Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Edible Flowers Part II

So the holidays are around the corner again and I am heading back to one of my favorite topics, eating flowers. As a small child I was fascinated with the idea of eating flowers. It seemed so exotic, fancy and down right cool. It was something only adults got to do and I wanted in on it. So as soon as I could convince an adult to let me try eating flowers I announced, “This is the best thing I ever ate!” I may have been exaggerating at the time but I still enjoy the beauty and ultimate coolness of eating flowers, which is why they show up every year on my holiday table.

Some Background: The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years. Many different cultures have used flowers in their traditional foods. The Chinese have been using daylilies, lotus & chrysanthemums for centuries. Italian & Hispanic cultures use stuffed squash blossoms. American colonists made violet vinegar & mutton broth with marigolds. Odysseus encountered the lotus-eating Sybarites on his way home from Troy. Dandelions were one of the bitter herbs referred to in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Flowers can be consumed raw, cooked, or infused in sauce. All edible flowers can be used as a decoration to a dish or on a tray. They add a distinctive color and taste to cakes, pastries & salads. Vinegar changes the color of the flowers, so it is best to serve the salad dressing on the side. Flowers add elegance to beverages when floating in a punch bowl or frozen in ice cubes. Edible flowers can also be used in teas.

Tips for Beginners

Do NOT eat flowers if you have hay fever, asthma or allergies.

Do NOT eat flowers obtained from a florist, nursery or garden center. Do NOT eat flowers growing on the side of the road

With the widespread use of pesticides by commercial growers, purchase edible flowers from a supplier who grows them specifically for consumption. Due to their popularity, many grocery stores & gourmet markets now sell edible flowers. It is most ideal to grow them yourself, so you know they are completely pesticide-free.

If you decide to grow your own flowers to eat, be certain you know your flowers since not all are edible. Some are poisonous.

Pick flowers on the day you are planning to use them. It is best to pick them in the morning or late afternoon when the water content is high.

Select flowers that are freshly opened avoid flowers that are not fully open (unless buds are desired) or those starting to wilt. Select flowers free of diseased spots or insect damage. Normally, the petals are the only parts to be eaten.

To maintain maximum freshness, keep flowers cool after harvest. Store your flowers, whole, in a container of water and place them in the refrigerator until you need to use them. Blooms and short-stemmed flowers can be kept fresh by laying them between layers of dampened paper-towel

Before use, wash flowers thoroughly in salt water. Perk them up by dropping them into a bowl of ice water for 30-60 seconds; then drain on paper towels. Remove all the green parts, stems and leaves, and any white 'heels' on petals since these parts can often be bitter

Petals can be stored for a day in a plastic bag in the refrigerator - but, ideally, you should use them within a few hours.

Introduce flowers into your diet one at a time in small quantities

How to Crystallize Flowers to Decorate Cakes & Candies: Combine one extra-large egg white (at room temperature) with a few drops of water and beat lightly until the white shows a few bubbles. Using a small paintbrush, paint a thin layer of egg white onto both sides of a clean, dry petal. Gently place the petal into a shallow bowl of superfine sugar to coat the bottom of the petal; sprinkle sugar on top to cover the top of the petal. Gently shake off any excess sugar. Lay the petal on waxed paper to dry. Let the flowers dry completely; they should be free of any moisture. This could take 8 to 36 hours.

A Partial Listing of Edible Flowers:

Anise Hyssop

Apple Bee Balm tea







Day Lily


English Daisy



Johnny Jump-Ups








Prickly Pear




Signet Marigold

Squash Blossom



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hippeastrums are big fat...

Hippeastrums are the big, fat, trumpet-shaped flowers that most of us (wrongly) still call Amaryllis. If you walk into our store we call them Amaryllis! Don’t worry were all on the same wrong page with beautiful superfluous flowers.

As crocus, daffs and tulips disappear from the shelves of our shop, these huge, beefy bulbs take their place. In flower, they look as though they've wandered off the set of Walt Disney's Fantasia. You can scarcely believe that any flower can be so vast, so stiff, so voluptuously unreal.

Once you get them started, they grow indoors at a phenomenal rate. You can buy them as extra presents for children, but pot them up and get them going before handing them over. From then on, there is enough action to engage children.

There was a time when hippeastrums, like potatoes, only came in two colors: white and a pleasingly shocking shade of red. The red was usually 'Red Lion' and the white 'Apple Blossom', which was actually a very pale pink. But partly because hippeastrums have recently become such popular cut flowers, there's been a very welcome explosion in the number of varieties available at this time of year. You can see why professional florists like hippeastrums so much. They last a long time in water and you don't need many of them to make a dramatic display.

You can experiment by planting the bulbs themselves in tall, thick glass vases. You need to be careful about watering, as there will no holes at the bottom like you would have in a pot, but the final effect is wonderful, very spare and spacey. Add slender twigs of beech, twisty willow or branches if you want a fuller effect. You can stick the twigs straight in the compost that is already there.

Big is not always best, but with hippeastrums, it pays to get top-size bulbs. Kits, containing pot (usually hideous), compost and bulb are not such good value as buying bulbs on their own. Check that each bulb is firm, that its nose is not damaged and that it has plenty of fleshy roots. Soak the roots for 12-24 hours, by balancing the bulb on top of a jar of tepid tap water. Do not get the base itself wet, or it may rot.

Choose 6” pots for smallish bulbs, 7” pots for medium-sized bulbs and 8” pots for big the biggest ones . You do not need to leave much space between the edge of the bulb and the edge of the pot, but the deeper the pot the better. Plastic is easier to manage than terracotta (though does not look as good). The pots must, of course have drainage holes.

The compost you use must be nutritious and free-draining. I have had decent results simply by mixing multipurpose compost with gravel or sand (two parts compost to one part gravel/sand). Add a slow-release fertiliser (such as Osmacote granules) to the mix.

