My parents live in West Virginia, near the Maryland border. Their property sits on the site of an old tomato and melon farm. There was once a thriving tomato industry in their area but the local farmers could not compete with the big factory farms in California so they went out of business. Unfortunately, the farmers used chemical fertilizers which left the soil depleted of organic materials and nutrients and pretty poor. It has been siting fallow for about 20 years.
They said that nothing can grow there but offered to give me a small piece of land to try to grow something if I could, I saw it as a horticultural challenge.
I fell in love with lavender when I first visited the south of France and had the opportunity to visit lavender fields while it was in full bloom. My parents had seeded their property with wildflowers and registered their property as a wildflower farm and lavender seemed like a good fit. Lavender loves to be planted in well draining soil on a slope without many nutrients. It doesn’t need much maintenance, water, pest control or fertilizer and if planted correctly, can be maintained by mowing in between rows a couple of times a year. Turns out it loves it in the mountains of West Virginia where there are hot dry summers and lots of silty, rocky soil. It also tolerates being ignored by my parents. We planted a few thousand plants on mother’s day a few years ago and it has thrived.
While you spend the 4th chomping on hotdogs or fauxdawgs trying to keep cool, we spent the holiday weekends at our flower farm in West By God Virginia picking lavender from our fields in triple digit weather. Yea Haw! Our lavender is grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides and is perfect for use in your home or for cooking.
Here is a great recipe for Lavender Sorbet
The vodka in the recipe makes it very soft. It’s not the kind of iced dessert you scoop into an oversized waffle cone. It’s a slushy, uncooperative dish that, in small doses, will refresh your heat-addled senses. While this style of sorbet is similar to the palate cleansers served at high-end restaurants between courses, I like it as a mid-afternoon refresher on a scorching hot summer day.
Makes 4 very small servings
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1 heaping teaspoon fresh lavender flowers (food grade only*)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vodka
In a small sauce pan, dissolve sugar and water over medium heat.
Stir in lavender. Bring to a boil then quickly reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain lavender syrup through a fine sieve.
Stir in lemon juice and vodka.
If you have an ice cream maker, make the sorbet according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Otherwise, pour the syrup into a flat-bottomed glass dish, cover, and freeze until semi-solid. Break the sorbet up with a fork and freeze until solid. Place frozen sorbet in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Cover and refreeze until ready to serve.
This past spring a very nice french man asked my husband Enrique if he could put some art on the pink fence.
Enrique told me that he had to ask me first.
The artist came in, a very nice man. He has a son about the same age as Lavender. He showed me his work and I took a look. It was big and bold and acid green.
What would the neighbors think, I wondered. I liked it, but then again, I like anchovies on my pizza, steak tartar and chicken liver, to each his own, I guess.
He put it up, two giant skulls that were cherries. The harshest, most unatural shade of green. Nature’s Revenge is what he calls his work. http://www.thisisludo.com/outside/outside_new_york.htm
He even told me how to take it off if I didn’t like it. I decided to keep it up for a couple of weeks. I knew that it may upset some of the more conservative people in the neighborhood, they don’t buy many flowers so too bad I thought. It was awfully green and bold though.
I considered removeing it and then I grew to love those skulls. Now, after a few months they are almost all gone. Sad to see them go. I wrote Ludo and asked him to put up something else. Lets see, if not, I have a pink wall waiting for some street art.
We recently did a wedding at the New Museum. The bride was super busy and everything was arranged by her mother, nice mom.
I saw a picture of her dress and I knew that succulents would be just the right thing.
Succulent Bridal Bouquet
The New Museum is a great venue, it is interesting because the rooms are very narrow, so each part of the wedding was on a different floor, thats a lot of elevator action, very downtown New York.
I made a succulent bouquet for the bride and there were four flower girls, each one wore a crown of babies breath and carried a grayish green basket decorated with eucalyptus leaves. Inside the baskets I placed more leaves and dark red rose petals.
The centerpieces and ceremony arrangements consisted of branches with white orchid blossoms and moss.
I was very happy with how everything turned out, especially when I got this note from the mother of the bride after the wedding.
they were so beautiful. I wish I knew you were there.
Everything was so specially detailed.
Julia loved her bouquet. In fact, the reception was so much fun with dancing that she forgot to throw it – and I decided to NOT remind her. So it was there for her when she returned on Tuesday. The photographer was so intrigued that she took quite a few pics of it – will send to you.
At the reception, people were stunned by its beauty and uniqueness. They repeatedly voiced their awe. At least one person stole some leaves so that she could hope to start them herself.
Throughout the evening I was struck by the scent of the Rosemary in my corsage – still have it here in Balt.
We carried the large arrangement home in a cab. Just couldn’t leave it. It wasn’t until Julia and Andy returned on Tuesday that they were really able to appreciate its beauty and style. Kimberly, I have not seen your other work but this was breathtaking. And I think the minimalism provided great strength.
We couldn’t be more grateful.
Corsage and Hairpiece
If there is an opportunity for me to write something for your website I would love to. Or just use my words from here.
