Tuesday, March 30, 2010


"Well pleaseth me the sweet time of Easter
That maketh the leaf and the flower come out."

~ Bertran de Born

~ White cyclamen

~ 20 year old recipe from The Heritage House in Little River, California

2/3 cup flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

3 8-oz. packages room temperature cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 room temperature organic eggs
2 room temperature egg yolks
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
toasted coconut
  • For crust: combine flour & sugar in large bowl. Using pastry blender (or 2 knives) cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gather into ball. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Press dough into bottom of 10-inch springform. Bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly. Cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300-degrees.
  • For filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and yolks, 1 at a time. Mix in flaked coconut, whipping cream, fresh lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract.
  • Pour filling into crust. Bake until edges are firm, about 70 minutes. Let cheesecake completely cool.
  • Remove springform and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, sprinkle with toasted coconut. (12 servings).

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men."

~ Chinese Proverb

Pussy Willow
(Photoshop fun)

~ Spring lamb basted with fresh herbs, garlic smashed potatoes, sautéed asparagus and carrots complete this delightful seasonal meal, perfect for Easter (adapted from Bon Appétit - April 2009)


1 6 1/2 lb. well-trimmed leg of lamb
several 1-inch strips (very thin) orange peel
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
tarragon and mint sprigs for garnish

  • Lamb: Using small sharp knife, make 1-inch deep slits all over lamb. Insert 3 or 4 orange peel strips in each slit. Can do 1 day ahead (wrap in plastic and chill).
  • Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 450º.
  • Heat oil in large skillet. Sprinkle lamb with coarse salt and pepper. Add lamb to skillet and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to roasting pan.
  • Brush with 2 tablespoons herb butter. Roast 15 minutes. Brush again with 2 tablespoons herb butter. Reduce heat to 350º. Continue to roast lamb until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 135º to 140º for medium-rare, about 55 minutes. Transfer lamb to platter; reserve pan. Tent lamb loosely with foil; let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Spoon fat off any juices in roasting pan. Place pan over 2 burners on high heat. Add wine, broth and lemon juice. Bring to boil, whisking to scrape up browned bits. Boil until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining herb butter and grated orange peel. Season sauce to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Arrange sliced lamb on platter garnished with tarragon and mint sprigs. Serve with sauce. (8 servings)

Herb Butter:

3/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
4 tsp. tarragon vinegar
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. coarse salt

Stir butter, tarragon, mint, tarragon vinegar, lemon peel and salt in medium bowl until well blended. Can make ahead but bring to room temperature before using.


(Bon Appétit - Feb 2009)

1 3/4 lb. small (scrubbed) Yukon Gold potatoes (about 16)
6 peeled large garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

  • Preheat broiler. Generously butter glass pie dish.
  • Cook potatoes and garlic in medium pot of boiling salted water until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; let stand 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Arrange potatoes close together in prepared dish. Smash coarsely with wooden spoon until potatoes split open. Drizzle with oil and dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Broil potatoes until crisp and golden, watching closely to avoid burning, 8-10 minutes. Top with dollops of sour cream; sprinkle with chives. (6 servings)

Monday, March 22, 2010


"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Cymbidium Orchid

~ Simple supper with fresh asparagus ... a hint of 'spring'
(adapted from Foodie Froggy)

6 chicken breasts, cut in strips
1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil (more if needed)
bamboo skewers


6 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Mirin (sweet rice wine), sherry or Marsala
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Satay Sauce:

4 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 tsp. chili oil
3 Tbsp. white rice vinegar
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

  • Combine soy sauce, Mirin (sherry or Marsala), salt & pepper. Add chicken strips, toss, and marinate for 20 minutes.
  • Combine ingredients for Satay Sauce in blender. Set aside.
  • Heat wok with 1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil until it smokes a little. Add chicken and sauté about 5 minutes (don't overcrowd ... sauté in batches).
  • Lower heat and add Satay sauce and all the chicken. Cook about 5 minutes or until heated through.
  • Thread chicken on skewers. Serve in bowls with sauce and Asian asparagus. (6 servings)

Note: Chicken can also be threaded on water soaked skewers and grilled 5-7 minutes. Serve Satay sauce on side for dipping.



