Who says we don’t have enough sun?

sunflower summary: our mostly shady garden; branching out into the sunny lane; Swiss chard, garlic, sunflowers; “Orange Appeal” blurb;

It may be raining now but yesterday morning, we took our bikes out into the cool air in brilliant sunshine. I do love this time of year (and try not to think about the icy slogging that is coming all too soon).

Who says we don't have enough sun? One of the thrills this year is our garden bounty. We have very little sun because of large trees in the front and back yards. Don’t get me wrong. We’re happy about the shade in the summer. I throw caution to the wind and plant garlic and all kinds of herbs in part shade anyway.

Look at our garlic harvest this year!! (The garlic gets about 3 hours of sun….)

But it does mean that we can’t really expect to grow things (like the several yellow zucchini seedlings I planted that displayed lovely male flowers but NEVER produced any female flowers at all) that expect full sun. Unless we put them in the tiny patches of soil in the lane by the garage.

Over the years, I’ve tried growing flowers in that spot but had problems with theft. And people didn’t just take the flowers. They dug up the whole plants and took all of them, roots and all. (Unbelievable, isn’t it?)

One year, I had beautiful wildly overgrowing oregano. For some reason, late that August, someone went through the lane and mowed EVERYTHING growing by the garages, cutting all close to the ground. So much for the oregano. It never recovered. So I resorted to encouraging the day lilies to grow there and gave up on anything else.

Swiss chard But the neighbourhood is changing and people are bringing their children into the lane to bicycle or play ball. Several neighbours are planting vegetable gardens in the laneway. So, last year, without really preparing the soil, I put Swiss chard behind the garage. It did very well and we were able to eat beautiful Swiss chard well into October.

This year, I did the same thing. One side of the garage has thin useless soil. I put the chard into a pot along with one sunflower seedling. On the other side of the garage, I dumped as much top soil and sheep manure as I could and put in sunflower seedlings, cosmos, marigolds, and chard. I really didn’t expect much to happen and was certain that if the sunflowers did anything at all, creatures would rip the heads off as soon as they appeared.

I was wrong. The sunflowers have taken over. Aren’t they gorgeous?


And there is still plenty chard in the pot on the other side.

Sunflowers cosmosmarigolds

Next year, I’ll put the zucchini behind the garage!

Swiss Chard I prepare the chard in a similar way to making the kale that is in Jamie Schler’s recently published cookbook, Orange Appeal. Because chard is much more tender than kale, it takes no time at all to cook. It is also very tender. So I usually add something like yellow zucchini coins or sweet potato coins to add texture. And garlic. Of course there is garlic.

And, because our neighbour’s chili plant is so prolific, it’s really nice to add some coins of red hot hot hot red chili as well.


Remind me to rave about the herbs and Scarlet runner beans in pots on the balcony – also in partial shade – also prolific….

There’s rosemary up there that are begging to be used in one of Jamie’s “Orange Appeal” recipes:

Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet
by Jamie Schler with photos by Ilva Beretta

Add a little sunshine to every meal with these sweet and savory recipes.
– Gibbs Smith Publishing

Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet | Contents

I know I’ve already mentioned that was one of the people who had the honour of testing recipes for Jamie Schler’s recently released cookbook, Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet, with photos by Ilva Beretta. But I still can’t get over my good fortune.

And just in case you haven’t heard, their cookbook is available now. You need to get it.

Everything we tried from the long list of test choices was delicious (several recipes didn’t make it into the book – not because they were no good – there just wasn’t room for all of them). Many of the dishes I tried are instant keepers. The ones I didn’t get a chance to test sounded fabulous.

When your copy of the book arrives, you’ll be hard pressed to choose which of the recipes to try first. Each one looks and tastes as wonderful as the others and each one calls for at least one part of the orange. You’ll never look at oranges in the same way again. And you’ll wish that oranges were in season all year round. And of course, as added bonuses, the recipes are accompanied by Jamie’s enchanting introductions to every recipe and Ilva Beretta’s stunningly beautiful photos.

Every time you see oranges, you’ll be wondering which of Jamie’s recipes you’ll make with them. And I bet you won’t be putting any of the oranges you use into the compost bin! You’re going to need every part.

When oranges are scarce (and even when they aren’t), I find myself stirring spoonfuls of marmalade, sweet or bitter, into cake and brownie batters, sauces, or marinades. Orange powder, extracts or liqueurs, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and Triple Sec, or delicate orange blossom water add the orange essence to a dish or pastry, whether accentuating or replacing the fresh fruit, zest, or its juice. […]
Also known as orange flower water, orange blossom water is a distinctive yet delicate aromatic essence distilled form the fragrant blossoms of the bitter orange tree. […] I first discovered its uses in desserts when I lived in Nantes, once a major port city welcoming ships from the French West Indies, where it is an ingredient in the city’s traditional carnival donuts, bottereaux (beignets), and brioche-type bread, the fouace. Orange blossom water is very concentrated, so use it sparingly, a few drops or a teaspoon at a time. […] [It] can be found in Lebanese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and gourmet food shops.
– Jamie Schler, Orange Appeal, Savory and Sweet, p.15, 18

Jamie Schler offers a collection of sophisticated and sunny recipes using the most versatile of citrus fruits, the orange, in this beautifully photographed [by Ilva Beretta] cookbook. She incorporates the juice, zest, and fruit from many varieties of oranges as well as flavorings, extracts, and liqueurs.
Schler’s sauces, soups, salads, sides, main dishes, breads, and sweets embody the essence of orange and empress diners with recipes such as Orange Fig Sauce, Orange Braised Belgian Endive with Caramelized Onions and Bacon, Beef in Bourbon Sauce, Glazed Apple and Orange Braid, and Chocolate Orange Marmalade Brownies.
Gibbs Smith Publishing

Here’s how you too can have an embarrassment of choices for what to do with oranges:

Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet
by Jamie Schler (author) and Ilva Beretta (photographer),
Gibbs Smith Publishing




This entry was posted in cookbooks, etc., food & drink, Orange Appeal on by . sunflower

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2 responses to “Who says we don’t have enough sun?

  1. katiezel

    Yay chard! And sunflowers. I cut my chard back in the heat a few weeks ago – then it turned cold and rainy. I’m still waiting for chard recovery. Sigh….

    1. Elizabeth

      Here’s hoping that your chard has recovered now. I plan to stirfry some of ours tonight. (I will avert my eyes from the sunflower though. The squirrels have begun to discover it and some of the branches have been torn off….)


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