Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Sunday, July 10, 2011

lavender hill farms

we visited the lavender hill farms in northern Michigan this past weekend.  the lavender was growing in fields. many labeled varieties are grown in rows over rolling hills on a beautiful farm.

the lavender is made into a variety of products, soaps, sachets, shortbread, oils and more.  this farm was so beautiful that i could hardly believe it was in northern Michigan.  here is their website:

 here are some more photos from the farm.  the property has several fields, small gardens and a gift shop

berries and cream

this is my favorite dish for serving berries and cream.  this time, i combined raspberries and blueberries in the presentation with brown sugar and cream.  i purchased this old fashioned dish at Cutler's in Petoskey, Michigan.  i have had it for several years now, and it always makes a beautiful presentation for serving fresh fruit.

this is a terrific dessert by itself, or served over sliced pound cake for the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or even Flag Day. The cream drizzles over the berries and provides just the correct amount of moisture for the cake.

window boxes

 we spent the day up north yesterday visiting several cities, and i wanted to share some of the most beautiful window boxes that line the streets.  the majority of shops along the main street in Charlevoix, Michigan seem to have the most beautiful arrangements of flowers and plants.

here are some of my favorites.  the one to the right has a sign that says, "spit pits here."  this window box is outside of the cherry republic gourmet food shop, where they sell many cherry products.

some of the window boxes have mostly plants, while others feature beautiful blooming flowers.

lemon orange pepper

for a dinner last week, i used this lemon orange pepper to season zucchini on the grill.  this sonoma pepper was not only delicious, but gave a great body of flavor to the grilled vegetables.  i have used this pepper blend on roasted red potatoes and other vegetables in the past.  try it and you will see what a great flavor enhancer is it for many vegetable side dishes.

sauteed mushrooms

sauteed mushrooms are very easy to make and can be used for a variety of recipes.  i simply slice the white mushrooms and saute in a pan with a dash of olive oil and seasonings.  for this day, i used parsley, pepper, and some herbs.

these mushrooms can be served over pasta or added to the top of grilled chicken.  they can be used for burger toppings or made in advance and used for a couple of recipes during the week. 

growing green onions

this is my first year to grow green onions in my small vegetable patch near the garage door.  i have wanted to grow vegetables for years, but have never had the appropriate space for them.  this year i have tried several different vegetables, but i have to say that the green onions have been doing the best in my garden.

today i picked my first grouping of green onions and used them for a red potato salad recipe.  they are delicious and so fresh.  i have many more plants to use in the coming weeks, as they are growing nicely.  i will be certain to grow green onions again next year.


during the month of July, my daisies bloom.  here is a collection that are blooming in front of my picket fenced garden.  around the outside of the garden, i have planted red, white, and blue flowers.  here, the white daisies give a fresh feeling to the month of July.  they accompany the white obedient plant in the garden border.

since they require lots of sun, they are positioned where the majority of sunshine will shine on them throughout the day.  daisies are terrific plants for floral vases and arrangements.


some of the best shade plants in my garden have to be ferns.  i have several types of ferns that provide a splendid backdrop to flowering plants which are placed at the front of my garden.  since the ferns grow tall and wide, i have positioned them at the back of my shade garden.  my favorite ferns are the cinnamon fern and the ostrich fern.

at different times of the day, these ferns have dappled sunlight through them, which gives the garden great color.  the ferns provide nice movement when there is a summer breeze and even during rainfall.

martha's firecracker cookies

just before the fourth of July this year, i made Martha's firecracker cookies which were featured on her July magazine cover.  the recipe was for her traditional sugar cookie, however; she suggested decorations similar to those she features at Halloween for her spider cookies.

these cookies took four hours to make.  since the cookies need to be chilled before baking on the baking sheets, it took two hours to scoop, chill and bake the cookie dough.  next, the cookies needed to cool before decorating.  and finally, the decorations were able to be completed.

the cookies are delicious and i would certainly make them again.

strawberry and cream lilies

since late June this year, my lily collection has been blooming.  Asiatic and oriental lilies grace my garden.  i have had several years of no lilies, since the bunnies in and near my garden love to munch the stems before the flowers ever form.  so, i have tried various techniques since 2009 to stop the little rabbits from ruining these beautiful flowers.

i have moved the lilies twice, and finally they are surrounded by my wooden garden fence, along with wire frames to protect them as they grow in the springtime.  they have been wonderful for several weeks now and i am so glad that i have worked to support their growth and beauty.

mixed iris

purple, yellow and cranberry rust iris grew and multiplied this year in the garden.  these bearded iris are always welcome in my garden every spring.  they are sturdy and bright with spectacular green leaves that provide a wonderful backdrop to summer flowers.


i planned to surround my garden picket fence last year with red, white and blue perennial flowers.  this walker's low catmint has been a wonderful selection, as it blooms throughout the season and provides a wealth of beautiful blue flowers.  it complements other blue flowers in the garden, such as the blue allium and blue flax.

since the catmint grows so well, i have divided the bushes a couple of times, and have been able to enjoy bursts of color in several areas along the fence line.  the catmint has required staking in order to keep it within the edged border.  i simply used garden twine and tied it to the fence.

forget me nots

this spring my garden borders were filled with forget me nots.  a gardening friend shared many plants with me last year, and i have been thrilled to enjoy these flowers in particular.  some gardeners may find them too difficult to manage, but i have large border areas that needed to be filled with flowers, such as these low growing and long lasting forget me nots. they have lovely blue flowers and are a wonderful border ground cover.

i enjoyed them tremendously, and have encouraged them to spread into thicker flower borders. So, i almost can't wait until next year to see how they have grown.  in one year, they did so very well in my zone 5 garden.


i almost can't wait each spring until my lilac bushes bloom  here are some of the blooms from them that were beautiful and fragrant.  the purple bushes burst with flowers toward the end of the spring season, and they are spectacular when in bloom  my miss Kim lilacs flowered as well this year for the first time, and their fragrance is also very inviting. i planted the miss Kim lilacs in 2008, and have been very pleased with their growth.

since they bloomed this year, i can expect many more blooms in the years to come.

giant purple allium

i have been so busy in my garden that i have not had time to share photos of my flowers with my blog followers.  in the next few posts, i plan to show some of my spring flowers that were so beautiful this year after such a cold winter season.

i especially enjoy these allium, as they are so large and bright purple to welcome spring with a big splash of color.  i had more allium this year than years past.  i would have to say they are some of my favorite flowers of the year.