WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: GARDENS PART 2

imageMy garden cherub (originally in my Evanston garden) now residing in a lush garden in Harbor Country, Michigan.

Today’s post is the continuation of my story on gardens I have visited and all photos are mine.  Some older than cell phone cameras so they might be a bit “off”, sorry about that!  Again, not a lot of text just a comment here and there. Enjoy lazy summer days.

imageMichigan or France….this one is Michigan with day lilies, hedges and beautiful trees around water….

imageHere we are in Giverny www.giverny.org a side trip when I was in France for the Haute Couture shows in 2006.  It was the hottest summer France had ever had, it was quite brutal and there wasn’t much color, grass was brown, blooms were not at their peak, but it was lovely in Giverny, loved it but then I have always been a sucker for Monet, especially his water lilies and it was like being in one of his paintings.

imageGiverny

imageMichigan

imageOur Monet at The Art Institute of Chicago www.artic.edu

imageMore Michigan and actually I think these are lotus flowers. “The lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.”  Taken from www.buddhists.org

imageMonet’s home and studio in Giverny, glorious!

imageA charming home in a Michigan garden.

imageA vignette with Lutyens bench in the walkway next to the house.

imageMore Giverny

imageTrees being trained over an arbor in Michigan.

imageThe white garden and trained arch shrubbery at Sissinghurst, my Queen Mary II trip in 2004. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden

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Two views of Sissinghurst, 2004

imageA hidden treasure at Sissinghurst

imageNena in the Sissinghurst formal garden

imageSissinghurst path

imageMichigan garden path

imageBack in France, 2006 and Paris in the Jardin du Luxembourg on my last Sunday, glorious day.

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imageAnd another lovely Sunday this time 2017 and in a Michigan country garden

imageFreshly picked from the garden for a cold soup, how delightful to forge for your own dinner and carry your bounty back to the kitchen in a trug, seriously, how wonderful for a major City Girl to play Country Girl at least for a few days…….

Shall we now have a recipe….I’m thinking a cold cucumber soup, the Swiss chard soup we made with the ingredients above took a long time and was cooked plus we kept adding and adjusting ingredients and I didn’t write anything down, sorry…so let’s do a noncooked soup.

CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP ADAPTED FROM FOOD AND WINE

Ingredients

  • 2 large European cucumbers (2 1/4 pounds), halved and seeded—1/2 cup finely diced, the rest coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (Nena’s note…I would do half sour cream and half yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove (Nena’s note…I always use the jarred minced garlic not as strong but gives the flavor)
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt (Nena’s note….don’t skimp, always taste before adding more!!!!)
  • Fresh ground white pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (Nena’s note….I didn’t find this necessary but up to you)

How to make this recipe

    1. In a blender, combine the chopped cucumber with the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, parsley, tarragon and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Season the soup again just before serving. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the finely diced cucumber, red onion and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

      I would serve as a first course for dinner or perhaps in demi tasse with a glass of sparkling wine before dinner or a main course for a light lunch with a salad of all the summer bounty, lightly dressed, crusty country bread and, of course, a lovely light white wine….enjoy!!!!

 

COLLECTIONS: FLOWER FROGS

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imageimageAbove photos taken by me with my iPhone at Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com of Dollies’ Antiques and Treasures www.dolliesantiques.com who will be outside at the July 29th and 30th Market.  I became fascinated with her collection in May and she explained how she got started collecting Flower Frogs. Another reminder to engage the vendors in conversation, not only are they eager to talk about their treasures but you will learn something new every time…I most certainly do.

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imageA rare matte green flower frog

imageA marriage of a wire cage flower frog on top of a vintage plate.  Owner says it is quite useful for floral centerpieces.  Above photos were taken by Linda Heister of her flower frog collection exclusively for nenasnotes.imageimageimageimageimageAbove photos on how to use your flower frog collection (when not used for flower arrangements) from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

A site to show you how to use flower frogs from Martha Stewart http://www.marthastewart.com/271596/how-to-use-flower-frogs

imageA book, of course, there is….looks quite interesting…found this on Amazon.

When I was a little girl we lived in Rogers Park on the Northside of Chicago (I wish I had that apartment today, it had incredible space, never did understand the long hallway from the front door to the living room but  it did make a great gallery for my Father’s artwork, but no matter, it was extraordinary!) Mom and Dad would often take me with them (read, always took me with them) to dinner and one of our favorite neighborhood spots was in an alley at the end of Howard Street just before you came to Sheridan Road.  It was an exquisite French Bistro and I adored it.  One of their specialties was fried frog legs (don’t get your knickers in a twist, they happen to be delicious, taste rather like chicken, you should be able to find them in the seafood section of a Whole Foods for an example) and I couldn’t eat enough of them.  My Father was of Russian descent, so perhaps his food tastes were a bit more European than most, and he was a superb cook, as was my Mother, (he loved to cook and I would stand on a chair and be his sous chef, I wish I had his recipes, I have shared his borscht with you in a previous post) and I ate many unique items from birth, one ate what was in front of them, I wasn’t told to clean my plate but knew early on that what was there was the choice for that meal, therefore, I eat just about anything (no insects, please and no, they weren’t on Daddy’s menus….).  I am sharing a recipe for Fried Frog Legs that I found on the internet, it sounds much like the recipe used from my childhood….this nostalgia is making me crave them again….I need to get to the Store……..

FRIED FROG LEGS RECIPE FROM HANK SHAW
Prep Time
1 hrs
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 15 mins
This recipe works best with a combination of clarified butter, which you can buy in large supermarkets as Indian ghee, as well as regular unsalted butter. Or, you can clarify butter yourself; my colleague David Lebovitz has a tutorial here. You use the clarified butter to cook the frog legs and the regular butter for the sauce. Why bother? Clarified butter has a higher smoke point and holds up better when frying the frogs, while the regular butter tastes creamier for the sauce. You can, of course, use regular butter for everything, but it will scorch a bit.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Serves:  4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds frog legs (have your fishmonger remove the skin from the frog legs)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Soak the frog legs in the milk in the fridge for an hour. Meanwhile, mix the salt, black pepper and flour in a bowl, then chop the garlic and parsley.
  2. Heat 5 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan large enough to hold all the frog legs; if you don’t have a pan large enough, put a baking sheet in the oven and set a rack inside. Turn the oven to about 180°F. You’ll use this to store the finished frog legs while you fry the rest. If you do have a large enough pan, set the baking sheet with the rack set inside next to the stovetop.
  3. Dredge the frog legs in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Fry in the butter over medium-high heat until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Flip only once if you can help it, as the flour coating is fragile. Set on the rack to drain when the frog legs are done.
  4. Discard the butter in the pan and wipe it out with a paper towel. Set the pan back on the stove over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, saute the garlic until it smells good, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and swirl in the lemon juice. Arrange the frog legs on individual plates, and, right before you serve, mix the parsley into the sauce. Pour it over the frog legs and serve immediately.

    Hank Shaw’s comment: “I served my frog legs with sauteed chanterelles and crusty bread. But boiled or roasted fingerling potatoes would be another good option, green beans an ideal veggie, or maybe a bitter greens salad with a vinaigrette dressing. White wine or a lighter beer, i.e., a lager or pilsner, is a must”.

    Hank Shaw’s fascinating site, Hunter Angler Gardner Cook can be found at www.honest-food.net