Texas Redbud

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Redbud trees are early bloomers. Thank goodness. My yard is severely drab right now and needed this bit of color. I just read that you can eat the flowers. I haven’t ever tried doing that. I’m not sure I will simply because bees and butterflies feed off the flowers, which don’t last long (no subsequent bloom later) and aren’t all that plentiful to start.

I took these pictures the Sunday before last. At first, I wasn’t too pepped because it was very cloudy. Then I realized that I could turn the cloudy sky into a clean white backdrop.

I did some other shots, most of which did not really work out.

But a few were kind of fun. I call this one “Fancy Flower Business Card.”

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Look at that negative space. Think of all the address and phone number action you could put there. EXCITING.

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Small scenes from St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery in New Orleans. I like how the plant appears to grab at death, as if to shoo it away behind the tombs. Or courageously claw at it–protecting us.

But this is an illusion. We are trapped in this maze.The maze is suffocating. Yet, we are are still here walking the same paths over and over bumping into the same obstacles.

I suppose it is better than not existing and not walking the same paths. Then again, I don’t really know that.

All I know is that there is no escape from this path.

That and chickens are delicious dinosaur descendants. Specifically, some kind of T Rex. No really. Chickens are closer to dinosaurs than any other bird.

What will rule humans like we rule chickens? Giant bacteria monsters like  The Blob?  Or giant algae sucking up our oxygen. There was a bacteria which caused a giant oxygenating event  2.3 billion years ago which led to life today. What if algae took over and ate all our oxygen in a “giant de-oxygenating event”?

DOOMSDAY ALGAE.  NO OXYGEN. Do I worry about stupid stuff? Yes! Yes, I do. OR DO I?

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With pink flowers
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Blocked in
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With red flowers

Turk’s Cap and Mexican Tarragon Meringues

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Fluffy and Crunchy!

What you’ll need:

  • A decent Recipe for meringue which will include: egg whites, pinch of salt, confectioner’s sugar, and if desired, cream of tartar to stiffen the peaks. Lots can go wrong when you make meringues. Have patience with both the whipping of the whites, inclusion of sugar, and low heat baking. It took me about 2.5 hours of baking at 170-200 to get the cookies to dehydrate and solidify.
  • A handful of Turk’s cap flowers
  • 4-5 Mexican tarragon leaves (also known as Mexican mint marigold)
  • Blender for the sugar and dried flowers
  • Parchment paper
  • Cookie sheet

I endeavor to use the plants in my garden, particularly the native ones, in my cooking. I’ll admit that I haven’t had a whole lot of luck with the Turk’s cap in past recipes because there isn’t much flavor there.

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One of the many flowers on this bush

I had a ton of egg whites left over from making an icebox lemon pie and had to find a use for them. I don’t care for plain meringues, so I began looking up flavorful recipes. That’s when it hit me: I could use Mexican tarragon for flavor and my Turks cap for color. Mexican tarragon has a slight anise/licorice scent to it, which I figured would add a nice fragrance to this plain fluff of a cookie.

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Mexican tarragon in my garden.

After picking the Turk’s cap, make sure to remove the stamens and any leaf parts that get in there.  They aren’t poisonous, but they will muddle the pink color. Rinse thoroughly to ensure all the little bugs and pollen have been washed off.

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Next, you’ll have to dehydrate the tarragon and petals. I set my oven for 250 for 5 minutes and checked on the progress. It took me 15 minutes to get the petals nice and crispy. You’ll note that there is very little tarragon in there–maybe 4-5 leaves. It can become overpowering fast, so it’s best to use just a bit.

meringue-cookie-turks-cap-dehydrateThe next step is to put the confectioner’s sugar in the blender with the desiccated petals. The resulting mix should turn out sort of light pink depending on how many petals you used.

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Make sure your petals are very dry or they’ll make a mess of the confectioner’s sugar.

Some bakers insist that you cannot make meringues in humid weather. You can, but you will need to cook them at a lower temperature and for much longer than the 2 hours most recipes provide. I started at 200 degrees, but my meringues started browning. So I turned the over down to 170 for the rest of the process.

Some meringues hardened faster than others. If they are still chewy when you take them out, you haven’t cooked them long enough. Visit Martha Stewart for more advice on meringue cookies.