Planting your garden is always an exciting experience. First you can pick out all the plants that you like, your favorite colours and shapes. This is a great time to incorporate some flowery herbs that look nice in the garden, and tasty in your baking and cooking. I will share some of my favourite recipes, and other uses with you.
Bee Balm has a place in my garden for its bright coloured flowers and it’s height. It has a great unique shape that is pretty recognizable as well.
Season your meats – Lamb and fish can be seasoned using dried and crumbled Bee Balm leaves. Use it in place of Oregano or in addition to it for a mild minty flavor that is still quite savory, and is a nice addition to your meat dishes.
Spice up your salads -Bee Balm leaves can add a fresh boost to your fruit and vegetable salads. Just clean a few leaves and toss them right in. The flavor added will be a savory, minty flavor that is especially nice in fruit dishes.
Use as a beverage garnish – The leaves of Bee Balm are nice when added to ice tea or lemonade. Perk up your summer drinks by tossing a few clean leaves right in. This is a great substitution for mint leaves, as it is in the same family as mint.
Lavender Sugar Cookies
I make these cookies because they are so yummy, and equally as pretty.
1 tablespoon fresh or dried culinary lavender flowers
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Sanding sugar or sprinkles for decorating
Use a food processor to grind lavender flowers together with sugar
In a medium sized bowl beat butter and lavender sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add flour and salt and blend until combined taking care not to over mix (dough should be soft but not sticky). Separate dough into two balls and wrap in plastic, flattening each into a flat disc and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325°F. and line baking sheets with parchment paper or leave them ungreased. Roll out one disc of dough at a time on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place on prepared baking sheets. Decorate with sanding sugar and/or lightly press a lavender sprig or leaf into the cookie and top. (To keep shapes intact, refrigerate baking sheet with shaped cookies for 10 minutes before baking).
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to lightly brown around the edges. Carefully remove and cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies depending on size.
Za’atar (sumac) Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Spinach Salad
Prep time 10 mins Cook time30 mins Total time 40 mins
1 medium sweet potato
½ medium onion
⅓ cup greek yogurt (or ¼ cup heavy cream)
2 tablespoons Za’atar Blend* the base recipe for this is a simple ratio of dried thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt.
Juice from ½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup minced parsley
4 ounces goat cheese
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained if using canned
3-4 handfuls spinach
Preheat oven to 375˚.
Cut sweet potatoes into ¼” cubes and dice onion into large chunks. In a roasting dish, combine sweet potatoes, onions, greek yogurt, and Za’atar blend. Using spoons (or your hands), toss together until sweet potatoes are well coated. Roast until sweet potatoes are tender, 20-30 minutes.
Once sweet potatoes are done, place in a large bowl. Add spinach, goat cheese, chickpeas, and minced parsley.
Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil on top. Toss together until well blended. Taste and add more lemon juice/olive oil if needed.
Next time you are feeling in the mood for something different go outside! Check out what your own landscape might be able to offer you. There are lots of other recipes that use common plants in the residential garden.