Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Can't Believe It! Another Herbal Timeout!

Not the typical "Out Weeding" sign this time.  I have left you with a plate of delicious arugula pesto from Jekka's Herb Cookbook to sustain you.  It was delicious and easy to do.  Here is the arugula recipe.  I can't believe we are going away again.  Celebrating 25th anniversary a little early (like a whole year early).  So don't get the band playing yet.  We have to get through this trip and then we can celebrate 24!  I haven't even finished telling you about Vancouver!  Will have a lot to talk about once we are back.  So have a bite and talk amongst yourselves!  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Edible Flowers Potpourri, A Recipe and an OMG Moment Too!

Borage (Borago officinalis) has a wonderful blue flower and is great to make ice cubes for summer drinks.  Has a slight cucumber flavor.  If you need a plant that takes up space in your garden, borage may be the ticket.  Here is a slightly closer photo of the flowers.  You always want to eat organic, non-sprayed flowers, remove those reproductive parts in the center.  It would be the black tips of the borage or eat the petals only.

They are just so pretty in the garden, but they do reseed and can be an issue if you aren't looking for a plant to take up space, this may NOT be the one for you.
Calendulas are the poor man's saffron (Calendula officinalis).  They were used in the early times as color in lots of different dishes.  It does not give the taste of saffron.  You should just be eating the petals of this flower.  We use them in our salads and cookies (a recipe is in the link below).  Way back in 2008 when I started this journey I did a pretty complete post on calendula.  Here it is again, Herb of the Year-Calendula.
Daylilies are one of my favorite edible flowers.  Oh, no, wait, I like nasturtiums more.  Oh, no, well, you get the idea.  That's why I'm giving you a potpourri of flowers.  Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are one of those edible flowers that the whole species are edible.  They make fantastic cups.  You need to take those reproductive parts out of the center and then you can fill them with your favorite salad.  They are also good in a champagne flute filled with ice cream or sorbet and chocolate or fruit sauce.  The lighter colored ones are better.  The red ones tend to bleed their color.  This one in the photo above is called Frans Hals after the artist of the same name from I think the 1950's.  I have the orange one that is along roadsides called (Hemerocallis fulva).  Don't be eating this one from the roadside, because they do spray with pesticides along the roads.  Also it is a very good erosion control for some people, but it has made the invasive species list in some parts of the United States.
My bee balm (Monarda didyma) was blooming the other day when Jekka was in the garden!  I just love this flower.  The hummingbirds love it and it blooms for awhile.  I bet a month or so.  It has blocked off one of the entrances to the back garden and we have let it.  I'm hopefully going to be able to make some bee balm couscous salad before they complete fade away.  It is from Jekka's latest Herb Cookbook.  Again, just use the petals in salads, both greens and fruit.  If you use them in a different way in cooking, please let me know.
The lemon balm is FULL BLOOM!  What you should never let your lemon balm do!  I'm going to be removing lemon balm everywhere next season.  My perennial problem.  Worse than garlic chives.  But my garlic chives are catching up to the lemon balm.  Well, up in the upper corner of my blog, I have posted a new connection for my latest post for The Herb Companion.  Hope you enjoy it.  Muggy and rainy out.  Hope you have a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lady Catherine Visits The National Herb Society Conference

Lady Catherine came for a visit from Lovain in the year 1429 to Pittsburgh in the 2lst century.  I was one of the ladies in waiting looking for light to see.  It was dark in the Medieval Age, but in the 21st century there needed to be light!  She instructed the audience in the duties of a medieval lady.  She mostly had a shy audience, but there was one brave soul in the back of the tent that raised her hand to be mentored.  It was fun Kathleen as always.  Very educational.  Finally, toward the end of the program, the hotel staff brought a floor lamp into the tent to give a touch of light.  It's a little muggy in the herb garden, but the bee balm is in bloom.  A small alphabet of edible flowers!  A favorite time of year for me.  Will show you in tomorrow's post.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The National Herb Society Conference-Friday, June 24, 2011

