BILOWZ ASSOCIATES INC. is an award winning landscape architectural design firm with a proven philosophy: "Creating Design with Harmony & Balance."
Our company blog, Annie's Gardening Corner, takes a sneak peek at how we balance our own love for everything green + a place to find inspiration, garden ideas and landscape design tips.

To browse our award winning landscape design portfolios, click on our company website at WWW.BILOWZASSOCIATES.COM

Friday, September 30, 2011

Garden Lessons by the Hitching Post





































What a perfect way to wrap up this last day of September with some simple but wise words from Thomas Holcroft. “The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post." The quote seems to fit in nicely with this topic of gardens lessons; those trials and tribulations of making our lives green.

Every year, if we truly love to sink our hands into the earth, our goal is to create something more wonderful than the way it was before we arrived. So, if you dare to share, what were your garden lessons for this year?

To get things rolling, I’ll go first. If you love composting like I do, you may stretch beyond the typical coffee grinds and spoiled fruits or veggies. But what happens with a mixed concoction gone awry?

Annie’s Garden Lesson: Never put the remaining fish carcasses you caught on the weekend outing into your compost bin, cover it up and then decide to turn it over! Nope, it’s not as easy as flipping pancakes. These fish heads just weren’t done cooking. At that point, the damage was done. Fortunately, you can douse it with some charcoal briquettes to smother the odor just in case this ever happens to you. The guidepost of the story: there’s hope that this fish escapade of mine makes for some rich soil when all is said and done.

So what’s your favorite lesson from the garden this year? Think of the hitching post as the old fashion water cooler, where the locals hang out and share their summer tales. Have one? Hope you’ll share so we can use these lessons as guideposts and not get stuck on them down by the hitching post! Happy Friday.  

Image from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Base Plant



The diva of the vegetable scene, at least in my book is the versatile and lovely eggplant. Its rich, luxurious color and shiny skin makes for a showy piece in the garden. Besides its great looks, the flavor of eggplant, if done right, is what makes it outstanding.

Need an easy base to start with when it comes to cooking eggplant? Roast it. Not only is this process simple, roasted eggplant has a sweetness that adds delicious to any fall meal.  All the bitterness that can be found in this vegetable seems to be lost when roasted with a drizzling of olive oil, plus salt and pepper. Don’t forget to line your cookie sheet with aluminum foil for effortless clean-up.

A few more directions: set the oven at 350 degrees, slice eggplant in quarters, drizzle with the olive oil, flavor with salt and pepper and roast until brown. Depending on size, it can take ½ hour to an hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Put in a container and refrigerate for the week’s menu. You can add this roasted eggplant to any dish. Get creative.

Because the eggplant is already sweetly cooked, all you need to do is warm it, making it a great base plant to grow and eat from your veggie garden. So if you failed to plant the diva vegetable, make sure you plan ahead for next year. You’ll be glad when you are arranging the weekly dinner menu.

William Lyon Phelps’ words sum up this base plant best.  “A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.” Interpretation - when you roast eggplant, you’ll find a whole new flavor expanding! And your dinner menu will resemble a well-ordered life. Now get roasting!

Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Few Comfort Words on Wordless Wednesday




































An image of an atmospheric sky taken late yesterday afternoon accompanied by a quote from Sarah Van Breathnach’s book, ‘Simple Abundance’ sum up this transitional time of year best. “The seasons of life are not meant to be frenetic, just full.”

Enjoy this season of abundance even if all that surrounds you is a bit of sunshine and a tree. Before you can say “Wordless Wednesday”, these lingering transition days of autumn can turn frosty!

P.S. Keep an eye on the forecast and your late season growing fruits and veggies. Check out last Friday’s blog post in case you missed it; quick tips for the garden produce that can survive varying degrees of frost. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2011/09/first-for-everything.html

And yes, the image was taken on a tilt to give you the essence of the summer-like slide into fall! I’m still using that tiny Blackberry phone for my images but hope you get the picture!

Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Sliver of Summer Left

By George, I think someone hit the summer default button. It feels like the temperature gauge is stuck in mid-August rather than the final days of September. No time to scurry about, reiterating fall garden chores or shelling out a couple of tidbits on design. There is always the trusted Annie archive for worthy information.

