Herbal essences: Adding a hint of flavor to cool drinks

Published: Tuesday, July 24 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

— Valerie Phillips

Herbed Gazpacho

If you have fresh tomatoes from your garden, use them instead of the V-8 juice.

1 large red or green bell pepper

1 small cucumber

1 stalk celery

3 12-ounce cans V-8 juice (or substitute about 6 medium peeled and pureed tomatoes per each can of V-8)

2 tablespoon dried onion flakes

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Drops of hot sauce, to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro, to taste

Cut the bell pepper, cucumber and celery in chunks. Place them in the blender with 1 can of the V-8 juice, onion, and garlic. Puree until chunky-smooth. Pour into a large serving bowl or tureen. Add remaining V-8 juice and balsamic vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt and pepper. Pour into cups or glasses to serve. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

— "Soup's On!"

by Valerie Phillips

Lavender Lemonade

1 1/2 cup sugar

5 cups water, divided

12 lavender stems, or about 1/4 cup of dried lavender

2 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained

Ice cubes

Lavender sprigs and lemon slices for garnish

Place the sugar and 2 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Add the lavender, cover, and remove from heat. Let the mixture stand for at least 20 minutes and up to several hours.

Strain the mixture, discarding the lavender blossoms. Pour into a glass pitcher. Add the lemon juice and another 2 1/2 cups of water. Stir well. Taste and add more sugar, water or lemon as desired. Serve in pretty glasses over ice.

— Peggy Nelson,

Purple Apple Farm