Cooking, Eat Good Food

Plum Salad Recipe

Perfectly in-season stone fruit is an unexpected-yet-perfect match for pungent kimchi, cooling yogurt, and bright citrus. With a shower of cilantro blossoms on top, this salad is a beautiful celebration of late-summer flavor.

Serves 6-8

Beet Kimchi:

4 large yellow beets (should yield about 1lb)
1 qt. kombu stock
1/2 cup grated ginger
1/4 cup grated garlic
5 tbsp ground Korean red chili (gochugaru)
1 cup scallions, sliced
1 cup radish, shaved thin
1/4 cup kosher salt

Toss all ingredients together. Place in a fermentation crock for 14 days then refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Plum Salad:

8 red-fleshed plums, such as a Santa Rosa Plum or Elephant Heart, sliced into wedges
1 cup beet kimchi
1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 2 tbl white soy sauce mixed in
4 tbsp miso, with lemon kosho blended in to taste (recipe follows)
2 cups of purslane tops
2 Serrano chilis, sliced into thin coins
20 basil leaves
1 bunch of flowering cilantro
1 lime for zest and juice

On the desired plate place a small pool of the soy yogurt. Add a dollop of the miso. With the tip and a small spoon swirl together to create a marble effect.

Place the sliced plums off to one side of the yogurt miso mixture. Add some of the beet kimchi. Scatter the purslane, basil, Serrano chili, and cilantro over the top.

Using a microplane zest the lime over each plate.  After you have added zest to each plate, cut the lime in half and squeeze the lime over each salad.

Lemon Kosho

1/4 cup lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Korean chili paste (tobanjan)
2 tbsp kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together and let sit a room temp for 48 hours, then refrigerate for 1 week. It’s then ready to use. The kosho will hold for 6 months in the refrigerator.

Farming, Field Notes, Grow Your Own, HomeFarm

How to Make a Flower Crown

There’s no better accessory for late summer weddings, garden parties, or weeknights (why not?) than a flower crown. Whether it’s a simple band of greenery or a riotous floral bouquet, donning the season’s bounty always puts us in a festive mood. It turns out it’s surprisingly simple. You’re just a trip to the craft store and a walk through the garden away from getting your midsummer night’s dream on.


YOU WILL NEED:
Bark covered wire
Floral tape
Wire cutters
Scissors
Fabric ribbon
An assortment of cut flowers, greenery, branches, berries, etc.,


Step 1:
Cut a section of bark covered wire equal to the circumference of your head. Create a loop at each end of the wire and twist to secure. Trim sharp edges of wire, if necessary.

 


Step 2:
Trim the first few flowers or pieces of greenery you would like to attach to the crown, leaving a 1-2” stem. Cut a length of floral tape that will be easy to work with, approximately 2 feet long.

 


Step 3:
Stretch and warm up the floral tape in your fingers slightly to prepare it to adhere. Starting at one of the loop ends, hold the greenery to the bark wire with the stem end facing away from the loop. Wrap the floral tape around the stem several times. Wrap as snugly as possible—the tape will stick to itself to hold the greenery in place.

 


Step 4:
Attach more flowers and greenery to the crown, overlapping leaves over the wrapped stems to hide them. Continue building the crown in the same way, working from one end of the crown to the other. When you run out of floral tape, wrap it around itself to adhere and start a new length of tape in the same way.

 


Step 5:
When you reach the end of the crown, attach a few flowers or leaves facing the other direction to hide the wrapped stem. Trim any protruding stems or wire pieces and adjust flowers as needed.

 


Step 6:
Cut a piece of ribbon to desired length. Thread ribbon through both loop ends of the crown and place gently on your head. Tighten until crown fits comfortably, then tie ribbon in a bow.

 


Step 7:
Wear your flower crown with pride!

