Tuesday, October 28, 2008
You may think that the coming winter weather means an end to enjoying the blessings of the sultry season and all that the flower garden had to offer. But that would be wrong because even when we are months past the “realm of the rose”, the fall harvest includes this metaphor most popular for love, in a most curious culinary way.
It has often been said that great gardeners are usually great cooks - being a natural transition from veggie patch to the kitchen door. After all, this is where kitchen gardens got their name. But garden herbs and flowers have also long been pressed into service for medicinal purposes and sur la table.
I am what my grandmother used to call an “old fashioned girl”, a culinary throwback who spent many teen years, not collecting every Rolling Stones and Beatles album, but rather learning how to cook at the hip of the Galloping Gourmet after school. Later I graduated to the gospel of my “true” kitchen mother, Julia Child, who spiced up her presentations with frequent allusions to cookery methodology long past.
In short, cooking and then gardening became a passion fitting together like the proverbial hand and glove. About this time, my fascination with Victorian molds took hold. I scoured old book stores for bespoke recipes and antique shops for the elegant and functional molds, contraptions in shapes both classical and bizarre.
Finally I found a small volume entitled Victorian Ices & Ice Creams with 117 original recipes first printed in 1885 under the title The Book of Ices by that marvel of London ice queens Agnes B. Marshall. Discovered between this volume’s pages is an era when almost anything that was edible, fruit or vegetable, could be re-imagined as glorious sorbets, mousses, iced soufflés and ice creams.
With today’s wide variety of ice cream machines, there is so little effort in these recipes that the drama is often left to the mold. Even a simple container can offer an impressive presentation when released onto an elegantly tiered cake plate or serving platter.
So as you are planning your trip to Vancouver’s World Rose Festival, why not put this little tasty treat on your menu while rose leaves are still clinging to the vine (remember not to use leaves that have been sprayed with any pesticides).
Rose Water Ice
Take a half pound of fresh-gathered rose leaves; pour 1 pint of boiling water on them with 4 ounces of sugar and keep closely covered for about 5 minutes. Then strain off and colour the flavoured water with a little liquid carmine (natural colouring available at specialty stores). Freeze in a conventional ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
Ices are perfect as course palette cleansers at a special dinner party or great thirst quenchers on a hot day.
Recipe from Victorian Ices & Ice Creams
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Charles Scribner’s Sons
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
From guest writer Terri Clark
Ask Jessica Blossom Clark what her prospective brides are mad about these days and she’ll give you a short answer. “There are those few brides who step outside the box when it comes to a bouquet for her special day but invariably roses play a starring role.” Clark is the new owner and operator of an elegant store located in Vancouver’s residential area of Mackenzie Heights called Quince Fine Florals.
Trained as a young teenager when Clark volunteered under the tutelage of Thomas Hobbs, she later worked for Hilary Miles and the floral guru to New York’s best celebrations, Charles Mason in Manhattan. When asked which roses are her preferred choices for stylish bouquets, she does not hesitate. “Black Baccara – really a dark crimson colour with a velvety texture and a moderate size bloom. It is a perfect foil to other shades.” Other roses that are on Clark’s fav list include the ever popular white Avalanche and the two-toned orange of Cherry Brandy.
Note: Black Baccara, long grown for only the florist trade is now available through the nursery trade for home gardens. It is a hybrid tea long stem rose.
Monday, October 6, 2008
We all have heard that old saying “a moment on the lips, a life time on the hips” but there is one area where over indulgence does not apply to a hefty hour-glass figure– when it refers to roses. Everyone knows that the rose appeals on a variety of levels either through numbers of petals, blossom shape, colour and, most sensuous of all, scent. But how many of us fully appreciate the stunning second act of the species roses where before the season’s curtain call they take a final bow in the guise of beautiful hips.
Rose hips have long been the subject of apothecary lore and delicious foodstuffs but now we can appreciate these seed heads as an added bonus to the garden landscape, especially if we are not too assiduous in the pruning department.
Every garden can have at least one rose bush that produces showy hips, perfect foils for the cooler landscape and wonderful grist for the mill when it comes to making seasonal wreaths and arrangements to brighten the darker months.
When you purchase rose bushes this fall, be sure and ask who has the biggest hips and enjoy them while not adding one ounce to your own!
Pictured at the left are the elongated, flagon-shaped orange hips from the vigorous Rose moyseii. Though a vigorous plant with almost single smallish blooms, this beauty shines in two seasons and is often preferred for their delectable hips.
Another good selection for showy hips is the hardy, easy to care for and very scented Rose rugosa. Pictured to the right, the globular tomato-red hips of R. rugosa ‘Frau Dagmar Hartopp’ whose pink flowers keep producing through the summer yielding a pleasing mix of hips and blooms in unison on the bush.