cookinwithherbsbrookeville, MD, US
gardening interests: Composting, Container Gardening, Cooking, Culinary Herbs, Edible Landscaping, Gardening with Kids, Herbal Crafts, Medicinal Herbs, Organic Gardening, Sustainable Living, Vegetables
Member Since: 02/22/2009
Subscribe to my RSS Feed
On my recent visit to California, I hiked in the majestic redwood forest, walked on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, and visited gardens from the San Francisco Botanic Garden to the arboretum at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Come take a little trip with me...
I've had my hori hori (Japanese weeding knife) for more than 25 years. It is the tool that I use most often in the garden other than my Felcos. I have bought many of these useful tools for gifts. This past summer I went online to order one for a gift and found a new and improved model... read all about it...
It is January and here in my zone 7 garden, my fall-sown coriander seed is still producing cilantro leaves. While they are not huge and hearty as they are in spring and fall--I am still gathering fresh leaves to brighten winter salads. Here is one of my favorite salad recipes.
This year we celebrate Cilantro & Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) as Herb of the Year 2017. The leaf of the coriander plant is known as cilantro throughout much of the western world. It is often called coriander leaf and Chinese parsley in other parts of the globe. The seed is known as coriander and has been used as a spice--from as far back as the ancient Egyptians and was mentioned in the Bible. It's time to order your seed to have it in time for early spring planting!
My first seed catalog for 2017 arrived before Christmas. I enjoy sitting by the woodstove with the catalogs and perusing the photos and descriptions of mouthwatering herbs, vegetables and fruits, dreaming of this year's garden-to-be. Admittedly, I have been receiving fewer catalogs every year since I tend not to order from many of them--and I am sure seed companies need to save the expense of printing and shipping color catalogs to folks who don't place orders. Here are a few that I will be ordering from soon--as well as a few that I order from online.
I had planned on doing a blog about favorite herbal products for holiday gifts, however this is an even better time to post some of these amazing creations--for the new year--and to help get us through the cold and dark days ahead. I want to extol the virtues of some herbal businesses that I know and use on a regular basis from growers, purveyors, bloggers and creators of delicious and delightful herbal products.
Every year, I try to visit the USBG for each season, however the winter holiday display is one of the best--and this year it celebrates National Parks and Historic Places. The plant-based sculptures are absolutely incredible--a must see if you live in the area--or take a little tour right here.
Though cold, visiting here in the Ozarks in the cold winter has its perks. Besides the cold fresh air and sunshine, the beauty of the mountain landscape is always breathtaking, however this time of year, Ozarkians are celebrating the natural phenomena of frost flowers.
Well it is December already and the holidays are fast approaching. Here are a few ideas for books that you might not have come across or thought about that just about any herbie/gardener would appreciate...
One of the best things about fall and winter seasons is that we get to eat seasonal foods--root vegetables, winter squash and pumpkins, brassicas, cool-weather greens, apples, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, all sorts of nuts and more. Most of these foods store well, so we are able to enjoy them during the cold weather. I especially like winter squash and pumpkin; their bright orange and yellow flesh brightens our meals and nourishes us. Here are a few that I have grown, or are easy to get at your farmers' markets, local farm stands, organic markets and even the grocery store.
It's that time of year that we want to eat warming comfort foods. I try to use vegetables, fruits and nuts that are in season. This recipe features two of my favorites--sweet potatoes and apples--in a simple yet scrumptious dish. It is easily prepared in a crockpot, although it can be made in a dutch oven or covered casserole in the oven.
It's that time of year again... as the leaves begin to fall, it is time to think about getting your garlic bed ready to plant. It is so worthwhile to grow your own because there is such a vast array of types to choose from, which you just cannot get at the grocery store. I personally prefer hardnecks over softnecks, although I always grow some of each for their flavor and for storage.
Here's one last garden for you to see from my recent trip to Ireland, the Burren Perfumery. It is a unique and lovely place to visit with its shop full of fragrant botanical products, informational video of the burren and its plants, soap room, distillery, cafe and herb gardens.
Quinoa is another food indigenous to South America domesticated as a food crop 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. We are seeing more and more recipes using this crunchy, nutritive grain. This tasty salad is easy and quick to prepare.
Last weekend, we celebrated the 27th annual Herb Harvest Fall Festival featuring the foods of South America at the Ozark Folk Center. Learn about some of the foods indigenous to this continent--you might be surprised!
It's that time to gather in the last basil harvest--as well as any other tender herbs--because they will go with the first frost. Here's a few things that I do with an abundance of basil.
Well the late September garden is full of chiles as well as herbs to harvest and preserve... that's what I've been doing the past few days. And the annual flowers are blooming their hearts out--getting the last of the calendula flower heads and gathered the nasturtiums for a lovely, peppery vinegar. I also sowed some lettuce seeds, cold-weather spinach, cilantro,kale and radishes; I am not sure whether they will germinate and produce before the cold weather sets in, though I decided to take a chance. If they do germinate, I'll be covering them with floating row cover for sure.
Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow heralds the autumnal equinox. The summer garden is definitely looking like fall is in the air. See what my zone 7 Maryland garden looks like and what I'm harvesting and preserving.
Last, though not least, I want to write about the last herb farm that we visited on our IHA field trip, DeBaggio Herb Farm and Nursery. Although they are closed for the season, they weeded their gardens and opened up for us to visit.
The IHA post-conference fieldtrip went to Virginia. One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to Blooming Hill Lavender Farm with an herbal lunch catered by Kim Labash, proprietress of Loudon Valley Herbs. Cyndi and Peter Rinek are collectors of many things besides lavender and you will enjoy the photos herein of their delightful farm in Philomont, Virginia.
A delightful herbal luncheon served al fresco alongside a pond with fountain, surrounded by numerous theme gardens was part of our IHA pre-conference tour to Willow Oak Flower & Herb Farm. Enjoy a tour of this small family farm owned and operated by Maria Price Nowakowski and her husband Martin.
The Green Farmacy Garden is Dr. Jim Duke's medicinal herb teaching garden (his book the Green Pharmacy published by Rodale in 1997 has sold over a million copies) used by the Maryland University of Integrative Health, located in Fulton, Maryland. Recently, the International Herb Association went on a field trip there--read all about it here!
Even though it has been really hot, I've been visiting gardens this summer--so I'm going to share some of them with you in the next few blogs. This year's exhibit inside and outside at the USBG is colorful and aesthetically delightful--might be one of my favorite outdoor displays there ever--check it out!
It's that time of year when we are reaping the harvest--benefiting from all of our earlier hard labor--and approaching a vegetable glut! Hot weather makes us want to cook less, so think about making salads in the morning or on the weekend to have for supper, then you just need to slice some tomatoes and cucumbers and maybe steam some corn. Enjoy the bounty now!
If you are a gardener who enjoys fragrant plants, then Kathi Keville's new book The Aromatherapy Garden: Growing Fragrant Plants for Happiness and Well-Being, should be on your reading list!
Summer is full on and the garden is growing in leaps and bounds. Here in Maryland, we have had pretty great weather--our days have been in the upper 80s rather than the usual 90s and so I can't...
The garden is getting into full swing now; plants are finally established and many are flowering or just beginning to fruit. This is one of my favorite times of being a gardener--the garden is still looking good, sort of tidy and not too weedy (versus the unkempt look of late summer and fall)--and still anticipating the first ripe tomato and hot chile pepper.
Here it is the last week of June and my cilantro, rocket, dill, and parsley are over a foot tall and some are wanting to bolt. Get out there and whack those herbs back--to prevent them from bolting, prolong their life and encourage new growth--and enjoy them for supper. Here is a different take on pesto--South-of-the-Border style, which is lovely on pasta, or anything from the grill.
Tomorrow is the summer solstice--the longest day of the year--and this date heralds the arrival of summer in full swing. We gardeners are diligently tending our pieces of earth, delighting in each bloom or growth spurt and anxiously awaiting the ripening of our summertime bounty.
I thought for sure that I had posted the recipe for making salsa verde with botanicals foraged from in and around the garden, however I can only find my traditional one posted, which contains garden grown herbs and greens. So here is the wild weed version for those of you who requested it.
Yes, it is an invasive plant and garlic mustard grows all over the place--however if you have it, you might as well eat it. It is a nutritious leafy green that tastes like a garlic-flavored green and it is yours for the harvesting.
Last blog, I wrote about the red-flowered bee balm (Monarda didyma) and promised that I would write about wild bee balm (Monarda fistulosa). So here it is--still green--though it will be covered with lavender blooms in the next month.
I've written about Monarda in past posts, when it was in bloom in my garden. However, you needn't wait until it is in bloom--right now it is about two feet tall and the leaves are not only gorgeous--they are delicious! Read on to see how to use beebalm for both food and drink.
Usually in Maryland as Memorial Day approaches, I have pretty much put in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and basil, temps are in the 70s and 80s and I'm wearing summer clothes. Not so this spring! It has been rainy and downright cold--my peppers and tomatoes are out there in a pout--and I'm wearing long sleeves, hoodie, socks and boots! What is spring like in your garden?
I'm here again in the Ozarks--one of my favorite places for herborizing. This weekend there will be a Wild Weeds hike and Medicinal Herb Seminar at the Ozark Folk Center for those of you who want to learn more about our wild plants and their virtues.
Last weekend, while botanizing along the White River in the Ozarks, we found many plants along the trail and came upon a large stand of healthy nettles. So armed with gloves, knives and pruners, we harvested a large amount of nettles which we brought home to cook down for a lovely mess a’ greens and we used the trimmings to make a nettle tincture.
Green Garlic is a gourmet delight. You can't really have it unless you grow it--or live near a garlic farmer who thins it in the spring or brings it to farmers' market. These delightful early garlics are delicious and easy to prepare and are well worth growing or seeking out.
I've been traveling around the country giving lectures on Capsicum, Herb of the Year 2016. When I do cooking demos, I often prepare one of my favorite and most delicious recipes: Cabbage en Escabeche. I have had many requests for the recipe so here it is.
While gathering edible blooms from the wild this week, I noticed that the scented geraniums are blooming indoors in the greenhouse. The plants in the Pelargonium genus are easy to cultivate--they are tender perennials--so I grow them in pots as houseplants. Read all about the "pellies" as I call these endearing, aromatic plants.
AAhhh--it is that time of year again--spring is bustin' out all over and we gardeners are rejoicing with the first harvests of earth's offerings. Here are some photos of what I'm picking and what's for dinner; get inspired, get out there and forage, or at least graze!
In my last post I posted photos of Epcot Fresh--pix of food displays and gardens. Here are another dozen photos of some of my favorite plants, topiary and garden vistas. The gardeners and cast members have outdone themselves for this year's Flower & Garden Festival!
Just returned from the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival--it was lots of fun--and this year's gardens and botanical displays are the best ever! Check out these photos for a virtual tour!
