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September 2009

Coleus and Dahlia Drama



On Tuesday afternoon, Mary (my garden designer friend) and I went on a quick jaunt to two nurseries. A coleus-dahlia theme connected the two establishments (yes, it's that time of year).

Rich color and spirituality seemed to drench the photos when I first saw them. I photographed Buddha, but didn't think, in the picture taking, how that rosette on his crown might echo the cosmic centers in the dahlias.

E n j o y

Irises for Peter

On Wednesday, my friend, Mary, and I went nursery hopping. Berkeley Horticultural Nursery
 was our last stop. Tempting iris photos, pasted on bins of bulbs for sale, had our full attention. (One of Mary's garden design clients especially wants irises in his new garden.) The images must have made a big impression on me, because, without a plan, irises have made a royal landing here.

Mary's client wants reblooming irises, and Berkeley Hort had a great selection. The ones above don't rebloom; they're here to celebrate iris diversity. Shown growing in our garden (in seasons past), are two bearded iris, two California natives, and at the end, Iris foetedissima, which is famous for its decorative, shiny orange seeds.

Now that I think of it, the gorgeous blue iris at the top was a gift, many years ago, from Mary's garden.

Thanks Mary !








Heavenly Creamed Corn


Urgent! I must get this recipe to you before corn season's over–– this creamed corn recipe is fabulously delicious and soooo easy.

My husband, Leroy, often tells me, "You've introduced me to so many foods I'd never eaten– artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, parsley, bean sprouts, snow peas, eggplant, dates, avocados . . ." That's all fine and good, but I have him to thank for this recipe.


Corn was plentiful on his family's 65-acre farm in Oklahoma, and creamed corn was a staple. The fresher the corn, the better. According to Leroy, here's how to tell if the corn is fresh– pull back the husks a little, and pierce a kernel with your thumbnail. If it's fresh, thin skin will pop– tough skin dents.

Cutting-corn-off-the-cobThe secret is in how the corn is removed from the cob. Since this is a one-woman photo show around here, I couldn't photograph 'how' in the picture– so let me explain. Take a small serrated knife and cut off just the top of the kernels. Then use that nice serrated edge and drag it down the cob scooping out the pulp as you go. Above, to the right, are the tops of the kernels and to the left is the pulp. Get the idea?

Corn-in-pan Place the corn in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, with a few tablespoons of water (two or three). Turn the burner to medium, or a little below (if you're the patient type). As the corn begins to bubble, it might need a little more water. The low heat is to keep the corn from burning. Using as little water as possible keeps the flavor rich. By the time that all the corn is heated through it's pretty much done. Suit yourself in the doneness department. You know how some people boil corn on the cob for only 1 or 2 minutes?  I'm one of those. Add salt and fresh ground white pepper.


Heavenly Creamed Corn

6-8 ears of sweet white corn
Water by the tablespoon
Salt and fresh ground white pepper

Cut off the corn kernel tips by running a serrated knife down the length of the cob, and all around. Scoop out the pulp by dragging the serrated edge down the cob. Place corn in a heavy bottomed pan, and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to start.  Cook at medium or medium low heat. When it starts bubbling, stir and check the bottom of the pan for browning (which you don't want). Add a little more water. When all the corn is bubbling and heated through, add salt and fresh ground white pepper. Serves 4.

I marvel when I see creamed corn recipes that call for butter, cream, flour, and even sugar. The corn provides all the goodness in the recipe– pure and simple.

When I was a kid, we had creamed corn often, but it came in a tin can. There's no comparison, and if you're lucky enough to have left overs, it's fab for breakfast.

Thanks to Leroy and his mom, Livator Parker, for the recipe!