TIPS:

  • For the best effect, vary shapes and sizes. We love incorporating flower buds, berries, and airy accents like fennel flowers and moss.
  • Try adding a larger statement flower off-center.
  • Fresh flower crowns will wilt after a day or so. Crowns will keep for approximately two days if stored in the refrigerator.
  • For a longer-lasting crown, use dried flowers or hardy varietals like strawflower, celosia, gomphrena, or statice.

Grow Your Own

How To: Cutting and Caring for Flowers

Cutting and caring for flowers correctly ensures that the hard work of your garden gets its best reception. Cutting flowers and caring for them is simple, but it helps to know what you’re going to do first. Here are our favorite steps to floral beauty and longevity — in the vase!

Cutting

Most flowers are best picked when they are just starting to show color, and will last longer at this stage than if collected in full bloom. However some flowers, such as dahlias and roses, may not fully open up if cut when the buds are tight.

Here are some tips for cutting flowers:

  • Generally, the best time to cut and collect flowers is in the morning when their stems are turgid and less likely to wilt. Ideally wait until the dew has dried because moisture on flowers in storage are prone to botrytis, a fungal disease that will ruin them.
  • If you wait until the evening to cut flowers, do so when the sun is low in the sky and the air has cooled. In a perfect world, flowers would be cut only in temperatures below 80 degrees.
  • Make sure your clippers are clean to prevent the spread of bacteria. A quick dip in a jar of alcohol in between harvests will also help reduce the spread of disease. Clippers should also be sharp in order to make a clean cut and not smash the stems. We recommend you invest in high quality clippers (pruners) and a sharpening stone. We like to use a strong pair of pruners for thick stems such as lilacs and other woody perennials. For thinner stems, we prefer these everyday garden scissors.
  • Cutting flowers quickly and efficiently is a skill you develop with experience. You need to cut the flower, stripping the foliage from the lower part of the stem, and get the stems into water as soon as possible.
  • Always be sure to use scrupulously clean buckets, or you’ll risk introducing bacteria that will quickly plug up the stems of your flowers and prevent them from taking up water. Without water, your flowers will quickly wilt.

Caring

Once cut, it’s important to condition flowers to prolong their longevity and keep them looking their best.

Condition the cut stems by following these easy steps:

  • After cutting, you need to remove the field heat from the plant material as soon as possible to ensure the longest life. For the home gardener, bringing the flowers into a cool house or garage is usually all you need to cool them off.
  • For best results, recut all stems using sharp pruners to avoid crushing the stems and reducing their ability to take up water through their stems.
  • Leave the prepared stems in a cool place for 2 to 3 hours or longer to allow the flowers to drink up water and become turgid again.
  • Some plants with weak stems and heavy heads are prone to bending. To help straighten the stems, wrap the bunch of flowers in newspaper and leave in water for at least two hours. As the stems take in water and stiffen, they will support the flower head in an upright position.

Eat Good Food

How to Use Edible Flowers

Edible flowers, with their vibrant colors and fetching shapes, are not only attractive to pollinators such as bees and birds. For us, there is a special pleasure and almost intimacy about eating a flower, tuning in to a plant’s life cycle at its most seductive moment.

We grow edible flowers year-round at HomeFarm. All are easy to grow and look as beautiful in the garden as they do on the plate.

Harvest Note: Pick flowers in the morning on a dry day once the petals have opened. Flowers are very delicate and need careful handling.

Snip the blooms with small scissors, taking care not to touch the flower face. Place in a single layer in your harvest basket or tray.

Once back in the kitchen, check for bugs and use right away or store in a cool place.

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Lightly minty with a note of licorice, this perennial’s leaves and striking purple flowers can be harvested over a long growing time. Trim the flower heads and leaves to use fresh or dried in a tisane (herb tea), or separate the tiny flowers from the main stem to scatter over the top of a fruit salad or garnish a summer cucumber soup.

Anise hyssop really shines in sweets; the leaves and flowers can be infused into custards for créme anglaise or ice cream, cooked with sugar to make a simple syrup for flavoring lemonade, or cooked with fruit for syrups, sauces, and jams.

