Cutting garden inspiration

 

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The Flower Recipe Book came out last spring to all kinds of rave reviews. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up this beautiful and affordable (under $15!) hardback book and read it cover to cover. It definitely delivers on how to structure a better bouquet. But maybe even better is the “ingredient chart”– it’s a ready-made shopping list for choosing plants for your cutting garden.

The ladies of Studio Choo borrowed the recipe construct and artfully applied it to flower arranging. For each bouquet, they offer a list of flower “ingredients.” Then they walk you through each step to create their sometimes sparse and sculptural, but more often lush, modern arrangements. Plus, there are lots of stunning photos.

Two summers ago, I started a cutting garden in my backyard. I love the idea of growing most or all of the flowers I need for bouquets throughout the growing season. I was hoping this book would help me fill in my flower garden, as well as create better arrangements from what I grow. It did not disappoint.

I found the ingredients chart towards the front of the book to be super useful as a sort of pantry list. I took stock of what I was already growing and compared it to their suggestions. It turns out I have lots of base flowers and secondary flowers, but need some more focal flowers, base foliage and textural “bits.” Such useful insight! And better yet, I’ll know exactly what to do with the flowers once they’re growing in my garden.

Spring palette inspiration

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We’ve reached the time of year when layers of navy, grey, burgundy, and black don’t seem cozy and comforting as much as depressing. I’m ready to trade those rich, dark, cold weather colors for a lighter, brighter palette. Who’s with me?

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I came across this pretty ranunculus print. And not only would I like to have it hanging somewhere within eyesight, I kind of want to move into this world of faded brights and blushy-buff tones that manages to be both romantic and casual at the same time. Since I can’t literally move in, I’ll settle for living in spring clothes inspired by this dreamy palette. With that in mind, I’ve pulled together some favorites.

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Citrus season!

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It’s hard not to swoon over all the citrus that’s at its peak right now. The jewel-like beauties above are moro blood oranges and cara cara oranges piled high on our breakfast plates.

I’ve been bringing home armloads of grapefruit, kumquats, cocktail citrus, oranges, meyer lemons and tangerines and turning them into muffins, scones, and curds, using them in vinaigrettes, soups, salads, and slow-roasted pork shoulder, and spritzing them on fish, Mexican and more.

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I love citrus curds. And I recently discovered how quick and easy they are  to make. You can use almost any of the season’s bounty to delicious effect. Just be sure to choose tart citrus like lemons, meyer lemons, limes, grapefruit, and Seville (sour) oranges. Or mix 50 percent lemon juice with less tart citrus like tangerines and blood oranges.

Pictured above are ingredients for meyer lemon curd, meyer lemon curd with apple oatmeal muffins, and with the little French almond tea cakes known as financiers. The muffins and financiers are both adapted from recipes in the La Tartine Gourmande cookbook.

Some deliciously citrusy recipes:

Afternoon survival kit: Avocado jalapeño hummus

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Afternoons are often my downfall, I’ve realized recently. I may have eaten a healthy lunch and have plans for a good dinner. But when I’m in that no-man’s-land halfway in between the two, things can go south quickly.

So, rather than ignoring my mid-afternoon growling stomach and hoping it goes away (hint: it doesn’t) or opting for the less-than-healthy snacks around the office, I’m going to pack myself a tasty afternoon pick-me-up.

Up first: a zingy avocado hummus with raw veggies. Continue reading