Category Archives: Books

You Are As Welcome As The Flowers Of Spring

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 I had a little chalkboard door inspiration from

 Beatrix Potter Week with The Novel Bakers. . .

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and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life.

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“You are as welcome

as the flowers of spring!”


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Spring has been slower arriving this year

so blooms on the door are welcome . . .

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 Along with the grape hyacinths

in a bunny planter. . .

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We’re slowly beginning

to green up. . .

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Daffodils are in bloom. . .

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And the birds are

beginning to nest. . .

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I cut some purple leaf plum blossoms 

to fill some watering cans before they

became scattered like pink confetti. . .

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 And bunnies are multiplying!

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I hope you are welcoming

spring where you are!

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Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us Wednesdays, Inspiration Gallery,

Home Sweet HomeBe Inspired Friday,

Feathered Nest FridaySeasonal Sundays

Peter Rabbit Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Peter Rabbit Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter and Bunny Week

and ending on a sweet note. . .

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 I found a Peter Rabbit Cupcake Kit which called

 for a batch of Peter Rabbit Cupcakes,

complete with Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten

and Benjamin Bunny!

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So I found a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes~

a recipe that everybunny would enjoy :)

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I made a few changes to the original recipe after reading the reviews. These cupcakes are a delicious way to use zucchini, which adds moisture rather than a distinct flavor!

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes,

adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients

1-1/4 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz. container plain yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 cups grated zucchini

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In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.

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Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

You can find a printable recipe here.

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Frost cupcakes with favorite

Chocolate or Cream Cheese frosting.

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You can find a 5 star-rated Chocolate Frosting here,

or a 5 star-rated Cream Cheese Frosting here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter Week. . .

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for more Bunny/Beatrix Potter fun:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

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You can follow The Novel Bakers on Pinterest,

and find all the Beatrix Potter recipes

and bunny inspiration for the week!

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Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

Spring Tea Sandwiches with Flower & Herb Cheese

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It’s been a delicious week with

The Novel Bakers

and Beatrix Potter and Bunny Week!

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The recipes and fun have multiplied like rabbits :)

You can hop along with

The Novel Bakers on Pinterest,

and find all the Beatrix Potter recipes

and bunny inspiration for the week!

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I’m serving Spring Tea Sandwiches

with Flower & Herb Cheese,

 fun for a garden party, shower, or tea. . .

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. . .Inspired by some tabletop gardening

and Cooking with Flowers.

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Beatrix Potter, Pansies Watercolor with Pencil, undated,
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

 

Flower & Herb Cheese

Making Flower & Herb Cheese (or Butter) is easy and beautiful with edible flowers, and adds a ‘wow’ factor for a shower, garden club lunch or treat at the breakfast table!

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For one 8 ounce package of room temperature soft cheese, add 1/4 to 1 cup flowers, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and any other herbs or desired seasoning.

I used Neufchâtel, violas, chives and parsley.

As with any edible flower, use only ones that are pesticide and chemical free.

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Pick your edible flowers in the morning when they are fresh, avoiding older bruised blooms. Rinse gently to “debug” them and pat dry. Remove each pansy or viola from its sepals (green base).

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 Blend to incorporate, adding your shredded/ chopped petals to your room temperature cheese, along with your herbs and seasonings.

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 Cover and refrigerate.

Use soft cheese within a week.

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For 8 ounces of soft cheese use these

amounts of flowers as a guideline:

Pansy/Viola Cheese~  1/4 cup violas

Nasturtium Cheese~ 1 cup nasturtiums

Rose Cheese~  1/2 cup rose petals, add 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)

Lavender Cheese~ Up to 2 tablespoons lavender buds

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I used Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Sliced Bread and seedless cucumber and radishes sliced thin with a mandoline. Place sliced cucumbers on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

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 Spread your herbed flower cheese on your bread, layer cucumbers and/or radishes and use cookie cutter for shapes. If you don’t want to fool with cookie cutters, serve your sandwiches open-faced, and cut in squares or triangles for serving.

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 Garnish with violas and

parsley or other herbs.

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 If assembling tea sandwiches ahead, cover your sandwiches with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap to keep your bread fresh & from drying out. Garnish with flowers before serving.

