Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Salad that SCREAMS "Summer"

During these lovely days of summer, please make some time to cannon ball into an icy cool pool, sip lemonade on your front porch, count the twinkling stars while laying on a picnic blanket or bite down into the juiciest slice of perfectly pink watermelon you can find! For me, there's nothing that sings the songs of summer like a shiny, emerald green, vine-ripened watermelon! When we were tots, my momma would buy the biggest watermelon she could find at the Piggly Wiggly (our local supermarket in Savannah), put it outside on our newspaper-lined patio table and let my sister and I go hog wild on that fabulous fruit! We would even wear our bathing suits so she could hose us off after we had our fill of that melons' ruby red flesh! The feast of the watermelon turned into a yearly tradition and always signaled the official start of summertime at the Dostal Household. As the years passed, I imagine we "thought" we grew out of this silly ritual. I am sure we were too busy at slumber parties or backwards skating at the Savannah Skate Inn to participate in the watermelon gorge but that summer memory lingers as sweetly in my mind as it does on my tongue. The fact that watermelon is the epitome of summertime for me has not changed. Sure, I would love to invite my 24 year old "little sister" over to oink out on a watermelon in our bathing suits, but I just feel that activity would lack the cuteness and practicality as it once did years ago. To satisfy this carnal urge for this monstrous melon, I have a sassy yet sophisticated salad I like to whip up for picnics, light summer suppers or for any garden dinner party. Please try out this salad for yourself, for your family and for your loved ones before the sun sets on our precious lazy days of summer.

Watermelon and Mint Salad


1 RIPE watermelon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt
Whole mint sprigs for garnish


In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Savor the summer and be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!
Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing the seeds and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste and adjust seasonings.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flower Power!

It is truly amazing what a small bunch of perky little store-bought daisies can do for your spirit! During our courtship, my husband would occasionally delight me with a cluster of neon-dyed blooms called "Crazy Daisies" from our local grocery store. These little bits of sunshine delighted me so much but couldn't have cost more than five dollars a bundle. Besides the radical rainbow of color they brought inside the house, the thing I enjoyed the most about them is their longevity. With the right amount of tender loving care, those posh posies would last two sometimes three weeks. Daisies are a pretty hearty flower but even the most delicate of blossoms will continue to spread their joy if you just take a few minutes out of your day to practice these maintenance tips.

*Always re-cut stems under cold water if flowers are gifted/purchased without a vase. By re-cutting the stem, you prevent air pockets or air embolisms from developing in the stem.

*Trim stems at about a 45 degree angle. This allows maximum surface exposure for the stem allowing water to travel freely up the stem and to the bud. For woody stems like the kind found on lilac, hydrangea and rhododendrons, crush ends with a mallet to promote water flow.

*Be sure to remove any leaves or other foliage that will be below the water surface. Additional foliage in the water leads to rot and decay, not to mention STINKY water!

*Keep flowers out of direct sunlight, need I say more?! ;o)

*Include sprigs of artificial ivy, fern, baby's breath or other silk filler to give your budget buds more "umph." Artificial greenery bunches or "picks" as they say in the floral world can be purchased a craft emporiums, floral supply and my favorite hot-spot, DOLLAR TREE!

*Add splash of sprite to the vase to for a floral food substitute. A teaspoon of bleach or Listerine will ward off any harmful bacteria while the combination of a penny and aspirin will do the same trick. Try all these quirky little methods and see which works best for you!
*Change your vase water every two days or so, beware of murky water! You may want to re-cut stems too if you have time to spare.

*Invest in carnations, alstromeria, chrysanthemums, delphinium and lilies. Roses, tulips and gerbera daises are oh-so elegant but they sport a short shelf life. Orchids are a little pricier than the blooms mentioned above however, if cared for properly, these beauts could last you for three weeks! Now that's more bloom for your buck!

*As your flowers begin to wilt and die, remove these fading flowers as they produce a gas called ethylene which will cause other healthy flowers to wilt too. (Apples produce this same gas keep your flowers away from your fruits!)

I hope you find these horticulture hints helpful and that they keep your buds blooming!

Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!