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Sunday, August 4, 2019
Posted By: Marian Vaughan in Recipes

August is upon us and, almost to compensate for this wistful reminder of summers end, we are rewarded with an abundance of ripening stone fruits. What better way to enjoy your final summer days and this fruitful bounty than to do a little baking?

This is a family recipe passed down to me from my mother, and it came to her from my grandmother. Every woman in my family makes it, for the simple reason that it is the essence of delicious and the soul of easy. Basically, it is fruit combined with whipped cream.


 

Fruit Fool  


3 Cups

¼ to ½ Cup
2 Cups
 

Chopped Fruit - Any combination of peaches, nectarines, apricots or plums
*In the earliest summer you can make it with fresh berries or unseasonably in winter with tropical fruit!
Berry Sugar (err on the side of less)
Heavy Cream
 


Let’s Get Started!

Blanch & peel nectarines, peaches or apricots. Keep the skin of plums; it is delicious. Stone them & chop them fairly coarsely. Put in a pan, adding a small amount of sugar & heat gently to a near boil. Taste often (cook's privilege) to decide if sugar ok, and if still tastes like fruit.  DON'T let it get overcooked! You don't want jam! Remove from stove and allow to cool. When it is cool, whip the cream until it is quite stiff, then fold in the fruit mixture gently but until combined. Chill for a few hours (for example, while you eat dinner). Can be made the night before & refrigerated.



Variation

A variation of this I have made for a few years comes from Lucy Waverman. In the early part of your cooking day, you line a sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth and set it on top of a measuring cup.  Into the lined sieve you put an entire 500 gram container of plain, full fat, non-homogenized yogurt (preferably sheep -- tastes more creamy). Folding the cheesecloth over the top, you put a weight (something high-tech like a saucer with a potato in it works great) and let it drip while you get on with your cooking. In a few hours, there will be quite a lot of fluid in the bottom of the measuring cup, and the yogurt will be VERY thick.  

Whip the cream as above, then gently stir in the yogurt until well combined.  Then add the cooked fruit. This makes for a deliciously tangy dessert as is, or you can also stir in a compatible liqueur: Cointreau for example.

 


Sunday, August 4, 2019
Posted By: in Recipes

The all too brief season of figs will soon be upon us. Fig trees are a treasure of the European garden that are a surprisingly easy fruit to grow in the Pacific Northwest. These spreading, rambling trees can produce 1-2 crops of delicious fresh figs a year if given enough warmth and heat. Even in cooler temperatures you will be rewarded with at least 1 crop. 


An unusual but delicious fruit, figs possess a very dynamic flavor making them a great addition to a number of dishes. They are wonderful on puff pastry sheets with goat cheese, roasted with bacon & chile, fresh with blue cheese & a honeycomb, these are just a few of my favorites but options are endless! To assist in narrowing your search for the perfect fig combo here is a chutney I rather enjoy which also takes advantage of a co-season rarity to the fig: fresh quince.
 

Quince & Fig Chutney 


6 Large - Fresh
10 - Fresh
1
2 Cups
1 Tsp
 

Quince or 8 Medium Apples (about 3 lbs)
Figs
Lemon
Sugar
Green Cardamom Pods


Let’s Get Started!

Rub quince with a damp paper towel to remove fuzz. Cut 4 quince (6 apples) into large pieces (no need to peel, core, or remove seeds). Place in a large heavy pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until quince are very soft, 60–75 minutes. Halve the figs, or quarter if very large. Shell cardamom & grind in mortar & pestle; zest lemon, then juice (should yield about 1/4 cup)

Strain cooking liquid into a large bowl; discard quince. Wipe out pot; reserve.

Meanwhile peel, core, and thinly slice remaining 2 quince. Add to quince pot along with lemon zest and juice, sugar, cardamom, figs, and reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and very gently boil, stirring often and skimming surface occasionally, until quince is translucent and a spoon dragged across pot leaves a line that quickly disappears, 25–30 minutes, or 40–50 minutes if using apples.

Divide preserves among jars. Let cool; cover and chill. 
 