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You can find a printable recipe, here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter Week. . .

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for more Bunny/Beatrix Potter fun:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

Spring Tea Sandwiches with Flower & Herb Cheese

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

 

In the Potting Shed: Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter (and Bunny!) Week.

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Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales

by Marta McDowell

 Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is the first book to explore the origins of Beatrix Potter’s love of gardening and plants and show how this passion came to be reflected in her work. The book begins with a gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout her life that helped define her, including her home Hill Top Farm in England’s Lake District. Next, the reader follows Beatrix Potter through a year in her garden, with a season-by-season overview of what is blooming that truly brings her gardens alive. The book culminates in a traveler’s guide, with information on how and where to visit Potter’s gardens today.

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Richly illustrated and filled with quotations from her books, letters, and journals, it is essential reading for all who know and cherish Beatrix Potter’s classic tales.

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I’ve been immersed in the charmed world

of Beatrix Potter, filled with flowers and gardens

and of course, Peter Rabbit!

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I’m ready to break in a new pair of

gardening gloves & dig in the dirt!

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So I took a day off from baking

to play in the Potting Shed. . .

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It seemed fitting since my Potting Shed is as full

as Mr. McGregor’s fictional one with lots of places

for a bunny to hide . . .

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” . . .a broom for sweeping, a spade for heavy digging, a trowel for transplanting. He has different sizes of flower pots: small ‘thimbles’ for starting seeds and ‘long toms’ for growing deep rooted seedlings.”

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I filled a bunny planter for some spring blooms and to enjoy indoors until we’re past our freeze/frost date later this month, and can plant outdoors.

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Purple Hyacinths and Muscari are blooming,

planted alongside violas, a bird nest,

and a few colored eggs.

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 “Beatrix Potter was a late bloomer, gardening-wise. By the time she saw the first growing season progress through her garden at Hill Top she would be forty years old. In spite of a somewhat late start, the seeds of Potter’s gardening interests were planted early on.”

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Part one in Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is her life as a gardener with chapters titled Germination, Offshoots, Flowering, Roots, Ripening, and Setting Seed.

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Part two is a year in Beatrix Potter’s Gardens, divided by seasons, and part three is visiting Beatrix Potter’s Gardens.

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Beatrix Potter’s Gardener’s Yearbook 

Illustrated with naturalist sketches and paintings from Beatrix Potter’s work, this beautiful journal contains charts, record-keeping pages, seasonal planting information, and gardening tips from Caroline Kennedy, an experienced garden designer.

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I did a little tabletop gardening,

landscaping the counter & arranging flowers

with Portmeirion Botanic Garden. . .

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 Planting flowers with dishes,

aka dish gardening :)

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 Enjoying the Lily Flowered Azalea. . .

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Lilacs. . .

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 Narcissus. . .

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And Hyacinths. . .

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Along with blooming flatware . . .

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“Every garden tells a story,

if you know how to read it.”

~Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter Week. . .

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for more Bunny/Beatrix Potter fun:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

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Visit with us all week for more Beatrix Potter, Bunny & Gardening Inspiration.

You can also hop along :) on Pinterest 

and find all the recipes & bunny inspiration.

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Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysTablescape Thursday

Home Sweet HomeBe Inspired Friday,

Feathered Nest FridaySeasonal Sundays

 

Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter (and Bunny) Week!

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 Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

hopped from the pages of

The Beatrix Potter Country Cooking Book

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The Beatrix Potter Country Cooking Book

 by Sara Paston-Williams:

Inspired by the works of Beatrix Potter and her own love of traditional cookery, it is divided into 11 sections, each containing a wide variety of recipes: starters, fish, meat, poultry and game, eggs and cheese, salads and vegetables, puddings, cakes and bread, drinks and sweets and preserves. The author talked to professional cooks working in the region where Beatrix Potter lived and many residents who have memories of her.

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I was skeptical at first about pairing cucumbers with strawberries, but was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful combination for a light and fresh salad for the spring or summer!

I made a little change substituting white balsamic vinegar for the dry white wine in the recipe, and arranged the strawberries and cucumber slices in rows and borders to be neatly razed and devastated by hungry and industrious bunnies. . .

