Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Arrangement: August

This months arrangement is all about purple. I put together this bouquet to take to my mother in a gray stoneware jug. Early August was a flush of white in the gardens and now in late summer purple is the showstopper.

I decided to put together electric purples and fuchsias like the Verbena and Cosmos with the mauve background of Eupatorium. Using a softer toned background really helped to calm the whole piece down.

I love how the little Nicotiana 'Baby bella' with it's deep plum-red blooms (above) dance out of the bouquet like butterflies.

I also placed some Dolichos lablab vine; flowers, pods, leaves and for unusual complementary texture.

To finish off the arrangement I placed it in the gray jug and set it on an old gray stool to complement the purples and calm down those electric, but amazing colors.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes for Summer Fest

Stephen has been working and planning out our dream vegetable garden for years now, complete with 6 raised beds, an 8ft high deer fence with two gates, and flower and fruiting shrub borders surrounding the inside.

Unfortunately, it was not in the budget this year, so construction has been held off till next spring. Although, I did manage to plant 4 tomato plants on the south side of the woodshed. Two cherry tomatoes which are over run with red gems and two beefsteak tomatoes which don't want to turn red at all.

It is with this plethora of green tomatoes that I realized that my old fried green tomato recipe would be perfect to share for Summer Fest 2010.

Summer Fest is a cross-blog food event which shares recipes online for fruits and vegetables that are in season. It was co-created by Margaret Roach at A Way To Garden my neighbor over in Columbia county across the river. Her wonderful blog is linked on the left.

I have been following the recipe exchange for weeks but have not been able to participate until now. I have been making this since I was teenager; especially on summer afternoons for my sister.

They are great on their own as a side with the dill basil mayo, but if you want a decadent experience put them on a crusty roll with smoked bacon, crisp lettuce, and spread with the herb mayo.

The recipe follows so please enjoy and check out all the great recipes for summer tomatoes on Summer Fest.

Cornwallville Fried Green Tomatoes with a Dill-Basil Mayo
serves 4-6

Ingredients: for the tomatoes

4 large firm homegrown green tomatoes
1 cup organic buttermilk or organic whole milk
4 large fresh organic eggs
1 cup white flour
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup stone ground cornmeal
2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
1/2 tsp good Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 tsp or more of cayenne
wedge of lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients: for the mayo

1/2 cup homemade or good store-bought mayonnaise
2 tbsp of organic sour cream
1 tbsp finely chopped basil
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 tsp lemon juice
a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste

Optional: for a sandwich

Good crusty rolls
Organic smoked bacon
Organic romaine lettuce

To begin, for the tomatoes slice them in 1/4 inch thick slices. Place them in a large bowl with some salt and pepper, and the buttermilk. Stir, cover and place in the fridge for at least one hour, stirring them occasionally. The longer they soak the better.

While they are soaking, begin the assembly line. In one bowl crack 4 large eggs and whisk together.
In another bowl add the flour, cayenne, and paprika with a good pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper.
In the third bowl add the breadcrumbs and cornmeal and combine well.

Combine all the mayo ingredients in a small bowl, stir and keep refrigerated.

Fill a deep sided large skillet with the vegetable oil on medium high heat till it reaches 375 deg.

Now start the line with the tomatoes, then flour mixture, eggs, breadcrumbs, and finish with the oil.

Remove several sliced tomatoes and dip with your hands in the flour coating thoroughly, next with a fork dip them in the egg mixture removing any excess. Finally into the breadcrumbs dusting off any loose bits place them in the hot oil for 2 min., per side until golden brown.

Remove the fried tomatoes to drain on paper towels sprinkle with salt and keep in a warm oven if necessary. Repeat the process until you are finished.

Serve them hot with the dill-basil mayo, and a wedge of lemon.

For a sandwich just assemble like a B.L.T. with good crispy bacon, crisp lettuce, on a hard roll with plenty of dill-basil mayo.

A little warning the B.L.F.G.T is extremely rich and you'll absolutely never forget it!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Freak Out Plant: Begonia grandis

What can you say about a hardy begonia? It is one of the best returning gifts for a begonia lover as myself, or any shade gardener for that matter.

Huge heart shaped leaves in that typical Begonia shape with the most incredible red veining underneath.

