Are you buying paperwhites now to brighten your winter with lovely white blossoms and heady aromas? If so, consider bathing them in a five-percent alcohol solution to stunt stem growth without sacrificing the size and loveliness of the flowers. While your paperwhites may get tipsy, they won't tip over.
This method for avoiding the flop-over effect of paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) that grow as much as 30 inches tall is noted by horticulturists, including the Flower Bulb Research Program at Cornell University. While you may prefer a higher alcohol level in your own wine or beer, paperwhites find that a five-percent alcohol solution hits the target. Specifically, we are looking for one part alcohol to seven parts water. If you're game, here's how.
A lovely glass container
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup Vodka (or gin -- do not use beer or wine)
1. Plant your bulbs in a vase filled with stones and water. The water should reach only to the base of each bulb (or risk rot). Allow about one week to pass.
2. When the roots grow and the shoot is about one or two inches tall, drain the water.
3. Create a tipsy solution: Pour water into a measuring cup and add the vodka. Place the solution into the vase that holds your paperwhites, only to the base of each bulb.
4. Pour yourself a glass of wine or beer or -- wait for it -- a screwdriver, and raise a glass to a job well done. Cheers!
Chianti's Muse: Cheesy Herb Biscuits
Opening a bottle of Chianti? These cheesy herb biscuits offer up a crisp golden crust with soft insides packing the punch of Parmesan cheese accented with fresh herbs from your garden. Best of all, the recipe easy -- no mixer needed -- and takes only 15 minutes to cook in your oven. These biscuits also make a great side for breakfast with eggs and bacon.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, chilled
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or sharp Cheddar), shredded
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of your choice (sage, chives, thyme, etc.), cleaned, patted dry, and minced
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly whisked
1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees F. Pull out a large mixing bowl, two butter knives, and all ingredients.
2. Add to the bowl: flour, baking powder, dry mustard and salt; mix together.
3. Cut in the chilled butter, letting it rain down into the bowl.
4. Add to the bowl: cheese, herbs, and milk. Using knives, toss until just incorporated.
5. With floured hands, reach into the bowl and knead the mixture briefly (do not over-knead).
6. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface to about 3/4" thick. Cut the dough into biscuits and place on Silpat-lined or buttered baking sheets.
7. Brush the biscuits with the whisked egg, then bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
8. Uncork your bottle of Chianti and feast on the wine and warm biscuits with friends.