Almond Torte with Frozen Lemon Verbena, Path Valley Blueberries and Candied Almonds

Had a couple friends over for lunch, have lots of lemon verbena growing in our garden–  made this dessert...

Almond Torte with Frozen Lemon Verbena, Blueberries and Candied Almonds

Almond Torte

3/4 cups sugar, 4 oz almonds, 1 1/2 teaspoons honey, 4 oz earth balance, 3/4 cup pureed silken tofu, 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor combine sugar, almond and honey.  Process for 2 full minutes.  Put aside.
  3. In a mixer cream earth balance and add almond sugar mixture, process until combined.  Add pureed tofu, flour and baking powder and mix until just combined.
  4. Bake in individual cake molds or any shape individual silicone molds.  Cook until cakes test clean, about 20 minutes.

Frozen Lemon Verbena

1 cup young coconut water, 1 cup young coconut meat, 3 cups coconut milk, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut butter, 1/2 cup agave nectar, 1 teaspoon himalyan salt, 3 tablespoons leaves of lemon verbena

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender.  Adjust sweetness to your liking.
  2. Chill and freeze in an ice cream maker.
Candied Almond

1 cup almonds, 2 tablespoons honey, large pinch of sea salt, large pinch of sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all  ingredients on a baking sheet and place in oven.  Cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

To Assemble Dessert

Top torte with a scoop of frozen lemon verbena, fresh blueberries, a small handful of almonds and julienned lemon verbena.

Crops that thrive in the heat– Burgundy Okra, Shishito Peppers, Red Amaranth

Early last week we pulled up the last of the arugula, peas and red oakleaf lettuce knowing they would not survive the heat.  In their place we planted seeds– Burgundy Okra from Seed Savers Exchange, Shishito Peppers and Red Amaranth seeds both from Kitazawa Seed Co..  Seven days later all have sprouted, we should be eating okra and shishito peppers by early August and amaranth sprouts in a week.


Looking for something else on the internet last week I came across a pair of Honeyberry bushes for sale...  I learned that the Honeyberry is a variety of honeysuckle that bears sweet fruit and can be grown in our area.

Unfamiliar with them I needed them for our garden.  The two plants arrived in the mail and are planted.  I do not expect them to bear fruit until next summer but I am quite anxious!

Tree Peony– gone until next year

The fall before our daughter Martin-Lane was born, nearly 13 years ago, we planted a tree peony. The first flower bloomed on April 16, the day she was born, and on her birthday for the first 9 years of her life.  A couple years ago a cool early spring delayed the flowers opening until the end of April. This year they bloomed on April 5th.

Tree peonies have larger and more delicate flowers than more common bush peonies. The trees grow slowly and prefer not to be moved. Tree peonies buds are formed above the ground on the woody stems during the fall so take care not to prune in the fall or you will not have any flowers the following spring. With bush peonies next years buds are also formed in the fall but in the underground rhizome so cutting leaves will not affect the next springs flowers. Tree peony flowers only last a few days on the tree or in a vase.  Like all peonies if you want to use the bloom as a cut flower cut as soon as the bud feels like a marshmallow, before the flower actually opens. Place the cut stem immediately in cold water, most likely the flower will open in a few hours.

Edible Forest Gardening

Until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of an "Edible Forest"–

Edible forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodlandlike patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships, creating a garden ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts. You can grow fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, other useful plants, and animals in a way that mimics natural ecosystems. You can create a beautiful, diverse, high-yield garden. If designed with care and deep understanding of ecosystem function, you can also design a garden that is largely self-maintaining. In many of the world's temperate-climate regions, your garden would soon start reverting to forest if you were to stop managing it. We humans work hard to hold back succession—mowing, weeding, plowing, and spraying. If the successional process were the wind, we would be constantly motoring against it. Why not put up a sail and glide along with the land's natural tendency to grow trees? By mimicking the structure and function of forest ecosystems we can gain a number of benefits.

Anyone with a patch of land can grow a forest garden. They've been created in small urban yards and large parks, on suburban lots, and in small plots of rural farms. The smallest we have seen was a 30 by 50 foot (9 by 15 m) embankment behind an urban housing project, and smaller versions are definitely possible. ....

We were approached about helping to create an "Edible Forest"  on a strip of land currently covered in concrete near our house across the street from a school...  Immediately we began to imagine fig trees, chestnut trees, mushrooms, herbs and frogs...  Hopefully we will be reporting some progress soon.

Sorrel in February

Sorrel, a favorite herb of ours is a perennial.  We grow a red veined variety in our front herb garden and green sorrel in our back walled garden.  Most winters it completely dies back and returns in the spring– this mild winter it is still going strong.  Saturday night we hosted a Home Restaurant and used it to complement passed Path Valley scrambled eggs.


Winter through April one of my favorite flowers, helleborus are available.  Right now I am getting them through the Dutch auction in Holland, I can already see buds just starting to form on the plants in my garden and I will be able to get them from a favorite local flower farmer, Bob Wollam, in April and March....These are delicate flowers and generally only have a few day life span after they are picked but they are without a doubt worth it!  I used them as part of the centerpieces at a small wedding at the Tabard Inn yesterday.

Design Army, One Show

I have known Pum and Jake of Design Army for years, am a huge fan of their work, am indebted to them for my website, appreciate their unique perspective and always jump at the chance to collaborate on any project with them.  When asked if I would be part of their team, helping with flowers and plants, for a promotion of One Club'sOne Show competition the answer was immediately yes!  Here is the result–  once again I am inspired by their creativity, attention to detail and energy.

Creative: ★ Design Army Photography: Cade Martin Hair/Make-Up: Janice Kinigopoulous Stylist: Polly Spadavecchia Flowers/Gardner: Sidra Forman Producer/Scout: Carol Flashier Model: Seth Callaway