Having been a vegetarian for over 40 years, I have a large repertoire of recipes featuring legumes: beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas, etc. I have written a number of recipes using them in various blogs over the years. Here is an unpublished favorite for Tortilla Pie and links to seven recipes with pulses.
In my last post I wrote about pulses being the international crop of the year and said that i would talk about some beans to grow and sources for a variety of beans. Here's a few that I have grown... and new ones for this growing season.
I love beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas and eat them probably at least five times a week. The aforementioned are commonly known as pulses. These crops have been chosen to be featured foods to be celebrated for the year of 2016--read all about it!
I am sitting here by the woodstove with my seed catalogs and laptop and dreaming of this year's garden, pouring over the huge variety of seeds and plants available. It is challenging to whittle down the choices. Presently, I am concentrating on the Herb of the Year for 2016, Capsicum. Although, I do grow some sweet peppers, my passion is for chile peppers, so I am going to share some that are on my list, as well as a few of the catalogs that I am ordering from.
The International Herb Association has chosen Capsicum as Herb of the Year for 2016. I am a confessed chilehead and have been perusing seed catalogs for my favorite chiles, as well as for new selections (or new to me) to feature in this year's garden beds. See my favorites--and why they are thus so. Here's to a hot and spicy year ahead!
Last blog post, I wrote about the gift of persimmons with a recipe for persimmon mousse and a smoothie. My daughter Lucie has a persimmon tree in her backyard and after harvesting them, decided to preserve them by drying. Check out the beauty of this ancient food preservation technique... and art form!
A few weeks ago, my daughter Lucie sent me a box of 'Hachiya' persimmons grown in her backyard in California. These sweet, delectable fruits are truly a gift--and my anticipation built as they ripened. See how to make an easy, elegant persimmon mousse with just three ingredients!
Let me tell you, we are eating some greens here in Maryland. We've had an extremely mild winter here in the Mid-Atlantic East Coast, so the cole crops, brassicas are just honking in the garden. Floating row cover truly extends the winter growing season and I am an advocate of it. It also keeps the ever-present grazing deer and rabbits from beating me to the harvest. Here are a few inspired and delectable dishes that I have prepared from the bounty.
I've been preparing this veggie chili for many years now--and so have tweaked and perfected the recipe. I recently made it at the IHA conference featuring Capsicum, Herb of the Year 2016 and I had more than a handful of folks tell me that it was the best chili that they had ever eaten. Every year, I attend a local potluck, solstice party held by some friends and I bring the chili--here is the updated recipe--be sure to try it soon!
After writing about making chocolate chipotle bark with salted pistachios, I have had requests for the recipe. I'm sharing the recipe here--it makes a brilliant gift for your favorite chilehead, chocoholic or gourmet cook! It is easy to make and one batch makes enough for two or three gifts.
While many folks were out experiencing "Black Friday"--I spent time in the out doors with family doing chores--and enjoying a beautiful day in nature. The next two days are great root moon planting days so if you haven't planted your garlic, now is a good time to do it!
We give thanks for the garden bounty and the farmers' markets for local organic produce and to the farmers everywhere for growing our food. Thanksgiving isn't all about turkey--here are some tasty side dish ideas to prepare for the people you love throughout the upcoming holidays.
Here's a brief synopsis of a wonderful trip to Fernandina Beach, Florida for the recent IHA conference--a good time was had by all gathered--and we so enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine (a break from the cold temps back in my Maryland garden!).
The recent International Herb Association conference took me on a road trip to San Fernandina Beach, Florida. A trip to the Okefenokee Swamp was part of one of the tours--while there were freezing temps in other parts of the U.S.--its still warm and balmy down south. Come on and take a boat ride through the swamp!
Just before it frosted in my Maryland zone 7 garden, we harvested all of the chiles that were mature--and some that were still green. Many chiles were snipped from the plants into buckets, however, some plants covered with small chiles were just pulled up by the roots and hung to dry. Been processing them by various methods and have saved some out in the refrigerator to bring to the IHA Conference in Florida next week.
On my recent trip to Massachusetts and Rhode Island, I went to visit The Gardens at Elm Bank (last blog) and Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Take a mini tour through these lovely gardens and conservatories and see why you need to put them on your list of gardens-to-visit!
Recently, I traveled to New England to give two presentations for the New England Unit of the Herb Society of America for their daylong symposium "Let's Drink to That!". Lucky me! I was dazzled by the fall foliage. I visited The Gardens at Elm Bank, home of the Massachusetts Hort Society and Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Since I can only post 12 photos per blog, I'm going to highlight Elm Bank here and Tower Hill in the next one.
If you don't grow roses and harvest their hips in your own garden, the hedgerows, overgrown pastures and woods' edge are full of wild rose hips this time of year, that are yours for the labor of harvesting. Take advantage of this free crop, which is chockablock full of vitamin C!
My last post I showed you how to ferment chile peppers. This brief video shows a few more fermentation lids, how to tell when chiles are ready and how to store them.
It is the chile harvest season and time to put up the bounty! fermenting hot peppers is a great alternative to pickling and canning--offering great flavor, more vitamins and minerals and better health. Check it out...
Although castor bean is a gorgeous, showy plant in the garden, the seeds are poisonous. So why would one want to grow it? Read on to find out...
It's that time of year again--the green chiles are here! The Hatch chile tractor trailers has been pulling into towns across the nation to deliver these glorious New Mexico capsicums. I also have them in my garden, however I get a case to freeze so I can have my capsaicin fix all winter long. Here are a few favorite ways to use them.
Traditionally this dish is made with poblanos, but any green chile can be used. If you use Anaheims or New Mexico types, you can add a little more heat by using a few serranos, jalapeños, gueros, Hungarian hot, or even a habanero pepper. This is a far cry from the processed cheese dips that are served in most restaurants. It is more chile and less queso, but it is wonderful, simple peasant food. I like it best when served with warm whole-wheat flour tortillas—I cut them into quarters—put some chiles on top and roll them up.
If you are ever going to South Carolina, or just passing through, make this garden a stop on your list of places to visit. Besides wonderful gardens and ancient live oak trees, fountains and vistas, there are trails, a native animal collection, children's garden, pollinator garden, labyrinth, a small butterfly house, gift shop and cafe--and an incredibly amazing sculpture collection. Plan to spend a day.
It's hot down here in the Ozarks--really hot and humid--with temps mostly in the high 90s everyday. There has been a good bit of rain, though gardens are thirsty and some are parched if they haven't been watered. However, there is still a great deal of garden bounty to be had.
Last week, I wrote about purslane and the benefit of having it in one's garden. For those of you new to portulaca, here are a few recipe ideas using purslane.
I decided to do this blog on one of my favorite naturalized garden weeds since it has been in the news lately. https://www.facebook.com/TheEdenPrescription/photos/a.201474409907598.64598.130965870291786/820695717985461/?type=1&fref=nf&pnref=story Did you know that Portulaca oleracea contains the highest amount of omega-3s of any plant in the vegetable kingdom, not to mention it is full of minerals and vitamins A and C?
Last week I posted a blog about the glorious beebalm blooming in my garden. I've had some requests as to how to cook with it, so here are a few of my favorite recipes.
Right now my beebalms, also known as monarda are ablaze with color in the garden. Their flowers have an inimitable shaggy-headed appearance which attract all sorts of pollinators. If you don't have any monardas in your garden, now is the time to plant them. They are like brightly colored firecrackers in the garden, bursting with bloom just in time for the Fourth of July.
As temperatures soar outside, we need relief from the heat. Mint is a naturally cooling and refreshing herb that most of us have right in our own backyards (usually in abundance due to its rampant spreading habit). Here are a few ideas and recipes for cooling down with mint.
Today is officially the first day of summer--we celebrate the solstice and Father's Day both! The garden is revving up as is the summer heat--the salad greens are bolting--however I've picked my first two cucumbers and last night I pitted 4 quarts of sour cherries for the freezer. What's happening in you garden? Try one of these cooling cucumber recipes to welcome the season!
Even though it is not officially summer on the calendar, the weather says otherwise here in Maryland--we are having a heatwave! I recently made this for Savory, Herb of the Year 2015 demo at the USBG and it was a hit. Really, it takes just about 10 minutes to make and its a great lunch or supper in this hot weather! This simple recipe is quick and easy and can be used like tuna fish or chicken salad on sandwiches or a salad plate.
Our U.S. Botanic Garden, as well as U.S. National Arboretum, are treasure troves of plants from around the world, as well as great resources for events, programs and classes, and information about plants. The gardens change with the seasons as do the featured themes--they are great places to visit--so plan a trip to see these national treasures!
Recently my local farmers' market had a fundraiser at a nearby farm and it was fun and educational to visit with the friends and supporters of the market and the farmers who bring wonderful produce and products to market, not to mention there was lots of good food and beverage. Here are a few photos of garden grown produce and things new to me...
The weather is changing from spring to summer--nights are still cool here in Maryland--however days feel like summertime hot. Greens and radishes and garlic are loving it and we are experiencing salad days in a big way!
On my last blog, I highlighted the Colonial Gardens in Williamsburg, having to limit myself to just 12 images. Here are 12 more with details on the conference, farmers' market, two great books, and a few more herbs.
I recently attended and presented at the annual Herb Society of America conference, which took place this year in Colonial Williamsburg. If you haven't visited Williamsburg, Virginia, or been there recently--it is a wonderful place for a getaway or family vacation. There is lots to see and do, many gardens to walk through, it is educational and historic and there are no rides (well except for a horse and buggy)and no plastic. Things there are built out of wood and stone and brick as was done in colonial times.
Today is the last day of April and tomorrow we will celebrate May Day--this past month has been cold and wily--have had the woodstove going and the plant babies covered. Hopefully May will finally bring spring for us impatient gardeners!
The International Herb Association's latest book Savory, Herb of the Year 2015 is hot off the presses. It is time to be planting savory plants or sowing summer savory seed right now! Celebrate this tasty herb.
Home again, however finishing up a few details from recent road trip. Attendees from the Medicinal Herb Workshop requested the Smoky Kale Sauerkraut recipe so here it is.
Last weekend was the annual Medicinal Herb Field Trip and Workshop at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas. It sure is springtime in the Ozarks--check out the pix--and you'll feel like you were out on the trail with us!
I've read about and seen photos of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and always wanted to visit. Finally made it there and was impressed with the vast space, the rock structures and buildings, not to mention the fauna and flora. Come take a look...
This spring has been busy with a road trip from Arkansas to Texas and back--we saw miles and miles of Texas! We started with a program on 'Shrubs, Switchel and Beveridge: The Art of Creating Fruited Vinegars' at the ABC. Check out the gardens at the American Botanical Council. Check out the gardens at the ABC, why you should go visit, and become a member!
