Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Embarrassment Of Riches And An Asparagus Souffle

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I have been on a mission all week to get everything planted before Summer arrives.  That's the way it goes with me...rush, rush, rush.  Everything done at once and then I collapse.

The yard is a nightmare.  Just the spring cleanup is a full time job and the yard crew we had last year  is nowhere to be found this Spring. No matter how much you do (and spend) there is always more that needs to be done.  I thought I would spend my years of retirement in a nice condo like the one I had in Key Biscayne...on the penthouse with a view of the ocean and no grass in sight. Instead I spend my days worrying about the grass, the never ending weeds that grow better than anything I ever plant and the pruning.  Of course I have to insist in doing the latter by hand, the old fashioned way, and I keep forgetting that I am not as young as I used to be, although my chest is pretty perky these days. Oh God, you sure have a funny way of kicking me in the rear sometimes!

and rewarding me on the other side....

In the meantime, the southern azaleas are putting on quite a display this year,  I've been rewarded after all the loving care and pruning I did last year.   A few bags of fertilizer didn't, of course. We are expecting rain tomorrow, lots of it.  Everyone was out at the nursery buying plants to put on the ground before it arrives. I have 80% of what I bought in the ground and most of the fertilizing that needs to get done by this time of the year.  My daughter is sick with a cold so not much help from that end but she did help getting the stuff on the ground last weekend...her Mother's Day present (or so she thinks!) Her big project is the vegetable garden and at least the heirloom tomatoes and peppers went in today.

There is lots of stuff coming out already but my biggest surprise is saved for the next post.  My friends from  the Atlanta Hydrangea Society are going to be pea green with envy...who would have thought!

 The hydrangeas with those *$%# weeds all around them.  And it's not even May.  I discovered Roundup last year and in my enthusiasm killed half the plants in the front.  Now I keep it hidden from my daughter in the trunk of the car.  It was Madame Mere's suggestion, the trunk not the Roundup.

 The fence is the barrier between "them" and us...them being the deer that come everyday around nightfall.  They laugh at the barking of the dogs and go on about their business, whatever it is.  Sometimes there is a couple, sometimes a whole herd.  They are fun to watch as long as they keep on their side of the fence.  I've never seen the brook, or stepped outside the gate. I'm terrified of the snakes.  They are mean here in the South, copperheads and others I don't care to find out. It's a different world on that side of the fence!

Sandra Jonas my dear friend and noted landscape designer gave me this hydrangea when she came for lunch last Fall.  The name escapes me but it's one I liked on the tour with lacey little caps for blooms.

This is my work in process...the rhododendrum which didn't bloom last year but hopefully will after all the love and care I've given it.

And this is my pride and joy...the Night Blooming Jasmin or cestrum nocturnum which EVERYBODY told me wouldn't come back, even the books! No way...we shall see (look closely)

And guess what else came back...the lemon balm, the curly parsley and the lemon verbena.  Now that was a surprise!  Make sure you plant some of the balm this year if you haven't before.  Great for cooking, especially for pastas.

This is turning into God's Little Acre!

And finally the front.  The ferns did not survive the winter, as EVERYONE told me they wouldn't but they sure put up a good fight.  They made it through Christmas much to my chagrin as I wanted to put something else in the urns.  This year no impatients, except for the New Guineas which are rapidly becoming a favorite.

Mother tells me regular impatients have all disappeared from the gardens in Miami.  Sandra told me about the disease last year and she was usual.

The crew on a break

By the way, those Merrell shoes you see are the best gardening shoes I've ever had.  They are rubber and wash beautifully.  Got them at TJ Maxx on sale!

Oh I did say something about a souffle.  Yes I made one this weekend as an alternative for Mac And Cheese.  Those who read the last post will know exactly what I'm talking about!

Asparagus Souffle

The recipe is really for two and was made in two 5 inch souffle dishes, buttered and coated with grated Gruyere cheese.

Oven Temperature 350 degrees for 25 minutes

Cut the ends of 1/2 lbs of asparagus and steam.  Process them in a food processor.  You should have about 1/2 cup of the puree.

 Make a cup of bechamel with 2 TB. butter, 2TB flour and 1 cup of milk.  Melt the butter, add the flour cook for a minute and add 1 cup of hot whole milk.  Cook until it almost comes to a boil.  The sauce will be nice and thick.

Add the asparagus puree to the sauce and some grated Gruyere cheese if you wish, salt and pepper. 

Separate 3 eggs and add the yolks to the bechamel sauce. Mix well.

 Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks.  Make sure you beat well or souffle won't rise.  With a wooden spoon take some of the whites and incorporate into the sauce and then fold the rest carefully so as not to deflate.  Don't do this too much, it's okay if you have some patches of white "clouds".  

Fill the two souffle molds leaving about 1/2 inch at the top. I inserted a finger in one and went around the rim.  I didn't do it with the second and it really didn't make a difference.  Place in the preheated oven.

Pour yourself a glass of rose and mix a simple green salad.  By the time you are finished, your souffle will be done.

And that, dear readers, was all I accomplished this weekend!

As I am finishing this post it has started to rain...hard.  The garden will be happy.


  1. Spring isn't coming to the prairie -- it's been way too cold to plant most anything! Sigh -- and last year mid March the lilacs were blooming! But it does make for a longer clean up period and the garden is looking nice now and we shall be planting in a couple of weeks! Meanwhile, the pansies and lettuces keep the pots from looking too awful!

    1. Martha, You are back...I've missed you. Things are delayed here too. Been looking at the photos from last year. And the blooms are not staying on as long as they used to. The azaleas were done in a week...usually last a couple. Enjoy your lettuce in the meantime!

  2. YOu made me laugh when you showed the picture of the dog-helper. I could never bring by St Bernard along when I gardened if digging was involved. Whenever he saw me digging he thought of it in a monkey-see-monkey-do sort of way and went at it (although he didn't dig otherwise, ptl) he could make quite a mess.

    Everything is shaping up nicely in your garden... I miss gardening and the surprises of what makes it and what doesn't.

    Asparagus souffle looks perfect!

    1. Now YOU made me laugh. Lucy is quite a digger but somehow she stays in the shade and just watches. She is getting older now and more ladylike.

  3. My, you've been busy. Our yard is a mess too after being gone all winter and one of our favorite trees either died or something happened to it. We tried living in a condo where someone does everything for you and disliked it so much we just sold it and bought a house. Sometimes it's important for things to be yours and done right.

    I can't believe you had the energy to make a souffle. I would have been exhausted after all of your work in the garden.

    1. Sam, I couldn't let the last post stay much longer after all the back and forth on the Stouffers Mac And Cheese! What would new subscribers think...Mon Dieu. It is quite easy and comes together in no time. From Francois Bernard book La Cuisine, the Joy Of Cooking of the French housewife no less. It's no fail, try the original Cheese Souffle on the blog.

  4. Whew...that was quite a post! Your azaleas are gorgeous: congratulations to you AND your helpers. Yes, I know: people tell you that certain plants are no-fail, and of course they will come back, but for you: NO GO. I've had that happen...
    As to the deer: do they ever jump that fence? I've seen them come over much taller fences. But yes, stay inside and safe!
    Re. the impatiens: I do see them for sale around here, and at good garden centers. But I guess it's safer not to buy. Anyway, I like the New Guinea ones here as they stand up to the heat so well.
    Wouldn't you know the rain would come this week and my good friend is staying here from Boston, and the House Tour on Tuesday. Oh well, maybe it will have cleared off by then!

    1. Dearest one, they wouldn't dare. Are you kidding me? with the ferocious attack dogs I have on this side of the fence? Never!

      The impatients are still for sale here, also in the better Nursery. I talked to the mgr. at Pikes and he said last year a lot of his customers lost them. They don't have many this year but tons of New Guineas.

  5. Just a warning re: the lemon balm... Ours became quite aggressive, and choked the life out of its' neighbors.

    1. I am not surprised, at the rate it is going. Thanks for the warning. Will take heed.

  6. Your azaleas are gorgeous! We are waiting for the cold to go away before planting too!
    The asparagus souffle is a wonderful idea,thank you!


    1. So nice to hear from you. How are you doing. Things under control? The souffle is great for this or any other leftover vegetables.

  7. Thank you so much for asking, I am just fine and have retired and am loving being retired! Martha (Linderhof) and I are threatening to have lunch together at a great garden shop/restaurant halfway between us and we wish you could join us!


    1. Wait, I am confused. Are you Francis/Missy our friends from Twitter?

  8. No, I am Francie (Helen Frances Newcomb) from Springfield, Missouri. I found your lovely blog through my friend, Martha, in Fort Scott, Kansas. Sorry to be confusing by using my husband, William's, Google account to post.

    All best,

    1. Ahhhhh! okay. I know, u have commented before. Thank u. I would adore to have lunch with you and Martha. What a treat!


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