Looking for a quick growing pop of color in your garden? Looking to grow a quick garden "wall?" Sunflowers may be the answer. Coming in shades of yellow and orange, various cultivars range in height from a few feet to over ten feet. True to their name, they love full sun; yes, even in Florida. In fact, sunflowers are native to the Americas and are thought to have first been cultivated in Mexico, although they can be successfully grown as far north as central Canada. Water them often to ensure quick growth, but they can stand a short drought. Gorgeous, huh?
They're called "Chrusciki." If you're a lover of cookies, you have to try these... think, "warm funnelcake with a crunch." We used to buy these from a small market in Cincinnati. They're even better if you make them yourself.
Ingredients (Makes 7 dozen):
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon rum
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
Pure vegetable shortening, for deep-frying
Confectioners' sugar, sifted, for sprinkling
1. Melt butter, and combine with eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar, salt, extract, vinegar, rum, and sour cream in a large, heavy mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high until lemon colored. Gradually add enough flour to produce a fairly stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured board, and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, adding flour if necessary, until dough blisters, becomes elastic, and can be handled easily. Cut dough in half, and wrap one half with plastic wrap; reserve at room temperature.
2. Roll half of dough very, very thin, and cut into strips about 4 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide. Cut the ends on a diagonal. Slit each piece in the center, and pull one end through the slit. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cover with a towel to keep moist. Repeat with other half of dough.
3. Heat shortening in a cast-iron frying pan to 375 degrees. and fry the dough strips, a few at a time until lightly browned, about 1 minute, turning once with a long fork or tongs.
4. Drain chrusciki on brown paper bags or paper towels; transfer to a cooling rack, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
5. Finally, store, tightly covered, in wax-paper-lined tins.
Note: This recipe makes an enormous quantity, so it can be halved if you wish, but do not divide the vanilla extract. Also, make sure the eggs and butter are room temperature when you begin. If your guests don't love these, do not invite them back; they are clearly not good people.
Speaking of great mirrors, we have a number of truly unique options that work well outside, and you shouldn't be afraid to add one to your outdoor space. A classic outdoor mirror in zinc, tin, copper, or the like will only get more beautiful with age. Done properly, it'll actually lend a timelessness to your garden from day one.
Here's a simple picture of some of the detail on one of our favorite mirrors. Two hang in the front room of our store. We love these, right down to the antiquing of the reflective mirror itself--each one of which is completely unique since they're done by hand.
Spring has sprung in Tampa. This season and last, designers seem to be falling over themselves to fawn over the pairing of blue (or light purple) and white... well, let's just say nature does it better. Get out there and enjoy yourselves.
Hope everyone had a very happy Easter. As we welcome spring, we're looking forward to many spring flowers and the lightness of heart they bring. Quite simply, nothing beats fresh flowers for beauty. Of course, they can be ephemeral, which is why we always keep silk flowers as well. In addition to the arrangements we create ourselves, one of our favorite manufacturers of silks is NDI (Natural Decorations, Inc.) If you have something specific you'd like, call. If you'd prefer to simply pick and choose from various options, come visit us, or check out of few of these selections from NDI, which are all works of art:
Below, we've included a number of images showing furniture, decor, mirrors, and lighting from one of our favorite vendors, Aidan Gray. You'll no doubt have seen their goods numerous times in magazines such as Veranda, Southern Accents, Victoria, Domino, Elle Decor, and the like. Enjoy, and if you want to bring this look home, come see us at the shop.
Beautiful, right? These roses are technically titled "The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild," and were planted bareroot only six weeks ago. They don't have nearly the peony-sized blooms we'll see in years to come, and the raspberry scent isn't quite as strong as it will be, but they're amazing nonetheless.
As promised, here's the tutorial on planting bareroot roses. In picture A., you'll note the obvious--prepare by having either a beautiful planter picked out, or a sunny place in your garden--roses love full sun, even in our Zone 9. Besides decent soil and some rose food, picture B illustrates everything else you'll need--a watering can filled with water and root stimulator, and the roses themselves. Note that the roses arrive with roots that are longer than the branches, which have been trimmed severely back for shipping. In this picture the roots are dark because they've been soaking in a bucket of water overnight to rehydrate them; this is a crucial step, and you should rehydrate this way for at least several hours. When ready, prepare the planter (or a hole you've dug to approximately twice the width of the root ball) with good garden soil mixed with a good handful or two of rose food as seen in picture C. From that point, place your roses and begin alternating between loosely adding more soil and watering it in with the root stimulator so that the soil moistens and you eliminate any air pockets. Your result should look something like picture D, where you'll note we've added even more rose food before mulching. Roses are heavy feeders, so you'll want to continue to feed them every month or so.
As always, we recommend David Austin Roses for the best English roses, which blend wonderful size, color, and scent, and repeat bloom constantly throughout the summer. Click the logo below to visit the David Austin site.
Much like art, the greatness of any given wine is often subjective. Those who claim to understand the subtle nuances of the regions where a wine is produced have probably sampled a few too many glasses. That said, we have found one wine that has absolutely, unmistakably been perfected in a single region of the world: Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. One of our favorites (and a favorite of others as well, having landed at #40 on Wine Spectator's top 100 list in both 2006 and 2008) is the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough:
If you try it, you'll note a crisp, tart flavor unlike any other wine you've tried, with strong grapefruit undertones--great for the spring and summer that are creeping up on us. For fun, grab another Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere else in the world, be it South America, Australia, California, and compare the two. For once, you'll be able to taste a marked distinction between the same wine being produced in one area of the world as opposed to another. That said, it's also relatively inexpensive, with the Kim Crawford running in the middle of the pack at about $15, and the upper end running under $30 with bottles such as this Saint Clair Pioneer Block from Marlborough, New Zealand:
You'll no doubt drink the whole bottle, but if you intend to save some of the second one you open, see us for one of our erasable wine stoppers, which have been featured on HGTV and in several magazines:
The guides on this path are the owners of the store, The Cobbled Path, located in Tampa, Florida. We are currently relocating, but in the meantime are still offering design advice. We continue to offer fabulous unusual and unique pieces for your home. Contact us at 727-403-0995.
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