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archive for flowers

wild about roses

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Recipe: wild rose petal jam

Memorial Day may mark the start of the summer season for most parts of the country, but the fourth of July is when the season kicks into high gear in the mountains. So many people come to the high country because it is beautiful and wild and peaceful. Except a lot of the visitors can’t seem to leave their suburban trappings and behaviors in suburbia, turning paradise into a circus of bad manners. Jeremy and I tend to lay low during the holiday crush, because I believe in the minimization of unnecessary stress. So we drove to Crested Butte, passing through the mountain corridor just a couple of hours before it clogged up with holiday weekend travelers. We are currently enjoying the summer rains and the wildflowers as the town prepares for Independence Day festivities on and around the mountain. This is when everything starts growing and showing off.


nothing like hiking through fields of purple lupine

a hall of aspens that seems to go on forever

prairie smoke blossoms

tiny, brightly colored jelly alpine fungi



Last week in Nederland, the wild roses were in full swing, painting our local yards, trails, and hillsides with splashes of pink among the lush bushes. They were so fragrant that we couldn’t help but notice. I had been waiting for them to blossom, but the late spring meant the wild roses growing in front of our house were a few weeks behind schedule. Jeremy and I spent a couple of hours last weekend foraging wild rose petals for a few recipes. You can always use commercial roses as long as they are unsprayed, but wild roses are particularly fragrant and wonderful.

wild roses



There’s no need to pluck the entire flower, just the petals. It’s easiest to do with the flowers that aren’t flat open, but somewhat concave. You merely close your fingers over the top half of the petals as if to close the blossom. Give a gentle tug and most if not all of the petals should release with a light snap. I leave the center of each rose – the reproductive parts – on the stem and make sure to touch each stamen with my thumb in the hopes that I’ll help to pollinate each flower to produce rose hips for wildlife in the fall. If you find a good bundle of wild rose bushes in bloom, it doesn’t take much time to collect a few cups of petals.

i store them in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator



Of course, we humans aren’t the only ones fond of roses. There are plenty of little crawlies who like to hitch a ride on the rose petals back to your place. To reduce the number of new friends, I gently flick the blossom before I pluck it. This usually evicts 80% of the hitchhikers. Back home, I empty the petals into a large mesh colander covered with a splatter guard, and shake the petals over a table until no more little bugs fall out. It takes me about 10 minutes until the bugs run clear, but that’s easier than rinsing the petals with water, which you can do instead of or in addition to the shaking to clean your rose petals.

toss the petals in a colander



While researching wild rose recipes, I came across this simple, yet delightful wild rose petal jam. It’s rather quick to whip up and it makes for a charming homemade gift. Best of all, it’s delicious. The rose flavor is delicate without being overpowering in that way that makes you think you’re eating lotion or soap. It comes out a brilliant pink color which is all natural.

rose petals, pectin, water, lemon juice, sugar



**Jump for more butter**

roses are red, violets are blue

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Recipe: candied violets

After a difficult week for Kaweah, Jeremy and I made an appointment with her vet on Friday. Our intention was to mostly get a gauge on the progression of her laryngeal paralysis. Oh boy, you’ve never seen anyone perk up like Kaweah does when Doc Newton enters the room. He smiled and greeted her with a “How’s my favorite patient?!” and proceeded to feed her about a meal’s worth of dog treats. After a thorough check up, he reported that her lungs and heart are as strong as ever, but that he couldn’t tell us how her breathing or her canine degenerative myelopathy (doggy lou gehrig’s disease) would play out. Doc Newton seems to think she’s doing well and said to just enjoy her remaining time, however long it may be.


sun naps rank up there with raw beef and prosciutto



Thank you for being so understanding and supportive, my friends. I was feeling frayed at the edges, but I think I’ve come to a point of acceptance of what will eventually come (at least, I tell myself I have). Kaweah is getting more time on the people bed, and since she lost a few pounds, she enjoys more raw beef snacks, carrots, cucumbers, bananas, peanut butter, and other yummy things. I’ve never been a terribly patient person, but Kaweah, in her twilight, is teaching me patience and some important life lessons.

