cookinwithherbs

brookeville, MD, US
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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


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Cilantro Substitutes or Similars

This year we are celebrating Cilantro & Coriander as Herb of the Year for 2017. This herb has a very distinct flavor—there are a number of plants that have many of the same chemical constituents as Coriandrum sativum and sort of mimic the flavor --these herbs are culantro, papaloquelite, pipicha and Vietnamese coriander.

Use the last of your tomato harvest to make: Tomato Bisque with Curry and Coconut Milk

During our recent celebration of the Herb Harvest fall Festival at the Ozark Folk Center, we had a Caribbean-influenced menu. The following soup recipe was one of the favorite menu items--and it it season appropriate--just in time to make a delicious hearty soup and use up the last of the garden harvest of summer tomatoes. Make this soup soon--you will be glad that you did!

Herb Harvest Fall Festival Celebrates Central America, the Caribbean Basin and Mexico

Every year at the Ozark Folk Center's HHFF, we celebrate different regions of the globe and see how they relate back to the Ozarks. This year we celebrated some of the tropical areas and had a Caribbean-Style Lavish Herbal Feast and two days of inspiring educational programs featuring Mexico, the countries on the Isthmus of Central America and the many islands in the Caribbean. Read about all of the fun that we had.

Hop Happy

We had a pre- and post-conference tour for the IHA conference and both were fun and action-packed. However the post conference tour to visit hop farms and breweries was a daylong sensory experience that I won't forget.

Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek , Michigan

On a recent road trip to Michigan, we happened upon the Leila Arboretum--and what a find! If you are in the neighborhood--go check it out! Wonderful gardens and a great place for kids; this is one not to miss.

Is it Welsh Rabbit or Rarebit?

Rarebit or Rabbit--it's basically a cheese sauce over toast. I made this for the Great Hops Cookoff (had just 10 minutes) at the IHA conference and of course, I added herbs and a good hoppy IPA for maximum flavor, along with a dead ripe summer tomato. This is a quick and easy dish to make when you don't know what to have for lunch or supper and you don't feel like another sandwich.

International Herb Association Conference in Michigan featuring Hops, Herb of the Year 2018

Last week the IHA held their conference in Hickory Corners, Michigan at the Kellogg Biological Station, which is a great place to hold a conference and be in nature at the same time. There's walking trails along Gull Lake, an amazing number of beautiful old trees, a bird sanctuary, the Manor House and more.

Chile Pepper Season: Here's a Trio to Try

Being a confessed chilehead, I have grown many varieties for over 40 years. Here are a few that might be new to you, that I think are worthwhile growing.

Tomatoes with Seasonal Herbs

Although the most popular herb to pair with tomatoes is basil, no contender, many other seasonal herbs combine well with these beloved juicy fruits. Besides other herb ideas, here is a tasty recipe for tomatoes with arugula and garlic chives.

More Tomatoes!

The tomatoes are peaking here in my Maryland zone 7 garden. A bit of cooler temps slowed them down a bit... however we are picking and eating them everyday--and sharing them. I know there are infinite ways of eating tomatoes. Besides just sliced with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, here are a few ways that I am enjoying these mouthwatering fruits.

Tomato Time!

Well it is that time of year again... the tomatoes have started coming in so that I feel abundantly blessed. By next week, I might feel tomato deluge. I love a dead-ripe, juicy homegrown tomato--there is nothing like it--here's a few ways that I am eating them without having to cook much.

Summer Heights

Summer is near about peaking. Plants are reaching for the sun and growing fast in this heat, so there are many tall annuals and perennials in the garden. Pictured are a few that stand out.

Garden Seeds, Fruits and Flowers to Watch for Now

Many garden plants are already setting seed, which come in infinite shapes, sizes and textures. Want to know when to harvest? What to leave and for how long? What to remove right away? Though there are many books written on the subject of seed saving, here are some seeds, as well as a few berries and flowers you might be seeing now in your garden that are ready to gather--or just admire.

You Can Grow a Lot of Hot Weather Plants Down Here in the Ozarks

I'm still here in the Ozarks after teaching summer folk school classes last week. This gardening season, the gardeners planted lots of plants here with the upcoming Herb Harvest Fall Festival in mind. This year the featured countries are Central America, the Caribbean basin and Mexico, so plants from those regions are growing here. Those regions of the world are hot and tropical and those plants seem to be doing well here in the Ozarks where the hot temperatures have been extreme.

Botanical Waters (Aguas Frescas): Celebrate the Season with Flavorful Healthy Beverages

We are having hot weather, which means we should be hydrating a lot. I'm harvesting the mints and monardas and lemon balm and these herbs are wonderfully refreshing when infused in water. Add a little fresh seasonal fruit--and you have a fiesta in a glass--full of vitamins and minerals and delicious! I call these herb-and-fruit-infusions botanical waters or flavored waters.

Summer Solstice in the Garden

Today is the longest day of the year--15 hours and 18 minutes to be exact. It is the official beginning of summer on the calendar, however, many of our gardens have already begun to produce summer bounty.

Visit Your Local Botanic Garden

Last weekend was the You Can Grow It! Festival at the U.S. Botanic Garden. There was a good turnout and visitors got to pot up an herb plant and a carnivorous plant, view a beehive and taste honey, observe insect activity in the Butterfly Garden, smell the roses in the Rose Garden, enjoy the native blooms in the Regional Garden and then cool of in the Conservatory while enjoying the many plant collections from tropicals and medicinals to rare & endangered. There is always something going on at your local Botanic Garden or Arboretum--and an everchanging seasonal landscape--so find one near you and go visit!

Harvest Nettle Seeds to Make a Tasty Condiment: Gomasio with Nettle Seeds & Sea Vegetables

With the onset of warm weather, I allow the nettle patch to flower and make seed. Since the seeds are edible, I like to harvest and dry them, which is a bit labor intensive, however well worth the effort. The way that I like to use them best is to combine them with sesame seeds and sea salt and sometimes, seaweed, to make an incredibly tasty and nutritive version of gomasio.

Nettles: Last Harvest until Fall

Once nettles flower and set seed, most sources say they are too bitter to eat and that the leaves become stringy and gritty with calcium oxalate. Right now I am after the seeds so I can make gomasio and also I want to cut them back so that I will have a fall crop.

Growing Tomatoes and Peppers in the Garden using Black Plastic Mulch

Oh boy did I open a can of worms when I started to do research on the pros and cons of using black plastic mulch! Yes, it does warm the soil, extend crops growing time, hold moisture in the soil and keep down a plethora of weeds. No, black plastic is not organic. Most black plastic eventually goes into the landfill in a season or two—unless you use one of the newer biodegradable or photo-degradable black plastic mulches.

Herbs Rock in Little Rock!

