Heucheras Aplenty

Heuchera 'Caramel'

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

Heucheras have taken off with a bang of late, due to clever plant breeders. In the old days heuchera, (Coral Bells) were “dependable yet boring workhouse plants” with green leaves and red flowers that were thought ‘insignificant’. That’s all changed with the explosion of new varieties. It’s almost impossible to keep track of them all, as they now rival the numbers we see in hostas and daylilies: a collectors dream.

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Simple Rice Pilaf for Summer

 

Lemon-Rice-Pilaf

 

Is rice pilaf an eighties thing? It seems that at one point, not too long ago, the rice pilaf was always one of the “starch” options at many restaurants; “You can get that with fries, mashed or rice pilaf.” Or Greek potatoes. The word pilaf is derived from the Turkish pilav which comes from the Sanskrit pulaka: “ball of rice.”

Originally hailing from India, rice pilaf became popular in ancient Persia and the Middle East, gaining a foothold in Turkey and Greece; it is often served with shish-kebab, souvlaki or moussaka, and has made its way into other cuisines, sometimes just on the menu as an alternative to spuds. You don’t see it that much anymore, food trends come and go, but perhaps it’s time to bring back the rice pilaf . Continue »



Grill Your Catch

 

Sandy at the Lake of Bays

Sandy and trout at the Lake of Bays

 

It seems more and more of my friends are fishing this summer, and today’s post features a few pictures of them showing off the fruits of their labours. Some fish for sport, and follow the “Catch and release” directive, while a good many of us find that there are few things quite as rewarding-or delicious-as cooking your own catch.

Whether at the cottage, or camping, or grilling at home, grilling your fish (or someone else’s) is fun and easy if you follow a few simple tips. By the way, these tips work if your catch of the day comes from our fish department, or from your favourite fishmonger as well. Continue »



Unusual Petunias To Grow

A petunia that caught my eye this summer was this deep red-violet with a subtle stripe through its rays.

A petunia that caught my eye this summer was this deep red-violet with a subtle stripe through its rays.

Petunias used to be available in only a few colours, the ubiquitous red, white, hot pink and all kinds of blues and purples. Now we have way more choice in this very useful annual flower. Before I go any further, let me say that I am no flower snob and love all kinds of everyday annuals, including petunias. Some may sneer at common annual flowers, just because they have tended to be overused, but not me. A flower is a flower, and petunias are lovely in the right place. For one thing, the scent of many varieties (whites and purples, and most of the supertunias) makes them worth it alone. My soft spot for petunias began when I was a beginning gardener. I bought all kinds of plants to grow in a shady garden, and the petunias were the only ones that lived. For this novice, those sturdy petunias made me a fan for life.

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It’s A Good Year For the (Edible) Orange Daylilies

daylily-hemerocallis-fulva

Daylily, hemerocallis fulva, good enough to eat.

It’s been a gonzo year for the orange daylilies. The hot, sunny weather brought hundreds of blooms to my daylily stand. Species daylilies are one of the easiest perennial plants to grow, are great for cut flowers, but did you know you can also eat them? Don’t try to do this with the the modern hybrids. While there are many gorgeous hybrid daylilies, the species orange ones are said to be the tastiest. The tubers, which are part of their root system (and also help them get through the drought we’ve been having) can be cooked, as well as the early shoots, flower buds and flowers. Some think that daylilies are poisonous, but that is usually due to mixing up the common name, daylily, with actual true lilies, which are not edible.

The species, or common orange daylily’s real Latin name is hemerocallis fulva. Hemerocallis means “beautiful for a day”, or hēmera “day” and  kalos “beautiful.” Fulva means tawny (in colour). While each flower stays open for only a day, they still work well as cut flowers.  As each flower scape has many flower buds, just remove the finished bloom, and the others will flower in turn.

Young daylily shoots, which are the first, tender leaf tips that come up in spring are said to taste like onion-y string beans by foraging expert Steve Brill.  He suggests this cooking method : It’s too late now, but remember this one for next year!

Chop and use the young shoots raw in salads or sandwiches, or steam, sauté or stir-fry them. Add them to soups, stews or casseroles. Virtually any cooking method works with them, and their tasty, string bean/onion flavor always shines through, no matter what other ingredients or spices accompany them. They cook in 10 to 15 minutes. Use shoots under 8 inches tall.

Tubers can be dug without harming the plant. Dig some up, cut off some of the tubers, which look a little like fingerling potatoes, and then cover up the roots again. Here’s a recipe for daylily fritters,  which uses the flower buds in a light batter. It’s best to pick buds which are still green-looking. Here’s a recipe for pan-seared daylily buds. This author/cook calls them poor man’s asparagus.

The only downside to the fulva daylily is its tendency to spread wildly. The newer hybrids stay in easy-to-manage circular clumps. But if you have space for daylilies to roam, and don’t mind if they roam far, go ahead and plant. Otherwise, I’ve seen clumps of daylily planted in enclosed areas like hell strips that stop the daylily from getting out of hand.

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