Sunday, June 28, 2009

Volume XVIII, Issue 5, July, 2009

DATE: July 14, 2009

TIME: 7:15 P.M.

LOCATION: Home of Tom Nunnenkamp and Lib Jones

4300 Tottenham Road

Charlotte, NC 28208


Our hosts will take us on a tour of their garden and share the history of its development. This event was rained out last year so we'll keep our fingers crossed for good weather. RSVP to Patti Harlan.

If there are questions about the weather, call Dana. In case of rain, we'll enjoy the refreshments at the Council House.

Minutes of the June Meeting

Charlotte Council of Garden Clubs

Charlotte Herb Guild

June 9, 2009

Dana Debellis called the meeting to order.

She introduced guests: Bonnie Mary MacCaulty, Marie McCord, and Paulette Kerr.

The minutes for April 2009 were approved unanimously after a motion by Judy Powell and a second from Ann Baldwin.

Treasurer Dixie Kelly reported a balance of $14,259.56 as of June 9, 2009.

Ann Baldwin reported that the Charlotte Council of Garden Clubs has added lighting to the 7th St. meeting room.

Jane Ireton reported that the Hezekiah Alexander House garden is going well. Jane will email the date for the next workday. Everyone is welcome.

Cathy Tolman reported that the Matthews Farmers Market was a success. She estimates that the Guild made $900.00. The Market organizers would like us to come again.

Lynn Lytle and Sandie Fenton (co-chairs of the Yorkmont Farmers Market 2009) announced that the market will be Sept 12th this year. The Tussie Mussie chair is Leslie Belcher. We will have workshops to prepare items in August. Ideas are welcome and participation expected.

A lone person signed up for the July meeting hospitality crew. We need at least two others to give this person some help!

Dana DeBellis announced that we will have a gift basket for Lara Barnett’s new baby at our July meeting. If you wish, bring a gift for the basket.

Our next meeting will be off site at the Nunnenkamp and Jones’ Garden. Three choices for directions: Follow this link. . Look for written directions on the right of this blog, or note the map below.

View Larger Map

Patty Harlan introduced the program for the evening and our guest speakers, Tim Haas and Jan Beane, authors of From Basil to Thyme: culinary endeavors from garden to kitchen. After the program, the meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Holly Jeffries for Theresa Nardi

Recording Secretary


Bluebird Hill Farm Visit

June 6, 2009

Fifteen CHG members and a guest visited the Bluebird Hill Farm in Bennett, NC.

Norma Burns, owner of Blue Bird farms, hosted the CHG members and gave everyone quick tips on how to harvest her 500+ lavender plants. She recommended the Grosso lavender variety for being the most resistant to the combination of heat and moisture we have in NC. After instructions, the group headed out to the lavender fields and harvested lavender by cutting, trimming, and banding bunches, then hanging the bunches upside-down to dry. Everyone was encouraged to take a bunch of lavender home. We also got a good look at her bee keep. The bees minded their manners, but the fire ants were a nuisance!

The lavender harvesting was preceded by a tour of Norma’s wonderfully renovated farmhouse with a collection of antiques, knickknacks, and memorabilia. Prior to starting Bluebird Hill Farm, Norma was an architect…and it showed.

This was followed by an extensive tour of Norma’s herb, fruit, and vegetable garden, replete with many varieties and all cultivated using the principles of organic farming, crop rotation, diversity, and quality over quantity.

The CHG team then harvested herbs and vegetables from the garden and adjourned to Norma’s open airy kitchen where preparations were undertaken to make a variety of herb omelets, mulberry crepes, salads, and sautéed fresh vegetables.

While the cooking was happening, members could purchase many of the retail items Norma had for sale such as lavender oils, sachets and herbal teas. On the porch of the farmhouse, several CHG members made lavender wreathes. There was also an opportunity to go around the back of the farmhouse and visit Norma’s orchid and bromeliad collection.

Lunch was accompanied by sparkling rose and recipe swapping. It was a full day and soul enriching for all of us. A thank you card will be sent to Norma Burns at Bluebird Farm.

If you wish to visit Bluebird Hill Farm it is a scenic 2.5 hour ride from Charlotte and reservations are needed. The address is 421 Clarence Phillips Rd, Bennett NC 27208 phone 336.581.3916 or email Blue Bird Hill Farms also has a website where you purchase lavender and herbal products.

Photos of the event will be posted on this blog when they become available.


