3/23/2011

Herbal Forum, Festival Hill, Ginger Beet Cake

I love springtime and I've gotten to see it from cold to hot in just days. From Michigan to Ohio, in moderate but still winterish weather, I drove south to home, where spring was showing, but just a little. Unpacked, repacked, I drove to Texas where spring is truly in full gear. Everywhere I drove, the wisterias were in bloom and the air was filled with the fragrance. I don't think I've paid much attention to wisteria fragrance before, but it was really pleasant. Every town, every roadside, had wisteria sprangling through the trees, over fences and looking like lavender lace over rooftops.
This was the 16th annual Herbal Forum at Festival Hill, at Round Top, Texas. It's held on the grounds where the late Madalene Hill's gardens are located. Several of us took advantage of the full moon and walked through Madalene's gardens by moonlight. What a treat! I thought several times I heard her say to look at this plant or that.
The first part of Madalene's garden and it only gets better from here!
The Pioneer Unit of the Herb Society of America sponsors a plant sale at the Forum each year. The last time I was a speaker there (1997) the plant sale was a little affair. Not any more! There must have been several hundred people from the surrounding area, and not all of them attending the Forum, lined up at 7:30 a.m. the first day. And more on the second day. It was a madhouse of plant sales!
One side of the plant sale (it's huge!) on the second day after things had calmed down.
Same spot, looking the opposite direction. There was way, way more behind the tents. Henry Flowers had used my list of plants from my, "New Herbs to Grow" program to order for the sale, along with many, many, many more tempting herbs of all kinds. I bought 3 flats of plants plus a box or two, as well.
This was our lodging for the speakers. The dining room is downstairs, where the chef was the private chef for Dean Martin. We ate well! If you could look to the right of the house, you would see the view of Madalene's garden (as seen a few pictures above).
The Concert Hall, where famous musicians from all over the world perform, was the setting for all of our lectures, demonstrations and programs. If you click on it to enlarge the photo, you'll see lighted balconies surrounding the Hall.

Like all herb events, food was a big part of the Herbal Forum. Lots of demonstrations, tastes and great meals.
One of our meals was served on the patio behind the big Victorian house. It was in the mid 80s, so lots of folks headed for the shade. This shows about a third of the entire group who were signed up for the event. I gave 2 of my "Less Stress, Better Sleep" workshops as well as the new plants program.
One of the stars of the big outdoor lunch was this Ginger Beet Cake. It was outstanding and I made it for our after dinner dessert tonight. It is really good! Thanks to the chef and the folks at Round Top for the recipe.
Ginger Beet Cake
1 15 oz. can of beets (not pickled, just canned beets)
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar (I substituted 1 1/2 cups granulated stevia and 1/2 cup sugar)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons dry ginger
2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)
3/4 cup coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, empty the entire can of beets, juice and all. Blend it up well (I then added the nuts and chopped them). Combine the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Pour into a 9 x 13, oiled and floured baking pan. Bake until a knife inserted comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool. Serve with real whipped cream. People were going back for seconds, saying this couldn't possibly have beets in it.
Ginger Beet Cake, moist, delicious and no, it doesn't have any chocolate in it (but you could probably add some!)
It was a lot of driving, a lot of work, but it was great seeing old friends and making new ones. Thank you to all who bought my books and said nice things about my workshops and programs! It was great seeing Texas in the springtime.

4 comments:

Rhonda said...

Wow, gorgeous wisteria and a beautiful garden! With your permission I'd like to share the ginger-beet recipe over on our FB page later. It sounds like an odd combination, but really looks wonderful! :)

Jim Long said...

Rhonda, the recipe was part of our handouts so as far as I can tell, it's good to use for anyone who'd like it. I know several members from other HSA Units took it home to share with their members through their newsletters. So use and enjoy it!

Rhonda said...

Thanks, I'll let you know how it goes over :)

Pam Williamson said...

Pam, Hill Country Unit of HSA
As always the weekend spent at the Herbal Forum was wonderful. I enjoy coming so much and look forward to everything during the two day event. Thanks for your part in making the weekend both fun and informative.