Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Saturday, August 21, 2010

succulent wreath

in mid july we took a trip to the Frederik Meijer gardens and sculpture park in grand rapids michigan.  i photographed this succulent wreath in one of their exhibition greenhouses.

many years ago, i watched Martha Stewart assemble one of these living wreaths with over one hundred plants.  by using a sphagnum wrapped wreath frame, soaked in water, the plants are individually added.  once the design is complete, she recommended keeping the wreath flat for several months while watering to allow the plants to grow into the wreath frame.

this living wreath was so beautiful to me since i had never really seen one in person.  the succulents are commonly grown in California or other humid climates, so i am not certain that i would take the time to attempt to grow one of these in midland michigan.  however, i really love the look, the colors, and the style of this wreath.  i am keeping the idea in mind if i ever have a greenhouse of my own. enjoy!

globe thistle and coneflowers

just before i left midland michigan to stay in grosse pointe park for a few weeks, i photographed my colonial garden.  since this is just the third year of my garden, each new bloom has been special to me this season.

 for the first year, i have grown a handful of cornflower blue globe thistle.  this plant is stunning in dried arrangements and also complements fresh flowers on any table.  the sharp points are fascinating to me, since flowers are typically soft.  the circular thistles are firm to the touch and stand tall without flopping as they grow and change color. their blue tone is both subtle and vibrant.

equally lovely are coneflowers, which seem to be multiplying this year for me.  as they mature, their petals begin to droop, and their appearance changes sometimes over night. this plant was purchased last year in midland and has not disappointed me at all.  although sometimes coneflowers seem to attract disease, i think my garden escaped any trace this year.

red spoon peppers relish appetizer

the American spoon foods line has a wonderful product named red spoon pepper relish.  this relish feels like a homemade product and is so tasty.  i have incorporated using this relish into several homemade recipes.  one of the easiest appetizers begins with using frozen filo tart shells.  since these shells can be served warm or cold, they are very versatile for entertaining.

to fill the shells, i slice small pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese from the ball, and top with the relish.  these shells can be baked at 350 degrees for no more than eight to ten minutes.  enjoy this warm appetizer with your guests.  be certain to make enough, since these will be a real favorite.

stuffed red and yellow peppers

one of my favorite dinner entrees for late summer has to be stuffed red and yellow peppers. of course this dish can be made with the traditional green peppers, however; i find the yellow and red peppers add to the colorful presentation on the dinner plate.

instead of just scooping out the seeds from the pepper, i slice the peppers in half vertically, and leave the stems intact to also add interest on the plate.  since most people can only eat one half of a traditional pepper, it also serves as a better serving size per person.  this recipe can be made with chopped mushrooms instead of the traditional ground beef, with the mushrooms adding a great deal of flavor and hearty texture.

since i usually make more filling that can easily fit into the pepper halves, i simply place the additional filling around the peppers while baking.  this recipe is very similar to most traditional recipes, and includes canned or fresh tomato pieces, onions, mushrooms or ground beef, Parmesan cheese, rice, chopped peppers, and salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. i top the peppers before baking with additional Parmesan cheese.

using the freshest ingredients makes this dinner a favorite choice.  served along side a summer salad of greens or with some crusty bread completes the meal.