Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Poinsettias are one of my favorite types of flowers.  They come in endless patterns and colors in the most vivid of reds you can imagine. They bring joy and happiness all through the holiday season, seldom stopping there. Quite often they lend color for Valentine’s Day, blooming well into spring.  Poinsettias are resilient and remain beautiful even with the summer weather challenges of the Midwest. 

As the summer begins to wane, they can step in to pinch hit when other container flowers have withered away.  A friend just gave me three beautiful potted pointsettia plants.  Having a container whose inhabitants could not take the heat, I decided to build a grouping using these three plants along with some caladiums and a bunch of lemongrass for the central thriller. 

 Yeah, I know, they are no longer red, but the green is deep and rich and really sets off the colors of the caladiums. 

As a final touch, several smaller Wild Poinsettias, (Euphorbia cyathophora) were popped into the corners.  I discovered them while running along a road in North Carolina and dug some up to bring home.  They have naturalized in my garden and reseed ever year.  They too are hardy and the very top of the plant turns brilliant scarlet just like their big cousins without having to be pampered or placed in the dark.

Poinsettias will even blend nicely with fall mums and grasses in fall containers.
You may have pitched your poinsettias by now, but if you still have them around, put them to work again!

Saturday, July 4, 2020


Laurie came home from the store with bag of fragrant ripe peaches. We made peach pie with a twist containing paprika, white pepper and Angostura bitters. The amount of sugar is also reduced further emphasizing the flavor of the fresh fruit. The recipe came from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, my favorite pie shop in Brooklyn. They do a great job with pie and these unusual ingredients always small in amount, are way big on flavor.  Here's the recipe.

Paprika Peach Pie

Make your favorite crust for a double 9-inch pie.

5-6 cups sliced peaches
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 packed brown sugar
3 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Egg wash (1 egg whisked with a teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt)
Sugar for finishing

Roll out bottom crust, fit into 9-inch pie pan and place in the refrigerator.

Slice peaches into 1/2 inch slices, add to large bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. (Note: I don't peel my peaches but if you prefer, do this before slicing.)

Add the sugars, cornstarch, spices and bitters. Toss well to combine. Spoon the filling into the cooled pie shell.  Arrange the lattice or pastry round on top
and crimp.  Brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle with finishing sugar.  Chill the pie in the fridge for 15 minutes to set the pastry.  

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  shift baking racks to the bottom and center.  Place a rimed baking sheet on the bottom rack.

When the the oven reaches temperature, place the pie on the rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and bake 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, move the pie to the center oven rack and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling through, 30-35 minutes longer.

Allow to cool 2 hours and serve slightly warm with ice cream.  Ahhhh...heaven!