Spring gardening days are here, my friends! Can you dig it? Recent snow (or as they say in Louisiana, sneaux) events, frost dusted mornings and the band of 32° and below temps has got to go. My visual and vocal denial of last week’s light frost on the ground mornings brought forth the words of Sergeant Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes fame. I see nothing, nothing! I only have eyes for spring.
If things rock on like this I may have to order this hoodie and whip up a hot toddy to garden by.
The calendar says spring, my mind says spring, my heart says spring and the blooms and buds throughout the neighborhood say spring.
A kitchen vegetable garden flush with vegetables, herbs and color rich flowers is on my fresh from home farmers market radar. Better Homes and Gardens has a free kitchen garden plan to download which includes planting instructions and plants list for the kitchen veggie garden shown in the illustration below. Click on this link: An Eye-Catching Kitchen Garden Plan.
A local radio personality gives a daily update on the produce progress of her vegetable and flower garden, and I must admit I look forward to and am inspired by her down on the farm reports. In regards to the spring and summer salad season my question to you is this: Is there anything better than a fresh garden salad made with home grown tomatoes? Pass the fine black pepper and the buttermilk dressing.
Don’t forget the fresh herbs, too!
Speaking of fresh, colorful and tasty edible accouterments. Edible flowers add a burst of seasonal color to any garden and the dishes and drinks they adorn.
Common edible flowers to consider planting in your spring garden areas and containers: marigolds, chrysanthemums, nasturtiums, pansies, petunias, snapdragons, geraniums, sunflowers, begonias, daylilies, dandelions, tulips,
violets, hibiscus, lilacs, honeysuckles and roses.
Spring plants a sweet treat seed. Doesn’t this orange chiffon cake with buttermilk ice cream look fabulous? Fabulous and fattening, but gardening is an excellent source of exercise so take that calories. Dig in.
Orange Chiffon Cake with Buttermilk Ice Cream
7 large eggs
1 egg white
½ cup canola oil
zest of 2 medium oranges (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. melted butter
Buttermilk Ice Cream:
3 cups low-fat buttermilk
1½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Meanwhile, fit the bottom of a 10-inch tube pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, mix orange-juice concentrate with ½ cup water and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, oil, half the orange zest, vanilla, and ¾ cup reserved orange-juice mixture. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the reserved egg-yolk mixture until batter is very smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to batter and whisk gently to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in remaining egg whites.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack of oven (do not open oven until end of baking time) until top is golden brown and springs back when touched, 50 to 60 minutes. Invert pan over neck of a bottle or heatproof funnel to cool completely. Remove when cool. Run a knife between the pan and outer edges of cooled cake, all the way around, and invert cake to remove from pan.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter, and remaining orange-juice mixture and orange zest. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of glaze and set aside until ready to use. Place cake on a serving plate and drizzle with glaze. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Buttermilk Ice Cream.
To make Buttermilk Ice Cream:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and refrigerate until very cold, at least 1 hour. Pour mixture into an ice-cream maker; process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pack ice cream into a 1 ½-quart lidded container and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface before sealing. Freeze until completely set, from 2 ½ to 4 ½ hours, depending on freezer. (Ice cream can be made up to 3 days ahead.)
An early Easter gets the spring gardening ball rolling. I’ve got my “she shed” area on the back patio mapped out and a spring gardening supplies list primed with items to aid in the task at hand.
It’s all nursery festivals, spring forward garden centers and merry, merry, how does your garden grow everywhere you look. Here’s a spring gardening video from Garden Answer blooming with inspiration and how-to steps for longer lasting spring blooms.
Spring gardening days are here. Can you dig it?