Well I departed from the frigid temps in Maryland with over 12-inches of snow on the ground to head south to begin another series of springtime herbal events. While still chilly here in Arkansas, the snow has melted, the precipitation is rain with temps in the 50s and the daffodils are up three or four inches and budded, though not yet open. The first night I arrived the peepers were peepin’ around the pond and in the ditches—a sure sign of spring. Read on to find out upcoming events...
Today is the last day of February--gardeners take heart and prepare for spring! Although it might not seem like it with these frigid temperatures and snow and sleet still in the forecast--it will happen. Be sure to still feed our fine feathered friends in this weather! March brings all sorts of spring and green celebrations from the full worm moon, daylight saving time, St. Patrick's Day and the vernal equinox--hallelujah!
This seductive beverage was inspired by the one prepared in the movie Chocolat. Rich, dark, and smooth this hot chocolate is subtly uplifted with a hint of vanilla and the spice of ground chile. (Do not use chili powder—the mix of spices with cumin and oregano. Use pure ground red chile pepper like the rich pasilla, chile negro, or ancho.) In the cafés in Europe, hot chocolate is usually prepared with cream and melted chocolate rather than milk and cocoa, and served with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Here, experience the best of both worlds—this recipe is very rich—it can be made with just milk and is quite delicious. If you use bittersweet chocolate, you will need the larger amount of sugar, with semisweet use the lesser amount and then taste. Try just a few pinches of chile or about 1/8 teaspoon and then taste—and add more if desired--I like this recipe with about 1/4 teaspoon so it warms the tongue. For those who don’t the heat of chiles, cinnamon can be substituted in its place.
It's Valentine's Day weekend--so it is a time to celebrate love and eat chocolate. Did you know that chocolate is good for you? The flavor of chocolate can be enhanced by herbs and spices. While you are indoors on this cold wintry weekend, whip up something with chocolate for you and the ones that you love!
In my last blog, I spoke of Savory being Herb of the Year for 2015 and promised a warming winter recipe using it. Though a hard decision, I decided that there is nothing like a pot of beans cooked with savory (know as bohnenkraut, the bean herb in German)--so here is a simple recipe using dried pintos--and a variation on refried beans. They are wonderful in a bowl on their own or served over rice. I especially like them with cornbread accompanied by either coleslaw or wilted greens.
Today is the last day of January--and we are in the thick of winter weather here in zone 7 Maryland--days barely in the 30s and nights in the teens---bbbrrrhhh! Tomorrow is the first day of February which is a month of many notable dates not to mention the lengthening of days and the stirring of spring! This weekend is Imbolc on the Irish calendar and it is the celebration of midwinter.
In the throes of winter, looking out at the snow, we gardeners dream of growing gardens. With a surplus of root vegetables this time of year, I have been further experimenting with fermentation and here are some of my recent creations and tasty results.
This is one of my favorite sandwiches and it is most delicious when you use your own sauerkraut, pickles and peppers. The secret is in the sauce...
Okay so it is freezing outside--instead of getting the gardening blues--try growing a few simple healthy and nutritious foods right on your kitchen countertop... I've got sprouts sprouting and veggies fermenting! It is easy and fun to do these simple projects.
This gardener must have been very good last year because she received an abundance of presents this holiday season. Here are a few items, which most gardeners will appreciate!
Today, December 21, is the first day of winter; the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Although the Winter Solstice marks Midwinter, it is a day which I look forward to, since from now on the days become longer. From this day until the first of January is a time for reflection and repose, as well as celebration.
This elixir is well known amongst herbalists, created by Rosemary Gladstar, and has been made by many of us for years now. December 6 was World Fire Cider Vinegar Day. Check out this easy recipe--I make this every fall after I harvest my horseradish--to use throughout the winter months for a general tonic and to help fight colds and flu.
December 4 is National Cookie Day and since this is a special holiday month--why not celebrate with cookies? Check out this recipe for a delightfully versatile cookie featuring herbs from the garden--with many variations--they are really easy to make and can be made ahead.
Here it is the last day of November and I am still harvesting lettuce, spinach, arugula, cilantro, parsley, chard, kale, mustard and collard greens in my zone 7 garden. This is due to the fact that it is growing in a small grow tunnel under floating row cover--this gardener is a happy camper!
While I was in the Ozarks, I watched the persimmon trees (where there is an abundance of them in the wild) as the fruits turned orange and full fleshed, then some started to wrinkle and wither and began to fall and then the trees lost their leaves. Some of the fruits were ready to eat a month ago--and they are still ripening--gather some now!
This is a quick and easy recipe for savory sweet potatoes--once they are prepped just put them in the oven.
It's that time of year again--most gardeners harvest sweet potatoes before a frost--so right now sweet potatoes are piled high on roadside stands, at farmers' markets and in the grocery store. We are seeing them everywhere since they are a popular menu item for the Thanksgiving feast. See how to store them and check out some delightful recipes...
It's that time of year again--Happy Halloween! Don't toss the pumpkin that you have been using to decorate your front stoop--bring it into the kitchen and use it in some seasonal recipes--here's a tasty treat: Pumpkin Scones with Thyme!
Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), also referred to as sunchokes, sunroots and earth apples are edible tubers native to North America, mainly the Eastern regions. They are best dug after the first frost.
On the road in the Ozarks... here are some photos of the Heritage Herb Gardens at the Ozark Folk Center, as well as some roadside natives, in Mountain View, Arkansas. Do you know these herbs?
If you still have homegrown tomatoes here is a recipe to try! We recently made this chutney for our reception at the Herb Harvest Fall Festival featuring foods of the British Isles—it was my favorite recipe of the evening. The members of the Ozark Unit of the HSA prepared all of the foods after researching through many cookbooks and this recipe is adapted from a recipe from The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret Johnson.
Although summer has gone and fall is here, it does not mean the end of the growing season. By using floating row cover or a grow tunnel covered with it--you can enjoy cool weather crop until the weather freezes.
It's that time of year again already--the summer has come and gone--and today we celebrate the official arrival of autumn. There is still lots to do in the garden...
The cool weather has arrived and summer is going fast. Summer crops have stopped producing in my zone 7 garden; just picked the last tomatoes, though still have some herbs to harvest and chiles are ripening on the vine. The summer fruits--peaches and plums--are also dwindling, so now is the time to enjoy this last summer bounty. Harvest from the garden or stop by your local farmers' market or farm stand and enjoy the seasonal produce for supper--or put some up. Here is a simple recipe using the last of the plums along with some of those leggy, scented geraniums which need cutting back.
Summertime and the living is easy--supper time involves as little cooking as possible--and preparing something simple with garden produce. Here is a recipe for an easy salad, Nicoise-style, using whatever you have on hand.
What's going on in your garden? As the harvest season is peaking and some of our summer vegetable and herb plants are winding down, it is time for preserving, tidying up and getting ready to plant a few fall crops.
When I think of favorite summer produce--tomatoes, corn and peaches top my list. I eat tomatoes and peaches every single day--and corn almost daily. Though we enjoy them most now--it is time to preserve some for this winter. Recently my local farmer called and said the corn is ready, so I grabbed my knife and freezer zip-lock bags and headed over to shuck and jive...
In my last blog, I said that I would post a recipe from my program on "Seasoning with Savory" which I gave at the IHA conference in Canada. Here is a seasonal salsa which features Savory, which will be Herb of the Year for 2015. Both summer and winter savory are ready for harvesting in my garden. Here is a simple and tasty summer salsa featuring savory and a few pix with ways to preserve savory for seasoning throughout the year!
I recently did a road trip to Toronto with herbalgalpals to attend the International Herb Association's annual conference. Here are a few highlights--gardens for you to visit vicariously, or next time you go to Canada--or put them on your list of things to do.
While all of our gardens are peaking right now, here is a garden you might want to take a closer peek at--the Nation's Kitchen Garden. Did you know that you can arrange a date for a private tour of the White House Kitchen Garden during this summer season? Last week, I went with the Potomac Unit of the Herb Society of America and we had the whole garden to ourselves (well of course, we were accompanied by some security as well as a guide)!
This is not a shrub as in a bush that grows in one's garden, rather it is a beverage made from infusing fruits, herbs or even vegetables in apple cider vinegar.
Herbs are flourishing and it is time for the first harvest. Capture herbal essence by making herb-flavored vinegars--it is fun and easy to do--and you will have tasty infusions for the year ahead.
It's that time of year--the summer weather has arrived--and so the seasonal produce is just starting to come in: squash time! Here is a quick, easy, tasty squash saute that can be made ahead and taken to a potluck--so this recipe is just in time for your Fourth of July picnic.
We've just celebrated the solstice and midsummer is officially dated at June 24--so now we are heading into the summer garden season. The garden is abuzz--full of pollinators--plants to harvest and all sorts of lovely veggies coming on. Oh and the weeds... the never-ending garden chore... Here's what is happening in my zone 7 garden...
When I wrote about grilling last weekend, I got a number of requests on how to make veggie bundles. So here are veggie bundle basics--telling you which veggies combine well with which herbs--and a link at the end for a recipe. Just in time to cook for the summer solstice--enjoy!
I grew up eating potato bundles--my paternal grandmother had a shore house--and we put these bundles on the big brick barbecue all summer long. This is an updated vegetarian version, although she often put a chicken leg or wing or a small sausage in the bundle. My favorite part besides opening them hot off the grill, and smelling the aroma, was the assembly line in the kitchen when making them.
Once the weather warms up and the farmers' markets reopen for the season and our gardens start producing crops to harvest, the grilling season has begun! Vegetables on the grill are an easy way to fix dinner or entertain and there are infinite variations.
We've had a cool spring and rain so this year the salad greens are phenomenal. And I don't just mean lettuce (although I love the choices we have)... no ho hum salads around here. If you grow some of these greens--and it's not to late to plant them--every salad will be a chef's delight.
Just returned from a trip to Ireland, where the countryside is lush and green from the spring rains--no wonder its moniker is the Emerald Isle. Come take a brief tour of some of the botanical wonders to behold there.
This is a wonderfully simple, delicious potage, featuring all of the flavors of spring. Other seasonal garden greens can be used in place of the arugula.
When there is rain in the forecast and the moon is in the right phase and sign, the gardener must grab the opportunity to transplant seedlings.
Chives are truly one of the harbingers of spring and their fresh, green,onion-like flavor is welcome after the long winter months of heavy foods. Here are some tips on how I use chives to brighten up spring recipes. What to do with those hardboiled eggs? Make chive deviled eggs!
Our family loves deviled eggs—my grandmother used to make them—now my daughter Lucie is in charge of the deviled eggs and she better not show up at a family gathering without them! In the summer, we vary the herb by adding fresh dill, tarragon, or a tablespoon of fresh minced basil. The recipe can easily be doubled or halved depending upon how many you are serving; we have to allow at least 2 halves per person in our family! Lately we’ve been adding a little Sriracha to spice them up!
