Monday, February 27, 2017

Our Fourth Anniversary Edition

cake with four candles
It is time for our annual anniversary post. How time does fly! It hardly seems possible that we are beginning the fifth year of this blog! First of all, I want to welcome the new nations that joined our readers this past year. They are, in alphabetical order: China, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Guatemala, and Swaziland. We are so happy you have chosen to “visit” us. The little blue maps that we used previously were not doing justice to lovely small countries like Luxembourg. (I have fond memories of my visit there.) So we have put a large world map on the wall by my desk. I mark each country with a paper dot.

photo of world map from Annake's office
Photo of world map from Annake's office

Lemon balm growing in Annake's Garden
Lemon balm growing in Annake's Garden
As Spring draws closer, we are getting ready to plant vegetables and herbs for the seasonal Farmers' Markets. Annake's Garden is earning a good reputation for its fresh herbs. One of the things that we do is to supply a sheet of simple recipes and tips for using each herb to first-time buyers of that herb. We would also like to share some of these recipes with you. One of the most popular herbs we introduced last year was a favorite of mine lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). These two easy recipes got great reviews. Look for more recipes during the coming year.

Lemon Balm Simple Syrup

1 C. sugar                  1 C. water             3 C. chopped lemon balm leaves

Boil water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add lemon balm. Simmer another 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool for 30 minutes. Strain syrup, discard leaves.* Refrigerate in a tightly-closed container.

* Leaves can make a second batch of syrup if used right away.

Lemon Balm Coolers

¼ C. lemon balm syrup                                              1 tsp. Lemon extract
½ can lime juice concentrate                                     5 ounces club soda
2 C. crushed ice

Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, Serve in chilled glasses. Garnish with lemon balm sprigs if desired.

I don't know if you follow health food news, but one of my favorite vegetables is getting very favorable mention for its nutritional value. That vegetable is the parsnip. (Brassica rapa) It is one I use a lot, especially in slow cooker (crockpot) recipes. With our demanding schedule, we depend on having this kind of hot meal waiting for us at the end of the day. You can use parsnips in recipes that call for carrots, turnips, or other root vegetables. If you haven't tried them yet, I hope you will do so soon. Look for more about herbs and/or other food plants later this year.

Applique on sweatshirt
Applique on one of the sweatshirts in our Etsy shop
I am always pleased when new needlework or art topics get a good response. I was gratified by the interest in Swedish weaving, optical illusion needlework, and reverse applique. There will be more information and patterns this year for all of those topics. Another thing I hope to begin this year is a series of articles relating the characteristics of kinds of art work to their applications in needlework, starting with still life. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by the interest in a particular post. That was the case with the one about decorated sweatshirts and the follow-up post about jackets made from sweatshirts (November 30, 2016 and December 15, 2016). I will try to include more information about clothing decoration in future needlework posts.

I really appreciate the questions I get from readers because they allow me to give additional explanations and instructions that time and space did not allow me to give in the original posts. I was especially delighted with the variety of questions based on the 'Serendipity' post (January 15, 2017), which generated so much follow-up that it will take two whole posts to cover all of it (February 14, 2017, and the first post in March 2017).

Keep those questions coming,

upcoming project collage
Some upcoming project topics...

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