Biedermeier Flower Arrangement 2: A Tutorial with Fall Flowers

Image

Every day since I first published a tutorial on Biedermeier flower arranging in wet sand a few years ago, someone somewhere in the world reads that post.  That is so cool!  I guess there are a lot of us who still love to play with sand!  Recently,  I created a Biedermeier fall arrangement using that same wet-sand technique on a small china cake stand with a variety of mums and asters for a class I was teaching.   I created a slideshow of the technique.  Take a look:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Linguine With Lemon, Walnuts, Crispy Sage and Brown Butter Crumbs and 5 Other Fall Pasta Dishes

Image

“Each golden day was cherished to the full for one had the feeling that each must be the last.” Elizabeth Enright

A recent article in my beloved weekend WSJ’s Off Duty section featured nuts as fall cuisine’s under appreciated ingredient. The article showcased recipes with nuts in starring roles. Inspired, I created a flavorful vegetarian fall pasta dish that comes together in minutes with common ingredients.  Flash fried sage leaves add a big dose of flavor and are a favorite of mine.  Finishing the pasta with big curls of pecorino and brown butter panko crumbs infused the dish with another layer of nutty flavor. Oh, those crumbs!  Sooooo good!   I think you’ll have to fight the squirrels for this one!

image Continue reading

Peace Valley Lavender Farm

Image

image

image

Across from the verdent Peace Valley Park, nestled near the shores of Lake Galena in a picturesque part of Bucks County Pennsylvania, there is a wonderful lavender farm. Although lavender is native to the Mediterranean, it can grow where there is plenty of sun and fast draining soil.  Growing 3,000 lavender plants, Peace Valley Lavender Farm specializes in 2 types of lavenders known to do better in high altitude climates such as in Pennsylvania:  English lavenders and some hybrid varieties. Continue reading

Falling for Cookies!

Image

“Ah, September!  You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul…but I must confess that I love you because you are a prelude to my beloved October.” Peggy Toney Horton

In the small town where I grew up, I could walk to elementary school and back by myself.  I would even come home for lunch every day.   One of my fondest memories is picking up the pace to get home even faster when I would smell my mom’s molasses cookies permeating the crisp air.  Even though the school was a few blocks away, I could recognize that enticing aroma and knew my mom and the cookies would be waiting for me as soon as I got home.   It was the greatest feeling in the world.  Every fall, when the temperatures start dipping,  I get in the mood for baking cookies.  Here is a half dozen of great fall cookies sure to fill your home with irresitible aromas for creating happy memories for a loved one of your own and to herald in autumn.

(My childhood molasses cookie recipe is found in the monogrammed gingerbread recipe below.  My mom would cut the dough in round shapes.  Using a smaller cutter, she  would remove the center of half the cookies, creating a window similar to that of Linzer cookies.  She would sandwich a bit of her homemade raspberry jam between two soft, perfectly spiced gingerbread-molasses cookies with the jam oozing out of the peekaboo cut out of the top cookie. Pure bliss!)

Spiced Chocolate Cut Outs

Continue reading

Crockpot Moroccan Chicken Thighs

Image

It’s not every day that someone destined to become famous asks you to collaborate on her first book.  Let me explain:  could my desk top be used to download the images of the illustrations going into her first children’s book?  Of course, and I’ll lmake dinner.  Teeny tiny contribution but hey, famous-people-to-be have to eat too, especially if they hold down a demanding 60 plus hours a week real job while writing and illustrating a whole book on the side!   So it was, on a weeknight, that I prepared this dish for my super talented friend Ann.  The book was inspired by Ann’s safari trip to Africa and stars a darling zebra named Charlie.  An African-inspired nourishing dinner it had to be!  And one that could sit until whenever  the guest of honor  would show up.  So was born this savoury Moroccan Chicken Thigh dinner with all the flavors of a tagine and the ease of a crockpot.  Fast and easy for a weeknight but good enough to serve to the special guests in your life.

image Continue reading

Castor Bean Plants: Growing and Harvesting Seeds

Image

image

Castor Beans have long been grown as annual ornamental plants. The plants grow to towering heights in the late summer garden with spectacular dark green/burgundy 7-pointed leaves and  clusters of bright coral-red seed pods.  From a distance the seed pod clusters appear to be exotic flowers.  But on closer inspection, they are the plant’s spikey seed heads.  Aren’t they cool? Continue reading