Leslie Mann Land, 1947-2013

Leslie Land Leslie’s obituary in the New York Times was written by her longtime friend in the publishing world, Denise Martin, with assistance by Charles Klaveness, her favorite editor at the Times and can be found here »

The obituary prepared for the Camden Herald in Maine was written by Nancy Harmon Jenkins with assistance from Sandy Oliver, two thirds of The Penobscot Bay Lady food Writers Association and can be viewed here »

At the time of this writing two articles of her passing have been published:
Here »
and here »

At least one other is being prepared for the Camden Herald/Village Soup.

In response to the Press Herald blog post, the root above, I responded with the following:

Indeed Leslie did live more in a day than even I, her husband, was aware. Together, for a quarter century, we shared the daily rituals of food, gardening, mushrooming, philosophy, politics, taxonomy, struggles with the various illnesses which have plagued our bees, our tomatoes, and crops in general. And yet, she continually surprised even me. Life with her was profoundly rich.

She was luxuriant, perhaps even extravagant with her approach to both food and gardening. She always wanted enough in the garden and refrigerator so that she could experiment, plan, compare and develop beyond the ordinary. Just as Americans in general have the most expensive pee in the world, thanks to our copious vitamin intake, I think Leslie may have had the most expensive compost.

There was an abundance to her life which filled our houses and lives to the fullest. In our New York (winter) home we have two freezers, two refrigerators, a cold room, greenhouse and several pantries which overflow with food that she has gathered from the garden, collected from the forest and field, or purchased from local and exotic purveyors. These ingredients are, of course, the raw materials and colors from which she created the ever increasing richness of her preparations. And yet, at base, it was always fresh, pure, and simply satisfying. I believe it was Edgar Alan Bean, another food writer who years ago described Leslie as having ‘perfect taste’, comparing her to musicians who had ‘perfect pitch’.

Even now that she has passed our houses and gardens overflow with her presence. In one distant corner of our NY garden , for example, are three tomato plants grown from seed which for the past three years has been collected and grown out from the best of the ‘long keeper’s’ of one particular and tasty variety. This is but one of the 30 or more varieties of tomatoes she grows and tests every year, both in New York’s Hudson Valley and Coastal Maine – so that she can compare the interactions of micro-climate and variety on taste, texture, and overall plant health.

As it was with food and gardening, Leslie applied the same lawyerly analytics and tender sensibilities to everything she approached and, as Sharon so accurately captured she filled the pages of her books and blog with wit, wisdom and insight. She was always a hard act to follow. Bright, honest, caring, loyal, the brightest person I have ever met and best friend one could ever have.

She will be missed by many.

Leslie LandThis Website and Blog will be maintained for the resource that Leslie intended it to be. In time I will attempt in some minimal way to learn enough to ‘manage’ it, although I will never know enough to do it with the richness you have come to expect.

Between here and there, however, there are her gardens in the Hudson Valley and Coastal Maine to see through to harvest; weeds to be pulled, tomatoes picked, savored and processed, corn to be guarded, flowers dead-headed, mushrooms gathered, records kept.

With her passing, the words of the poet W.S. Merwin* flood my being:

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

* Separation

— Bill Bakaitis August 18, 2013


Eric’s Pet Plant: ‘Hally Jolivette’ Cherry (Prunus x ‘Hally Jolivette’)

hally jolivette cherry blossoms

‘Hally Jolivette’ flowering cherry. The deep pink buds open pure white in some flowers, pink throated in others, making it especially striking up close. The bloom can go on for two weeks or a bit more, if the weather is right.

As you may have noticed, we’re deep in the season  for going on about the Lovliest of Trees, even though these days most flowering cherries appear to be hung with something that looks more like cotton candy than the snow that so moved Housman.  Our friend Eric is not immune, and not surprisingly, he has a favorite.

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Sunshine Cookies – A Sweet for All Seasons

 

decorated Figolli

Sunshine cookies, my new name for Figolli, with semi-traditional Figolli decoration. (It’s semi-traditional because there should be a foil-wrapped chocolate egg somewhere on each cookie. I compromised with (one) golden Jordan almond.

 

Why sunshine? Because they’re full of citrus zest – lemon, orange and lime – and they have a rich almond filling spiked with orange flower water. These are all things that say “Mediterranean” to me, plus Figolli are from Malta.

And why ignore their perfectly good name to create another one? Because “Figolli” is totally married to Easter and I think the cookies are way too good to make only once a year.

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Popovers – They’re Easy (Really)

This post was inspired by Cindy Martin, who found the vintage baking pan story and wrote to ask what popovers were and whether I had a recipe.

How could there be anyone who doesn’t know what a popover is? thought I.

