The Story

After years of cooking in other people’s and other restaurants’ kitchens, Kristina Arnold developed a fondness for international flavors. The sights, the tastes and particularly the smells of herb and spice blends delighted her in everyway.

Arnold left restaurant scene and has her own shop at Cocina Del Mundo (Kitchens of the World) in North Liberty. The shop, filled with spice blends, soup mixes, dips and other culinary treasures, is a hidden – and fragrant — gem. Inspired by the cuisines of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, Arnold started making her own spice mixes perfect for the exploratory home cook. Most of the herbs Arnold uses are home grown, and many of the spices are sourced from Iowa’s own Frontier Natural Products Co-op, the world’s largest supplier of organic herbs and spices.

When winter sets in, Arnold likes to bring a touch of summer to her roast meats with window-grown thyme and summer-gathered lavender buds.

The Recipe


2 tablespoons lavender buds
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme leaves
1/4 of a lemon’s finely grated zest
4 Cornish hens
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon minced candied ginger
1/2 cup sherry

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Stir together butter, herbs, lemon zest and ginger.

Clean the hens by removing gizzards and trimming necks if necessary. Rinse the birds. Slide fingers between the meat and skin, spreading the butter mixture under each bird evenly. Tie the legs together and arrange birds in roasting pan.

Pour lemon juice over the birds, then lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, or until meat reaches 170 degrees.

Transfer the birds to a platter and deglaze the pan with sherry, reducing and scraping up the bits.

Garnish the birds with lavender and thyme, serve with sherry sauce.

Recipe courtesy of:

Kristina Arnold
Cocina Del Mundo Herbs and Spices
185 Hwy 965 Hwy NE, Suite 3
North Liberty, IA

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