Snow Days!


Aaron and his first Snowman

My little grandson, Aaron, really enjoyed his “snow day” with his mom the other day! The first snowman that he actually helped with from start to finish was an exercise in imagination. For the last few years I have been the, ‘Oh No, it’s going to snow’ person, never looking at the positive side. Just seeing the danger on the roads, sidewalks and of course, the problems with snow accumulating on the tops of our greenhouses. But when my daughter sent me this photo of Aaron and told me his 3-armed snowman was sporting a tail and his name is “FRIEND,” I have to say I really wished I was there with them.

I hope that you to will be able to stop, slow down and smell the snowflakes; that is, just enjoy our Winter season. Put on our winter clothing, go outside, and just breathe. Walk around with kids and grandchildren, spouses, friends or just in solitude, and explore for signs of nature. Are those fox tracks or a deer? Just have fun! I know I am going to.  Tomorrow with yet even more snow in the forecast, I am going to go outside with my camera and see if I can experience the wonder that I know my grandson will see when he wakes up and looks out the window.

Posted by: Stephanie Fleming

Arranged Marriages (of flowers, of course)


Evelyn Kinville

Evelyn Kinville

Arranged Marriages (of flowers, of course) – Why this name for a blog? In past years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel widely in France. On most trips, I’ve heard French people talking about the “mariage” (French spelling) of a certain wine, or cheese, or pate when consumed with a specific dish. Although I lack a strong command of the language, I could tell by their animation that they were very excited about an ultimate taste experience!

It is an ultimate visual experience to see flowers arranged in a perfectly suited container and placed in a setting where the colors and character of the arrangement bring the space to life. This is also a “mariage”! …. a beautifully arranged marriage.

The flower arrangement doesn’t have to be big to bring enjoyment or turn heads. Even a tiny container deserves the same care and can attract many a look. Carefully choosing flower colors and containers with the right character are critical steps in the flower design process. These are basics that lead to beautifully arranged marriages of flowers.

Floral ArrangementsThroughout my years as manager and lead floral designer at The Behnke Florist in Potomac, it was my pleasure to arrange flowers for many parties and special gatherings being held in the homes of treasured, loyal customers.

Asking about colors, containers, and settings for use was always the most critical part of understanding the client’s vision for the finished floral arrangement.

In following blogs I will explore other elements that contribute to your decisions about what is needed for creating that harmonious arranged marriage (of flowers, of course). Until then, think about your favorite flowers and arranging styles. Shop for flowers, and warm a heart by creating your own Valentine arrangement for someone special or just for you.

Posted By: Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Meet Evelyn Kinville – Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Evelyn Kinville

Evelyn Kinville

Many of you already know Evelyn as the manager of the florist shop at our former location in Potomac. Unfortunately, we closed that location last year in order to concentrate on building a better “Beltsville.”

If you were lucky enough to have ever talked to her or received one of her beautiful flower arrangements, you know just how excited we are to announce that Evelyn will now be writing for us on her love of flora and color. We hope you will enjoy her blog as much as we will.

Feel free to respond to her with questions you might have, as I know she will love hearing from you.

Posted By: Stephanie Fleming



Jessica’s Garden: Homemade Pizza

During the Winter months, I am generally inspired by recipes that are simple and convenient. I am a huge fan of “low and slow” cooking recipes that put themselves together over the course of the day. And Crockpots; I love my slow cooker. A lot of times for me, recipes of convenience incorporate foods that I have prepared while more highly motivated during warmer months. I might be part bear; I’d rather hibernate during this time if year if I could.


Homegrown Pizza Sauce

This past week we made homemade pizza from a few store-bought ingredients and also some homegrown and canned items. Safeway sells frozen balls of fresh pizza dough in their deli section with their fresh take-and-bake pizzas. They require thawing and proofing at home and then rolling out, but they are quick and easy and taste much better than the pre-baked crusts that can be also purchased. And usually they only cost $1.39; my kind of deal.