The Big Day Finally Arrived!
Jekka Showing Us a Display Garden
She Has a Thyme Named After Her-Jekka's Thyme
She Was So Happy to be Finished and Look At Those Ribbons!
Because the Western Pennsylvania Unit Was Host, They Presented Their History
Some of the Western PA Unit with Jekka Overlooking Pittsburgh
Well, Jekka is on a plane back to her beloved herb farm in Bristol, England.  She gave a splendid talk on Friday afternoon.  I think everyone was left wanting more.  Yes, we were in a tent so it was dark.  National picked the tent! The Western Pennsylvania Unit pulled out all of the stops otherwise.  Ladies, you did a fabulous job.  It was all Jekka could talk about.  How impressed she was with everything you did for and with her.  She has a great deal of respect for all of you.  She told me to make sure that I thank all of you from the bottom of her heart.  She was so gracious with everyone.  She loved meeting everyone from all across the country.  There were about 300 people here.  It was quite the busy week.  There was a Catholic conference, the Furries were in town at the Convention Center (people who dress up like animals) and then the Boston Red Sox fans came to town last night.  BTW, they lost the first game!  Who knew the Pirates would beat the Boston Red Sox!  Well, I degress.  It was just crazy at the hotel.  I guess it was OK we were outside under a couple of tents at times!  I entered the Herb Garden Calendar contest and I forgot to vote for me!  We'll see if I'm even selected.  It was just such a delight to spend time with Jekka today.  I will share those experiences for The Herb Companion this week.  Stay tuned.  Hope you had a great day.  I certainly did!  Talk to you later!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Well, They're Both Green!

Here a cute swallowtail caterpillar on the fennel out in the front garden.  This was a bronze fennel just like the one in the back, but it has reverted to green.  Who cares if it attracts these darlings!  We got some heavy rain today and it disappeared for a time and now is hanging upside down again munching away!  Glad we could give it some food.  Did I mention Jekka's in town?  Oh, you know I did.  The Herbal Husband is always glad when we have company coming, semi-clean house!  I'm bringing Jekka by to see the garden before she goes home on Saturday.  I left her to her devices today.  I think there were enough people she didn't miss me.  Have a full day of fun tomorrow and Jekka's speech and book signing and then my herbal friend, Kathleen Gips is in town as well.  Going to help her with her presentation as Lady Catherine.  Plus, I just heard Susanna Reppert from The Rosemary House is coming west.  Jim Long is here.  I'm sure I'll be telling you more tomorrow!  We have an herbal dinner at the wonderful Grand Concourse.  It should be a great day.  Will have photos tomorrow.
Jekka asked me last night if I had tried the arugula pesto recipe in her new cookbook.  Well, no, oh yes, we have and it is delish!  We sort of made it our own.  We filled a food processor container with arugula leaves, a couple of cups maybe. I have an original Cuisinart food processor.  Put a couple of glugs of olive oil in, a couple tablespoons of lemon juice, some lemon zest, about 1/4 cup of nuts (the recipe calls for pine nuts, we used pecans), the recipe calls for 2 cloves of garlic (we used one), about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and we added about 1/4 cup of feta cheese and then whiz it all around until smooth and taste and adjust if necessary.  We didn't need any extra salt because of the salty feta cheese.  It was really good!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Well, She is Here in the 'Burgh!

I did make Jekka a welcoming tussie mussie that got a little wilted in the heat.  She didn't want to take a photo with it because she had had a long day!
I also gave her a bag with the two articles from the local papers and a small jar of horseradish jelly.  She was quite pleased with the publicity.  Hopefully, some more local people will come and join us for her talk on Friday.  It is entitled "Herbs are More than a Garnish" at 1:15 PM at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel.  The public is invited to attend for only $15 available at the door.  She will also be signing her books afterwards.  So sleep tight tonight Jekka.  Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania Unit are happy to have you.

Just Keep Getting Gifts!

Now you can see this arrangement has several different sides in a terracotta watering can.  Lots of beautiful fragrant flowers.  I will show it to you when I can.  My friend, Paula, gave it to me for picking up Jekka at the airport!  I'm thinking of starting an herbal car service!  Well, maybe not.  Weather still warm and sticky.  Front may be through the area just in time for Jekka's arrival later on.  Hope you are all having a wonderful day.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Great Way to Kick Off A Conference!

