Archive for August, 2010

Eric’s Pet Plant: Ylang-ylang Tree (Cananga odorata)

It has been hot in the Hudson Valley. Also in Maine. Also in New Haven, where our friend Eric has been doing what we’ve all been doing: cutting back annuals, planting fall crops and reveling in abundant tomatoes.

Unlike the rest of us, he’s also been enjoying the fragrance of  blooming Ylang-ylang, an easy bit of exotica if you have a large enough greenhouse (emphasis on the large enough).

Ylang-ylang Cananga odorata, flower

"The solitary flower of Ylang-ylang with its strap-like petals is a chartreuse to light yellow color," says Eric. "The aroma fills the large bay of the greenhouse in which we keep this easily-grown tropical tree."

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Pole Beans, Tomatoes, Ripe Peppers…Oh My (and it isn’t even September yet)

yellow vegetables squash corn beans

The old fashioned crookneck squash and Gold of Bacu beans are from our garden; the corn’s from the farmstand up the road and the vanilla butter* is the touch that turns them from yellow vegetables into winter joy.

Official Kitchen Garden Day was August 22, but at the time I was too busy planting fall crops, harvesting the everlasting beans and squash, canning roasted tomatoes and making plum jam to do any live-blogging, and yesterday was much the same except for an evening pizza party with freshly picked peppers, tomatoes and basil and the whole family around the outdoor oven.

If you actually have a kitchen garden, every day is Kitchen Garden Day – that’s the whole point. All spring, summer and fall, you plant and eat. All winter, you eat and plan for next year.

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Black Trumpets (Craterellus fallax) – Pizza, Mushroom Brie and more

craterellus fallax wild mushrooms

Bill, being an honest and trusting soul, set up this photo without remembering that people have been known to stuff baskets with filler and put a layer of mushrooms on top. So just for the record that IS four pounds and nine and three-eighths ounces of black trumpets and the only reason it isn’t more is that we left the littler ones to grow larger for later.

Now what?

brie with black trumpet mushrooms

Trumpet brie is one of the easiest, tastiest things to do with black trumpets and you don’t need many, either

pizza with black trumpet mushrooms

Trumpet and caramelized onion pizza is also quick and delicious.

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My Semi-Secret Source for Delicious Deep Fried Fish

It’s pretty much Slow Food city around here and always has been. Home grown, local, artisanal, sustainable – choose your anti-industrial buzzword and it’s likely to apply. So I feel I speak with some authority when I say that deep fried fast food can be a wonderful thing.

All you have to do is get it from Finest Fried Maine Seafood, where the succulent, crisp crusted haddock, scallops, clam strips and shrimp are the platonic ideals of their kind and it’s probably better not to speak of the homemade potato chips.

Seren huus, Finest fried maine seafood chips

Seren Huus, of FFMS, portioning out the chips. (That’s my hand holding ‘em up for your visual delectation.)

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SUMMER CAKE – Blueberry Peach Upside Down Cake with Raspberry Cream (and a variation, for reasons that will be explained)

blueberry peach upside down cake

Blueberry Peach Upside Down Cake ( actually this one is about half white nectarine)

My friend Nancy is not big on baking, but she does love belonging to the Maine Slice of The Cake Committee, so I suggested she try the impressive-for-how-little-fuss-it-takes Blueberry Peach etc. cake from The 3000 Mile Garden. Then I got to feeling uneasy, on account of not having made one for quite a while…

Decided it might be smart to bake one up, just to be sure I was still proud of it. Did. Am. But

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Cherry Tomatoes

Black Cherry, Gajo de Melon (yellow), Maglia Rosa, Sun Gold (orange), Green Grape, Juliet,  Matt's Wild Cherry

Our 2010 cherry tomatoes, left to right: Black Cherry, Gajo de Melon (yellow), Maglia Rosa, Sun Gold (orange), Green Grape, and Juliet, with Matt's Wild Cherry on top.

Like most Northeastern gardeners, I planted this year’s tomatoes with fear and trembling, still in shock from last year’s late blight and almost afraid to hope.

A certain amount of apprehension remains – in gardens it’s never too late for disaster – but so far, so more than good. Like everything else goosed forward by heat waves, the Hudson Valley tomatoes are way ahead of schedule. There are a lot of them and they are delicious. (Nothing like nights in the 70’s to make a tomato plant happy, no matter what they do to the rest of us.)

Unintended consequence: we are drowning in cherry tomatoes

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Switchgrass (Panicum Virgatum), with a bonus trip to Storm King

Sculpture at Storm King

“This is what happens when your I-phone lens gets dirty,” Eric explained when he sent this picture,” and of course I have a plastic cover on it to protect the poor device from my unhealthy-for-digital-equipment lifestyle. Sorry for that. But the Switchgrass just behind the sculpture adds an interesting texture, with a life of its own on a breezy day.”

This round, Eric’s Pet Plant is from Storm King, and his article is a reminder of two very important things:

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summer deluge

rushing stream

This picture was taken on 7/22, after what will no doubt come to be called The Deluge of 2010. If you don’t know what our  tiny creek looks like in late July, you see a fair amount of water. If you do know, you see Niagara Falls.

blue bucket

Rain gauge

When we left for  an evening opening at  Caldbeck Gallery, in Rockland, I put an empty bucket in the driveway, carefully avoiding measurement complicators like overhanging trees and dripping eves. When we got home (after crossing three low spots that should by all rights have stopped the car, since the water was up to the doors), it was overflowing. That is not a doctored photo; we got over 8 inches of rain in less than 4 hours.

Also the lightening was nonstop throughout. Also a giant elm branch fell on the sailboat parked in my neighbor’s yard. Also many roads were washed out; basements flooded…

People are pretty much alright, however, so I’m free to say the unusual storm is a perfect symbol for the usual Summer Crescendo: way too much of everything all at once.

wild black raspberries, aka blackcaps

Fruit is ripening - fast! These blackcaps came and went in about two (glorious; I made jam) weeks.

chanterelles on blue table

Mushrooms are popping up everywhere. (I fried these chanterelles in butter and froze them; they were the third batch this size in 8 days.)

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