1 lb. fresh asparagus
3 Tbsp. chopped shallots
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. chili oil
toasted sesame seeds

  • Wipe wok clean with paper towel. Heat sesame and chili oil.
  • Sauté asparagus and shallots until 'al dente'. Add soy sauce and heat through.
  • Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

New Best Friend

Saturday, March 20, 2010


For lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise my love, my fair one,
and come away.

~ The Song of Solomon, 2:11-13

(Hubbard Lake, MI)

~ 'Primavera' means 'Spring' in Italian

1 lb. penne pasta or bow-tie (farfalle)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion
2-3 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. diagonally cut asparagus spears (woody stems snapped off)
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
3 diagonally sliced carrots
1 matchstick sliced yellow pepper
1 matchstick sliced orange pepper
1 hefty cup frozen peas
1 pint grape tomatoes
10 oz. fresh stemmed baby spinach
1 bunch chopped fresh basil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
additional fresh basil for garnish

  • Heat wok or deep skillet. Add butter, olive oil,onion, garlic and pepper flakes. Sauté until onion is limp. Add asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and peppers and stir-fry until almost tender. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  • Add peas and tomatoes. Cook until peas are thawed and tomatoes heated through. Add spinach and fresh basil. Toss until spinach is slightly wilted.
  • Serve over pasta cooked al dente. Top with slivers of chopped fresh basil and plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Note: For a perfect meal, serve with a loaf of crusty Peasant bread and good bottle of Italian wine.

"We need spring. We need it desperately and, usually, we need it before God is willing to give it to us."

~ Peter Gzowski
(Spring Tonic)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


"In a way, nobody sees a flower really, it is so small, we haven't time ~ and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."

~ Georgia O'Keeffe

(Forsythia x intermedia 'Lynwood')

~ This simple French peasant meal is perfect for an informal dinner with friends or after a busy day in the garden. Round out the meal with crusty French bread and a complimentary salad of arugula, tomato and black olive salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. (clipped and adapted from Observer & Eccentric 3/3/2005)

2 1/2 lbs. lean beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. coarse salt
2-3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (more if needed)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sliced yellow onions
4 cloves minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup pitted green olives
additional thyme and rosemary sprigs for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • Combine flour and salt in resealable plastic bag. Add several pieces of meat to bag and shake, coating completely.
  • In large ovenproof casserole, heat oil. Sauté meat in batches over medium heat until browned on all sides, about 7-10 minutes. Set meat aside.
  • Add additional oil to pot if needed and sauté onions, stirring frequently, until nicely browned. Add garlic and sauté until soft.
  • Add wine and stir, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add tomatoes, mustard, olives and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add meat to casserole. Cover and place in oven. Cook until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. (4-6 servings)
  • Note: Can also cook on top of stove or in a slow cooker for 5-8 hours.

Gardener's Note: With exposed naked framework, this is the perfect time to prune and shape forsythia. Place trimmed branches in a bucket of cold water and let rest for 24 hours. Cut and arrange, trimming leaves and buds below water line, in a suitable container. Bursting buds will appear within a few days to a week. (These were snipped last Friday.)

"Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy."
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way -
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

(Irish Blessing)

( Oxalis regnellii)

(adapted from Dec. 3, 2008 New York Times)

1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
(additional butter for greasing pan)
2 cups all purpose flour (additional for dusting pan)
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup Irish whiskey (other whiskey, bourbon or rye - additional for sprinkling)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
Confectioners' sugar for garnish
fresh mint sprigs

  • Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and flour a 10 cup capacity Bundt pan or two 8-9 inch loaf pans. Melt chocolate in double boiler over simmering water or in microwave. Let cool.
  • Add espresso and cocoa powders in large glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Mix until powders dissolve. Add whiskey and salt; let cool.
  • Beat 1 cup butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at at time, beating well between each addition. Beat in vanilla, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • On low speed, beat in a third of the whiskey mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat additions, ending with whiskey mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes our clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes for Bundt pan (loaf pans will take less time, start checking after 55 minutes.)
  • Transfer cake to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey. Let cool before serving. Garnish with confectioners' sugar and sprigs of mint. (10-12 servings)