Put a layer of your compost in the bottom of a pot. Hold the bulb in one hand with its roots hanging down and firm more compost round the roots. The nose of the bulb should poke up above the rim of the pot and its shoulders should be above the surface of the compost. Water with tepid water and put the pot in a warm, light, well-ventilated place, free from draftes . A temperature around 70 degrees is ideal.

Let the compost dry out on top before watering. Always water from the top, never from the bottom. Do not wet the nose of the bulb or allow the pot to stand in water for a long period. When the first shoot appears, start feeding by adding a liquid fertiliser when you water. Give the pot a quarter turn each day to keep the stems growing straight. You may need to stake them as they grow. When the buds start to open, move the pot to a cooler place so the flowers last as long as possible. Suppliers suggest that hippeastrums will come into flower six to eight weeks after planting. They have never been that fast for me. ten weeks plus is more realistic maybe it’s a New England thing

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cut Flower Tips

We at Carey’s Flowers hope that you will always enjoy your flower purchases. You have spent your hard earned money on something of beauty and you will want the flowers to last as long as possible. Your flowers will need your help if they are going to give you their all. Here are some tips for you to help them out.

Flower Arrangements

Many arrangements are sent out in boxes, remove this box as soon as the flowers have reached their final destination.

We advise placing all arrangements on a small tablemat of some sort and not directly on any polished surface.

If your flowers have been arranged in florists foam it is harder to see that the water level may be low. For this reason watering every day is best. Water slowly through the center of the arrangement while inserting the index finger of your free hand down inside of the arrangement to feel the water level, this will help avoid spills.

If your flowers arrive in a vase be careful vases can ‘sweat’ and leave a small puddle on surfaces. Changes in temperature cause vases to sweat, here in New England changes in temperature from indoor to outdoor can be drastic and happen year round. With a glass vase it is easier to see when water levels go down but it has been my experience that people just let the water sit and run out. This severely shortens the life of your flowers I hope you don’t buy a new car and let the gas run out. So watering each day with fresh clean water (from the tap is fine) is the very best thing you can do for your flowers. The water should never dip down below the neck of the vase.

Cut Flowers

Carefully remove all wrapping materials the flowers have come in.

Clean your vase thoroughly using hot water and soap the best practice is to then rinse with water that you have put a tablespoon of bleach into. The bleach kills any bacteria on the inside of the vase and flowers live longer in a bacteria free environment. Then fill the vase ¾ of the way with cool water that has been mixed with the flower food sachet you received with your flowers.

Carefully remove any leaves from the stems that may be below the water line of your vase; these leaves will decompose and contaminate the water and can shorten the life of your flowers. This decomposition also causes what I like to call ‘water funk’ this is when your flowers look fine but there is a funny smell about them. That’s the leaves decomposing and the water getting stale. Why would you want beautiful flowers that stink yuk.

Holding the bouquet up to the vase will help you determine the length you will need to cut the stems to. With a clean knife (cleaned with bleach) cut stems at a 45-degree angle. Place immediately into water in vase.

Once the bouquet has been placed into the vase check that is sits in proportion to the vase. The flowers should not tower over the vase this is the perfect recipe for the vase to tip over and then you have a big mess and no pretty flowers.

When the flowers are in correct proportion fill the vase the rest of the way with your water / flower food mix.

Choosing the right place in your home for your flowers is key. Many people have said to me “I like them on top of the TV so I can see them all the time” BAD choice! The television gives off too much heat for cut flowers. Place flowers in a cool place, away from heating or cooling vents, appliances, direct sunlight (picture window are a no no) or drafts.

Keep cut flowers away form ripening fruit. As fruit ripens it gives off ethylene gas with causes flowers to rot and die quickly.

Add water daily. Add water daily. Add water daily.

General Cautions

Lily pollen can stain. In case of contact dab affected area with tape wrapped sticky side out around your hand, DO NOT rub! Do NOT use water! Follow up with a stain removing pre-treatment before washing any cloth items.

All berries can stain and may NOT be eaten.

Wash your hands thoroughly after arranging your flowers, some flowers have sap which can irritate sensitive skin.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Flowers should not apologize

I was going to post another wedding themed item today, but I just read this great article bt John DeVore and I could not resist sharing it.

Men should buy women flowers.

Men should buy women flowers. They are colorful. They smell nice. And without them, flora would never get laid. To many, purchasing flowers is cliché or corny or tacky. And to others, it's an outdated ritual in our modern era of gender equality.

Flowers should not apologize; they should symbolize some wonderful thoughts about the woman.
I'd like to address the men reading this (all five of you): buy the broads flowers. Trust me. And now to all the women reading, who outnumber us dudes 100 to 1: allow the dorks in your life to buy you flowers. Trust me.

Flowers are not a romantic punchline, nor are they a symbol of patriarchal dominance. Buying daisies or lilies or chrysanthemums for the woman you love is one of those things a man just regularly does. This is a lesson my old man taught me.

Maybe it hearkens back to a time when men were gorillas in gray suits and women were trophies soaking their hands in bowls of Palmolive liquid soap -- a time when flowers were employed to mend broken promises, to make up for forgotten dinner dates, or to apologize for lipstick-stained shirt collars.

Those days are in the past, of course. Flowers do not resolve conflicts, nor do they anesthetize. Now that I think about it, they never did. But my dad had a different reasoning for surprise roses. He was always buying my mom flowers, chocolates, and trinkets. Her absentminded whispers while leafing through a catalog would be heard and little surprise gifts would appear at the doorstep.

Most of what I know about women I learned from how my dad treated my mother. I'd be a better man if I followed his example more fastidiously, but I haven't, and that's partially why I've spent so many years driving relationships off of cliffs. But some lessons stick out.
Theirs was a love affair that lasted four decades. He would sing to her in public, and she'd blush and beg for him to stop. They never seemed to tire of each others' gentle words. And 45 minutes after he died, on my mother's birthday, FedEx walked into the ICU with her present -- a fancy brand-name bag that escapes me, but that I'm pretty sure is sold in piles on the streets of New York.