Today’s post takes a sliver of British advice from Mervyn Peake for what could be one of our last summer-like mornings. “Each day I live in a glass room unless I break it with the thrusting of my senses and pass through the splintered walls to the great landscape.”  On this Tuesday morning, wake up those senses. Enjoy what lies beyond your glass rooms. Take this last sliver of summer and ‘pass through the splintered walls to the great landscape.’

Image from the Internet 

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, September 26, 2011

As Our Gardens Spade Away




































Herbert V. Prochnow, Sr. once said, “Old gardeners never die. They just spade away and then throw in the trowel.”  So as our flower gardens slowly spade away this autumn, it’s important to revisit areas in our landscape that need an extra boost of life and energy. Thinking about throwing in the trowel? Consider adding a spectacular perennial that performs just like the old gardener.

Whenever recommending perennials, especially those that must compare to an old gardener, it’s important to find those with non-stop attributes: tough and hardy with great texture. You can’t forget a pleasing flower plus seasonal foliage. Why not throw in a good weed smothering plant, too.  Though many plant novices think of Geraniums as nothing more than an ‘in-your-face and nose’ red annual, it’s time to open up your senses to the perennial side of Geraniums. Endless varieties await you. A few of my favorites are: ‘Claridge Druce’, ‘Biokovo’, ‘Rozanne’,’Johnson’s Blue’, ‘Nimbus’ and any of the macrorrhizum varieties because of their ruggedness.  

Looking for some much needed life and energy during the spading away of your garden? Consider the perennial side of Geraniums.

Geranium Leaves - Image by Ann Bilowz

P.S. Don’t forget to check back for a few of these varieties I’ve written about in the past. Just like the old gardener, throw your trowel into the archives and dig for more information.  There’s some rich soil hiding underneath. Just scroll to the left-side of the main page under ‘Search this blog.’ And don’t forget to have a great Monday. Looking for a particular topic to be addressed? Do what old gardeners do – ask!

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, September 23, 2011

A First for Everything





































Yes, it is officially the first day of fall although here in New England, it is a bit balmy and overcast. But with early fall comes early frost so don’t be fooled by these warm, humid temperatures. Here’s a quick tip sheet from the National Gardening Bureau on frost tolerance of vegetables. http://www.ngb.org/index.cfm Just in case you are more than a tomato grower, it’s worth taking a brief refresher course.

Itching for a fall construction project? It may be a good time to build a cold frame. This structure is fairly simple to put together. Plus it’s the best way (at least according to the old timers) to harden off your vegetable plants in the spring and extend your growing season.  

Looking for something a bit more social? There are plenty of fall festivals taking place in your town or city and many of them are rain or shine. For anyone local, check out the Johnny Appleseed Festival and celebrate Johnny’s 236th Birthday! Don’t let the weekend forecast scare you away from some outdoor fun. http://www.appleseed.org/

But back to my frost theme as I wrap up Friday’s post with a well-known quote from the infamous poet, Robert Frost himself. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Friday quote interpretation: there’s plenty activity in the garden before winter hibernation sets in. No napping yet!

Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Traveling the Back Roads

Do you ever get off a ramp that isn’t part of the mapped trip just to discover what is off that exit? An unexpected detour as you travel to your major destination often becomes the charm and beauty, making for a well-remembered road trip. A tiny shop, an unknown eatery or an undiscovered artisan off the beaten path gives you that sense of what Guy Fieri’s job ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’ must be really like – in my book; awesome!

With the seasonal change fast approaching, autumn brings out extra loads of back road drivers. It’s part of the fall magic. Whether it is to partake in leaf peeping, country fairs or hay rides, when you meander along the back roads, the simmered down drive and sightseeing makes for a darn good reason to detour from the crazed Interstate.

Need some help discovering the lesser known highlights during the upcoming fall season? Check out this self-guided tour of artisans on October 1 and 2, 2011.  http://backroadsstudiotour.com/index.html Discover quaint Central Massachusett towns that may otherwise be overlooked to its bigger competitors of Vermont and New Hampshire. Plus you’ll still get to see the same spectacular New England foliage.  

