ZUCCHINI AN SWISS CHARD GRATIN

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

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All through the long and glorious summer the garden  rewarded us with glorious vegetables.  I  walk from the kitchen across the long stretch of grass and into the garden.  It is another world of vegetables going quietly about their business of growing.   Italian basil, Thai basil and parsley encircle the garden.  No matter where I am in the garden I brush against these fragrant herbs as I harvest vegetables.  My basket is filled with prickly zucchini and brilliant coloured rainbow Swiss chard.  They will be the starring ingredients of the most delicious, refined and positively addictive vegetable gratin.

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Zucchini and Swiss chard gratin  takes the ubiquitous zucchini and the humble Swiss chard to new heights.  Seasoned with onion, paprika and garlic.    Enriched with Parmesan cheese, eggs and tart sour cream .  Topped with buttery bread crumbs and fresh parsley this gratin is paradise in a dish.   It was such a hit this summer that I made it over and over again.   Served as the main course or as a side dish with  roast chicken  or pork it is summer perfection on a plate all year long.

The very best of summer – ZUCCHINI AND SWISS CHARD GRATIN.

 

CONSIDER THE LILIES HOW THEY GROW

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“Consider the lilies how they grow: They toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say on to you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  (Webster Bible Translation)

I spent half my life living in the North and Prairies of Saskatchewan.  Exotic, sweetly perfumed lilies were delivered by the florist in long green boxes.  Layers of tissue paper protected their fragile petals.  They were special occasion flowers.  Very expensive and to me something rare and wonderful.

Then I moved to the West Coast of Canada.   I was in garden heaven.  Flowers bloomed most of the year.  But best of all I discovered that I could actually grow these gorgeous lilies.  When we moved on to The Farm the very first flowers I planted were Stargazer lilies and Casablanca lilies.  One dozen of each.   Later my lily bed had to make way for construction so I carefully dug up the precious bulbs and planted them in pots.

My outrageously beautiful lilies continue to flower and bring such joy to my heart.  They sit regally on the patio.  Surrounding me with their heady perfume.  And the very best part – when they begin to bloom I move them close to the open windows.  Their heady fragrance fills my home.  It is especially strong in the early morning.  I take my cafe au lait and stand by the window and tell my lilies how much I appreciate them.

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BURIED TREASURE

The late afternoon warmed the soil.   Overhead  skeins of geese flew in military formation heading for the sanctuary of the bog.

She gathered the digging tools – a hand rake and a well-used  trowel its broken metal handle replaced with one of wood.

A bag of bone meal.

An ancient wicker basket filled with tulip bulbs.

She dug in the glorious jewel colours – ruby reds, shimmery pearl whites, peridot greens. diamond yellows.

Then gently.  Lovingly.  Happily patted the earth safely over the buried treasure.

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To be discovered.

 

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with cries of joy.

 

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In anticipation of spring.

 

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MAGIC ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

 

 

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I have a magic zucchini factory in my garden.  How can one not believe this is a magic vegetable.  Sun bright yellow flowers appear and POOF  over night a slender, elegant zucchini.    While you’re in the garden gather mint, dill and Italian flat leaf parsley to flavour your deliciously crisp fitters.  They are wonderful as hors d’oeuvres or as a start course. They don’t require sauce.  Simply sprinkle flaky sea salt and a little crumbled feta cheese on top.

I’m in the kitchen shredding zucchini.  Click on ZUCCHINI FRITTERS  and join me.

 

 

A ROSE IS A ROSE IS MORE

BEL’OCCHIO   … the beautiful eye

A ROSE IS MORE THAN A ROSE

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The last bits of early morning fog clutched  at the garden.

Hovered over a heavily laden branch of roses

Bent almost double with the fragrant  flowers.

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She plundered the branches

Sniping away each perfect rose.

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She filled the crystal bowl with their fragrance.

She filled the quiet room with their presence,

She filled her soul with their joy.

(These  beautiful roses are Princess Beatrice David Austin roses. )

THE GARLIC HARVEST

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In the garden the air is heavy with the scent of garlic;

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garlic and the earthy aroma of  the freshly turned soil;

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garlic mingles with the fragrance of basil and oregano brushed against as we  dig  treasure from the ground.

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The deep heady smell of garlic surrounds us.

