Decorating with Herbs, Step Stone Patterns and More Rhubarb & Strawberry Recipes

Here is my sun shining down on my flower.

Here we are just about in the middle of June… how the days fly. The other day Kyle & Ethan were planting another 50 pounds of Yukon potato seeds… I walked down the row punching the holes in the plastic where they were to plant… Suddenly I saw this big, bossy and majestic dragonfly… He lives here at The Garden Gate Farm… he sports an iridescent blue jacket and flits about like he doesn’t have a care in the world. I love to watch them fly about… whip over this way and then dart over that way.  They are by far my favorite insect. I quick pointed him out to the boys and we watched awhile as he showed off.  I truly believe that God always sends me one because He knows how special they are too me.  We also had another ‘not so majestic’ flying critter that day~ this one though was darting through my house and I was screaming running out the door~ A Bat!  Oh how I hate bats… now don’t get me wrong, I love bats outside for all the wonderful things they do~ like eating all those pesky mosquitoes and moths~ but not inside.  I have to say it has been awhile since we had one… remember we live in the country and this really is part of life! But awhile later we were all standing in the kitchen when a beautiful Ruby Throated Hummingbird female was hovering right in my big picture window looking right on in… She seemed to be looking in and being thankful she was out… she was in the midst of my red climbing rose bush canes that dance in front of the window.  Yes we live in the county and we get lot’s of flyin’ things. 

Well here are some ideas on making walk ways and fanciful ways to have your step stones add that special touch! Also enjoy some more ideas on how to incorporate Herbs in your entertaining along with four more yummy recipes for rhubarb and strawberries!  Enjoy friends…

I love Garden Paths… they add such an interesting element to any yard or garden.  Here are a couple photos of two of mine.  You can create any type of design using them. I used slate in my pergola walkway laid in pea stone.  At the entrance I put regular round step stones to keep the pea stone from rolling out.  I used plastic ground cover first, then laid the slate and then added the pea stone and swept it evenly to fill in around the slate.  As you are walking and then turn to go into one of our hoop houses I took some extra pieces of the slate and created two patterns~ one is a flower and the other a sun (photo).  You can do whatever you dream of!

Here is my pergola walkway.  There are Sweet Autumn Clematis along
with climbing roses. 
I have mentioned often how much I enjoy entertaining and decorating for the event.  It is quite easy to incorporate herbs into the affair… here are a few tips on how! 
*Consider using pale natural fabrics such as un-dyed linen.  This allows the herbs to hold center stage rather than having a too busy pattern.
*As with the linens, choose plain or understated china, flatware and glassware that will not upstage the greenery. 
*Of course every table needs a centerpiece- don’t make your bouquets with just flowers, add herbs… they add delicate texture, such as with Dill leaves or fennel. Try adding geranium leaves, flowering Cinnamon Basil or any purple basil… so beautiful.  Arrange the herbs loosely; think about how they grow in the garden and let them ramble across the table.  Herbs wilt very easily so be sure to give them lots of water and right away after harvesting! 
*Keep a bowl of freshly torn herbs such as basil, mint, tarragon, cilantro, and flat leaved parsley is an attractive detail- it allows your guests to help themselves to sprinkle on their food and drinks.
*Mix watermelon- red and yellow if you know an Heirloom gardener, a cantaloupe and a honey dew; Using a melon baller, fill individual desert cups with the melon, put a fresh sprig of mint on top of each.
*Adorn each place setting with an herbal napkin ring~ use a long sprig of rosemary or summer savory, fold around the napkin and tie with a piece of ribbon, twine or jute- whichever fits your theme better, place on plate.
*Write the names of your guests on copper or aluminum plant tags and put them in miniature Terra cotta plant pots filled with fresh herbs~ place at each plate~ what a statement!
*Use Lemon balm or another long stemmed herb like lavender to create easily woven lattice pattern place mats.  When a hot plate is placed on the mat, a delicious aroma is released~ not to mention it is just beautiful.
*Make your ice water extra special by putting leaves of borage and mint with cucumber slices  in your water pitchers.
*Coriander flowers impart a delicate flavor to pepper and salt.  Simply add several in your salt & pepper containers~ little salt & pepper bowls make it even prettier.

Rhubarb and now strawberries… now we can really get cooking!  Try these yummy treats for an added spice in life!

Rhubarb Strawberry Sauce

3-4 cups 1 inch rhubarb pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cup halved strawberries, de-stemmed
2 Tbsp. butter

1. Bring rhubarb, sugar, water & salt to a boil; Reduce heat and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.; add strawberries and cook 3-5 more minutes, or until rhubarb is tender.
2. Remove from heat and add butter.
Serve sauce warm or cold over ice cream, angel food cake, pudding or baked custard.

Rhubarb Upside- Down Cake

2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cup diced rhubarb
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp.; baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

1. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a 9×9 inch cake pan; add brown sugar and rhubarb; cream together butter and sugar; add the eggs and beat.
2. Combine the dry ingredients and add alternately with the milk.
3. Pour over rhubarb and bake at 3765 degrees fro 40-45 minutes.
4. Turn upside- down on plate to serve.

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca or flour
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 cup diced rhubarb
2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/8 tsp. almond extract
pastry for a double crust pie
1 Tbsp. butter

1. Combine sugar, tapioca and nutmeg; add rhubarb and strawberries; add extract.
2. Mix gently and let stand 10-15 minutes to blend flavors; Pour mixture into an unbaked 9 inch pie shell; dot with butter.
3. Cover with top crust; cut slits into the top crust; seal with flute edges of pie crust.
4. Bake at 350 degree’s for 40-45 minutes until fruit bubbles and pie is golden.

Rhubarb Jam

2 1/2 lb.s rhubarb
1 cup water
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 box fruit pectin
1/2 tsp. butter
2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)

1.  Finely chop rhubarb; do not peel.
2. Place in a 4 quart saucepan; add water and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 2 minutes or until rhubarb is soft.
3. Measure 4 1/2 cups  into a 6-8 quart saucepan; measure sugar into a separate bowl.
4. Stir pectin into rhubarb; add butter; bring to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat; skim foam; add coloring now if going to.
5. Ladle quickly into six 1 cup prepared jars, leaving 1/8 inch head space.
6. Process in a boiling water caner 10 minutes.

Happy Day,