The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

An Unthymely Death: Recipes

Bob Godwin's Famous Fajitas

  • 2 pounds skirt steak
  • 24 flour tortillas
  • guacamole (homemade or purchased)
  • chopped onion
  • chopped tomatoes
  • salsa
  • grated yellow cheese
  • sour cream
  • chopped cilantro

Marinade:

  • 1 c salsa (Bob makes his, but you can purchase yours)
  • 2 c vinegar-and-oil dressing (homemade or purchased)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 4-oz can jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tsp cumin

Combine ingredients for marinade and pour over the meat. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Pour off juices and reserve. Grill, pan-fry, or bake steak (if you bake, it takes about 45 minutes at 350 degrees) basting with marinade. Slice meat thinly, and roll into a warm flour tortilla. Smother with guacamole, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. Dollop with more salsa and sour cream, and sprinkle with cilantro. Traditionally served with refried beans, rice, tortilla chips, and lots of salsa. Ole!

Carnation Vinegar

  • 1 c fresh carnation flowers
  • 2 c white wine vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp whole cloves

To make your own carnation vinegar, use freshly picked, unsprayed flowers from your own garden (not from a florist!). Place a cup of loosely packed flowers in a quart jar and cover with two cups of room-temperature white wine vinegar. Add a cinnamon stick and a teaspoon of whole cloves. Cover and store in a dark place. Check the flavor after a week; and continue steeping until the desired strength is obtained. Strain into a pretty bottle. Use on a luncheon salad of crisp greens.

Chicken in Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce, Served over Pasta

  • 4 large chicken breasts, boned and skinned, cut into strips
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 3 tblsp flour, mixed with ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 lb fettuccini, linguini, or wide noodles, cooked al dente in boiling water
  • 2 green onions, chopped fine
  • ½ c white wine
  • 2/3 c half-and-half
  • ½ c sun-dried, oil-packed tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt oil and butter in skillet. Toss chicken strips with flour-paprika mixture and brown over medium-high heat until just cooked. Remove to a plate. Add chopped green onions to the skillet and sauté over medium heat for one minute. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, wine, and oregano, scraping up bits of chicken. Stir in half-and-half, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the sauce thickens. Return chicken to skillet to reheat. Season to taste. Serve over cooked pasta.

China's DreamyThyme Tea

  • ½ c dried chamomile flowers
  • ½ c dried lavender flowers
  • ¼ c dried catnip leaves
  • ¼ c dried strawberry leaves

Blend herbs and store in an airtight container. To brew, use one teaspoon herbal blend to one cup boiling water. Steep 4-5 minutes, strain, and serve, sweetened with honey.

China's Five-Spice Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

To make Five-Spice Chinese seasoning, blend together and store in an air-tight container:

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp crushed aniseed
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper or ½ tsp Szechwan pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

To make a marinade, mix together:

  • 3 tblsp soy sauce
  • 2 tblsp sherry
  • 2 tsp five-spice blend
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed

Coat 1 lb thin-sliced chicken breasts with the marinade and let sit for 3-4 hours. In a wok or heavy skillet, stir-fry chicken until almost done, then add ½ cup vegetable stock and 3-4 cups of your favorite vegetables. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Thicken the sauce with 1 tblsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tblsp water. Serve over rice.

China's Rosemary Caper

  • 2 small (6-8 oz.) jars of oil-cured, black olives
  • 1/3 c tiny capers (nonpareil), drained
  • 2 tins (2 oz) flat anchovy fillets, undrained
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 tblsp lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 2 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1 tsp dried
  • pepper to taste

Pit the olives and place in a blender or food processor. Add olive oil and blend. Add capers, anchovies, lemon juice, garlic, and rosemary. Blend until smooth (or, if you prefer, until it's slightly grainy). Taste, and add pepper if you like. If the spread is too thick, add additional olive oil. Refrigerate for several days for best flavor. Serve at room temperature. (To store, pack in a large-mouthed jar and cover with olive oil. Cover jar tightly.)

