Lavender Wreath Making Workshop+100 Kindle Books to Giveaway

WEB-Details-MaryTom-34The language of lavender denotes calmness and tranquility. Making wreaths on a lavender farm on the Old Mission Peninsula (Harbor View Nursery and Lavender Farm) was, therefore, the ideal antidote for combatting pre-wedding stress disorder.

In Northern Michigan, fresh lavender is in season and a couple of days prior to daughter Greta’s marriage to Tom,  I spent the morning with family members making lavender wreaths.

IMG_4426It took five neophyte wreath makers 2 1/2 hours to make 24, 16-inch wreaths. Lavender is most assuredly nature’s version of Prozac. Suffused with this intoxicating bomb of aromatherapy, we were giddy yet mellow after our task was complete. No better way of bonding with my new son-in-law’s mother, Barb, and her sister Mary.

The wreaths were used as centerpieces on the dinner tables (pictured below). A thirty-two inch wreath was hung in the ceremonial alcove (pictured above), and fresh lavender was arranged with other locally grown flowers and herbs into bouquets, flower crowns and flower arrangements.

WEB-Details-MaryTom-28One of the owners of the farm, Sonja, supplied all of the materials we needed to make the wreaths and instructed us on the process. If a wreath-making workshop is something that interests you, shoot her an e-mail, which is listed on her site.

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Before I get to the drill, Lake Union Publishing is conducting a Goodreads Giveaway. They’re giving away 100 Kindle versions of “The Promise Kitchen” (to be published August 16). That’s a heck of a lot of e-books to be giving away. Super simple to enter.

Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/195200-simmer-and-smoke-a-southern-tale-of-grit-and-spice

If you’re not familiar with Goodread’s Giveaways, they are, in essence, within your chosen genre, free lotteries that you can enter to win books.

 ♥♥♥

The Drill:

  1. IMG_4442Organize your supplies. Sonja provided us with 12-inch metal wreath bases, floral wire and wire cutters (available at craft stores such as Michael’s or JoAnne Fabrics.)
  2. Gather your desired amount of  fresh or dried lavender stems into bundles. It’s attractive to vary the lavender colors. We pair pale purple bunches with deep purple bunches.The more stems you use per bundle, the thicker your wreath will be. Secure the bundles together with wire at the stem.
  3. IMG_4440With sharp scissors, trim the stems so that the bundles are about 8-10 inches in length. You will need about 7-8 bundles per wreath.
  4. Wrap the wire around the wreath base several times to secure. (Note that you don’t cut the wire, you keep roping it around the lavender stems of the circumference of the wreath.)
  5. Lay one of the lavender bundles onto the wreath frame so that the blossoms extend slightly past the edge of the frame at your preferred angle. Secure the herbs into the frame  by wrapping the wire two or three times around the stem ends of the lavender.
  6. Layer the next lavender bundle so that the flowers completely cover the stems from the first bundle. Again, secure the bundle into place with wire. Continue in this method until your wreath is almost complete. With the last bundle, lift the blossoms from the first bundle up to place the stems of the last bundle underneath. Secure with the wire and then with wire cutters, snip it, tucking the sharp edge back into the wreath.
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It’s Raining Cherries! (and Weddings)

Save The Date

Save The Date

I’m one taco short a combination platter. A burnt batch of chicken. Where’s the Betty Ford when I need it?

Last weekend my daughter, Greta, married Tom in Charlevoix, Michigan. I threw two parties: a pig roast on Friday for 75 people, and their wedding, for 200, on Saturday.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than cooking for family and friends, but for these occasions I said “uncle”. All events–soup to nuts– were catered. Last summer we spent many hours sampling the wares of catering venues in our area and chose Pigs Eatin Ribs out of Charlevoix to cater the pig roast, and Catering by Kelly’s (out of Traverse City) to cater the wedding. They lived up to their very fine reputations.

The Flower Girls

The Flower Girls

The only thing this control freak couldn’t control was the weather. The skies were blue yet it rained cherries throughout. We’re in the height of cherry season in Northern, Michigan so much of the party food revolved around cherries. In fact, instead of a traditional wedding cake, cherry pie was served, compliments of Mrs. White.

Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Cherries

Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Cherries

For the Bridesmaids Luncheon, a Quinoa-Cherry Salad was served with Cherry Chicken Salad. It reminded me of a Cherry Couscous Salad I’ve always enjoyed making when cherries reign supreme.

Here are links to other cherry recipes I’ve penned in the past that you might enjoy at this time of the year:

Fresh Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini  ♥ Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce  ♥ Grilled Duck Breasts with Cherry Sauce ♥ Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Cherries

All of the noise deafened the characters I’m writing in “The Welcome Home Diner”, and now the ladies are screaming for attention. I’d best be getting back to work.

