Thyme For A Change & Strawberry Madeleines

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There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.

–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875

Made popular in Victorian times many flowers have been given meaning and often used to send unspoken messages. For instance, and the obvious, red roses symbolizing love and Forget-me-nots, well, don’t forget me. Did you know Kate Middleton carried sweet William in her bridal bouquet as a symbol of gallantry along with myrtle (love in marriage), lily-of-the-valley (trustworthiness, purity) and ivy (continuity)? It was a meaningful bouquet filled with hopes of a long and happy marriage with her Prince. So far so good there.

As we head into April and my bittersweet (truth and honesty) gardening season I’d like to focus on all the goodness of William’s birthday (April 22) rather than the day (April 16) the Navy Chaplain knocked on the door delivering tragic news. It’s a much needed change. The garden, specifically getting my hands into the dirt, has been a great source of strength, joy and now fun with my grandchildren. Garden therapy is a thing. Plant some seeds.

Thyme is easy to grow and hearty through the winter

If there ever is a plant that reminds me of William it is thyme. Thyme is the symbol of courage and strength. I saw William at his strongest following a season-ending knee injury his senior year in high school. Lacrosse was his thing. Team co-captain with his best friend, Whit, running the game made him feel successful. Imagine the devastating loss, in the first game of the season, when an opposing player clipped him from behind blowing out his knee. In the blink of an eye, it was all over. Not only that, the surgical repair and 9 months of rehab that followed could effectively dismiss him from the Navy. While others would have crumbled, his hard-work at physical therapy and his ability to lead his team while on crutches was nothing more than courageous and inspiring. I know because so many of his teammates told me.

Next week I will share why he is like dill and nasturtiums. I know he’d be so mad if he knew I was comparing him to flowers, but trying to have a good laugh here rather than a good cry. Let’s get to this recipe before I change my mind…

Grow herbs! Herbs are an essential part of the landscape both outside and inside the kitchen. Cost effective, easy to care for, beautiful and delicious if you are not growing herbs I can’t tell you enough how much I want you to. And if you have yet to pair herbs like thyme or basil with strawberries then you are in for a real treat with this recipe.

Madeleines are like little bite-size pound cakes. I just love them with a cup of tea for a mid-afternoon snack. Super easy to make these fresh strawberry infused lovelies also call for freeze-dried strawberries as they punch up the strawberry flavor and color. Crushing freeze-dried fruit into any recipe eliminates the need for artificial colors and flavors. You can find it at Trader Joe’s or near the fresh produce section of your grocery store.

Strawberry Thyme Madeleines

  • Servings: 18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup (128 g) cake flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons freeze dried strawberries plus additional for garnish

½ chopped fresh strawberries

2 eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Powdered sugar, optional

Heat oven to 375F. Place oven rack in middle. Spray madeleine pan with baking spray. In small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In small food processor or spice grinder, combine 2 teaspoons sugar, thyme and freeze-dried strawberries; process to a fine powder with bits of thyme. Add strawberries and process to a puree; measure and set aside ¼ cup of puree. In a medium mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs with remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and pale in color. Add reserved strawberry puree and flour mixture blending just until dry ingredients are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in melted butter until well blended. Spoon or pipe batter into prepared pan just below each rim. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until madeleines spring back with a touch of your finger. Turn out to cool on a rack. Dust with crushed freeze-dried strawberries or powdered sugar.

Food For Thought What Not To Say

lemon thyme madelaines

Lemon Thyme Madeleines

Does your mouth ever work faster than your brain? The words cause “a stir”. Too late to take them back the inevitable pain and confusion is regrettable. It takes courage to own the wrong and recognize the only appropriate response: “I’m sorry”.
Addressing someone who is in mourning is always difficult. The right words are often hard to come by. The truth is there is nothing you can say to make the bereaved person feel better. When in doubt about what to say a simple, heartfelt, “I’m sorry” is all that’s needed along with the touch of a hand or a hug….make that a big bear hug, please!
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Here are a few examples of WHAT NOT TO SAY. These cliches can do more harm than good.
  • He’s in a better place   (nope–alive and well next to me is a much better place)
  • Heaven needed an angel  (nope–I need him/her here)
  • Be brave  (nope–I need to experience this pain if I am ever going to be normal again)
  • God has a plan  (nope–we had plans, too)

madeleine pan

Here is more food for thought. Madeleines. Don’t call them cookies. In certain company you will regret calling them that as they really are a little bite of heavenly buttery cake. They can be sweet or savory. Lemons are very inexpensive this time of year and a sure sign of spring. A staple in my kitchen, lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Fresh and tart it adds balance to any dish and wakes up your taste buds. Next time you want to comfort someone set out a plate of these lemon thyme madeleines. You won’t have to say a word.

madeleines

like a delicate bite of poundcake

Lemon Thyme Madeleines

  • Servings: 3 to 4 dozen small or 2 dozen large
  • Print

½ cup cake flour*

¼ teaspoon salt (use fine sea salt or table salt not kosher salt)

1/8-teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup sugar

½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Grated zest of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 oz cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Powdered sugar

Heat oven 375F. Spray the molds of a 12 to 20-piece madeleine pan with no-stick baking spray. In small bowl, whisk flour, salt and cream of tartar; set aside. In food processor, pulse sugar, thyme and zest until uniform. In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light and creamy. Add sugar mixture; blend well. Add eggs and lemon juice: blend well. Add flour mixture; mix just until blended. Spoon batter into molds until even with rims. Tap pan a few times to level the batter. Bake 8 to 10 minutes for small madeleines (10 to 12 minutes for larger ones) or until edges are just golden brown and cakes feel firm when touched with the tip of your finger. Immediately invert madeleines on to a cooling rack. Cool pan before repeating with remaining batter. Cool madeleines completely before dusting with powdered sugar.

* To make cake flour: measure out ½ cup of all purpose flour then remove 1 tablespoon of flour from that half cup and return it to the flour sack. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to your measured flour, whisk and presto you now have cake flour.