China's Sweet Thyme Tea

  • ½ c dried pineapple sage leaves
  • ½ c dried chamomile flowers
  • ½ c dried rose hips
  • ¼ c dried lemon thyme
  • ¼ c dried lemon balm leaves

Blend herbs and store in an airtight container. To brew, use one teaspoon herbal blend to one cup boiling water. Steep 4-5 minutes, strain, and serve, sweetened with honey.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Kids love to make this fruity treat. They can cool their confections by sticking the toothpicks into a piece of hard plastic foam, or laying the berries on waxed paper. Be sure the berries are perfectly dry, because even a drop of moisture can make the chocolate grainy. (Butter and margarine may contain water, and cooking oil can keep the chocolate from coating the berries. So do use shortening.)

  • 1 12-oz bag of chocolate bits
  • 2 tblsp shortening (not butter, margarine, or oil)
  • 2 dozen large strawberries, washed and carefully dried
  • 2 dozen toothpicks

Melt chocolate and shortening together in a microwave or the top of a double boiler. Make sure the strawberries are perfectly dry. Poke toothpicks into the strawberries and dip into the chocolate. Arrange to cool, then refrigerate.

Cordially Yours: Ruby's Cranberry-Orange Cordial

  • 1 package (12oz) fresh cranberries
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 c light corn syrup
  • 2 tblsp grated fresh orange zest (outer skin, no white pith)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 2 c vodka plus ½ cup brandy (or substitute 2½ cups light rum)
  • 1 c water

Coarsely chop the cranberries. Mix cranberries, orange zest, and sugar in a large bowl until the berries are well coated. Using a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin, break the whole cloves and allspice into smaller pieces, but do not pulverize. Add spices to the cranberry mix. Stir in the liquids. Pour into a large glass jar, cover tightly, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month, shaking every few days. Strain out the solids by pouring through a fine strainer or dampened cheesecloth. (If you use a cloth, gather and twist it to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.) Pour into a clean, dry jar for storage at room temperature, for up to three months. Refrigerate for longer storage. Makes about 1 quart. May be doubled.

Curry and Cardamom Cookies

  • 1 c butter or margarine
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 c flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp curry powder (sweet, rather than hot)
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 1½ c chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture, a third at a time. Stir in nuts. Divide dough into 4 rolls and wrap each in waxed paper. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (may also be frozen). Slice into ¼-inch slices and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven until golden (12-14 minutes). Let cookies cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to racks and cool.

Dilled Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh dill weed
  • 1 tblsp chopped chives
  • 1 tblsp minced parsley
  • 10 slices white bread
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, dill weed, parsley, and chives. With a serrated knife, trim the crusts from the slices of bread. Using a rolling pin, flatten each slice slightly. Spread about 1½ tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture over the entire surface of each slice of bread. Top with the salmon. Cut into squares, diamonds, or rectangles. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread. Arrange sandwiches on a serving plate, cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Makes 40)

Enchilada Casserole

  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin
  • ½ tsp salt (if desired)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 c salsa (homemade or purchased)
  • ½ c chopped green chiles, fresh or canned
  • 10 corn tortillas, cut in half
  • 2 c shredded Cheddar cheese

Saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of vegetable oil. When limp and translucent, drain off the oil and add the meat. Cook and stir until browned. Drain fat, add salsa, chiles, cumin, and salt, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Layer tortillas in bottom of a greased 2-quart casserole dish and cover with meat-salsa mixture and a layer of shredded Cheddar. Repeat. Cover and bake in a 350-degree over for about 30 minutes.

Faerie Blossom Cookies

Enlist the children to help you to pick the herbs and wash them. They'll love to flatten the cookies, too.

  • 1/8 c sugar
  • ¼ c fresh lemon-basil leaves, packed down
  • ¼ c fresh lemon balm leaves, packed down
  • ¾ c sugar
  • ½ c butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tblsp lemon juice
  • 3 c flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease two baking sheets. In a blender or food processor, process the fresh herbs with 1/8 cup sugar and set aside. Using your electric mixer, beat butter or margarine until creamy, gradually adding ¾ cup sugar. Add egg and lemon juice and blend. Add herb-sugar mixture, then flour, 1 cup at a time, beating to blend thoroughly. Shape into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass in sugar and flatten each ball. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 3 dozen.