We love making homemade pizza because you can control exactly what goes on the pizza. It’s a great way to use ingredients you enjoy and you can be a lot more conscious of incorporating healthier items. Or if you want to make a bacon, sausage and cheese pizza, there’s no one there to judge.

During my abundant tomato harvest season this Summer, I canned enough pizza sauce to make approximately fifty homemade pizzas. It turned out perfectly. And thank goodness, because I don’t think I’ll ever have to buy pizza sauce again. It turned out tasting fresh and bright from the homegrown herbs and tomatoes that composed that majority of the sauce. We also sprinkled one of the pizzas with homegrown and preserved candied jalapenos that I diced into sweet and spicy little chunks.


Candied Jalapenos

I found a recipe online several years ago for candied jalapenos that turned out inedible because they were unbelievably spicy. It called for 1 tsp cayenne pepper split between only three jars, on top of all the jalapenos. So this year, I altered the recipe a little so that they were consumable and they turned out delicious. They are sweet and a little gummy because of being processed in a heavy syrup. But also spicy like a pickled jalapeno. We use them in tacos, enchiladas, as a pizza topping, chopped into a relish or any other way you would incorporate a pickled jalapeno. I have also seen these named ‘Cowboy Candy.’

Candied Jalapenos

3 lbs Jalapenos
2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
6 C White Granulated Sugar
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Celery Seed
3 tsp Granulated Garlic

Slice Peppers into uniform 1/8″ – ¼” slices. Combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed and garlic in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer liquid for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sugar from burning. Add jalapenos and simmer for 4 minutes. Bring liquid up to a hard boil; boil hard for 6 minutes. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for half-pints and 15 minutes for pints. Recipe adapted from

Last week I provided two ideas for Winter soups using homegrown and preserved garden ingredients. The Butternut soup can be adapted from a recipe I introduced during the Fall for Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup by substituting butternut squash for all the other root vegetables. However, I suggest still roasting an onion or two with the butternut. You’ll miss the sweetness it provides if you skip it. See recipe from 9/10/2014.


Heirloom Crush Tomatoes

I also mentioned that I had whipped up a batch of Sixteen Bean and Chorizo Soup using a jar of homegrown and canned heirloom tomatoes as the base. It was admittedly not the prettiest of soups but hearty and satisfying.

Sixteen Bean and Chorizo Soup

1 (16 oz) bag Dried 16 Bean Soup
1 Lb Fresh Pork Chorizo (not the cured version)
1 Quart Crushed Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Large Red Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic; diced
1 Can Beef or Chicken Broth

Prepare beans per package directions. There are quick soak and overnight-soak directions. Once soaked, drain beans. Cut chorizo into 1″ chunks and sear on all sides; does not have to be completely cooked through at this point. Drain excess fat and cook onion and garlic in approximately 1 Tbsp of chorizo rendering. Return all ingredients to large saucepan, add remaining ingredients. Simmer for about 2 hours on low, allowing ingredients and flavors to incorporate.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Atlanta Here We Come!

atlanta-show-2015While everyone in Maryland is enjoying an arctic blast, I am off to Atlanta to start the whole buying process for the 2015 Christmas season! How much fun is that? Here is just a sample of what next season might bring… Just kidding! But I got your attention, didn’t I?

The AmericasMart Atlanta Gift and Home Furnishings Show is the Really Big Show in the US for Christmas buyers. It has so many different and unique things to see, along with all the traditional things we expect.

The one thing that always amazes me, however, is how many women walk the entire day in HIGH HEELS!! I mean, how in the word do they do it? Not me, that’s for sure… Its a pair of good tennis shoes for me while I hunt down the next Big Holiday Seller for Behnke’s!!

Alfred Millard also came down this year to find other items for us to carry (he loves pottery and statuary). Watch for the new Bee Houses he is ordering.. I have been ordering so many things for 2015, I sure am hoping you will be pleased. Although this tree is sorta growing on me…

Posted by: Stephanie Fleming

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