15 Oct2006


A good friend of ours, (both he and his wife are Canadian), was celebrating his birthday the other night and I was asked to bring some flowers to gussy up the buffet and dinner tables. This friend was the guy who encouraged me to start this blog in the first place and bought me the name as a Christmas present nearly two years ago. Not only was it his birthday bash (three guests that evening turned out to have had recent birthdays), mil2but it was also a surrogate “Canadian Thanksgiving” celebration. Canadian Thanksgiving comes about a month earlier than the U.S. version, presumably because it gets colder faster up North. Considering that upstate New York just got 2 feet of snow yesterday I would imagine most of Canada is already under the white stuff as I type this…brrrr. At any rate, I didn’t make it to the wholesale flower market at Dimasalang the night before the party so Saturday morning I was hoping to be inspired at the FTI AANI market in Taguig. There weren’t too many flowers on offer so I ended up with nearly 20 pots of hydrangeas in purple and blue shades and tons of rosal or gardenias. But inspiration struck when I got to my vegetable suki and she had about a dozen unusually shaped squashes or gourds that looked great standing up or on their sides. So here is what I did…

Pick nice squashes or gourds that would make good “vases” for the arrangements. Make sure their size is proportional to the table and the blooms you have in mind. Look for unblemished skins as these will be visible to guests…


Slice off the tops or a side of the squash and dig a little well where you can insert a piece of floral foam that has been soaked in water…


Condition your hydrangeas by first soaking the cut blooms in cool water for at least three hours before hand so they don’t wilt so readily. Then simply insert one full stem per squash, taking care not to break the bloom while pushing it into the foam. I usually pave the way by sticking a discarded hydrangea stem into the foam so there will be less resistance…


Arrange the gourds in uneven numbers (1, 3 or 5) on your dinner tables. Instant hokey-ish North American feel to the squash and brilliant easy hydrangeas within. mil6Very simple, surprisingly elegant and unusual. Totally doable. My 11 year old daughter did many of these arrangements completely by herself and she even made a stunning one with a very green squash base and 5 or more dozen rosal or gardenias in foam… Very reasonable cost compared to store bought arrangements. Gotta try ampalaya or large eggplants or cabbages sometime soon…



  1. Maricel says:


    And many thanks to your Canadian friend for paving the way to this blog which has been a source of joy and information for a lot of people.

    Oct 15, 2006 | 7:31 pm


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  3. relly says:

    Lovely, in french we call them Hortensias…

    Oct 15, 2006 | 8:59 pm

  4. wil-b cariaga says:

    Brilliant!!!! . . . you don’t run out of ideas. . . maybe what is next to this blog should be a book. . . why not?? super super great MM! you always inspire me. . . I think you’re even better than David Tuttera. . .hehehe

    Oct 15, 2006 | 10:51 pm

  5. Mandy says:

    lovely lovely flowers. mr. cariaga is right! maybe you can publish your bestest posts and arrange according to diff categories. :)

    may i ask how much you got the hydrangeas for (am getting married & i want those flowers as decor–if they fit our budget). thanks!

    Oct 15, 2006 | 11:35 pm

  6. cwid says:

    I am looking forward to your next post and my guess is that it is going to be “what I did with all those calabasas”. Could it be a most delicious calabasa soup or a leche flan calabasa?

    Oct 16, 2006 | 4:15 am

  7. Brooklyn-Christina says:

    I cast a vote for a calabasa leche flan Market Manila.

    Those are really lovely, BTW. Great idea!

    Oct 16, 2006 | 5:29 am

  8. peanut says:

    Aren’t you amazing!I have told my friends here in Australia about your site as well as my friends in the US!You do have a fountain of talent that’s just overflowing!
    BTW I noticed that you use the term “bloody” a lot.Aussies,Kiwis(New Zealanders)and Poms(British) are the only ones that I know of that use these term.Did you use to live in any of these countries before?Just curious that’s all.
    As we say here in Australia”Mate,your site is bloody good”.That is a compliment.

    Oct 16, 2006 | 5:58 am

  9. tina says:

    hi marketman! what a creative idea…it’s spring now in Australia and there’s this tree with pretty purple flowers in our apartment complex. I think they call it jacaranda…pitas ako mamaya and I have pumpkin in the fridge.Will make a floral arrangement for display. thanks for the inspiration MM!

