Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wild Ginger Snaps & Spice Bush Snickerdoodles

At the Philly Flower Show I offered everyone who bought my book a few cookies, made from some of the foraged ingredients I'd talked about on stage.  I wouldn't call it a bribe exactly, but people lined up to have their books signed, and many asked if the recipes were included in the book.

 (photo courtesy of Ellen Spector Platt)

Alas, they are not.  Both are recent developments, conceived when I realized I'd like to bring small, easy-to-eat-and-transport treats to my book signings and lectures.  To sweeten the deal, as it were.

So here are the recipes.  Warning:  these cookies are dangerous to have around the house if you have a sweet tooth and no will power.  I ought to know.

Spice Bush Snickerdoodles 
(adapted from a recipe from my baking but non-foraging sister, Elizabeth)

Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1 egg, and mix well.  Stir in 1 3/8 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/8 tsp. salt.  Blend well and roll the dough into a ball.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, then using a small melon baller, scoop out spheres of dough and roll them in a mixture of 1 Tbs. sugar and 1.5 tsp. ground spice bush berries.  Bake for 12 minutes at 350F.

Wild Ginger Snaps
(those are dried stolons in front of the cookies)

Cream together 1 stick unsalted butter and 5/8 cups sugar.  Add 1/4 tsp. vanilla and one egg; beat until fluffy. Add 1/6 cup molasses* and blend well.  Then, add 1.5 cups flour, 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 3 tsp. ground spice bush berries, 2.5 tsp. ground, dried ginger stolons.  Mix until just combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and freeze overnight.  Unwrap and slice as thinly as possible, about 1/8 inch.  Bake for 8 minutes at 350F.

*Blackstrap molasses yields a slightly less but still plenty sweet cookie.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Backyard off the press!

It's been a long time coming but the wait is over!  I'm finally in possession of my new book, Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn't Know You Could Eat.  And this afternoon I head south to the Philadelphia Flower Show where I'll give my first presentation on the subject tomorrow (3/5 @ 11:30 am), hopefully to a room full of interested gardeners and cooks.

I finished writing the book more than a year ago and since then the folks at Storey Publishing have worked their magic, combining my text and Rob Cardillo's images in a gorgeous book that I hope will tempt gardeners to experiment with foraging.

It's a different approach than you'll find in a foraging field guide.  I explain how to harvest while maintaining the ornamental value of your plants, and I also make suggestions about how to use your harvest, including some unusual (and delicious) recipes.

You can pre-order from Amazon (they ship next week), or let me know if you'd like a signed copy.  I sure hope you like it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

the Bronx blooms again

The NYBG Orchid Show opens today, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview on Thursday morning.  I enjoyed it more than usual, for two reasons.  This year the orchids are displayed more naturally, without the flashy, extravagant hardscape we've seen in years past.  The interior landscape has an elegant flow, relying more on the beauty of the plants themselves than on the splash of hardscape and architectural display.

And really, orchids don't need any extra splash, do they?

Clearly Francisca Coehlo agrees.  As VP for Glasshouses and Exhibitions, Francisca has helped design the show for years, but this year the display is entirely her work.

Reason #2:  Mark Hachadourian led our tour, supplementing plant descriptions with fascinating tidbits of information, teaching even an orchid lover like me a thing or two.

Mark's official title is Manager of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections, but his true title should be Orchid King & Walking Encyclopedia.

Watching the gardeners assemble the displays was my favorite part.  I love a behind the scenes peek.

 (Note the orchids on the right have not yet had their pots masked with Spanish moss.)

The show runs from March 2 through April 22 and includes not only the fabulous display in the Enid Haupt Conservatory, but also beefed up supplies of orchids for sale in the shop, and lots of special orchid classes and lectures.  How about a Saturday evening stroll through the conservatory, cocktail in hand?  For a full listing of events, check the Garden's website