Beautiful pink flowers that dangle above a 20 inch high mounding beauty. It commands attention and breaks up the monotony of the typical hosta shaped leaves and ferns that are so prominent in shade gardens.

I planted Begonia grandis here in the turkey coop shade garden last year, and it performed wonderfully, treating my eyes to those huge heart shaped leaves all season long.

This plant is known only to be a perennial or re-seed to zone 6; therefore, here in my zone 5 garden I treated it as an annual and did not expect its return.

Well, return it did and as an even larger mass then before, lending me to believe it re-seeded. What a surprise - I couldn't be happier. It is an outstanding shade perennial that anyone from zone 9 to 6 (and now zone 5) should try.

You will not be disappointed by this perennial Begonia beauty!

Begonia grandis
Hardy Begonia
z 6-9 (z 5 here in Cornwallville)
Part Shade
20" tall
Moist well-drained soil

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A White August

No, I'm not dreaming of snow; in fact, I'm not dreaming at all. White blooms are showing up in every part of the gardens here in Cornwallville.

In my past post "Young Summer At Dusk" I mentioned how I always wanted a white garden, and with this flush of colorlessness in early August it has definitely firmed up that idea.

I believe I'm in heaven when I see white blooms, it is my absolute love when it comes to flowers. I can't explain how it makes me feel when I see them. But, calm and peace fill my body and a dream like setting always takes over me when I stare at a snowy patch of blooms.

The star of this show for me is Nicotiana sylvestris pictured below. Patches of this 4 ft annual planted in several parts of the property are covered with plenty of tubular star-shaped flowers.

The spicy scent of this outstanding annual fills the summer air, and has the added bonus of re-seeding next season if you allow it to.

Behind a patch of the Nicotiana in the woodshed bed is a patch of Phlox 'David', a great mildew resistant variety that is an absolute must in any garden.

Over at the kitchen door landing is my favorite flowering shrub of all time, Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva'. This was the first flowering shrub I planted here in Cornwallville and although it is starting to bloom now, it has been shaded out by the two ash trees along the side of the landing.

I will do some heavy pruning of the trees soon in hopes that this shrub will stop leaning towards the south for light; nonetheless it is giving me the best show it can under its present situation.

In the north meadow I planted several native Veronicastrium virginicum, pictured above. This coming fall I will definitely plant more of this outstanding 6 ft perennial around the property including its light purple cousin Veronicastrium sibiricum.

The dainty flowers of Begonia 'Bonita Shea', are as small as my finger nails but really beg you to get up close and examine their beauty.

The tropical climber Cobea scandens 'Alba', pictured below, is covering the veranda. Although the variety is 'Alba' it is more of a creamy green.

This spectacular vine from Mexico quickly grows 10-20 feet in a season. This is a definite keeper, I just hope I'll be able to find it again next spring as I have not seen this plant ever before.

Heuchera 'Autumn Bride' above, is a white August bloomer perfect for part shade. These young plants only sent up a few flower stalks this season but in a few years they should be covered with a cloud of white over fuzzy green foliage.

Below is a small patch of what I believe to be a variety of Feverfew, although I might be wrong. There were masses of this plant all along the side of the turkey coop when we moved in. I foolishly removed it all for my shade garden but this lone little guy came up this year to my delight.

Foliage can also be white like the Carex 'Silver Scepter' above. Thin blades of creamy white are banded by deep evergreen. It reminds be of an undersea creature walking through the garden floor.

The soft blue white bracts of Mountain Mint in one of the south island beds reminds me of a misty morning in the garden. The scent when the flowers are touched is heavenly.

Abutilon 'Snowbell' a white flowering maple below greets us as we walk up the kitchen landing steps. It's about two feet tall now and sits atop the largest pot above all the other plantings.

Finally an unusual tropical I acquired this season is Clerodendrum incisum 'Musical Notes'. It's a small tropical shrub that I planted in a large pot in front of our house.

The buds start off as tightly curled "musical notes", and open to a pure white open flower with long dark stamens.

White flowers are an important theme here at The Cornwallville Gardens. They are one of the main links, and add continuity to the whole property. I can't say enough about them and how their beauty brings me joy each day.