Then I realized – but of course! Popover innocence would be almost a given if no one in your family baked. These addictive quick breads are easy to make but  impossible to manufacture commercially. They don’t just have to be oven-fresh to be any good, they pretty much have to be oven fresh to exist whatsoever.  freshly baked popover, split and filled

A popover, split, buttered, drizzled with syrup from candied pineapple. Honey and jam are more common sweet additions, but it’s hard to go wrong. Alternatively, you can channel ladies’ lunch circa 1950 and fill them with creamed chicken or tuna salad.

 

Having grown up making and eating popovers without realizing there was mythology attached, I got ready to answer Cindy’s question by simply writing down the formula I learned when I was about thirteen. But then, just to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I undertook some research.

To my surprise – I’m often the last to realize these things – popovers have a reputation for being difficult. Everywhere I looked, in print and online, recipes were full of warnings, injunctions, caveats and ironclad rules, many of them contradictory: Use a hot oven; use a cold oven; beat the batter thoroughly; don’t over mix the batter; let the batter rest; use the batter right away; be sure you develop the gluten; be sure you don’t develop the gluten. Oy.

Here’s what: advice about popovers probably offers the highest ratio of balderdash to useful information I’ve ever seen for a formula that has only 5 ingredients.

popover ingredients

Ingredients for popovers – I use bread flour but it’s not essential. I forgot to show the salt – please don’t forget to use some.

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Choosing A New Toaster – Need Help!

long slot toaster

Behold our beloved old toaster.

 

“Beloved.” Not an adjective I’d have used until about a week ago, when I started trying to find another one like it.

As even the blurry photo shows, age has cracked the top and dulled the plastic, so although it’s still fully functional it isn’t exactly a thing of beauty. Never was. But it’s not exactly ugly, either. And more to the point, it’s very well designed.

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You CAN grow fragrant jasmine in the North!

In spite of what some people say. I’ve done it before and am about (with luck) to do it again, even though I keep swearing up and down I’ve had it with plants that have to be brought in for the winter.

carolina jessamine flower (gelsimium sempervirens)

Carolina jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens. Not really a jasmine at all. But it IS the Southern fragrance that inspired my current bout of jasmine lust.

 

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False Alarm

or more accurately, false alert.

My struggles to learn how to post from my ipad seem to have resulted in the publication of a test post I did not intend to publish. So I unpublished it. Unfortunately, not before the word went out there was something new to enjoy. Please stay tuned for an exciting report from zone I think it must be 10 down here.

blooming bromeliads

here are some lovely bromeliads I’m struggling to custom size to our accustomed size.

My Funny Valentine

That’s “funny” as in “peculiar.” Found it years ago in a junk shop, when I still had time/inclination to rummage about in the old postcards. The writing side is blank. There is a box for the stamp: One Cent Domestic, Two Cents Foreign.

The sentiment in the lower right – difficult to photograph – is “I Do Love Violets; They Tell The History Of Woman’s Love.”

valentine with violets

I can only suppose the purple flowers are violets, although the artist appears to have taken considerable liberties. The white ones are clearly lilies of the valley.

 

Needless to say, there is no WAY I’d ever give it to anyone, including my adored husband (who, in any case, fails to appreciate this sort of thing for the wonderfulness it is).

Ta Daaa! Winners of Margaret Roach’s The Backyard Parables

new england aster and cardoon

If you’re planning to grow cardoons, it’s time to start the seeds.

 

Please see update at end of post

We have just concluded our first contest!   (Announced on February 2nd, at the end of an interview with my friend Margaret Roach about her new book, The Backyard Parables, a very Margaret melange of memoir, garden philosophy and practical garden advice.)

One winner  was chosen by random  drawing  from the names of everyone who asked to be included. The other went to the person who was best able, in my sole judgment, to write without being cloying, predictable or religious about a happy garden experience. The Happy Story winner was chosen first, so the names of all the runners-up  could be added to the random drawing list.

And the winners are:

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Margaret Roach on Garden Writing and The Backyard Parables, plus Inkitchen’s First Contest

As garden blogger, I owe Margaret Roach a lot, and have already thanked her for being such an ongoing inspiration.

But it’s more than time to thank her again, and not just for A Way to Garden, blog extraordinaire.  Although she’s working more than full time to build A Way into what I’m sure will soon be a horticultural empire (look out P.W.; there are people as enterprising as you are who can actually write, to say nothing of taking better photographs), she has continued to be a generous friend to all her fellow members of  the plant-besotted community.

That being the case, it’s no surprise that dozens of us who’ve  been given the chance have joined the “ blog book tour” for her latest book, The Backyard Parables.

the backyard parables, margaret roach, cover

Seldom have I seen a book’s cover more in tune with its content: One part ephemeral, beautiful, slightly funny gift from nature; two or more parts eternal, beautiful, serious-but-non-judgmental more or less Buddhist philosophy.

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