Spring Tablescape in Green and White

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“Spring has returned.  The earth is like a child that knows poems.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

 

The garden is slowly awakening after its long winter’s sleep. Everywhere shoots of new life are bursting out of the ground, reaching for the sky.  I love everything  about this time of year.   One of my favorite color palettes is tonal greens and whites, symbols of new life and the colors of spring for me.  The subtle variations in the greens and whites are brought out by texture.  And there is no better place than in nature to appreciate greens especially.

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Spring Elixir: Creamy Celery Root and Leek Soup

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“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The days are growing longer and the daytime temperatures are teasing us into thinking spring is truly here.  The winter hellebores are joined by the gorgeous crocuses, the early daffodils are unfurling their trumpets while the lilacs are shyly opening their buds alongside the red maples boldly showing off their red leaves awakening from their winter slumber.  The birds are a cacaphony of song.  Spring is here.

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Our tastebuds are also awakening from heavy winter foods and are craving fresh flavors.  I find early spring with its chill still in the air is one of those in between seasons as far as food is concerned.  A spring soup was my solution to satisfy my urge for spring cooking while still finding comfort from the fickle weather.  Celery root, also called celeriac or root-celery is related to leaf celery without any of its fibrous texture.  It is grown for its knobby underground root and is more popular in Eastern and Northern Europe.  It has a distinct delicate celery flavor but it cooks up with a velvety silky texture, ,much like a cream of potato soup.  It is low in calories, high in fiber, and a good source of vitamins K, C, B and essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, copper and manganese(nutrition-and-you.com).

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Don’t let the prehistoric looking skin of this root vegetable scare you off from its tasty delicate flesh.

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Easy Egg Muffins

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“Spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.”The Breakfast Club

Protein-packed, glueten-free egg muffins make for healthy, on the run, breakfasts.  Prepare the egg mixture then add your mix-ins: the possibilities are endless!  After you have made these a few times, you can totally wing it with what you have on hand.   I make them and bag 2-4 in zip lock bags, for a convenient grab and go breakfast that appeals to anyone needing to get out the door in the morning. Low fat, low carb and packed with nutritious ingredients, this is a fantastic breakfast option. They are a good way to use up left over veggies and meats.  What’s not to love about cooking once and having a whole week of breakfasts?  image

Some tasty combinations are:  cauliflower and aged cheddar; feta, tomato with black olives for mediterranean flair; spinach, tomato and mozzarella; sweet potato and smoked gouda; corn, scallion and pepper jack; pea, lemon and goat cheese; bacon, arugula and smoked mozzarella; turkey and blue cheese; ham and cheddar.   I basically fill greased muffin tins almost to the top with the toppings then pour in the eggs mixture. I make mine with regular eggs but if you are watching cholesterol, you can play around with increasing the amount of egg whites.  Whichever way you make them, they are always delicious!

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Fresh tomato, basil and shallot egg muffins.

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Philadelphia Flower Show Tour: Explore America

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The Philadelphia Flower Show has been delighting gardeners from all over the world since 1829.  This year the show celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service and the theme is “Explore America”.  I must confess I did not know how well the majestic natural beauty of the National Parks would translate in the Flower Show, but after previewing the show today, I can say it is one of the most spectacular shows I have attended in 25 years of coming.

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Visitors are greeted at an entrance lodge with towering totem poles made out of flowers, animal forms created out of seeds and pods, spectacular sculptures of life-sized American buffalo and bear created out of mixed media.

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Once inside the entrance lodge, towering floral chandeliers adorned with pheasant feathers  hang above while big screens project footage taken in many national park while a Wild West soundtrack plays. It is mesmerizing and the effect is breathtaking.

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In tribute to Philadelphia’s national historical treasures, there were displays of the Independance Park boasting a giant red white and blue Liberty Bell complete with its crack hung above a wooden wall engraved with the Constitution.

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The Valley Forge National Park where Washington encampted his troops during the Revolutionary war was recreated with several of the log cabins housing the soldiers.

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The Flower Show’s timing the first week of March is the perfect escape from the doldrums of winter and this show did not disappoint. The smells, sounds and sights of spring abounded at every corner.

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More than 10,000 tulips of every color under the rainbow were planted in honor of Lady BIrd Johnson’s National Tulip Library.

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Founded in 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their National Park treasures.  There are 408 National Parks in the USA.  I found this show was rich in history and educational opportunities to learn about these magnificent cultural and natural landmarks.  One could learn about the regeneration of forests devastated by fire in the display of Yellowstone National Park then discover the tropical paradise rich in orchids honoring Hawaiian National parks just a few steps away.

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What just blew me away was how the creative souls designing the show could transport us to the majesty and awe of the redwood and sequoia forests of the west.  One display was designed to look like a giant tree trunk.  Once inside you beheld a stunning 5 “stories” of red chandeliers towering above, several created entirely of flowers.  The pictures don’t do it justice!

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My favorite display was the tribute to American photographer Amsel Adams all done in tone on tone shades in very modern graphic shapes in front of blown up images of Amsel photography. The waterfall was created of white orchids strung on wires. Stunning. Arresting:   just  like Ansel’s work, the first documentarian of the raw, majestic beauty of our National Park treasures.

“When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my mind’s eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.” Ansel Adams

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The miniature displays were impressive as usual.   Here are a few of my favorites:

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The following 3 framed pieces of art commemorating National Parks are made entirely of dried flower petals!  Independance Hall is a first prize winner. Behold the sky created out of violets.  Mount Rushmore was designed entirely with dried ferns.  Just amazing.image image image

I hope you have enjoyed joining me on a preview of the 177th Philadelphia Flower Show.  The Flower Show opens March 5th and will welcome the public until March 13th.  Please visit the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society‘s site for additional details. This is a show you will not want to miss!

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A creative flag constructed of recycled clothing.

A creative flag constructed of recycled clothing.

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