"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: dahlias

“feast or famine diet” . . .?

a FIESTA of dahlias from Fivefork Farms this a.m. . .

a FIESTA of dahlias from Fivefork Farms this a.m. . .

dahlias, majestic in a favorite vase . . .

dahlias, majestic in a favorite vase . . .

So, if you read the last post, you’ll know that I’ve come across a 21 day diet that includes 2 days of fasting, drinking bone broth and eating regularly the rest of the time. I’ve refined this somewhat into what I call a “feast or famine” diet that includes:

  1. 2 days apart fasting – drinking juices and bone broth;
  2. 2 days of salad suppers – salads on a dinner plate with a serving of protein (teriyaki salmon, sliced steak, shrimp)
  3. 3 days left for foodie menus – pappardelle pasta with veal ragu, Peking duck, teriyaki chicken thighs on the grill, etc.
'famine' fixin's for beef bone broth. . .

‘famine’ fixin’s for beef bone broth. . .

Anyhow, I’m going to try it out, starting tomorrow when the Instant Pot arrives and I make up some bone broth to store in the freezer.

Starting Monday, September 12th, I’ll start the 21-day diet clock. And on October 3rd, I’ll weigh in (couldn’t resist the pun) and see where things stand.

Meanwhile, here are more photos of the beautiful dahlias at the end of summer – and the beginning of our weekend!


more dahlias! . . .

dahlia burgundy 2

group of dahliasToday might be the last day that Fiveforkfarms, a flower CSA farm located in Upton will have fresh flowers since they’re expecting a frost to hit soon. So, today at the farmers market, I met D. the father of the five forks clan and G., the youngest daughter whose idea it was to start a flower CSA. I bought a bevy of huge plate-sized blooms. It turns out that D. and I discovered we are both Chinese, shaking hands, and joking back and forth about who was older (when he insisted he was older than I, I bet him a CSA subscription that I was older and he backed off!) I knew I would win because my kids are quite a bit older than his, it seemed to me. G. was so gracious to me when she wrapped up the bouquet of dahlias. I’m looking forward to a time when the farm decides to sell retail, maybe next year.

cream dahlia

Because it was a rainy day, I decided to do some errands early and visited the farmers market around 9:15 a.m., plopped the fresh flowers into a white enamelled pail filled with a couple of inches of water I had prepared, set on the passenger seat floor and drove into town to pick up a hand-made pottery vase that I had asked a shop to order for me.

If you look around, a number of potters have been making ribbed, white contemporary looking vases, notably Jonathan Adler about a decade ago, his prices going from reasonable to, well, way more expensive as he got famous. And others like Frances Palmer who hand builds white pedestal vases that were so gorgeous you wanted to figure out how you could justify buying one–and then, there are ones like the vase I ordered and brought home today. These flowers are just amazing to behold, aren’t they?

2 vases

dahlias! . . .

dahlia 1 dahlia 2 dahlia 3 dahlia 4 dahlia 5jpg dahlia 6 dahlia 7jpg dahlia 8There’s nothing as beautiful as seeing a bevy of dahlia blossoms in the beginning of October here on a New England Fall day! I went to the local farmers’ market this drizzly morning to buy eggs but the stand I usually buy them from said it was too cold for their hens to be laying!

It was slightly muddy, walking around the tents that were set up and I was getting ready to leave when I saw a booth with buckets of dahlia blossoms. Some had heads that were at least eight inches across! They were grown at a farm in Upton, MA. and after I selected three blooms, an Asian man who looked like a Zen priest wrapped them carefully in two layers of paper and handed the bouquet to me with a smile.

I’ve always loved the look of dahlias on a table–one of my daughters grew them and they always looked fabulous strewn in various bouquets around the house.

There’s also a house a few miles from mine here in town on a busy main thoroughfare that grows dahlias every year. And I don’t mean just grow them. Around the perimeter of the fence, there are five-foot high dahlia clumps with blossoms, spaced a few feet apart. There must be hundreds of them. I marvel at what it takes to grow them: to dig up the tubers and winter them over in the cellar with some mulch, then plant them each year, fertilize and stake them (that’s the laborious part) and then do it all over again every year. It’s certainly worth it but I’m not sure I have the patience although every year when I see the blossoms, I’m tempted to try them in my own garden. I do carry over amaryllis bulbs over the warmer months and they come back to bloom over the holidays after two months of a chilly/dry habitat.