The first weekend in May, the Herb Society of America held their annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. The theme was "Herbs Rock in Little Rock!" and indeed they do. The Little Rock and Ozark Units and the planning committee did a great job from herbal wreaths, homemade vinegars and shrubs as centerpieces to setting up a fun vendor space featuring all things herbal, a great lineup of speakers, dinner at the governor's mansion and three field trips.

Basic Vinaigrette & Variations

Vinaigrettes are so easy to make and are far better than store-bought bottled dressings. This is my "little black dress" dressing--my family's favorite--simple and tasteful.

Salad Days

Spring is one of my favorite seasons--not just for the abounding, burgeoning green--the gustatory delights are bountiful too! There is nothing like a variety of fresh grown greens, just harvested, washed quickly and served immediately, dressed very simply. Right now, the palate is assuaged with all of the tastes since salad greens run the gamut from sweet to sour and bitter and are full of mineral salts.

Nettles Make Beautiful Soup!

There are so many wonderful things about spring--and it delights me to have fresh, mineral-rich and vitamin-laden green herbs pop up for us to bring into the kitchen and make those seasonal dishes that we can't have the rest of the year. Nettles are a favorite of mine, and while I quite savor a nettle spanakopita and a salsa verde made with nettle, chickweed, dandelion, and sorrel or oxalis--nettle soup is a great comfort food besides being a spring tonic.

Cilantro Recipe: Mango Habanero Salsa with Cilantro

In my blog on Cilantro & Coriander, Herb of the Year 2017, I promised to post a recipe. Here is a bright and flavorful salsa that is great with chips, on a taco salad or quesadilla, and with anything from the grill!

Seasonal Foods for Spring: Strawberries & Rhubarb

Besides the stirring of life in the garden, the welcome appearance of the harbingers of spring, other signs of the season are produce like fresh salad greens both cultivated and wild, leeks and spring onions, morels, asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb.

Just Released: Cilantro & Coriander, Herb of the Year 2017

Every year the International Herb Association chooses an herb of the year to feature, as well as publishes a book on the selected herb so we can all get to know the particular herb up close and personal. This year we celebrate cilantro & coriander (one is the herb leaf and the other is the herb seed--both from the same plant--so we get two for one this year!)

Memphis Botanic Garden

On the road in the southern U.S.--just visited the Memphis Botanic Garden--the herb garden there is popping springtime. See what is showing out there.

Strawberry Shrub

In my travels down South lately, I've been doing programs on capturing the essence of herbs. One easy, seasonal recipe that I have been preparing with an enthusiastic response is strawberry shrub with lemon balm. It is simple, mouthwatering and a perfect blend of seasonal flavors.

Pansies

These happy little faces are harbingers of spring and this year the National Gardening Bureau has announced that 2017 is the Year of the Pansy.

Sure Signs of Spring

Spring is in the air… although Mother Nature has certainly been teasing us! In my Maryland zone 7 garden, we had a fairly mild winter with much less precipitation than we have had in many years...

Great Gardens in California

California has many micro-climates and is able to grow many rare plants from around the world. Two incredible gardens not to miss are the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. While SFBG is a unique area within the Golden Gate Park with world-renowned gardens, UCSCA is spread out on 135 acres overlooking the Monterey Bay. Here are just a few photos of some striking and/or rare botanicals found in these gardens.

California Farmers' Markets

In Maryland, my local farmers' markets close up for the winter season. In warmer climes like California and the southern states, markets go on year round. For we gardeners who are awaiting the growing season with baited breath--here are some mouthwatering shots of produce taken at the Santa Cruz farmers' market.

Coastal California

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...

Favorite Gardening Tool: Hori Hori Update

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...

Cilantro & Citrus--Great Salad Combo!

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.

Cilantro & Coriander, Herb of the Year 2017

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!

Seed Catalogs for 2017

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.

Herbal Products for 2017

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.

Holiday Display at the United States Botanic Garden

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.

Crystallofolia: Frost Flowers

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.

Three Books to Give as Presents for Gardeners and Herbalists

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...

Cucurbitas: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

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.

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

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.

Have you planted your garlic yet?

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.

The Burren Perfumery Garden

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

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.

Herb Harvest Fall Festival featuring Plants of South America

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!

Herbal Harvest: Basil and More...

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.

September Garden Harvest

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.

Last Day of Summer

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.

DeBaggio Herb Farm and Nursery

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.

Blooming Hill Lavender Farm

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.

Willow Oak Flower & Herb Farm

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

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!

Flourish! Inside and Out at the U.S. Botanic Garden

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!

Summer Bounty

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!

The Aromatherapy Garden--Book Review

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!

July in the Garden

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...

Sights and Sounds of July in the Garden

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.

Harvest Your Herbs and Make Green Sauce!

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.

The Blooms in June

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.

Salsa Verde with Wild Weeds

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.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

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.

Wild Bergamot or Purple Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)

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.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

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.

Finding Delight in a Cold and Soggy Spring

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?

Botanizing in the Ozarks

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.

Stinging Nettles

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

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.

Cabbage en Escabeche

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.

Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species)

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.

Spring Foraging: Wild Weeds, Herbal Harbingers and Enticing Ephemerals

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!

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2016

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!

Epcot Fresh

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!

Recipes featuring Pulses

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.

Grow Beans in this Year's Garden

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.

International Year of Pulses

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!

Capsicum Dreaming on Such a Winter's Day

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.

Capsicum, Herb of the Year 2016

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!

Hoshigaki: The Art of Drying Persimmons

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 Gift of Persimmons

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!

Cole Play: Crops for Winter Gardening

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.

Warming Vegetarian Chili for Winter Solstice

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!

Bittersweet Chocolate and Chipotle Bark with Salted Pistachios

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.

Green Friday

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!

All the Trimmings: Seasonal Side Dishes for the Holidays

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.

International Herb Association Conference in Fernandina Beach, Florida

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!).

Autumn in the South: The Okefenokee Swamp

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!

Chile Pepper Season

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.

New England in Autumn, Tower Hill Botanic Garden

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!

New England in Autumn, The Gardens at Elm Bank

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.

Rose Hips

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!

More on Fermenting Chiles

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.

Fermenting Chile Peppers

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...

Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)

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...

Green Chile Season

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.

Rajas con Queso (Chiles con queso)

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.

Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

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.

Summer Gardening in the Ozarks

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.

Purslane in the Kitchen

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.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

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?

Monarda in the Kitchen

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.

Monarda spp.

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.

Beat the Heat--Cool Down with Mint!

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.

Celebrate Summer! Easy Cucumber Recipes

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!

Quick and Easy White Bean Salad with Savory

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.

Saving and Savoring, A Celebration of Rare and Endangered Plants and Herbs at U.S. Botanic Garden

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!

Growers and Gardeners Networking

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...

Radishes and Garlics and Greens, Oh Yeah!

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!

More Williamsburg and HSA Conference

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.

Visit to Williamsburg for HSA Conference

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.

Fickle Spring

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!

Savory, Herb of the Year 2015

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.

