Turk’s Cap and Mexican Tarragon Meringues

meringue-cookie
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.

meringue-cookie-turks-cap
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.

Meringue-cookie-Mexican-tarragon
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.

Meringue-cookie1

 

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.

meringue-cookie-sugar
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.

Startled Stella

startled-stella

I found this lovely dolly at Mercader Antiques in the Houston Heights. Oh, she doesn’t look all that scary in person. Like most of today’s celebrities, she’s been heavily Photoshopped. (Okay, she’s a total wreck in person, too.)

I’d been to that shop before a couple of years ago and noticed their rather extensive doll assortment. I hadn’t bought anything that time, regretfully. This time around, however, I was determined to find myself a really hideous mess to bring home.

In all honesty, this antique shop is totally normal and has nice stuff–including collectable composite dolls in good condition. I ended up grabbing a Patsy Ann doll. I had no idea who or what a Patsy Ann was. All I knew is that the doll looked like my little girl and was in fair enough condition that it was still cute as a button. Patsy Ann is hanging out with my adorable Claudette now.

At this point, I have so many composite dolls from the 1930s that I should probably learn how to clean them up. I learned last night that these dolls’ eyes get all jacked up and cloudy because that is what happens to acrylic doll eyes. I should just probably walk away from this idea, though. I have enough hobbies already.

The Beavers of Slaughter Creek

Not sure where we’d be able to find real beavers near our house, so the stuffies had to suffice. These are a part of my kid’s large collection of stuffed beavers. I think he picked out the most beaver-like ones. His favorite is still his Ikea Klappar Baver who goes by the name Beaver. It’s nickname is Turkey “because he’s fat like a turkey.”

We attracted a small crowd on the creek. The path from the parking lot to the trail goes through the creek bed, so it wasn’t a surprise that people saw us.  A little girl sat down and watched us for a few minutes. I suppose it’s not every day that a gaggle of stuffies gets the royal treatment!

Tuna on a Bald Prickly Pear Cactus

prickly-pear-tuna

This is a close shot on the fruit of the Bald (Spineless) Prickly Pear cactus. I haven’t ever eaten the fruit off this specimen. I have eaten tunas before. Meh. They are plain with big seeds. They have about as much flavor as my Turk’s Cap berries.

Also, I don’t find clear evidence that this specimen’s fruits are edible. Maybe it doesn’t matter if it has spines or not. Still not going to test that theory using my stomach.