Do Ahead

Preserves can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep chilled.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Summer Garden

The Summer Garden

Posted By: Marian Vaughan in Gardening

There is a myth, probably born in heat & nurtured in the longing for shade & leisure, that there “isn’t much to do” in the garden in the heat of summer. There is another, born more respectably of summer’s flat light, that the garden itself is dull.

Alas (in one case) and fortunately (in another) both are myths: the summer garden has much to offer in way of work and beauty. Let’s start with chores. Do them early in the day, promising yourself some time in the shade, with your beverage of choice to follow as a reward for your hard work.


Generally, you have still got to keep weeding, but it’s time to stop feeding. By the end of the month, you don’t want to encourage new sappy growth. Winter is not coming soon, but it is coming. You want all your plants to be aware of this change: allow berries to form, allow growth to harden. In each department specifically:

Trees

Keep well hydrated, but intelligently. When you water a plant that has good drainage, and it has dried out 4 inches below the surface, water it well around the dripline and you will be carrying oxygen to the roots along with water. If drainage is bad, the roots sit in water and the plant drowns.  If you water too briefly, the plant maintains a shallow root system and the need for water is increased.  Trees with shallow roots are also more vulnerable to wind.  So, in sum: ensure good drainage from the beginning, then water infrequently but deeply (at least 8-12" into the ground).

Mid Summer is also a good time to prune several fruit and ornamental trees.  There is a kind of secondary dormancy that sets in during the heat, and difficult trees like Japanese maples can be thinned and shaped without difficulty as long as the temperature is not above 27C.  

Shrubs

In the shrub garden, roses should be pruned for the last time in August to encourage new growth.  After this pruning, you must leave them alone to form hips. Rosehips are nature's way of saying to the plant: winter is coming, enough with the new growth. A rose hardened off in this way will survive much better than one that keeps trying to throw out sappy growth.


Hydrangeas will be performing their yearly colour change. Some people like to nip the top flowers to encourage more shoots from the sides on the “repeat” varieties. On the other hand, the maturation of that flower urges the plant to form strong growth for the coming year.


In general, it is better to leave shrubs alone at this time, the urge to be too tidy can lead to winter death.

However, yew and boxwood hedges should be trimmed now to encourage the formation of dense growth. It is also a good idea to do a good shearing of cedar hedges at this time.

Perennials

In the perennial garden, it is time to divide iris and peonies to share.  They too enter a dormant period in July and August, and it is not difficult to lift them and break off pieces of rhizome or root to create new plants for your friends. Broken roots of poppies will also regenerate surprisingly quickly if planted at one.

It is also a good thing to deadhead or shear back perennials. You will often get a small rebloom in the summer, but don't go crazy, cutting them back to nothing: remember here too that sappy growth is dangerous when the cold comes in fall.  Luckily here in the lower mainland, the real cold doesn't typically arrive until December and January, so these cautions only apply in October or so.

Bulbs

It is the time when many bulbs come on sale at local nurseries. Plants such as daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus and many more. Try to get to them, and get them planted, as soon as possible. Some bulbs (notoriously snowdrops) really loathe being dried out, and the sooner you can get them in the ground, the better.

Lawn

In drought & heat, reserve water for gardens. Lawns cope with heat by going brown & rebound as soon as rains start. Heaven knows we have a LOT of rain.  Once it starts, you can mow, but leave lawn clippings on surface to nourish the growing grass.

 

On the bright side - Hardy fuchsias are still going strong, hibiscus & buddleia are holding their own, and of course, there are roses, whose wonderful fragrance we can enjoy. It is a long time before autumn will start to turn the colour of the leaves and lay a frigid hand on the garden.  

Having done your self-assigned chores in the morning, you now have a chance to sit on the deck, gaze upon with pleasure and enjoy the fruits of your labour.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Posted By: Marian Vaughan in Recipes

In July and August, all the stone fruits begin to ripen - there is an abundance of plums, apricots & peaches.  Sometimes the sheer amount can be over whelming and, in any case, what cook doesn't want to take advantage of these fruits while they are at their best? Here is a recipe I have been making for so many years I had to look up where it came from!