On the Road: Kraut Recipe from a Wild and Cultured Herbal Lunch Menu

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.

On the Road: Medicinal Herb Field Trip and Workshop in the Arkansas Ozarks

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!

On the Road: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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...

On the Road: American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas

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!

Springtime: on the road again

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...

Winter's Passing

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!

Chocolat

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.

Combining Chocolate with Herbs and Spices

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!

Pinto Beans with Savory

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.

Winter Ruminations

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.

Fermentation: More Countertop Cultivation

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.

Veggie Reuben

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...

Countertop Grow-Your-Own

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.

Gardener's Wish List Fulfilled!

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!

Winter: Tis the Season

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.

Fire Cider Vinegar

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.

Celebrate National Cookie Day with Herbal Butter Cookies

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.

Grow Tunnel Update

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!

Persimmons

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!

Savory, Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This is a quick and easy recipe for savory sweet potatoes--once they are prepped just put them in the oven.

Sweet Patooties are in Season!

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...

Pumpkintime

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

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.

Autumn Herbs in the Ozarks

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?

Tomato-Raisin Chutney

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.

Floating Row Cover and Grow Tunnels Extend the Growing Season

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.

Welcome Fall--Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox

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...

Fall is in the Air: Enjoy the Last of Summer Bounty While You Can!

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.

Summer Salad, Nicoise-Style

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.

Garden Bounty: Late Summer Garden Happenings

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.

Corn

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...

Savory Recipe: Homemade Salsa with Black Beans and Corn

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!

Summer Vacation to Canada

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.

Summer in the White House Kitchen Garden

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)!

How to Make a Shrub

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.

How to Make an Herbal 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.

Summer Squash Sauté

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.

Midsummer Garden

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...

Vegetable Bundle Basics

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!

Veggie Bundles for the Grill

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.

Grilling Season

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.

Salad Days

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.

Springtime in the Emerald Isle

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.

Potato, Asparagus and Arugula Soup

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.

Transplanting in the Rain

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 in Spring

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!

Lucie's 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!

Asparagus Soup with Chives

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.

Springtime Chores

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: Herb of the Year 2014

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!

Are your Plants Dead or Alive?

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.

On the road again: Springtime in the Ozarks

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…

Spring Harbingers are Popping Out

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.

Plantanos Fritos--Fried Plantains

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.

Plantains: Add a Tropical Twist to Ho-Hum Winter Fare

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.

Costa Rica: Cloudforest

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!

Costa Rica: Pura Vida

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.

Costa Rica

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!

Lima Beans with Tarragon

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.

Artemisia: Herb of the Year 2014

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.

Winter Days, Travels and Comfort Food

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.

Get Inspired even in the Grey Days of Winter

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.

New Year's Eve: Farewell to 2013 and Ring in the New 2014

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.

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

    "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...

Books for the Gardener: Picks for 2013

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.

Tools for the Gardener: These are a few of my favorite things

Included here are the tools that I use the most--I depend on them--and use them everyday during the gardening season.

Cranberry and Orange Relish with Maple Syrup

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.

Fall: Time for the Gardener to be Grateful

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.

Wildwoods Walk

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.

The Colors of Fall

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.

A Day in Washington, D.C.

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?

Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk

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.

Peanuts

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.

Spicy Stewed Okra

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.

On the Road: Autumn in Arkansas

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!

Figs in Fall

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.

Habanero Shrub

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.

Habaneros: The Big Hot One!

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.

Tomato Abundance

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).

Readying the Garden for Fall

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.

Book Review: How to Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines from Plants

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.

A Gardener's Mid-Summer Meanderings

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!

IHA Conference in the Great Smoky Mountains

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.

The Kitchen Garden at The University of Tennessee

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.

Summertime and the Living is Easy

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.

Make your Fourth of July Cookout Sparkle with the Flavor of Herbs!

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!

Garden Bounty has Begun--Time to Harvest!

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.

Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes with Herbs and Whipped Cream

What better way to celebrate the summer solstice than with homemade strawberry shortcake made with garden herbs?

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

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.

Summer Reading

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.

How to Transplant

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.

Edible Flowers for Mothers' Day

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 Pleasures

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.

Recipes for a Healthy Lunch from the Medicinal Herb Seminar

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!

Buttermilk Biscuits with Garlic and Sage

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.

Not-Your-Average Waldorf Salad

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.

Kids and Herbs

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!

How to Make Root Cuttings

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!

Welcome Spring

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.

Sow Your Own Annual Herbs

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!

Spring is Nearly Here

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.

Snake Oil: The Making of Fish Pepper Hot Sauce

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!

Fish Peppers

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!

Seeds to Try

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!

January

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.

Elder, Herb of the Year 2013

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.

Start the New Year with Books

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.

Happy New Year--The Gardening Season for 2013 has begun!

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.

Winter Solstice Reflections from a Gardener's Perspective

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.

Harvest Punch with Apple Cider

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.

Apple Cider Rules!

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.

From Chiles to Sauce

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!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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.

Not your Grandma's Sauerkraut

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.

Cabbagepalooza!... Sauerkraut and More

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.

Making Sorghum Syrup

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.

Cabbage with Tabil and Preserved Lemon, Tunisian-Style

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.

Sweet Carrots with Cinnamon, Orange and Fragrant Flower Water, Moroccan-Style

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.

Beet and Onion Salad with Spearmint, Egyptian-Style

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.

Herb Harvest Fall Festival

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.

Autumn Happenings in the Arkansas Ozarks

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.

Chile Harvest Peaks with Autumnal Equinox

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!

Swiss Chard Rolls with Quinoa

My Swiss chard is having a resurgence after the summer heat--so I came up with this tasty dish using it.

September in the Garden: Time to Harvest and Preserve

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!

Tomatoes and Chiles = Salsa, part 2

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.

Tomatoes and Chiles = Salsa, part 1

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.

Pesto: How to make the real thing!

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.

Garden Gazpacho

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.

Homegrown Tomatoes

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.

Bringing in the Alliums

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.

Basil Blueberry Muffins

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.

The International Herb Association Conference 2012, Corning, New York

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.

Wineberries and Blueberries with Lemon Basil Syrup

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.

Wineberries

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!

Summertime Musings

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!

Scarecrows

How to keep critters out of your garden? Try this good, old-fashioned scare tactic.

My Big Backyard, The Children's Garden at Memphis Botanic Garden

I have visited a number of children's gardens in my travels and this is one of the best.

The Herb Garden at Memphis Botanic Garden

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.

Memorial Day Kicks off the Summer Gardening Season

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.

Mint Mojito

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.

Spearmint is the Quintessential Summer Herb

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.

Floating Row Cover

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!

Rhubarb and Strawberry Preserves

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.

Green Goodness Soup (Weed Soup)

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.

Harvesting Edible Weeds from the Backyard

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.

Video Recipe: Green Goodness Soup

Try using your wild backyard weeds to make a delicious and healthy seasonal soup.

Video: How to Harvest Chickweed

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.

Video: How to Harvest Dandelion

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.

Video: How to Harvest Stinging Nettles

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.

Prepping Edible Weeds for Cooking

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.

Moroccan Mint Tea

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.

Herbs for Tea

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.

Take the Time to Attend Local Garden Events

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!

Spring Forward

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, Gregorian Calendar, USDA's Plant Hardiness Zone Map, and more...

Leap day—the 29th of February—only comes around every four years.

Aloe Vera, A Favorite and Useful Houseplant

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).

Dilled Beet and Buttermilk Soup

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.

Beets

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.

Winter Wait

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.

Braised Fennel

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.

Fennel

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!

Lentil and Greens Soup

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.

Great Gobs of Winter Greens

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!

Tangy Kale Slaw

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.

Rose, Herb of the Year 2012

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.

Winter Solstice and thoughts about Gardens of Use and Delight

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 and Seasonal Circles

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.

Aunt Ruth's Heritage Chili Sauce

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.

Tis the Season!

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.

Brussels Sprouts seasoned with Pantry Condiments

If you don't normally like Brussels sprouts, this tasty recipe might change your mind.

Brussels Sprouts

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.

Skillet Corn Bread with Sage and Onions for Thanksgiving

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..

Pineapple Sorbet with Pineapple Sage Blossoms

If you like pineapple and have these red blssoms in your garden, then this is a dessert for you!

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)

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.

San Antonio and back home again...

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.

Autumn Meanderings: Dry in the South, Wet in the North

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.

Fall Harvest Festivals and Happy Autumn Equinox!

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.

Baked Red Cabbage with Spices

Mid-Eastern Mediterranean spices give this fall side dish an interesting flavor.

Farewell to Summer and Our Last Tastes of Summertime Favorites

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!

Summer is Fading Fast and Fall is in the Air (Not to mention a hurricane!)

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!

Peach Skillet Cake

Try this recipe for a moist, buttermilk skillet cake topped with juicy peaches!

Peachy Keen

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.

Gardening in the Midwest--A Midland, Michigan Perspective--the IHA Conference

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.

Lemonade or Limeade with Herbs

Make a refreshing summer cooler, or use in herbal margaritas.

Happy August! Here's to the Harvest and to Growing Gardens!

Today is the first of August, know as Lughnasadh in Ireland, it begins the celebration of the harvest season.

Summer Enchanted 'Rita with Peach and Basil

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 with Tangy Vinaigrette

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.

Dog Days of Summer

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.

Peaches and Blueberries with Lemon Herb and Lavender Syrup

This mouthwatering recipe features peaches and blueberries with a simple syrup combining lemon herbs with lavender flowers.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice! A Good Time at the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival

The summer solstice heralds the start of summer and the longest day of the year. Come see how to celebrate with lavender!

Low-Cost Deer Defense

An easy, recyclable deer defense creates a visual moving barrier to keep deer out of the garden. Watch the video...

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Sweet Woodruff

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 Salad Bed: Still Gathering Greens through the Month of May

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!

Coulibiac with Rice, Leeks, Mushrooms, Greens and Herbs

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.

Cultivating the Alliums: From Mild to Wild

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.

It's May, It's May, the Merry Month of May!

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!

Rain

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…

On the Road and Back--Springtime in Indianapolis

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.

Spring Gardening in California

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.

Simple Mayonnaise and Horseradish Sauce

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.

California Springtime

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.

Pesto

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.

In Memory of an Herbal Mentor, Thomas DeBaggio (1942 to 2011)

The passing of author and herb grower, Thomas DeBaggio is a great loss to the herb and plant community, and all who knew him.

Spring is in the Air!

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.

Sunny Lemons Brighten Winter Days in Many Ways

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.

In the Greenhouse Today

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.

Chocolat!

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!

Sowing Seeds for Salad in Flats

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...

Winter Snow

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.

Curried Vegetable Soup

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!

Mid-Winter Musings

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.

Wood: Warming Winter Work

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...

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

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.

Winter Solstice and Full Moon Pictoral

Here are a few fire and light photos taken on the winter solstice in the rural countryside of Maryland.

Winter Solstice - Full Cold Moon - Lunar Eclipse!

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--Another Easy Fragrant Gift for the Holidays

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.

Cranberry Nut Bars with Rosemary

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.

More Gifts from the Garden

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 Herb Garden

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: A Time to Celebrate and Count Our Blessings

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.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Horseradish

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!

Sweet potatoes (Ipomea batatas)

The sweet and delicious flavor of this colorful, root vegetable is best after a frost--dig your patooties now!

Swiss Chard

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 Baked with Parmesan Cheese

Chard is much loved in Italy, particularly Tuscany, where this is a classic dish.

Green Tomatoes

What to do with all of those green tomatoes that we just picked since we had a frost forecast?

Fried Green Tomatoes

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.

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)

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.

Autumn Gold

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.

Pear and Cranberry Crumble with Orange-Scented Geranium Leaves

Pears and cranberries are a favorite fall combination; both are delicious when complimented by the flavor of orange.

Lamb's Quarters: Enjoying Wild Weeds

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.

Gardener's Quick Breakfast

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.

Za'atar, a renowned herb blend, and events inspired by it.

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.

Za'atar: An Exotic Herb Blend

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.

Autumn is here: Let us celebrate the harvest season!

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.

Rooting Herb Cuttings

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!

Celebrate with the Last of Summer's Bounty and Welcome Fall!

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.

Three Sisters Saute

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.

Quick and Easy Homemade Salsa

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.

Tis' the Season...for Tomatoes that is...

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.

Fried Squash Blossoms

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.

Squash Blossoms (Cucurbita species)

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!

The EGGplant and I

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!

Greek-Style Eggplant Spread

This eggplant spread is delicious served with pitas, crusty French bread, or crudités.

Salsa Verde

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.

Visiting Gardens in the Summertime

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...

Summer Greek Salad

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.

Summer Musings

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.

Tzatziki

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.

Cream Cheese with Herbes de Provence and Garlic

This cheese is simple to make, less expensive than store-bought herb cheeses, and better tasting.

Catching Up and Thriving

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.

Herb Blends to Grow for the Cook's Delight

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.

Chefs From Across the Nation Gather at the White House Kitchen Garden

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.

Arugula and Balsamic Tomatoes on Bruschetta

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.

My Favorite Salad Green--Whatever You Want to Call It: Arugula or Rocket

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.

A Visit to the Green Farmacy Garden

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.

Another Harbinger of Spring: The Merry Mints!

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.

tropical fruit salad with vanilla mint syrup

This light and refreshing dessert can be made with any combination of fruit but is especially good with tropicals.

Moroccan Mint Tea

To prepare the traditional Moroccan tea, the tea must be green, with a mild flavor, and the mint must be fresh spearmint.