Yum asparagus season! Depending where you live in the country, the end of February, beginning of March through late May are when we find the best local asparagus and this pungent allium in our gardens and market. This light soup, given body with potatoes, brings them together. The pale jade color and refreshing taste make it an appropriate beginning to any spring meal.
Finally the warmer spring weather has arrived and we all want to be outdoors. As a gardener, though I delight in everything bursting forth, I want to feel the soil and sow seeds. However, once I go outside I am distracted by all there is to do--here are a few chores, which need taking care of...
Artemisia is herb of the year for 2014 and I am gearing up for growing them in my garden. Next weekend is the Medicinal Herb Fieldtrip and Workshop at the Ozark Folk Center, where I will be giving a program on the medicinal aspects of some artemisias... here are a few excerpts from my handout for the program. Why don't you try growing a few of these easy-to-grow plants? Celebrate Artemisia!
After the severe winter weather that many of us have experienced, there are a good number of plants out in the garden that are brown and look dead. Don’t go pulling them out or cutting them back, until you check to see if they are wick.
After a long, cold winter, we gardeners across the country welcome spring. And what better place to experience the season than in the mountains of Arkansas?... Come along for a little Ozark adventure…
After all of the cold weather this winter, most of the nation is experiencing a late spring. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring--here are a few herbal harbingers that are just popping out! And a fast and tasty recipe for herbs with scrambled eggs.
Rice and beans are staple foods for our vegetarian diet. This time of year, we are all feeling a bit of cabin fever... so why not add a tropical twist to the menu? Plantanos or plantains are a member of the banana family and are readily available at the grocery store--usually next to the bananas. Try this easy and delectable recipe, which will add a Costa Rican flavor to your rice and beans.
Rice and beans are a staple winter meal. Keep cabin fever at bay by adding a tropical twist to your everyday fare--plantains are easy to cook and fun to eat.
Okay, I know three blogs on Costa Rica when we are all dealing with snow and freezing temps is a bit much, however I would be remiss if I did not show you the cloudforest and volcano!
While my last blog was also on Costa Rica featuring fauna and flora and a paddleboard trip through the mangroves, this one will highlight going up the coast to visit a spice farm and inland to where they grow vegetables and fruit.
While much of the country has been besieged with snowstorms and below-average temperatures, it is summer in Costa Rica. I had the great fortune of a recent visit there--let these photos from eight degrees above the equator take you away for a quick trip to the tropics!
I have preserved tarragon on hand from last season, so I am able to use it to brighten winter dishes. If you haven’t done it before, be sure to preserve some tarragon next growing season. Meanwhile, try this easy and tasty white bean dish—use preserved, dried or frozen tarragon.
Every year the International Herb Association selects a new herb to feature--this year is Artemisia! Learn more about this wonderful genus of herbs beloved by gardeners for centuries, used by cooks and in the apothecary.
I've been on the road and going north (rather than south!) in this cold winter weather, which many of us are experiencing. Many of us are hunkering down in the cold weather--hang on, spring is just around the corner-- meanwhile, click on this seasonal vegetables with rice dish.
Winter is upon us--and for many it has been fiercely cold--or you've had lots of precipitation from inches of rain to feet of snow. Don't let the cold and grey days get you down, instead, get inspired. Attend a conference or symposium, learn something new; research something you have always wanted to know more about and sign up for a class; spend a day dreaming of this year's garden, looking at the plethora of seed catalogs and order some seeds; sprout some sprouts; better yet, plant some lettuce or spinach in a seed flat; wash and fertilize some neglected house plants; clean up the greenhouse; start some bulbs or root cuttings; or spend some time with a gardening pal or a good garden book.
Every new year's eve brings about reflection and closure of the past year and plans, hopes and expectations for the new year. The influx of gardening and seed catalogs has surely whetted the appetite for most of us gardeners.
"They call this the first day of winter, but actually it is the beginning of winter's death. From this day on, we can look forward to warming and brightening." ---Den Ming Dao, 365 Tao 355...
There is a plethora of books out there. I am an avid reader and have both new and old books piled high awaiting my perusal. It is hard to choose just a few, however I am limiting myself to just a handful of recommendations for gardening and cooking-related books. Herein are my top 5 books for 2013, plus an herbal calendar.
Included here are the tools that I use the most--I depend on them--and use them everyday during the gardening season.
This recipe has only three ingredients and is quite simple to make. It is a wonderful accompaniment to the Thanksgiving table, or to any meat, fowl, or vegetarian entree. The relish is fresh and crunchy, tart and sweet. I like it right out of the bowl with a spoon. It is tasty on yogurt with granola, over ice cream, in a smoothie, on a bagel with cream cheese, and on sandwiches. Try it with sharp cheddar on pumpernickel for a great grilled cheese or on a veggie or turkey reuben with sauerkraut. Mix some into a vinaigrette or marinade. Cranberries are at their peak in November--so buy some now--they will keep in the fridge for about two months and can be frozen.
Well, it is too cold to garden anymore this season... last night it was 18 degrees F in my zone 7 garden. Therefore, this gardener has moved indoors--now is the time to take care of the indoor projects that have piled up while we were outside--and also take some time to appreciate what we have accomplished.
Recently, I went on a wild woods walk with naturalist and wildwoodsman, Doug Elliott. Experience some of the fun, and sights we saw, not to mention glean a few interesting facts.
As the harvest season slows considerably, the autumnal colors abound. Here are some colors and textures in the fall garden accompanied by why and how leaves change colors and fall from the trees, as well as thoughts of the season.
This past weekend we had glorious autumn weather--cool and crisp, bright and sunny--azure skies were the backdrop to the russets, golds, scarlet and brown of autumn leaves. What better time for a daytrip to visit the White House garden and the U.S. Botanic Garden?
This soup was inspired by the African ingredients, which are indigenous there, as well as some crops that have become part of the diet of the many countries from this continent. It is full of flavor, rich and hardy, and vegan though not on purpose. Add double the amount of chile peppers if you like it hot. Use any greens that you have: kale, collards, chard, spinach, field or watercress, orach, dandelion, or a mixture thereof.
It's peanut-pickin' time here in the southern U.S. There is nothin' better than shellin' and eatin' just-roasted, fresh peanuts. However, a Southerner might argue about that as many seem to enjoy their peanuts boiled... which I think you might have to grow up eating them... or acquire a taste for boiled peanuts. Roasted or boiled, now is the time to enjoy the new harvest of goobers, as they are often fondly referred too.
Okra is a handsome garden plant and the flowers are quite lovely. Pick okra pods when they are 2 1/2- to 3-inches long; 4-inches is about maximum because they tend to get tough and stringy when too big. If you harvest your okra everyday--in just a few days you will have enough to make this stew. It is easy and tasty and can be frozen if you have excess.
The Ozark Mountains in autumn are as beautiful as the renowned New England scenery. I am here for the Herb Harvest Fall Festival at the Ozark Folk Center... as well as to enjoy the gardens and seasonal landscape... it is harvest season!
With the arrival of autumn and cooler weather, there are certain crops that are ready to harvest like apples and grapes and pumpkins--and much to the delight of many--figs.
Our friend Marion Spear is the queen of shrubs. She makes them from all kinds of fruits and introduced us to chile pepper shrub. Yeehaw! Besides as a sipping beverage to clear the throat before singing, she uses them on ice cream, as a beverage with cream (rather like a syllabub), with whipped cream as a pie filling and in a multitude of other ways. If you can tolerate foods that have the characteristic capsaicin burn, you will find this shrub an invigorating, delicious tonic. The honey balances and subdues the heat without totally extinguishing it. I use this whenever I feel a sniffle, cold or sore throat coming on.
Right about now, we chileheads are in chile heaven (think hotter than hell!) since it is the peak of the chile harvest. I have a bumper crop of habaneros--big ones--find out what I am doing with them.
It is the end of August and we are at the peak for summer tomatoes. Here are 15 ways to eat tomatoes (hum this to the tune of "50 ways to leave your lover" as you harvest).
Right now we are up to our elbows in garden bounty. Hallelujah! However, even though we are busy harvesting, preserving, drying and putting up the bounty before us--it is time to be putting in fall crops. This is easy to do, as we remove one crop, amend the soil, and replace it with another.
Here's my favorite new gardening book: How to Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines from Plants by Deb Soule, (Rockport, Maine: Under the Willow Press, 2013) is a delightful, insightful and inspiring read.
It is already midsummer and the harvest has begun... here's what's going on in my garden and kitchen. Time to put up the garden bounty!
Although my last post was on the Kitchen Garden at UT, I can't quite leave out a few other sights and gardens in Tennessee--here are some other worthwhile places to see.
Last weekend, the International Herb Association held their annual conference in Townsend, Tennessee, known as the quiet side of the Smokies. Nestled down in the Appalachian Mountains, we had nature surrounding us; though we did venture out on a few tours. My favorite was a visit to the University of Tennessee trial gardens with the highlight being their Kitchen Garden.
Whether we are home working in our gardens or driving down the road on vacation, garden bounty abounds. Enjoy the abundance and celebrate the flavors of summer.
Many of us serve the same foods for cookouts--cold salads, deviled eggs, vegetables, meats and poultry from the grill, baked beans, fruit salad--here are a few ideas for adding herbs to enliven your usual fare so that they explode with flavor!
The garden is producing in leaps and bounds right now, thanks to the rain and the heat. Get out there and harvest your annual herbs before they flower and prune back perennials to encourage new growth. The more that you cut your herbs, the more leaves they will produce for you throughout the season.
What better way to celebrate the summer solstice than with homemade strawberry shortcake made with garden herbs?
Coriander or cilantro is one of my favorite herbs to cultivate and cook with--see how easy it is to sow this annual seed so you can harvest it all summer.
When we gardeners are worn out from digging, planting, weeding, harvesting, etc. or it is too dang hot to be out there in the afternoon sun, it is nice to relax with a cold iced tea or lemonade and read a book. There is nothing like a good book awaiting us at the end of the day. Here are two of the books that I have just read or am in the midst of reading right now.
It is the time of year when gardeners are busy transplanting seedlings which they have grown, or plants that have been purchased from a nursery or garden center. Follow these simple ABCs of transplanting for success.
Tomorrow we celebrate our mothers. Besides expressing our gratitude and giving them flowers, why not feed them some of the delightful, colorful and tasty blossoms that are in bloom in our gardens right now?
Spring has sprung and there are many chores for the gardener. However, I find that there are as many delights, if not more, that outweigh the work. See some of the plants sprouting in my garden, and what I am transplanting.
Last weekend, I participated in the Medicinal Herb Seminar at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas, where I provided the recipes for lunch. There were so many requests for the recipes, the soup which I have previously posted here--that I decided to share the recipes from here as well as add a few. Enjoy!