    Oct 16, 2006 | 6:34 am

  10. Marketman says:

    Maricel, yup with his prodding, there would be no blog… relly, cool, I never knew these were called hortensias in France. wil-b, sorry who is David Tuttera? Mandy, these were roughly PHP130 per dark color (purple ones) and PHP80 for the light blue/green ones. They don’t last too long in this kind og set-up so the latest they can be made is around noontime if you have an evening reception. I will try and post a couple of other flower arrangement options for your wedding soon…stay tuned. cwid and brooklyn-Christina, sorry, I didn’t get to retrieve the vases and the couple I gave them to haven’t told me what recipe they used on them…but they are edible afterwards if you don’t use flower food in your water to soak the foam in. peanut, I worked for a bank with all British English used so for a while my pajamas became pyjamas, my colors became colours and “bloody” crept into my psyche and never left! I also worked for a year or so in Australia but that couldn’t have affected my writing that much… tina, jacarandas have stunning blooms, I wonder if they will last in a vase of water…let me know if it works!

    Oct 16, 2006 | 6:48 am

  11. CecileJ says:

    YEs, beautiful, creative arrangements in a pinch! BTW, have you ever tried calabasa haleya (spelling?)? MAde just like the ube haleya. “Bloody” good, too! Hehe

    Oct 16, 2006 | 8:33 am

  12. mita says:

    oh yes the white stuff has arrived and some ski resorts just opened in Colorado…brrrr! those are beatufiul arrangements and so creative – not even Martha Stewart ever came up with that idea (I think)
    Marketman, for someone who isn’t fond of dinuguan, “bloody” is certainly a strange expression to pick up – just teasing!

    Oct 16, 2006 | 8:52 am

  13. fabian says:

    i dont know, im not such a big fan of those squash vases. i think the squash aren’t the right shape; they seem too large for the flowers. it comes across as a novel and new idea though. :)

    Oct 16, 2006 | 9:17 am

  14. teth says:

    galing mo naman, very creative!

    Oct 16, 2006 | 10:39 am

  15. skymermaid says:

    ang ganda!

    Oct 16, 2006 | 10:46 am

  16. Booey says:


    Oct 16, 2006 | 11:14 am

  17. Mary says:

    Every day we refresh the blooms in cold water. They are still looking beautiful. We transfered some of the blooms to our vases. We are making HEARTY PUMPKIN SOUP for tonight. The recipe comes from the Pumpkin Cookbook.

    Oct 16, 2006 | 12:04 pm

  18. cwid says:

    You can actually dry the hydrangeas while enjoying the fresh blossoms. Let the water in the vase dry out and your hydrangeas will also be dry at this point and ready for any craft project, perhaps, a dry floral arrangement.

    I used to pick out the dry hydrangeas from the bush in my garden until I noticed that if I left them alone until fall, the dry flowers begin to look alive again and the dry petals change from dry brown to plum.

    Oct 16, 2006 | 12:23 pm

  19. Danney League says:

    Good Day To All,

    Can someone give me the recipe for calabasa leche plan and calabasa haleya. I’d like to experiment with calabasa. Is it good? My e-mail address: greenmango_greenbamboo@yahoo.com but please don’t send me spams.

    Many Thanks

    Oct 16, 2006 | 10:21 pm

  20. peng says:

    Here in Alberta we still have sleet and rain due to a mild weather. Normally we already have a snow before the halloween.

    The pumpkin with hydrangeas are inspirational, im definitely copy that for a table centerpiece on a next year Thanksgiving.
    Thanks for the ideas.

    Oct 16, 2006 | 11:14 pm

  21. sharonel says:

    hi marketman! as an answer to your question who David Tutera is..he’s an events planner whose well known in the celebrity industry, he’s done numerous flower arrangements for Oprah’s bday parties as well as other celebrity weddings…you might also check Preston Bailey…i like him better than David Tutera…both of them have released books on party planning and flower arrangement…worth checking!

    Oct 17, 2006 | 12:21 am

  22. trishlovesbread says:

    Here’s a variation from Martha Stewart–hollow out miniature squashes and gourds (as Marketman did) but use as candle holders. Nice squat mini squashes work well with both votive and dinner candles. :-)

    Oct 17, 2006 | 1:19 am

  23. Larees says:

    They’re simply beautiful and elegant.

    Oct 17, 2006 | 1:59 am

  24. cwid says:

    Here’s a recipe for Squash Leche Flan but it comes with an upside down cake. It’s a prize-winning recipe by Fe Infante of Quezon city which was published in “The Best of the Maya Cookfest” copyright in 1978. I’ve tried this recipe except I made my standard leche flan without the squash. The recipe says to pour the cake batter into the leche flan mixture and surprisingly these two batters don’t mix but bake one on top of the other. It’s an interesting cake with the leche flan and its caramel replacing the standard icing.

    Let me know how it all comes out, if anyone is willing to try:

    Leche Flan:
    1 cup sugar
    2 1/2 cups boiled mashed strained squash
    1 cup sugar
    4 eggs well beaten
    1 14-ounce can condensed milk
    1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    2 cups Cake flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup oil
    4 eggyolks
    1 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    4 eggwhites
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    For Flan:
    Caramelize first 1 cup of sugar directly in a 13x9x4″ rectangular pan. Blend the rest of the ingredients for flan. Strain over prepared pan and set aside.

    Prepare Cake:
    Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Make a well at the center and add oil, egg yolks, milk and vanilla. Stir well to blend.

    Beat egg whites until with cream of tartar until soft peaks form then gradually add sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry.

    Fold the batter into beaten egg whites until well blended. Pur mixture into prepared leche flan and bak for 40-50 minutes or until done in baine marie.

    Oct 17, 2006 | 2:17 am

  25. Amora says:


    Oct 17, 2006 | 7:15 am

  26. wil-b cariaga says:

    hehehe. . . David Tuttera (I’m not sure if I spelled his surname correctly) is a party planner guy, he has a regular show at Discovery’s Travel and Living every Thursday Night around 9:30-10:30. . .

    Oct 17, 2006 | 7:28 am

  27. anna gan says:

    how about calabasa cake (squash version of radish cake, the stuff you see fried up and served in dimsum shops)? my mom-in-law’s basic recipe is to use 1:1 ratio of chopped raw squash and malagkit (the kind used for puto). soak malagkit overnight, have it ground up in the market (“pang puto” you tell the guy who does this job so he’ll grind it into a fine milky substance). boil calabasa till you can squish it like mashed potatoes. mix calabasa & malagkit (jazz it up with cooked shiitake mushrooms, hebi and/or ground pork), steam in a receptacle like a loaf pan or cake pan (even leche flan tins will do) till a knife inserted into the mix comes out clean. cool, then save for days you want a nice fried snack with soy sauce dip… : )

    Oct 17, 2006 | 9:51 am

  28. Rudy says:

    I have been a regular reader of your blog for a long time.With regards to the snow storm that hit Upper New York State, it spared most of Ontario, Canada. Luckily the storm hit Lake Erie, and the warm water of Lake Erie and the coming winds from the north brought the unexpected snow storm in Buffalo, New York. More power to you Market Man. You are doing a great job.

    Oct 17, 2006 | 10:48 am

  29. juls says:

    galing galing talaga!!

    Oct 17, 2006 | 8:38 pm

  30. juls says:

    what we do for the squash is make a creamy curried coconut – squash soup… mmmm. mmm…rich and filling…

    Oct 17, 2006 | 8:47 pm

  31. pietra says:

    hi marketman! newbie here =) pardon my ignorance but where exactly in taguig is the fti aani market? how do you get there from the fort?

    Oct 19, 2006 | 7:22 pm

  32. Marketman says:

    pietra, you need to go to the Food Terminal complex, exit Fort Bonifacio from the gate nearest the South Superhighway, then follow the service road for about 5-6 kilometers then when you get to a very populated area, there is a turn off to the left to the Food Terminal, once there, enter the gate, go straight, take the first left onto a main road and about 1 kilometer down you’ll see the market. It operates only on Saturdays and Sundays but only Saturday from 630-800am is the period to go…or at least that is when I go…

    Oct 19, 2006 | 7:55 pm

  33. suzette says:

    i’ve seen an arrangement like this,only roses were used by miss gaita fores.

    Feb 16, 2008 | 8:02 pm


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