Anyway, these three dahlia flowers were just a fraction of those at the market–but since we are enjoying them so much here on the kitchen table, I thought I’d post them for others to enjoy too.

Happy weekend!

Postscript: Just discovered the website for the flower farm in Upton, MA. where these dahlias were grown. It turns out to be a flower CSA farm–and they supply flowers to all sorts of florists and restaurants too.

Click on Fiveforks Farm and you can take a look too!


kitchens . . .

dahlias and gerbera with knives on the old formica countertop . . .

dahlias and gerbera with knives on the old formica countertop . . .

I love kitchens.

Maybe it’s because I like to cook so much and spend a lot of time in it. Or maybe it’s because the kitchen is the heart of our home where we have our meals together. I’ve had good kitchens and almost-good kitchens in past lives. Ironically, the kitchen that had more storage cabinets than I needed was in a condo that I lived in between marriages. I had enough room but nobody to cook for. Three of my kids were in college or beyond (in more ways than one.) I never had so much storage than when I lived by myself in that glorious condo, having lived in Victorian houses before and afterwards, notorious for lack of closet and storage space.

In my current kitchen, I’ve cooked many meals in its small space. The dishwasher we are replacing was won in a contest at the local grocery by G.’s father decades ago. It still chugs along noisily and gets the dishes clean on the heavy duty setting, but that takes hours of washing! The plumber is coming on Sunday morning to install the new one, not a fancy European model but a sturdy Consumer Reports highest-ranking Sears Kenmore dishwasher with a stainless interior, “turbo jets” in the back and reinforced nylon racks. It was seriously on sale and I hope it works out.

old redware holding utensils next to the stove. . .

old redware holding utensils next to the stove. . .

Preparing for replacing our decades old formica top, I’ve been culling through the utensils I have, stored in old redware crocks near the stove and placement of our kitchen knives on a long knife rack mounted at the base of one of the octagonal windows.

We use an old set of shelves that holds our napkins, potato chips, teabags and supplements. It fits perfectly in the space under the paper towel holder and we’re used to it being there. I had used two pieces of fabric as a make-do curtain but found someone in Michigan who makes custom sized door fronts in a simple Shaker style. I chose one in cherry wood that G. can attach to the shelves when it arrives next week and voila, we’ll have a cupboard finally for minimal cost that will keep our necessities handy and invisible.

I’m excited, to be sure, about this renewal for our kitchen space because we have a six foot curly maple tavern table that we use, set diagonally in the kitchen when there are two to four of us, and moved perpendicular to the kitchen when we have six or more during the holidays. It was custom made for us according to a antique table I found in Wallace Nutting’s “Pilgrim Century furniture” book by a craftsman out in the Western part of Massachusetts. Years ago, G. had bought a stock of curly maple boards that were stored in the eaves of the barn which were used in making the table turnings and breadboard top. It has a center stile down the middle and vase-and-ring turnings. A gorgeous table that required taking our door off the hinges to get it into the house!

I can cook anywhere, as I have in the miniscule kitchen of our winter rental cottage on the ocean in Rockport, a few years back. We had to get the oven fixed because the temperature sensor was off and fluctuated wildly. In spite of not having a disposer or a dishwasher, and about two and half feet of counter working space, many meals were cooked in that kitchen for Thanksgiving and Christmas, including our traditional homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. The experience cooking there was kind of like playing an old upright piano, slightly out of tune, rather than a regulated and finely tuned Steinway grand piano.

Well, it looks like I’m finally going to get my Steinway kitchen. It’s going to be ebony and off white, just like piano keys, only the material will be soapstone, a dark background with some bold graining once it is waxed. Instead of a double sink in which you can’t really fit anything to wash which we’ve struggled with, there will be a single sink with plenty of space. Once we figured out how “pull out” faucet heads work, we ordered a Kohler kitchen faucet with adjustable temperature lever with just one hole required for installment.

The job is scheduled for next week. And even though we’ve had the countertop detached from the cabinets and the backsplash loosened in preparation, it’s still hard for me to believe that this is actually going to happen. You know how it is when you’ve dreamed about something for a long time and after a certain number of false starts over a number of years, it hardly seems like your vision will ever come true. But I believe it will this time, simply because this is the right timing for it to happen.

Culling things out in preparation for the soapstone fabrication has been an useful exercise. As usual, we’re finding we need half of what we had out before. The challenge now is not letting it all creep back in again.