Fresh Green Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Boconccini

  • ½ lb arugula, fresh spinach, other greens
  • ½ lb cherry tomatoes
  • ½ lb button mushrooms, stems removed, caps wiped clean and sliced
  • ½ lb boconccini
  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 4 tblsp basil vinegar
  • 2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 tblsp fresh chopped basil
  • croutons for garnish

Mix together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and chopped basil. Pour over tomatoes, mushrooms, and boconccini and marinate for several hours. Just before serving, arrange torn greens on chilled serving plates, add marinated tomatoes, mushrooms, and boconccini. Garnish with croutons. Serves 6.

Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)

  • ½ c chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 4 c canned pinto beans
  • ½ c grated Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tblsp lemon juice
  • sprigs of cilantro for garnish

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Drain the beans (reserving half the liquid) and add to skillet. Heat, mashing with a potato masher. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add cumin and reserved liquid, if necessary, and cook for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the top and let it melt slightly. Serve hot, garnished with cilantro.

Garlic Spread

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 c low-cholesterol margarine
  • 1 tblsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tblsp fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tblsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tblsp lemon juice

To make a tasty, heart-healthy garlic spread, mince 4 cloves garlic and stir into 1 cup of low-cholesterol margarine. Add 1 tablespoon each of minced fresh basil, chives, and parsley. Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Keep tightly covered until used.

Genevieve Schultz's Grilled Chicken with Rosemary-Mustard Marinade

To make Mustard-Rosemary Marinade, combine in a bowl:

  • 1 c vinegar
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 3 tblsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced fine
  • 3-4 tblsp fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 tblsp dried
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Marinate chicken (skinless breasts or other pieces) overnight. Grill, brushing frequently with remaining marinade.

Ginger-Peachy Melons

  • 6 fresh peaches, medium-size, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 small cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 small honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch
  • ½ c orange juice
  • 2 tblsp lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tblsp candied ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tblsp honey
  • Mint sprigs for garnish

Mix together the orange juice, lemon juice, grated ginger, candied ginger, and honey. Place the fruit in a large bowl and pour the juices over it, stirring gently. Refrigerate until serving time (up to eight hours). Serves 6.

The Grimes Family's Gingerbread

  • ½ c unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ c dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ c dark molasses
  • 1 tblsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp orange zest, finely grated
  • 1 tsp orange flavoring
  • 1½ c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • ½ c boiling water

Mix together butter, sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, orange zest, orange flavoring, mustard, and flour. Add baking soda to boiling water, then stir into mix. Turn into a square baking pan, lightly greased, and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a rack.

The Hausner Family Recipe for Rose-Flavored Vinegar Pie

  • ½ c softened butter
  • 1 ¼ c sugar
  • 3 tblsp rose petal vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 unbaked 8" pie shell

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vinegar, eggs and vanilla; beat well. Pour into pie shell. Bake in 350° oven 45 minutes or until knife blade inserted between center and edge of pie comes out clean. Makes 8 servings.

To make rose petal vinegar: Steep 1 cup of red rose petals (clean, freshly picked, unsprayed) in 2 cups champagne vinegar for one week. Check the flavor and steep for a longer period, if desired. Strain and rebottle. Store in a dark place, tightly capped. Use for fruit salad dressing, in a sorbet, as a facial splash-or to flavor vinegar pie!

Herbed Breadsticks

  • 2 c white flour
  • about 1½ c whole-wheat flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tblsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tsp dill seed
  • 1½ c warm water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tblsp water
  • 2 tblsp white sesame seed

Place the white flour, yeast, sugar, celery salt, garlic salt, celery seed, and dill seed in a mixing bowl. Add warm water and beat with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, until batter is thick and sticky. Mix in whole-wheat flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn it onto a floured board and knead until a soft, elastic dough is formed, adding more whole-wheat flour as necessary. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, turning to oil the top, and cover with a damp towel. Let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, divide into quarters. Divide each quarter into four (16 pieces), and these into thirds (48 pieces). Roll the pieces into 8" sticks and place on greased baking sheet, ½" inch apart. For egg wash, mix egg and water and brush onto bread sticks. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. (Makes 48)

Herbed Cheese in a Pot

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz grated Cheddar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried summer savory
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Combine cheese, garlic, and herbs and mix well. Spoon mixture into a small crock and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for at least a day to blend flavors. Serve with crackers and a small knife. Makes 1 cup.

