Clam Bake

Every year we make an annual pilgrimage to Maine and every year that we’ve gone we’ve talked about having an authentic clambake – you know the kind – open fire, seaweed, lobsters/clams, corn and fabulous garden salads… Well, we finally did it this year and a grand time was had by almost all…

Clam Bake

Clam Bake: The Setting

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Clam Bake: The Pit, excavate and line with rocks

There should be a photo of the fire here, but it was awful and you already know what that looks like right?

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Clam Bake: drop in a huge layer of seaweed and then add the clams and the corn – the clams were rinsed and the corn was de-silked and dipped in water before being tossed on the seaweed

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Clam Bake: on go the lobsters

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Clam Bake: top with seaweed

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Clam Bake

Clam Bake: cover with a tarp and observe with beer in hand

Clam Bake

Clam Bake: after an appropriate amount of time, remove the tarp and pull back the seaweed

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Clam Bake

Clam Bake: Good to go

 

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Clam Bake: Yum!

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We had a great night.  Lots of great, smoky food (and yes a wee bit of sand) and great company.  If you want to try it yourself here is a site with several versions to try (beach, backyard & trash can), and here is a site where you can just order the main components and have it shipped.  It’s great no matter what!

Happy summer everyone!  Enjoy these last days…

 

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Late Summer Bouquet

Late Summer Bouquet

A Saturday dinner party required a bouquet for the table, and with the garden brimming over with flowers, I created a quick late summer bouquet.

This is super easy to do, all you need is a watertight container and a bit of soaked oasis to plunk in the bottom.

Late Summer Bouquet

I used echinacea, sunchoke flowers, ageratum, parsley flowers – they bolted for some odd reason, and a bit of boxwood.  I kept spinning it around and filling in the empty spaces.  It was wonderfully fragrant (I now understand why parsley flowers are so attractive to every little critter) and the perfect height for everyone to chat across.  It was charming!

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Wordless Wednesday

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, Summer Dahlias

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, Ageratum, a beautiful blue flower

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, rudbeckia is a fabulous late summer flower

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, zinnias make a fabulous cut flower

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, verbena bonariensis

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, zinnias make a great cut flower

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, bumble bee on flowering broccolini

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, tomatoes ripening on the vine

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, the onion harvest

Extravagantgardens.com Wordless Wednesday, cherry tomatoes on the vine

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Savory Summer Tarts

Savory Summer tart: Heirloom Tomatoes

Do you find yourself overrun with garden bounty at this time of year?  Are you up to your ears in onions, beans, tomatoes, squash of all kinds (giant zucchini baseball bats anyone?) and just trying to figure out what to do with some of it?

Savory Summer Tarts: ZucchiniWhen you’ve exhausted the pickle/quick bread/jam/freezer methods, start making my Savory Summer Tarts – they’re ridiculously easy and you can put virtually anything on them which is a great way to use up those stray veggies…

Savory Summer Tarts

Ingredients

  • 1 Puff pastry sheet (rolled out just a bit)
  • Sliced garden veggies (slice them thin) (tomatoes, squash, onions etc. Whatever you have in abundance)
  • 2 Tbspns Dijon mustard
  • 4 oz. Goat cheese
  • Black pepper (freshly ground)

Directions

Lightly roll the pastry out and place on a baking sheet.
Brush the base of the pastry with the dijon mustard, leaving a small edge around the perimeter.
Layer your sliced veggies on the mustard.
Evenly sprinkle with the goat cheese and black pepper.
Bake at 400 degrees until puffed and golden.

My sister-in-law introduced me to a version of this tart several years ago.  I think she used swiss as her cheese… use whatever you have on hand and need to use up.  And thanks to the miracle of puff pastry in the freezer – it’s amazingly fast!  LOVE!

Savory Summer Tarts

So what do you do with all your extra garden bounty?  I’m going to try a chocolate chip zucchini cake with one of my baseball bat sized squash.  Looks like a great recipe!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and have some time to relax and do something you love.  I can’t even believe that next weekend is Labor Day.  It’s gone so quicky!