These biscuits are both savory and toothsome. They are redolent with herbs and garlic and made hearty by the addition of part whole-wheat flour.
This is a very tasty upscale version of an old favorite, which is quick to prepare. Use whatever apples you have on hand—I often use a combination—just be sure they are crisp, not mushy. I make a big batch of this, because we like to have leftovers the next day; the recipe can be halved easily. Use part low-fat or nonfat yogurt instead of all mayonnaise.
Last week, we traveled to Jonesboro, Arkansas to the Health and Wellness Elementary School to cook with the kids there. Read all about the fun we had smelling and tasting herbs!
This is the perfect time of year to take new pliable tip cuttings from your perennial herbs to make root cuttings. This is a great way to share herbs with your gardening friends--encourage pass-along plants!
Here in the Ozarks,and in many places across the country, spring is bursting out all over--and this week we celebrated the vernal equinox--when night and day are the same length. And then Mother Nature decided to let us know who is in charge and dropped a blanket of snow over the earth.
Now is the time to sow your own annual herbs. Often we need more than a few of some herbs like arugula, coriander, dill, etc. It is very easy to sow your own and you will have herbs ready for harvest or transplant in about 30 days!
Here I am blogging from the road--and spring is popping out all over--well at least in the southern part of the country. We gardeners are getting ready for the next growing season with great anticipation.
Fish peppers make a killer hot sauce and Baltimore's Woodberry Kitchen has perfected it in their own, prescription-strength hot sauce: Snake Oil. Get a behind-the-scene's process right here!
Here is a plant that you will want to grow in your garden this year; this gardener's pick deserves a whole blog. I grew these chiles last summer--had four plants--the leaves are variegated and the chiles are somewhat striated and often striped so they are handsome plants, very ornamental. Not to mention, they are hot!
Every year, I grow plants that I have grown before which I really like--and each year I try new plants. Here are three plants which I grew last year that I will be sure to grow again this year!
It's the last day of January; tomorrow we begin February. Although we are full on into winter and we may not see it--life is burgeoning out there--here's what is going on in my garden.
This year the International Herb Association has chosen elder (Sambucus spp.) as herb of the year for 2013. Find out the many reasons why we honor this ancient herbal tree.
With the cold weather and time by the woodstove, what better than to curl up with a good book? Here are a few from last year and a few from the new year... all worthwhile reads for me.
I am looking out at a cold winter landscape with barren trees, a bit of snow still here and there and a grey and white sky; not much green or growing. However, life is burgeoning in those tree trunks and underground and my imagination runs wild as I sit by the woodstove with my gardening catalogs, almanacs and moon-and sun-sign books.
Once again, the winter solstice is here, a day where the length of night and day are equal. Although it is considered the first day of winter, a time for turning inward and reflections on the past year and the year ahead--from this day forward, our days will be lengthening and brightening.
You will want to make this recipe for your holiday gatherings! This punch has a rainbow of seasonal fruits in it--apple cider, orange, cranberry and pomegranate. It is delightful as is, and it becomes a libation when rum is added.
Fall and winter is the time of year that we get to drink the local apple cider. Here are a few ways to enjoy this nutritious apple essence during the season.
I've been making salsa for decades, however, I never have really made a concentrated sauce like Tabasco. When I brought in a huge bush of Tabasco peppers, I decided to try and make my own--with great results! Here's how you can do it and it is easy; there is nothing like homegrown & homemade!
Here is another winning recipe from our cabbagepalooza days. These cabbage rolls make a hearty and tasty vegetarian main course; I can eat two, maybe three if there isn’t much else, however a hungry appetite might be able to eat four or five rolls.
This quick and easy recipe for making sauerkraut is from colleague and friend Jeanette Larson--she likes sauerkraut as much as I do! Using this method of the bag of water on top as a weight eliminates having to remove scum from the top layer of your kraut.
Recently, my next-door farmer came over with about 20 or more cabbages and we had a cabbagepalooza--making everything from sauerkraut and kimchi to stuffed cabbage rolls. Let yourself become cabbage-inspired with story, pix and recipe ideas below.
Recently, I had the great fun and pleasure to be involved in making sorghum the old-fashioned way. Sorghum producer, Benson Hardaway from Strawberry, Arkansas brought his sorghum and we pressed it using a donkey-powered sorghum mill at the Ozark Folk Center State Park.
This recipe is like a slaw except that the cabbage is blanched very briefly rather than being raw. It makes a tasty, textured salad, which absorbs the Tunisian flavors, which we added in the tabil spice blend and the preserved lemon. I like to add a little harissa sometimes. My friend and colleague, Jessica Sterlin, who is chef at the Skillet Restaurant, and I created this recipe together.
I ate this salad in numerous variations in Morocco. This recipe is adapted from my most frequently used book on Moroccan cuisine: Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco.
This is a tasty and easy way to prepare beets. The tart lemon with the earthy-sweet beets and just a touch of honey makes a delicious dressing. The onion adds a nice pungency, while the mint is a surprise, refreshing addition.
Reporting here from a recent event at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas... we had a great event last weekend with herbies and gardeners traveling from afar to learn about garden subjects and the featured countries of North Africa. Read on to find out about subjects and speakers and to get recipes for a trio of exotic salads prepared from seasonal vegetables with herb and spice blends of the Maghreb.
Writing from the road, in the Arkansas Ozarks, where the gardens are in full autumnal glory. Check out these photos from the Kitchen Garden at the Ozark Folk Center.
Although I've been harvesting chile peppers from the garden for some time now... this time of year the chiles are peaking in gardens around the country. Last week I was able to procure Hatch chiles from New Mexico and are they ever delicious!
My Swiss chard is having a resurgence after the summer heat--so I came up with this tasty dish using it.
Labor Day weekend pretty much signals the end of the summer season and the beginning of fall. As the summer bounty slows considerably, autumn produce is ripening--so if you haven't done much canning--now is the time to get busy!
Combining our peak of the season summer vegetables--tomatoes and chiles to make salsa--results in a fiery and flavorful dish. Homemade is easy to do and so much better than store-bought. Chop it by hand or use the food processor.
When tomatoes are in abundance it is time to make salsa! Here's a little chile talk on the back porch before going inside to prepare salsa--see how easy it is to make your own.
It is the time of year when basil is in abundance. Make pesto to eat on everything from tomatoes and pasta and bruschetta to grilled veggies, seafood or poultry.
When tomatoes are ripe and in season this simple, savory soup is the perfect way to begin a meal, or to enjoy for lunch, perhaps with some bread and cheese. This is not a ho-hum, cold, watery soup; it is packed full of flavor.
By the looks of current posts, tomatoes are a popular topic. We are in the peak of tomato season and no matter how you slice them--thick or thin--enjoy them while you can! Check out these ideas and recipes.
Right now, we are rich in alliums. In the past few weeks, we have been curing the alliums--garlic, onions and shallots--which we harvested about three weeks or so ago. It is important to cure and store these bulbs so you don't lose your crop to mold or rot.
My basils are growing in leaps and bounds and I've cut them back three times already--so I've been cooking with them daily. In my neighborhood, the pick-your-own farms and farmers' markets have wonderful blueberries in abundance. So, combine the blueberries with lemon or cinnamon basil to make a delightful muffin... here's a yummy recipe.
Just back from a wonderful IHA conference in Corning, New York and I want to take you on a quick tour of a few highlights from our field trip: Finger Lakes Distilling; Cornell Plantations; L.H. Bailey Hortorium and Healing Spirits Herb Farm.
Summer berries and lemon basil combine to make a heightened summer flavor combo. Serve this over ice cream or garnished with whipped cream or yogurt for a patriotic dessert! If you don't have lemon basil, try lemon balm or lemon verbena--or just make the simple syrup below using the zest of 1 lemon.
The wild wineberry vines are loaded with ripe fruit right now so go out and harvest them and click on the recipe link for a red,white and blue dessert!
Summer is officially here and so is the heat. Here's what is going on in my neighborhood Maryland garden... and some gardens down south... happy July and keep on gardening!
How to keep critters out of your garden? Try this good, old-fashioned scare tactic.
I have visited a number of children's gardens in my travels and this is one of the best.
Last weekend, I attended the Herb Symposium at the Memphis Botanic Garden celebrating the new Herb Garden there. It is truly wonderful--check out the photos.
Although Memorial Day always falls at the end of May and summer solstice isn’t until June 21, I always feel that this weekend is the real start to summer. By now, we gardeners have been digging and sowing and transplanting, and of course weeding, for months now.
Mojitos are a popular bar drink, especially in hot weather, since they are refreshing and cooling. I make them often and I’ve made them lots of ways. They are easy to prepare and the traditional cocktail requires five essential ingredients: rum, fresh lime, spearmint, sugar and sparkling water.
There are many kinds of spearmint (Mentha spicata): Some are fuzzy-leaved while others are smooth; there are big leaves to small, and even curly. I like them all for cooking and beverages. Their flavor is sweet, cool, and refreshing. If a recipe calls for mint—and doesn’t specify which type—use spearmint since it grows on all continents, except of course the polar ones.
I use this simple and handy gardening tool to keep my garden safe from pests--if you haven't used FRC--it is time you tried it!
It is the season for strawberries and rhubarb--this is a simple and quick recipe to prepare--and it is quite delightful to eat. I eat it for breakfast on cottage cheese or with waffles or yogurt; as a fruity snack right out of the container; a spoonful is deliciously elegant in a glass of champagne; and it is a perfect springtime dessert spooned warm over vanilla ice cream.
This is a delicious and nutritious soup made from wild edibles found in your backyard. Just be sure to harvest from an area where no chemicals or pesticides have been sprayed.
With the advent of spring weather comes a huge variety of wild edibles in our gardens and yards, and these can be harvested and brought into the kitchen. Learn how to harvest three of my spring favorites: stinging nettle, dandelion, and chickweed.
Try using your wild backyard weeds to make a delicious and healthy seasonal soup.
There are many delicious wild edibles in our gardens and backyards awaiting harvest. If you are not certain of the plants' identification, use your guidebooks to identify them.
There are many delicious wild edibles in our gardens and backyards awaiting harvest. If you are not certain of the plants' identification, use your guidebooks to identify them. Here are a few seasonal favorites.
Stinging nettle is a great spring tonic, but the leaves and stem are prickly and will sting bare skin. See how to harvest it in this video.
Once you have harvested some of your edible weeds, bring them into the kitchen and clean them in order to create a tasty green soup.
To prepare the traditional Moroccan tea, keep the following essentials in mind. The tea must be green, with a mild flavor. The mint must be fresh (absolutely not dried), and it must be spearmint. The tea is traditionally very sweet; there is always sugar in the bottom of the glasses in Morocco. The tea should be served in small glasses with several fresh mint sprigs in each glass. This recipe is excerpted from Herbs in the Kitchen by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger, Interweave Press, 1992.
