If you’ve read my books or attended my presentations, you’ve probably heard this one by now. This method of storing freshly harvested, edible blossoms over the short term is a miracle worker and has completely altered my ability to keep and use them more effectively.
I’m not sure when I made the transition from rose-hater to rose-eater. These days I have several roses planted in my garden, most of which have been chosen specifically for their eat- and use-ability. All roses are edible, but only those that smell fragrant taste good. Scentless roses are flavourless.
I recently returned from a long trip to an explosion of fresh blooms specifically from the three climbing roses that are planted in front of my ramshackle shed. Two of the three were planted last season and are doing well, but the third, a beautifully scented orange and golden variety called ‘Westerland’ that is now in its third year here has gone absolutely gangbusters. I have been harvesting a generous basketful of fresh blooms every day since my return and it doesn’t seem to be stopping. Once this flush is done there will be at least one more smaller flush later in the season.
I preserve the blooms in several ways, but today I thought I’d share the quickest and easiest method: drying.
For years I published a regular, email newsletter filled with site updates, pictures, contests, stories, and assorted garden-related ramblings… and then I stopped. People wrote to ask where the newsletter went and if I was okay and all I could think was, “It’s in my brain. If only I could will it from my brain and into the computer screen.”
After a five year hiatus I have decided to resurrect the newsletter. Joining is completely free. There is no obligation to join; however, be informed that there will be much commiserating over terrible weather, **frolicking in sunny fields of flowers, and hootenannies that you will not want to miss.
You can expect bi-weekly, weekly updates of:
- recent site updates and articles
- workshops and events
- interesting links
- newsletter-only perks
- anything else that I think you’ll enjoy
I hope you will join me and I will try my best to make it worth your while!
[About the photo: The above photo depicts roses harvested from my garden in early August 2012. The varieties are two climbers and one bush: 'Westmoreland' (orange & pinkish), 'Night Owl' (black/purple), and ‘Graham Thomas’ (yellow-orange). I purchased the vintage lithographed bowl from an etsy shop called Scout and Rescue.]
**The management regrets to inform you that they can not guarantee nor provide frolicking, fields of flowers, and/or hootenannies at this time.
There’s so much that I experience on a weekly basis while at home or travelling that is related to plants and food that doesn’t seem to have a place here… but should. As a result of this oversight, I’ve decided to start a regular feature called, Heck Yeah! that’s devoted to the simple, yet wonderful things that are worth a mention.
The inaugural Heck Yeah! comes from an impromptu dinner I enjoyed last Friday here in Toronto at a Persian restaurant called The Pomegranate. The atmosphere and food was inspiring, most especially the use of herbs. I came away from our meal full of enthusiasm for Persian food and some new ways to use up the herbs I grow in abundance in my garden. Luck was on our side and we arrived hoping for a table just after someone had cancelled. If you’d like to experience the food for yourself, I’d suggest making a reservation. Tables fill up fast.
I thought I’d tried every yoghurt-based beverage out there, and then I found doogh. More savoury than sweet, doogh is a refreshing combination of yoghurt and carbonated water, flavoured with dried herbs and spices. I believe mine was topped with dried and ground mint and rose petals, but I have since researched out recipes that include cumin and cardamon. I’m sure there are other secret ingredients and variations as well.
Persian Mint Tea
My friend Jen enjoyed a classic Persian mint tea, which is a simple drink (fresh mint leaves brewed in hot water) made special by this beautiful presentation. We both agreed that when it comes to food and drink, the rituals are as important as the food itself.
Rose Water and Pistachio Ice Cream with Pomegranate
After a large and satisfying meal, I didn’t think I had the room left for dessert, yet I could not walk away without trying the house rose water ice cream. The portion was generous — enough for 4 people — but we managed to devour it all between two of us, and on full stomachs no less.
Roses are an under-used flavour in Western cooking. One of my goals for my forthcoming herbs and edible flowers book, “Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces” was to encourage more people to make culinary use of the roses that they grow. A scoop of rose petal ice cream at a night market in Oaxaca, Mexico back in April 2000 was my introduction to this fragrant ingredient and the way I would suggest first trying the flavour if you’re unsure about eating it for the first time.
I wanted to write and thank you all for your very kind words and wishes about yesterday’s post. I’ve been overwhelmed. Thank you.
