For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Cooking & Baking with Herbs, Herbs for Pets, Lovely Lavender and Yummy Lavender Recipes

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs; although I don't use it as a culinary herb even though you can, I am partial to it as a lovely hedge about my flower beds.  Evan loves lavender, he will often bring me a bouquet of the sprigs he has picked... so sweet. 

Cooking with Herbs is such a special treat... once you start using fresh herbs and taste the difference from the dried, it will be hard to enjoy them as much in the winter.  Fresh herbs are a culinary delight to the senses and add a flavor that is hard to beat. Many people skip herbs when baking, so here are some yummy 'Herb Additions' to your everyday meals along with some baked good recipe's!
*Make your eggs Italian- add 1 tsp. each of minced fresh oregano, basil and thyme to about 8-10 large eggs before scrambling them. 
*Savory Pancakes; try adding 1 tsp. of fresh sage and 1 tbsp. each of chopped chives and Parmesan cheese to your pancake or crepe batter- roll up thin slices of ham and/or cheese in the finished products!
*Add tarragon with some root veggies by adding 1 tbsp. of minced tarragon to cups each of grated parsnips and grated carrots.  Quickly stir fry the mixture in 2 tbsp. of butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil.
*Spice up those burgers by adding 1 tbsp. each minced fresh chives and parsley to 1# ground beef, along with 1 egg and 1.2 tsp. each salt & pepper before forming into your patties.
*Home brewed Herb Tea is so special- try adding 2 tbsp. of chopped fresh herbs to 2 cups of boiling water; steep for 6-7 minutes; strain herbs and sweeten to your desired liking.
Try 3 cups raspberry leaves to 1 cup lemon balm for a special summer drink.

Lemon Basil Cookies
1/4 cup butter
1- 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. lemon rind, grated
1- box Lemon cake mix
1.4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Cream butter & cheese; add egg yolk and lemon juice until well blended.
2. Blend in dry cake mix one third at a time; last portion by hand; stir in coconut, nuts, lemon peel and basil.
3. Drop by teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden in color.

Basil Pound Cake
1/2 pound butter
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry basil, ground fine

1. Cream butter and sugar; beat eggs and blend with creamed mixture; stir in salt and flour beating well; add basil, blending well.
2. pour into a greased, small loaf pan; bake at 350 degrees fro 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Herbs for your best friends, Fido and Kitty! 
*For Fido, grow some fennel; dry the ferns; make a sachet and add in their doggy bed or in their favorite sleeping spot.
*For Kitty, grow a patch of Catnip! Although is it yummy for kitty, it is not for humans- so don't get excited and make a tea.  Cats will go 'hog' wild over it though, so to keep kitty from eating it down to the roots, try putting a homemade box or dome made of chicken wire over the top of the Catnip; secure down to ground with ground staples.  As the catnip grows through the wire, kitty can have a treat without eating it to the ground.

Sorting Through Lavender~
There are dozens of varieties of Lavender as you can see looking through seed catalogs.  There are many shades of purples and even pinks; there are types that are good for edging and others for cutting to use in bouquets. I personally prefer Grosso Lavender for my bouquets.  I like Hidcote for my borders.  True Lavender is not as hardy and I have lost several over the years if not mulched well in the fall and if we had an extremely cold, hard winter.  There are both tender and hardy perennials, so be sure when you purchase your plants or seeds you determine your Hardiness Zone and the plants/seeds. 
*Lavender does well if protected from extreme cold & freezing and harsh winds.  It does best in Zone 5 and above.
*Lavender likes a well drained alkaline soil and full sun.
*Lavender will remain much nicer with regular pruning, otherwise it has a tendency to get a bit leggy depending on your variety.  I never trim back my Hidcote or Grosso.  Hidcote sprawls beautifully over my rock borders while Grosso makes a perfect mound with long, upright bloom spikes just perfect for cutting.
*To harvest it for drying, wait till the buds just open, or you can wait until they're in full bloom; dry stems in bundles about 1 1/2 inch in diameter, hanging upside down in a cool, airy spot.
*Use it in the laundry~ take a handful of blossoms, securely tie in a linen handkerchief and toss it in the dryer with your clothes- no more 'fake' lavender smelling clothes!
*Sprinkle dried lavender stems into the fireplace; as they burn, they'll delicately scent the air.
   
Lavender isn't just for sniffing and bouquets; try these special sweet treats and see how tasty this lovely herb can be!
Lavender Sugar
In a food processor finely chop 2 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers, stems discarded.
Add 1 cup of sugar; blend.
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Sprinkle on top of ice cream, use in tea, add to sugar cookies or sprinkle on vanilla yogurt.

Summer Melons with Lavender Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white grape juice concentrate
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1/4 cup lavender flowers, fresh or dried
4 cups of cubed melons: watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew

1. Bring water, sugar, juice concentrate and juice to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Add flower blossoms; cover and steep for 1 hour.
4. Strain flowers.
To serve, pour cooled syrup over cut melon cubes; toss lightly to coat; serve immediately.
 
Lavender Cookies
3 1/2 Tbsp. dried Lavender
1 cup butter
3 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Grind lavender and sugar into a powder in food processor; cream in butter, add sugar and lavender then the beaten eggs; add vanilla.
2. Sift the soda & baking powder into one cup of the flour; add to sugar mixture.
3. Alternate remaining flour with mild to make a soft dough.
4. Use a cookie scoop to form cookies; drop on ungreased cookie sheet; bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Happy Day,
Jean

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