Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: The Garden Year Begins—Again

Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'.
Galanthus nivalis.
Helleborus orientalis. 
Helleborus orientalis.
Helleborus orientalis.
Agave utahensis var. eborispina and Pyrethrum 'Robinson's Mix'.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Garden Blogger's Fling 2014 in Portland, OR!

I'm so honored to be a part of the organizing committee for the 2014 Garden Blogger's Fling here in my hometown of Portland, OR. A lot of thought and planning went into our proposal and I'm so happy we will be doing this next summer. We're blessed with a great climate and gardening culture, and the people who participate in its many facets have to be some of the most gentle, kind and caring people I've ever met.

The last year has been a very difficult one for me personally, and although I've had to turn away from plants for a bit in order to get back on my feet after a divorce and years of illness, I still cannot say enough about how much le monde végétal means to me.

Forever more of a garden memoirist than anything else,

Congrats too to my co-conspiritors:
Jane: MulchMaid
Loree: Danger Garden
Scott: Rhone Street Gardens

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cloudberries and a Kabocha Squash

Reproduction of a painting by the Swedish botanist C. A. M. Lindman taken from Bilder ur Nordens Flora (first edition published 1901–1905).
Recently a Finnish friend of mine asked me to pickup some Cloudberry Preserves for him from a local import store we have here in the Portland Metro area (Scandia Imports). Since he travels all the time for work, I didn't mind. The shop happens to be just a few blocks away from another of my favorite haunts so I was able to kill two birds with one stone. Learning more about the special orange berry much beloved in Scandinavia was kind of fun too. I like berries. 
Have you ever heard of this berry? Well I sure hadn't—other than from my friend. This kind of surprised me since the Pacific Northwest is known for its berries and we grow many different kinds from all over the world here. 
Well, the cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is a special little plant and there are a few good reasons why many of us know very little about them. 

Apparently, first off, the plants are dioecious, which is not common in the species. This means that the female plants need male pollination in order to produce fruit. (That limits the supply and spread a bit!) This, coupled with the arctic and alpine climate conditions where the plants tend to grow, and you've got a berry on your hands that grows best in a harsh climactic zone, producing limited numbers, and the demand for products made from them is fairly high so it's safe to say that the berries don't get around much.

This is why I had to drive across town to pickup a few jars. The store is only able to order the product once every 2 years depending upon availability. Leave it to me to go on a mission for hard-to-find berry preserves. 
I did just fine though. I told you a favorite haunt of mine was nearby. There is nothing like a trip to Uwajimaya. I could get lost in there for days. 
This precious little Kabocha squash had to come home with me too.
A happy Ann after a fine mission accomplished.
(Check back again soon for updates from the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Gardener Spends an Hour or Two at Powell's Books

Last Friday the sun was out in the City of Roses and I was running around getting ready for my nieces's 21st birthday party. 

Why not stop for a bit at Powell's? Right?
I have been visiting the nationally-known and locally-loved store since I was a girl and to say that it's part of my routine and my life is an understatement. Long before the Internet existed I was using this book lovers' destination as a much needed resource—along with the local library system of course!
Walking the two blocks from where I'd parked my car I enjoyed the familiar sights. 
There were the usual humorous things to see too—even if I was the only one laughing. 

No folks, this is no longer a trash can once it's painted and planted!

As for the Italian cypress, it reminded me a bit of the old drunk men I used to see in this area as a girl. They too leaned up against the walls of building just like this poor thing. 

Portland looked much different during the 1970s. I suppose to outsiders, we still look different, but in a much more friendly way. 
 For instance, we have our urban windmills atop buildings. Everyone does that right?
Since I hadn't been to the downtown location for several months I'd not yet noticed that the gardening section had been expanded a bit.
There was a great display of new books and I was happy to see they've included a cheap section again with older titles that don't cost as much as the newbies.

Yes, it's harder now to find great deals on books here but that's happening everywhere.
My favorite section was still very much intact.
Beside it is my other favorite section in the store. As someone with a background in critical theory and philosophy relating to art history and visual analysis this section has been nice to transition into over the years. At least with gardens you can actually talk about something.
Upstairs in the arts area I was excited to see vintage typewriters on display with houseplants. This is a nice Ficus elastica.
Some of the other houseplants didn't look as nice but this is a bookstore after all. I felt like turning this Sansevieria but then I decided that I might look like one of those obsessive characters in that popular tv show you've probably heard about that's filmed here.
Before I left I was looking at hiking books because I plan to go on more plant and nature adventures this year. It was strange to me that an older edition of one of the used books seemed familiar. I looked on the back and suddenly remembered that my dad had resold the remainders he'd purchased from the original publisher when they'd gone out of business. I may have actually put this sticker on the back of this book because I used to do things like that when I was younger.  As the daughter of a publisher, I was lucky to grow up surrounded by books. I always could earn some extra money too.
When I was a young girl my Saturday mornings downtown at Powell's with my dad were often the highlight of my week. We'd often spend several hours there together reading quietly and watching people.

It was really nice to remember those memories just before leaving and I also found some great books for my niece.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Goat Cheese and Lemon Cheesecake with Pistachio Crust (with recipe!)

This is a late follow up to a post I wrote last December to celebrate the Blogoversary of the blog Amateur Bot-ann-ist. It's still difficult for me to believe that I've been doing this now for 5 years, but I have been, and I still enjoy it very much. 

I might even be enjoying it even more now actually! 
Ok, now that your eyes have feasted, here's the recipe. (Sorry I didn't include the prickly pear coulis portion, but to be honest, that's because I kind of made it up as I went along! Sometimes that's just how it is in the kitchen.)


Goat Cheese and Lemon Cheesecake with Pistachio Crust

The Crust:
1 cup shelled and unsalted pistachios
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for greasing pan

The Filling
16 ounces plain chèvre cheese
1 cup goat milk yogurt (plain or vanilla)
3 eggs
1/4 cup goat milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey or 5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated rind of one lemon

Makes about 12 servings.

To make the crust place pistachios, orange zest, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a food processor and pulse until nuts are ground. Put in a bowl and stir in the melted butter. Press mixture firmly into a spring-form pan, making sure to push up onto the side of the pan an inch or so. Bake for about 7 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove and let cool before adding filling.

Combine and beat eggs, chèvre and yogurt until smooth. Add remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour into the cooled crust and bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes, then turn down to 350 degrees F and bake for 35-45 more minutes. Let cool.

You can top with berries, or as in this case, drizzle it with a fresh fruit coulis.

(I guess I should have added that this is a gluten-free recipe and that the goat milk extravaganza is for those of us who are sensitive to cow's milk. Discovering recently that I could consume dairy products made of goat's milk has been like entering into a kind of "heaven" on Earth.)
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