crescent moon thinly veiled in clouds at sunset



The trails around my neighborhood are almost completely melted out, though still muddy in a few places. Is it odd that I feel strangely guilty for trail running and mountain biking instead of skiing? Don’t worry, we’re still skiing (I doubt any of you are actually worried about my ski days…), but the non-snow activities have been wonderful. I’m finding myself cranking up hills that used to be a slog just a year ago, and navigating with ease the single tracks that gave me pause last season. And the best part? The pasque flowers are blooming on my trails which means all of the other wildflower lovelies are soon to follow, and then wild strawberries and huckleberries and wild raspberries and porcini!

pasque flowers just opening

what they look like on the inside



But I’m getting ahead of myself here. We are still planted squarely in spring (with a snow storm approaching in the high country – woohoo!). When I was foraging for violets with Wendy, she asked if I was going to candy any of them. Well, no… I was fairly single-minded in my quest to make violet syrup. “Oh, you should definitely make some candied violets. Another great OCD activity.” I asked if she had made them before and she replied yes, but that once was enough for her. Why not?

pick violets with long stems for candying

you’ll need egg white, superfine sugar, and violets on stems

gently rinse or spray violets with water and shake dry



**Jump for more butter**

tastes like purple

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Recipe: violet syrup (and soda)

There’s a slow-moving storm with its haunches resting squarely on Colorado right now. It doesn’t feel much like a spring storm, but more like the storms of winter – cold, very windy, and horizontal snow. I’m hoping some of it sticks in the high country because everything around my house seems to be in a rush to get to Kansas. Right before the snow and winds arrived, the weather was pleasantly sunny and I heard the first hummingbirds of the season zipping around in the yard. I knew this storm would keep Kaweah inside for most of the coming week, so I let her lounge about on the deck more than usual while it was nice out.


her blanket to keep the chill at bay and the grill (her favorite) nearby for company



Just over a week ago I was riding the trails on the flats with Wendy, dropping our bikes to check out asparagus sites and crawling about in the bushes so I could learn more edible plants. The plums were in bloom and the apple blossoms were just starting to bud. It was hot under the sun which Wendy and I both dislike, but the plants apparently love.

plum blossoms on a bluebird day

happy buzzy bee



At one point, we walked our bikes into a little shady corner of the woods where Wendy stopped and turned to me. “Okay, what do you smell?” she grinned. I took a deep breath and parsed the scents on the air. Lots of green and wood and… “Purple! I smell purple!” It’s what I had been wanting to forage since last year and Wendy promised this season that she would lead me to some. Her eyes lit up and then she gazed down where violets (Viola sp.) daintily dotted the leafy mats at our feet.

green and purple

we gathered a half cup in a few minutes



Now, when I say purple, I really mean that the scent of violets is like a sophisticated floral grape flavor. In fact, the smell of violets is so dreamy and soothing that just opening the container and breathing in the perfume is an addiction of which we are both guilty. Violets tend to bloom in spring. According to Wendy, our violet season is a few weeks into spring proper. There are white violets too. They won’t turn things purple, but they do have the flavor and scent of their purple brethren. If you want to forage violets, here are a few things to note:

1) AFRICAN VIOLETS ARE NOT THE SAME AS VIOLETS. AFRICAN VIOLETS ARE NOT EDIBLE. So just… don’t do that.
2) Make sure the violets you forage are in an area that is not sprayed with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, whatnot). If you don’t know, then don’t pick.
3) Your best bet is to forage for violets on a sunny day after the violets have had time to open up in the morning under the sun. Mid to late morning is a good bet.
4) Pick the blossoms that are fully open as they have the best flavor and odor. Leave the closed buds to open later.
5) Place the violets in a hard-sided container with a lid. This prevents crushing the delicate flowers. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days, although using them right away is best.


all the pretty

and a white one for contrast



**Jump for more butter**