Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

A special thank you to creative and artistic sister Marj for her most recent addition to our haunted gardens.
Oh what a tangled cocoon she has woven.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Come in Costume!

Part of our Garlic dinner tradition is to ask our guests to come in costume for this Halloween event. Some play along... the waitstaff always does.... as you can see here... the medieval m'lady Nancy, Steelers fan Colleen, and the ready-for-bedtime momma Susanna. We're holding the appetizer plate we served. It included Rosemary Garlic Jelly with Pear & Brie Crostini, Stuffed Mushrooms in Garlicky Wine Sauce, Garlic Salsa with sweet pepper 'chips', and Sauteed Chicken with Garlicky Blueberry Dipping Sauce. Several guests requested the mushroom recipe... so here it is.... enjoy!

Stuffed Mushrooms in Garlicky Wine Sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 c. dry white wine
2/3 c. chicken broth
1 5.2 oz. container semi-soft cheese with garlic & herbs (Boursin perhaps)
2 doz. whole mushrooms

Melt butter over medium heat, in a medium skillet. Toss in shallots and garlic and saute until slightly browned. Add wine and broth. Bring just to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms. Top each mushroom with a portion (slightly less than a teaspoon) of semi-soft cheese. Place filled mushrooms in a rectangular baking dish, cheese side up. Pour wine sauce around mushrooms. Bake, uncovered, for 10 - 12 minutes. Serve hot. Garnish with finely snipped fresh herbs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

From the Garden to the Kitchen

Recently, Nancy, of Lemon Verbena Lady's blog, gifted us with five beautiful jars of homemade jelly. Nancy is an avid herb gardener, lecturer, and guest blogger for the Herb Companion. Her blog clearly demonstrates her love for both herb gardening and her herbal husband, with whom she happily shares the garden and the kitchen. Nancy has been busy both in the garden growing the herbs for the jelly, and then in the kitchen making and canning this wide assortment of tasty jellies, and I'm so thankful to be a happy recipient of several of her jams and jellies. I was happy to share the Rosemary Garlic Jelly with our guests at the Garlic Garlic Garlic Dinner on Tuesday evening.

Nancy has kindly shared the Rosemary Garlic Jelly recipe on her blog.

To use the jelly as an appetizer, I sliced a French baguette and toasted it lightly in the oven. (350 degrees, about 5 minutes). Spread some Brie on the baguette, and then top with the Rosemary Garlic jelly to which I had mixed in minced fresh pear. It was a nice combination, and enjoyed by many.

Thanks again Nancy! We are enjoying your fabulous homemade gift! Nothing better!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oven Roasted Garlic

Oven Roasted Garlic is a very easy process that produces a sweet yet slightly mellow almost nutty flavored paste. Simply slice the top off the entire head of garlic, and remove as much of the papery outer skin encasing the cloves without causing them to break apart. Place the heads in a baking dish to which you have added about 1/4 c. water. Drizzle olive oil over each garlic head. Cover entire pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Baste after 30 minutes. Monitor the oil and water level, adding a touch of each if necessary.
The garlic is done when the cloves are soft and easily pierced with a toothpick.

After they have cooled, squeeze the garlic from the casing. This can be used 'as is' and smeared on warm toasty bread for a superb garlic spread. Roasted garlic is also a great addition to mashed potatoes for a delicious flavor combination. This garlic was roasted, pureed in a food processor, and baked into a Garlic & Black Olive Quick Bread (actually 3 loaves) for dinner tonight.

This recipe has many variations... from oven temperature (325, 375, 400) to cooking time (45 min., one hour) to whether you should slice the top off or not (I prefer slicing off the top, makes it easier to remove the roasted garlic when they are done.). Essentially a no-fail recipe, any method will produce a delicious garlic paste to be enjoyed in any number of ways.

If you aren't using all of the garlic paste, it will keep for one week in the refrigerator, or for longer storage, freeze for later use.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sealed with a Clove.

Our Annual Garlic Dinner is tomorrow evening - a Halloween tradition around here. Almost everyone in the family *loves* garlic along with a crowd of Rosemary House/Sweet Remembrances guests. The cook, however, prefers garlic in moderation. Tomorrow evenings dinner is anything but 'garlic in moderation'. Typically, by the end of the meal, each guest will have consumed three heads of garlic (yes, heads, not cloves). In order to continue with this annual event, we made a deal years ago... if Susanna peels the garlic, I will cook with it. Here's the first bowl full of peeled garlic... ready to be chopped~minced~roasted~marinated~chocolate covered etc.... all in preparation for the Garlic Feast. She'll be peeling the rest of the garlic later this evening. It's a deal.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pictures from yesteryear...