Homer Mayo's Horseradish Mustard

  • ½ c mustard powder
  • ½ c hot water
  • ½ c white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tblsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • additional vinegar, if necessary

Mix the dry mustard and water and let stand for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. In a blender container, combine the vinegar, salt, horseradish, garlic, sugar, pepper, and allspice. Process until the garlic and horseradish have been pureed, then strain through a fine-meshed strainer, pressing out the juice from any pulp in the strainer. Discard the material in the strainer. In the top of a double boiler, combine the strained liquid with the mustard-water paste. Cook over simmering water for about 5 minutes, until the mustard has begun to thicken (it will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from heat and allow to cool. If the mustard is too thick, thin it with a few drops of additional vinegar. Place in a glass jar with a tight lid, and let sit in a dark cupboard for 4-5 weeks before using. Refrigerate after opening. Makes about ½ cup.

Jane Clark's Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms
  • 6 tblsp butter, divided
  • 2 tblsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ c dry bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash mushrooms. Remove and chop the stems. Heat half the butter in a small skillet and sauté the chopped stems and chives. With a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl. Add egg, crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt and pepper and mix. In the skillet in which you sautéed the stems, heat the remaining butter and sauté the mushroom caps. Place caps stem-side up in a baking pan and fill each cap with crumb mixture. Broil until golden. Serve hot. (You can prepare and refrigerate these, and broil them just before serving.)

Janet's Basil-Pecan Biscotti

The word "biscotti," in Italian, means "twice-baked," and that's exactly what biscotti are: traditional Italian cookies, twice-baked to give them more crunch. They're delicious in any language.

  • 2¼ c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 tblsp cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • ¼ c orange juice
  • ½ c butter, cut into small pieces and softened
  • ¾ c pecans, coarsely chopped (substitute walnuts, if you like)
  • 1 tblsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • zest of 1 medium orange

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a baking sheet. Blend flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add egg and orange juice, and beat until a dough begins to form. Add the butter, beating until it is just incorporated. Gently stir in the nuts, basil leaves, and orange zest. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and knead it several times. Divide in half. On the baking sheet, form each half into a 3-inch log about 12 inches long, arranged at least 3 inches apart. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set and just beginning brown. Remove the logs from the oven and reduce the temperature to 250 degrees F. Cool logs on the baking sheet for 12-15 minutes, until just warm. Slice logs diagonally into ¾-inch slices. Arrange slices on wire cooling racks and return to the oven until crisp, about 15 minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Janet's Lavender-Thyme Quiche

  • 9-inch unbaked pie shell
  • 1¼ c grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 tblsp butter or margarine, softened
  • 1½ c fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c evaporated milk
  • 2 tblsp fresh thyme leaves, minced, or 1 Tblsp dried thyme
  • 1 tblsp fresh lavender buds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prick the pastry shell to keep it from puffing and bake until it is set, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the grated Swiss cheese over the bottom of the crust and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the cheese is melted. Remove and cool.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large skillet, heat the butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring. Drain and cool. In a large bowl combine the eggs, evaporated milk, thyme and lavender, the remaining 1 cup of grated cheese, salt, and nutmeg. Stir in the mushrooms and pour the mixture into the crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes, or until the top is just set. Serve warm or cold. Makes 8 servings.

Lavender Mint Tea

  • 4 tsp fresh lavender flowers or 2 tsp dried lavender flowers
  • 3 to 4 tblsp fresh mint leaves or 4 tsp dried mint
  • 4 c boiling water

In a one-quart teapot, combine the lavender flowers and mint. Pour boiling water over the mixture; steep 5 minutes.