Borage (Borago officinialis)
Borage, also known as starflower, is a familiar annual herb with furry leaves and small, star-shaped blossoms in the most delectable shade of blue. With a taste reminiscent of cucumber, borage flowers are excellent tossed into salads and make a beautiful garnish for cold potato, pea, or cucumber soups.

They are also attractive floated on cordials and cocktails, such as Pimm’s Cup or gin and tonics. If you have time and want to impress, freeze the flowers in ice cubes.

Add a few borage flowers to lemonade, and it will turn pink from the acid of the citrus, a delightful trick for a child’s party!

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Also called “pot marigolds,” this easy-to-grow annual is strongly flavored: use only the golden- to orange-hued petals. The flowers range from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery, and can be used to color and flavor salads, butter, eggs, pasta, and rice dishes, much like saffron but with a lighter touch.

The petals can be dried and stored for winter, and make for an especially colorful addition to leek and potato or butternut squash soups.

Chive Blossoms (Allium schoenoprasum)
The smallest member of the onion family, the common chive is a hardy perennial that happily comes back each year in the garden, offering early blooms in the spring. The purple pompom flower heads are made up of individual florets that can be pulled apart and scattered on a potato salad, mixed into an herb butter, or used as a garnish on any dish where the flavor is warranted — like creamy soups, deviled eggs, or salads.

The blossom heads can also be used to infuse vinegar, making a gorgeous blush-colored chive-flavored vinegar in just a few days.

Cornflower (Centaurea cynaus)
Also known as Bachelor’s Buttons, the cornflower is a tall, slender plant with blossoms resembling tiny carnations with pointed petals. The petals of traditional blue cornflowers look beautiful in a green salad, but its vivid shades of crimson, pink, and purple are nearly as eye-catching. They have a slightly spicy, clove-like flavor with a subtle sweetness.

Cornflowers have varied uses — providing a colorful element in vibrant summer salads, adding appeal to soft cheeses, or for making natural food coloring for icings. They are often crystallized or used fresh as decoration for cakes and desserts.

Dianthus (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Dianthus are the miniature member of the carnation family with a light clove-like or nutmeg scent. To use the surprisingly sweet petals, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. The bright red and pink petals can then be added to fruit salads or used as an elegant garnish for desserts.

Carnation petals are one of secret ingredients that have been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.

Johnny Jump-Ups (Viola tricolor)
This plant produces masses of small yellow, white, and purple blooms that make wonderfully dainty decorations for cakes, puddings, and other desserts. These edible flowers are among the first of spring, and their fresh, faintly wintergreen flavor is good in mixed green salads or winter citrus compotes.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
One of the tastiest of all edible flowers, nasturtium blossoms are boldly colored in gorgeous shades of sunshine, red, peach, and pink.

The pungent-flavored blossoms and green lily pad-shaped leaves have a sweet, peppery flavor akin to watercress and are said to have exceptional antioxidant qualities. Whole blossoms can be stuffed with herbed goat cheese, sliced thinly and added to quesadillas, or chopped with shallots to make a compound butter.

You can also pickle the fat green seed pods that appear in late summer and use them as you would capers. Both the flowers and leaves can be served as a tangy salad on their own, or as part of a mixed salad.

Grow Your Own

Caring for Cut Flowers

cut flowers

Now is the busy buzzy time when pollinators abound and flowers compete for their attention, using bright colors and glorious scents to bring butterflies, bees, and even bats to them in order to make new flowers for next spring.

We love the ranunculus, anemones, sweet peas, roses, hyacinth, tulips, jasmine, calla lilies, and abundant other cutting flowers that this season produces, but we also look to flowering limbs and pretty green branches when choosing flora for the home.

Here are a bevy of great tips for caring for cut flowers that we hope you’ll find useful. Have some great tips of your own? Leave them in the comments section! We adore finding new ways to care indoors for our favorite outdoor blooms.

