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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Celebrating Roses! It's National Rose Month and Herb & Spice Day!

Good evening visitors, Not only is it a glorious June day here in central, PA, it happens to be National Rose Month and, National Herb and Spice Day. Have I got an herb for you; the Rose!


No, I haven't gone bonkers. According to the folks at the International Herb Society, not only is The Rose an herb, it is their chosen Herb of the Year for 2012!

What defines the meaning of an Herb you may ask?

According to legend, the Anglo-Latin scholar Alcuin (ca. 732-804) posed this question to his pupil Charlemagne. The King replied, "the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks."

It seems, I'm not the only one who is a bit surprised about this definition. I skimmed through many of my herb related books to dig up some information for you today and to my surprise, very few of them included herb information about "The Rose." And when actually mentioned in a few of the books, the harvesting was slim.

Rosa de Castilla rosa spp.
Primary Uses: The leaves and flowers are used as an eyewash. A tea of the flowers is taken to reduce high fevers and rubbed on the limbs for the same purpose. Used especially for children. The powdered flowers are applied to fever blisters and cold sores.
Secondary uses:Rosewater is applied to the face and neck to cool and tone the skin. The leaves and flowers are made into a strong tea and gargled to relieve sore throats and throat pain from heartburn, indigestion or vomiting. The aromatic flowers, steamed in water, make the air fragrant after cooking food or smoking tobacco
Los Remedios Traditional Herbal Remedies of the Southwest (p.73) by Michael Moore ©1990

A few years ago, I found a delightful surprise when I skimmed through the pages of a vintage Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I purchased at a yard sale. Inside I found a lovely "nosegay" of old garden roses illustrated by Steven Schindler.

I've been meaning to find a frame for the four of them but alas, another addition to my someday to do list:)

The Apothcary's Rose is a fragrant historic rose which is believed to be native to ancient Persia. It was brought to France in the thirteenth century and used extensively by apothecaries for medicinal purposes. Eventually, the Apothecary's Rose became a symbol for modern pharmacology. Botanically known as Rosa gallica var. officinalis, it was grown mainly in monasteries where monks prepared medicinal compounds from its petals. Preserves, jellies, oils and powders were produced, and because the dried petals also retain their perfume, it was popular for potpourri. In colonial times, the buds were dipped in sugar and eaten as candy.

Old garden roses, such as the Rosa Gallica pictured above, have a delicate beauty and wonderful perfume not often found in modern hybrids. When I lived on Long Island, I grew a rose garden of Heirloom Roses which brought me hours of delight. Not only did I enjoy their beauty, I often used them in potpourri and a few times, I even made Rosary Beads with them. But alas, that was long ago...I had no intentions of growing roses in the garden here in Pennsylvania however, Marion just couldn't resist the roses she eyed in the many, many gardening magazines and catalogs she receives in the mail. So, yes, dear readers we now have a few newly planted rose bushes that I'm sure I will be sharing with you when they bloom next year.

We did get a few blooms from last year's planting but, I must admit, I have not given the bush the care that it requires. I must remember to buy some bone meal!!! (I did however plant some garlic next to it, Rose Love Garlic you know. And thankfully, the aphids Do Not!

Small rose plants, tended during the long voyage from the Old World as carefully as children, were brought to this country from home gardens. Frequently they were the first root to be set down in new wild territory as pioneers headed west...The many weeks of ocean travel followed by stern winters precluded rose gardening for those first arrivals in New England until the early 1700s...Colonial ladies gathered bouquets of roses, wild or cultivated together with other flowers, fresh or dried, and placed them in their homes by the window so the breeze wafted their perfume into the house. Rose petals were gathered in abundance during June to be distilled and bottled for use as a skin refresher, to dry for potpourri. It was said roses in cookery "maketh a man merry merry and joyful."
A Heritage of Herbs; History, Early Gardening and Old Recipes by Bertha P. Reppert ©1976 P.99

Harison's Yellow Rose

Here we have a recipe for Scented Rose Beads provided by Jeanne Rose from her wonderful book, Herbs & Things. (my copy is quite tattered and dated 1976:)


Wild Rugosa

Rose Hip Recipes

It's Rose Hip Time! Although the Rosa rugosa (pictured above) is often grown as a domesticated rose, it is truly one of the most popular of the antique roses. The scent of its clove like perfume is second to none. The single and semi-double varieties produce the most rose hips that can sometimes last throughout the winter. It is sometimes called Wild Rose, Japanese Rose, and Turkestan Rose and it is extremely hardy.

