a new trick and a giveaway

I’ve been away from this blog for so long, I feel terrible.

I have a million ideas forΒ  posts, but can’t seem to take any photos in a timely manner, so the posts don’t get written even if I’ve put them all together in my head. I have a feeling I’ll be writing plenty once the book deadline has passed (a few more weeks) so look for a lot of new recipes coming soon.

IMG_8509And while I don’t have a recipe today, I do have a horticultural tip to pass along. I heard about it at the grocery store. (I was eavesdropping.) Already it’s made me deliriously happy.

Do you love hydrangeas? I think they’re the best. If you have them in your yard, or pick up a bouquet at the market, I’ll bet you’ve had this experience. You gleefully display a few of those pink and blue puff balls in a vase only to find a bouquet of limp, pitiful flowers a few hours later.


Dip the cut end of the hydrangea stem in a cup of boiling water for 15 seconds. Then go ahead and put the flowers in the vase filled with clean, cool water. The flowers will last for days.

You’re welcome.

IMG_8514Leave a comment,Β  say hello, tell me what you’re cooking these days. On July 1st, to celebrate turning in three (out of four!) chapters of the book, I’ll use Randomizer to select a winner from the comments. What’s the prize? A box of delicious from my pantry. Expect to receive six jars – jams, sauces, pickles, and more. Yes, it’s a bribe, but it’s a tasty one.


Evidence. Four days of hydrangeas (and a rambunctious lily.)


98 thoughts on “a new trick and a giveaway”

  1. Thanks for the tip! Trying to keep cut Hydrangeas fresh and lasting has always been met with failure in the past. Going to try this today.

  2. Your book deadline is so soon? Is that, like, the quickest book deadline ever?? That’s an excellent tip for the flowers – thanks πŸ™‚ Not sure I am eligible for the giveaway but what I am planning on cooking as of next week when I will be in France is lots and lots of galettes – sweet and savoury. Can’t wait!

    1. Yes, it feels like the quickest deadline, but it also will be nice to have the first draft under my belt…
      Have a great trip to France and a month of galettes. Wish we were meeting in Alsace again. That remains one of the best meals of my life, no doubt the company was the reason. πŸ™‚

  3. We don’t have any hydrangeas around here, but I wonder if this trick might work with other cut flowers.

    Good luck with the writing. I know how glad you’ll be to turn it over when the deadline arrives!

  4. Thanks for the great tip! Mine haven’t started blooming yet, but now I’ll know how to take care of them when they do. Love fresh flowers in the house.

  5. Just bought a house that surprised me with a hydrangea bush! Can’t wait to try this trick once they’re ready to display inside.

  6. You can use a lighter too. But it is good for any of those flowers that exude too much sap from their stems when they are cut. Dalias, mums, narcissus, coneflowers, blackeyed susans, zinnias to name a few. Best if you carry the boiling water or lighter out to the garden too and do it right away.

  7. I love hydrangeas too! They’re just starting to really bloom by us. The truth is, I appreciate how they look once they’ve dried out too.

  8. Hi Cathy! well done on the book progress! I saw a sign at the farmers market on Saturday that said “Last of the Rhubarb”. I panicked and bought most of it. I’ve just tested the seal on your Rhubarb and Rosemary preserves from the class last year. It is divine!

    1. Gillian, I was seduced by a similar sign. I chopped up three pounds and froze it for jam making in another lifetime… when the book is written!

  9. Picked up my jars from our county fair yesterday. Lots of blue and red ribbons! I was thrilled. Thanks for always inspiring my efforts and encouraging me via twitter when things go wrong. Good luck on the book!

  10. What perfect timing for the hydrangea tip! My bushes are blooming and I keep cutting bouquets, only to have floppy flowers. I’m going out and try it now. Thanks so much. Cannot wait for the book.

  11. Oh to even have one hydrangea to plunge into boiling water would be a joy. Alas these beauties apparently are a delicacy for the deer who wander through.
    So close your dead line.. looking forward to reading!

    1. Deer will leave Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ alone. It grows from the base every year, so gets cut back to the ground in early spring. All white. Deer ignore it.

  12. I’ve been busy making garlic dill pickles. Hope to do a batch of my favorite bread and butter pickles this week. I’ve had the most beautiful dill heads on my plants so I had to use them up. Love the summer and love canning. And I am definitely going to use the boiling water trick on my limelight hydrangeas.

  13. Thank you for the hydrangea tip! I had given up on cutting them! On another note, figs appeared in my fruit market the other day, so your fig, lemon, thyme confit was in order. Everyone loves it! Thanks again!

  14. Wonderful tip! I have several bushes around my home in shades of blue and purple and I don’t bother cutting them because they haven’t lasted long after cutting. Now I see them flowering throughout my home in their splendid colors! Can’t wait for your book, Cathy.