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Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

1 large cucumber (I used English/seedless, if using American use two)

Strawberries, 8 – 12 ounces

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Sprinkle of sugar (a couple of teaspoons)

3 – 4 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

Sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs, mint, tarragon or basil (I used mint)

Violas for garnish

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Peel cucumber if desired before thinly slicing. Slice strawberries, arrange in alternate circles in rows in shallow serving dish.

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Season with salt, pepper, sugar. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the berries and cucumber and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Chill well. Garnish with violas, pansies, nasturtiums  or other edible flowers (pesticide and chemical free) before serving if desired.

You can find a printable recipe here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter Week. . .

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Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for more Bunny/Beatrix Potter fun:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

Visit with us all week for more Beatrix Potter and Easter inspiration!

You can follow along on Pinterest and find all the  recipes and bunny inspiration, here.

Cucumber & Strawberry Salad

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

Peter Rabbit’s Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Peter Rabbit's Carrot Zucchini Muffins

I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter (and Bunny!) Week.

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I’m embracing my inner 5-year-old with Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales, beautifully reissued and the complete and unabridged collection of all 23 of Beatrix Potter’s Tales with all their original illustrations. It would make a wonderful baby shower gift or keepsake volume to share with your grandchildren!

If you need a refresher course like I did, the stories are arranged in the order in which they were first published so they may be read in their proper sequence. A special section at the end of this volume contains four additional works by Beatrix Potter that were not published during her lifetime.

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Beatrix Potter’s tales were often connected with real places, people, or animals, so each story includes a brief introductory note about its history. The story of Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGregor’s garden first appeared in a picture letter Beatrix Potter wrote to the young son of her former governess in 1893. Encouraged by her success in having some greetings card designs published, Beatrix remembered the letter seven years later and expanded into a little picture book, with black and white illustrations. After being rejected by several publishers,  Beatrix had it printed herself to give to family and friends. Frederick Warne agreed to publish the tale if she agreed to supply color photos and the book appeared in 1903 and was an instant success.

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For a little novel baking fun,

I adapted a recipe for Carrot-Zucchini Muffins,

sure to please everybunny with the addition

of carrot, zucchini, apple and coconut,

including naughty and hungry rabbits :)

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And I found Peter Rabbit Cupcake Holders

with a little wheelbarrow for

muffin or cupcake toting fun :)

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Peter Rabbit’s Carrot Zucchini Muffins,

adapted from Taste of Home

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling MAKES: 18 muffins

Ingredients

2 cups shredded carrot

1 cup shredded zucchini

1 cup peeled shredded apple

3/4 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup canola oil (I used a combination of unsweetened apple sauce and canola oil to make 3/4 cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Directions

Gently toss together carrot, zucchini, apple, coconut, walnuts and orange zest; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Combine eggs, oil and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened (batter will be thick).

Fold in carrot mixture. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

Bake at 375° for 20-22 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield: 18 standard size muffins.

These are wonderfully moist and a great muffin for breakfast!

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers

for Beatrix Potter Week. . .

Visit Jain and Michael Lee

for more Bunny/Beatrix Potter fun:

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

Visit with us all week for more Beatrix Potter and Bunny & Gardening Inspiration.

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You can also hop along :) on Pinterest and find all the recipes & bunny inspiration.

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Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

Cooking with Flowers: Compound Flower Butter

Compound Flower Butter

Making Flower Compound Butter is easy and beautiful with edible flowers, and adds a ‘wow’ factor for a shower, garden club lunch or treat at the breakfast table!

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 I discovered this simple and beautiful idea, last year in Cooking with Flowersa delicious mix of food and flowers and possibly the most beautiful cookbook I have ever seen!

This book would make a wonderful gift for the gardener who will want to harvest and cook with Roses, Tulips, Hollyhocks, Daylilies, Dianthus and cook rather than curse Dandelions :)

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When I first saw this cookbook on Jain’s beautiful blog, my pulse quickened and my heart skipped a beat~ you’ll want to take the time to stop and taste the roses in Jain’s garden!

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Feast your eyes

 and your taste buds. . .

