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

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: SUMMER GARDENS PART 1

imageI want to live here…..photograph from Pinterest from Architecture Digest.

Today’s posting will be pictures of gardens in the States with few words, their beauty speaks for them.  Enjoy…

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imagePhoto from Pinterest credit unknown.

imageUnless otherwise noted photos of hydrangea from friends country garden.

9 Facts Every Hydrangea-Lover Needs to Know
imageimageThese two photos are from Grant Park between Congress and Roosevelt from Michigan Avenue to the railway tracks.
imageView from the top of a building looking down at Lincoln Park and Farm In The Zoo.  Our entire City is a garden…..
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imageimageThree photos from a friend’s City penthouse terrace.
imageAn old fashion English rose bed in the country.
imageNothing beats the color of geraniums, from a country garden.
imageA lush fern in a vintage urn from the front garden of a country home.
imageIf you aren’t lucky enough to have a garden of your own (or be able to visit country gardens which I have the pleasure of doing) you can always enjoy botanical prints…these found at Paper Patty’s at the Randolph Street Market, the next Market will be Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30 www.randolphstreetmarket.com  Or you might find wonderful books on vintage gardens or current gardens at the Newberry Library Book Sale, this year’s sale, the 33rd annual event, will be Thursday through Sunday, July 27 through 30 www.newberry.org  Here’s a thought, why not make a day of it and do both these special events, you won’t be disappointed.
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Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.
A preview of Gardens Part 2 when we will visit Sissinghurst, Giverny, and Russian gardens.
All photos unless otherwise noted taken by Nena with her iPhone.

COLLECTIONS: TERRA COTTA

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imageEach month at the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com I search for blogging inspiration and I always come across something that entices me.  These pots were no exception!  I found them at the Randolph entrance to RSM at Cosmic Girl Goes Home’s booth along with many other fascinating objects.  The proprietor, Robin Sweeney, doesn’t come every month, she travels from Ohio, but you will be greatly pleased when she is there, I love her ecstatic!  You can find her at her Instagram account @cosmicgirlgoes or on Facebook at cosmic girl goes home.  What I liked about these terra cotta pots is that they are already weathered.  Yes, you can do this yourself or perhaps you have some in your garden shed but if not you are in luck…I love the patina.

imageimageA couple more shots from the booth.  All three photos I took with my iPhone.

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Let’s look at some ways to use them in the garden or in your home….all the following photos were found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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A garden arch of terra cotta pots as well as pots for all the blooms.  I want to live there!

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imageLove this!

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Am I the only person who misses Martha Stewart’s original programs….I simply devoured them and really learned so much.  Perhaps they can be streamed somewhere…can’t you stream everything!!!!  One series she did was with Guy Wolff and it was absolutely fascinating.  Here are a couple of photos of his wonderful work www.guywolff.com.  There are several very interesting Guy Wolff videos on YouTube.

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imageOf course, I have to share his book….what would nenasnotes be without a book recommendation!!!!

The history of terra cotta (earthenware) takes us to ancient times and could be a very long post, instead, I thought I would briefly bring up Emperor Qin the first Emperor of China’s terra cotta army.  Thousands of the terra cotta soldiers were found buried with the Emperor, each with a different face.  I was mesmerized by them when many of them were on exhibition at the Field Museum last year.  You will want to read the entire story here are two sites to give you lots of information, The Smithsonian Museum Magazine www.smithsonianmag.com has a great article as well as National Geographic www.nationalgeographic.com  Check YouTube for in-depth videos on this unique view of history.

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No recipe today, don’t have too much I can do with terra cotta, although you could think up something with fresh clean pots….hum, let’s think about that!!!!  Martha where are you when we need you!!!!

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: ALLEES

imageLuxembourg Gardens in Paris.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

The Webster Dictionary describes an allée “as a path or walkway between trees or scrubs”, my definition, pure beauty.

I have been fascinated with allées for years and try to take photos everywhere I travel quite frankly to the annoyance of my travel companions!!!

imageI probably like this photo because it gives me the feeling of infinity as I look through the trees. I am mad for the canopy the branches make. I presume in a European garden, image from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

Guess what I never thought to take some in Chicago or when I go to Indiana, Michigan or Wisconsin….silly Nena!  Here are a few of my own photos from some of those visits.

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The four photos above are from a trip to Michigan last year.

imageimageimageThese three images from Grant Park South of Adams between Michigan Avenue and the railway tracks.

imageAnother European garden with facing rows of hedges and a magnificent canopy of wisteria!!!  Love this photo found on Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageNot really an allée, but probably my favorite photo that I took in the Southern garden of the Art Insitute of Chicago.  Glorious in any season and a perfect place of peace in our hectic City!