There were Printed Invitations!
It Was Quite The Menu Based on Jekka's Herb Cookbook!
The Buffet Table
My Dinner Plate
A Massive Purple Sage or Maybe More than One!
Wooly Thyme Between the Stepping Stones
The Quilt That Will be Raffled Off At the Conference!
I feel fortunate that I was invited to tonight's dinner.  Most of these ladies that were there have been working very hard for awhile now to get ready for the next several days and the national conference that will showcase Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.  Like some of them said it will be gone in a flash!  It was a very well conceived and executed supper!  It was delicious.  They used recipes from Jekka's Herb Cookbook.  I will definitely be making some of the recipes.  The last two photos are of my friend, Paula's garden or should I say herb plants that make me envious!  That purple sage is a real specimen plant or maybe plants.  I'm jealous for sure.  The wooly thyme between the stepping stones is a perfect use.  I would love a path through my garden like that. The very last photo is of the quilt that was worked on my members of the Western Pennsylvania Unit and will be raffled off at the Conference!  A beautiful job.  The members used the Elizabethan Garden which is one of the Units pet projects as their template and printed the fabric using herbs.  May have to buy some tickets for that beauty!    It was a great evening, Paula!  Thanks for including me in the celebration.  Now the countdown starts until Jekka arrives tomorrow night.  I'll fill you in tomorrow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It All Started With This Photo!

I sent this photo into the photo contest for Renee's Garden Seeds.  They are a favorite seed company of mine.  This wasn't quite the photo they wanted, but I thought I would give them a laugh for the day!  Lookie what I got in the mail over the weekend.  I'm not sure that I won, but free seeds at any point makes it feel like I won!
The June e-newsletter will have the winners!  Since my photo wasn't of your kitty eating their cat treat seeds, I sorta think I got a consolation prize, but it was free!  I was correct.  Kitty was only hoping for Cat Treat seeds and thinking about them while sitting in the bush!  Very muggy outside!  It finally rained overnight and some people got flooded!  Can't win!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Homage to Jekka!

Did I mention Jekka's coming this week to Pittsburgh?  Oh, yes, I think I did!  Patricia Lowry did a wonderful article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday about Jekka.  I think she will be pleased.  Here is a link to the article called Jekka's Herb Cookbook.  I cooked the two recipes for dinner this evening.  They were both hits with The Herbal Husband and me.
The Herbal Husband Found the Biggest Purslane in His Garden!

Purslane and Spinach Salad

Oregano and Lemon Pan-Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes
It is a long article about Jekka and the recipes are included.  We added some arugula to the salad for some kick because we didn't have a whole lot of purslane.  What we did have, we enjoyed.  I think you will enjoy both recipes of them.  Jekka's Herb Cookbook is available at all of the big bookstores and at with beautiful photos by Hannah McVicar, her daughter.  I have a busy week with the Herb Society in town.  I'll try to blog about my adventures.  Hot and humid here.  No Rain!  We need it badly!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sometimes It's About Friends-Our Trip to Vancouver!

The Lengths Some People Go to Keep Squirrels Off the Feeder!
Pete's Herb Garden
A Bay Tree in the Neighborhood
Loved the Name of This Company--Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap!
Really, an Elephant in the Front Yard!
The Skyline of Vancouver
Granville Island
Walked Miles for This Lunch, Pasta Carbonara!
Tiramisu!  Had to Help the Herbal Husband!
Pete Playing Some Jazz for Us!
We didn't spend all of our time with the nephew and his family on this trip.  The Herbal Husband had a Peruvian high school friend who he hadn't seen in 50 years.  So we met him at his apartment and then walked to lunch!  It was Victoria Day so it was a national holiday for many people and businesses.  Unfortunately the Peruvian restaurant where he wanted to go was closed because of Victoria Day.  So we ended up at an Italian restaurant very close by.  Fortunately it was open and it had very good food. Very nice day outside.  Getting those sticks and strings back out.  The Chinese Chestnut is blooming and the smell drove me inside to do this post!  Hope you had a great day wherever in the world you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, June 17, 2011

St. Fiasco (I mean Fiacre) Obscured!