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From Cooking with Flowers:

“Here are more than 100 recipes that will bring beautiful flower-filled dishes to your kitchen table! This easy-to-use cookbook is brimming with scrumptious botanical treats, from sweet violet cupcakes, pansy petal pancakes, daylily cheesecake, and rosemary flower margaritas to savory sunflower chickpea salad, chive blossom vinaigrette, herb flower pesto, and mango orchid sticky rice.”

Cooking with Flowers

“Alongside every recipe are tips and tricks for finding, cleaning, and preparing edible blossoms. You’ll also learn how to infuse vinegars, vodkas, sugars, frostings, jellies and jams, ice creams, and more with the color and flavor of your favorite flowers. Fresh from the farmers’ market or plucked from your very own garden, a world of delectable flowers awaits!”

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The simplest way to use edible flowers besides a garnish or tossing them in a salad is to make a compound butter. Add 1/4 to 1 cup edible flowers to one cup of room temperature butter, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and any other herbs or desired seasoning.

As with any edible flower, only use ones that are pesticide and chemical free.

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Pick your edible flowers in the morning when they are fresh, avoiding older bruised blooms. Rinse gently to “debug” them and pat dry. Remove each pansy or viola from its sepals (green base).

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Chop flowers and blend to incorporate with your softened butter. Roll into a log shape in plastic wrap and twist the ends of each log tightly.

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Cover and refrigerate butters up to 2 weeks

or freeze up to 6 months.

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For Pansy/Viola Butter:  Use 1/4 cup violas for 2 cups (1 pound) of butter.

Nasturtium Butter:  1 cup nasturtiums per pound butter.

Rose Butter:  1/2 cup rose petals, add 1 teaspoon rose water (optional) per pound butter.

Lavender Butter:  Up to 2 tablespoons lavender buds per pound butter.

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 When ready to use cut butter into ‘coins’. You can garnish each individual ‘coin’ with a viola at each place setting for an additional floral touch!

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 Use compound flower butter at the breakfast table

on pancakes, waffles, muffins,

or  add a pat on top of grilled fish, chicken or steak.

Cooking with Flowers

For a recipe for Viola Crepes with Pansy Syrup,

you can find a taste here.

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Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayMarvelous Mondays,

The Scoop,  Inspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us Wednesdays,

 Home Sweet HomeBe Inspired Friday,

Foodie Friday,  Seasonal Sundays

Novel Baking: Mulling Spice & Spicy Cider

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We had our first snow this week, two inches to give us a nice dusting and for some timely winter atmosphere for Home Made Winter with The Novel Bakers!

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While snow is frightful lately in the Northeast and Midwest (and more recently in Atlanta), it’s something I look forward to since it’s a rare occurrence is usually here today, gone tomorrow.

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A Spicy Cider Warm-Up Drink from Home Made Winter

was just what was called for with temperatures in the ‘teens.

Spicy Cider for Winter's Chill

I made Mulling Spices, to have on hand for cider

or mulled wine and to combat winter’s chill.

Make Your Own Mulling Spice

Two tablespoons of mulling spice are all you need for a quart of apple cider. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, pour into mugs, if desired add rum to each mug to warm you up further!

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Mulling Spice Ingredients:

4 whole nutmeg

8 cinnamon sticks (4 inch size or twice as many 2 inch)

1/2 of 1.25 oz bottle of whole cardamom seed

 dried orange peel from 2 oranges (preferably organic)

1 jar .75 oz whole allspice

1 jar .75 oz whole cloves

.5 oz star anise

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Place nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and cardamom in a heavy duty ziptop bag and give them several good whacks with a mallet or rolling pin. Depending on the thickness of your bag, you may want to cover it with a kitchen towel to prevent the cinnamon sticks for piercing your bag and spices flying across the kitchen :)

 Add the remaining ingredients to the your crushed spices and store mixture in an airtight container or jar.

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I found drawstring tea bags here, that will hold 2 tablespoons of mulling spice, or you can use cheesecloth and tie your spices up with baking twine.

DIY Dried Orange Peel

You can make your own dried orange peel to add to your mulling spice or tea. I started with two oranges (organic is best) to end up with a half pint jar of dried peel.

