Monday, February 15, 2016

A Garden of Wedding Flowers

It has been a busy six months.  I've managed to collect an abundance of recipes, garden adventures and snippets.  The garden was abundant this season with so many veggies, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I made pickles and beans, canned tomato sauce, salsa, apple butter, and even managed to get married up in Maine!  Yes, this is one of many reasons why Grown in the Garden has been quiet for a short time but of course, not forgotten.

Now, in the heart of winter, with temperatures in the single digits and snow on the ground, I am excited to share my recent collections with you.

As I began to think about a post to return with, it occurred to me that the best way to explain my brief hiatus might be to share some glimpses of our wedding day, in particular the amazing floral design.

The wedding took place at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in early October.  It was a wonderful time of year in Maine and in the garden.  Plenty of plants were still in bloom and the foliage was just beginning to change.  Pumpkins were scattered throughout the gardens, worked seamlessly into the landscape.

 Photo Credit: Kristen Cahill

Being the artist/ foodie/ gardener and downright lover of all things botanical that I am, naturally the flowers and food were two areas where I concentrated most of my wedding planning energy.  I spent  time gathering ideas and images of floral concepts that I liked, wanting most of all a natural and elegant mix of flowers and greens.  Because it was fall, I wanted to make sure that the flowers would stand out from the rest of the garden and the colorful Maine foliage, so I chose colors that were soft and light with pops of antique orange, rose, and of course bright greens.  I wanted to stay away from typical fall earthy colors, but wanted everything to work with the season.

After researching floral designers in Maine, I was lucky enough to have stumbled upon Coco Design Company located in Brunswick, who's work seemed to perfectly reflect my floral visions.  In the end, I couldn't have been more thrilled, floored, blown away with the result....I could go on and on....  

  Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography

After months of planning (more than I had ever expected),  I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to expect on the day of the wedding and was excited to finally see all of the details come together.  When Coco walked in to my dressing room on the morning of the wedding with the flower bouquets and boutonnieres I was beyond speechless.  The details were incredible, with a mix of natural and formal elements.

I found myself wanting to stare at the details, each flower's shape, the way that everything was arranged, but alas I didn't have enough time.  This is, in retrospect, probably a good thing because I would have attempted to photograph every single angle, every combination.  Afterall, that is what the photographer is there for, right?  And speaking of photography, I must not forget to mention Julie Gray Photography in this post for capturing many of these truly stunning images. 

 Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography
Photo Credit: Diane Koss

The arrangements had such an incredible variety of texture and color, while working so well together.  I never imagined such a wide array of botanical elements in every element of the design.  Even today, the more that I look at the photos, the more plants I notice.  The bouquets were so fragrant and sweet, combining different varieties of ferns, rosemary, mint, sweet pea tendrils, ranunculas, roses, lisianthus, hydrangeas, dahlias, astilbe...and again, I could go on.

 Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography

The ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception locations had a combination of wooden boxes, rustic metal containers, and amber bottles.  Small containers housed only a single sherbert colored dahlia, and a fuchsia celosia with a bright orange rib running down the center, larger containers filled with bunches of rosemary and what looked like carrot flowers or queen anne's lace added solid green and a contrast of textures, and larger arrangements displayed stunning combinations of roses, dahlias, hydrangeas and countless other varieties of flowers.  Below are just a few images displaying the true artistry of these arrangements.

 Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography

 Photo Credit: Cynthia Lenington

 Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography
 Photo Credit: Cynthia Lenington

 Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography

Inside, of the reception hall were 2 long farm tables with floral arrangements running down the entire length of each table.  A sprig of rosemary was placed on each napkin, while candlelight dotted the table.  The cakes and pie were decorated with soft flowers, ferns, and greens, sweet enough to eat. 

 Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography

 Photo Credit: Julie Gray Photography

Photo Credit: Diane Koss
I used my botanical pen and ink illustrations and made wildflower seed packets, table and escort cards for each guest.


Finally, at the end of the night, it was really difficult to let the arrangements go.  Family and friends gathered as many as their cars and the bus could handle, and like a bunch of floral lunatics, we took them with us.  My arrangement made it's way up the coast of Maine to Winter Harbor, while others went to their respective homes providing everyone with their own little reminder of such a special day.  