Charlotte Council of Garden Clubs Honors Ann Baldwin

At their annual luncheon on May 27th, The Charlotte Council of Garden Clubs named Ann Baldwin Woman of the Year for 2008-2009. Ann has served as Co-chair of the Trustees for the past two years and was instrumental in many projects including the renovation of the House garden and installation of new lighting and new gutters. CCGC President Shirley Dromms writes, “You would often find her stopping by the House to do many little things too numerous to mention. She led the Trustees with her warm but efficient manner. We especially appreciated her warm personality, friendly smile and generous spirit.” Congratulations, Ann!


June Recipes

Feta Salad With Spicy Fig Sauce

Karen Sullivan

Yield: Serves 8

2 pounds feta cheese

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

¼ cup capers

½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano or


1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh lemon juice, to taste

½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground, for garnish

Soak the feta and capers in separate bowls of cold water for 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Drain well. If necessary, spread feta on paper towels to remove excess moisture. Crumble into bite-size chunks, if necessary. In a large mixing bowl, toss feta with remaining ingredients except cumin and toss gently to combine. Add cubes of cucumber or grilled vegetables, if desired.

Fig Sauce

Yield: about 1 cup

1 teaspoon cooking oil

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

1 (10-ounce) jar Bonne Maman-brand fig preserves, or similar product

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When warm, add cayenne and stir to combine. Turn heat to low and add fig preserves. Stir to combine. Add water to thin until easy to stir. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Using a food processor, blend until smooth. Can make ahead and store for up to a week. Reheat in a saucepan or microwave and add water to thin. Should be thin enough to stir easily and slide from a spoon.

Nut Bars

Karen Sullivan

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: Six dozen


3 cups all-purpose flour

1½ cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup unsalted butter, chilled

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle, combine flour, sugar and butter. Mix until crumbly. Press into an ungreased 13-by-18-inch (half-sheet) pan by covering with plastic and using a rolling pin. Remove plastic and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.


3 cups sugar

3 cups water

4 cups toasted mixed unsalted nuts, such asalmonds, peanuts and walnuts.

Heat water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and continue cooking. Using a pastry brush, wipe down the inside of the pan with cold water to prevent a sugar buildup. Watch pan closely when sugar starts to brown. Turn off when the mixture turns golden brown. Pour in toasted nuts and stir. Quickly spread over crust and let cool. Remove from pan. Cut into bars or break into pieces.

Fig Bread Tea Sandwiches

Karen Sullivan

Fig Bread:

Yield: about 3 loaves

3 cups boiling water

2 (7-ounce) packages dried Mission figs, stems removed

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional)

6 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1½ cup toasted nuts, such as walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (3) 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and dust lightly with flour. In a large bowl, pour boiling water over figs. Let cool, then process in a food processor until almost smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Add flour and date mixture alternately, mixing until just incorporated. Add nuts. Fill loaf pans about half full.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire wrack. Can be frozen for at least a month.

Cherry Cream Cheese Filling with Lavender Flowers

Karen Sullivan

Yield: about 6 cups

3 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup mayonnaise

1 jar (10-ounces) Polaner black cherry all-fruit spread (find near jellies and jams)

1 bag (5-ounces) dried cherries, or more if desired

1½ cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans

¾ teaspoon lavender flowers (optional)

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and mayonnaise. Scrape sides of bowl to combine. Add preserves and mix well, scraping bottom of bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix just until combined. Chill. Can be made up to 4 days ahead.

To assemble sandwiches. Using a serrated knife, slice bread as thinly as possible without causing it to break. Spread cream cheese mixture on half of the bread slices. Cover with remaining bread slices and cut in thirds or triangular fourths. Serve immediately or layer on a tray, cover with a slightly damp towel and wrap in plastic. Keep refrigerated.

Lavender Pound Cake

Gina Simmons

From The Charlotte Herb Guild Cooks Again, page 258.

Lavender sugar:
½ cup sugar

1 to 2 tablespoon dried lavender flowers

4 eggs
1cup butter
¾ cup sour cream
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 to 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Prepare lavender sugar. In spice grinder or food processor, grind ½ cup sugar with dried lavender flowers. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Let eggs, butter and sour cream stand separately at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease and flour a Bundt pan or two loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In large bowl beat lavender sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 cup butter, and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until very light and fluffy (4 minutes) scraping down sides frequently. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed (20 to 30 seconds after each addition).

Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined. Batter will be thick. Stir in lemon peel. Spread mixture in prepared pans. Bake 45 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Prepare glaze by mixing confectioners’ sugar, butter and lemon juice. Pour glaze over cake.

Note: Julie Courtney also prepared food for June. We will publish her recipes when they become available.

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