This selection was a bit different from the last few books picked by the Club. How would I categorize this novel? Is it really a “foodie” book? I didn’t know.
And besides that, there were no recipes. (I feel like a kid saying that there were no pictures!) I think that is why it took me so long to start the book. But, as soon as I started it, I could not put it down. As I read, I had flashes of To Kill a Mockingbird, In the Garden of Good and Evil, and even some vague reminders of Flannery O’Connor. Put this all together with a botanical twist and you have Garden Spells. I was certainly under a spell myself and in no time at all, my creative spirit kicked in and I started thinking about all sorts of sweet and savory dishes I could make from the herbs and flowers growing in my own garden.
I love lavender so I knew I could do something there. I have posted about lavender sugar, lavender herbed salt, and lavender sugar cookies in the past. Lavender, according to “From the Waverley Kitchen Journal” in the back of the book, “Raises spirits. Prevents bad decisions resulting from fatigue or depression.”
I sorely need to revisit lavender, I thought.
I love rosemary as well and have that monster rosemary bush in the herb garden. And, as I searched my site, I found LOTS of dishes that incorporate this herb.
But then I read about Claire’s rare rose geranium wine with all of its mystical powers of remembrance. Since I have been on a nostalgic kick lately (and since I had some rose geranium sugar that I had been meaning to experiment with), rose geranium was going to be my herb of choice for this post.
To quote “From the Waverley Kitchen Journal,” again:
Rose Geranium—Produces memories of past good times. Opposite of Hyacinth Bulb. A time-travel flower.
I adapted this recipe from my lavender sugar cookie recipe (which I adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook.) So setting out with my home-made Rose Geranium Sugar, I made up a batch of magical, mystery cookies.
Rose Geranium Sugar Cookies
Inspired by Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
1/2 c. geranium sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
1 1/4 t. fine sea salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
1 c. light olive or canola oil
2 large farm fresh eggs
1 t. pure vanilla extract
4 c. flour
more powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together geranium, granulated and powdered sugars in a medium mixing bowl. Add salt, soda, and cream of tartar. Whisk together. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment. While mixer is running, add oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add flour until a stiff dough forms. (Make sure you scrape the bottom of the mixing bowl periodically.) The dough is fairly crumbly and resembles a short bread dough.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a small ice cream scoop, place balls of dough about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Yield: About 5 dozen cookies. This recipe can be easily cut in half for a smaller batch.
Just like Claire used her powers of über perception to notice every nuance of her garden (like the encroaching ivy alerting her that someone was about to creep into her own life), I wonder what we all could learn IF we took the time to notice messages from our own garden?
Although I wanted to take my pillow out in the garden and sleep like Claire often does in the novel, I did not (it was too hot!). But I would love to get my hands on a Waverley apple.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone. (Did I hear that they were making a movie?)
And, even though there were no recipes in the novel, you can go to Allen’s website and find a few recipes that Claire made in the book.
Other Cook the Books posts:
Mint Tea from Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard.
The next Cook the Books pick is A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg. (Luckily, I have this one in my archives!)