The word "Rose" is a simple anagram. From the rearrangement of the letters is derived the word "Eros"--the Greek God of Love...The rose, and its eastern equivalent, the lotus, like all beautiful flowers represent spiritual unfoldment and attainment. Thus many deities are shown sitting upon the rose or the lotus...A thorny bush, the plant embedded within the earth seems symbolic of divine nutriment.. In fact,, this plant's hip (the bud ripened after the flower petals have fallen off) taken raw or as a tea, are very high in Vitamin C...All varieties are fine to use but the Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) with its deep pink or white flowers and Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina) with pale pink flowers are the most fragrant. The Sweetbriar Rose or Eglantine (Rose eglantaria) is seeingly beloved of the poets; possibly because the leaves are thickly covered underneath with sticky fragrant pores which give a marvelous scent about the bush. But, for all intended purposes the wild rose varieties are the preferred. The Herbal Dinner; A Renaissance of Cooking by Rob Menzies ©1977 p.51

Personally, given the choice, I would have liked to once again plan a garden around heirloom roses. Like many of us, Marion was swept away with the photogenic appeal of the many hybrid roses available in today's gardening magazines and catalogs. If you have a choice and would like to experiment with the roses of our ancestors, I do have a couple of recommendations.

1. Antique roses are fairly easy to care for. They may not make a glorious photographic statement like so many of the more modern day roses who actually stem from many of them but, they will reward you with beautiful perfumes that can only be described as intoxicating. Antique roses have recently been brought back to life by rose breeder David Austin. David Austin Roses are available to order in the US as well as many other parts of the world. "After fifty years of intensive breeding, David Austin's English Roses combine the forms and fragrances of old roses with the repeat-flowering of modern roses. They are very easy to grow, healthy and reliable."

Back in 1966, when Euell Gibbon's first published Stalking the Healthful Herbs, I was but a child most likely complaining about having to weed the family garden. Later in life, I was first awakened by Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring and later by Mr. Gibbons. (or visa versa who can remember way back then:) However, I do vaguely remember a recipe in one of the chapters in Mr. Gibbons book for Rose Petal Jam or was it Jelly, which was uncooked. This is important to know because by not cooking the roses, you manage to preserve some of the nutrients. I happened upon the recipe for How To Make Rose Petal Jelly which according to the author, came from the book and perhaps the chapter How To Eat a Rose:)

2. I have been absorbing articles written by Jim Long founder of Long Creek Herbs, ever since I picked up my very first issue of The Herb Companion Magazine many years ago. I was delighted to discover he has recently published a book titled How To Eat A Rose which I have added to my book wish list. This is just a delightful sample of what Jim's book has to offer. Of course, you, and I, will need to get a copy of the book for the recipe:) On Jim's website, it sells for a mere $5.95! (I'm putting this link here for me, so I remember:)

Not only does he have a blog that features The Herb of the Year, with a selection of Tasty Roses for Your Garden, he also has another blog Jim Long's Recipes where he shares herbal recipes such as Lavender Cookies and Ginger Beet Cake!

If you have access to Pinterest, I have a board devoted to The Rose: Herb of the Year. It's filled with snap shots of beautiful roses and rose recipe too:)

I do believe there was a time that my children actually believed that I had the powers of witchcraft. Seriously, I was forever brewing concoctions whether it be for their meals or for my organic garden which I had eons before it was the "in" thing to have. My beliefs were confirmed when I received this wonderfully plush purple velveteen book titled White Magic: Titania's Book of Favorite Spells for my birthday one year from my son John. I embraced it for it's remembrance and also for its contents:) If you are wondering what the definition of White Magic is, you might want to visit this site. In its most basic definition, White Magic is "good magic" as compared to...I have never actually prepared or conjured up anything from this book however, I thought today as we celebrate The Rose, I should include just a little bit of sweet love, don't you think???