A huge thanks to Coco Design Company for the floral design and Julie Gray Photography for the photos, and all of the other wedding day photographers who captured all of the precious moments from our day! 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cucumbers...Zucchini...Beans! A true veggie bombardment.

Every winter, I order seeds.  This I am sure comes as no surprise to any of you.  I typically give the plants away, and keep a variety for myself.  I like to experiment with different types, varieties, shapes and colors.  This year, I decided to try Turkish orange eggplant, Hungarian cheese peppers, and Romanian Gold Beans of Bacau.  I also choose all time favorites such as Roma, and cherry tomatoes, Blue Lake Beans, and Chicago Pickling cucumbers.

My garden this year is all about new discoveries.  I have more space to work with, more sun, less tree roots, and better soil.  I dug three extra beds this spring, in order to house my veggies, and knowing how I like to over crowd my plants (thinning seedlings is not one of my strong suits) I vowed to give everything enough space...even the tomatoes...sort of.  

I planted about 6 zucchini seeds, spaced nicely apart.  Then I planted three thin rows of cucumbers, a pickling variety and a regular cucumber.  I made two areas for my beans and peas to climb, sowing purple, yellow wax, bush, pole and the beans of Bacau, in designated areas.  They filled in nicely, each producing abundantly at a different time.

And then, I accidentally watered two packets of cucumber seeds...and instead of drying them out, or discarding them...I planted them.

So this is pretty much what it looks like every day at my house....

and this.......

and now this......

Needless to say, I have stopped picking cucumbers for the time being....

What does one do with all of these cucumbers you ask...I made pickles.  Lots and lots of pickles.  In fact I should be making pickles right now.  

The true fact of the matter is that this mass quantity of cucumbers has brought with it, the opportunity for me to experiment with various types of pickle making and pickle recipes.  I have tried garlic dill pickles,  hamburger dill pickles, and bread and butter pickles.  

At one point, at the height of my pickling frenzy, with some brine to spare, I began pickling the string beans.


  I also decided to make Tzatziki Sauce.  Cucumber, dill, mint, yogurt, garlic and lemon. Yum!

Ok so now moving on the other veggies...Zucchini.  One night I decided to make a dish that I used to order at restaurants in Italy, Fritto Misto.  Often served on brown paper, this crave-worthy dish is usually made up of a variety of fried veggies and seafood.  

I decided that I would fry some zucchini flowers, along with zucchini, and string beans in a light batter that I usually use for the zucchini flowers.  Not sure how the beans would turn out ( even as I added them to the oil) I was surprised to find that they cooked so quickly and were incredibly tender while still a little crunchy.  This dish made a perfect side for the main course...and I made zucchini parmigiana with the leftovers!

( Please note the wrapped up cucumber in the background...they are everywhere!)

And this leaves us with the beans.  Oh the beans.  Producing wonderfully, I have purple, yellow wax, green, and Gold of Bacau.  Typically I like to blanch the beans in salted water, and toss them with olive oil, fresh mint, garlic, salt and pepper, and add a little splash of vinegar at the end.  This is one of my favorite summertime side dishes.  This year however, because of the shear abundance of beans, I wanted to try something different.

The Gold of Bacau, heirloom Romanian Pole Beans, are tender and light, but I had never cooked them alone.  So in order to highlight and understand their true flavor, I isolated them, and decided to make these beans in a tomato basil sauce.

I prepared the beans by blanching them lightly in salted water, while in another pan, sauteing a few  lightly smashed garlic cloves in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once the beans were ready, I added them to the garlic to saute, and then added Italian Cherry Tomatoes.  These tomatoes are so sweet and fresh, they make a delicious sauce.  I finished the dish with some purple basil leaves from my garden. 

The beans came out so tender and full of flavor that they almost could be used as a substitute for a pasta dish.  This is one recipe that I will add to my list of summertime favorites!

Stay tuned for more updates from the the tomatoes and peppers are finally beginning to make an appearance...