I have to admit I have felt a little bit of embarrassed by what I wrote. On the one hand it reads so dramatic, but then when I ask myself if it is true the answer is yes. I believe they call that passion although some would call it melodrama. One commenter was right in saying that this is coming at a bad time and maybe I would not have been so crushed at another time. This is true. I am going through something difficult. It had been a particularly bad week and as I wrote elsewhere it was just the cherry on top of a big plate of shit cake. But I should also add that my words were less tempered than previous posts about this issue because in the past I have waited until a lot of time had passed before writing. The last time I wrote something heartfelt about this was a month after the incident had occurred. It took me 30 days to get to the point where I could look at the garden or even begin to think about caring for it again. So despite recent badness I know it still would have flattened me. I’d been holding my breath waiting for the next big incident to occur. There had been a series of smaller incidents over the last month but I could roll with them. However, this was just the final straw after countless larger acts of vandalism built up over the years, much of which had come from the landlord himself. Sometimes it even came from my so-called neighbours living in the same building (this is a small building too). Years back we made a garden in the space by our building’s door but gave up after that space was repeatedly flattened until nothing was left. But not to be deterred I tried and tried again. We even put in a brick path for people to walk on but they still insisted on crunching through the garden. I once watched in slow motion as a former tenant’s visitors stood in and walked all over flowers I had JUST planted. I was still crouched there planting! That kind of disregard is staggering.
Experiences and how we respond to them always happen within a very personal context so in my case this last act of extreme disregard followed on the heels of years of similar incidents. And most especially followed on the heels of last year’s Operation Garden Terrorism 2007 wherein a week didn’t go by when some act of vandalism was discovered. On the morning of this last incident I stood looking at the garden feeling very content with how lush and full the garden had grown. It was the first day I didn’t stand looking at the garden thinking, “I REALLY hope some drunk dude doesn’t fall into the iris bed this year.” And, “Wow the globe thistle is finally getting its chance to come back. Let’s hope no one gets the idea to destroy it, AGAIN.” It was the first time in a while that I didn’t worry. So of course that was the day this next batch of destruction occurred.
The garden is still there. It’s a decent-sized space filled up with plants. Someone would have to really plow through it to kill everything off. So while there are huge gaping holes, there is still a garden. And I suppose there is some hope for me yet in that I am already contemplating getting another rugosa rose to fill up one of the holes. Because while people have tried, the current rugosa rose is the one plant nobody can really mess with. It’s just too big and thorny. I have always chosen strong, resilient, and drought tolerant plants for that space but I am slowly moving closer to filling the entire thing up with thorny, imposing plants. No more delicate blooms or perennials that die back during the winter leaving them in a vulnerable position until they grow back to full size. No, the beauty of the rugosa rose is that once it gets to a certain size it stays big indefinitely. So maybe that will be my new strategy, one in a long line of shifts I have made over the years in an attempt to roll with the punches. Because when it comes down to it I can’t let it go. Not yet anyways.
I recently bought the new book, “What It Is” by Lynda Barry. I think she is an incredible writer and artist and I am loving this new book so much because it’s not only a beautiful work of art filled with very astute observations and personal stories but it is also a guide to writing and story telling that anyone can follow. She believes we all can and should be writing and drawing for the love and creative expression of it, just like I believe everyone can grow a garden. There are a number of personal stories in the book that I really relate to and one is about fairy tales and myths and how often in those stories the dead kingdom represents when people have turned to stone inside. I’m not sure if it’s meant to represent a loss of hope or a disconnection from oneself although I’m guessing either or both could work. I have been reading and rereading the following passage over and over again recently because it encapsulates exactly how I feel about dealing with difficulty and what I said yesterday about feeling everything no matter what.
Page 54 reads:
“In a myth or a fairytale, one doesn’t restore the kingdom by passivity, nor can it be done by logic or thought. So how can it be done? Monsters and dangerous tasks seem to be part of it. Courage and terror and failure or what seems like failure, and then hopelessness and the approach of death convincingly. The happy ending is hardly important, though we may be glad it is there. The real joy is knowing that if you felt the trouble in the story, your kingdom isn’t dead.”
Time to get back to restoring the kingdom. Thanks again to all of you.