While my mother was in a street fight with doctors (and a dependably cruel universe) for every dwindling minute of my dad's life, he had been sitting up in his hospital bed, buying her something he knew she'd love.

My dad knew that buying a gift for that person who'll laugh at your terrible jokes, kiss you with lips and breath, and hold your hand as a needle searches for your vein is just a way of saying "I'm thinking about you when you're not here."

And that's what flowers are, just a simple, easy way of letting someone know they were in your thoughts. That's it. It's not complicated. Flowers announce: out of sight, still in my mind and heart. It is unerringly human to want to know that someone is thinking about you when you are not around.

I think women, especially, worry that all men have short attention spans and for the most part -- Oh hey! When did I buy this can of beans? -- it's not an unfounded anxiety. I know I've forgotten things like birthdays (spring?), anniversaries (Tuesday?) and eye color (mostly white?).

But if a man is in love, he carries that love under his skin like a nerve. Such is the magnificence of man, however, that we're solidly confidant that your every third thought is about us. Right? Right? Oh, sarcasm! Women are the more conscientious gender; men are the more eat-with-our-fingers gender. I think that is fair

I recently bought flowers for a lady I'm a' courting. We were set to meet at the soda jerk for a malt before skipping over for a double-feature monster movie at the picture palace. I had been thinking of her all day, anticipating the date. She's out of my league and that's how it should be. It's never too late to relearn passed-down life lessons. I was nervous, and couldn't shake her freaking beautiful face out from behind my eyelids.

So I did what my dad would have done. What a man does. I stormed into a florist's shop, picked out a bunch of suitably fragrant flowers, paid for them, and marched right back outside. A man with a bouquet of flowers is a real man.

I carried them the way you'd carry a rifle at a firing range with the barrel pointed down. I received multiple dude nods from men I walked past. They were acknowledging that I was on my way to woo a woman, which is our primary programming. I even received an approving nod from a pair of lesbians who also knew I was doing my duty.

I mean, it was just a date. And the vegetation cost me all of ten bucks. The plants would be dead within a week anyway. But at least she would know that for that day, her name barely escaped my lips.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wedding Terms

Flowers have a starring role at weddings. A bride traditionally carries a bouquet, and other members of the wedding party may also carry or wear flowers. Before you place your flower order, review your options and understand the differences in floral varieties. Here are some key terms you should know from A to W:

Arm or Crescent: Flowers are nestled over the arm.

Assembled in Foam: Flowers are held in florist’s foam that is placed in a plastic holder. This form of construction is less labor intensive than wiring.

Ballerina: A round bouquet made up of a few flowers arranged with tulle or netting. This bouquet was popular in the early 1940s when the war made flowers scarce.

Biedermeier: A tight, rounded bouquet made up of concentric circles of blossoms. Using different flowers for each circle can give a striped effect.

Boutonniere: Flowers worn on the lapel by the groom and the male members of the family. These are currently also popular for women of honor.

Cascade: A bouquet anchored in a hand-held base. Flowers and greenery hang or “cascade” down the front. These are charging back into style again and I say Whoopee!!

Colonial: Large bouquet of the same shape as a nosegay.

Composite: Individual petals and leaves are wired and put together to create the appearance of a single giant blossom. Given the labor involved, this method results in a rather expensive bouquet, but stunning for the bride daring enough to truly be different.

Corsages: Flowers usually worn by the mothers of the bride, as well as grandmothers, Godmothers, married sisters as well as favored relatives. They can either be pinned to the dress or worn on the wrist. They should not be so large so as to actually cover a great part of the outfit or of a color that would clash with it. Although I would say get ready for the future because today’s teenager likes to purchase huge corsages for proms, so I see this bigger version of a corsage moving to wedding of the future, and again I say Whoopee!! I just love to stir things up.

Hand-Tied: The stems of the flowers are tied together with ribbon or tulle. This style was the focus at the wedding of Caroline Kennedy daughter of Jacqueline and John Kennedy.
Mono-botanical: all one type of flower.

Nosegay: A round, densely packed cluster of blooms, all cut to the same length and then tightly wrapped with ribbon or in a hand-held base.

Pomander: The flowers form a small ball, often carried by a loop of ribbon. Flower girls often carry this bouquet. A word of caution, this looks like it could be a lot of fun to throw to most young children. With a feisty youngster these can look quite mangled in pictures.

Posy: Small-scale nosegay made up of buds.

Presentation or Pageant: a bunch of long-stemmed flowers cradled in the bride’s arms. Think Miss America Style.

Single Stem: one long-stemmed flower, which may have ribbons around the stem is carried, a good complement to a minimalist style gown, or a very tight budget.

Spray: flowers gathered in a triangular-shaped cluster.

Teardrop: a variation on the cascade bouquet; it is rounded on top and comes to a point at the bottom.

Tussy-mussy: a Victorian style of nosegay carried in a silver cone holder.

Wired: The top part of the flower is removed from most of its stem. Wire is threaded through the top of its stem, allowing the flower to be twisted and turned to form the bouquet’s shape

Wristlet: This small flower bouquet worn on the wrist. The bracelet part of this item is now a very stylized item. Again the younger crowd is really changing the look of these going forward.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Flowers Are Talking!

Flowers speak…….without saying a word. In fact, sometimes I feel it can be a bit noisy at my shop, with all of the chatter going on; and no one else is actually in the shop. At first I thought it was the voices in my head, but really it was just all of the flowers talking at once. No wonder I am easily distracted.

The orchid plant speaks to me. She is stunning when in bloom. It is like a performance. She has these quiet, not so interesting oval green leaves that just hang out near the bottom of the pot. And then, a simple, leggy stalk springs out with tiny buds, which unfold into bloom, one by one, from the bottom up. Each flower whispers “Hey, check me out, I am so beautiful, come on, just a little closer…” And when you are drawn in, the fragility and perfection of this flower will make you stop to reflect, even if it is just for a moment.