You were so careful to address our wishes, continuing to offer without pressure and still guiding us along.
The little girls’ baskets were precious and meticulously prepared. They were thrilled and transformed with their crowns and behaved accordingly.
With huge gratitude for you and our great luck for stumbling into yor shop.
Letters like that make me so happy, we work very hard to make everything special.
Bouquets, corsages and hairpieces are a topic of a favorite class that we teach in our floral design studio.
With all the popularity of terrariums, Bonsai trees seem like a natural fit and an extension of all things small. dreamhost reviews
I fell in love with bonsai trees on a trip to China where I visited some ancient gardens in a city called Suzhou, near Shanghai.
Suzhou is famous for its beautiful gardens that date back to 1004AD! There are collections of bonsai trees that are over 100 years old.
Recently, we went on a trip to visit a Bonsai Master here in the US and came back with some delicious goodies. These miniature trees are works of art, and won’t break the bank.
Kimberly Here from Rose Red & Lavender and I am here to show you how to make preserves and jam out of fresh summer fruit.
I gave myself a bit of a challenge and decided to teach a class on how to make jelly. Simple right, yes, I have probably made hundreds of batches of jelly, jams, and chutneys in my life. My personal challenge was to make jelly out of whatever I found in my garden that morning.
FIGS!!! my garden is in Brooklyn and Figs love it here. I have a wonderful green fig tree that is a few years old now and I am blessed with beautiful figs. After making friends with my neighbors, I have the promise of having more figs to add to my collection. Almost every old Italian here has a fig tree in their yard, and many of the trees were brought over from Italy. In the fall, if you are nice, they will trade their branches for your branch. I have a pink fig, a small black fig and a large black fig coming my way. I love to think about the history of the trees and imagine how long they have been growing, I may be eating the same fig that Caesar ate.
Figs are pretty crazy once they get established and you need to keep them pruned to keep them under control. They root pretty easily as well. The trick is to take a branch in the fall, give it a fresh, clean cut and stick it in the ground about 6-8″ deep. In the spring, chances are it will develop roots and grow a new tree. Magic! Talk about giving a branch, it should have been called, “giving a fig branch” Sharing a love of figs and a love of gardening will go a long way with your Italian neighbors, you may even be invited over for dinner one day, yum.
I also bought some strawberries at the farmers market, just in case. Strawberries are great for making preserves and I wanted to share two of my favorite recipes. I prepared the strawberries ahead of time and while the figs were macerating in the sugar, I made the strawberry preserves.
Strawberry Preserves With Mint and Black Pepper
2 1/2 lbs of strawberries
3 3/4 cups of sugar (800g)
Juice of one lemon
5 fresh mint leaves
5 ground peppercorns
Rinse the strawberries and dry. Add lemon juice and sugar and cook for 2 minutes string. Remove from heat and put in a glass or stainless steel bowl and cover. Let rest overnight in the fridge.
Pour into a sieve bring the syrup to boil and cook until jelly stage, (221 degrees Fahrenheit)
Add Strawberries, Mint and Pepper
Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes. skim off foam and stir gently.
Cooking and adding mint leaves
Turn off heat and let sit for 1 minute.
FIG with Fresh Bay and Cardamom
2 1/4 lbs of figs cut in half or quarters
3 1/4 c sugar (700g)
3 1/2 oz honey (100g)
6 fresh bay leaves
2 fresh cardamom leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Rinse and dry figs, cut into quarters or into thin slices, whichever you prefer.
Cut Figs in Jelly Pan
Combine figs, with sugar, honey and lemon juice. Cover and let rest for a bit, overnight in the refrigerator is best.
Pour into pan, add leaves and bring to a simmer.
Cook on high for 5 minutes. Remove leaves.
Cook until Jelly stage, (221 deg) and remove from heat.
Let rest 1 minute and process.
How to Can Jelly
Making jelly is easy and fun. There are some basic rules to follow and after that, go crazy. Most fruits have enough pectin to jell, some though like cherries, pears, and infusions will need added pectin. You can use commercial powders or apple juice or cider to add pectin.
Jelly requires three things, Pectin, Sugar, and a Low PH. You need at least 65% sugar to make jelly. This can be achieved by adding sugar, or by cooking the fruit down until the sugar content is concentrated. Adding sugar is easy and cheap and makes a nice, bright jelly, cooking down the fruit enhances the natural sugars in fruit but will result in a very cooked taste and is best reserved for conserves, chutneys or butters and not jams and jellies.
Jelly stage is when jelly gels. This happens at 221 degrees Fahrenheit. In chemistry, this is referred to as changing states. Changing states is what happens when water changes to ice, or to steam, or when your liquid fruit juice changes to a gel. Changing states takes almost as much energy as raising the temperature, you will notice that the temperature steadily climbs and then holds at about 220 for a minute and then BAM, 221 and it changes state.
