Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Blessings to you and yours for the coming year.
Bethlehem CTFellow Gardeners:
May snow cover your garden until Spring. May "The Melt" come in one day and drain quickly. May your Spring be cool and long. May you have great germination from all your seedpots. May all your transplants take. May you take all your excess seedlings to the chapter sales...
Winter has stepped in with snow. The wind is pushing mounds against the garden. (Yes, I am humbly thankful!) In addition to moving the lay of the snow, the wind freed up many dead tree branches. But it will be a few days until this nor'easter runs out of steam (or the holidays slow) before we can pick up.
In the meantime, the sun shines on the greenhouse. Camelias (sasanqua) sulked during the several dark windy days of the storms. The floor is littered with pink and white petals. The C. japonica are budded and getting fatter every day. Several oxalis and Aloe haworthioides had been stealing the scene. Look out though, now the first of the narcissus, Narcissus bulbicodium ssp vulgaris v pallidus, is starting to show. N. cantabricus is attempting to catch up. But it will be a few days.
Narcissus bulbocodium ssp vulgaris v pallidusThere is always work to be done in the greenhouse - still more seeds to be sown. But first, there are a few things to think about in the kitchen. Christmas here would not be complete without gifts made from scratch. And the kitchen is the workshop of choice. After all the years of making gingerbread houses, it seemed time this year to teach and inspire others. My up-and-coming gardener (age 4) did very well with her first gingerbread house, along with one of my friends. Learning to bake with the added benefit of someone else's experience saves many failed batches of good intention. (Just as this applies to baking, it carries over to gardening. During these days of attrition in our plant societies, so much know-how is being lost. Will future gardeners, without the mentors these organizations provide, work only in virtual gardens? ) Tips that take a lifetime to uncover alone are passed in an instant. But there is no cap on creativity regardless of age or experience.
Home-made GingerbreadIn addition to a mini workshop, gifts this year are homemade chocolate truffles and bûche de Noël. Paula Peck's version of Genoise serves as my base of choice for most cakes. And lemon curd for filling is my favorite. For frosting the general preference is Italian buttercream. This choice for gifts all started because the bûche is wanted for Christmas dinner. Is it much more work to make three or four? My friends are having family in to celebrate. Wouldn't they like a little extra dessert? (It is this spirit that still resonates from my mentors. If you are going to transplant, why not pot up an extra three or four for the chapter sales.) So for two days the kitchen was the culinary sawmill for genoise, Italian buttercream, and meringue mushrooms.
Gifts of Bûche during assemblyThis year my very-pregnant daughter asked for my help to host the dinner feast at her home. Any feast menu is always fun to decide. We problem solved the menu well after talking desserts. Hors d'oeuvres, marinated grilled lamb, grilled zucchini and red pepers, mashed red potatoes with garlic, broccolli with ume vinegar, salad, followed by the bûche and gingerbread men cookies, scrabble and tea/coffee. Done. The marinade is of note:
Boneless Leg of Lamb Marinade
1 red onion cut in thin slices
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of mint leaves (a tea bag of spearmint if out of stock in the cupboard)
2 Tblsp. hot paprika
1 Tblsp. marjoram
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. tumeric
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
sprinkle of cayenne
2 Tblsp. cilantro, minced
one inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
5 lb. boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
Place lamb and all ingredients in resealable plastic bag. Shake until well coated on all sides. Refrigerate for a day or two, turning occasionally. Grill to desired degree of done. Let stand for 15 minutes. Carve and serve.