Here’s a homemade holiday gift from the garden that there is still time to make. It took me about an hour and a half to make the caramel slab and I’ll probably be cutting and packaging individual caramels until the second coming, but it will have been worth it. To say that these are gorgeous and addictive is an understatement. The best way to savour them is to put one in your mouth and let it melt slowly. They’re buttery, sweet, and salty with just enough lavender and a taste of honey. I can’t get these packaged, wrapped, and out of here fast enough because I CAN’T STOP EATING THEM.
We’re hitting that magical time of the season when a growing portion of our meals are gleaned from the garden. I enjoy moving around the space, snipping bits of this and that from here and there. I have edibles tucked in everywhere. There are lettuce seedlings in every bed, except the dry one. They would not fair well there.
Yesterday’s lunch, a simple salad (Except the eggs. No chickens here. Le sigh. Oh, and the cheese.) came from the garden.
Here’s my process:
- Photo Top Left: ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce. This is the same lettuce that miraculously overwintered. I dug up the seedlings and planted them here and there.
- Photo Top Right: Harvesting assorted edible greens. These include: Two types of spinach, bloody dock, chive flowers, viola flowers, French Sorrel, pea shoots, curly parsley, violet leaves, another type of lettuce (I forget), curly cress, ‘Green Wave’ mustard, mizuna, ‘Red Frills’ mizuna, spring onion, lemon balm, mint, and borage seedlings. These are just a few examples of salad fixins you can grow.
- Photo Bottom Left: Easy dressing done right in the bowl. Just add your greens and toss. Olive oil, a dash of Balsamic vinegar, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped chive blossoms and parsley.
- Photo Bottom Right: And eat. With boiled eggs and asparagus. Enjoyed with a kefir milk smoothie.
The violets are blooming and as always I am taken in by their sweet fragrance and colourful little faces. I met a gardener yesterday afternoon, a woman decades my senior, and as we spoke of the violets in her garden and our mutual affection for their graceful charm, I was surprised to learn that she did not know that they are edible!
I was on Martha Stewart Radio today to talk about my new book about growing herbs and edible flowers. The question was asked, “What is your favourite edible flower?” and I replied, without hesitation, “Nasturtiums, hands down.”
Of course, now as I am typing this, I am hesitating, “But wait… what about roses? You really like roses. Don’t forget violas! You lose your mind over them in the springtime. Scented geraniums… you can’t live without them.” And so on…
No, really. I often choose nasturtium when asked this question and I think it comes down to the unexpected. Most people expect edible flowers to taste kind of sweet, floral, and a little bit weird, which is how many flowers smell. When I hold out a nasturtium, which does not have a particularly strong smell, and ask a friend to eat it, no one ever anticipates that their tongue will be met with a burst of sweetness and a spicy, radish-like kick.
Nasturtiums are fun, perhaps more-so than other flowers.
I wrote about the cosmos recently when the flowers were just starting to open. Well, they’re coming up full force now and I’m loving them even more. The soft, double blooms have begun to poke through a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) plant that is growing alongside — it has proven to be an unexpected combination that I would repeat again.
Eventually, if all goes well, the false roselle will bear its own soft pink blooms. It’s a long season tropical — I started the seeds underneath lights back in January with the hopes that the plant would have enough time to make flowers before the killing frost comes. I am loving this plant in it’s own right, even without flowers. I first encountered it in St. Lucia where my friend David was growing a stand of them. Here it is a struggle to get 7-foot-tall plants — mine are not there yet and may never make it, but even still, it’s been beautiful at every stage. Both the flowers (if they ever come) and the young leaves are edible. They taste a lot like their namesake, sorrel (Rumex acetosa), and have that slightly acidic bite.