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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


the mixture of coneflowers in my garden this summer have been spectacular.  they have multiplied and extended far beyond the space i created for them.  so, this fall i will divide and share them with other sun filled areas of my yard.

coneflowers typically have a cone center and are considered an herbaceous perennial.  their green leaves begin early in the season, with the flower petals developing later in the summer. some species are known to attract disease, but my flowers this year have grown wonderfully disease free.  early in the season, i spray the first leaves near the soil with a fungicide and this has seemed to prevent the disease from even beginning to form on the plants.

i have enjoyed mapping out my garden bloom schedule this year, and have had at least one type of flower in bloom since late April this year.  these coneflowers are a wonderful addition to my august garden of blooms; where garlic chives, mums, baby's breath, roses, bee balm, and sweet peas are blooming.


blooming in my garden this month are black eyed susans.  these flowers grow on very tall stems in full sun and have multiplied for me very nicely over the past three years.  given to me by a gardening friend, these flowers have a wonderful golden yellow color opening the way to the fall season.

i chose to use a flower frog on the top of this vase to spread the stems to give the table arrangement a bit of a wispy air and light appearance for my breakfast table.  the plants are growing very upright with strong stems and can be easily divided or transplanted in the fall.  i plan to divide my groupings which have already grown to four bunches from one smaller plant.

these are cheerful flowers for gloomy days and they have brightened my kitchen with warmth and sunshine.
i look forward to having these flowers growing in my backyard for years to come.

fresh from the garden salsa

august is harvest month for my vegetables from the garden.  this past week, i have found tomatoes, salsa peppers and lots of large green onions ready to use in my cooking.  i am thrilled with my harvest this year and am already planning my vegetables for next year.  this is my first year with vegetable gardening, and i have found that i love watching the plants grow and love to incorporate the food into my dishes.

for this garden salsa, i simply chopped these peppers, tomatoes, and green onion, and did not add a thing.
the mixture is delicious as is, served on crackers or toast.  it could be used as a thick dip for blue corn tortilla chips, or as a topping over crusty baked bread with cheese.  this is a very versatile recipe and so easy to make with garden produce.
served in this bright red emile henry bowl, the fresh flavor was bursting from the salsa and sparking a wonderful taste on the palate.

tea from india

my friend who lives in India with her husband on assignment, sent me these teas grown there.  she knows that i simply love to drink tea, and find it as an escape from whatever is going on in my world that day.  Indian tea is said to be grown in the land of sunshine and ice where people practice yoga, meditation and love their land and nature.

i truly understand the idea of mediation and tea drinking, as i love to savor the flavor of the tea and focus on the warmth and pleasing aroma from the tea cup. with the many cold months ahead in Michigan, i have already begun to stock up on my tea packages. reading the information on this package enlightened me to the world of growing tea leaves.

in India, some of the best tea grows in elephant country, which provides the very fertile soil for the tea leaf growth.  master tea tasters select the leaves for their flavor and brightness. the Assam area lies in the north east district of India.

i am thrilled to be drinking such an elite package of tea and thoroughly appreciate her gift to me.

sauteed squash

for a delicious summer side dish, consider sauteed squash.  i use a combination of yellow and green squash and saute either over the outdoor barbecue grill or indoors in a grill pan.  by using a light coating of olive oil and seasoning with either fresh or dried dill, this recipe comes together in just minutes.

the squash cooks quickly over a medium heat, softens and becomes tender to taste.  this is one recipe that is simple, so should be the last item to prepare on the dinner menu.  when your entree and other sides are near completion, heat the squash and serve hot from the pan.

i have found that zucchini can be flavored easily to match the main dish with a variety of spices to taste.  i prefer dill with chicken and fish, and red or black pepper with parsley for pasta entrees.  experiment with your spice cabinet and see how easy it is to create a great tasting side dish with the summer harvest of squash.

herb focaccia

here is a wonderful recipe for herb focaccia.  i prepare this dough with my Cuisinart automatic bread maker, and then bake in the oven to finish.  i have made this recipe with a dried herbal mix from Donna Frawley's herbs for bread line or used fresh herbs straight from my garden.  either way, i highly recommend this recipe.
using the dough program on the machine, i add these ingredients in the order listed:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons herbs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups, plus 3 tablespoons of bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

the dough program mixes, kneads and rises this dough.  when the cycle is complete, i transfer to a floured surface and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
prepare a smaller 12 x 8 sheet pan with olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal.
after the dough has rested, place on this prepared pan.  cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest again for 40 to 50 minutes.

preheat the oven to 425 or 400 if your oven runs hot.  with oiled fingers, i press indentations into the dough.  i then drizzle with a light olive oil and sprinkle with a mixture of 3/4 tablespoons kosher salt, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1/4 cup fresh or dried herbs. (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and / or marjoram)

bake until puffy about 20 to 25 minutes. cut into small squares or fingers to serve with pasta, salad or even just to dip in oil for an appetizer.