Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Elderflower fritters

Elderflower Fritters

excerpt from 5/23/21 "Just the Essentials" free newsletter.  Subscribe with your email address on our website -

When I was a little kid, I lived down the road from 4 girls around my age in one family – the Caterbones.  Their mom was a really good cook.  There was often a spot at the table for me.  Mrs. Caterbone made corn fritters, delectable nuggets of sweet corn held together with light batter, and served with King’s Table Syrup. 

We make fritters with lots of spring flowers, because we can!  Violets, dandelion, rose petals, and now elderflowers become the ingredient of honor.  They make a nice side dish for a holiday meal or brunch.  They’re ready for Memorial Day here.  They are a simple, elegant and memorable treat.

Choose nice full embels.  I separate them into smaller pieces, according to how they grow.  Often the stems are left on the flowers so that they are easy to maneuver.  Rinse them well and give any critters a moment to escape. Pat dry.
Note:  small amounts of stem, especially cooked are safe to eat.  

Mix up the batter.  I like a thinner batter for elderflowers, to let the flavor through.
1 c flour
1 t baking powder
2 eggs
 ½ c milk
½ c water
1 t vanilla extract (omit for savory fritters)
 ½ t salt  
Mix until smooth and free from lumps.
Heat about 1/4” of oil in a frying pan.
When it’s hot, dip elderflowers in batter and fry until golden brown. 
You will need to flip them, so hopefully you have thin, pliable stems.  Otherwise, snip and flip.
Drain oil on paper towels. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Yesterday Cindy Jones of Colorado Aromatics suggested adding lilacs to drinking water for flavor.  That put a bee in my bonnet, and I sprinkled some lilacs over the battered embels on the way to the frying pan.  Very tasty.   It has me thinking about adding all kinds of things to the batter.

I really like the lightest sprinkle of 10X sugar, but some might prefer some nice rose or violet syrup drizzled over the fritters.  It also occurred to me while I was making these today that it might be interesting to add a teaspoon or two to the liquid portion of the recipe – rose, orange blossom, etc.

They really are a delicious treat!
If you have leftover batter, fry some batter-dipped sage leaves.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Wandering to the Workshop

 I don't go down the old path to the workshop much anymore.  Someone moved in on the other side of that field and cut down most of the wooded buffer before realizing it wasn't theirs, so now it feels like I'm walking right to their yard before turning down the hill.  There are a lot of plants that I miss in that buffer, so I wanted to visit what is still there.
Out the front door, the first thing to lay eyes on is this stunning clematis climbing up the butterfly bush.  It was in bud for weeks and the anticipation was hard!

Next was the first red poppy, bright as a cardinal.  It stands proudly besides the purple lupine spires.  Both of these plants have been temperamental for me, so this is super gorgeous.

Along the side of the house on the other side of the front garden is a glorious, fat juniper/cedar.  It gets cedar apple rust when the weather is wet.  We'd had a couple weeks with no rain and no "orange brains" but it rained yesterday, so...

Down to the bottom of the back yard, and the blueberries are weighing down the branches.  They'll need some serious pruning before winter.

It seems early to see the passionflower sprouts coming up at the corner, yet there they are.  Things are never on schedule anymore.  Maybe they never were.

Motherwort is doing great.  It grows all along the fence row, and down closer to the workshop.  Down there, it's just about to bloom. I love her leaves, but haven't printed with them yet.  The tincture gets very dark, so I've been hesitant, but maybe soon.

Poison ivy is also very prolific along the fence row.  The birds garden this area, depositing seeds from the things they eat.  Apparently the local birds LOVE poison ivy berries.  They aren't picky though, so the diversity is great.

Multiflora rose is there, of course.  For the next week or two, if we drive somewhere on the back roads with the windows open, the air will be perfumed with the fragrance of this rose.  Her petals can be gathered to use in the same way other roses would be used.

A bit further and we come upon blackberry blossoms.  We have 3 main wild berries in this part of the country - black raspberry, wineberry, and blackberry.  Mulberry trees are also very common.  All of these berries grow here, along with the occasional precious wild strawberry.

Perhaps 10 or 15 years ago, the birds planted Solomon's seal along the ridge above my sister's house.  Her husband was interested in bamboo at the time, so I (and by "I", I of course mean my nephew) grabbed a few shovels full of the roots to rescue, and they are now vigorously spreading across my front yard.  Today while picking a few rugosa rose petals, I noticed that the original patch is still hanging in there.  This plant is becoming much less common than it once was - but you couldn't tell around here.  It is extremely vigorous. 

Shepherds Purse is also one of the weeds (herbs) around here.  Let's face it... I live in a field with a house plopped in the middle :-) 

 Finally hoofing it back up the hill to beat the mailman with the item I'd gone down to pick up, I took the other path home and stopped to check on the yarrow and spearmint that are tucked in behind the biggest bayberry.  

All in all, there is a lot to see out there.  The whole time, birds are chirping and singing, as if it's all some Disney movie.  Of course if it WAS a Disney movie, mice and birds would be down there making and wrapping soap instead of us doing that after lunch.  

I hope you get to spend some time looking at what grows around you.


Friday, May 14, 2021

Our Handmade Cards

 For a few years, we've been working with fabrics and various mordants, plants, and techniques to get leaf prints on scarves (and maybe some other things coming up...).  Those can be found HERE.

In the last month or so, we started working with paper. 


After the prints are made, we drag out the paints and pencils to embellish the prints, trying to walk a fine line to avoid gilding the lily!  

There are a couple that we can't bring ourselves to give up, and will probably frame, but there are a couple hundred that still need work. 

 About 60 are listed on the website HERE

Usually our posts are teaching posts with recipes and instructions, but every now and then we just want to let you know about something we have to offer.  Right now, buy 5 of them and the 6th is FREE!  

As a side note, my house may never be "tidy" again.