Lila Jennings' Friday Special Meat Loaf

  • 1½ lb ground beef or ground sirloin
  • 2 tablespoons bread or cracker crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • barbecue sauce

Mix all ingredients, except for the barbecue sauce. Form into a large loaf and place in a baking pan. Pour barbecue sauce over the top. Bake for 90 minutes hours at 350 degrees. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Maylene Grudge's Mustard Green, Red, and Orange Salad With Orange-Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced lengthwise
  • 3 small oranges or tangerines, peeled, sectioned, pith removed
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 3-4 c young mustard greens, washed
  • 3 oz feta cheese

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together in a small bowl:

  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp orange rind, finely grated
  • 1 tblsp orange juice
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • ¼ c finely chopped toasted almonds (optional)
  • 1 tblsp honey mustard

Fry the bacon until crisp and drain on paper toweling. Gently toss together the sliced onion, bell pepper, avocado slices, and 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Set aside to marinate for a few moments. Arrange the mustard greens on 4-6 small serving plates. Place the orange sections on the greens, and add the marinated mixture. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and crumble the feta cheese and bacon on top. Serve immediately.

Mrs. Rabbit's Cucumber Sandwiches

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 2 tblsp grated onion
  • salt
  • 6 slices white bread
  • butter
  • parsley

Peel and slice 2 cucumbers very thin. Add 2 tablespoons grated onion and salt to taste and let drain in a colander. Trim the crusts from 6 slices of white bread, butter each slice, and cut on the diagonal. Arrange the cucumbers in an overlapping row, garnish with a sprig of parsley, and serve as open-face sandwiches.

Myra Merryweather's Lavender Butter

  • 1 tblsp fresh lavender flowers
  • 1 c butter or margarine

Mix 1 tablespoon of lavender flowers (fresh, unsprayed) with a cup of softened butter or margarine. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a day before using. Serve on crackers with smoked turkey or cold chicken, or use in your favorite butter-cookie recipe.

Myra Merryweather's Rosemary and Olive Pesto

  • 1 c large ripe olives, pitted
  • ½ c fresh basil
  • ½ c fresh parsley
  • ¼ c onion, chopped
  • ¼ c grated Romano cheese
  • ¼ c walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1 tblsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp lemon juice

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving; if it seems too thick, stir in a little more oil. Makes about 1 cup. Serve with your favorite cooked pasta.

Penne with Roasted Garden Vegetables and Herbs, ala Barbara

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, sliced in half-inch rounds
  • 1 cup diced eggplant
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced in thin rings
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and sliced in thin rings
  • 1 c fresh green beans, cut into ½" pieces
  • 1 c sweet red onions, sliced in thin rings
  • ½ c fresh basil, chopped
  • ¼ c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tblsp fresh lemon thyme, minced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz (approx) penne or other tubular pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Toss tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and onions with olive oil, basil, parsley, lemon thyme, and garlic. Arrange in a single layer in a large baking pan. Roast in a 350-degree oven, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables are slightly softened. When vegetable are nearly done, cook pasta according to package directions, or until al dente. Drain. If you like, place roasted veggies under the broiler until they just begin to char. (Don't overdo it!) Toss roasted vegetables with penne. Top with a generous grating of Parmesan or Asiago cheese. Serves 4 generously.

Pete Hitchen's Blue-Ribbon Beer Mustard

  • 1 c dark beer
  • ¼ c yellow mustard seeds
  • ¼ c brown mustard seeds
  • 1½ c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ c mustard powder
  • 2 tblsp ice water
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Pour beer over the mustard seeds and let soak overnight. In a non-reactive (glass or stainless) pan, place vinegar, garlic, and onion. Simmer until liquid is reduced by two thirds. Strain and chill. Mix dry mustard and ice water and let sit for 20 minutes. Stir in cold vinegar, salt, sugar, allspice, cumin, ginger, and soaked mustard seeds. Place in a blender container and blend until mustard seeds are coarsely ground, scraping sides often. Pour into a saucepan and simmer over very low heat 10-15 minutes, until it thickens. Cool, place in a glass jar with a tight lid, and let sit in a dark cupboard for 4-5 weeks before using. Refrigerate after opening. Makes about 1 pint.