Stirring Fig Jam
I always give the jelly a good stir at this point to make sure. After awhile you will know when this happens because the nature of the boil and the foam changes. You can also tell by looking at the fruit, it will become somewhat clear when the temperature reaches the jelly stage. My mother would drop a spoon full in cold water or take some on a metal spoon. The juice quickly cools and when it is the jelly stage, it gels on the spoon or in the water. Honestly though, as fun as this method is, it can result in overcooked, flabby jelly (sorry mom) if you are not careful.
Large pot like a spaghetti pot (not aluminum)
Wide, shallow saucepan
Wooden or silicone spoon
Clean, Lint free towels like flour sack towels
A canning thermometer (optional but essential for beginners)
Jelly Jars with 2 part lids (I like the 8oz and 4oz best)
WHAAATT?? You probably have most of this stuff, except for the canning kits which are about 12 bucks and the jars which you can pick up from our shop (hint, hint).
Wipe down all work surfaces with hot, hot water, cover with clean towels.
Clean jars and lids in hot, hot soapy water, rinse.
Place jars in boiling water bath for five minutes
Remove using jar tool and place UPSIDE DOWN on a clean, dry towel.
Place lids and bands in a bowl and cover with boiling water
Do this right before you cook your jelly. Jelly cooks fast, I usually do all the prep work, slicing dicing, measuring, ect….set everything aside, process my jars, and then cook the jelly.
When I had a dishwasher, I washed the jars and then put the dishwasher on DRY and left them in the washer until ready to use.
I have also put them in the oven at 225 degrees, but don’t love that method.
Dip your funnel in boiling water before use and dip your ladle in boiling water before use. Think, anything that touches jelly, must be dipped in boiling water….this means you never, ever touch your jelly you will get burnt, fast.
Using your funnel, ladle the jelly into the jars. Work fast. Fill to 1/4 inch from the top. Most jar funnels will have markings on the inside so you can see where to fill to.
Dip the corner of a clean towel into boiling water and wipe off the rims of the jar.
Attach lids and bands and INVERT the jars.
inverted jelly jars
Let cool a few hours, remove the bands and test to see if the lid is sealed tight. If not, Clean the rim of the jar and the lid, reseal and place the whole thing in boiling water for 10 min.
When storing, loosen the bands halfway. You don’t want them to be tight because if there is spoilage, then the lids wont pop up and you may not notice.
Never eat food from a jar that does not have a tight seal, you should hear a POP when you open the lid.
Never eat food from a jar that has visible mold or slime on the top, while this is a rare occurrence, its better to be safe, it probably won’t make you sick, but it will taste nasty.
When I was a kid, we used special 4oz jars that had a design on them wax to seal our jelly and put cotton on top with a piece of fabric and tied it, you know the iconic jelly jars with the fabric. Occasionally you would see mold on the jelly sometimes my mother would spoon it off and we would eat the jelly anyway, this was common then.
And that’s how you make jelly. Its easy and fun. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Here are the latest creations that we have made for our August Brides. I really enjoy creating wedding flowers and getting to know the people who are getting married.
One of the more interesting requests was for a necklace made of herbs. I made a couple of prototypes and was really happy with the results. I put rosemary and lavender in the final pieces and they smelled amazing.
We only take on one wedding a day so that I can really focus on the event and the couple and create something that they will truly love.
Green Building, 450 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY http://www.450union.com
I really enjoy that moment when the bride sees her bouquet. Her eyes light up and gets excited.
One of the best compliments that I have ever received came from a bride recently. She seemed to be a free spirit to me and I wanted to create something unique that she would love. I took some artistic license and added some flowing grasses and made her bouquet cascade. When I handed her the final product she said that it didn’t look like what she thought it would. I had a moment of panic, the colors are on target, the flowers are the same as what we discussed. The design brief was for a rustic feel using lots of greens and grasses. Did I go too far? I added roses to soften everything, did she really want a traditional bouquet after all? Oh my. I asked her to clarify what she meant and she said that it didn’t look like what she expected that it looked amazing and was the most beautiful thing she had seen and that she never imagined that it would look like this and that she would love it so much. Then she said that she wasn’t really sure what she wanted, but that the bouquet I made was perfect.
Someone came and stole my eggplants!!! I had a beautiful white and a beautiful purple eggplant and someone stole them, right off the plant. All I hope is that they had a good dinner and that they didn’t just take them and chuck them. They got eaten, right?
We all say that death is a part of life, the reality is that that is true. When we opened our shop we decided to be a full service florist to service the wonderful people in the neighborhood we live in. Part of this involves funerals. I always think of the people that I am designing for, I like to talk to the families about their loved ones and try to create something that will make them happy and that represents their lives. Most of the time, the departed are elderly and have lived a long, full life.
This week, I had the honor of arranging the flowers for a friend of mine, who is also a mom. Her life ended way too soon, but she always lived it to the fullest. It was both the saddest and most gratifying work that I have done. She was from Scotland and I created a casket spray of grasses, heather and wildflowers. It was beautiful. Nothing can remove nor should remove the grief of loosing a loved one, but flowers really do help to say a last goodbye.
Everyone loves chickens, right? Well for for those of us without any outdoor space, or for those of us who are to chicken to have live chickens in the city (like me) here is the ultimate Chicken Purse! Just in.