Cut Flower Tips

  • Cut flowers as early in the morning as you can.
  • Generally, it’s wise to re-cut flowers that were harvested more than 30 minutes before arranging or are brought home from the store. Use sharp pruners. The bottom of the stem will have sealed a little bit and water won’t otherwise penetrate.
  • Clean and sanitize all buckets and vases before each use. Bacteria is one of the culprits that makes your cut flowers fade. A good rule of thumb is that these vessels should be clean enough to drink from.
  • After cutting, remove low leaves and place stems immediately into cool, clean water. This will minimize wilting, since there is less foliage to rehydrate. The easiest way to do this is to carry a bucket with you at harvest time.
  • Flowering trees and shrubs make more wonderful additions to arrangements, but getting their woody stems to take up water can be tricky. Immediately after harvesting, remove the lower half of their leaves and use heavy clippers to split woody stem ends vertically a few inches up.
  • For special cases such as basil, cerinthe, Iceland poppies, mint, and scented geranium, dip stem ends into boiling water, or hold them over an open flame for 7 to 10 seconds before placing in a cool vase of water.
  • Condition stems and branches in water for 24 hours before you do an arrangement to properly hydrate the stems and extend the flower’s freshness. Keep them in a place as cool as you can find.

Meet the Makers

SHED Floral Designer Sue Volkel

For a recent Taste of Place dinner honoring Preston Farm and Winery, SHED floral designer Sue Volkel decorated the tables by filling tall glass vases with pale grasses and stalks of flowering wild fennel.

She filled small glass vases with clutches of delicate feverfew flowers, wild sweet peas, and small strands of ripening strawberries, still hanging from the vine.

The effect was magical.

Varying the heights allowed diners to converse easily above the small vases, their faces visible below the tall ones. The strawberries leant an air of fantasy, as if to entice fairies to table. But perhaps this is all a bit prosaic.

What the flowers truly offered was their own very real sense of place, a perfect complement to the meal’s intent. And what made the effect so effortless?

Well, Sue’s ineffable talent, for one thing. But also: The plants grow together naturally in the fields and tidily in garden beds.

“You learn a lot about flower arranging from gardening,” Sue says. “With gardening, you identify everything. You learn what it is. With gardening, you learn that things that look beautiful together in the yard translate to looking really beautiful in a vase.”

Trained as a painter, Sue took jobs as a gardener to support herself through college. Working as an interior designer, Sue uses what she learned from her grandmother, a talented hostess, to arrange flowers.

But she stresses that there aren’t many rules. Now at summer solstice, the tall white Queen’s Anne Lace and singular blue chicory flowers that proliferate along Sonoma County roads have her entranced.

“The white with that light blue — how beautiful is that right now?” Sue says. “I really like being able to bring things that are unexpected to the table. It makes me feel so good when people say, ‘I have that in my yard, why didn’t I ever think about using it?'”

Having worked to help design the interior as it was being built, Sue has been with SHED since before the doors opened. She’s been in charge of the flowers for over three years now, bringing fresh farm and foraged bouquets in five days a week.

Offering flowers from our immediate area grown by the farmers, friends, and neighbors that surround us is an important ethos for SHED. Just as we support the Slow Food movement, so does SHED support Slow Flowers. It’s all about sense of place and recognizing graceful, unique beauty.

“Every season brings its own favorites,” Sue says. “Summer brings roses and hydrangeas and you wonder what are you going do when they’re gone.

“And then,” she laughs, “the crab apples come in.”

Sue’s Quick Tips

• Cut flowers as early in the morning as you can.

• Condition them in water for 24 hours before you do the arrangement to properly hydrate the stems and extend the flower’s freshness. Keep them in a place as cool as you can find.

• If you cut roses out in the field, you always want to give them a fresh cut before you put them in water. This isn’t as necessary if you’re coming right into the house.

• Generally, it’s wise to re-cut flowers that were harvested more than 30 minutes before or are brought home from the store. The bottom of the stem will have sealed a little bit and water won’t otherwise penetrate.

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