Writing from the Road, Spring 2010

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.

More Harbingers of Spring: Chives

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!

Herbal Harbingers of Spring: Lemon Balm

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...

Strawberry and Lemon Balm Whipped Cream Parfaits

Welcome the warm weather with strawberry parfaits.

Plant Dill This Spring

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?

Dilled Beet and Buttermilk Soup

This soup is especially good in the spring, when beets are in season.

Celebrate Dill!

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 Green

Spring is in the air! It is time to start foraging for new plant growth and harbingers of spring in our gardens—celebrating green.

A Time to Sow

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!

Herb Butter

Simple to make, herb butters keep in the refrigerator for about one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

Zuppa Verde

Welcome spring with this amazingly simple and nutritions soup.

An Indoor Herb Garden Tides Us Over Until Spring

Record snowfall in the mid-Atlantic this winter has kept us inside, so why not sow some seeds indoors?

Savory for Winter Dishes

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...

Vegetarian Chili

This hearty, satisfying chili is made with tofu or tempeh.

Thyme, a Robust Herb of Many Uses

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.

Greek Salad with Thyme Vinaigrette

This version of an old stand-by is easy to make. It is fresh and tasty and crunchy anytime, and especially good in winter.

Rosemary: A Robust Herb of 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.

Country Pea Soup with Rosemary

This simple, hearty soup can be made in a crock pot and is sure to please the whole family.

Outstanding Oreganos and Mild-Mannered Marjoram

Delightful myths and lovely uses surround sweet marjoram, while herbal remedies and hearty dishes are associated with oregano, its close cousin.

Savory Spanakopita

This version of spanakopita is packed full of flavor—it is delicious—as well as being good for you.

Using Sage in Warming Winter Dishes

Sage has a long history as a medicinal and culinary plant. Like other robust herbs, sage adds hearty flavor to your winter cooking.

Pasta e Fagioli

This easy, wonderfully hearty peasant soup is perfect for a chilly winter day.

Once in a Blue Moon...Happy New Year!

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.

Winter Solstice: Celebrate the Light

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.

Homemade Applesauce

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...

Eat An Apple a Day--In Many Ways!

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.

Just a Bit More on Winter Squash and Pumpkin...

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.

Golden Loaf Cake

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.

Oven-Roasted Winter Squash with Garlic and Sage

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.

The Hardy Cucurbits: The Wonderful World of Winter Squash and Pumpkin

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...

Winter Squash Soup with Black Beans and Corn

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.

Plant Garlic as a Fall Crop

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.

Sorghum and the Making of Sweet Syrup

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.

Celebrate All Hallow's Eve by Carving a Pumpkin

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.

Farewell to the Summer Harvest Season--Fall is Here!

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...

Skillet Cornbread

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.

To The Burren and Back!

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.

Whole Pickled Peppers

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...

Garlic and Chile Insecticidal Soap Spray

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...

Seeing Green: The Emerald Isle

Ireland is a wonderland of magical bright green vistas—sometimes the sea is off in the distance—and other views feature unbelievable rock formations.

Getting Familiar with My Irish Roots

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.

Fall Planting of Cole Crops

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...

Red Hot! How to Harvest, Dry and Store Mature Red Chiles

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...

Herbal Libations

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.

Exotic Ginger Syrup with Lemon Herbs and Vanilla Bean

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.

The Gardeners' Exchange

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...

Garden Gazpacho

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.

Hot Hot Hot! Get Ready to Preserve the Chile Harvest

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.

Roasted Chile and Herb Sauce

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.

The Tomato Sandwich: Summer's Ultimate Food

What's better than garden-fresh tomatoes on sandwich bread slathered in mayonnaise?

These Basil Varieties Shine in the Kitchen

If you like to use basil in your cooking, consider growing the ones listed here.

Basic Pesto Recipe

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...

Tea Party Gardening in Containers

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...

Growing Basil

For the best harvest, give plants full sun, ample water, and regular pruning

One More Report--Writing from the Road: Spring Extravaganza at the Ozark Folk Center

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...

Egg and Cheese Puff with Greens

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.

Video: Make a Flower Salad

Many flowers are as delicious as they are beautiful. In this video, culinary herbalist Susan Belsinger makes a gorgeous flower salad.

Writing from the road continued

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.

Writing from the Road

Lecturer and author Susan Belsinger reports from the road as a traveling gardener--it is springtime everywhere--in varying stages.

Five Flowers to Dine On

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.

Chocolate Pudding with Bay

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.

Bay (Laurus nobilis): From Legend and Lore to Fragrance and Flavor

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.

Bay Syrup

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.

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

This simple soup can be made with frozen peas, if necessary. For added richness, use half-and-half instead of milk.

Chocolate Mint Brownies

You can use spearmint in these chocolate brownies, but peppermint works best with chocolate.

Blondies with Orange Mint and Apricots

Orange mint endows these blondies with a citrus flavor and scent.

Tabbouleh with Mint

This is a traditional-style Middle Eastern tabbouleh with the added flavors of garbanzos, pine nuts, and currants.

How to Grow Chives

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.

Cooking with Lavender

Lavender is an edible flower. Used judiciously, it can enhance the taste of a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory.

How to Grow Delectable Lemon Basils

Rich soil and sunny spaces yield citrus-sparked flavor.

Lemon Basil Ice Cream

This velvet-textured ice cream leaves a delightful perfume on the palate.

Buttermilk Cream Scones with Lemon Basil

These delicious scones can be prepared for a special breakfast, brunch, tea party, or even served as dessert.

Pasta with Summer Vegetables and Lemon Basil

This dish is the perfect summer supper: simple, quick, easy, and light.

Peach Crisp with Lavender

Serve up a tempting summer dessert that combines the sweetness of fresh peaches with the perfume of lavender flowers.

Cream Cheese with Herbes de Provence and Garlic

This versatile spread can be served on sandwiches and crackers; thinned with a little milk, it makes a tasty dip for vegetables.

Chives in the Kitchen

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.

Wilted Greens with Garlic

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...

Mashed Potatoes

This basic recipe can be served as mashed potatoes or used to prepare other Irish side dishes: root vegetable mash, colcannon, and champ.

Mashed Potatoes, Irish Style

This basic recipe can be served as mashed potatoes or used to prepare other Irish side dishes: root vegetable mash, colcannon, and champ.

Garlic Croutons

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.

Garlic Chive and Rice Salad

This make-ahead salad includes peas, peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs.

Spring Flower Salad

A lovely mixed salad with colorful edible flowers topped with a light vinaigrette.

Baked Stuffed Eggplant

Cheese, breadcrumbs, rice, onion, and herbs make a savory filling.

Sautéed Eggplant

Make an elegant sauté by cutting long, slim eggplants into sticks.

Tea Cake with Candied Flowers

Tea Cake with Candied Flowers tastes as good as it looks.