Poor St. Fiasco (I mean Fiacre).  I'm constantly moving the poor statute to a better place.  I thought I had it, but in the back of my mind in early spring, I thought bad place for the feverfew!  I was right again!  The feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium or Chrysanthemum parthenium) is beautiful though.  This is a double blooming white variety.  I do like the single flowered feverfew that looks like a daisy!  I did take feverfew capsules for headaches when I was younger.  It did seem to help.  I might have had cluster headaches.  Migraines can be very debilitating.  Some people use feverfew for that as well.  Nothing to fool around with.  Please do your research and do not totally rely on my words as gospel!

Will get back to some photos of our trip from the Northwest over the weekend.  Big week next week!  The national Herb Society of America conference will start!  Jekka arrives in town!  And guess who has been asked to pick her up at the airport!  Little old ME!  Very excited.  Hope you have a good day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Accent Herb and A Recipe to Use It!

Our bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'bronze')  is looking pretty good this year.  It does like full sun and it is hardy to Zone 5 easily.  This fennel doesn't create a bulb, but you can use the feathery leaves and seeds just as you would the regular fennel.  I love it because it adds a foliage accent to your herb or perennial garden.  It has a nice licorice or anise flavor.  I use it when I bake fish in the oven for myself.  I place a nice piece of whitefish like tilapia, flounder or cod in a baking dish.  Add the fennel with some fresh bread crumbs on top, add a couple of tablespoons of white wine or stock.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Melt a tablespoon of butter and add some garlic powder to it.  Take fish out, pour butter/garlic mixture on top.  Place back in the oven for additional minute.  Yummy!

You just want to make sure that once the bronze fennel starts producing flower stalks that you let some of it come to seed, but most of it you want to cut.  You will have an abundance of bronze fennel in your garden if you don't.  They are buggers to remove!  It like dill and regular fennel has a long taproot, so pick a spot where you want it to grow and do not try to move it.  It will resent the move!  I forgot to mention that bronze fennel like the green version regular fennel and dill are larval food for swallowtail butterflies.  Always a good thing.  I hope you are having a great day and evening wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Usually Don't Show This Angle of the Garden!

This is our veggie/all purpose (a nice word for mixed up) garden.  Our garlic is looking good and the potatoes have started to bloom.  We are going to have grapes this year unlike last year.  I just got through mowing.  Slowly I'm trying to get rid of the grass.:)  Some would call the back of our property "historic" because it has so many dandelions!  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Going to be wet the next two days.  My lavender is in need of cutting and it may not get done with the rain!  Oh, well, the bees will still benefit!  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well, It's More Like Jelly!

Is This Enough Roses for the Recipe?  I Needed Four Cups of Petals.
This is the Tedious Part.  Cutting That Little White Part Off.
Four Cups of Petals All Ready to Go!
With Some to Spare for Potpourri!
At the Beginning of the Cooking Process
The Stage Where You Can Take Out the Rose Pulp or Leave Some in!
At this stage, the petals looked liked used tissues.  I didn't like the effect and so I took all of the petals out just pressing all of the juice out.  It wasn't difficult.  Here is the finished product.
All Natural Color, No Food Coloring Used!
I really love the clarity of jelly.  I just think it is so beautiful.  I'm happy with how it turned out.  Now if it sets.  I should know in the morning.  Here is the recipe in its original state from The Herb Companion magazine.


Makes about 4 pints

  • 6 cups water
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 4 cups fragrant red rose petals, washed, with white heels removed
  • 1 Tablespoon of rose water  (My roses were not highly fragrant)
  • 1 packet powdered pectin
  • 6 cups sugar

1. Heat the water and lemon juice in a saucepan, add the rose petals, and simmer for 10 minutes. With a wooden spoon, squeeze most of the petal pulp against the edge of the pan to release the juice. Leave a small amount of pulp in the pan for texture.

2. Return the liquid to a simmer and sprinkle in the pectin. Stir until dissolved. Add the sugar.

3. Increase the heat and boil vigorously for 7 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Immediately place the jam in hot sterilized jars and seal.

As you can see from the photos, I didn't have red roses and it gave this wonderful color despite that fact.  So I hope you make the recipe and try whatever pleases you.  I will probably not be making the rose jam muffins either!  I'll let you know in tomorrow's post if the jelly has set.  It was a cool day here.  Hope you are having a great day.  The folks in New Zealand are again having problems.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all.  Talk to you later.