Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daffodil Traditions

Some day it will stop raining.  Today is not the day.  So, to perk myself up, I've got daffodils.

From Wordsworth we have the lovely poem 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' and its daffodils.  I have sprinkled them through the beds, purposefully forgetting where.  They are thriving in the sunniest bed, of course and I manage to have about six weeks of daffodils.  The ones near the driveway came with the house and it is probably past time to dig them up and split them.  Daffodil bulbs will multiply and form almost a volleyball wad of tubers over time.  The critters don't eat them, so they really are an easy bulb.

One of my favorite traditions is visiting Daffodil Glade at The Morton Arboretum.  The project was started in early 30s when Joy Morton was still alive.  There are thousands and thousands and thousands of daffodils now.  The Arb has continued the tradition in recent years and now daffs are sprinkled in spots along the East Side and at the entrance.  Families visit every year and take pictures among the blossoms. 

The Prince family tradition has been to give the first daffodils seen in the grocery stores to my mother-in-law as it is one of her favorite flowers.  This used to be more of a competition before markets started selling imported Irish daffs.  So far, my father-in-law usually wins.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Houseplants I Have Not Yet Killed

It's time for an update on my houseplant purchases from Hausermann's! 

I have not yet killed them!

See?  Isn't it cool?

The orchid is blooming nicely and seems to be very happy.  It's leaves are healthy and the cats haven't knocked it to the floor. 

My one gardenia flower!  So fragrant it filled the study.

However, the gardenia is pissed off.  We just don't have enough humidity in the house to keep  it happy.  It's dropping leaves and now has a case of spider mites.  I'm trotting it down to the basement sink and dousing it with a strong stream of water regularly.  Spider mites can't swim very well.  I'm not sure I'll get another flower out of it, but it was magical while it lasted.  We shall see.  I'm determined to keep trying!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chives: The Herb of Spring

Chives!  There's some daffodils growing in
the middle of a clump that reseeded itself.
Works well!  Daffodils die down, chives keep on going.

In our house, we know it's spring when we can harvest the first chives.  Perhaps it is my Norwegian heritage that likes to put chives and fish together. Chives always make me think of smoked salmon on rye bread and lots of hot tea.  I'm only an eighth Norwegian, but it crops up out of nowhere sometimes. For me, chives signal spring foods like salads, peas, tender lettuces, and radishes.  There's a sense of throwing off the heavy, sustaining foods of winter and a deep longing for fresh flavors and lightness.

We have lots of chives because I never quite catch all the flower heads before they go to seed.  At this point, they are about six to eight inches high and the perfect size to harvest.  Here are some suggestions on how to use chives that are quick and easy.  I find I prefer to use them as a finishing touch as they don't hold up well to lots of cooking.
  • Sprinkle on scrambled eggs, fried eggs, really any eggs, just before they come out of the pan.
  • Whip chopped chives with cream cheese and/or yoghurt as a spread for bagels, especially with lox!
  • Mix chives with mayonnaise for a great herb mayo for sandwiches.  You can do small batches and keep it tightly sealed in the fridge for days.
  • Mix in chopped chives to egg salad, tuna salad, and hashes.
  • Toss with salad greens for a nice oniony zing or add to your homemade dressings as a finishing touch.
  • Include when cooking fish in paper along with olive oil, capers, and slices of lemon and lime.
What are some of your favorite ways to use chives?