Archive for March, 2010

Forcing the Flowering Branches of Spring – Forsythia, Cherry, Kerria…

Old Faithful: forsythia is the easiest spring bloomer to force – if you don’t count pussy willow -but it’s just at the head of the parade

My friend Ilana the chicken lady has been busy tidying outdoors. “I have forsythia, Viburnum carlesii, flowering quince and Kerria japonica cuttings from spring cleanup,” she wrote. “ Will only the forsythia bloom? What about gooseberry and mock orange?

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Thursday is the first of April

What can I say? Bill is an outdoorsy kind of guy and he’s starting to get antsy. I just opened my e-mail and there with a request to pass it on was this picture and accompanying quiz

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True Dat

“…Dogs have taken over truffle detection duties from pigs because if one is trying to harvest a truffle wood discreetly without alerting the locals, it’s generally a mistake to show up walking a pig on a leash.” From Unearthing The Sex Lives of Truffles, by Nicholas Wade (in the New York Times)

More Maple – Recipes and Memory

Last week’s maple syrup celebration (pie included) went up in some haste, because I was being rushed by the weather. Day after day the same: sunny and pushing 70 degrees. Not suggestive of syrup season. I felt there was no time to lose.

Then –  what else is new? –  it proceeded to back around so cold the loss seemed more likely to involve  blooming crocus and hellebores, swelling buds of narcissus and hyacinth and early peonies. I spent a lot of time running around with heaps of straw instead of attending to maple posting.

Fortunately, in the event, Friday’s predicted low of 14 did not materialize; almost everything came through ok, and it’s once again March, chilly enough to talk about syrup.

Down East Company Coleslaw – a cabbage-taming touch of maple makes all the difference

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A Special Message for Vee

Who has again said very kind things in a post I’m blocked from responding to.  This time she unexpectedly came across a book of mine – Reading Between the Recipes – in its stolen incarnation, The Yankee New England Cookbook. You can read what she said here.

What I said… or tried to say, (Vee, we can’t keep meeting this way!) was:

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Any Crocus Experts Out There

who could help with an ID?

Any of the pale ones look familiar?

My friend Gary Lincoff, author of The Audubon Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, teacher at the New York Botanical Garden and crocus enthusiast, is a naming things kind of guy. So when he saw the crocus picture in the Maple Syrup post he wanted to know exactly which species and cultivars they were.

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Dwarf Hardy Orange, Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’

Okay, this may finally do it. For years I’ve been wanting to plant ‘Flying Dragon’, a contorted dwarf form of hardy orange that’s even more gorgeous than the species, and now here’s Eric giving it the pet treatment, just to remind me.

Thorny green lacework in winter, fragrant flowers in spring, aromatic fruit and golden foliage in fall. What’s not to love?

Lack of space and lack of warmth have combined to restrain me, but if I could get one going in a big pot and leave the pot outdoors year ’round…

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Crisp-crust Maple Walnut Pie – and More

Seems like only a moment ago this was shaping up to be the best maple syrup season in years. Alternation of frosty nights and mild days? Check. Saturated ground pushing the sap flow to gusher dimensions? Check. Buckets everywhere? Yup. Blogger testing maple recipes?  Night and day.

Ricotta with maple syrup and oil-cured black olives, a trio from heaven

And then – Hot Snap. Enemy of syrup making. Instant wilter of  species crocus.

in cool weather, three weeks of delight. If hot, not.

Who knew the drearier aspects of March could be something you’d miss?

The person whose crocus those are, of course. On the good side, I finally figured out how to get a crisp bottom crust on a maple walnut pie without pre-baking the shell, my very least favorite part of pastry making.

Walnut Maple Tart looking tipsy (‘twas the camera, not the tart) and Maple Walnut Pie

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How to Plant Peas

Carouby de Maussane snow pea; the shoots and flowers are (almost) as delicious as the peas

This morning was loud with geese, still symbolic even though they don’t migrate much any more. Everyone is either wearing something green or else proudly pointing out they’re NOT wearing something green. It isn’t time for us to plant peas quite yet – spring and St. Patrick notwithstanding – but those in slightly warmer climes are clearly already at it. The post with directions for building a simple pea trellis is close to the top of the frequent hit list.

The original Sugarsnaps aren’t just the best tasting snap pea; they’re also very heavy-bearing.

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Amaryllis Are Blooming

still, although there are only a couple left – both of them big gaudy Dutch hybrids. Then all will be quiet until the promising papilios bloom (or don’t) sometime in early to mid summer.

This is a stem of Benfica, reputedly the deepest, darkest red. It's much darker and redder than this picture suggests.

or this one either, for that matter.

Thus we arrive at the moment for talking about long-term amaryllis care. Questions have been coming in, so here’s the drill:

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