I recently gave a program on herbs to grow for tea. Now would be the time to design a tea party garden or plant tea herbs in containers. See the list below for my favorites.
Here I am reporting from the road... If you have a garden show, plant sale or seed swap happening in your area, these are worthwhile events to attend; you can gather ideas, learn new things, network with other like-minded individuals, obtain plants and seeds, not to mention get inspired!
This weekend starts Daylight Saving Time throughout most of the United States. We will set our clocks forward an hour—springing forward. When we awake in the morning it might still be dark for some of us early-morning risers; that part might be challenging for a little while. However, we will have an extra hour of light at the end of the day, which makes most of us gardening types haapppyyy!
Leap day—the 29th of February—only comes around every four years.
Aloe vera is a tropical succulent with many uses. It will suffer if left outdoors when the night-time temperatures dip below 40° F; these plants must be brought inside a heated greenhouse or sunroom in order to survive cold winters (colder than zone 10).
Just as cucumbers and dill make a winning combination, beets and dill are just as tasty together, as most Eastern Europeans and Scandinavians would agree. This is yet another version of the weirdly bright pink soup known as borscht, which has infinite variations; save the beet greens for another dish. If cucumbers are not in season, leave them out. This soup is uncooked and served at cool room temperature. If you want to serve it hot, put the soup into a non-reactive saucepan and heat it gently until hot through; serve immediately. It is best to use whole-fat buttermilk in this soup, or at least 1 1/2 % fat; do not use non-fat buttermilk. Sometimes I add up to 1 tablespoon of freshly grated horseradish root for a little kick. Borscht is often served with boiled potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, and extra minced dill for garnish.
I like to celebrate the mid-winter holiday of St. Valentine with red vegetables--so of course the seasonal earthy root vegetable, the beet, is what I choose.
For we northern gardeners, there is a waiting process this time every year. Here are a few things to do while we await the spring… and for you southerners… here’s just a dusting of winter white.
In my recent gather-greens-before-the-freeze foray to Sharp Farm, I had the great fortune to harvest some lovely small fennel bulbs, which I prepared and enjoyed: Braised Fennel. Try this simple and delicious recipe while the fennel bulbs are still available.
In my recent gather-greens-before-the-freeze foray to Sharp Farm, I had the great fortune to harvest some lovely small fennel bulbs, which I prepared and enjoyed. Read more about this high-in-fiber, tasty vegetable bulb and its herbal relations. Be sure to click on the delicious recipe for Braised Fennel!
This is a perfect, heardy, winter-warming soup. You can use any greens in this recipe from the milder spinach, tat-soi or chard to the heartier kale, broccoli rabe, dandelion or collards. With the stronger, heftier greens, remove the tough ribs and use 2 to 4 cups of shredded leaves; with the milder greens you can use 4 to 6 cups of shredded leaves.
Not only are the hardy winter greens high in vitamins and earth’s minerals so they are nourishing and good for us; once they have been exposed to cold weather they become much sweeter and are delicious to eat! Grow and eat your greens now and check out my recipes!
It is the season for greens--and the cold weather has made them sweet and delicious. Here is a healthy and tasty recipe for kale that you will really enjoy! It is adapted from a recipe for a kale salad that I savored at the Green Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas.
Roses are the world’s most beloved bloom. This plant has been revered since antiquity, lauded in literature, its virtues used in numerous ways: to anoint and perfume, soothe and heal, and even seduce.
Another year has rolled around… and we are celebrating the winter solstice. Although it officially happened here at 12:30 a.m. this morning, I attended an solstice celebration last night. It is unseasonably warm here in Maryland...
Magical Moons & Seasonal Circles is a book featuring Phenology, which is the study of the timing of natural-occuring events happening with all fauna and flora, which is influenced by the local environment, weather, climate, and seasonal rhythms.
It's hard to go wrong with a time-tested family original recipe like this one. If you like your chili sauce with some heat, add fresh or dried hot cayenne pepper (crushed or chopped) or hot sauce to taste.
It is that time of year again; for many of us gardening is on hold until the spring. So we are turning inwards in hibernation mode and getting ready for the holidays. I will be posting some ideas for gifts for the gardener here and throughout the week. One such gift is Pat Crocker's book Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons.
If you don't normally like Brussels sprouts, this tasty recipe might change your mind.
Right now, is the best season for the brassicas, or members of the Cruciferae family. Although I love eating them in spring, when they are new and tender, this family of vegetables turns sweet and downright appealing once the weather turns cold and we have a frost or two.
This savory cornbread is a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving feast, whether it is in your breadbasket, or made into a superb stuffing with some fresh sage from your garden..
If you like pineapple and have these red blssoms in your garden, then this is a dessert for you!
This plant is a definite sign of autumn in my Maryland zone 7 garden, since it is the last plant to bloom, which happens in about mid-September here. I have noted that the hummingbirds actually wait around for it to bloom before heading south.
There is fun to be had in San Antonio--great gardens from the Botanic Gardens, the Riverwalk and the Antique Rose Emporium--and good food and folks. Not to mention that the weather is perfect there right now for gardening, walking or seeing the sights.
Fall is in the air throughout the country--it might be cooler and wetter in the Northeast and dry in our southern states--however it is harvest season wherever you are.
With the advent of fall comes a cornucopia of harvest festivals like the one at the Ozark Folk Center. Attend it if you can, or celebrate the harvest locally.
Mid-Eastern Mediterranean spices give this fall side dish an interesting flavor.
Ahhh, the cooler nights and mornings are a welcome relief; however it is a sure sign that fall is in the air. Here are the foods that I will miss the most--time to enjoy them while you can!
Here in my Maryland zone 7 garden, crops are slowing down and the intense heat of summer is cooling just a bit. The air is cooler at night and I've even had to use a blanket. Now is the time to harvest the last round of herbs for drying and freezing, can some tomatoes and salsa and pickle peppers--it is not too late!
Try this recipe for a moist, buttermilk skillet cake topped with juicy peaches!
I am always seeking the perfect peach. Fortunately, they come to us every year, along with the other wonderful stone fruits of summer. What I am saying here is eat them fresh, as is, and relish them every day while they are in season.
This year, the Intertnational Herb Association held their conference in Midland, Michigan and boy howdy, do they know how to garden there! Whether you live there or are passing through, read this and find out some gardens to visit.
Make a refreshing summer cooler, or use in herbal margaritas.
Today is the first of August, know as Lughnasadh in Ireland, it begins the celebration of the harvest season.
Here is a lovely libation highlighting basil and peaches--make one, sit back and chill! There's a non-alcoholic lemonade here too!
Herbed Three Bean Salad is a traditional favorite prepared with fresh green beans, and canned kidney and garbanzo beans. This version is elevated to new heights with the addition of fresh savory and marjoram, diced celery and onion, and dressed with a little olive oil and vinegar.
I don’t know about the rest of you throughout the country… it is as hot as the dickens here! The past few days have reached 100 degrees F and above. Here are a few ideas of how to eat simply from the garden and how to beat the heat at dinnertime.
This mouthwatering recipe features peaches and blueberries with a simple syrup combining lemon herbs with lavender flowers.
The summer solstice heralds the start of summer and the longest day of the year. Come see how to celebrate with lavender!
An easy, recyclable deer defense creates a visual moving barrier to keep deer out of the garden. Watch the video...
Wednesday June 15, we have a full strawberry moon around 4:14 pm in my EST Maryland garden. In honor of the moon and the season, with strawberries peaking in my neighborhood, I offer you the following recipe featuring this luscious fruit paired with another garden dessert favorite, rhubarb.
The garden is in the spring-changing-to-summer mode and so is the weather; time to get out there and eat the salad greens before they bolt in this heat!
A coulibiac is a savory Russian dish baked in a pastry crust often shaped in a loaf form and filled with fish (traditionally salmon), vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms and dill. This vegetarian version features leeks and garlic with mushrooms and wilted greens and is a lovely spring recipe.
Though spring has sprung, it's not too late to plant some allium plants in your garden. Here is a basic guide of what to grow and how to prepare the soil. Watch Danielle's videos for some hands-on tips.
Hurray it is May and Spring is bustin' out all over--wherever you live! In my zone 7 garden, our last frost-free date is May 15, however I wait a little longer to put out the tender annuals like basil, chiles and tomatoes. See what is happening now!
This past month I have traveled across the country and back and everywhere I have been it has RAINED. The earth is lush and turning green and is rejoicing in this deep-rooted watering; however a few of us gardeners are just a wee bit antsy to get out in our gardens…
It is a challenge to be a traveling gardener--especially in the spring! Here are two gardens not to miss if you are in the Indy area.
I'm on the road again and one of my last stops was at Renee Shepherd's home and gardens, where my friend Carolyn Dille and I enjoyed a lovely lunch and a tour of Renee's impressive gardens.
Horseradish is Herb of the Year for 2011 and this quick and easy sauce is so yummy, it will become a standby in your kitchen. It is tasty on a sandwich, however I love it with artichokes, asparagus, new potatoes, baby beets and carrots--pretty much any steamed or roasted vegetable.
I am on the road again--springtime--and I am off across the country speaking to gardeners and herbal enthusiasts from coast to coast and in-between.
This is a classic version of the famous Italian sauce. Excerpted from Basil: An Herb Lover’s Guide by Thomas DeBaggio and Susan Belsinger, Interweave Press, 1996.
The passing of author and herb grower, Thomas DeBaggio is a great loss to the herb and plant community, and all who knew him.
Finally, the air has the sweet promising scent of spring and the harbingers are popping out and blooming. What are the signs of spring in your garden? Here are some of mine.
Not only do these mouthwatering fruits brighten our greenhouses or sunny windows, they add inimitable flavor to the food we eat as well as being a good source of vitamins and nutrients.
The germination of seeds and this new green growth make me think spring and alleviates the cabin fever, which many of us suffer from this time of year.
Here is a quick and easy recipe you can whip up anytime--especially on a cold winter night. This spicy, warming chocolate beverage uses ancient and exotic spices and flavorings. Cacao, vanilla bean, mace and chiles are all considered to be aphrodisiacs so make this luscious beverage for your valentine!
Although it is only February and I have another month or two of winter here in my zone 7 Maryland garden, today I am sowing seeds in flats to grow salad greens and a few annual herbs in my greenhouse. There is still snow on the ground outside and it is only in the 30s...
A few days ago we had a snowstorm that lasted about two days and left us with a good 12-inches of snow—we had snow, then frozen rain, then sleet and then more snow—with lulls in between. When the precip comes down like this it causes the trees and shrubs to bow down with the heavy weight and many of them snap and crack. Although sometimes it seems brutal, this is one of Mother Nature’s natural ways of pruning.
I really enjoy soup and find it comforting and warming in cold weather. Using curry powder and chiles makes it especially so. Try this soup this weekend--you will be glad that you did!