  15. Hey Cathy! I’ve been enjoying all the seasonal spring produce (so glad that New Morning Farm is back at the Sheridan School!). Last week I featured recipes for a late spring / early summer vegetarian dinner party with beet gnocchi and caramelized celery crostini. This week it’s all about summer cocktails! Good to hear from you and good luck making your book deadline.

  16. Hi Cathy: I cannot wait to get your cookbook – and I can’t think of a more wonderful new home gift (one week to Denver) than a box of your goodies. I haven’t been enjoying anything lately – except muscle relaxers and pain pills. πŸ™‚

  17. Hi Cathy. What a great tip. I am new to your blog and have enjoyed it. Relatively new to gardening and eating local. My second season. Good luck on your book.

  18. I don’t have any hydrangeas – yet πŸ˜‰

    As to what I am cooking: keeping it light and cool. Tried an awesome coconut-milk based seafood soup this past weekend, working on replicating a tamarind-glazed mahi dinner, a coconut panna cotta with chile and salt topping (!), and an amazing braised pork belly- watermelon pickle appetizer – all tasted while on vacation.

  19. Oh for a garden, what wouldn’t I give….Don’t even have enough sunlight for a decent window box. Oh well, the joys of big city living. Am so looking forward to your book good luck.

  20. Yes, love Hydrangeas and your tip about keeping them fresh.
    Your blog is always enjoyed. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Hi! Excellent tip! Before heading out for an extended visit back to Mass, I did marathon canning session of strawberries and mulberries. I also squeezed in a few batches of shrub. I can’t wait to get back to my garden in Virginia!

  22. What a great tip! We’ve been doing a lot of make-ahead meals in the slow cooker. Red lentil stew, bbq beef, veggie curries, and shredded chicken.

  23. Love hydrangeas! The University of British Columbia botanical garden has a wonderful collection of all sorts of hydrangeas — you’d be amazed at the variety. If you’re ever in Vancouver, be sure to visit. I hope to do so again!

  24. What a great tip! I’ve also heard that you should dump used coffee grounds around the base of your hydrangeas – the acidity of the grounds helps the flowers bloom more brightly.

    Best of luck with the book deadline – keep your head down and plow through!

  25. Thanks for that great hydrangea tip! We’ve been eating loads of lettuce and other greens from the garden – chard tacos with avocado and salty cheese are a recent favorite. Please goddess let me win your prize!!

  26. I’ve never heard of doing the boiling water trick…but it looks like it works!
    I’ve been enjoying making rustic tarts lately with raspberries or blueberries.

  27. I just had the experience you mention! Cut some hydrangea blooms from my now stunning-looking bush to show off while shooting a video only to find that they were limp before we were even done. I don’t get why the boiling water trick would work, but will def try it.

    Good luck on your deadline. It is such a tough, tough time. And very frustrating to try to maintain a blog when every minute seems to be taken up by the manuscript.

  28. I have an abundance of hydrangea bushes that have not yet bloomed. I look forward to using this tip….and getting some delicious goodies from you!

  29. Just added a couple hydrangeas to my flower bed…they have always been a favorite. Good luck with your deadline!

  30. Hi there! I ‘ve been cooking a lot these days…I’m a student so it’s slower in the summer and I have more time. Last night I did pasta puttanesca and tomorrow I’m doing sweet potato enchiladas, yum!

  31. Thanks for the hydrangea tip – mine definitely needs some flowers removed since I failed to prune it. Work has taken too much time for me to cook, but I am really looking forward to making some preserves when my figs ripen.

  32. Great tip!! Hydrangeas are my favorite. My daughter bought me one several years ago and I planted it in my flower garden. It has grown to be so beautiful!! Best of luck with the book deadline!!

  33. Could lightening strike twice? I won last time and I am still thinking about the tasty treats you sent me. Putting my hat in the ring again. Can’t wait for the cookbook!

  34. I’m still into renditions of strawberry rhubarb anything (jam, sauce, crisp, galette, you name it!) and the 100lbs of cherries ended up in jars various ways. I wish I worked part time- have a zillion ideas to preserve items!

  35. Cooking for three teenagers and their friends is keeping me busy. lately its sliders at lunch time with veggies. tonight turkey!! just think they just got out of school…oh well….at least they eat healthy!

  36. Hydrangeas ARE beautiful–I think that’s one of the reasons I love Block Island so much–they are everywhere and in so many different shades!

  37. My hydrangeas have just started to bloom here in Oregon. Last year one was pink and one was purple-planted blue-this year’s anyone’s guess. I putting up and cooking anything with strawberries, the June Bearings are coming to an end here shortly and then the raspberries are right behind them. There is always something waiting in the wings. Thanks for the tip.