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” ~Hans Christian Anderson

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Saffron Crocus Time!

Saffron, Crocus sativus, is a fall blooming crocus, and we have the bulbs available now! If you can grow regular spring crocus then you can grow Saffron. Considered the world's costliest spice Saffron is certainly worthy of a little corner in your herb bed. Under the ground more than it is above, Saffron is always a surprise to spot in the garden. In the spring the leaves come up in a "grass like" manner and then in the fall the leaves again pop up along with the purple saffron blooms. It is the orange thread like stamens that are harvested to cook with. Saffron is used to flavor rice, pot pie, chicken. Many folks feel it only colors the rice so often Safflower is used in cooking as a substitute for saffron. While the flavor of saffron is delicate is does enhance your meal with both color and flavor so accept no substitutes! A plant of the Bible, Saffron is in the Song of Solomon and one of the dye plants for a coat of many colors. Easy to grow and fun to have. If you would like to try your hand at growing Saffron, we have them available now in the shop and by mail order, visit The Rosemary House, and scroll to the bottom of the page for ordering info.

Triple Berry Lemon Saffron Loaf
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. saffron
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
2 eggs
grated zest 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. sliced berries (strawberries, blueberries & raspberries)

Powder saffron threads with some of the sugar. Add saffron-sugar to utter first. Cream butter and sugars together and then add eggs, one at a time. Sift dry ingredients together. Mix lemon juice and zest with water and add, alternately with dry ingredients, to batter. Add the 2 c. berries to batter also just before baking. Do not over mix. Preheat oven to 350 deg. Pour batter into greased and floured bread pan . Bake about 45 minutes. until lightly browned. Cool. Slice and garnish with fresh berries. We hope you enjoy this moist tea bread with its delicate saffron flavor.

This recipe from A Bountiful Collection - The Second Helping, published in 1992 is reprinted with permission from the Penn Cumberland Garden Club.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spoook-tac-u-lar Gardens

The gardens have been haunted for the Halloween season....

stroll along with us....
if you dare...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Golden Anniversary!

Penn Cumberland Garden Club is celebrating their Golden Anniversary this year. Established in 1959 and federated in 1960, they provide a gathering place for members to socialize, learn, and discover the joys and lessons found in the garden. They promote education, share resources and develop opportunities for members to participate in gardening, floral design and landscape design, as well as civic and environmental responsibility. They are a volunteer organization of women and men who share interests in gardening, civic beautification and legislative issues. Happy Golden Anniversary to this very active club!

And, as part of their celebration, we made 100 golden cupcakes... a true labor of love...

decorated with roses, daffodils, floral blossoms, all in various shades of gold and yellow. They were transported to the meeting hall this morning.

and to display 100 cupcakes, several levels were used with beautiful heirloom cut glass pedestals with shimmering gold plate charges.

May they continue to celebrate each passing year with success and joy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Garden Surprises

Ya just never know what will pop out of the bushes.
Our herbal medicine cabinet is stocked with vinegar, sage honey, onions and elderberry syrup. Our gardens patrolled regularly.
We are well protected around here. We are prepared.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Preparing for Winter Colds/Flu: onion poultice

Add onions to your grocery list so that you have some on hand for any chest congestion that should arise. This was one of our mother's very favorite and might I add quite effective remedies for congestion and unproductive coughs. Simply dice the onions and saute them in a frying pan. Add a splash of olive oil and some garlic too if you have it. A dash of thyme and pinch of oregano helps too. When the onions are translucent then put half of them on the chest of your victim (err, I mean patient). We put down a wash cloth first, then the onions, then cover the person and onions with a towel or blanket to keep warm. Allow patient to rest and watch their favorite movie or TV show -- that's our bribe for cooperation for this treatment around here.
Now with the reserved half of the onion, garlic, and olive oil add some pieces of chicken, broccoli, cauliflower and continue to cook...... that's for dinner. Multi-tasking - that's how it all gets done!