Summer Fruit Salad with Monarda

Red monarda's tealike flavor is a lovely complement to the summer stone fruits.

Daylily Petals with Pesto Dip on Cucumber Slices

This dramatic appetizer offers the double crunch of cucumber and flower.

Fried Squash Blossoms with Goat Cheese and Herbs

Make a savory treat from squash blossoms.



recent comments

Re: Resolve to Enjoy Fermented Vegetables in the New Year

i mentioned this book as one of my favorite gifts in my blog from january 1, 2015:
http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/60411/gardeners-wish-list-fulfilled
if you are just beginning to make fermentations, this is a book that i recommend in my classes and workshops.
susan b

Re: Have you planted your garlic yet?

i love garlic and eat it every single day. it is so good for us! there is an old teluga indian proverb that "garlic is as good as ten mothers."

Re: Quinoa

quinoa is easy, quick and nutritious. use it anywhere you would use rice, couscous, barley, tabouleh, etc. it lends itself to combining with every type of veggie--whether it is in a salad, casserole, soup or pilaf.

Re: Herbal Harvest: Basil and More...

yes--some of us love livin the herbal life. once you grow em--you are hooked! there are so many ways to preserve them and it is such a pleasure to savor them!

Re: The Green Farmacy Garden

so glad you got to go see the green farmacy too gert. the collection of homemade shade covers in the gardens add visual interest and are sort of whimsically eccentric.

Re: Willow Oak Flower & Herb Farm

yes willow oak has more flowers than most herb farms since they do their wonderful floral arrangements.

Re: The Aromatherapy Garden--Book Review

it is a wonderful therapeutic practice if used correctly.

Re: July in the Garden

thanks y'all!

Re: Sights and Sounds of July in the Garden

thanks gabby--i do have a little house at the edge of the woods--and there are fairies out there in the garden. ;)
thanks for the comment.

Re: Gardeners Dig Country Living

hudson valley seed library was my favorite booth there. their seed packets are works of art--truly, all renderings by different artists--i had to purchase some of their seeds just for the packaging! check out their website www.seedlibrary.com
i have had good success with germination of their seeds.

Re: The Culinary Herbal for Vegetable Gardeners

wow jody--thanks for the kudos and lovely write-up! it was a pleasure to finally meet you--i only wish we had more time to visit. it's always nice to meet someone in person after reading their articles for years--since i feel like i know you. i recognized you right away from your vegetable gardener pic even without your hat. ;) thank you for your years of great blogs--i look forward to more.
happy herbing,
susan

Re: Great Gardening Gifts for Father's Day

thanks jody! let me know if you need anything.
p.s. i love rosie's overalls too--they come in petite sizes!

Re: Great Gardening Gifts for Father's Day

hi jody--

it was so great to finally meet you at the country living fair in rhinebeck, new york last weekend!

the hori hori is my favorite gardening tool hands down and i have had mine from lee valley tools for over 20 years.

see this post i wrote a few years ago...
http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/14563/tools-for-the-gardener-these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things

the one from barebones living looks like a good, updated version. i know someone who is looking to buy one, so i'll pass your blog along to them.

happy gardening,
susan

Re: Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

i agree. monarda is in my top ten culinary herbs--and most folks are surprised about that--it has many uses medicinally and culinary and it is so gorgeous in the garden!

Re: Finding Delight in a Cold and Soggy Spring

thanks jw--sometimes we just get bogged down because it is raining and we can't get out in the garden :( however we have to think about how the rain is replenishing and nourishing the earth, plants and trees with a big long drink of water.
yesterday and today the sun is out--and i swear some of my droopy seedlings have doubled in size! :)

Re: Botanizing in the Ozarks

thank you yellow rabbit--i love writing and sharing anything about herbs!
emma, i am delighted that i made you laugh, and really hard--nothing like a good hard herbal chuckle!

Re: Stinging Nettles

although they are stingers and painful when stung--the plants are so tasty and good for us--they are worth cultivating.

Re: Cabbage en Escabeche

enjoy y'all! it is easy to make, great to take to a pot luck--and can be made ahead.

Re: Epcot Fresh

try going online to epcot international flower and garden festival and checking out the kitchen garden destinations at the different countries throughout epcot.

Re: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2016

it truly is amazing what a incredibly fine job the gardeners and staff do at disney!

Re: Capsicum, Herb of the Year 2016

yes, i certainly couldn't live without my herbs and spices for flavor and fragrance! ;)

Re: Cole Play: Crops for Winter Gardening

thanks leony.
hi jeane,
brussels sprouts grow best as a fall crop for me--they don't do well here in my zone 7 garden in spring. i love both the violetta and orange-colored cauliflowers--they taste pretty much like a white one--and they are as easy to grow as the white one too.
both chicory and tatsoi are sturdy, cold weather greens. chicory is more for salads--it is very bitter so combine it with other salad leaves. tatsoi--i use smaller leaves in salads, and i often stir fry or wilt them with other greens or put them in soups. both are very easy to cultivate.
happy gardening and happy new year!
susan

Re: Celebrate Summer! Easy Cucumber Recipes

sandra,
when i was in greece i had the traditional greek salad everyday--sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with sliced feta--sometimes garnished with kalamata olives or capers. it is delicious!

bethany, i will check out your black -eyed pea salad--sounds interesting.

thanks for your comments and happy herbing!
susan

Re: Gardener's Wish List Fulfilled!

happy new year to you also! i feel so spoiled and blessed--am already using many of the gifts!

Re: Giving Thanks for the Patron Saint of Gardeners

i have saint fiacre in my garden--with one hand on his spade--and the other holding a bunch of garlic! ;)

did you know he was also the patron saint of taxicabs?!

Re: How to Make an Herbal Vinegar

kim,
use whatever fresh herbs that you have, which you like alone, or in combination with others. generally, i don't use more than 4 herbs in one combo, since it seems to muddy the flavors and you lose the individual aromas and tastes.
i make a basil vinegar--just it solo--because i like the flavor on its own.
you could try a "simon and garfunkel" blend and make one with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
i generally don't do more than two or three strong-flavored herbs in one vinegar.
sometimes i add a clove of peeled garlic, a few slices of lemon or edible flowers for added flavor and color. for instance, thyme with a few slices of lemon and some garlic might be a good combo.
hope this helps.
susan

Re: Grilling Season

here's the basics with a link to the recipe--enjoy!
http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/15393/vegetable-bundle-basics

Re: Are your Plants Dead or Alive?

thanks gert!
i'd heard the term, though needed to investigate further... i love literary references when relating to gardening!

Re: Chocolate Covered Jalapenos are Hot Seller

hi jodi,
one of the reasons chiles are roasted and peeled is so that the glossy skin is removed and the chile relleno batter will stick to the chile. however, this makes them wet and juicy. so although the chocolate will stick better to a roasted chile it will juice out and have a very short shelf life.
it sure looks fun and tasty though. hhhmmm... cutting off the top, removing the seed cavity and filling it with chocolate?