And if you love tiny studios where you can find unusual wood creations, antique iron work, paintings, Alpacas (watch out –they spit!), woven rugs or bakeshops, there should be a flavor of something for the whole family. What makes it even better? It’s one of those rain or shine items for the fall schedule.

And if you want to add something additional to your trip to make you really feel like Guy Fieri, check out Picasso Restaurant and Bar in the charming town center of Barre, MA. http://www.dineoutpicasso.com/. This hidden jewel offers an interesting fare plus exquisite taste with the famous ‘locally grown’ slogan in their menu. But it’s not the typical – take for instance locally grown and produced Plum Chutney. Plus they make homemade pasta, homemade desserts - all this and more from a tiny restaurant that took up shop in the old Post Office that serves ‘eclectic traditional Mediterranean cuisine’. One suggestion: call ahead for reservations because this is a popular local destination with limited space.

So get on your shades, pack up the car and make for the back roads. Fall is upon us - it’s that time of year. And don’t forget Minnie Pearl’s advice. “Take the back roads instead of the highways.” Enjoy the last day of summer. Annie

Top image from the Back Road Studio Tour website
Bottom image of Guy Fieri and his line of sunglasses from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Speechless




































On today’s wordless Wednesday, two contrasting photos and a Walt Whitman quote: “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” Enjoy these last days of summer.  

Images by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Static Cling

When two elements create friction, static cling is inevitable. Too much electricity generated and the end result - everything sticks together. To create open and dynamic flow, rather then a ‘stick and cling’ static design requires space. By force of habit, we often clutter and fill rather than open up our spaces. As Laurie Ward, the pioneer of affordable interior decorating says, “People can have very good taste and still not know how to pull a room together. They can buy pieces, but their spatial sense is not on target.” The definition of spatial is “Of, relating to, involving, or having the nature of space.” This concept carries over to your landscape. So remember to be spatial. Create space rather than static cling.


Images from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, September 19, 2011

September’s Gifts





































September can be that bittersweet time, just like the invasive vine. For some, it’s the shoulder month; a sign of the garden ending, a time of clean-up and raking leaves. But for others, like our local farmers, it’s the heart of the harvest season.

We all run on different cycles, even if we all participate in the same 24 hours. So on this spectacular Monday morning, a repeat performance, a message from last September feels worthy of sharing again. A message about making the little things count, especially if your day is bountiful for someone’s morning that is not. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/09/its-little-things-that-count.html But before you launch off to last year’s link, take heed to the Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff’s words. “It's kind of bittersweet. The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart.” In other words, the little things do count!

And even when this glorious end-of-the-summer day can seem bittersweet, laugh. That is an easy gift to share.



























Images by Ann Bilowz (Fall bounty from our garden.)

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday’s Garden Task







































With such beautiful light, the kind that photographers drool over, Friday’s garden task is simple - capture your last summer moments in the landscape. As William Albert Allard profoundly reminds us, “ ...words and pictures can work together to communicate more powerfully than either alone.” Now get snapping and have a wonderful fall-like weekend.

Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden Thoughts for Thursday



























Stuck in the midst of my own garden weeds, here are a few interesting thoughts for this Thursday as they relate to gardening:

* Need a little entertainment? Plan a dinner party using your garden herbs. Need some help? http://www.saveur.com/article/menu/Elegant-Herb-Garden-Dinner?cmpid=fb
This menu looks like elegance meets good eats; a perfect match for a Saturday evening. And don’t forget to start drying your herbs, too!

* Why not plant a stunning fall flower. Want some suggestions? Try Asters. You can’t beat the durability, survivability and darn right pretty look of an Aster. Check out two posts from last September if you need a couple of choices. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/09/out-of-park-color.html http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/09/setting-for-blue.html

* Onward and upward - follow the flora. With autumn sneaking up on us, there’s still plenty of color to dazzle the eye. Combine the seasonal crops ready for harvest with the ‘what’s in’ flora and you’ve got yourself one heck of a fancy table arrangement. It should add a nice splash for that elegant dinner party.