This treatment is very effective. It is warming and loosens and moves the congestion that can collect in your lungs. Very safe to do on all ages, an external application so no need to worry about drug/herb interactions. If you feel a cold settling in your kidney area you could apply the onion there as well. One word of warning: Between the onion, garlic, olive oil and herbs we add such as thyme and oregano, you do end up smelling a bit like an Italian hoagie!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Preparing for Winter Colds/Flu: Yarrow and Boneset

Every fall, I always gather, dry, and tincture these two herbs and pray that we won't need them. Boneset (above) and Yarrow (below) are two of my favorite herbs to use in tea or tincture form for colds/flues. Boneset is helpful for that awful achy feeling -- you know where even your big toe hurts. Easy to recognize out in the field because it looks like the stems have been pushed up through the leaves. Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, will also help to induce sweating in addition to helping with the aches and pains of a flu.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is useful for treating severe colds and for ending fevers. It is a strong diaphoretic (promotes sweating).

To prepare mix 1/2 oz of each herb boneset and yarrow and steep covered in 1 pint of water. Drink it as warm as you can in 4 oz doses. Sweeten with honey if you like. Also, add some peppermint for additional flavor.

It's like carrying an umbrella. If you have some on hand-- you won't need it! But if you do need it -- you'll be glad you had it on hand!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Preparing for Winter Cold/Flu: Four Thieves Vinegar

This picture features the ingredients in Four Thieves Vinegar. But first the story! There are many versions of this tale and here's mine: Long Ago (1700's) in a Land Far Away (France) there were 4 naughty men who were robbing the graves of Black Death plague victims. At first the authorities showed no concern certain the thieves would contract the deadly disease and close the case themselves. But the Four Thieves continued their rampage on not only graves but the homes of the weak and dying. The story continues, and when they were finally captured, the (fill in the blank here: Burgess, Mayor, Noble, King) offered their freedom in exchange for their secret to avoiding the plague. The secret was the use of herbs in vinegar which they either consumed or soaked their bandannas in to cover their face or did both.
There are as many different versions of the recipe as there are versions of the story.
Here is one version:
2 T each of the following herbs Rosemary, Sage, Lavender, Wormwood, Peppermint, and Rue in 1 pint of Vinegar.
Some versions include garlic as well.
Our version is 2/3 C Horseradish, 1 red onion, 2-3 Garlic bulbs, 12 sage leaves, two thyme sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, pinch of ginger and 1 pint of vinegar. Blend it all in the blender and bottle. It will look frothy like this but in the morning will be a powerful medicine. This is a strong blend. You can mix it with some water to drink it down. Certain to ward off H1N1 and any other pandemic.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Preparing for Winter Colds/Flu: Sage Honey

Regular old garden Sage (Salvia officinalis) is excellent in poultry stuffing, wonderful with sausage, can be used as a rinse on your hair to keep your hair dark in color and is medicinal as well. Used as a tea or tincture to reduce excessive secreations: such as sweating, dripping sinuses, and mother's milk of a weaning mother. One of my other very favorite uses is as a herbal honey for sore throats. We had a quick but productive two days with Jessica from Blackbirds Daughter and one of the concoctions to prepare for the winter months was Sage Honey. Jessica prepared hers by filling 1/4 of a jar of fresh sage in the blender with honey and blending the two together. You can gently heat the honey (note: heating honey too much lowers the enzymes) and strain the herbs out if you want. Thyme honey can also be made in addition to sage herbal honey for sore throats or hoarseness or respiratory aliments. While raw honey is richer in enzymes we usually use pastuerized honey. Ridiculously easy to make and so yummy too. So don't eat it all at once!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Preparing for Colds/Flu: Elderberry

Elderberries have been getting a fair bit of press lately for their ability to fight colds and flues as they are quite rich in flavinoid anti-oxidants which boost the immune system and filled with anthocyanins which have an anti-inflammatory effect helping with aches, pain and fever. So in preparation for winter we harvested the elderberries and made some elderberry syrup.
Being from the "Mary Poppins School of Medicine" (a teaspoon of sugar....) this is one of my very very favorite winter remedies. It tastes like liquid candy.....Just ask my kids!

Take 1 T syrup daily (see recipe below) to prevent cold/flu. If you do catch a "bug" then take 3 T daily to speed recovery.

Intern Jessica (find her at Blackbirds Daughter), cheerfully removing the elderberries (Sambucus Canadensis nigra) off the branches.

Later she created a number of different syrups. Recipes follow:
The Basic Recipe
2 C fresh berries
1 C honey
2 C water

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or so until the liquid is reduced.

You can make your syrup with white sugar or agave or you can also add many spices to the syrup.