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Peel your oranges as you would normally, keeping the pieces as large as possible. Cut as much of the bitter pith away from the peel and then use a knife to scrape away as much remaining pith as possible, until you see the orange exterior.

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Cut the peel into thin strips and put in a 250 degree oven on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the peel starts to curl and dry. Let cool completely and store in an airtight jar. Mix with your mulling spice or add to tea.

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Yvette van Boven designed adorable recipe cards to go with Made with Love cookie stamps for Anthropologie. No longer available, I found a similar Home Made stamp from World Market.

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The cookie stamp works best with recipes without baking powder or baking soda so the stamp leaves a distinct impression after baking. A Home Made Winter savory salted thyme cookie (more like a cracker) fit the bill for the cookie stamp.

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Mix your dough of choice, roll it into walnut size balls,

and stamp and flatten to desired

thickness with cookie stamp.

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Hope your surviving Ol’ Man Winter. . .

I recommend the rum :)

You can find a printable recipe for

Mulling Spice with Dried Orange Peel, here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for

Home Made Winter this week. . .

Visit Jain, Michael Lee,  and special guest baker Pam,

for more Home Made Winter fun~

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

Sidewalk Shoes

Follow The Novel Bakers on Pinterest for Home Made Winter.

Homemade Mulling Spice

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

Novel Baking: Irish Stew with Soda Bread

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers with

Home Made Winter.

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(County Kerry, Ireland, photo by Oof Verschuren, Home Made Winter)

Yvette van Bovan’s Home Made Winter is full of comforting winter food, including inspiration from Ireland where she spent her childhood.

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Irish Stew with Soda Bread sounded like the perfect recipe with our unusually cold winter weather~ hearty, comforting and a celebration in a bowl in advance of St. Patrick’s Day!

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Yvette von Boven’s recipe for Irish Stew calls for lamb. I substituted beef, using a 1 1/2 pound chuck roast. I also added some additional parsnips and carrots in place of the rutabaga in the recipe. This is a delicious stick-to-your-ribs Irish Stew!

I’m sure it’s wonderful as written with lamb too.

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Irish Beef Stew, adapted from Homemade Winter

2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pound chuck roast, cut into 1” pieces

1 large onion, diced

1- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (my addition for depth of flavor with the beef)

3 ribs celery, chopped

2 leeks, white and light green parts, washed well and sliced into rounds

3 parsnips, peeled and cubed

3 carrots, peeled and cubed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 – 8 cups low sodium beef stock or a combination of beef & chicken stock

fresh thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used the equivalent of baby Yukon golds quartered or cut in thirds depending on size, no peeling required)

½ cup barley

1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

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Add olive oil to a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add beef in batches to pot in one layer, without overcrowding. Brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add additional oil if needed to the pan, then add the onion, celery, leeks, parsnip, carrots, and saute for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Add the beef back to the pot and enough broth to cover everything generously, then add the thyme and bay leaves.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover, simmering for an hour, or until the beef is tender. The cooking time will depend on the quality of the meat.

Add the potatoes and the barley, cook 30 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle the stew generously with parsley and serve with a nice piece of soda bread. It tastes even better the next day. You can find a printable recipe, here.

Irish Whiskey Soda Bread

Sink your teeth in Irish Whiskey Soda Bread!

Home Made Winter’s recipe called for 8 cups of flour, but I only had a little over 4 cups after round two of my Cardamom Pear Cake. I loved the addition of raisins/currants and caraway seed soaked in Irish whiskey in the soda bread so I looked for another recipe I could adapt with Home Made Winter flavor.

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Irish Whiskey Soda Bread,

adapted from Allrecipes & Home Made Winter

Ingredients

1 cup raisins or currants

1 1 /2 teaspoon caraway seed

4 tablespoon Irish whiskey

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, melted (or less)

1/4 cup buttermilk

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Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment. Mix the raisins/currants with the caraway seeds and whiskey and let soak for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Work in butter until it resembles coarse meal. Spoon the raisin-whiskey mixture through the flour mixture. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg.

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Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check for doneness after 30 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for

Home Made Winter this week. . .

Visit Jain, Michael Lee, and special guest baker Pam

for more Home Made Winter fun~

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

Sidewalk Shoes

Follow The Novel Bakers on Pinterest for Home Made Winter.