* And of course, tidy up the tinsel. Just checking to see how many of you notice the Christmas paper, holiday cards, lights, decorations – it’s already taking front row/center stage in the stores. You guessed it - right next to the lawn and garden supplies. Yikes. So tidy up your garden tinsel – those beat up tools in the garden shed sure could use a cleaning, especially if you plan on jumping ahead into the way-too soon tinsel-time of the year.

*Just one last garden thought for Thursday - our quote for the day because we can never leave a blog post without one. Carl Jung’s words seem most appropriate for this list of garden thoughts. “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” So if you’re stuck in the midst of your own garden weeds, it’s always best to dig in, hands first. There will be plenty of time this winter for the intellectual gardener.

Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Few Words for Wednesday




































This O. Henry quote seems fitting to accompany today’s image, “We never miss the music until the sweet voiced bird has flown away.” Enjoy these last days of summer in your garden listening to the birds chirp and sing. It’s my favorite station to tune into.

P.S. In case you need reminding, autumn begins on September 23rd.  And as always, the garden D.J. is taking requests so don’t forget to send in your questions, comments…you know the spin!

Image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fungus is Among Us




































Being out in the great outdoors, you tend to notice what is and isn’t growing. Maybe some of you haven’t taken a peek lately, but I’ve seen a rise in the mushroom population. The recent rains in the Northeast have a lot to do with this sudden fungi increase, at least according to the mycologists. But here’s an interesting New York Times article, http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/travel/hunting-for-mushrooms-in-colorado.html just in case you thought the only places to find certain mushrooms were in faraway countries or for most of us, the local supermarket.

Interested in learning more about what to pick and not to pick?  The local Massachusetts mycology group just started their fall beginner classes. http://www.bostonmycologicalclub.org/ Check it out if you’re looking for a new outdoor hobby. This one might be pretty cool to look into. And if you thought Colorado was all about skiing, think again. It sounds like you can plan a trip around anything these days. It may not be the romantic getaway you were thinking about but as the anonymous quote goes, “Love is like a poisonous mushroom -- you don't know if it is the real thing until it is too late.”
 
Mushroom image by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shell We?




































Winston Churchill profoundly reminds us that, “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.” Some simple photos of reflection; where I chose to be ten years later – 9/11/11.








































































Images by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Park Bench




















Finding this anonymous quote, “Love is what makes two people sit in the middle of a bench when there is plenty of room at both ends,” makes me wonder about the importance of the park bench. Now that the sun is peeking through, spending this September day reading on an empty park bench sounds tantalizing. Take advantage of this warm September weather on your lunch break. Get outside and enjoy the neighborhood park. Often times, the benches found in a park are dedicated to someone loved who is no longer here. Parks are meant to be enjoyed but always remember the bench often serves a special purpose in the landscape.  And always remember to sit in the middle. There’s an empty one waiting in a park nearby.

Image of park benches from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Power Within
















Memorials often come about to signify the permanence of an event. For most, if not all, it is a form of healing. Yet, what many may not see is the difficult balancing act of the design team. The challenge of drawing people in and experiencing the symbolism and impact of such an event as well as discovering a park that one can enter to enjoy for years to come determines the power within a flawless design. What is meant to be captured within these spaces can often be hard to articulate until it unfolds and the general public begins to experience it. And often times, the public input is the complex aspect of finalizing a design as a design team can never determine how one truly experiences such a space until one actually steps forth into its setting. Design is truly an art form and here is a pointed and powerful example of such design.

I wanted to share the Peter Walker interview from Landscape Architecture Magazine about the 9/11 Memorial with a PDF link http://bit.ly/p6MOnG from ASLA’s FB page.

So as I wrap up this blog post with a fitting quote of the day, the words of Sir Edmund Hillary seem to be the most symbolic of this topic and title, The Power Within. “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Ten years later, our power still comes from within.

Image of the September 11th Memorial in Lower Manhattan from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Sticks




































With today’s heavy rains, capturing a garden image for wordless Wednesday was tough so here’s a photo I clicked this weekend of a stick bug.  Unusual insect, it is. We spotted it on our front porch, trying to camouflage with the wicker. A Japanese Proverb brings this photo to life and sends a perfect message for this rainy Wednesday. “Even if you hide yourself from the world, don’t lose sight of your real nature.”