For those of you who have been inquiring about the Picnic Game this year, the answer is an unequivocal YES! Since its inception in 2009, the online Picnic Game has been filling our Picnic baskets with all kinds of goodies. There are many new visitors to Months of Edible Celebrations who have never played the Picnic Game and for those people, I would like to direct you to the International Picnic Day Invite post I did back then explaining the "rules." The fun begins on International Picnic Day which is always celebrated on June 18th. The round-up is posted just in time for National Picnic Month which is celebrated in July. You can see last year's round-up here or many of the Picnic Game round-up recipes on my Picnic Game Online board on Pinterest.

I'll be posting the "official" 2012 Picnic Game "rules" bright and early June 18th. The game is open to everyone, everywhere and for those of you who have never played, I do hope you will join us. And can I say, those of you who have been "lurking" in the background, it's the perfect time to introduce us not only to you but to your blog or website too!!! Since I have had so many inquiries about the Picnic Game this year, I was thinking about asking one of you who have previously joined in to host a second Picnic Game on your blog. What do you think???

I'm off to visit the garden now since it looks like it's getting a bit cooler outside. I hope your day is all spiced up and herbally too! Thanks for visiting, Louise:) Don't forget June 11th is National German Chocolate Cake Day.

"There is a language "little known,"
Lovers claim it as their own.

It’s 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."


J.S.H from The Language of Flowers,
London, 1875.

Resource
Spice Up Your Blog (did you notice the new color in my comment section?)
What is an Herb
How To Play The Picnic Game (video explains the theory behind our Picnic Game:)

68 comments:

  1. Louise, Such a truly interesting post! I love roses, but never realized all their uses! I’m also starting to realize there’s a day dedicated to just about everything! Love it!

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    1. Just about Kathy and I'm trying to cover them all! Just wait until you walk into your favorite beverage stop in the morning and you pop out with something like "Happy Garlic Day!" then you know you're hooked!!!

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  2. Lots of good information as always! I look forward to the picnic very much.i

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  3. never would i've thought rose is a herb but after reading how it benefits us, i now know why. Also never realised that its buds can be eaten as candies! i think it's really a wonder that people can work and experiment something like a rose for its healing and medicinal purposes. Yeah, i remember those potpourri..rose is always the favourite scent. Would like to see your blooming roses in time to come. Have a good week!

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    1. I must admit, Lena, I too was a bit taken back to learn that roses are considered herbs. However, after researching, I too can understand why. The Rose at the top of the page is one from my garden this year. The entire bush is actually blooming quite profusely right now!

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  4. Also so literary. A rose is a rose is a rose... We're painting the roses red... My love is like a red red rose...

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    1. I really had to resist going in that direction Mae. So glad you skimmed over it though:)

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  5. This post is beauyiful Louise because I LOVE roses in all! and Im drinking a roses tea is awesome!!

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    1. Thank you Gloria. I'd love some Rose Tea:)

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  6. Maybe for the picnic we could have some roses Tea LOL

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    1. That would be lovely, Gloria. Perhaps you could bring it:)

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  7. I love roses, but after I failed cooking with lavender, I am not sure how much luck I would have treating it as an herb!

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    1. Start with a few petals and work your way in gradually, Inger. What about tea? Don't even mention lavender, I lost my lavender plant this year and I am quite upset:(

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  8. I'm really surprise that rose is a herb! I'll look at a rose in a different way now! :) Thanks for all the interesting info, Louise! Would love to try out the rose vinegar, but am wondering whether are all roses edible?
    Have a nice day!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed your visit, Joyce. I too would LOVE to try Rose Vinegar! From what I read, scented roses are the best for culinary use and of course, they must be free of pesticides.

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  9. My - this is is quite a primer on rose and herbs. I have baked with rosewater (a Frugal Gourmet cake), but that is the extent of my culinary adventures. There is a lovely rose garden in Portland, Oregon which calls itself the "city of roses." There are hundreds of varieties and they bloom continuously throughout the summer. You and Marion would love it!