Re: Scary Plants For Your Halloween Garden

fun blog! i'm going to try growing the bat face and black bat next year!

Re: Drying on the Vine

if you place any dried garden vegetable or herb in olive oil (which is an anaerobic medium), you stand the chance of botulism.
botulinum spores are soil borne and can pretty much be anywhere in a garden. even if you wash the produce well, fresh or dried, and put it into oil, there is a slim, though possible chance that these spores can incubate in the oil--and that takes just two weeks.
if you freeze the produce in oil or heat the oil (pasterize), it stops the growth of botulinum. the home refrigerator is not cold enough to keep the botulism from growing.
so it is best to keep your sun-dried tomatoes in the dried state and then add oil after rehydrating.
companies that pack sundried tomatoes in oil or make herbal oils, go through the pasteurization process.
if you make your own garlic oil, herbal oil, or sundried tomato oil, keep it in the fridge and use it within 10 days or so.

Re: Homegrown Tomatoes

i live in maryland and my gardening zone is 7--how about you?

Re: Spring Pleasures

hey mike,
when i was at my favorite herb nursery, debaggio herbs, in chantilly, virginia yesterday--francesco had temps posted on the blackboard and all of the aforementioned want minimum 50-55 degree nights and would rather have 60s and 70s. don't do it... wait just a bit longer... or plants will languish in the garden. (patience is a virtue.)
susan

Re: A Pepper for Every Garden

nice article and photo!

i am a confessed chilehead.
while i have grown all of the aforementioned, my favorite chile peppers are serrano, poblano, fish peppers and the yellow aji. i have never met a chile that i didn't like. this year i made my own homemade tabasco and it was killer. make room for the capsicums in your garden space!

Re: Sow Your Own Annual Herbs

hi mike,

i also hang my herbs to dry. in small bundles with maybe 4 to 8 stems per bundle depending on the size and density of the herbs.

here are a video and an article on drying herbs:

www.vegetablegardener.com/item/3759/video-how-to-dry-herbs

www.vegetablegardener.com/in-the-kitchen/sort/vote_count/.../2

in my humid maryland climate, it takes about 10 days to 2 weeks to dry them. often i will take them down when almost dry and put them on baking trays and place them in the oven with the oven light on and put them in there for an hour or two to take out that last bit of excess moisture. be sure that they are completely dry before putting into jars.

happy herbing!
susan

Re: Holiday Gift Ideas For Veggie Gardeners 2012

hey greg, thanks for the fun as well as practical gift ideas!
happy holidays to you.

Re: Spring Forward

hey mike,
and right now the night sky is full of amazing stars and constellations! have you seen how venus and jupiter are out there on either side of the waxing moon? breath taking! and i get to view it from an arkansas mountaintop with the sound of peepers and coyotes!

Re: Lentil and Greens Soup

you go girl! was it good? i love lentil soup and use both the green and the red. any greens will do.

Re: San Antonio and back home again...

yes, i was disappointed not to get there and it is on my list of must-dos next time i get to san antonio. wow--we don't think of trees there--i'll remember!

Re: Summer is Fading Fast and Fall is in the Air (Not to mention a hurricane!)

it is amazing--we are ending a season--and you are just beginning yours. and we think of california as sunny and warm!

Re: Plant a Fall Lettuce Garden

hi chris, nice article--i was going to write one about sowing fall greens--however you beat me to the punch. the moon has changed to aboveground crops and from now through this weekend is a great time to sow your baby lettuces and other salad greens. so get out there and do it! i've got my seeds ready; just have to wait for the earth to dry a little bit after our torrential hurricane rains.
happy gardening!

Re: There's A Garden App For That

hey greg, way cool info for us gardeners who aren't app savvy. i just got a new phone and thanks to you will have these garden apps at my fingertips.
happy gardening!
susan

Re: QUESTION: When can I start a winter garden in San Diego?

i was just in san diego (it was unseasonably cold there last week) and i was amazed at how many things they can grow year round and winter over. if you go to the san diego botanic gardens--you can check out what they have in their many gardens (36 acres!)--and visit with the gardeners there. they have many upcoming programs you might want to attend. also if you see what is available there in the farmers' markets right now; you'll know what to plant as winter crops!
happy gardening!
susan

Re: Sowing Seeds for Salad in Flats

alethor, i don't know this book, however i will check it out. the moon sign book is alot different than the farmers' almanac--it concentrates on planting by the moon in detail and all things related to it.

Re: Some thoughts on Groundhog Day

they call these plant-eating animals "whistlepigs" in arkansas! :)

Re: Mid-Winter Musings

yes jerusalem artichokes would be great in this vegetable pickle--and they are local and sustainable! the idea is to get a nice crunch from vegetables and not snack on junk food. i keep a big jar of these in the fridge and enjoy them whenever i get the urge to snack!

Re: Wood: Warming Winter Work

ruth,
you go girl! wood work warms us twice.
nettiemae, i am sure there are lots of folks who would take you up on your stacking abilities--and then they might let you hang out by their woodstove!
just carried in 5 loads and am settling in for the night!
susan

Re: Winter Solstice and Full Moon Pictoral

hey gert,
so you were clear skies for the eclipse--however i heard you new yorkers were dumped on for christmas. just think that your garden is snug under an insulative layer of snow. :)
happy new year!
susan

Re: Winter Solstice - Full Cold Moon - Lunar Eclipse!

sorry alethor--i meant to post this article on the weekend--however life intervened. i posted it last night--and that it when i took the photo. the moon was gorgeous shining on the winter landscape with snow on the ground. it was actually hard to sleep it was so bright out there. however, i did fall asleep and missed the eclipse. i am glad some of you stalwart souls were out there for it!
i will be out tonight, even though it is only in the 20s here in maryland, since friends are having a solstice celebration with a big bonfire under the full moon! old man winter is here and tonight is the longest night, so be sure and get some sleep.

Re: Sweet Bay (Laurus Nobilis): The Herb of Frankenstein

your title made me read your post! i believe bay to be a noble herb--not at all to be used in the same sentence as frankinstein! you are lucky to have such a big bay tree outside--wowee! i have to bring mine in and out in a pot. you should feel blessed--although shade in the herb garden is generally not what we want.
for some yummy herb recipe look at my bay herb of the year 2009 post!
happy herbing!

Re: QUESTION: What Is This Plant?

looks like a plectranthus to me--could be a silver leaf or a cuban oregano. i can't tell from the pic--if i could rub it and smell it i would know for sure! (they are sort of stinky).