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Garlic to add  to salads;

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garlic to burnish the flavour of a fat chicken;

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magnificent whole cloves of garlic  roasted creamy and thick;

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A little red wagon load of Russian Red Garlic to take us through the long winter months.

Here are some  wonderful things you will want to do with roasted garlic  TEN THINGS TO DO WITH ROASTED GARLIC.

THE PERFECT GARDEN – in the manner of Sen no Rikyu

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The  morning sun warms my garden.

I’ve scrubbed  and cleaned the pebbly patio floor.

Hosed the stone walls down.

Washed and rearranged the furniture.

Plumped the pillows.

Wiped clean the garden pots erasing the dust of winter.

Cleaning,  this care of objects,  is good for the soul.

The garden look perfect – too perfect.

I remembered a story about the Japanese tea master,   Sen no Rikyu.

He had asked his son to clean the path leading to the tea garden.  The son carefully swept and scrubbed.  Sen no Rikyu inspected the work.  “Not complete” was his response.  The son repeated the taste with even greater care.  Again it was not accepted.  He cleaned a third time certain that every speck of dust was washed away.  Rikyu just shook his head.  The son in desperation shouted, “Well, you show me how to do it, then!”  The tea master walked to a small tree near the path and gave it a vigorous shake.  A rain of leaves sprinkled the path.  “Now the garden is perfect.”

With a respectful bow to the Japanese tea master,  Sen no Rikyu,  I gave my camellia tree a shake.

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Now the garden is perfect.

MORE BLOOMING CAMELLIAS

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I’m like a mother with a child.

Watching each bloom appear.

I count the blossoms

Like a child’s first steps.

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Then in the deepest, darkest night

the wind came.

Then rain.

They rattled and raged

at the windows.

My camellias

Oh my poor darlings.

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Early morning.

I crept out in my polka dot pajamas.

Just one.

The wind took just one.

You’re growing.

I count your blossoms in my sleep.

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GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE

 

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“Good morning sunshine, I hope you’re well.

Honey I missed you, last night when night fell.

You should know, sunshine, you brighten my day.

The world gets so dark, love, when you go away.”

…lyrics Alex Day

 

I couldn’t help singing this morning.  I awoke to brilliant sunshine.

This  rare event these past winter months must be captured.  It has been day after day of cloudy skies and more rain than we have experienced for many, many years.

I caught the glorious early morning  sun.

The dried hydrangea basked in it remembering the past summer.

Sunshine,  I’ve missed you.

 

A DOZEN OR MORE MARVELOUS THINGS TO DO WITH MEYER LEMONS

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Hold a plump, silk-skinned  Meyer lemon in your hand.

Caress it.

Close you eyes and breathe its intoxicating perfume.

Imagine its sweet tart taste of honey and thyme  on your tongue.

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A Mother’s Day gift from my son this sturdy little tree spent the summer in the sun.

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Now it grows in a corner window catching the sunlight.

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Today I began to harvest my Meyer Lemon Tree.  I’m anticipating what I shall do with this precious fruit.

Perhaps I’ll candy the peel, dust it with superfine sugar and serve it with a glass of sherry.

Or rub a little of peel around the rim of a delicate demitasse of espresso.

Then again I could arrange thin slices of Meyer Lemon on to a pizza crust, top it with goat cheese and just the smallest amount of fine chopped rosemary.

I’m thinking sweet thoughts about my very own Meyer Lemons.  Pure bliss would be to use them in lemon curd or custard.

Even easier would be to grate my Meyer lemon into a bowl full  of sweetened whipped cream.

I could celebrate my harvest of lemons with a lemon gimlet.  I would squeeze one of the little darlings, add it with a touch of zest, soda water  and a goodly amount of vodka to a sparkling cut- glass  tumbler.

I always have Prosecco in my refrigerator.  For a treat I would take the lemon juice, add some simple syrup and a strip of peel and top my champagne glass with Prosecco

To go with my cocktail or Bellini I would cut pumpernickel bread into the thinnest of slices, spread a little sour cream on the bread some smoked salmon, thinly sliced lemon and a sprinkle of capers.

Of course I could make lemonade, stuff a duck,  make preserved lemons, put it on poached salmon, make lemon gelato.

Or just put these treasures   in a blue bowl and enjoy.