~ a healthy jigger of Brandy
(Brian's claim to smoothness instead of Irish whiskey)
freshly brewed rich black coffee
1 healthy tsp. brown sugar
1 healthy jigger Brandy (or Irish whiskey)
fresh whipping cream
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
freshly grated nutmeg, chocolate, or cinnamon

  • In chilled bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar & vanilla. Continue whipping until medium-firm peaks forms.
  • Warm Irish coffee glass in hot water. Wipe dry. Pour brandy (or Irish whiskey) & brown sugar into the glass and stir. Slowly pour fresh coffee filling the glass to within half an inch or so from top of glass. Carefully top with whipped cream. Garnish with grated fresh nutmeg, chocolate shavings or cinnamon.

Important Note: Toast loved ones while sipping through the rich cream.

(In Memory: Thanks Brian!)


"Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat."

~ Alex Levin

Sunday, March 14, 2010


"The beauty of daylight-saving time is that it just makes everyone feel sunnier."

~ Edward Markey

Garden Clock and Daffodil


~ Outstanding triple-layered treat from Oct 2007 Southern Living

1 cup soft butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp.baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
mint or rosemary springs for garnish

Lemon Filling

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at at time, beating until blended after each addition.
  • Combine flour and baking powder;add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  • Beat egg whites at high speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form; fold 1/3 of egg whites just until blended. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
  • Bake at 350º for 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. cool in pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  • Spread Lemon Filling between layers. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides wit coconut. Garnish with mint or rosemary sprigs.


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup boiling water
4 lightly beaten egg yolks
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter

  • Combine sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan;whisk in 1 cup boiling water. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sugar and cornstarch dissolve (abut 2 minutes). gradually whisk about 1/4 of hot sugar mixture into egg yolks; add to remaining hot sugar mixture in pan, whisking constantly. Whisk in lemon rind and juice.
  • Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat. Whisk in butter; let cool completely, stirring occasionally. (1 2/3 cups)


1/2 cup softened butter
1 (8-oz.) package softened cream cheese
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract.

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in vanilla. (3 cups)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

(Winter thaw)

Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the Eagle which soars in the Sky.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.


Monday, March 08, 2010


"The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life."

~ Jean Giraudoux

~ Orchid throat
(Phalaenopsis ~ 'Moth Orchid')

This is a brief description on Orchid plant anatomy.

Hopefully it will be helpful if you are new to growing orchids. The roots and stem form the bottom portion of our orchid plant. These absorbs and brings life needed nutrients to the plant. Sometimes, within the root system you may find the water absorption system of the orchid. These are called pseudobulbs. They are very efficient at absorbing and storing water. However not all orchids have pseudobulbs. Remember in the rain forests where some of the orchids grow the showers are usually quick.

Above the roots you will generally find a stem from which the leaves are born. The stems are quite sturdy in some orchids and are delicate in others, especially, the miniature orchids.

A healthy leaf is one that is firm, non-wrinkled, and bright green. It is not a dark green leave which usually means that the plant needs more light.

The spike is usually the bearer of the buds and eventually the flowers. Some spikes will produce one flower or cluster of flowers (e.g. Cattleya). The Phalaenopsis spike will produce flowers all along the spike in succession.

The most intricate parts of the orchid is the flower. There vary, not only in color but in shape as well. They all have the same parts but they vary as to where and the number on the orchid plant.

The sepal are usually three and they are the remnants of the orchid bud. There are generally three but some orchids may have two. The sepals are usually dorsal (back / top of the orchid) and two lateral ones.

The petals are always three in number. It is the bottom petal that is also called the "lip" or "labellum". It is here that forms a platform for the insects that pollinate orchids. It is also here where the most stunning orchid colors are. These colors will attract the pollinators. The Paphiopedilums or lady slippers have a deeper lip that almost resembles a sack.

As varied as the orchid species are you will see many different variations on the anatomy of the orchid plants.