Re: Savory Spanakopita

thanks paoli cook--wholefoods, and most other healthfood stores sell the wholewheat, or at least the unbleached flour filo. it keeps in the freezer for a long while. gosh when i was in greece, i was astounded to find 11 kinds of filo at the grocery store! they have a thicker one that i just loved--didn't have to use as many sheets. remember, i use olive oil to brush on the layers instead of melted butter, which tastes wonderful and is much better for our health!
susan

Re: Outstanding Oreganos and Mild-Mannered Marjoram

dear mary,
good job--we have to keep our pollinators happy!
susan

Re: Once in a Blue Moon...Happy New Year!

hi ruth and gersha,
happy 2010! it was freezing rain here last night in maryland zone 7 so i wasn't able to see the full blue moon. however i could feel it and when i turned off the lights to go to bed, it was if lights were on outside it was so illuminated even through the cloud cover.
today i've been by the woodstove working on my calendar for 2010! i better take advantage of the downtime now because spring and summer are already booked! right now i have a pot of leftover soup warming on top of the woodstove for dinner so i don't even have to cook! now that is comfort...
cheers!susan

Re: Winter Solstice: Celebrate the Light

thanks! the chimney sweep and the mushroom picker are my favorites. they have been passed on from my mom's collection--my sisters and i display them every year.
i'll leave them out until after the new year. then the dried greens are used in the woodstove. the fir needles are already dropping all over the floor from the christmas tree.
i love the smell of the greens in the house. in fact, i created a new spritzer for the season which i call herbal holiday spritzer and spray about the house ( i also gave many as gifts). it has essential oils of pine, juniper, cedarwood, rosemary, eucalyptus, sandalwood and vetiver. wow. it sure does spruce the place up!

Re: The Hardy Cucurbits: The Wonderful World of Winter Squash and Pumpkin

dear muck and chris,
yes the heirlooms are wonderful--i find their flavor is superior to many other hybrid varieties. they are not hard to grow--just need traveling space for the curcurbit vines to wander. sometimes i don't realize how many squash are out there until harvest time; then i follow the vines through the weeds and find vegetable booty! i'll talk about planting them come spring. meanwhile enjoy them now in soups, stews, cakes, pies, breads and more.
susan

Re: To The Burren and Back!

dear jada,
i am a confessed aficionado and eat chiles everyday. last night i made rajas which is one of my most favorite things. saute strips of roasted green chiles with onion and slivered garlic until soft and wilted. season with a little salt and pepper and even toasted cumin if you like, cover with grated cheddar, put the lid on and let the cheese melt. serve with warmed wholewheat tortillas (and a margarita!) yummmm! you can do this with the frozen ones too.:)

dear roz,
wow, i am sorry that we didn't connect beforehand. now that i know you are there, i will let you know when i am coming back. you are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country! it truly is an emerald isle except for the rocky parts. does it rain all of the time in the winter?
yes, we should all be eating our greens now! i love them in so many ways--yes greens and beans--makes a great soup too!
happy harvest season!
susan

Re: Spiders in the Garden

hi chris,
good for you!--people should realize how beneficial spiders are to us. if you don't like them indoors, catch them and put them outside. i do this with a cup or a glass and slide a stiff piece of paper underneath and then take them to the door and release them. i taught this to my kids too. one year for christmas i found these really cool long-handled see-through insect catchers with little sliding doors and gave them to everybody. the kids were so interested in using them they forgot to be scared of them and the elders in the family really liked them. it is called a bug trapper and sold through lee valley tools; made in england by environmentally sensitive people.
cheers,
susan

Re: Getting Familiar with My Irish Roots

hi jada,
i love potatoes too. small leeks are just as good as big ones--they are worthwhile growing them regardless. smaller ones aren't as tough as some of those ones i call horse leeks!
i bet if you oven-roasted those rutabagas with some other root vegetables, fresh sage leaves, and garlic cloves drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, you might like them. i also stew them with other root vegetables, a few bay leaves,and onions or leeks and garlic with a can of tomatoes added and 1/2 cup red wine. let it all cook together until the veggies are tender and the sauce is rich and thick. ladle into bowls and garnish with some sour cream and chives! yum.
thanks for writing and i'll post a few more stories about ireland.
susan

Re: Fall Planting of Cole Crops

hi leslie,
you will be so glad that you planted all of those greens! golly, you will probably be able to start harvesting them in less than a month now. you go girl!
happy gardening, susan

Re: The Gardeners' Exchange

es violas--thanks for catching this--you are correct that this is an oriental lily rather than an asiatic--and its fragrance filled the whole room!
---susan

Re: The Tomato Sandwich: Summer's Ultimate Food

dear delolds,
ain't it the truth!

for the other vg commentators,
for me the whole idea of the tomato sandwich is the simplicty of it--tomato, bread, and the adornment of good quality mayo along with salt and pepper of course--i am a purist (who rarely deviates from this particular sandwich).

and then there are variations on the theme...which are endless...whatever makes your tastebuds tapdance--go for it.
right now i am favoring the brandywines although the cherokee purple are pretty darn good. sorry for you northerners--guess you'll just have to salivate at the thought of our tomato pleasures.

here is another tomato-type sandwich which makes me happy:
toast nice rustic bread and once cool, rub each piece, both sides with a garlic clove. the clove should disappear as you "grate" it into the toast. place on a plate and drizzle eversolightly with extra-virgin olive oil. lay slices of dead-ripe summer tomatoes on the toast with a few shredded basil leaves and garnish lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. if you want--gently mash the tomatoes onto the bread with the back of a fork--this step releases the juices and holds the tomato slices from slipping around however it is not necessary. buon appetito!

Re: The Tomato Sandwich: Summer's Ultimate Food

dear delolds,
ain't it the truth!

for the other vg commentators,
for me the whole idea of the tomato sandwich is the simplicty of it--tomato, bread, and the adornment of good quality mayo along with salt and pepper of course--i am a purist (who rarely deviates from this particular sandwich).

and then there are variations on the theme...which are endless...whatever makes your tastebuds tapdance--go for it.
right now i am favoring the brandywines although the cherokee purple are pretty darn good. sorry for you northerners--guess you'll just have to salivate at the thought of our tomato pleasures.

here is another tomato-type sandwich which makes me happy:
toast nice rustic bread and once cool, rub each piece, both sides with a garlic clove. the clove should disappear as you "grate" it into the toast. place on a plate and drizzle eversolightly with extra-virgin olive oil. lay slices of dead-ripe summer tomatoes on the toast with a few shredded basil leaves and garnish lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. if you want--gently mash the tomatoes onto the bread with the back of a fork--this step releases the juices and holds the tomato slices from slipping around however it is not necessary. buon appetito!

Re: The Tomato Sandwich: Summer's Ultimate Food

hi chris,
glad you are inpsired; i have been eating a tomato sandwich pretty much everyday now that they are in season. i've toasted the bread before which makes the sandwich more like bruschetta. somehow the softness of the bread with the mayonnaise seems to soak up the juice of the tomato so well. the lemon pepper sounds like an interesting twist--sometimes i add a basil leaf--however mostly i eat my tomato sandwiches unadulterated.
happy herbing!
susan