Tuesday, January 31, 2012


"Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the unrestrained beauty around them. "

~  Vincent A Simeone

Winter Garden
(Blooomfield Village)


~ A slightly different tasty take on the 'classic' ... red onions and red wine (fine herbs) instead of white onions and white wine ... 

4  Tbsp. unsalted butter
2  Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6  large red thinly sliced red onions
pinch of sugar
8  cups organic beef broth/stock
1  cup red wine
rosemary and thyme fresh or dried to taste
coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
brandy or cognac

8  slices of Gruyere (swiss or favorite) cheese 
8  slices of good/firm bread like sourdough, 
trimmed to fit opening of soup crock
Extra-virgin olive oil

  • In large stockpot, melt butter and olive. Sauté sliced onions until well coated, cover and cook on low for 25 minutes or until soft.
  • Sprinkle onions with a bit of sugar. Raise heat and sauté, constantly turning, 30 minutes or so until well caramelized.
  • Add wine and stirring, deglaze bottom of pan. Bring to boil and add beef stock, herbs, salt & pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add generous glugs of brandy. Return to high heat, lower and simmer a bit for 3 minutes. (At this point you can either continue or cool and refrigerate ... actually, better to do ahead but again heat soup before continuing on with recipe). 
  • When ready to serve: Preheat oven to 350º. Place bread slices on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes until firm. Ladle soup into individual serving oven-safe crocks and top with bread. Place cheese over bread, place in oven heat for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. If desired, place under broiler to finish or brown cheese. (Note: take care ... this is very HOT!) 


"January is the quietest month in the garden.  ...  But just because it looks quiet doesn't mean that nothing is happening.  The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants.  The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come."

~ Rosalie Muller Wright
 Editor of Sunset Magazine, 1/99

Saturday, January 28, 2012


‎"Life is like a good black and white photograph, there's black, there's white, and lots of shades in between."

~ Karl Heiner

Oriental Poppy
(Papaver orientale)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape - the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn't show."

~ Andrew Wyeth

Bare Bones of Winter
(Hubbard Lake, MI)


~ Hearty rich Belgian beef stew with sweet caramelized onions and dark beer, perfect for a cold winter's eve ...
(The Silver Palate Cookbook)

1/4 pound bacon
2 very large yellow onions, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 pounds beef stew meat (chuck is best), cubed
vegetable oil (optional)
2 cups imported dark beer
chopped parsley (garnish)
  1. Coarsely dice the bacon and saute in large skillet until crisp and brown. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  2. Add onions to skillet and cook in rendered bacon fat until tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover skillet, raise heat, and sprinkle onions with sugar. Toss and stir until well browned. Transfer onions to strainer set over a bowl and let stand while you prepare the beef.
  3. Stir flour thyme, salt, and pepper together on plate and roll cubes of meat around in mixture until well coated. Shake off excess and set cubes on another plate.
  4. Press onions gently with back of spoon to extract as much cooking fat as possible. Transfer fat to a kettle. Add in vegetable oil if not enough for proper browning of beef. Be sparing or carbonnade will be greasy.
  5. Set kettle over high heat; when very hot, add 6-8 cubes at a time to brown properly. Turn heat down slightly and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer with slotted spoon to clean plate and proceed with the browning untilall meat is done.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  7. Pour beer into kettle and stir browned bits on bottom with spoon. Return beef cubes to kettle along with bacon and sauteed onions. Bring to simmer on stove. Cover and set on middle rack of oven.
  8. Cook 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until stew is thick and meat tender.
  9. Taste and correct seasoning. Turn into heated serving dish, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately. (6 portions)

Note: Serve carbonnade egg noodles tossed with butter and poppy seeds, sauteed apples, black breads and good dark beer.

Monday, January 09, 2012


“Click. Boom. Amazing!”
~ Steve Jobs

Phalaenopsis Orchid
(Confidence texture)

~ Delicious hearty offering for a chilly winter day

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 coarsely chopped onions
4 minced garlic cloves
1 cup chopped celery plus leaves
8 cups shredded cabbage (shortcut use coleslaw mix)
3 diced potatoes (redskins/small Yukons, or sweet)
2 cups chopped zucchini
2 cups chopped carrots
1 - 1 1/2 cups chopped green beans or frozen Italian green beans
1 - 2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 - 2 cans rinsed cannellini beans
2 - 3 quarts organic chicken broth
2 Tbsp. crushed dried basil
2 tsp. crushed dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
10 oz. fresh chopped kale or spinach (or 10 oz. frozen chopped)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
(1/2 cup small pasta or arborio rice ... optional)

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • Heat oil and butter over medium heat in large stockpot. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Add garlic, celery, and cabbage and continue cooking until wilted. Add potatoes, zucchini, carrots, green beans, stewed tomatoes, cannellini beans, chicken broth, basil, oregano, salt & cracked pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes.
  • Add spinach or kale, fresh parsley, and pasta/rice (if desired). Cook another 10-15 minutes or until pasta/rice tender.
  • Adjust seasonings. Ladle in bowls and top with finely shredded Parmesan. Serve with good crusty bread.

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Purchase with 'confidence' ... Phalaenopsis Orchids are hardy beauties