This recipe comes from "California Culinary Cuisine" a collection of thin little books I bought when I was quite young; they were at the bottom of in a bin at a hardware store that is no longer in business. I remember buying them quite well, I could only afford one a week and would return to the store anxiously hoping they weren't all gone yet. I think they were about $5. I've been using them for about 35 years now. What an investment!


 

Spiced Stone Fruit Chutney  


1 Cup
1½ Cups
2 Lb
2½ Lb
1 Lb
2 Tsp
2 Tsp
1½ Tsp
½ Tsp
1
2

White Baslsamic Vinegar
Sugar
Peaches, Nectarines
Apricots, Plums or Pluots
Cherries (pitted and halved)
Whole Cloves
Cardamom Pods
Black Peppercorns (crushed)
Anise Seeds
Organic Orange (for zest)
Cinnamon Sticks
 


Let’s Get Started!

Blanch & peel the peaches, then pit & slice thickly all the large stone fruits, halve the cherries. Crush or grind the peppercorns. Strip off 4 strips of zest from the orange, each about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long


In a large nonreactive saucepan, stir together the vinegar and sugar.  Add all the fruit to the pan and stir to coat with the vinegar-sugar mixture. Place the cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns and anise seeds on a square of cheesecloth. Tie the corners together with kitchen string and add to the pan along with the orange zest and cinnamon sticks. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and almost jamlike, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Discard the cloth bag and cinnamon sticks.

This can be refrigerated and kept for a month at least.  I like to make it ahead for festive dinners.  Great with duck, turkey, ham or roast pork! I have also served it over icecream, or with cream as a dessert.  In my opinion, this refrigerated chutney preserves the fresh taste of the fruit best.



Alternatively, If You Like Canning: 
Have ready 7 hot, clean half-pint jars and their lids.  Ladle the hot chutney into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes 7 half-pint jars.

Note: Non-reactive means does not react to citric acid.  Stainless steel is fine, enamel coated pans too, also glass.  No aluminum, no uncoated copper.

 
 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Dormant Oil Spray

Protect Your Fruit Trees from Insect Damage & Fungus

Spring is on its way, and now is the last chance to protect your trees by applying dormant oil spray and lime Sulphur BEFORE bud break. Combat disease and pesky insects such as scale, mites, and leafrollers in one easy step by using this spray kit on fruit trees, deciduous shrubs, and ornamentals. Do not spray on evergreens.

If you’re only going to apply one treatment this year to protect your fruit trees and keep your garden clean - this is it! To learn more about this product, continue reading below...

Dormant Oil Spray Kit


What is Dormant Oil Spray?
Dormant oil spray is available in a kit that contains a lime sulphur and horticultural oil that are combined together to kill over-wintering insects (such as scale, mites, and leafrollers) and control disease & fungus. The oil suffocates insects and their eggs nesting in branches. It’s the best preventative measure you can take by cutting off most of the insect population to protect your trees from damage.


When to Apply
Use dormant oil with lime sulphur any time during winter when temperatures are above freezing. Plants need to be dormant - apply before spring buds begin to open.
 
  • Use on fruit and other deciduous trees, shrubs, and ornamentals
  • DO NOT apply to evergreens, beeches, Japanese Maple trees, or Colorado Blue Spruce


How to Use
For proper mixing instructions and safety precautions, always follow the directions according to the package.
  • Once mixed, the easiest method to apply is by using a pressurized sprayer or a specific applicator that attaches to your garden hose.
  • Mix only what you can use, as you cannot save the prepared solution for later use. Always wear protective clothing and goggles when spraying any garden pesticide.
  • ONLY apply when the plant is completely dormant (no signs of growth)
  • Start spraying at the top of the plant until it just starts to bead off the branches, and then work your way down. Spray around the base of your tree or bush. The spray will be more efficient on a day without wind, and dry days are best.

Dormant oil spray is the best protective treatment to help kill over-wintering insects, eggs, and fungal spores from your deciduous trees, shrubs, and ornamentals. This is the most beneficial treatment to apply to your fruit trees, and NOW is the time to do it - before new spring growth starts to appear!

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