That’s all she wrote - until tomorrow.

Image of a Stick Bug by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sun Dried or Fried?






































What’s left in your tomato patch? Ripening fruit or green tomatoes, which leaves only one question remaining – is it sunny dried or fried? If you are lucky enough to still see a few stragglers changing color, a great way to use the last batch of your tomato patch is to turn them into sun-dried tomatoes. The best tomatoes to use are Roma or San Marzano. The San Marzano is a tough variety to grow but well worth the flavor, producing primo fruit for sauce and sun-dried recipes.

So now the question is - are you ready to start sun drying those tomatoes? You can begin this recipe right before you hit the hay. Let’s get to the tomatoes. Trim any bad parts off the fruit, cutting them in half, length-wise. Toss the tomatoes in a bowl of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, enough to coat the skins but not so much the tomatoes swim. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (which makes for easy clean-up.) Place the cut tomatoes, seed side facing up on cookie sheet. Bake in oven overnight at 190 degrees. The tomatoes are done when the fruit is firm; not mushy and not too dry. Shrinkage should be about half of the tomatoes’ original size. Now it’s time to pack the sun-dried tomatoes with additional olive oil. You can either can and seal or keep the sun-dried tomatoes in a zip-lock bag. If you do the latter, you must use up the refrigerated portions within a couple of weeks. Those are the basic steps to sun drying your tomatoes. But here’s an accidental recipe I discovered this weekend when substituting our sun-dried tomatoes for tomato paste in a shrimp marinade. Less the shrimp, this marinade added to your sun-dried tomatoes is a perfect compliment to any meat, fish or poultry recipe.

So here’s the extra marinade:

1 cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (A must – so don’t leave out.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano (I used my infamous dried spearmint.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (I grind whole peppercorns crushed in a coffee grinder used only for spices.)

That’s the marindade. Let your sun-dried tomatoes marinate in this mix for at least 30 minutes using a zip-lock bag or covered bowl. These babies are ready to use or you can get the canning operations underway and keep those marinated sun-dried tomatoes packed away for winter culinary surprises.

What a perfect ending for our summer tomatoes. And the perfect quote to end today’s post comes from one of my favorite Italian chefs, Mario Batali. “You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year. I get more excited by that than anything else.” So keep the summer excitement going and savor those last really good tomatoes of the season. With two choices – sun-dried or green and fried, what would you choose? I like my tomatoes sunny-dried up! 

Image of a batch of sun-dried tomatoes just out of the oven by Ann Bilowz

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Friday, September 2, 2011

Early Snowflakes

It’s a cloudy start to this much-awaited Labor Day weekend but at least there are no snowflakes in the forecast. Unless of course you whip up this great dessert, one that’s easy to make, store, deliver and doesn’t require heating the oven. Want to make some early snowflakes (A.K.A. the Pizzelle)? This cookie is perfect for the last smoking barbeque bash of the summer. Should you not have the apparatus, (the pizzelle maker) it shall require a shopping trip.

Pizzelles, a tasty traditional Italian cookie only require a great recipe, and of course, a reliable machine. If you’ve checked or tested the store-bought pizzelles, most are extremely expensive and tasteless. Want to make a scrumptious pizzelle? This recipe is a sure thing. It’s my tried and true. And if you want to try something different with this homemade pizzelle, put a bowl of raspberries (a garden-fresh idea) next to a batch of these flat waffle cookies, which can easily be disguised as breakfast treats, too.

So here’s my favorite Italian pizzelle recipe.
(As the Rival recipe says - Extra thin, extra crisp, extra special!)

3 eggs, beaten
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup butter, melted (no margarine please as I can’t guarantee the outcome.)
1 ½ cups sifted flour (But who sifts?)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon anise extract (You can use anise seed too but I’ve never tried this. I have used Anisette.)

Add and beat ingredients together in order listed. (But who has order in the kitchen?) Drop by rounded spoonful onto center of preheated grid. (With my old reliable Rival pizzelle machine, I never used any spray. I do recommend with the new pizzelle makers to spray the griddles initially with a squirt of Pam cooking spray.) Allow to cook until steaming stops. About 30 to 60 seconds (There are dummy lights on most new machines that tell you when to remove the pizzelle but I wait until there is a hint of brown to assure crispiness.) Remove with fork. Allow to cool on wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Store in airtight container.

