample another freshly-baked baguette or other delectable French pastry? Shall we take some bread home with us?

Pastry shop

croissant FAV

Bread bags FAV

Or travel the countryside to other quaint midieval villages?

Cordes FAV 2

Cordes FAV

Balcony FAV

13th cent house cordes FAV

 window, curtain and pot 

Meander the centuries-old cobble streets and see what adventures we may discover or people we may meet?

cobble street in cordes FAV

Do a little shopping at French boutiques and shops?

wine shop FAV 1

Wine shop FAV 2

Boutique

Relax in gorgeous gardens amongst the roses and explore beyond the garden gates?

Bench with lichen FAV

climbing roses close dumas

Pink Roses FAV

Curved Teak Dumas FAV

to south garden2

Enjoy just one more bit of a tasty French morsel?

First Course FAV

rustic apricot pie

Alas, it is 7 a.m. and the car is packed from floor to ceiling. Hat boxes are carefully held on our laps. One last whiff of the heavenly lavender as we drive on the gravel road . . . through the courtyard . . . under the portico . . . and down the tree-lined driveway.

Lavender gardens fav 1

chateau dumas 3 under portico fav

Just down the road, up the hill and around the corner in the tiny little village of Auty, Jo is waiting at the corner to wish the first small group of travelers goodbye  — she seems so French on the bike with the wicker basket. Cheerful au revoirs are quickly exchanged as we pass by.

Racing on to Toulouse . . .

la violette de toulouse

Toulouse may be la ville rose (the pink city, so named for the rosy color of its brick buildings), but its traditional flower is the highly-fragrant double violet — Toulouse’s particular strain of Parma violet, la violette ‘Parme de Toulouse’. There is much ado about the sweetly scented, gorgeous medium purple blossom grown by flower market growers just north of the city since the 1800’s. 

violet sign

I learn that celebrations are held every year in February — when everything is accentuated with violets and the allure of it’s deep fragrance fills the air — so much so that it is impossible to resist purchasing a bouquet of the little purple beauties at the market. In celebration of the violet, even amazing fresh food are created as only the French can do — such as breads, bonbons, gateaus, salad dressings and more. Well . . . all of this is at least what my driver told me when first arriving in Toulouse. Maybe, we should return in February for the festivals to enjoy it first-hand? What fun we would have!

I find a few small jars of la violette de Toulouse and violet tea to tuck into the last small corner of the suitcase.

violet sugar FAV

Violet syrup FAV

Violette tea and tea cup

Violette The FAV 1

 

Violette Products FAV 1

roses

Time to pack all the wonderful memories . . . they shall be roses . . .

Italian Rose FAV

 hats and hat boxes

Thank you all my dear friends for joining me on this lovely dreamy trip to southwest France. I am so glad we could travel together in this beautiful countryside. Let’s plan to go again, shall we? Chateau Dumas next summer?

You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.

~C.S. Lewis

Follow along on the other memories of Chateau Dumas and the Millinery Masterclass at: 

 French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

 Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

 Estivales du Chapeau {hat festival in France

 Creativity at Chateau Dumas

Heavenly French Lavender

Fabulous French Hat

Bon Appetite!

French Millinery Magic

POST NOTE — Upcoming Millinery Masterclass!

 Another Millinery Masterclass is scheduled at the superb 18th-century Chateau Dumas September 26-October 3 in southwest France! Even if you have never made a hat before, the adventures of hatmaking under the expertise of former Royal Milliner Dillon Wallwork are not to be missed!

The tutor is  former Royal milliner, Dillon Wallwork who for nearly a quarter of a century designed hats for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales as part of the team at world famous milliners Philip Somerville.

 So whether the goal is a chic shoulder-spanning hat to turn heads or a coquettish cocktail hat with a mysterious veil, or something much more practical . . .  Toulouse is the starting point, Chateau Dumas the luxury base and Dillon the expert.  As Dillon says: “A well-chosen, stylish hat works wonders. Whether it’s men opening doors for you, getting a table at a busy restaurant or just keeping warm in winter, wearing a hat gets you noticed – people will say ‘Who’s that?’ Men just love to be with a woman in a glorious hat.”

Want more information about a dream trip to Chateau Dumas and the Millinery Masterclass?