For those of us who live in cold climates, we figure out our own ways to get through the winter, until the spring gardening season arrives.
During the winter, when we can’t garden outside, there is another task that requires constant diligence: firewood. I think of cutting, gathering, loading, unloading, stacking, as well as keeping the fire in the stove going, as a kind of winter gardening. It requires about the same amount of outdoor work...
Now that the hubbub of shopping and wrapping and baking has passed and we have a breather before we celebrate the new year, this is the time to relax a bit. Take the time to enjoy the season.
Here are a few fire and light photos taken on the winter solstice in the rural countryside of Maryland.
This year December 21 is not only the Winter Solstice--we also will have a full moon and a lunar eclipse all on the same day!
Kitchen bundles and mini herbal wreaths are simple to make and are a delightful little house gift or ornament for the gardener as well as the cook. They smell good, can be made ahead and are good to use fresh or dried.
These are one of my favorite holiday bars. The flavors of rosemary, orange and cranberry work really well together. The bars are festive and seasonal with dried red cranberries and green flecks of rosemary, accented with a hint of orange zest. Everyone is always surprised and delighted at how tasty these are--be sure to make some to share over the holidays--pass the pleasure around.
Fragrant herbs and their flowers are blended to make a potpourri, which is then sewn into felt shapes and made into ornaments to be hung on the tree, tied onto a gift package or used as a natural pleasant deodorizer in a drawer, closet, or even your car.
Gifts from the garden are fun to give as well as receive; they are homegrown, homemade and green. There are a multitude of ways to use fresh and dried herbs to make herbal gifts for the holidays.
Thanksgiving is a celebration for giving thanks--being thankful for our bounteous harvests, food on the table, a roof over our heads, good health and friends and family.
Both horseradish and sweet potatoes are crops that are better harvested after the first frost. Although rich, this savory recipe combining two seasonal root vegetables is outstanding--try it and see!
The sweet and delicious flavor of this colorful, root vegetable is best after a frost--dig your patooties now!
Right now, I am still harvesting cool-season kale and chard from the fall garden. It is delightful to have these nutritive leaves available for the supper menu. Harvest them now before they disappear with the cold weather!
Chard is much loved in Italy, particularly Tuscany, where this is a classic dish.
What to do with all of those green tomatoes that we just picked since we had a frost forecast?
This Southern-inspired dish is beloved by folks who live south of the Mason-Dixon line. Although these are usually prepared in the summer months when tomatoes are in the pre-ripening stage, fall is a great time to enjoy the last of the harvest.
Last night, we had our first frost warning, so yesterday sent local gardeners scurrying about, trying to harvest the last of our herbs, pick the chiles, and gather green tomatoes. The pineapple sage was in her full regalia and I really didn't want to cut her, however she is now a huge, gorgeous bouquet; too big for the dining table, she graces the living room. No wonder her botanical name is Salvia elegans--such an apt description.
All across the country, the earth is adorned with many hues of gold. Recently, I returned from a road trip that took me from the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas to the Rockies in Colorado, and back.
Pears and cranberries are a favorite fall combination; both are delicious when complimented by the flavor of orange.
Many of my favorite herbs reseed back into the garden from year to year. If left alone, these plants perpetuate themselves completely on their own, without our help.
Wild herbs lend themselves to egg dishes. This recipe is from my gardening friend Tina Marie Wilcox; she has prepared it for me and it was delicious.
There are many recipes for the herb blend of Za'atar and many names for it, depending upon what country you are in. The confusion really begins when the plant known as za’atar is added to the formula. The nomenclature as well as the type of plant varies depending if you are in one of the Mediterranean countries, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon or North Africa.
Try the recipe below and sprinkle it in or on everything from pita bread to steamed or grilled vegetables, grains, legumes or beans, chicken or fish, eggs, salads, soups and sauces. Add the blend to bread dough or crackers for a savory treat, or brush the tops or rolls, flatbread, pitas or pizzas with olive oil and sprinkle with the za’atar. I often use it as a dipping sauce by adding about 1/4 cup of the herb blend to 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Wednesday, September 22 we celebrate the autumn equinox, and Thursday the 23rd is the full harvest moon. The end of summer means farewell to hot weather and welcome to fresh air and cooler temps. It also signals the slow down of garden produce and the time to make ready for the cold weather to come.
While cleaning up the herb garden and harvesting plants for preserving, now is a good time to take some cuttings and bring them indoors for rooting. Rooting herbs is easy, fun and you are making your own new plants!
With this end of season approaching, the garden peaks, roadside stands and farmers’ markets are brimming over with fresh produce. At this point we are taking summer ripe tomatoes for granted and many of us have been trying to give our surplus zucchini and cucumbers to anyone who will take them. Corn and melons are starting to run low, peaches too, and now mums and apples are appearing everywhere.
Here is a dish to enjoy right now! Squash, beans, and corn are crops that are often grown together in the southwestern U.S. and are commonly referred to by Native Americans as the three sisters. This sauté is easy to make and the measurements do not need to be exact. Sometimes, I might not have a bell pepper, other times I might add a ripe tomato, finely chopped. If you do not like cilantro, substitute fresh basil, or Italian flat-leaved parsley combined with some Italian oregano. The roasted chiles add a wonderful flavor—if they are not hot—add serranos or jalapenos for heat according to taste.
I make this all of the time without using a recipe, so it varies with what is in season and what I have on hand.
It is that time of summer where we have sated our first summer tomato yearnings and moved on to just-picked tomatoes lined up on the backporch waiting to be incorporated into today's menus, or processed for the cold months to come. I love having a tomato glut.
The golden orange blossoms from these annual vegetable plants are a summertime treat. The blooms of all types of squash--zucchini, yellow crookneck, patty pan, winter squash, and even pumpkin--can be used, though they do vary a little in size and time of bloom. Squash blossoms taste vegetable-like, slightly of raw squash, with a vague flowery smell. They are an Italian specialty when stuffed with cheese and fried in a light egg batter, or they can also be stuffed and baked. They are delicious sautéed at the last minute with squash dishes, eaten alone, or tossed with pasta. Squash blossoms can be cut into chiffonade or used whole and added to egg dishes, stir fries, soups, vegetables, and salads.
It is that time of year, when we are up to our ears in squash, so now you can harvest the blossoms for delectable dishes!
Our gardens are in full swing and one of my favorite summer vegetables is eggplant! There are infinite ways to cook this tasty aubergine. In Greece, it is beloved and on every menu in at least three to five different preparations. I have only two varieties in my garden, however the farmers' markets are brimming over with eggplants in every color and shape. Enjoy them now!
This eggplant spread is delicious served with pitas, crusty French bread, or crudités.
This sauce goes well with any type of vegetable whether it is grilled, steamed, oven-roasted, or crudités; it is also good with simply prepared meat, chicken, or fish and pasta.
It is summertime and the livin’ is easy—that is if you are at home in the a.c. with a long, tall cool drink of lemonade or iced tea. I have been out on the road, giving lectures and visiting public as well as private gardens. Fortunately, I am with like-minded people, those who like to garden and cook...
Having just recently spent a few weeks in July on the isle of Syros, I found out what a true Greek salad is. This salad is placed on the table family style and generally serves 2 to 4 people; it is easily doubled or tripled.
It is that laid-back lazy hazy days of summer time. It is almost too hot to go out to the garden during the day, so many gardeners get up early in order to get weeding, watering and garden chores done before the heat of the day arrives. If I have time, I often plan what to have for supper, harvest and cook it in the morning, so I don’t have to heat up the house later in the day.
This is a national dip of Greece—it is on every table and goes with just about any dish—and there are probably as many variations as there are cooks.
This cheese is simple to make, less expensive than store-bought herb cheeses, and better tasting.
About two weeks ago, I blogged about Herbal Blends and an upcoming event to be held at the USBG. At that time I promised you a recipe using an herbal blend. Since then I have been to Greece and back and am finally posting the recipe for you. I fully intended to post the recipe and write a bit about the USBG event, however the Greek gods intervened and we had no internet at the villa where the Holistic Herbal Mediterranean cooking class was held. I will report on the vegetative wonders on the isle of Syros next, however first I want to post the recipe for Cream Cheese with Herbes de Provence and Garlic and tell you about the awesome exhibit at our national botanic garden.
This weekend I will be giving a demo featuring ‘Herbal Blends from Around the World’ at the Thrive! Summer Festival at the U.S. Botanic Garden. It has inspired me to think about growing small gardens or containers featuring herb blends.
On Friday, June 4, 2010, over 500 chefs from 38 states gathered at the White House by invitation of the first lady, Michelle Obama in support of her Chefs on the Move initiative.
A winning summertime combination—arugula and tomatoes—on toasted garlic bread is the perfect way to start a meal. Or serve as a salad with bread on the side.
Rocket (Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa) is an ancient plant, cultivated or gathered from the wild in most Mediterranean countries; over the past decade it has become popular in North America. Its several names in Italian indicate how widespread it is on the peninsula: arugula, ruchetta, rucola; in French it is known as roquette.
Dr. Jim Duke's Green Farmacy Garden is an outdoor learning classroom filled with herbs, flowers, vegetables--all of which help to keep us healthy.
Mints come in such a profusion of varieties--and all tend to crossbreed with each other--leading to much confusion among both the marketers and buyers of mints; even herbal experts do not always describe the same species in the same way. To make sure that you are buying plants that are closest to the true species, buy them from a trusted herb grower.
This light and refreshing dessert can be made with any combination of fruit but is especially good with tropicals.
To prepare the traditional Moroccan tea, the tea must be green, with a mild flavor, and the mint must be fresh spearmint.
Once again, it is springtime for this roving gardener. I have been on the road teaching other folks about garden-related topics; which means that I haven’t had a lot of time at home working in my own garden (or writing for that matter). Click on the pix to enlarge them and read the photo captions.
Be sure to click on each photo to see it expanded and read the captions. Chives are bright green in my garden now and it seems like they are growing about half-inch a day! Get out there and snip some of those fresh onion-like herbs to add flavor to your spring dishes!
In most parts of the country our gardens are coming alive and we are rejoicing that spring is upon us. We delight as the first herbs appear in the garden and combine their flavors with seasonal...
Welcome the warm weather with strawberry parfaits.
Dill is a treat as a salad crop, and also in the form of dill seed. It is easily grown; why not plant some now?
This soup is especially good in the spring, when beets are in season.
It is time to welcome dill as herb of the year for 2010, chosen by the International Herb Association for its culinary, ornamental and medicinal traits.
Spring is in the air! It is time to start foraging for new plant growth and harbingers of spring in our gardens—celebrating green.
It is March here in Maryland and we still have about 20 inches of snow on the ground. Folks around here are having serious cabin fever. I am getting ready to haul out the flats and potting medium in my greenhouse and start a few flats of green growing things to shake off the drears and dulls of winter!