  38. That’s an awesome tip! I will put it to good use. Thanks so much for eavesdropping and passing it along to us! πŸ™‚

  39. i’ve had two pounds of garlic scapes and 20 quarts of heavy cream in my fridge for the past few days, so i’ve been putting off scape-cashew pesto and literally plowing through butter.

  40. Hi Cathy,

    In the hot Colorado plains, hydrangeas are a glory only of floral departments and old parts of the town nestled against the hills that has infinitely more shade and water than we do.

    I have been making lots of jam and syrups. I followed the blueberry rhubarb train and made blueberry rhubarb lavender jam and mad innumerable strawberry jams, finally seeing what all the fuss is about strawberry vanilla bean jam. You’d think I’d understand that with cases of apricot vanilla bean and fresh fig vanilla bean jam under my belt, but oh well.

    Butter of Hunger and Thirst turned me onto black locust flowers so I tried making syrup two different ways. I botched the better batch with an overdose of citric acid but now I know. And despite raging allergies, I picked a large quantity of wild roses and made a divine rose syrup, somewhat strange rose liqueur, and am making rose vinegar.

    Just tuned into your blog again for ideas on mango/sugar jam proportion since the recipe I’m using seems light on sugar. So, glad to see you touching into the blog. I look forward to pop up again.

  41. Hi! I’ve been baking a lot. Today I made two loaves of bread and some ridiculous chocolate chip cookie & brownie bars. My kids were stoked!!

  42. Thanks for the great tip! Have recently roasted rhubarb, made a couple of dozen pints of strawberry-lime-vanilla bean preserves for teacher gifts (plus homemade shortcakes for leftover strawberries), first pesto from our basil plants, and a very tasty pineapple gazpacho with poached shrimp. Hope I win, but in any event still look to your recipe archives for inspiration.

  43. What a great tip to start off my day – now waiting for the chance to throw myself in front of my hydrangea bushes to plead for blossoms… – inbetween making lists of canning projects for myself for this summer. Thank you for all the great ideas and recipes!

  44. Great tip, thanks! I am cooking lots of BBQ now that it is warm out. Also, since canning and pickling season is starting I have made an onion agrodolce and pickled garlic scapes. This is such a great time of year for food!

  45. Love the tip about hydrangeas! I’m cooking every rhubarb dish imaginable, since my rhubarb plants exploded last month. My Grandmother McQueen’s rhubarb pie for father’s day was the best present my husband received!

  46. Oh to have hydrangeas. My yard has 3 big trees and no sun to speak of… But the snow peas are making the most of the raised bed and I hope to have some tomatoes (in pots) soon–blossoms sighted! Hood strawberries have just finished around here. They are a strictly local phenomenon (Oregon) since they don’t keep or ship well. No other variety comes close in pure strawberry-ness (for me anyway.) Next week? Tayberries and raspberries at the u-pick. Hope you don’t miss any deadlines, book or produce-wise!

  47. Fantastic tip, so exicited to try it!!
    Rhubarb, rhubarb…and some apricots i found at the farmers produce mart…from south america i think… made strawberry rhubarb.

  48. My hydrangea was out of control so it got an extreme haircut last year. It has filled out nicely with foliage but I suspect won’t bloom until next spring, poor guy. I look forward to checking out your new book!

  49. Surprised that my Nana didn’t know about this; she loved hydrangas, but they always wilted as you described, so we were resigned to enjoying them outside on the bushes.

  50. Wow! That sounds real cool. Never thought of stems in boiling water. I love Hydrangeas but I don’t have them in my yard. But I do buy some once in awhile.

  51. I am not much of a cook, but I’ve been cutting up a storm of champaine mangos from our local farmers market. I get them by the case load and yes, I eat them all.

  52. I just found this site yesterday and am already in the process of making 2 preserves πŸ™‚ (Apricot and Strawberry Mint Peppercorn, they look amazing). As for hydrangeas, I haven’t planted any yet in my new yard, but I have fond memories of playing in the bushy blue-flowering plants in my mother’s garden.

  53. I think I need to plant some hydrangeas – I’ve gotten spoiled by the stream of lilacs and peonies and roses that have kept flowers in my vases for the past month, but the garden is now filled with greenery. However, I have seen a few hydrangeas in bloom around town. Now, where to put it?

    I was tempted by some out of season apricots on sale for less than I’ve ever seen them for – so I tried out ginger honey apricot halves – can’t wait to try them out in a few weeks. But, our raspberries are now in full force so I’m slowly saving up enough for jam. Perhaps one of those with lavender blossoms.