Another version of the recipe:
2 C fresh berries
5 cloves
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 T fresh ginger root (particularly nice to add because of it's warming effect when you are ill)
1 vanilla bean
1 C honey
2 C water

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover. Simmer for 20 minutes until some of the liquid is reduced. Strain and store in the fridge.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An adventure with the Hops Vine

We have a very large hops vine (Humulus lupulus) that we grow to cover our little greenhouse and provide cool shade in the summer. If we don't keep up with pruning the hops it will climb up into our cedar tree and even out the electric wires toward the street. It comes up from the ground every year and can easily reach 100 feet in one growing season! Naturally the flowers are up at the top so it became an adventure to pull down the aggressive hops vine, save the cedar tree, and harvest the chartreuse strobile flowers.

Yanking down the hops, steadily and slowly. Commercial growers wisely grow hops on strings only about 6 feet tall or so for ease of harvesting.

Some of the gorgeous harvest. The fluffy cone flowers are used to make beer, to stuff sleep pillows or to be tinctured.

Medicinally, hops is used to aid with sleep. Dried hops are frequently used to stuff little pillows, along with the pleasantly fragrant herb lavender to help aid sleep. Mugwort can be added to this blend to help increase dreaming. Pictured here is some of the hops tincture. Hops has a potent aroma (some describe it as dirty socks....) so after some discussion thought it best to tincture the hops in a spicy rum. Clever intern Jessica also created an even stronger sedative tincture with hops and Valerian in Scotch whiskey. Which she is calling Valerian-Hops-Scotch!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tea Tasting.... Ara-cha

Although Ara-cha is often referred to as 'crude tea', it is the tea that farmers and producers often drink as their 'everyday' tea. Typically it is steamed, crumpled, and dried right after it has been picked and consists of unsorted fresh tea, essentially the entire plant; stems, buds, leaves and other small pieces. The dried leaves are fragrantly fresh and of all sizes, from large leaves to tiny particles known as dust and fannings. Since it does not go through the regular grading process, it has uneven leaves and small pieces but for that very reason, retains its original flavor. The various sizes of leaf become even more noticeable upon inspecting the brewed leaf. The fresh green color also intensifies to a vibrant green once the leaves have been steeped.

Brewed at 170 degrees for 30 - 45 seconds, this Japanese tea produces a delicate pale olive-green infusion. To my palate, this tea is a gentle and soft brew with mild 'seaweed' undertones. With a slightly longer brewing time (just over a minute) the seaweed flavor intensifies. After tasting the tea, the flavor lingers in your mouth long after the last sip. There is a fresh aroma and clean smooth taste associated with this tea.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Newest Addition!

The tea set collection grows! And the newest addition is this beautiful ceramic tea set hand carried from Japan and presented as a hostess gift. It is Hagi Yaki, crafted in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan. Hagi ware is known for its translucent white glaze. It is also frequently used in tea ceremony schools and in flower arranging schools.

Notice the tea strainer crafted into the pot.
In addition to this beautiful tea set, Micky provided a wonderful assortment of Japanese teas to sample. Genmai cha, Setoya midori, Yabokita midori, Ara cha, Shinme midori.... a few that I am familiar with and many new teas to sample. Let the research and tea tastings begin!
Thank you dear friend... for your continued friendship, for the beautiful gift, for the many other treasures you presented not only to me, but to my family. We enjoyed your visit last month and have beautiful memories of a very special time shared between family and friends.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hawaii 5 - 0 .... a grand celebration

Why the Hawaiian theme you ask? We're off to Hawaii in January to continue celebrating with more family and friends!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bloomin' Delight

This week we 'hit the road' with our Edible Flowers Program and Tea. With a definite chill in the air, the floral harvest begins to fade; but one last edible flowers event marked the end of summer. We traveled to the Philly area to present our combination program/tea to a local garden club. Can you believe they have had us back three times now!? The hostess provided coffee, tea and wine. We provided the entertainment and the 'luncheon'. The menu featured our traditional rose petal sandwiches, sliced chicken sandwiches with basil pesto, egg salad sandwiches with marigold petals, and impatiens atop a garlic cheese spread. A fresh green salad boasted basil and garlic chive blossoms. There was also homemade Fromage Blanc in lavendar syrup. Dessert included fresh pineapple and green grapes with rose geraniums, tartlets made with Queen Anne's Lace jelly and a zucchini cake glazed with orange blossom water.