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    1. Yet another reason to visit Oregon, T.W. I've been trying to get there for years. I must make sure I visit when the Roses are in bloom. I'll take lots of pictures for Marion. Thanks so much for sharing that tidbit. I'm going to see if I can find it online.

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  10. Back in culinary school, I entered a contest using edible herbs and flowers with a rose petal and mint ice cream (and won!)...this post brings back fabulous memories of that time. I need to grow roses so that I can use the petals more often.

    And I'm SO excited for the Picnic Game =

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    1. You really do need to grow some roses, Heather. I know you always say you don't have a green thumb but there are so many varieties that don't require as much attention as you may think. Let us know when you do. In the meantime, I guess we will have to dream about that winning dessert!

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  11. I've been working on my rose post for The Year of the Rose, so I'll definitely link to your post. I have over 80 roses in my garden (lost 10 this year and 20 last year to the gophers). I post a rose a day on my Facebook page. The first blooms were so gorgeous this year. I have a recipe for chocolate covered rose petals that I'll be posting soon!

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    1. Chocolate covered rose petals, oh my! Can't wait to see your post Janet!

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  12. Great post! So informative. I knew you can actually eat roses, although I've never tried it. I should - we have some Knock Out roses which bloom profusely throughout much of the season, so we have plenty of blooms. (BTW, I don't know if they'll grow where you are - I'm in St. Louis, and we've also grown these in Florida - but if they do, I'd give them a try; they're much closer to heirloom roses than to the hybrid teas, and extremely easy to grow.) Really enjoyed this - thank you.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed this post, Kitchen. I'm in central PA and I do believe I've see some of those Knock Out Roses here. As you say, they are low maintenance just up my alley!!! Thanks for the reminder, I will be checking them out!

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  13. I never thought that rose is considered herb...as always your posts are loaded of interesting information. I never cooked/baked with rose...and would love to try it...especially that rose is the herb of the year, I will have sometime to select a recipe :)
    Thanks for this awesome post and hope you have a wonderful week ahead Louise!

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    1. Do let us know when you select a recipe, Juliana. I too would love to see and "hear" how you approach cooking with roses:)

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. It was such fun to do!!! Have a wonderful week, and thanks for visiting:)

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  14. You have such a wealth of information. Thanks for visiting my blog as well and I think I got the profile fixed! LOL Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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    1. Yep, it worked Cindy!!! Now thank you for visiting too:) So glad you enjoyed the post.

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  15. A wealth of information in this post! Knock Out roses are all we seem to be successful with here, and they are on their second blooming after a little rest.

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    1. I'm gonna have to get me some Knock Outs, Nellie. Thanks for the reminder and the visit:)

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  16. What a beautiful celebration my friend - this is awesome! I never even realised there was a day honouring such a gorgeous flower :D
    Thanks for sharing my friend!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. It sure was refreshing to "throw" together Uru. So glad you liked it!!!

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  17. White magic Louise? Well well well the things we find out. I myself have made up a few herbal potions and elixirs in my day. Never to leave out rose petals tonics either. lol! Ahhhh the love of the garden :)

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    1. Why oh why does that NOT surprise me, Pam. We will have to compare "recipes" one day, lol...

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  18. Love that it's rose month. They're just so pretty!

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    1. That makes two of Yummy! Perhaps even three or four etc...

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  19. Roses are the most romantic and beautiful flower on earth. I love your photographs!

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    1. And tasty too, Alida! Thank you for your kind words. The only picture I actually took myself is the one at the top. That is a red rose from my garden:) BTW, your Strawberry Tart Tatin looks delicious!!!

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  20. I love roses. Pink are my favorite.

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    1. Pink Roses are pretty, Duckie. I need to get me some to grow. Or should I say, Marion deserves a pink rose bush of her very own:)

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  21. what a beautiful post! and that cake looks delicious!

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    1. Welcome glutenfreehappytummy:) Thank you so much for dropping by. I'm delighted you enjoyed this post. I do hope you will pop in again:) Happy Rose Month!!!

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  22. What a fun post. I have two of the herb books that you have pictured and was once quite proficient at making rose hip jam. I'm a huge fan of David Austin roses. My favorite is his Othello rose that has an intoxicating fragrant and so many petals the blooms resemble peonies.