There is a misconception that orchids are hard to grow. Sometimes a translation is needed.I must admit. I thought the same. (I’d always planned on growing orchids when I “retired” and would suddenly have time on my hands.) But, actually, some orchids will bloom for months with very little care.
The easiest beginner orchid is the Phalaenopsis (fay-leh-NOP-siss),Buy this plant in bloom or at least in bud. Place in indirect sun, meaning, a bright, sunny room, but away froma window. Orchids that are in bloom, prefer less direct sun.

Orchids like a daytime temp of 60 to 70 degrees during the dayand 10 degrees cooler at night - most households.

Water your orchid once every 5 to 7 days. Orchids are killed from kindness of over-watering. Really, once a week is all that is needed. In their natural environment, rain gushes on the orchids, but, does not linger. It is important to NEVER let your orchid sit in standing water. The green roots that arches into the air will eventually be covered by a white skin that captures and holds water.
We recommend taking the orchid to the sink, flushing it with tepid water, let it drain in the sink, and return it to its original spot. That’s it! Relax and enjoy these magnificent flowers, which will reward your care with months of bloom when little else is flowering. Orchids do like a bit more humidity than Colorado can provide naturally, but this is easy to fix. Set them on a tray of pebbles or group plants together. Orchids also have the reputation for being expensive. The price depends on its variety, size and presentation. Compared to the price of a dozen long stemmed roses, the Phalaenopsis will bloom for months, while the cut roses will bloom for a week or so. But don’t forget. All flowers have something different to say. Are you listening?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eating Flowers

I thought I would share my favorite article of the year. I just love the idea of eating flowers!

