“While we often think of plants as giving a garden definition, it may be more accurate to say that light holds its complete identity. Without light, there is no color, no line, no shape, no form. Darkness swallowing a garden whole, enfolding its shadowy depths, where it lies in wait to be reborn in the morning.” P Allen Smith
During long winter months, gardeners itching to get their hands dirty are often going through garden catalogues dreaming of what to plant. With a barren landscape to ponder, take your armchair garden designing in another direction this year. Look at your space with a fresh, critical eye to study its structure, flow and function. Think of how many hours you actually enjoy your garden space. For many of us, daylight hours are spent away from our outdoor spaces. Ask yourself what would make it easier to use the garden at night? What would make your garden come to life after sundown? How can you extend the use of your garden by adding lighting? How can you make your outdoor spaces an inviting destination after dark? In hotter climates, being able to enjoy a garden at night when it is cooler is of utmost importance. Is your goal to dine al fresco more often? Do you want to sit quietly in a mood lit corner after dark to enjoy a glass of wine or a coffee? Your outdoor spaces can enchant by day and seduce by night when adding the right kind of lighting. Continue reading →
“Let them eat cake.” Marie Antoinette
This Nigella Lawson cake was popular about 15 years ago and I had forgotten all about it. Unfortunate since, as far as cakes go, this one is a simple 5-ingredient recipe, full of healthy ingredients with no added fat and little sugar. And soooo good! The batter is made up of ground almonds and whole clementines. Nigella says to cook the clementines for 2 hours. I made the cake twice this month, once by cooking the oranges as directed and a second time by just bringing them to a boil and cooking them 10 minutes in roiling water. The result was the same as far as taste, texture, moisture of the cake with a huge time saving. I also made it in a bundt pan the first time and it was impossible to separate. The springform is a must with this recipe. This is a totally delicious unfussy snacking cake that is super fast to make. I served mine with a dollop of yogurt. Variations on the theme: substitute lemons or Meyer lemons for the clementines. Everyone loved it!
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Salads are a staple in my world but come winter, I crave the complex favors of roasted seasonal vegetables instead of cold salads. This salad was inspired by New Orleans chef John Sinclair featured in the WSJ recently. I modified his ingredients to what I had on hand and substituted juicy blood oranges for his grapefruit. Gorgeous squash, sweet potatoes, fennel, red onion and brussel sprouts are oven roasted with warming spices like chili powder, cumin and fennel seeds. Then bright citrus notes are layered in with blood oranges. A topping of crunchy toasted squash seeds and pistachios finish off the salad. There is so much to fall in love with in this meal salad! The recipe lends itself beautifully to all kinds of substitution in the ingredients, spices and citrus toppings so that you can make it over and over in various combinations and never tire of it. There is no need for vinaigrette as the olive oil of the roasting will have coated the vegetables and the acidity and brightness of the blood oranges and their juice will be enough contrast to make the salad truly sing. Here’s how I made mine
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“Missouri Ann ate her bit of orange slowly. “Tastes like summer,” she said.” Sandra Dallas
In the heart of winter, this colorful trifle will awaken your palate with its bright citrus flavors and the bite of ginger. As far as trifles go, this one is pretty healthy. The creamy layers are made with Greek yogurt and mascarpone cheese, flavored with orange zest and sweetened with a mere soupçon of honey. The ladyfingers are dipped in the juice of the fruit. Ginger adds a nice spicy contrast to the citrus while boasting great anti inflammatory properties. It is a stunningly beautiful dessert that is good for you too. I served it at a brunch where it received rave reviews. Dig in!
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“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home.” Edith Sitwell
This hearty soup has all the great flavors of cabbage rolls without all the work. Essentially deconstructed cabbage rolls, it is made stovetop, a one-pot meal. Loaded with heart healthy cabbage in a rich tomato broth, it is more stew than soup. You can make it with ground beef or ground turkey. I seasoned mine with bay leaves, dill and parsley but go with the flavors you are partial to from your favorite cabbage roll recipe. Ready in about a half hour, it is a warming cold weather dish everyone will want to dig into. Hearty and filling, no one will suspect it is low calorie. So good. Grab a bowl! Continue reading →