This week, I was honored to participate as a guest blogger over at the NapaFarmhouse1885 blog. Owner, Diane Padoven, and I became friends through Twitter and when I saw her website, I was instantly enchanted with her writing and her eco-friendly products. She sells potting benches and other cool garden accessories made from reclaimed wood as well as cute aprons and even vegetarian dog treats!
Have you ever noticed how fragrances (from the garden or otherwise) can stir up old memories? Well, my guest post is on fragrant holiday memories and how those snapshots in time stick with us forever. Are you reading this Mom? The post is about you!
Please check it out here and leave a comment if you can. This year, I hope some wonderful holiday fragrances will help you capture new memory snapshots of your own…
My mom harvested her lavender last weekend and ended up with several baskets filled to the brim with fragrant bundles. I dried my own lavender last month and have it hanging in the garage. All this harvesting and drying got me to thinking about some of the more unusual things I have done with lavender.
I know that not everyone thinks of food when they think of lavender, but I do. I like to bake with it. I use it in breads, pastries, cookies, custards and ice cream. When used correctly, it has a light, floral flavor. Too much, and your food ends up tasting like lavender soap! I have learned the hard way that a light hand is best.
Here is a delicate lavender biscotti recipe that I have made for years. The biscotti has a light blending of lemon and lavender — a great combination. I like to serve it with hot tea, or for dessert, or a midnight snack, or sometimes for breakfast with coffee…You get the idea.
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This delicious salsa does not have a tomato in sight. It features Cilantro — my plant of the week. You can always add a chopped tomato to the mix. It is delicious either way.
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
juice of one lime
One 15 oz. can black beans (drained)
1 cup canned corn (drained)
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, coarsely choppped
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine vinegar and lime juice. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, combine remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Gently stir in lime juice mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This is best served with tortilla chips and eaten within three days.
Here is a bowl of summer squash recently collected from my sister-in-law’s garden in Colorado. This is the BEFORE photo…
I chopped some of them up…
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I mentioned Lemon Verbana a few weeks ago here. I thought I would share another recipe for how to use it…
Lemon Verbena Syrup has a multitude of uses. Try it as a sweetener in hot or iced tea or fruit drinks. Drizzle it over cake, ice cream, pastries or fresh fruit. Bottle some syrup to give as a gift with a box of tea. It is not something you can just pick up at the store. You MUST make it yourself.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup hard-packed fresh lemon verbena leaves
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer three minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for one hour. Strain into a decorative bottle. Store in the refrigerator and use within three months.
That is all there is to it! Enjoy!
Here is a recipe I like to make in the summertime using fresh lemon verbena leaves.
Lemon Verbena Fruit Punch
1/2 cup lemon verbena leaves
5 cups cranberry-raspberry juice blend
4 cups lemon sparkling water
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
In a small saucepan, combine lemon verbena and 2 cups of the cranberry-raspberry juice. Cover and simmer five minutes over medium heat. Turn off heat and let mixture steep 30 minutes. Strain into a large pitcher. Add remaining cranberry-raspberry juice and all other ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.
Have you ever grown Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citriodora)?
That is Lemon Verbena in this photo. It is the tall plant reaching up to the birdhouse.
It is not exactly a common plant and you may have trouble finding it. But if you ever see this plant at the nursery…buy it and buy it fast. You won’t be sorry. It will be in the herb/vegetable section. If you can’t find it there, you can order it through mail order from Nichols Nursery.
Why is it so special? Oh let me count the ways…
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Okay -So this website is all about gardening and eating “fresh-from-the-garden” ingredients. Right? Well, here is a fun way to capture a bit of summer in a jar which combines the two concepts.
Have you ever made a rumtopf or tutti-frutti? A rumtopf is a tasty German concoction made with fresh fruit, sugar and rum. It is a preservation method in which fruit is fermented in alcohol and eaten later as a topping for various desserts. The word “rumtopf” literally means “rum pot” and although it is traditionally made with rum, you can substitute brandy if you prefer and still have delicious results. However, most recipes that use brandy call the concoction “tutti-frutti” rather than rumtopf. But no matter which alcohol is used, the basic technique is the same.
I like to make the brandy version. I remember my mom making it each summer when I was growing up. It was like a special mystery concoction she had brewing in the kitchen. I helped her add the fruit and stir it, but I was never allowed to eat it – which made it even more mysterious! Later, as an adult, I made my own tutti-frutti and thought it was a fun way to collect summer flavors. I recently wrote an article for a newspaper on the subject and thought I would share some of the information here so you can start your own. It is a great way to preserve a bit of the summer!
A tutti-frutti is started at the beginning of the summer, with fruits added to the mixture as they come into season. The last addition is usually made in September at the end of peach season. The trick to a successful tutti-frutti with brandy or a rumtopf with rum is to use an eclectic mixture of summer fruits, creating a blend of flavors. After the last addition, the entire mixture is set aside to mellow and age for several months. Of course, you can begin sampling the tutti-frutti/rumtopf whenever you like, but in Germany, it is not sampled until December on the first evening of advent. After that, it is fully consumed throughout the Christmas holidays .The spirited fruit is served over ice cream, pound cake, bread pudding and many other desserts. The sweet, fruity liquid can be enjoyed as an after dinner liqueur or mixed into cocktails.
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Have you ever left radishes in the garden so long, they went to seed? Save the crunchy seed pods and use them in salads. They are delicious. Or let the seeds pods dry out and save the seeds for planting next year.
Here is a new idea for keeping snails out of your flowerpots. Smear a bit of menthol heat rub (like Ben-Gay or Tiger Balm) around the rim of each pot. The snails will not cross over! I’m sure you will need to re-apply every once in awhile.