Colorful and heaven-scented, flowers delight the eye and nose.
Now how about the taste buds?
Adding flowers to your food - and drink - can be a fast and easy way to up the aesthetics of a dish and bring new flavors to everything from a simple salad to that trusty cookie standard, shortbread.
And there's no better time than the height of summer to let your culinary creativity bloom.
"Flowers add something a little bit different. They add a sense of season, which we're always trying to promote," said Paul Zerkel, executive chef at Roots, 1818 N. Hubbard St., where members of his kitchen crew pluck petals right from an on-site garden.
"They bring a lot of colors to the plate that you aren't able to do otherwise," said Zerkel, who develops specials based on the best of available blooms, such as a rose and rhubarb float featured in late June.
Culinary uses for edible flowers date back thousands of years. The Romans were wild for violets, while ancient Persians put roses in everything from mutton stews to marzipan. Dandelions are mentioned (and munched on) in the Old Testament, and surviving medieval cookbooks list a veritable garden of blossoms to be used in salads.
Sadly, the idea of flowers-as-food has been a tougher sell in a modern world, where fast food and processed packages of non-perishables hold sway. The short shelf life and limited supply of fresh, edible flowers generally restrict their use to restaurants that focus on fresh flavors, such as Roots and Café Manna, 3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield.
they make it look absolutely . . . "We'll use flowers to make the dish pop beautiful," said Joslyn Killey, chef at Café Manna, where edible orchids and peppery, bright nasturtiums often grace both dessert and salad plates.
Killey also loves the flavor that squash blossoms bring to a cream-based soup and "amazing" quesadillas frequently featured as specials on the cafe's vegetarian-friendly menu.
Sunny yellow squash blossoms, in fact, are arguably the most familiar flower food, used in both Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine, and frequently available in summer at Milwaukee's many farmers markets. Finding other edible flowers can be trickier - but just as rewarding.
"If you want to explore cooking with flowers, start with the farmers markets and develop a relationship with the growers," said Janet Gamble, director of the Farm and Food Education Program at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy.
Gamble manages the institute's Stella Gardens, a subscription garden, and in the past has included edible flowers in a spring mix distributed to customers - although she admits a little education is often needed when introducing someone to the idea of nibbling on nasturtiums.
"People don't have it in their minds (to eat flowers). It's one of those items that's not essential. It's more frivolity than necessity," Gamble said.
"I think people are intimidated to incorporate them into their cooking," Gamble added. "But the beauty element sells them. It's really a lovely thing."
Beautiful and brightly colored, yes - but how do flowers taste?
From sweet to spicy
The intensity of the flavor varies by species. Violets and pansies have a subtle sweetness, while vibrant nasturtiums often are compared with arugula. All three varieties are welcome additions to salads because they won't overpower other ingredients.
Flowers with high essential oil content, such as lavender and rose, however, have a stronger flavor and scent, and typically are paired with other bold ingredients.
Roots' Zerkel, for example, has offered dishes in the past teaming rose with duck breast or steak, and he loves playing with the flower's cultural associations.
"The scent of rose is so ingrained in our senses with holidays and special occasions," Zerkel said.
Gamble admits she's partial to tulip petals, which have a fleshier bottom that can stand up to dips and spreads, as well as chamomile flowers steeped like tea and mixed with fruit juice. And while most gardeners pinch off basil buds to keep the more commonly used leaves from turning bitter, Gamble recommends letting a few of your basil plants bloom and then adding the flowers to a green tea infusion.
Hold the pesticides
A word of caution, however: Not every flower is fit for the table. Only certain varieties are edible, and even they should not be eaten or used as garnish unless you're sure they have been grown specifically for consumption. Do your research (start with our accompanying tips) before grazing floral.
One safe place to start, if your interest in edible flowers is just budding, is with 1-ounce packages of assorted blooms, typically multi-hued pansies, in the packaged fresh herb section of many local grocers. Supply can wax and wane with the season, but expect to pay about $3 per package. Try tossing them atop a spinach salad for added color and a mildly sweet flavor.
Growing Power, the Milwaukee-based nonprofit that promotes fresh food for all, sells squash blossoms and most of its hothouse edible orchids and nasturtiums directly to area restaurants. The center sometimes has a limited supply of the delicate blossoms for sale at its headquarters, 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, or at area farmers markets, for about $4 per dozen. Growing Power staff recommend calling ahead, (414) 527-1546, to check availability.
While the season for edible, locally grown flowers is fairly short in Wisconsin, using dried flowers and flower-derived products such as rose water can let your kitchen creativity keep blooming year-round.
Dried lavender is available locally for $3.49 per ounce at the Spice House, at 1031 N. Old World Third St. and at the Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., or online. Try adding it in small doses - a little goes a long way - to cakes, cookies and other baked goods.
Trader Joe's, 5600 N. Port Washington Road, Glendale, regularly stocks dried hibiscus flowers, $1.99 for an 8-ounce package. The deep reddish-pink flowers have a taste and texture similar to dried cranberries and can be used in the same way if chopped, or as an interesting garnish for desserts, salads and even stuffings.
Rose water, one of the world's oldest flavorings, is making a comeback. Once found only in select ethnic grocery stores, the clear liquid is now available in many supermarkets.
Its cousin, the less common iris water, can be found in stores that specialize in South Asian and Middle Eastern ingredients. It makes a delicious sorbet.
The use of flowers has grown far beyond the plate, too, and is now blooming all the way to the bar, thanks to trendy liqueurs such as the elderflower-based St. Germain.
Delicate to handle and store, sometimes expensive and altogether missing from the Food Pyramid, flowers may seem like an extravagance to the home cook. But that's kind of the point.
In a world where everything moves at the speed of Twitter and it seems as if our food, as well as our daily routines, comes pre-packaged, why not take time to stop and smell the roses?
And then eat them.
Flexibility is the middle name of this easy summer salad, adapted from GHOrganics.com.
Consider the ingredient list as a suggestion, and feel free to mix and match the flowers you include based on availability and personal preference - the purple chive blossoms add a subtle onion flavor, for example, that many people love. For an earthier flavor, try substituting sunflower seeds for the almonds.
Mixed Flower SaladMakes 4 servings
½ cup small arugula leaves
2 cups tender lettuce such as mache (sometimes called lamb's lettuce)
1 cup baby spinach
1 small head of butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped and bruised (rub between your fingers to release fragrance)
½ cup violet flowers
½ cup nasturtium flowers
¼ cup chive blossoms
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup good-quality neutral-tasting oil
Salt and white pepper taste
2 tablespoons salted smoked almonds, chopped
Carefully wash all the greens, herbs and flowers and let dry on paper towels. Mix gently in a wood or glass bowl.
In separate bowl, mix honey and apple cider vinegar, then whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Pour dressing over salad, tossing gently to coat all ingredients. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds and serve immediately.
Chef Joslyn Killey of Café Manna, 3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield, frequently includes these squash blossom quesadillas as a popular special on her menu.
Fast and flavorful, this easy summer dish can be made with tortillas of any size; go big for entrée portions or try smaller, palm-sized tortillas as tasty finger foods.
Although Killey uses a grill and oven to prepare the version served in the restaurant, we've adapted the recipe for use in a home kitchen.
Squash Blossom QuesadillasMakes 2 servings
Olive oil to sauté
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
10 individual fresh squash blossoms (available at specialty food stores)
½ cup vegetable stock
3 sprigs fresh epazote, finely chopped (see note)
Salt and black pepper
4 flour tortillas (about 12-inch), preferably cayenne-flavored
¼ pound white cheddar cheese, grated
Sour cream and fresh salsa for garnish
Heat a large sauté pan with a little oil and sauté the onion, garlic and roasted poblano pepper 5 minutes, until onions have become translucent.
Add squash blossoms and deglaze with vegetable stock. Add epazote and cook another 5 minutes until squash blossoms have wilted. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
To make the quesadillas, lay 2 of the tortillas on a flat surface. Distribute cheese equally on both tortillas. Spread squash blossom filling equally between the two tortillas. Cover with remaining tortillas and place in medium-hot nonstick pan. Heat until cheese is "nice and gooey," turning quesadilla over after a few minutes for even cooking. Cut into quarters and serve with sour cream and fresh salsa.
Note: Epazote is traditionally used in Mexican cuisine. It can be found at El Rey (various Milwaukee locations) and other specialty ethnic grocers.
Working as a pastry chef in Colorado, I made these delicate cookies to serve as after-dinner treats.
Use a fluted pastry wheel (think of a ripply edged pizza cutter) or small, flower-shaped cookie cutters for added visual interest.
The key to working with the dough is keeping it cold. Return to refrigerator if it starts to soften.
Lavender ShortbreadMakes about 3 dozen 1 1/2-inch square pieces
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups pastry flour (see note)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons dried lavender
Granulated sugar for garnish
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or sturdy hand mixer at medium speed, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. In separate bowl, sift flour and salt. Add lavender. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and gently mix at low speed until just combined.
Shape dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cold dough between two other pieces of parchment, lightly flouring if dough starts to stick, and roll to even 1/8-inch thickness. If dough begins to soften, slide dough (still between parchment) onto a baking sheet or cutting board and place in freezer for a couple minutes until firm again.
When ready to cut, dip fluted pastry wheel or cutters in flour and cut dough into desired shapes, leaving as few scraps as possible. Dough scraps should not be rerolled, which would result in, pardon the expression, some tough cookies. Using a thin spatula to avoid tearing or stretching the dough, transfer pieces to lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar and bake in preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are just golden. Do not overbake. Cool completely and store up to 1 week covered in air-tight container at room temperature.
Note: If pastry flour is unavailable, substitute all-purpose.
In Italian, panna cotta means cooked cream, but in any language it's a silky-smooth, refreshing no-bake dessert. This version has a strong floral aroma and taste that is best balanced by the tartness of fresh berries. You can use silicon molds or serve in a martini or wine glass.
Rose and Elderflower Panna CottaMakes 4 to 6 servings
1 ½ tablespoons rose water
½ teaspoon, slightly rounded, powdered gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons St. Germain elderflower liqueur (see note)
¾ cup buttermilk
Candied pistachios to garnish (see recipe)
Fresh berries and no-spray, edible rose petals to garnish
Pour rose water in small bowl, sprinkle with powdered gelatin and reserve.
In small pot, combine cream and sugar. Heat, stirring gently, until sugar is dissolved. Do not boil. Remove from heat. When cooled to about bath water temperature, add gelatin mixture, stirring until melted. Let sit until lukewarm.
While cream mixture is cooling, set silicon molds (if using) on a flat baking sheet. In a bowl, combine liqueur with buttermilk. Add to lukewarm cream mixture, stirring until combined. Mixture will begin to set as it cools, so work quickly and pour into molds. Refrigerate until set, then transfer to freezer.
Once firm, pop frozen panna cotta out of molds and store in freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic, up to one week. An hour before serving, transfer to dessert plates and allow panna cotta to thaw in refrigerator.
(Alternatively, pour room-temperature mixture into martini, wine or shot glasses and refrigerate, covered, at least four hours and up to one day.)
To serve, scatter plate with candied pistachios, petals and berries of your choice. You also can puree a small handful of berries with a splash of liqueur and drizzle the sauce on the plate and panna cotta.
Note: For a non-alcoholic version of both sauce and panna cotta, you can substitute equal amount of white grape juice, but the dessert will not have an elderflower flavor or scent.
Candied pistachiosMakes 1/2 cup
¼ cup water
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup raw pistachios (nutmeats only)
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
In small pot over medium-high heat, combine water and sugar; cook, stirring gently until it reaches a boil. Cook just until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in pistachios. Working carefully - sugar syrup will be hot - pour into metal strainer to remove excess syrup from pistachios. Using spatula, spread nuts on baking sheet lined with parchment or nonstick, oven-safe silicon baking mat.
Bake in preheated oven about 15 minutes or until nuts are aromatic and glossy but dry, taking care not to burn them. Cool completely before storing at room temperature in airtight container up to 1 week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Garden in NEw England

I can’t recall why I first decided to try growing asparagus peas (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus). Maybe because I’ve always loved asparagus — and these pods do, when young, have a mild asparagus flavor.

They’re also one of the simplest vegetables you can grow — if you have some space. That’s a polite way of saying that this is an aggressive plant that would enjoy taking over it you let it. On the other hand, if you have a spot to let a 10-foot vine with pretty pale blue flowers (and unusual looking pods) do its thing, it’s a great plant.

Like most-edible-podded peas, it can be started a bit before the last frost date in the spring, which is when most gardeners are itching to plant something — anything! — that doesn’t require hot weather.

At least, that’s my experience (and it appears to be the experience of Geri Harrington, author of “Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard, But some places on the Web say it needs warmth and shouldn’t be planted till all chance of frost is past.

The problem with that is that the plant flowers only when daylight is less than 12 hours daily. In USDA zones 8-9, it makes a nice fall crop.

To hasten germination, you may want to soak the seed overnight in water or scarify the seeds.
Among asparagus peas’ advantages: They aren’t fussy about soil, they begin bearing in less than two months after sprouting, and all parts of the plant are edible (leaves, flowers, pods, even the roots). Ms. Harrington says the pods are high in protein.

The frilly pods are best picked when small — less than 4 inches long. In high season, you’ll be harvesting daily.

There is quite a bit of common-name confusion surrounding asparagus peas. There’s also an asparagus bean (yard-long bean) and a different species (Lotus tetragonolobus) that goes by the same common name (it has pretty red flowers instead of blue ones). Other common names are winged peas, goa bean, asparagus bean, princess pea, four-angled bean, short-day asparagus pea, and various Chinese names. Make sure you get Psophocarpus tetragonolobus.

You can serve them as you would snow peas, include pods in stir-fries and Asian dishes, add blanched pods to salads, and used the blossoms for garnish.

I’ve never tried the roots, but Harrington’s excellent book says they can be cooked “any way you’d cook a sweet potato.” Maybe next year.

When you serve them to anyone who’s never seen asparagus peas before (they grow throughout Asia), you’ll gets lots of funny looks — and questions. Unless you’re in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, you’ll probably be the only one growing them. But that’s OK – the others are missing out on something unusual and definitely easier to grow than asparagus

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Were back!


Well we are back from our flower-buying trip to Holland. It was beautiful!!
Pictured in our blog is an item we tripped on and quite frankly keep tripping on – Rainbow Roses. We have hesitated to buy the Rainbow Rose, as we have been unsure if our customer would appreciate this particular type of rose. So feedback would be greatly appreciated would you but this rose for $7.00 a stem?

Keep us on our toes ! ! ! Tell us what you think, tell us what you want!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Order from a Real Flower Shop

I can’t tell you how many times I have become a millionaire or how many lost relatives I have found in other countries in the last several years. In reality I do not have relatives in other countries and I do not wish to funnel money from dead people or lost bank accounts to my own for a fee. The Internet is a good tool to use. Also, a tool used by crooks every day.I guess there are bad apples in every crowd or business and florists have some also.

When you think you are placing an order with a REAL florist, you may be placing your order with someone in the USA or even in another country.There are also florists out there telling you they are in a certain town and actually they are not, so they can just gather your order and transmit it to a real florist to do the work or they will ship it directly through their farms.

Let’s take Pro Flowers for instance. They make you believe what your order comes already pre arranged in the vase for you, but actually they are shipped to you in a box and you have to assemble them yourself. Imagine your ordering from them for a friend’s funeral and you find the arrangement in a box by your friend’s casket! Can you imagine how you would feel?

Many times when they say they are shipped directly through their farms, then the flowers are shipped by courier to the recipient. What will happen to that order if the recipient is not home? They will leave those box flowers by the door in minus 0 weather or really warm weather. How would these flowers look? Dead as a door nail.

That is why only a real florist can send and receive your order and take care of your order the right way. You may be one of the lucky ones who did receive flowers in a box that was all right, but why take the chance on a gift to celebrate a special occasion. Also often many of those people will charge you a service fee of $13.95 or more to take care of your order. They may charge you a special fee for early morning delivery or rush delivery but won’t give the full total (full dollar amount) to a real florist that will do the job.

Why would you want to trust that special arrangement to some guy sitting behind a computer terminal that doesn't know a gerbera from a gigabyte?

Here are a few tips to look for when you place an order online. Start your search at http://www.411/. Type Florist and the name of the town in the business section. Look for a florist name that has a full address for that town. There is a chance that is a real florist. But wait, double-check your information, take the name of that florist and Google it and see if they have a web site. Look under “About us” and see if they advertise a real address. We have tons of information about ouf staff on there. If they do not, they are not a real florist. Also if you where to call the numbers and they answer “Flower Shop” with no true name of said shop (red flag) this is a good indication of an order gatherer rather than a local ‘Real Florist’. They also have multiple web sites to fool you. I can talk about this subject for hours and hours, but it comes down to this, only a real florist will take care of your order.

Thank you for thinking before you buy

Monday, June 15, 2009

Flower Delivery and Same Day FLower Delivery

Carey’s Flowers takes to the blog when we realize we are hearing the same question many times over. We hit ourselves in the collective head and say “Great Blooming Flowers Batman out customers don’t know this information!!!”

Customer Question: What towns do you deliver to, and how much time do I need to give you in advance?

Towns we deliver to:

South Hadley
West Springfield
Agawam / Feeding Hills
East Longmeadow

How much time do we need? Good question!
When order a designers choice it can often go out sooner as we do not have to go into storage to get a specific container, special order flowers, etc.

When want something very specific we need as much advance notice as you can give us. Although Carey’s Flowers is a full service florist we do not have a magic button that we push to get any flower, in any color of the rainbow instantly. I know now you are all shocked.

When you order something ‘in season’ like a New England spring bouquet in springtime. We can get it out the door the same day for all of the towns listed above if your order is placed by 9:30 am on that same day. So an order placed at 9:00 am Tuesday to go to Chicopee will go to Chicopee on that same day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Come on in!

Summit House 22nd Summer
2009 Sunset Concert Series
Sponsored by the Friends of the Mount Holyoke Range
A non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and promotion of the Skinner and Mount Holyoke Range State Parks.
Thursday evenings in July at 7:30 pm

July 9th Girl Howdy
Classic honky-tonk era spanning the late1940’s to the early 1960’s

July 16th John Sheldon
If you like James Taylor, give John Sheldon a try

July 23rd Pioneer Valley Fiddlers
Providing a variety of foot stomping music including Irish, Scottish, Canadian, and traditions

July 30th Horse Mountain Jazz Band
Enjoy this old time jazz band

Tickets are $5.00 each; all the money goes directly to the Friends of the Mount Holyoke Range

Here at Carey’s Flowers – 300 Newton St. South Hadley MA – Right across the street from South Hadley High School.

Tickets can be purchased on the night of each event after 6:00 pm

Monday, June 8, 2009

From my friend Clay down at McAdams Floral in Victoria TX comes this sad story of another Proflowers funeral tribute gone wrong.Clay said…”When I was making my usual Sunday funeral home deliveries, I happen to see this opened box in an office area. I thought it was for the service I was delivering for on Sunday, but it turns out it was delivered at 10:30 Friday for a 10am service. The customer was calling the funeral home on Friday morning to ask if they got it….she said it should have been delivered on Thursday for the viewing. I can only guess that she ordered it sometime Wednesday, and she was told it was to be delivered next day. Anyway, the funeral home told the family about it later on Friday and they said that they would come by and pick it up…Sunday and it is still there.”

When will people learn? This poor lady from West Bend WI, paid over $200.00 including shipping and her tribute did not even make it in time for the services. She would have gotten a much better presentation, not to mention better service from a local florist. Proflowers relies on Fed/Ex and UPS for delivery of their products in most cases. Sadly these companies do not understand nor care about the timing issues faced by local florists every day.By the way, the fine print on this item, says “Easel not included”… most funeral homes do NOT have extra easels, and in this case the funeral home did not, even if the items had made it in time for the service. It remains a mystery how the funeral home would have displayed this if it had gotten there in time.

Oh, and if any flowers fall out during shipping, “Just insert them where they make the most sense”… Instruction given to recipient.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck

The month of June is National Rose Month.

The Rose is also the birth month flower for June

The rose is the national flower of the U.S.A. and England.
On September 23, 1986, the House of Representatives passed a joint resolution naming the rose as "the national floral emblem“ of the United States. The Senate had passed the resolution in 1985.The measure then went to President Ronald Reagan who signed the resolution into law on October 7,1986 in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. The rose with all its beauty symbolizes life, love and devotion. Any quality flower shop as many varieties and colors of lovely roses every month of the year. A gift of beautiful roses will long be remembered.


June's birth flower is "ROSE". June must be the month of love, as it has been paired with the flower of passion, the rose. Roses have many significant meanings depending on their color. Often for the recipient of the rose bouquet the number of flowers in the bouquet also brings meaning (number of years married). June birthdays are also known for their passion, making June and the rose a perfect match.

Long a symbol of love and passion, the rose is rich with history and meaning. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, presented a rose to Eros, and Cleopatra lured Mark Antony with a room knee-deep in rose petals. The rose offers a singular message this June birth flower signifies beauty and perfection.
'A rose is a rose is a rose"-Gertrude Stein

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."-Emma Goldman

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."-William Shakespeare

Visit our shop or website or call us soon.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mother's Day

We thought you might enjoy some Mother's Day Trivia, Folk Customs, Myths and Fun Facts from Around the World .

Rosa Parks was the mother of bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama that launched the Civil Rights Movement.

Chinese family names are often formed (begin) with a sign that means "mother". It's a nice way of honoring their moms long past.

The ancient Greeks celebrated Mother's Day in spring, like we do. They used to honor Rhea, "mother of the gods" with honey-cakes and fine drinks and flowers at dawn. Sounds like the beginnings of the Mother's Day tradition of breakfast in bed!

Mother Shipton was a Prophetess in Britain 500 years ago. She could see the future, and predicted that another Queen Elizabeth would sit on the throne of England. (QE II)

Japan's Imperial family trace their descent from Omikami Amaterasu, the Mother of the World.

Julia Ward Howe wrote the Battle Hymm of the Republic and was a staunch fighter for women's rights. She staged an unusual protest for peace in Boston, by celebrating a special day for mothers. Julia wanted to call attention to the need for peace by pointing out mothers who were left alone in the world without their sons and husbands after the bloody Franco-Prussian War.

Hindu scripture credits the Great Mother, Kali Ma, with the invention of writing through alphabets, pictographs and beautiful sacred images.

George Washington once said, "My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."

The Greek word "meter" and the Sanskrit word "mantra" mean both mother and measurement.
Mother Goose is one of the most popular of all children's entertainers. Her books and stories have been loved for many generations.

Native American Indian women have long been honored with the name, "Life of the Nation" for their gift of motherhood to the tribes.

Ancient Egyptians believed that "Bast" was the mother of all cats on Earth, and that cats were sacred animals.

Rose Kennedy once said, "I looked on child-rearing not only as a work of love and duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world, and one that demanded the best that I could bring it."

Buddha honored mothers when he said, "As a mother, even at the risk of her own life, loves and protects her child, so let a man cultivate love without measure toward the whole world."

Mother's Day is now celebrated in many countries around the world. Australia, Mexico, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Russia, China, Thailand, all have special celebrations to honor Mothers, but not in the same way or on the same day as the United States.

In the Bible, Eve is credited with being the "Mother of All the Living."

During the 1600's, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday." Servants would go home to see their families, bringing cakes and sweets to their moms. This custom was called "going a-mothering". Each mother would receive a simnel-cake (Latin for "fine flour) and mother's would give a blessing to their children.

Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia began the campaign that brought about the official observance of Mother's Day in the United states. Her mother died, and Anna wanted all mothers to be remembered. She asked that white carnations be the official mother's day symbol. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the orders that made Mother's Day a national holiday.
Just nine years later, Anna filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop the over- commercialization of Mother's Day. She lost her fight. Now, cards, letters, candy and dinners out mark Mother's Day for most families. Anna had hoped for a day of reflection and quiet prayer by families, thanking God for all that mothers had done.

Mother Earth is also known as "Terra Firma". That title is a Latin translation of some lines from one of the Greek poet, Homer's, greatest poems.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to place a flower order with a Florist
When people place flower orders over the phone or on-line, it’s always a gamble. Normally, the person placing the order never sees the flowers, and few friends or colleagues will call to say, “ Thank you so much for the half-dead, ordinary-looking flower arrangement."When purchasing flowers over the phone, there are a couple of ways to guard against a florist providing substandard flowers. First, know a little bit about flowers and ask if what you like is available at that particular time of year then give the flower shop some room to be creative around what you have chosen. The more knowledgeable you are, the better off you will be. Secondly, remember that you are ordering for someone else not for yourself. We often hear “I hate a particular color” well, you not liking that shade does not mean the recipient also dislikes it. Lastly, if you must call a shop that is out of state know the caliber of florist that you’re calling. Are they up to Carey’s Flowers standards? Has Carey’s Flowers given their name and number to you or have you just picked a needle out of a haystack on-line?
To truly avoid disappointment and the hassle of requesting a refund or replacement, steer clear of ordering flowers on-line from what are known as ‘Order Gatherers’ as their loyalty is to the almighty dollar and certainly not to you. These ‘Order Gatherers’ are often found at the top of search engines but are certainly not the pick of the litter. 1-800-you-knowwho, FTD, Teleflora direct, Just Flowers, and this just points out a few.Even in NYC where the level of sophistication is supposed to be higher than other places, what arrives at someone’s door can vary widely. Have in mind the style and vase size when ordering. The low and lush look is popular in a glass cube or cylindrical vase and does double duty as a centerpiece or on someone’s desk at work. For more impact, expect to pay more; it is impossible to build a Castle with the budget for a mobile home. Call in advance and most florists will bend over backwards to get what you are looking for. However if given 1 day or even less (several hours notice) the florist can not magically make the flowers appear. We do not have the ‘Easy’ button often shown on the Staples commercial. With digital cameras, it’s not uncommon for the recipient to take a photo of the flowers and send a thank you e-mail along with a photo. This is a way for the recipient to let the sender know what the flowers look like, and if they’re substandard, or not fresh. If that is the situation, the sender can request a replacement be sent.If you’re really impressed with a florist’s work, it only takes a few seconds to call and say thank you. Believe me this sends us to the moon and back, running around with crazy smiles pasted to our faces all day!!!Once you find a florist that is consistent with turning out beautiful designs using very fresh flowers, stick with them. As we have stuck with you …..for 97 years now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Emotional Impact of Flowers Study

With today's high-tech and fast-paced lifestyle taking its daily toll on our lives, experts advise exercise and other personal lifestyle changes to relieve stress. According to behavioral research conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, nature provides us with a simple way to improve emotional health - flowers. The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.
"What's most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way," said Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers and lead researcher on the study.
Research Findings
A team of researchers explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a 10-month study of participants' behavioral and emotional responses to receiving flowers. The results show that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods.
Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness. All study participants expressed "true" or "excited" smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude. This reaction was universal, occurring in all age groups.
Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Specifically, study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.
Flowers make intimate connections. The presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends.
"Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy," said Dr. Haviland-Jones. "Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well being."
Sharing Space
The study also explored where in their homes people display flowers. The arrangements were placed in areas of the home that are open to visitors - such as foyers, living rooms and dining rooms - suggesting that flowers are a symbol for sharing."Flowers bring about positive emotional feelings in those who enter a room," said Dr. Haviland-Jones. "They make the space more welcoming and create a sharing atmosphere."