Fort Wayne – As a young woman, Denise Franz’s mother, Shirley Cowans, of Rockport, tried to introduce her to herbs. But Franz thought, No, thanks, deciding that herbs were too smelly.
Eventually, Franz, 52, gave herbs a chance and now she not only uses them in her cooking but is part of a group that organized an herb club.
(Mom) talked me, Marlene Boyle and Linda Drake into starting Herb Friends.’ That was in ’93. We do a lot of fun things together. We do the plant swap in Decatur (every spring). It’s our biggest project, she says.
From the many herb recipes she has, making lavender sugar is a favorite for the Adams County resident.
You take the lavender buds, without the brown part, put them in a blender with sugar and grind it. I use (lavender sugar) in hot tea. You can use fresh or dried lavender to make lavender sugar, she says.
A part-time employee of Baker & Sons Plumbing & Heating Inc., Franz and her husband, Wayne, have two children, Melissa and Kevin and two grandchildren, Gavin and Claire.
In describing her cooking style, Franz laughs and says, I guess fun. I think just fun. We like to have fun here. We’re loose and just have fun.
Turning to her grandson, Franz asks, Gavin, what do you call Grandma?
Crazy Grandma, he replies.
Yeah, we’re called Crazy Grandma and Grandpa, she says.
Q. What’s your favorite cookbook?
A. A couple of church cookbooks (from local churches) I have are really nice. But I can’t tell you what they are.
Q. How many cookbooks do you have?
A. I probably have close to 50. I just love recipes. I have a picnic basket with recipes.
Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?
A. Kitchen Aid mixer. I just bought a new one two years ago. I had my other one since 1978. We got that one as a wedding gift.
Q. Who’s your cooking idol?
A. Mom and my Aunt Linda (Cowans). I always said I wanted to get snowed in at Aunt Linda’s house. Oh, her butterscotch pie! We’d fight over her butterscotch pie at Christmas time. Her secret ingredient is Mexican vanilla. It makes everything tastes better. I just love it!
Q. What’s your go-to meal?
A. What should I say? Spaghetti. I think I’ve spaghetti(ed) my family out.
Melissa: That’s what ours is now.
Rosemary-Kissed Orange Thumbprint Cookies Tuscano
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Few drops of almond extract
1/4 cup orange marmalade
In small bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, rosemary and salt; set aside. In medium bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and almond extract and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Wrap and chill dough 1 hour or until easy to handle. Shape dough into balls about 1 1/4 -inch in diameter. Place on greased cookie sheet. Use thumb to make indentations in each cookie. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon marmalade into center of each cookie. In a preheated 325 degrees oven, bake cookies for 14 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets. Remove and cool completely on wire racks. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar and serve. Makes 25 cookies.
Frozen Fudge Fun-Day Sundae
25 Oreo cookies, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1 cup peanuts
2 cups powdered sugar
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 (13 ounces) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine crushed cookies and melted butter. Press lightly in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch ungreased pan. Spoon ice cream over top and smooth out. Sprinkle with peanuts. Cover and freeze. In a saucepan, combine powdered sugar, chocolate chips, evaporated milk and butter. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Cook 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool 1 hour. Pour topping over ice cream, cover and freeze. Makes 15 servings.
Poppy Seed Bread
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 cups oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seed
1 1/2 teaspoons almond flavor
1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavor
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix well all ingredients. Spray three 7 1/2 -by-3 1/2 -by 3-inch pans with cooking oil. Divide batter between the three pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond flavor
1/2 teaspoon butter flavor
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients together. Remove bread from pans and allow to cool a few minutes. Pour glaze over hot bread. Makes 3 loaves.