Pink Lavender Lemonade

Lavender-hibiscus syrup:

  • 2 ½ c water
  • 1½ c sugar
  • ¼ c red hibiscus flowers, dried
  • 1 tblsp lavender flowers, dried

Lemonade:

  • 3 c cold water
  • 1½ c fresh-squeezed lemon juice (8 large lemons)
  • ½ c sugar (optional)
  • thin-sliced lemons

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add hibiscus flowers, reduce heat, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lavender flowers. Cover and let steep until cool. Strain hibiscus-lavender syrup into a jar and chill. Make lemonade in your prettiest clear glass pitcher, and stir in the chilled syrup. If you like it tart, this will be fine. If you have a sweet tooth, add another ½ cup sugar and stir briskly to dissolve.

Prissy Taggert's Spicy Sautéed Veggies

  • ¼ c vegetable oil
  • black peppercorns (5 for a mild taste, 10 for medium-hot, 20 for hot)
  • 1 tblsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 3 tblsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 red onion, sliced lengthwise
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne (reduce or omit for a milder taste)
  • ½ lb fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut into strips
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt to taste

In a wok or large nonstick skillet, heat oil, over medium heat. Combine peppercorns, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds. Add to oil and cover immediately, reducing heat to low. (Seeds will pop.) When seeds have browned (20 seconds or less), add grated ginger and onion. Turn heat to medium-high and sauté until onions are translucent. Add turmeric and cayenne and sauté for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add green beans, and sauté until beans are bright green. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, then add bell peppers. Sauté until peppers are slightly browned, then add mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes longer, until vegetables are cooked but still crisp. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.

Ramona's Lemon Madeleines

  • ½ c margarine or butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ c sugar
  • ¼ c plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 tblsp fresh lemon thyme leaves minced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a madeleine pan (twelve shells). In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the margarine or butter; set aside to cool. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, yogurt, and extracts until blended, occasionally scraping the bowl. Continue beating until light and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Blend in melted margarine or butter, flour, grated lemon peel, salt, and minced lemon thyme. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each madeleine shell.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes until madeleines are golden brown. Immediately remove from pan and place on wire racks to cool. Repeat until all batter is used, greasing pan each time. Sprinkle madeleines lightly with confectioners' sugar. If there are any left (there probably won't be), store them in a tightly covered container to prevent them from softening. Makes about 2 dozen.

Rose Geranium Pound Cake With Rose Geranium Glaze

  • 1½ c sugar
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted rose-geranium flavored butter, softened
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3½ c cake flour
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tblsp very finely minced rose geranium leaves

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 13x9x2" baking pan. In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. On low speed, add cake flour alternately with milk. Beat in baking powder and vanilla. Beat in rose geranium leaves. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a platter and cool completely. Drizzle with Rose Geranium Glaze and garnish with a few rosebuds or lavender sprigs.


To make rose-geranium flavored butter:

  • 4-6 washed rose-geranium leaves
  • 1 stick of butter

Wrap 4-6 washed leaves around a stick of butter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.


To make Rose Geranium Glaze:

  • 3 washed rose geranium leaves
  • 3 tblsp water
  • ¾ cup confectioner's sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Place 3 washed rose geranium leaves in a microwave container, with 3 tblsp water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, let steep for 2 more minutes. Strain out leaves. Mix with ¾ cup confectioner's sugar and ½ tsp vanilla.

Rosemary Orange-Honey Liqueur

  • 4 large navel oranges
  • 1 small lemon
  • 2 c vodka
  • 1 c brandy
  • 1 1/8 c honey
  • 6 sprigs rosemary

Rinse and dry the oranges and the lemon. Use a sharp knife or grater to scrape the skin (the zest) from the oranges and lemon, being careful not to scrape off the bitter white pith. Put the rosemary sprigs and the orange and lemon zest in a glass jar and add the vodka and brandy. Seal tightly and let steep for 3 days in a cool, dark place, shaking the jar once a day. Strain into a clean bowl and whisk in the honey until it dissolves and the mixture clears. Pour into a clean glass bottle, or bottles, seal tightly, and allow to mature at room temperature before using.