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    1. Oh Pattie, I adore Othello. The fragrance is amazing and I adore the delicate peony like blooms:) Which books do you have??? I'm just curious:) Perhaps you will be making some Rose Petal Jam for us before the year is through?

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  23. I didn't know roses were an herb! You're always teaching me good stuff. Stuff I should already know. And in looking at Blonde Ducks comment - pink roses are my favorite too!

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    1. All the years I adored rose water, it never occurred to me either that roses are in the herb family, Reeni! Now we all know:)

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  24. Dear Louise, I always learn from your posts. I enjoyed reading about the beloved rose flower. These beautiful flowers bring warm memories of my childhood. My father would go to the backyard and always pick a single rose for my mother. She never failed to be delighted and happy by this. It brings a smile to my heart thinking about it. Blessings dear friend. Catherine xo

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    1. What a lovely memory Catherine. It's cherish moments like those that spring up at the most wonderful times. Thank you so much for sharing with us:) Happy Rose Month!

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  25. oh, this was simply FABULOUS! loved learning some new things about the rose. thanks, louise!! : )

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    1. Thanks Carrie and thanks for popping it. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit!!!

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  26. "A rose, is a rose, is a rose, is an herb?" By the way - I think you're kids are right. You do have "the power!"

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    1. Nice prose there, T.W. The Power? They use to tell me it was all in the look:)

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  27. Wonderful post! Thank you for including so many wonderful resources. I love cooking with flowers. I first got the idea from watching the movie "Like Water for Chocolate," where the main character makes a sauce out of rose petals. And thank you so much for including a link to my rose petal jam recipe.

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    1. What an inspiring story, Mary. Now, I will make it my business to finally see that movie!!! Thank YOU for sharing your Rose Petal Jam:)

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  28. Wow, what an informative post ... I had no idea that a rose was an herb :-)

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  29. WOW, heavenly amazing :)
    Good to come back, I miss this place :D

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  30. I too love using rose in many of my preparations, if not as a flower but as a pure extract - I have bought this organic rose tea from India which I have been meaning to use in a recipe - your post is a good incentive :) Cheers and do keep checking back on me -

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  31. Hi Priya!
    Thank you so much for visiting. I do hope you will share your next rose preparation with us. After seeing your Stuffed Squash Blossoms in Braided Bread, you know I will be back!!!

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  32. I went out with the girls for coffee yesterday and we all chose the same cake. white chocolate caramel mud cake and it arrived with a huge pile of cream and sticking out of the cream was a beautiful rosebud.

    Maybe they were celebrating rose day in Australia. :)

    I have tossed rose petals in a salad just at the last minute but that's about it.

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  33. Such a lovely & well wriyten post about roses! I also love roses & have them in my garden! :) These rose recipes rock! They are so special to me & yummy! I must make them soon!

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  34. Hi Louise, Its always fun to see ur lovely and Informative recipes. And this one is looking Amazing. I love roses and I am so tempted to make it on my isle some day pretty soon. I appreciate all the special efforts you took in putting up this post. Its superb and commendable job done, always....! Enjoy your weekend.
    Thank you so much for stopping by my space and the warm words. Best Regards, Sonia

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  35. lovely and informative post as always. I didn't know rose is herb of the year 2012! I've been baking a fair bit with rose recently so looks like I'm on trend :) I love roses too and they are also my namesake.

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  36. The only way I know when handling roses are to decorate them into a flower bouquet or in a vase..although I have used Rose essence in my food. What a wonderful detailed information on roses, Louise. I've watched on the Food Channel that somewhere in China, they deep fry rose petals as part of their meal. Thanks for sharing.

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  37. Great article! Here's a rose oil recipe inspired by the celebration: http://askmissa.com/2012/06/18/how-to-make-homemade-rose-oil/ Happy National Rose Month!

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  38. there are a gazillion types of roses in the world, and apparently there are that many things to do with them as well! great post, louise. :)

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  39. waiting for another beautiful recipe/post by you !

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came to early,
none returned to late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise