Elder Flower Syrup

Sambucus Cerulea or Blue Elderberry Sambucus Cerulea or Blue Elderberry

Elderberries are in bloom now in the lower elevations of Puget Sound.  The Blue or the Black Elderberry is the one to use instead of the Red Elderberry.

Freshly picked Elder Flowers Freshly picked Elder Flowers

These fragrant white to pink flowers can be gathered, steeped, then the liquid sugared to make a delicious syrup.  If you have the patience to wait, the dark blue berries can be gathered in the late summer to make into a dye, syrup or wine.

Here is a recipe for making a quart of syrup:


  • 30 elderflower heads
  • 1 quart water
  • 4 cups  sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons or limes
  • zest of 2 lemons or limes
  • 2 tablespoons citric acid
  1. Zest the lemons or limes and put in a large bowl, then the citric acid and lemon or lime juice.
  2. Remove the flowers from the stalk and add to the bowl
Flowers, citric acid, zest and lime juice Flowers, citric acid, zest and lime juice
  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve.
  2. Pour the syrup into the bowl and stir to combine.
Flowers, acids and sugar syrup Flowers, acids and sugar syrup
  1. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit for 2-4 days.
  2. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a clean jar. Store in the fridge for up to six weeks.
Here is what it looks like after steeping for a couple of days. Here is what it looks like after steeping for a couple of days.
Here is the strained syrup. Here is the strained syrup.

This syrup has a very delicate flavor and scent.  It tastes good mixed with seltzer water or even better with some champagne or vodka.

A tiny Elder Flower A tiny Elder Flower

Edible Flowers

Many of the flowers that grace our yards are edible.  They can be used as accents in a salad or as garnish on a main dish.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Edible flowers


I like to use chive flowers in salads to lend a slightly onion flavor.  Here’s a recipe for omelets with chive flowers.

Edible flowers


Lavender cookies are fragrant and delicious.

Edible flowers


Candied rose petals are a sweet my daughter likes to make.

Edible flowers


Have you ever made homemade calendula cream?  It’s easy to make and fun for kids to create.

Edible flowers

Elderberry flowers

These can be dipped in batter and fried to make fritters.

Edible flowers


Sage flowers can be sprinkled over a dish to give a mild sage flavor.

Edible flowers

Johnny Jump Ups

I like to put these on cakes to decorate them.

Rhubarb Crisp

The rhubarb is exploding out of the ground – it’s time to make a crisp!  There are many ways to eat this tangy plant but my favorite way is in a crunchy, nutty, sweet and sour dessert.


  • Fresh rhubarb stems
  • 1/4 cup tapioca or flour for thickening the juices
  • 2 cups sugar
  • One cup flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • One cup nuts

Here’s how to make this tasty dish:

Harvest rhubarb stems by pulling them firmly up and out of the base of the plant.  Trim the leaves and the ends off so you are left with the ruby stems.

    • Wash and cut into pieces about 1/2 inch wide.
    • Put the cut pieces into a baking dish, set the oven to 375 degrees
    • Sprinkle tapioca or flour and, depending on the amount of rhubarb and the degree of your sweet tooth, about one cup sugar over the cut rhubarb
  • Streusel topping directions:

    • Mix melted butter, oats, remaining sugar, nuts and flour together so it is a crumbly mixture.
    • Sprinkle this over the cut rhubarb
    • Dust with cinnamon

    Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the dish is bubbling, the top is brown and the rhubarb is soft.

    Ready to bake!

    Let cool a bit then serve as is or with ice cream or milk.


    Carmelite Water

    Here’s a soothing tonic for stressful times. Carmelite Water or Eau de Mélisse, has been used since the Middle Ages to settle nerves.

    Here’s how to make a simplified version using readily available ingredients:

    • Two cups white wine
    • One cup lemon balm leaves
    • Zest of one lemon
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    Harvest fresh lemon balm
    Place ingredients in a mason jar and put in fridge to steep for 24 hours.
    Decant and enjoy!

    A Great Cracker Recipe!

    This is still one of my favorite recipes! These crackers rival the 5 dollar a bag ones from the market and you can experiment with all sorts of herbs and flavors.

    Panzanella Croccatini

    • 1.5 cups of flour
    • .5 cup very cold water
    • 1 tsp salt, play with this so it is to your taste, I am using less salt
    • dash sugar
    • 1/8 c rosemary chopped
    • 1/8 c olive oil

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees and put a pan for water in the bottom of the oven.

    First put flour, salt, sugar and rosemary in a food processor fitted with the cutting blade and pulse to blend.

    Next add the oil and pulse to blend.  Add the water in a stream until the dough comes together and run for about twenty seconds.

    Turn the dough out and knead to a smooth ball.  Divide it into four pieces and cover with a cloth to let rest for five minutes.

    Roll each section in a pasta roller.  The next to thinnest one tastes very good.

    Cut into sheets and place on parchment paper.  Spray with water water and sprinkle with herbs.

    Put parchment paper directly into the oven on a baking stone, add a half cup of water to the pan in the bottom.  Turn crackers from front to back after about two minutes.  Watch them closely as they burn easily.  You just want a hint of brown.


    Soil Testing

    You’re getting ready to prep the garden but aren’t sure what the soil needs? Time for testing!

    There are lots of available kits and meters. Or you can send samples to a lab for testing.

    We have a lot of rain in the Pacific Northwest and I was sure our soil would be acidic. I was quite surprised to find the only thing needed is nitrogen!

    Stone Necklaces

    This post is one of the most popular on the site. Over the years I have made necklaces from stones collected on both coasts and they remind me of the trips.

    Here are step by step instructions for making necklaces from small stones.

    A few tools can make the work go quickly.

    To start you will need a few basic tools such as needle-nosed pliers, wire cutters and if you use overlapping jump rings, a tool for separating the pieces of wire.

    You can use lovely sterling silver wire or a less expensive metal.

    You will also need wire, something to string the rock on and some items to make a closure for the necklace.  (If you want to be really rustic you can just tie the ends.)

    A little cooking oil makes the rocks gleam and look more beautiful.

    Choose your rock.  Beaches, lakes and your very own backyard are all good places to find good stones.  Unless you have really strong neck muscles keep the rock on the small side.

    With many different sizes of stones you can guess on the wire and it will fit one of your stones.

    Next cut two pieces of wire; one long and one short.  Double over the long piece to make a loop and line up the shorter piece next to it.  This loop will be what you use to hang the necklace.

    Almost there!

    Next take thinner wire and wrap it around the pieces of wire.  Use the needle nosed pliers to crimp the wires down then trim them with the sharp ends all on one side; these will go against the rock so they won’t catch on clothing.

    A toothpick can make the pulling apart of the wires easier.

    Pull pieces of the wire out to make a basket to hold the stone in place.

    Wiggle the rock to be sure you are fitting it well.

    Wrap the wire around the rock and adjust it so the rock is held firmly in place.

    Smooth down the wire around the stone.


    Be sure to make the loop big enough to feed your cord through.

    Trim all the ends of the wire next to the loop except for the really long one.

    A river stone transformed.

    Wrap the ends to keep them in place; adjust the wire on the rock so it looks good and finish wrapping the wire ends.

    All set!

    Take cord or leather and make something to string the rock on.


    Dyeing with Fresh Indigo

    It’s easy!

    Pick Indigo leaves before the plant blooms.

    Sprinkle with salt and massage leaves. You may need to add a little water.

    Massage in the cloth or yarn you want to dye and let it sit for 30-60 minutes.

    Here’s the rinsed yarn.

    I like this teal colored silk!

    Put the plucked stems in water and they will root. Indigo makes a nice houseplant or you can plant outside in warm weather.

    Calendula Cream

    Calendula’s blooming so it’s time to make soothing cream.

    Soak the dried flowers in a cup of olive oil for a couple of weeks. To speed up the process the oil and flowers can be gently heated for an hour.

    Drain the oil. I added in dried lavender with the calendula petals.

    Put the oil in a bowl in a pan of hot water. To get a thick cream add one ounce of beeswax to one cup of oil.

    Pour into a container with a cover and enjoy!

    Now that you have dried herbs making your own blends is easy! These make great gifts as well as stepping up the flavor of your own dishes.



    Here are some of my favorite blends:

    Herbes de Provence

    Herbes de Provence usually contains basil, bay leaf, marjoram, rosemary, summer savory and lots of thyme. Lavender can be included too but don’t add too much as it’s pretty strong.  Here is a base recipe to start with but feel free to play around to get the flavor you like.  If you don’t have all of these herbs it’s fine to leave some out.

    • 2 Tablespoons dried basil
    • 1 Tablespoon dried marjoram
    • 1 Tablespoon dried summer savory
    • 2 Tablespoon dried thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon lavender flowers
    • 1 bay leaf
    • ½ Tablespoon dried rosemary



    Rub for Grilling

    • 3 Tablespoons dried basil
    • 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
    • 1 Tablespoon dried savory
    • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons dried fennel
    • 1 bay leaf



    Italian Seasoning

    This tastes great in spaghetti sauce, on pizza or in salad dressings.

    • 4 Tablespoons dried basil
    • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
    • 1 Tablespoons dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon dried garlic, (you can leave this out and use fresh instead when it’s time to cook)
    • 1 bay leaf

    You can put these blends into small jam jars or metal containers.  Keeping air and light out will help the flavors stay bright.