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Lemony-Poppy Seed Cake + Great Celebratory Spring Recipes

Memorial Day picnics, graduation parties, weddings, showers and anniversaries. In the coming weeks you may be called upon to create a celebratory dish or two.

 The center hole creates the perfect little vase.

Drizzling lemon glaze over the finished cake. The center hole creates the perfect little vase.

Pound cakes are wonderful spring and summer desserts as the center hole of a bundt or fluted cake pan creates an ideal “vase” to insert fresh seasonal flowers or herbs.

This cake (which feeds a crowd of twenty or so) would be a fine conclusion to any of the following recipes below. If you want to go all out on dessert, I’d recommend making the last recipe in the slide show: Annamarie’s  Chocolate Poppyseed Cake. Obviously, I’m a fan of poppyseed cakes–I love the added dimension of little dots and crunch in yellow cake batter.

Greek Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Basil Ribbons

Greek Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Basil Ribbons

Pesto Pasta & Chicken Salad

Pesto Pasta & Chicken Salad

Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing

Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing

Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing

Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing

Crock Pot Barbecue Sliders

Crock Pot Barbecue Sliders

Beefy Super Bowl Sliders with Pimento Cheese

Beefy Super Bowl Sliders with Pimento Cheese

No-Fuss Barbecue Ribs

No-Fuss Barbecue Ribs

Grilled Flank Steak Fajita Bar

Grilled Flank Steak Fajita Bar

Chocolate-Poppyseed Cake

Chocolate-Poppyseed Cake

Greek Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Basil Ribbons thumbnailPesto Pasta & Chicken Salad thumbnailChopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing thumbnailBow Tie Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing thumbnailCrock Pot Barbecue Sliders thumbnailBeefy Super Bowl Sliders with Pimento Cheese thumbnail
No-Fuss Barbecue Ribs thumbnailGrilled Flank Steak Fajita Bar thumbnailChocolate-Poppyseed Cake thumbnail

Greek Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Basil Ribbons • Pesto Pasta & Chicken Salad • Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing • Sun-Dried Tomato Bow Tie Pasta Salad • Crock-Pot Barbecue Sliders • Beefy Sliders with Pimento Cheese •  No-Fuss Barbecue Ribs • Grilled Flank Steak Fajita Bar  • Annamarie’s Chocolate Poppyseed Cake

Pound cakes are simple to make, but use the best ingredients your purse can afford.

Pound cakes are simple to make, but use the best ingredients your purse can afford.

Pound cakes are easy to make but don’t save dimes on the ingredients by purchasing generic brands–quality ingredients will carry your cake. Use the best butter, best flour,  best (full-fat) buttermilk and the best vanilla your purse can afford.

A good pound cake should be moist, flavorful and dense. Rich from the butter and eggs loaded into the batter, the crust should yield a slight crunch–my favorite bite of the cake. The heavy, non-stick bundt pan I used is a dark cocoa color which influenced the dark color of the crust. For a crust with a light golden shade, choose a pan with a lighter shade.

Lemony-Poppy Seed Pound Cake would be delicious served with a scoop of raspberry sorbet. Wrapped in saran, the cake will keep up two days at room temperature, up to to one week refrigerated, and up two months frozen, with an additional wrap of aluminum foil.

Recipe:Lemony-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 6 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups unbleached cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons best-quality vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups whole milk buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon zest
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds
  • Powdered sugar for dusting cake
  • Fresh seasonal flowers, mint leaves or berries, optional garnish
  • Lemon Drizzle (yield: ¾ cup)
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust rack to middle of oven.
  2. In a large bowl fitted with an electric mixer, beat the butter until very light. At medium speed, slowly beat in the sugar and then add the eggs, two at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to insure all ingredients are incorporated into the mixture. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the vanilla, buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest. (Clare prefers the cake extra lemony so uses 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of lemon zest.)
  5. Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat to combine after each addition but do not overmix the batter, which would toughen the cake.
  6. Thoroughly grease a 6-cup bundt or fluted tube pan.
  7. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the surface with a spatula.
  8. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  9. Meanwhile, while the cake is baking, make the lemon drizzle: In a small pan over low heat, stir the sugar and lemon juice together until the sugar has dissolved.
  10. When cake is baked, remove from oven, With a wire tester, skewer or the sharp tip of a cooking thermometer, poke the cake completely through in 16-20 places so that the drizzle can soak through the cake. Pour half of the drizzle onto cake. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake with a spatula and invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Pour remaining drizzle over cake and let rest 30 minutes.
  11. At this point, the cake may be served warm or at room temperature. Before serving, place the on a cake pedestal or large dish, dust with powdered sugar, and fill the hole in the center with fresh flowers or berries, if desired.

Active time: 35 minutes

Baking time: 55-65 minutes

Rest time: 45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): # 18-22

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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