Archive for April, 2012
Spring’s delicious smell is wafting through Vancouver right now and magnolias like the ones pictured here deserve a great deal of the credit. When their large, leaf-like petals fold open they fill the streets with fragrance and beauty – I especially love seeing them against a blue sky or littered on the ground beneath a towering tree.
When we first moved to Vancouver just over two years ago I remember being enchanted by the smell of it every time I stepped outside. I still am.
We have a star magnolia planted in a large container on one corner of our patio. It came into our lives via the sale section at the garden shop. A clearance section pot became its keeper and it is blooming beautifully in its second season in our little garden.
All winter long I’ve been buying cut flowers from the store. No longer. Now I just need scissors. My container garden is full of spring blooms: tulips are opening up, pale daffodils that came up late are just starting to fade away alongside the long, variegated leaves of the crocuses, which are quite beautiful all on their own even though the flowers are long gone. My hanging baskets are filled with a mix of primulas and the pink and orange ranunculus and purple periwinkles you see here. All are plentiful enough that I’ve filled a little vase with them.
For those of you who are counting, there are 25 flowers and leaves in this little vase, picked in honour of a sad but special day. Life is a strange place, and hard to deal with at times. Somehow everything feels a bit lighter with flowers brightening a space, especially when you’ve been outside carefully plucking them from your own garden. It’s easier to find a sense of meaning and calm when you’re surrounded by beauty. It’s a simple thing, maybe silly, but there’s a little voice in things like flowers from the garden that calls at you and pushes you to try to make the rest of your world just as right – whether it’s indoors, outdoors, or like these flowers on a windowsill, somewhere in between.
Everyone knows how to make grilled cheese – bread + butter + cheese. This is a grilled cheese turned a bit fancy – delicious chia seed bread, leftover garlic butter, a combination of mozzarella, aged cheddar, Grana Pandano (a hard cheese similar to asiago or parmesan) and sprinkled with chopped green onions and parsley and then grilled golden brown. On the side is an old standby – butternut squash soup. What a lovely lunch.
Butternut squash soup
Serves 4-6 people
1 package of chopped, frozen butternut squash (or one small butternut squash cut up into 1″ cubes)
2 medium sized carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium sized potatoes or 5-6 baby potatoes, coarsely chopped
1 medium apple, cored, peeled and chopped
3 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence
1 litre of vegetable stock
Combine squash, carrot, potatoes and shallots in a bowl and toss with oil and herbs. Spread out on a large baking sheet and bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Pour them into a large pot and add the vegetable stock and blend until smooth with a hand blender (or blend the veggies and stock in batches in a regular blender / food processor). Simmer on low until the mixture is heated through, and add water to adjust the thickness of the soup.
We spent the Easter long weekend enjoying four days of beautiful weather in East Sooke. It was the first break I’ve had from work and school since January and it was so nice to be away from the routines of life for a few days. Early spring is an idyllic time to be on Vancouver Island, as you can see from the photos here. We did a whole lot of nothing while we were there …
It was bliss. I can’t wait to go back.