Simple to make, herb butters keep in the refrigerator for about one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
Welcome spring with this amazingly simple and nutritions soup.
Record snowfall in the mid-Atlantic this winter has kept us inside, so why not sow some seeds indoors?
I’ve been discussing the robust herbs for warming winter dishes in my blogs for January and part of February and Savory is my last, but not least entry. I believe that savory is an underused...
This hearty, satisfying chili is made with tofu or tempeh.
Thyme is an herb of Mediterranean origin. It is useful in all kinds of dishes from appetizers to desserts and goes well with seasonal winter produce as well as grains, beans, nuts, as well as meat, fish and fowl.
This version of an old stand-by is easy to make. It is fresh and tasty and crunchy anytime, and especially good in winter.
The bracing scent of rosemary brightens our mood and our cooking. Best of all, rosemary is an easy herb to grow and maintain. It can be wintered over indoors in cold climates.
This simple, hearty soup can be made in a crock pot and is sure to please the whole family.
Delightful myths and lovely uses surround sweet marjoram, while herbal remedies and hearty dishes are associated with oregano, its close cousin.
This version of spanakopita is packed full of flavor—it is delicious—as well as being good for you.
Sage has a long history as a medicinal and culinary plant. Like other robust herbs, sage adds hearty flavor to your winter cooking.
This easy, wonderfully hearty peasant soup is perfect for a chilly winter day.
You've heard the saying "once in a blue moon," which generally means "not very often." We are having a blue moon on New Year's Eve.
Late on December 21st or early on the 22nd, depending upon where you live on this earth, begins the celebration of the Winter Solstice. This is the shortest day of the year and the longest night. From this day until the first of January is a time for reflection and repose, as well as celebration.
My family loves homemade applesauce. Sometimes I use a combination of apples--and even add a few pears--other times I use all of one type of apple. Although any apple can make a good sauce, one of...
Fall and winter months, we are fortunate to have an abundance of apples and pears. We store them in our cold room in the basement and they keep over the winter months.
Wait! Don't toss those winter squash and pumpkins into the compost. Make a golden yellow puree to have flavor and sunshine on a winter day. You will be glad if you put them up for winter soup, stews, bread pudding, pies, cakes, scones and more.
This cake has a tender crumb, is not as heavy as the usual pumpkin bread, even though it uses part whole-wheat flour and it slices beautifully.
Use whichever winter squash you prefer. Some of my favorites are Sweet Dumpling, Delicata, Blue Hubbard, Carnival, acorn, and butternut; I usually use two different types for this dish. This is so simple and oh-so-good.
Pumpkins and winter squash come in a cornucopia of colors and sizes, not to mention flavors. Fortunately for us, these heirloom vegetables are becoming quite popular, allowing us to buy a vast array...
This Southwestern-style soup features the native trio of squash, beans, and corn; their flavors having been combined for centuries. This soup is quick to assemble once the squash or pumpkin has been prepared. It can be made ahead; it is one of those soups that tastes even better the next day. If you don't like cilantro, substitute Italian flat-leaved parsley and/or basil.
Fall is the time to plant garlic in most parts of the U.S. If you haven't done it yet, there is still time unless you are so far North that the ground is frozen.
Sweet sorghum syrup, also referred to as sorghum molasses, sorgho, or sorgo, is made by boiling the sweet juice of the sorghum cane. Since it contains iron, calcium, and potassium, sorghum is good for you--unlike other liquid sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup.
It's not too late to carve a Jack O' Lantern! See the detailed directions below—let your mood lead you to a grimacing pumpkin, a wicked witch—or even a tree of life.
Gone are the bright blue skies of autumn, when one looks up through a dazzling palette of colored leaves against the sky. Lime green, bright yellow, golden, orange, red, mahogany, and brown leaves...
This savory cornbread is hearty and rich and cake-like and full of flavor. Sometimes I add a tablespoon or two of fresh chopped sage, oregano or marjoram. This is a great accompaniment to baked beans and coleslaw.
Here's an account of my visit to The Burren, an astounding limestone expanse on the western coast of Ireland, and my return to my garden in full fall mode.
I have made good pickled peppers from Santa Fe Grande, Hungarian hot, red hot cherry, jalapeno, serrano and habanero chiles. Makes about 6 pints. Wash the peppers and cut the stems from the large...
I have been making this spray for more than 20 years--I don't remember where the idea came from--perhaps an old issue of Organic Gardening or Mother Earth News. I do know that the recipe works. It is...
Ireland is a wonderland of magical bright green vistas—sometimes the sea is off in the distance—and other views feature unbelievable rock formations.
Happy autumnal equinox! Inspired by the cuisine of Ireland and their prodigious use of root vegetables, I am ready to start roasting them in the oven and making soups.
Just because fall is in the air, it doesn't mean that the gardening season is over. In fact, for some crops it has just begun. The Brassicas, which have been referred to as "cole crops" for...
Woohoo! Chile season is in full swing and you should be harvesting and preserving those red, ripe fruits from your garden or buying them at the farmers' markets. Let Susan, an admitted aficionado of...
Gather your herbal bounty to make mouthwatering herb syrups that can be used in cooling cocktails or drizzled over summer fruits or shortcakes. These scrumptious flavor-packed syrups can be refrigerated to have on hand or they can be frozen so that you can enjoy them year round.
This syrup is very good for a sore throat, cold, or flu. It is delicious stirred into tea, lemonade, or other juices to make a fruit punch, tossed with fruit salad, and drizzled over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream. It also makes an exceptional homemade ginger ale.
We gardeners know without a doubt that besides reaping the harvest and spending time outdoors in nature, there are many benefits to being a gardener. We may not always realize this when we are...
When tomatoes are ripe and in season this simple, savory soup is the perfect way to begin a meal, or to enjoy for lunch, perhaps with some bread and cheese. This is not a ho-hum, cold, watery soup; it is packed full of flavor.
About midsummer, peppers mature and begin to ripen, and chiles become more pungent. Right now in my Maryland Zone 7 garden, my chiles are coming on strong and we are eating them morning, noon and night. Some of them are almost fiery hot, while some are crisp, slightly sweet with just a hint of heat, and full of flavor.
This is a recipe using roasted chiles in a delicious South-of-the-Border green herb sauce. It has similarities to both pipián verde from Mexico and pesto from Italy, with a Southwestern touch. It is delicious on pasta, potatoes, squash, fresh sliced tomatoes, or with grilled chicken and fish, on sandwiches and wraps.
What's better than garden-fresh tomatoes on sandwich bread slathered in mayonnaise?
If you like to use basil in your cooking, consider growing the ones listed here.
Many of us use a food processor to make pesto since it's quick and easy. But for centuries, Italians have made pesto using a mortar and pestle. Pesto prepared in this manner is by far the best, as it...
A few years ago, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens contacted me to see if I had any ideas for chapters for a new book Designing an Herb Garden. Tina Marie Wilcox and I proposed and wrote two chapters for...
For the best harvest, give plants full sun, ample water, and regular pruning
Sometimes, in the spring with all of the traveling, I do feel disconnected, longing for some garden time. However, once back home, I leave my suitcases unpacked and head outside to commune with...
A great brunch dish, or quick lunch or supper, this recipe is easily put together and can actually be prepared a few hours ahead of time and refrigerated.
Many flowers are as delicious as they are beautiful. In this video, culinary herbalist Susan Belsinger makes a gorgeous flower salad.
Still out on the road, this traveling gardener experiences different stages of spring in gardens around the country. This trip begins with summery weather at the Epcot flower and garden festival in Orlando, Florida, then back to spring in Maryland and then a drive south through Virginia, North and South Carolina.
Lecturer and author Susan Belsinger reports from the road as a traveling gardener--it is springtime everywhere--in varying stages.
Daylily, nasturtium, monarda, viola, and squash blossom are more than just pretty faces. Handled with care, these tasty beauties travel gracefully from garden to plate.
This chocolate-rich pudding is redolent with the aroma of bay that lingers on your palate. Fresh bay leaves give the pudding a wonderful fragrance that you don't get when you use dried bay leaves.
Hello gardeners! This year, bay is Herb of the Year and it's being celebrated internationally. The following article appears in Bay, Herb of the Year 2009, published by the International Herb Association.
Herb syrups are wonderful flavor essences that can be added in place of the liquid in cakes, pie filling, and drizzled over all type of baked goods. They are good on all kinds of fruits and fruit salads, used in beverages, and to make sorbets.
This simple soup can be made with frozen peas, if necessary. For added richness, use half-and-half instead of milk.
You can use spearmint in these chocolate brownies, but peppermint works best with chocolate.
Orange mint endows these blondies with a citrus flavor and scent.
This is a traditional-style Middle Eastern tabbouleh with the added flavors of garbanzos, pine nuts, and currants.
Flowers are only one of the reasons to grow chives. Their flavor, with the sweetness of an onion and the hint of new garlic, adds a pleasing touch to many dishes. Here's how to grow them well and use them in the kitchen.
Lavender is an edible flower. Used judiciously, it can enhance the taste of a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory.
Rich soil and sunny spaces yield citrus-sparked flavor.
This velvet-textured ice cream leaves a delightful perfume on the palate.
These delicious scones can be prepared for a special breakfast, brunch, tea party, or even served as dessert.
This dish is the perfect summer supper: simple, quick, easy, and light.
Serve up a tempting summer dessert that combines the sweetness of fresh peaches with the perfume of lavender flowers.
This versatile spread can be served on sandwiches and crackers; thinned with a little milk, it makes a tasty dip for vegetables.
Chives and their flowers find many uses in the kitchen. Susan Belsinger offers suggestions for using common chives and garlic chives in your cooking. You'll also learn how to infuse chive blossoms in vineger.
Use any of your favorite greens in this dish—spinach, chard, kale, beet, collards, dandelion—even a bit of arugula. These are good served as a vegetable accompaniment to roast meats or...
This basic recipe can be served as mashed potatoes or used to prepare other Irish side dishes: root vegetable mash, colcannon, and champ.
This basic recipe can be served as mashed potatoes or used to prepare other Irish side dishes: root vegetable mash, colcannon, and champ.
These are garlic croutons so good, you'll want to make extra to snack on while you're cooking. I like to use a good, hearty, country-style bread to make these, but you can use leftover baguettes, wheat, or even rye bread to make croutons--I often mix them.
This make-ahead salad includes peas, peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs.
A lovely mixed salad with colorful edible flowers topped with a light vinaigrette.
Cheese, breadcrumbs, rice, onion, and herbs make a savory filling.
Make an elegant sauté by cutting long, slim eggplants into sticks.
Tea Cake with Candied Flowers tastes as good as it looks.
Red monarda's tealike flavor is a lovely complement to the summer stone fruits.
This dramatic appetizer offers the double crunch of cucumber and flower.
Make a savory treat from squash blossoms.