Cooking with Pansies and Violas


Botanical Name: Viola (both pansies and violas)

Nicknames: Call me to you, pink-eyed-John, love true (pansies), Johnny-jump-ups (violas)

Language of Flowers: Both pansies and violas signify loving thoughts

Background: Pansy’s name comes from the French pensee meaning “thought,” because the flower resembles a face deep in thought.

Pansies appear in German legend as once having had a sweet scent that would draw people in to smell from miles away; the grass that served as feed for cattle became trampled, so they pansy prayed to God for help and was granted great beauty but no scent.

Another interesting Arthurian tale features pansies as fortunetellers. It was said that a knight would look to a pansy petal for a glimpse into his future. Thick left-leaning lines foretold a life of trouble, whereas right-leaning lines predicted prosperity and good fortune. The number of lines told of luck in love (or lack thereof).

Culinary Uses: Pansies and violas have a mild, slightly lemony taste with a wintergreen note. They are popularly used in salads and as decoration on soft cheeses.

Seasonality: Pansies and violas are the lovely unassuming heralds of spring. One of the first flowers to make an appearance in flowerpots and beds, pansies and violas beckon us with their facelike features. Blooming in spring throughout summer and into fall, pansies can be purchased at garden centers, nurseries, and even supermarkets; they can be grown in pots or in the ground.

Preparation: Separate each pansy or viola flower from its sepal (green base), then wash and pat dry.

Measure: 1 cup pansies = about 50 to 70 flowers (used whole).

Pansy and Viola recipes include:

Pansy Petal Pancakes

Pansy Lollipops

Pansy Tea Sandwiches

Pansy Rhubarb Galettes

Find the recipes in the book at Johnson’s:

Bacher, Miche.(2013). Cooking with Flowers. Philadelpha, PA: Quirk Books.

Cooking with Pansies and Violas

Recipe – Carrot Sunflower Sandwich Cookies


Makes about 18 sandwiches.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg plus 1 yolk

1 cup grated carrots

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup sunflower petals

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 can crushed pineapple, drained (optional)

3/4 cup walnuts (optional)

3/4 cup raisins (optional)

2 cups sunflower frosting (see below)

These treats, which have an earthy sweetness, are a real crowd-pleaser. The btitersweet sunflower goes well with the carrot and a hint of brown sugar. They’re delicious sandwiched with sweet, creamy sunflower cream cheese frosting.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, process melted butter and sugars for about 1 minute. Add egg and yolk and process again.
  3. Place carrots in a bowl. Add flour, oats, sunflower petals, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold in butter mixture. Stir in optional mix-ins like pineapple, nuts, and raisins, if using. Refrigerate dough for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Drop tablespoonfuls of cookie dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Let cookies cool on baking sheets until they reach room temperature.
  5. Drop a dollop of frosting on half the cookies. Sandwich with the unfrosted cookies.

Sunflower Frosting

Makes 3 cups

Try using cream cheese based flower frostings for everything from dressing up vanilla cupcakes to quickly topping fresh cinnamon rolls. You can make a double or triple batch of frosting and freeze the extra in an airtight plastic container for up to 6 months.

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 to 1 cup flower petals

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Beat slowly at first, to let the confectioners’ sugar start to absorb, and then increase speed to medium-high; beat for 3 to 4 minutes until no lumps remain. Taste and beat in more confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Note that overbeating will cause the frosting to lose its stiffness.

Any edible flower – or a mix – works in this frosting recipe. 

Try baking these cookies with various colors of sunflowers and carrots. Both grow in glorious shades of yellow, orange, and red.

Find the book at Johnson’s for more recipes:

Bacher, Miche.(2013). Cooking with Flowers. Philadelpha, PA: Quirk Books.

Photo by Curiositaellya.

Recipe – Carrot Sunflower Sandwich Cookies

2015 Employee Appreciation Picnic


On Tuesday, August 11 we closed the stores and office at 2:00 pm and had our Annual Appreciation Picnic at Cabin John Park. We’d like to thank our customers for making our annual picnic possible by shopping with us and understanding when we close early for the day. The picnic allows our employees to meet and chat with the other stores.

The clouds were arriving just as the first guests were. The rain was pouring down for about 15 minutes, but then it cleared up and left only a few puddles behind. We had an excellent picnic lunch complete with a delicious half vanilla and half chocolate sheet cake.

After eating, employees dispersed into games of horseshoes, volleyball, football, and frisbee, while others stayed under the shade to chat with their fellow co-workers.

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More pictures on our Facebook Page.

2015 Employee Appreciation Picnic