Food Friday: Blooming Summer


We are gearing up for a wonderful, blooming summer. We managed to install five window boxes (without getting divorced) a few of weekends ago. Naturally the task involved several trips to the hardware store for new drill bits and ultimately a new, more powerful drill. And sealant and Liquid Nails. And then there were the trips to the garden center. Finally we loaded the boxes up with some organic soil, pink geraniums, vincas, sweet potato vines, English ivy, and some lavender just because Mr. Friday liked the way it looked. At the end of the weekend I walked around the house adding the final touch – the nasturtium seeds. Cross your fingers that they all enjoy the long, hot summer with a southern exposure!

And three weeks later, the little round, green, bobbling nasturtium leaves have risen above the other plants, and soon I hope to be able to start harvesting multi-colored blossoms to toss into salads and cocktails. (I still don’t know if the children have ever recovered from that long-ago Easter trauma when I decorated a cake with fresh nasturtium blossoms, and a couple of spiders ran 8-legged races across the beautiful, shiny pink frosting…)

Remember to use only the petals of the flowers, and never the stamens and pistils. Regard berries with deep suspicion. As always, you should use some caution when choosing flowers and blossoms to eat. Don’t go foraging along the roadside – who knows what noxious pesticide has been sprayed? Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. Sometimes these flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops. You might find some at the whole paycheck store, or you can tenderly and organically raise your own.

For example:

day lily

This article in the New York Times got me to thinking about what edible blossoms we have – or can start to grow – in our garden.

Nasturtiums, check. We will have Techicolor salads in a couple of weeks. And we can add lavender to our repertoire: I think a hint of lavender in a tall cool flute of Prosecco will be tasty this weekend.

We’ve put some yellow marigolds in the porch containers with the tomato and basil plants; more for color than for food. I’ll have to remember to snip some of the blossoms for the salad we are going to serve this weekend for some company. At least the marigolds are already in bloom, while we are still waiting for the nasturtiums to bud.

While we are not growing them this year in our tiny container garden, next year when we finally build those raised garden beds, we will endear ourselves to our new neighbors by growing a whole lot of zucchini. And we can use some of the zucchini blossoms in clever and tasty ways. Imagine the neighborhood cocktail parties when we pass around the crunchy fried blossoms! The second course can be stuffed zucchini blossoms: The third course will be zucchini Parmesan. Zucchini dessert? Banana blueberry zucchini bread!

The pansies seem to be fading away as the temperatures continue to climb, so we had best act fast to use them as garnishes in our cocktails.

Real Fruit Lemon Drop
1 1/2 oz. Hangar One Mandarin Blossom Vodka
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Meyer lemon juice
Splash of sparkling wine
1 thin lemon slice
Sugar (for rim)

Sugar the rim of a chilled martini glass by rubbing a lemon wedge around the edge and then dipping the rim into sugar. Place the first three ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake and then pour into the glass. Slowly pour the sparkling wine on top so it floats. Garnish with a lemon slice topped with a pansy.

If you would like to do your own back garden research, here is an amusing column, “Drink Your Flowers.”
Here is a handy, dandy guide to edible flowers:

I am also waiting for the birds to stop being thugs. I have planted some gigantic sunflowers on either side of the back porch steps, but I never realized what opportunists our bird visitors are. They have been digging up all of the sunflower seeds. Even though I put out a fresh handful of bird seed on their tray feeder every day. Greedy gits! At this rate we may not have sunflower blossoms in any of our meals this summer.

Sit back and enjoy the colorful bounty of your own summer garden.

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
― Georgia O’Keeffe

About Jean Sanders

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