Ruby's Applesauce Mint Bread

  • 2 c flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c slivered almonds, chopped
  • ¾ c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c applesauce
  • ¼ c salad oil
  • 1 c chopped fresh mint (best with fresh, but if you must substitute, use scant ½ c dried)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift dry ingredients together, add nuts and blend well. Combine egg, applesauce, brown sugar, and oil and stir to mix. Add mint. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir just until blended. (Do not overmix). Pour batter into 2 small greased loaf pans and bake for about 45 minutes. Cool on rack.

Ruby's Hot Lips Cookie Crisps

  • 1 c soft shortening
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ c finely chopped cashews
  • 1½ c whole wheat flour
  • 1½ c unbleached flour
  • ½ tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp habanero powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well. Mix the dry ingredients together with the nuts, and stir into the creamed mixture. Form into a log about 2" in diameter and chill. Slice and bake until golden, 12-14 minutes. (Watch carefully-these cookies burn easily!)

The habanero pepper is an incendiary chile with a fruity flavor. Look for the powder in a specialty shop that sells spicy foods.

South of the Border Guacamole

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large ripe avacados
  • 2-3 tblsp grated onion
  • 1 small ripe Roma tomato, chopped fine
  • 2 tblsp lime juice

Peel and mash the garlic cloves with the salt, making a paste. Mash the avacados and add the garlic, grated onion, tomato, and lime juice. Serve with a basket of warm tortilla chips.

Spicy Ginger Cookies

  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c unsulfured molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c sifted flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp powdered cinnamon
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • ½ tsp powdered cloves
  • ¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in molasses, eggs, and vanilla and mix well. Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add by thirds to creamed mixture, blending thoroughly. Sprinkle sugar on a baking sheet. Drop dough by tablespoons onto the sheet, and sprinkle with more sugar. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, and store in an air-tight container. Makes about two dozen soft cookies.

Spicy Tomato Juice Cocktail

  • 3 quarts tomato juice
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • 1 tblsp. fresh snipped dill
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pan and heat thoroughly, stirring to mix well. Refrigerate for a day or so to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with a parsley garnish.

Twice-as-Much-Chocolate Brownies

  • 5 one-oz squares bittersweet chocolate
  • ¼ c butter or margarine
  • ¼ c flour
  • 2 tblsp cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ c sour cream
  • 4 oz chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x9x2-inch square cake pan and dust with dry cocoa. In the top of a double boiler over medium-high heat, or in a microwave, melt chocolate and butter or margarine together. Stir until smooth. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until slightly thickened. Add melted chocolate mixture and blend. Add sifted dry ingredients and stir to mix well. Add sour cream and blend, scraping sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula. With a spatula, fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake about 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Yes, you can leave a little in the bowl for licking, if you can't stand to wait for them to come out of the oven. But do try to allow the baked brownies to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and eating every last one of them.

Violet Conserve

  • violet blossoms, washed
  • sugar

Violet conserve was a favorite confection. Flower petals were beaten to a smooth paste with twice their weight in sugar, then put into a jar and sealed.

Violet Honey

  • 1 c violet blossoms, washed
  • 2 c honey

Violet honey was both a sweet treat and medicinal, as well. A cup of fresh, washed petals was added to two cups of honey and heated until the honey took on the scent of violets. A favorite on biscuits, or to soothe a sore throat.

Violet Syrup

  • 2 c water
  • 6 c violet blossoms, washed
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 tblsp lemon juice

To make violet syrup the way your grandmother used to do it, pour two cups of boiling water over six cups of washed violet blossoms (unsprayed), then place a saucer on top to submerge the flowers. Let stand for 24 hours. Strain out the plant material. Add two cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the liquid and simmer until the mixture is the consistency of syrup. Cover and refrigerate. Use within a week.

Violet Vinegar

  • violet blossoms, washed
  • white wine vinegar

To make violet vinegar, fill a sterilized jar half full of washed flowers, cover with white wine vinegar, and allow to steep for a week. Strain and pour into a pretty bottle. A lovely cosmetic vinegar, but good on a spring salad garnished with fresh violet petals.