I always like to post my own photos rather than pull from the web. You can be sure I will update this post as I wander the City this summer and find more hidden green treasures….any suggestions!!??

 

COLLECTIONS: FERNS

imagePteridomania: the Victorian fern craze probably from 1837 to early 1900’s.  A magnificent solarium in a Victorian home with ferns and palms.

I caught the fern “illness” years ago.  I have always loved the look of them and usually have one in my handpainted rattan fern “basket” which actually sits right behind me as I write my posts.

imageA closeup of the detail on my fern stand.

imageA fern fossil, they have been on Earth for over 300 million years, imagine!!!!!

The only problem is that they shed and the clean up is a full-time job!  Since I’m not a Botanist I won’t try to go into the details of ferns I will leave that to you, my readers, to explore for yourselves if you want more information.  I would, however, recommend the following book for your enjoyment, it is quite wonderful.  I am going to fill this post with wonderful images most of which I got from Pinterest without photo credit others I will credit.  Enjoy….

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imageCovers of two vintage books on ferns. The covers alone are display worthy.  Look for special vintage books at Randolph Street Market this Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27 from 10 to 5.  In addition, the Printer’s Row Lit Fair is Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11.

imageFiddlehead ferns, see the bottom of the post for a fiddlehead fern recipe, no longer in season, but have at the ready for next year or you can substitute asparagus!

imageThe beauty of nature in a fern frond!

imageFerns in the garden photo taken by Tom Mantel this week, glorious.

imageA beautiful closeup from the same garden also a photograph by Tom Mantel.image

imageTwo photos of another variety from the same garden and same photographer.imageThe Chicago Garfield Park Conservatory Fern Room.

imageFrom Carolyne Roehm’s garden, she is a genius with decor and gardens and thankfully shares her expertise with us in her many books…love everything she does!

imageImage from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnother photo from Pinterest…love this variety.

imageWallpaper image also from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageAnd a fern botanical fabric also Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

imageI am mad for this image…so much so I am using it as my screen saver on my iPhone!

imageAnother solarium, let’s move in!!!

imageA silver wine caddy, yes, please!

imageOr pearl handle fern engraved flatware.

imageOr perhaps a handpainted piece of Limoges…

imageOr a beautiful Majolica pitcher.

imageA wonderful Philip Tracey hat, yes, I know a bit of a stretch….

imageA Vogue photo of John Galliano Dior Haute Couture Fall 2006 (I saw that Collection in Paris, it was magnificent) next to another fern variety, isn’t it a beauty!

imageNot necessary fern botanicals but a look you can emulate when you collect your prints.

imageFrom my collection of Botanical prints (along with other “paper”) that I collect from the Randolph Street Market vendor, Paper Patty, located on the Third Floor, don’t miss the vendors up there, it is the first place I stop each month!  My photo.

imageMy favorite of all, it looks like lace!  Again from Pinterest credit unknown.

Recipe from The New York Times Cooking App (if you don’t have it get it you can save all your on-line recipes on it as well as see all their recipes, I love it, one of my favorite apps!)

Cassolette Of Morels, Fiddleheads and Asparagus
by Jennifer Lang

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: Six first-course servings
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/8364-cassolette-of-morels-fiddleheads-and-asparagus

www.randolphstreetmarket.com

www.printersrowlitfest.org

www.amerfernsoc.org

www.ebps.org.uk

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: SPRING BLOSSOMS

Everything in Chicago is bursting out and I wanted to share some of these beauties with you today…again a post of pictures with few words, unusual for me!!!!  Enjoy.

imageOne of my most favorite trees, we had one in our backyard in Evanston, I loved it…the weeping willow, always one of the first trees to show life that isn’t a flowering tree.  It brings joy to my heart!

imageA grove of weeping willows near a pond, they do love water.  The only photo not taken in several friends yards and an estate.

imageA magnificent old magnolia tree, the blooms last such a short time, but they are glorious!

imageAnother old tree, some kind of fruit tree, sorry don’t know if it is an apple or pear, who cares it is lovely.

imageA dogwood tree, love the graceful shape of this against the sky and neighboring roof line.

imageA weeping redbud tree, gorgeous in all seasons, but I particularly love it now in full bloom and in the summer when you can enjoy the heart shaped leaves.  We had a standard redbud in our Evanston home’s front yard, it was always one of the first to bloom and reminded my Mother of her youth in Missouri, redbud country!

All photos were taken by me with my iPhone.

Three sources I use for plants and trees, not for me but for gifts, (although all have house plants and other gift items), two are local and one is mail order:

www.gethsemanegardens.com

www.chaletnursery.com

www.whiteflowerfarm.com