Sunday Serenity :: Summer

June 22, 2014

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Summer has finally arrived. I love the solstice, every bit of it. I am a hot weather human, and the more the sun cranks up the happier I am. In many ways I am quite the opposite of my children, who would prefer a snow covered mountain to a blazing hot trail, but to each his own I suppose.

We mark this day a different way each year. Unlike the winter solstice, there are no traditions in the summer season. We take things as they come, as the weather permits, and as our life allows. This summer we are knee deep in painting the inside of our home, and we are pushing to get it done in the next three weeks. We promised ourselves that we would take the day to relax, which was much needed for all of us.

Last year Jacob and I decided to plant a patch of chamomile in an area of the garden that has been hard to break up the clay. It is an area that we wanted to use, but year after year nothing thrived. Last year we put in some rhubarb and chamomile, and what do you know, both have come back so strong. We have had more chamomile than we know what to do with, so we have been trying to come up with ways to use it before it goes to seed for the year.

When I first joined Pinterest, I remember seeing this picture of chamomile cakes that drew my eye. I think that it was one of the first things I ever pinned. The recipe came from Joy the Baker, and it looked amazing. I never managed to pick up Joy’s book from the library (still on my to-do list), but yesterday I just had a need to make some chamomile cupcakes. I used my favorite gluten free vanilla cake mix, and rather than water I substituted very strong brewed chamomile tea. The flavor was subtle, but noticeable. For the frosting I used a standard buttercream, but again instead of milk or cream, I substituted with 2 tbsp of the same strong tea, and left out any vanilla extract. It was magical. The cupcakes were gone in less than an hour (thank goodness I delivered some to a friend, or else I fear how many I would have eaten). I have to admit that when I first went to put together this recipe, I thought that maybe this was going to be an epic fail. I love the flavor of chamomile, but it can be very strong at times, and it doesn’t necessarily blend with other flavors easily. I am glad that I was wrong in this case, as this one was a winner all around, and will certainly grace our table many more times this season.

I had a lot of tea left over with these cupcakes, and as it was indeed a hot first day of summer we decided to make some popsicles from it. We simply took the tea, a few sprigs of fresh mint from the garden, a few chunks of fresh ginger, a tablespoon or two of honey, and some strawberries and simmered them with the chamomile tea. Once cool, we removed the mint, blended everything else together, and a few hours later we were sitting in the backyard cooling down. Fresh and pretty darn healthy. I wish my kids would be content with this kind of treat more often.

The night ended with sparklers, as all first nights of summer should. I feel like my kids really have a sense of the things that mark a holiday or special occasion for them. They were clear that we had to have watermelon at dinner, something yellow for breakfast (I think for the sun??), and sparklers before bed. There was no discussing it. I hit up the fireworks stand the day before, made the chamomile cupcake recipe up and called it yellow, and thankfully my mom saved the day by dropping off a watermelon as a summer treat. All was good, and the solstice was a success.

I wish for each of you a summer filled with the magic only this season can bring. Live like a child, free and relaxed.

For those celebrating in the southern hemisphere, I wish a warm beginning to winter. 

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna June 23, 2014 at 7:27 am

These look great Heather. I have Joy’s book, and the recipe calls for dried chamomile. I wonder if that would add a more intense flavor? I like the idea of having the chamomile in both the cupcake and the frosting.

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Heather June 24, 2014 at 9:57 am

Anna, I am not sure about dried chamomile either. I would think that could be really overpowering, but I might have to try it sometime. I did know that the picture that I had fallen in love with, and based this recipe on was a honey icing that had no chamomile in it.

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Adrie July 2, 2014 at 5:41 pm

It all sounds delicious!

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