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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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).
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:
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.
“Write more about growing basil” has been on the do list for some time – years, actually, ever since the basil harvest tips post that appeared back in 2006. (Nothing hasty, that’s my motto.)
But filling out this year’s seed orders has finally given me the requisite nudge. In catalogue after catalogue, Occimum basilicum and its close relatives are available in a far wider assortment than any other culinary herb (at least among annuals; thyme is another matter). This year we’ll be planting eight varieties and that’s just a small sampling.