This is the recipe I never deviate from and it has always given me wonderful pizzelles. The powdered sugar makes the cookie. I haven’t tried the fresh raspberries on top but I think it could be a nice garnish. I wouldn’t put it on the cookie until ready to eat. What makes a great pizzelle is its crunch. Soggy is a no-no in my book but there are some folks that like them this way. There are many variations to this cookie, including chocolate, nut and lemon, but I stick to the classic. You can always turn these early snowflakes into cannolis, but that’s more work. And in the words of Voltaire, “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” Have a safe Labor Day weekend wherever your travels take you. And if you didn’t catch yesterday’s post about September garden chores, don’t worry. There will be plenty more next week! 
 

Images of Pizzelles from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is it Already?

It’s official. Harvest time, the first day of September is here. With that comes the garden list as the autumn clock strikes ‘Now’ and the race begins. So here’s the quick rundown to help you get to the finish line:

  • Perennials should already be divided and transplanted. If not, squeeze that in this weekend. You need to give these plants enough time to root in before the season shuts down.
  • Next on the list, if you didn’t heed to the fert and dirt blog a couple of weeks ago, fertilize all your perennials.  http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2011/08/fert-and-dirt-for-august.html
  • Don’t miss this window to spruce up the all-important greenery. Seed the lawn – ‘tis the season. It’s also time to aerate and thatch. At this time of year, correcting any blemishes or damage to your lawn means a healthier blanket of green next spring, thus reducing its water requirements. I’ll be preaching this one till I’m green in the face.
  • Looking for new oomph in your landscape? The Evergreens and deciduous shrubs wish list should be tagged and ready for fall delivery and planting. All Evergreens should be planted no later than mid-October while any deciduous stock can be planted prior to the ground freezing. (Sorry, the thought of frozen ground makes me shiver just thinking about it.)
  • Finally, for those who suffered storm damage from Irene or any other unsavory summer weather occurrences, remove all damaged tree limbs. If you bring in someone to assist with tree removal or debris clean-up, find a reputable, insured outfit. It’s not necessary for them to be big; just covered plus honest. Lots of squirmy worms come out of the woodwork when disaster strikes so take a deep breath and hire the right person/outfit.
And while many in the Northeast still struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, there is one thread of hope. “Always look at what you have left, not at what you have lost.” An important piece of advice, especially when surviving adverse conditions, from a power thought list I keep by my desk.

Talking about weather, this long weekend appears a bit dodgy but it should be a great opportunity to labor in the garden. So before you can say or think ‘Harvest Season’, here’s the short list of September garden chores. You can always check the past blog postings where technical and inspirational tips cover many, if not all of these subjects. Just use the blog’s search button. Let me know if you need help finding something or if there’s a particular topic you’d like covered. Tomorrow may be recipe day unless I hear otherwise.  

So that’s the wrap on September chores. Cynthia Wickham ends today’s post with a fitting quote. “September, the harvest month… Summer is over and autumn has arrived.” Someone had to break the news about summer being over. Just think candy apples and cider, fall leaves and crisp air. It’s harvest time! P.S. Don’t forget to visit your local farmers. One of the toughest jobs on earth!

Image of Harvest Season from the Internet

If you like this blog, remember to post and become a friend on our fan page at http://www.facebook.com/abilowz or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz (where there are even more shared tidbits) or subscribe on the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. Either way, we hope you follow the postings somewhere in cyberspace and share it with your gardening friends. Questions, comments or thoughts, contact me direct at annbilowz@gmail.com Happy Gardening. Annie

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Check in for your daily share's worth of garden inspiration, landscape architecture and design tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! We invite you to contact Bilowz Associates, Inc., or to browse our portfolios. Like our Facebook follow on Twitter or subscribe to the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.  You can also find us back on our Google+ Business Page. (Landscape architects/Landscape Design/serving Massachusetts and New England.) Visit our landscape architectural design firm's website where creating design with balance and harmony is our story. http://www.bilowzassociates.com/

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)