 Contact Lizzie, the Chatelaine de Dumas.

 

 

 

See what other’s are “hooked on” at Julia’s Hooked on Houses, and find out more about Melissa’s inspiring beauty at The Inspired Home.

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

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Filed under crafts, France, Gardening, millinery, Travel, Vintage

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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Filed under Cooking, Gardening

Gorgeous Greens {lightly dressed

Let first the onion flourish there,
Rose among the roots, the maiden-fair
Wine scented and poetic soul
of the capacious salad bowl.
                        ~Robert Louis Stevenson

perfect in every way!

What a morning! The azure blue sky is spectacular, the leaves on the trees are a vibrant spring green and the flowers growing at Rose Cottage are strong and healthy. The earth is alive with excitement and enthusiasm for the day. It is the kind of morning that sings to me, “come out and play in the garden with us!” 

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The sweet pansies are still taking my breath away with their happy pansy faces . I remove the “spent” pansy blossoms–not wanting them to go to seed, yet. I pause for a minute or two to admire their cheerfulness in the mixed planters and window boxes. Who can resist a smile when you see their faces? Aren’t the soft rosey-cream ruffles of the pansies (Antique Shades) heavenly in the early morning sunrise?

Pansies cream soft pink

pansies cream soft pink 4

The bridal wreath is spectacular this morning, too. Each bridal wreath shrub (Vanhoutte Spirea) is like a  fountain with it’s white spray of thousands of tiny white flowers cascading more than eight to ten feet. These shrubs grow with very little attention, and are so lovely in the late spring.

After it is done blooming, we cut the old wood back by about one-third on the dozen or more shrubs at Rose Cottage. This encourages healthy growth and abundant blooms for next year.  The bridal wreath is just beaming in the morning light next to the east arbor, don’t you think?

bridal wreath and east garden arbor

 

a saturday field trip

It is such a lovely day, Mom and I decide to take a little “field trip.” Up the hill–just a mile or two out of the river valley west from Rose Cottage–lies a hidden treasure that I love to visit. Little Foot Farm and Greenhouse is a jewel box filled with the most vigorous, organically-grown annuals and vegetables imaginable! Started from seeds when the thermometer has dipped well-below zero, we are not disappointed again today–the green house is filled with the delicious fragrances of amazing plants dressed in their finest! We pick out some lovely gems to dazzle our gardens at home. I wish I could linger a bit longer among Karen and Sally’s symphony of beautiful flowers…

Just as we are leaving, Karen reaches into the cooler and presents me with a bag generously filled with gorgeous freshly-picked spring greens–at least ten salad varieties–sprinkled with lovely culinary pansies and violas! What a gift…the greens will have a starring role at dinner tonight!

gorgeous and delicious spring green salad

The dressing for the spring salad is light so not to overwhelm the delicate flavor and texture of the beautiful greens.

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A simple dressing is one My Sweet Girl loves to whip up when she is at Rose Cottage–it will be perfect on the greens from Little Foot Farm! I make a modified version of her dressing for the lovely greens.

spring greens and flowers 2

Rose Cottage Spring Green Salad Dressing 

 1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

1/4 teaspoon of honey dijon mustard

Pinch of sea salt

Freshly cracked Madagascar pepper or other whole black peppercorn to taste

(The pepper is a perfect compliment to the peppery flavor of pansies!)

1 tablespoon of finely-minced Italian parsley (optional)

3 tablespoons of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

(I prefer the milder flavored Italian olive oil from Liguria on spring greens, but any light-flavored olive oil will be perfect.)

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Put the salad greens and culinary flowers in a bowl. Just before serving, lightly add the whisked dressing to the greens and toss gently. A touch of the vinaigrette is all that is needed to dress up the spring greens. Garnish with crumbled, fresh goat cheese and fresh raspberries or blackberries.

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“He that sups upon salad, goes not to bed fasting”
                                                   ~Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)

The gorgeous lightly dressed spring greens salad is a perfect ending to a perfect late spring day at Rose Cottage. Tomorrow…promises to be another. We are filled with gratefulness for the beauty of the day, and gift from our lovely neighbors at Little Foot Farm!

What is your favorite way to serve spring greens? Do you have a special salad dressing you like to make?

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

For more ideas about creating a beautiful life, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room.

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