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Signs of the Season

When you look around the landscape there are always signs of the seasonal changes taking place.  This summer seems to have flown by at lightning speed and I feel like Fall is already upon us, complete with early changing leaves.  I can’t even imagine what this winter is going to be like!

Signs of the Season : Solidago a.k.a. Goldenrod - and no it does not cause allergies...

Signs of the Season : Solidago a.k.a. Goldenrod – and no it does not cause allergies…

The waves of goldenrod that are starting to bloom are a sure harbinger of Fall.  They’re all loaded with insect life too.  The little critters are stockpiling for the coming months.

Signs of the Season : Early changing leaves on an azalea

Signs of the Season : Early changing leaves on an azalea

Above are some of the early changing leaves I’ve mentioned, these happen to be on an azalea by my home, but you can see changing leaves everywhere already.  The birch seem to be going first, but I’ve seen a few sugar maples coloring up as well.

And my personal sign of the seasonal change…

Signs of the Season : Woodpiles all over the northeast

Signs of the Season : Woodpiles all over the northeast

And it’s waiting to be stacked if there are any volunteers out there!

Happy early Fall gardening (ugh!)!

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Windowbox Love!

Windowbox by extravagantgardens.com

I’m sure all of you are semi addicted to Instagram and Pinterest (if you’re not you don’t know what you’re missing).  There’s something about the purely visual quality of these sites that I love, and it’s so easy to find tips and trends in whatever  subjects interest you.

Windowbox by extravagantgardens.com

What I found myself surfing this year were amazing window boxes filled with bulbs, herbs, vegetable plants, small shrubs etc., it went on and on, and I found myself truly inspired.  There were boxes filled with daffodils/rosemary/pansies or fuchsia/verbena or boxwood/cyclamen/ornamental pepper.  Such amazing combinations and they were inspirational for multiple seasons of bloom or leaf color.

So, I hung two window boxes (meaning my saintly husband did of course) on our little shed in the late spring and filled them with summer plants and flowers since I’d already missed the early spring possibilities.  Normally I would have just tucked in a standard array of summer bloomers, something that would have coordinated with the patio, but instead I popped in some herbs and dwarf tomatoes I had started from saved seeds.  I’m thrilled with the results thus far…

A patio sized cherry tomato plant makes a great addition to a window box. Extravagantgardens.comI confess the tomatoes we’re a bit difficult.  I wanted them to droop but they were uncooperative – I had to coerce them into the desired position by placing a rock on their immature stems.  It’s amazing what you can do to a tomato plant and not kill it!

And here are a few shots of some beautiful window boxes from a firm in London called The Window Box Company.  Absolutely stunning work!

http://www.thewindowboxcompany.com

http://www.thewindowboxcompany.com

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http://www.thewindowboxcompany.com

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http://www.thewindowboxcompany.com

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http://www.thewindowboxcompany.com

herb_box

http://www.thewindowboxcompany.com

Inspirational, no?

Did you have a particularly amazing window box or planter combination this year?  I’d love to hear what you used.  I’m going to try a combo with cardoons next year – just a neat combo I saw on Instagram a couple weeks back.  Happy gardening!

 

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Wordless Wednesday

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Slow Down and Enjoy

Slow down and Enjoy - and take a closer look

I’ve had a very busy few weeks all capped off by a large party this weekend at our home (and all of it was great fun – no complaints here!), but what I realized this weekend was that I’m so focused on trying to make the gardens look their best, not to mention the food, house etc., that I tend to see what’s wrong rather than what’s right with my efforts.  I spot the weeds at the back of the border, the fish that split in half during poaching and the hairball bunny from our very longhaired cats rolling along the baseboard.  My zen moment came when someone said how lovely everything was and I honestly didn’t believe them.  Then I took a moment to step back and look.  It was all actually kind of nice, and no one saw the weeds, the split fish or the hairball bunny (and if they did they were sweet enough not to mention it!).

The moral of my story?  Slow down and enjoy, and in my case stop being so critical of my efforts.  Oh!  And definitely have that extra glass of wine!

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