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An Edible Garden: Cooking and Baking with Flowers

An Edible Garden: Cooking and Baking with Flowers

Flowers have been used in culinary delicacies around the world for thousands of years, though it’s only in recent years that their popularity in the kitchen has been rekindled. Some of the flowers listed below are ornamental ones that are found in many gardens, so you won’t have too much difficulty finding them, but be sure to only eat those that you have grown yourself or that you’ve purchased from a source that you can trust (like an organic farmer’s market). Blooms that you can buy from a florist shop will have most likely been treated with pesticides and other toxic chemicals, and you really don’t want to ingest any of that. Additionally, don’t eat flowers that you’ve picked from the side of the road, as they’ve been exposed to a plethora of poisons via car exhaust fumes, spills, etc.

Flower omelette

    When it comes to incorporating flowers into various dishes, keep in mind that their flavours can range in taste from aromatic and sweet to spicy and earthy, so it’s important to taste them before deciding how you’re going to use them. It’s also good to ensure that the flowers you use are indeed edible ones, as there are some lookalikes out there that can make you quite ill if you eat them by mistake.

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    Squash/Zucchini Blossoms

    Zucchini Blossom

      If you’ve never tried the stuffed, cooked blossoms of squash or zucchini, you’ve missed out on something rather exquisite: the flowers themselves have a beautiful, delicate flavour, and they hold fillings such as herbed rice, cheese and nuts, and ground meat exceptionally well. Once stuffed, the blossoms can be cooked in a variety of different ways, but frying them seems to yield the tastiest results.

      Marigolds (Calendula)

      Spicy and velvety, marigold petals were treasured as edible delicacies by the ancient Greeks, and are still used throughout India and the Middle East in a variety of different dishes. Fresh, they’re a gorgeous addition to salads, and they can be dried and used in drinks, soups, and when dried, as a baking spice with cinnamon and cloves. Brewed into a strong tea, they can colour rice dishes in lieu of saffron, but be sure to remove the white “heels” of the petals before using them as they can add an unpleasant note to your dish.

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      Violets, Violas, and Pansies

      Candied Violet Truffles

        With their distinctive floral scent and delicate flavour, violets and pansies have been used in a variety of dishes since the early medieval period. Use candied violets as decorations for cupcakes, petit-fours, and other desserts, or use them raw in herb/flower salads; the raw blossoms go well with chervil and endives, as well as cress, arugula, pears, and raspberries.

        Rose Petals

        All rose petals are edible, but the more fragrant the flower, the more flavour it will have. Dark red roses are particularly stunning, and can be used to dramatic effect when creating desserts. You can create your own rose water by steeping a few handfuls of petals in a clean jar of water for a few weeks and then use that to flavour desserts like crème brûlée, ice cream, jams, etc. You can also make candied rose petals with a bit of egg white and sugar, and then arrange them on cakes and tarts—just remember to remove the white “butts” that attach to the center, as they’re terribly bitter.

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        Nasturtiums

        Originally from Peru, these vibrant flowers were brought to Europe by the conquistadores back in the 1500s, and they’ve been used to brighten up both gardens and dishes ever since. You can shred the young leaves and stems to add to dishes; they have a sharpness similar to that of watercress. The flowers, though still spicy, have a sweeter, more delicate flavour, and look spectacular in leafy green salads.

        Dandelions

        Dandelions

          Though these plants seem to be the bane of lawn enthusiasts everywhere, dandelions are actually very useful little plants: they’re used as a cleansing tea, the young leaves can be used as a great, slightly bitter salad green, and the cheerful yellow blooms are startlingly delicious when cooked. Dandelion fritters are easy to make and beyond delicious, and you can enjoy them either savoury or sweet, dipped into either sour cream, mustard, or honey.

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          Sunflowers

          It’s likely that just about everyone has tasted sunflower seeds at some point, but before the flower heads transform into the dark, seed-laden moony faces most of us are familiar with, they’re edible in a variety of different ways. The petals can be used as a sweet/bitter additive to salads, and before it even unfolds into a petaled blossom, a sunflower bud can be steamed: it tastes much like an artichoke heart when cooked.

          Remember that you can also use the flowering parts of many herbs in your cooking and baking: mint, dill, fennel, borage, chive, thyme, and rosemary flowers have a similar flavour to the fully-grown plant, only slightly more delicate, and can be used in the same way that you use the regular herb; just prettier versions thereof.

          Consider breaking up chive blossom heads and tossing them into potato salad or egg dishes to add a spicy kick along with splashes of vibrant purple, and rosemary flowers are also great with potatoes. Borage flowers can be candied and used as decorations for cupcakes, while lavender blossoms—though a bit perfume-y and an acquired taste—can be used to make lavender sugar for desserts and teas. To make it (or any edible flower sugar) blend 1 cup of white, granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon of dried flowers. Leave the mixture in a dry, warm spot for a couple of weeks, then put through a sieve to get most of the petals out.

          Borage

            If you’re planning a garden this year, consider adding a few of these edible blooms along with the other plants you have in mind; not only will they add stunning colour and fragrance to your space, they’re also a rather exotic food source that you can pluck and enjoy all summer long.

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            Catherine Winter

            Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on July 10, 2020

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

            We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

            So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

            Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

            What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

            Boundaries are limits

            —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

            Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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            Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

            Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

            Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

            How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

            Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

            1. Self-Awareness Comes First

            Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

            You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

            To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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            You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

            • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
            • When do you feel disrespected?
            • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
            • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
            • When do you want to be alone?
            • How much space do you need?

            You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

            2. Clear Communication Is Essential

            Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

            Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

            3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

            Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

            That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

            Sample language:

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            • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
            • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
            • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
            • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
            • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
            • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
            • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

            Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

            4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

            Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

            Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

            Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

            We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

            It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

            It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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            Final Thoughts

            Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

            Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

            Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

            The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

            Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

            Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

            They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

            Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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