Molasses cookies and peach tea: Recipe for the perfect garden?

features@beaufortgazette.comJune 27, 2012 

Gardens are a gathering place for those who love to work in the dirt and enjoy the colors of nature. Beaufort Garden Club members recently hosted a tour of yards in Beaufort and on Lady's Island where attendees could explore, enjoy and develop ideas for bringing beauty to their own yards.

Growing plants is hard work, but the beauty of greenery makes it worth it.

Here are my notes on the women who graciously allowed us to tour their gardens:

  • Linda Peters had her first garden beds in and planted long before her house was completed. That probably tells you how much she loves being outside. She said she can't imagine living in a place where she couldn't be in her garden all year.

  • Sandra Educate discovered a difference in gardening in the Lowcountry as opposed to gardening in the Midwest. Her favorite plants, lilies, need the cold to perennialize well, so each fall they are dug up and stored in her garage refrigerator to simulate winter.

  • Kathi McKinley took the Master Gardener course, which set her on a path of the passion for her land and the Lowcountry. She received much support from garden club members, Master Gardeners and the gardening community.

  • Tei Tober is one who cannot say no to a plant. Her driveway was lined with pots for weeks and weeks. Much soil amendment and prop work went on before the first plant went in.

  • Susan Harden said she cannot take all the credit for her garden; the property that slopes down to the waterfront reveals what was needed. Ornamental grasses were the logical response to a dry, sandy and sunny site.

  • On the first day of the Garden-a-Day tour, more than 350 people came out to revel in nature and gather ideas. Garden club members could be identified by green and white ribbons. They were wonderful hostesses -- everyone was offered peach tea and molasses cookies, all baked from the same Grandma's Molasses recipe found on the back of the jar. The interesting thing was that each batch of cookies took on the personality of the baker, causing some to be soft, some to be small and some to be hard. One thing was sure: All were good.

    Some folks might think the secret to the beautiful gardens lies in the refreshments. Let's give it a try and see how our plants grow.

    OLD-FASHIONED SOFT MOLASSES COOKIES

    Makes: 4 to 5 dozen cookies

    4 teaspoons baking soda

    1/4 cup hot water

    41/2 cups sifted flour

    2 teaspoons ginger

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 cup shortening

    1 cup sugar

    1 egg

    1 cup molasses

    1/4 cup coffee or water

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and set aside to cool. Mix and sift flour, spices and salt. Cream shortening, slowly add sugar and cream until fluffy. Stir in unbeaten egg and mix well. Stir in molasses. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with coffee or water, beating well after each addition. Stir in cold baking soda mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes.

    Store cookies in a tightly covered cookie jar. Place a few slices of bread in the jar to keep the cookies soft.

    PEACH TEA

    1/2 gallon water

    6 tea bags

    1 cup sugar

    2 tablespoons peach extract

    Bring 1 quart of water to boil. Turn heat to low and add tea bags. Steep for 10 minutes; add sugar and stir. Add peach extract and add enough water to make 1/2 gallon. Pour over ice to cool. Garnish with peach slices.

    Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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