Irish Beef Stew with Irish Whiskey Soda Bread

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays

Novel Baking: Cardamom Cake with Whole Pears

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers with

Home Made Winter.

I swooned when saw the pear cake on the

cover of this cookbook and had to try it.

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I made this cake twice, the first time was a hot mess.

 The recipe is written with European butter in mind and reads:

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (200 g) butter.

Wow I thought, that’s a lot of butter, 3 sticks for a loaf cake! Then I continued on my merry mary way not looking up the tablespoon equivalent of 200 grams. The moral of that story is follow your instincts and don’t be in such a hurry.

Yes that is WAY too much butter, almost twice too much. 200 grams is equal to 14 tablespoons of butter, or 1 1/2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons.

Moving on to the best part of this cake. . .

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The pears and the poaching liquid. . .

Oh My.

The pears are poached in wine, sugar, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom.

Cardamom, where have you been all my life?

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Here’s the recipe from Home Made Winter,

with my notes added:

Cardamom Cake with Whole Pears & White Chocolate

 1 loaf cake (8-10 servings)

Ingredients

For the Pears:

3 medium-sized crisp, Bosc pears, peeled but whole, with the stem left on (Bosc pears hold their shape with the poaching and baking time, I could only find large ones)

1 (750-ml) bottle dry white wine

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 cloves

3 star anise pods

8 cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks

For the Cake:

14 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks plus 2 tbsp) softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (If you don’t have self-rising flour, sift/whisk together 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder with 3/4 teaspoon salt for 1 1/2 all purpose flour. There is a handy conversion calculator here.)

1 generous tbsp ground cardamom

pinch of salt

And further:
*3 oz white chocolate, in chunks (*I dusted with powdered sugar instead of using white chocolate)

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Preparation:

Poach the pears: In a large saucepan, combine the pears, wine, sugar, cloves, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon and poach for 30 minutes over low heat.

 Take the pears out of the liquid and set aside to cool. Add 2 1/2 cups (500 ml) water to the poaching liquid and boil to reduce the liquid by half. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.

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Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at the time. Don’t add a new egg until the previous one is incorporated. Sift the flour, cardamom, and salt over the batter and fold it in.

 Spoon the batter into the pan.

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Press the pears in the batter, stem end up.

My tip:  Cut off the bottoms off the cooled pears before adding them to the batter so they are flat, and don’t tilt while baking. Lesson learned from the first hot mess cake.

Bake for *40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake part comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan, then gently remove the cake from the pan to a rack to cool completely. (*My cake took closer to 55 minutes to bake, but I kept opening the oven to check. Tent with foil during last 10 minutes or so of baking time to prevent over browning.)

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*Very carefully melt the chocolate:

Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir the chocolate in the bowl until melted. Using a spoon, drizzle the chocolate over the cake and create nice stripes on top. *(I skipped this step and dusted with powdered sugar instead).

Let the chocolate dry for a bit and serve the cake in thick slices, with the reduced pear syrup.

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The reduced spiced pear syrup, aka nectar of the gods, is worthy of its own post! In addition to spooning over the cake, it makes a perfect ingredient for a cocktail!

Sparkling Spiced Pear Cocktail

Take your reserved spiced pear syrup, (amount is up to you) and add to a champagne flute, along with a few pear slices.

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Top with sparkling wine of choice, Prosecco or Cava.

I used Cava which has a few more bubbles than Prosecco, its Italian cousin, and is also drier, for the pear syrup.

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If you’re looking for an affordable sparkling wine to serve for a crowd (or for just for two :) Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava is a perfect party starter and great value at $7.99, with an 88 point rating from Wine & Spirits Magazine.

You can find a printable recipe for the cake and cocktail, here.

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for

Home Made Winter this week. . .

Visit Jain, Michael Lee,  and special guest baker Pam,

for more Home Made Winter fun~

 a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm 

Sidewalk Shoes

Follow The Novel Bakers on Pinterest for Home Made Winter.

Cardamom Cake with Whole Pears

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Marvelous Mondays,  Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home,

 Be Inspired FridaySeasonal Sundays