  54. What a pretty garden you have! Flowers don’t like me- except marigolds. My garden is full of edibles and drought-hardy plants like rosemary, lavender, lantana and tons of succulents. I am busy trimming and keeping things tidy and waiting for the tomatoes, radishes and carrots to come in! Have a great summer and thanks for the hydrangea tip!

  55. What a clever idea, Cathy! Eavesdropping does lead to good!
    What am I making? Hoo, boy. Yesterday I made hummus with garlic scape and basil pesto; kalua pig, Chinese cabbage and caramelized onion pizza; kohlrabi (greens and ball), caramelized onion and pancetta pizza; and garlic scape and basil pesto with kohlrabi, caramelized onion, and goat cheese pizza. Today, after using the rest of the Chinese cabbage under sunny side up eggs for breakfast, I’ve been snacking on hummus and writing up recipes today, and plan to have the kids cook so mom can rest on her laurels for a day (because you know, the day before yesterday I was making garlic scape and basil pesto, and cooking chick peas, and caramelizing onions!).

    Good luck with chapter number last.

  56. Since it is summer berry season, I have been jamming like crazy. We just finished strawberry season, which is possibly my favorite. I picked a flat of raspberries today so tomorrow will be very busy! Next weekend I’m hoping the marionberries will be ripe…

  57. Hello! I love your writing and can’t wait for your book. (I also love hydrangeas–my husband and I planted the first in our yard this season). We picked strawberries at a local farm this morning–our season just began–so tomorrow is strawberry day around here. Jams, syrups, glazes, chutneys, and perhaps a cake or pie. Happy writing!

  58. Hello – Good tip on the hydrangeas. Been canning beef and chicken and they have turned out well. Going to start with peaches this week, looking for something other than canned peaches. They are wonderful but I’m wanting to get a little variety going this canning season.

    Keep working on the book!

  59. Hi – Please count me in for your give away – yummy!

    Last year was the first time that I canned tomatoes. I got such a kick from using my own jars this year. We are going to continue and hopefully do more than last year. We’ve planted accordingly. Now my bush beans are coming in. I think I want to attempt to can some of those next. I’ll be looking up your recipes right after I finish this post. In any case, if I don’t can them, I’ll freeze some since there’s a limit on how many green bean two people can eat. πŸ™‚

  60. I am the dessert queen – recently, I have made no bake cookies, brownies with Reese’s PB cups melted on top and “frosted” with a pb/choc/rice krispie mix, an ice cream cake, peanut butter & chocolate swirl brownies, toffee cookies…

  61. I’ve used the hot water method with great success in past for wedding weekend needs. Also as effective is a second method: dipping the cut end about a half inch into ALUM (all of you pickle makers should have this) and just put into your arrangement. Blooms look good for days. For both methods, I usually just cut the blossoms and put them in a plastic tub of water (literally dunk them) while out in the garden. This gets off all the tiny bugs along with keeping fresh. I then bring them into the house or take straight to church/venue to arrange.
    Hope this helps!

  62. I’m cooking lots of veggies and fish. Just got a new barbecue yesterday, but too rainy tonight, so threw salmon and baby spinach spinach, salt, peper,red onion, grape tomatoes and mushrooms into a big foil packet and stuck it into the 400 degree oven for 22 minutes. Pretty good.

  63. I’m cooking gratins – they are so good with a mix of seasonal veg. And the hydrangea tip is great – I planted 3 this spring! Also, I’m so looking forward to your book!

  64. Oh! I was not cutting blooms from the two beautiful hydrangeas in the back yard of our new house because I was worried they would die so quickly! Hot cha!

  65. Love the tip on the Hydrangeas-I will be trying it soon! Also, I just came across your website and love the recipes you have for the Cara Cara Triple Sec-that is a for sure on my list of “to do’s” soon. You have a beautiful website, keep up the great job!.

  66. It does my heart good to see pics of your lovely home. Congrats on meeting your deadline. Sounds like the process has gone well.

  67. Happy jam season — tayberries and raspberries done; two kinds of apricot tonight. I call it Christmas shopping πŸ™‚ If jam is done can pickles be far behind?

  68. That tip is GREAT!!! My hydrangeas have lasted so much longer. A lot of my tips come from the line at the grocery.

  69. I am a canning novice, and I am making my very first batch of strawberry jam today. So excited . . . wish me luck!

  70. Found this through Chinese grandma. Love the mop head hydrangea so will be trying the tip. Nice photos. Lots of scrolling to get down here to submit. Eating lots of fresh, not a lot of actual cooking except for salad dressings. Got a good one from the Chinese grandma site a few months ago, v simple and delish.

  71. Great tip for cut hydrangeas. I will have to remember that for next year’s blossoms. I just found your blog today and am already trying your spiced canned apple recipe…it’s on the stove as I type. I really like all your tips and recipes. I will be visiting a lot, I expect!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *