Thursday, June 21, 2007

Candied Flowers and Toasted Coconut

A beautiful evening with a dear friend....sitting on our deck overlooking the yard, flowers, and kitchen garden. The neighbor kitty visiting and entertaining us with his forages into my Lemon Catnip and his humorous quirkiness that followed...and of course--yummy food!

I knew ahead of time that I wanted to pair our light meal with a fantastic fruit salad. So I began earlier in the afternoon by picking Dianthus from my Kitchen Garden and candying them. Dianthus is the edible flower that I love the best! Nasturtiums are too bitter, as are so many others, but Dianthus have a mild, almost sweet, leafy taste that pair wonderfully with salads, or absolutely anything else!

Have you ever candied a flower? You can candy any edible flowers that have been grown organically. The best way is to grow them at home, so you can be assured that they're pesticide free! Let me share with you this simple process:


Several edible flower blooms
Sugar - superfine is best
Egg white
Clean, unused paintbrush

Take your egg white and sieve it to loosen it. This will enable a thin coating that isn't too gloppy and thick, ruining the look of your delicacies. Using your brush, paint a thin layer on each petal.

When lightly and evenly covered, press gently into an awaiting bowl of sugar.

The resulting bloom will have been quickly and easily transformed into a magical, fairylike addition to almost any food you'd like to beautify!

Once you've glittered these little beauties, dry them on a rack until use.

Now.....on to my luscious fruit salad!

Knowing the tastes of my friend led me to toast some coconut just as she was arriving, allowing the decadent scent to meet her at the door. Nothing transforms a beautiful dessert as a bit of toasted coconut can! To toast coconut, just sprinkle it in an even layer on foil, and toast - WATCHING CONSTANTLY - in a preheated 425 degree oven or toaster oven. Stir occasionally until lightly and evenly browned! Remove and cool.

As we ended our meal and broke out the wonderful Snickerdoodles she'd arrived with, we heaped the fruit salad, redolent with fresh pineapple, mango, orange, grapes, and cherries, with a bit of whipped cream. On this occasion, we used fat free Cool Whip, whose lightness truly allowed the flavors to shine. Then..... the pièce de résistance....the toasted coconut! We sprinkled it on the beautiful dish, BUT. . . . would you like to know a little secret? We love coconut so much, as we continued to eat the fruit, we kept adding more, so fabulous was its crunch and delightful taste!

There are countless "favorite desserts" in my mental files.....but last night....a simple bowl of fruit was elevated into that category!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What a Honey Mustard Sauce

We love the flavors available in restaurants...adventuresome flavors that really make us feel happy! We're finding ourselves creating more and more meals that reflect these same flavors. Over the weekend, we longed for tubs of Chipotle's salsas....sweet corn salsa with lime chips, and fresh tomato salsa with it's wondeful spicyness! So we gathered our ingredients and experimented---with marvelous results!! More on that later...

But today, we hungered for some yummy honey mustard sauce to put on our sandwiches. Not the bottled kind..... but something homemade and decadent in flavor and texture! We lucked out in that we had wonderful, white, yeasty rolls left over from a previous meal that we paired with mounds of slivered ham...but now about that honey mustard sauce....

We drew the yummiest of ingredients out of the fridge and began our brief preparation:


1/4 cup sour cream - we used Fat Free today!
1/2 tsp. classic yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. stone ground mustard (see below)
2 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. salt

Blend and slather! Adjust seasonings to taste! We used a bit more, but you might not want to.

What kind of things do you like on your sandwiches?? Do you have special sauces and secret things you do to make yours the best ever? Asiago cheese? Homemade barbeque sauce? Wonderful breads? Here are some of our secrets:


We love to buy Bob Evans yeast rolls and pair them with sandwich fillings. They're fluffy and so full of flavor that the entire sandwich is raised up to a new level

Go to this site to find a Bob Evans near you...and while you're there, buy some of their Wildfire Barbeque Sauce!

Now, for our stone ground mustard. Have you found Ingelhoffer Stone Ground Mustard yet? We love the size of the grains in it! If you can't find it in your local grocery, you can find it online here:

Mix a teaspoon or two of this wonderful mustard into a half jar of high quality apple jelly ( taste it as you go, so it will suit you!), warm it slightly, and serve it alongside a baked ham dinner. Your guests will marvel!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Blessing of the Kitchen Garden

How fun it is to be growing a kitchen garden! Rubbing the Lemon Balm between your fingers to release the intense lemony scent just makes one happy! Our visiting neighbor cat invariably climbs the fence when she hears me out there in the early mornings and makes a beeline for the lemon catnip. The simplicity of such things warms the heart!

Smelling the Munstead Lavendar as I work is the equivalent of aroma therapy! My favorite drink of choice right now is ice water with a spring of Lavendar floating in it. Try it and you'll feel the relaxation seep into you. Make sure you rub the lavendar a bit between your fingers before you float it in the water. This releases the oils and scent to waft freely as you sip.