Sunday, October 23, 2016

Been Busy in the Herb Garden and Celebrating the 2016 Herb of the Year with a Jelly Recipe!

Rosemary Sherry Jelly Was One of 19 Batches of Herbal Jelly Made!
Last Pouches of Certo Used for Hot Pepper Jelly!
Keep Finding the Ladies!  This Time on Mint!
Mexican Sage--A Late Tall Bloomer in the Garden!
One Last Monarch on the Butterfly Bush!
One Last Gasp for Our Grape Arbor!
My Favorite Flowered!
This certainly has been a different year for me in the herb garden.  I have probably had years like this before.  As I get older my May trips to England affect the herb garden and the stresses have been weather related as well.  All of the photos above are from October.  I had a brain freeze about my jelly choices and fortunately I have a couple of the Western Reserve Unit of the Herb Society of America's cookbooks which saved me for flavors.  Thanks to all of those wonderful herb ladies for their inspiration  The hot pepper jelly recipe is from The Herbal Pantry by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead.  As you can see in the photo, the peppers are suspended in the jelly which makes for a great presentation.  Here is their recipe with my notations in parentheses.

Hot Pepper Jelly
Makes 6-1/2 8 oz. jars (The half I will use for us.)
Recipe says it makes 8 8 oz. jars.  For me, it did not.

"An appealing combination of sweet and hot, this jelly is extremely good with chicken or lamb, or with cream cheese as an hors d'oeuvre.  Also you can use this as a glaze for ribs during the last 15 minutes of grilling or baking in the oven."

1 cup minced green bell pepper
1/2 cup minced hot red pepper, or to taste
1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
6-1/2 cups sugar
6 ounces (2 pouches) liquid pectin

Combine the peppers, vinegar, and sugar in a non-aluminum saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and boil gently for 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.  (Quickly stir in the pectin and return to heat and boil exactly one minute).  Remove from heat and (Stir for a couple of minutes at least.  I stirred for 5 minutes.  Probably too much time because the Certo really started to go gloppy.  I think when you see the pepper pieces suspended you will know it is enough.)  Put carefully (because it is already just about set up) into sterilized jars that have been boiled previously for 10 minutes and use two piece rings and lids to cover.  Place the lids in hot water until ready to use.  You don't have to boil the rings.  Place all jars into a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  As long as you hear that ping after the jars come out and the lids have sealed down, they are canned.  If the lid has not sealed, place them in the refrigerator and use them promptly.

"Note:  If the only hot peppers available are green, use a red rather than a green bell pepper."

In herb garden news, I did lose some herbs from the heat and dry weather.  We did have some winners from the annuals planted especially the Mexican sage which is blooming its head off at the moment.  Love those tall late blooming herbs!  And the beneficials are still around and you can participate just like me at Lost Ladybug Project, a project of Cornell University to find those lost ladybugs.  We also actually had a monarch last week as well.  Sadly not too many of them these days.  The grape arbor is finally going to be replaced.  Need the help of our neighbor, but hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks!  Maybe a Halloween treat!  And then finally our crowning achievement is that the lemon verbena both in the container and in the ground thrived so much so that they both bloomed.  Very excited!

Well, those are some of the high points of the herb garden this season.  Did cut my chives and chop them for my container in the freezer.  Did make a touch more purple basil vinegar.  Do have a small bush of mint marigold or Texas tarragon to harvest before the cold sets in.  Oh and some of the parsley will be cut and frozen for Parsley Dill soup.  And finally will clip back the lemon verbena in the ground and I am going to experiment with covering it with a fiberglass cover make for roses.  Maybe it will help bring it back.  It really like the space we put it in.

The herbal containers will be coming in the next two weeks.  Have also started several projects of cross-stitch, so I will post about the garden when I can.  The months are flying by with such speed and I don't seem to want to write as much as I used to.  A beautiful day in the herb garden and I'm inside posting here.  Hope you are doing well wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

One Last Gasp of Summer, Herbally Speaking!

Can't stay away for too long!  Had too much going on not to talk about it, herbally speaking!  Had an herbal brain freeze over what jellies to make this year.  So I pulled out one of my many herbal cookbooks and came up with ideas.  This is the last gasp for the cinnamon basil.  So one more time to make cinnamon basil jelly this year.  And BTW the photo in the recipe for scented basil jelly is mine.  Just tooting my herbal horn!  Will make this short and will clean up the size of photos at a later date.  Not every day blogging just when I think you will benefit from a post.  Lots of rain in a short amount of time!  We are going to have some sun this week.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you are!  Talk to you later!
Cinnamon Basil on the Chopping Block!

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Break Is In Order!

Thought posting once a week would work.  Now that is even not appealing.  So I am going to take a break of unspecified length.  Don't worry, nothing is wrong just would like to do things without thinking about it as a blog post.  I also am getting back into my needlework and would just like to work on it.  No, not going to start a Needlework blog.  At this writing I have almost 100 jars of raspberry jam made and not much else done in the herb garden.  Soo I hope to get back to writing some day.  I will talk to you later.  Take care.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Maybe Once A Week Will Work?

I have had a strange summer season.  I think Pittsburgh has had one of the hottest summers on record.  We are still registering close to 90 here!  Towards the end of the summer, I am usually not as interested in what's going on and even more so when it is hot!  I don't know how my friends in Texas do it every day.  I bow to your love of herbs and gardening!

I blogged every day in July and that was a bit too much.  I just don't have the time any more to blog every day and I was getting a bit long in the tooth, herbally speaking.  So I'm going to try doing a once a week overview of what's been going on.  Since I haven't done a post since late August, I will try to catch you up on my activities and the herb garden.  As you can see it is all about raspberries, sunflowers and a birthday thrown in!  Thank goodness for the raspberries because we aren't going to get enough grapes for jelly because of black rot and we don't have any apples because of a late frost!  It is just the way things go.  The weeds are monstrous as usual.  The Herbal Husband has been doing a lot of things to keep the garden going.  He keeps going as I get lost in everything!  It is getting overwhelming.  I hope that if I am here in the garden early next year, things will go a bit better!

So I am going to try to do an overview once a week of what's been going on.  You can always reach me if you have a question about a specific herb or problem that is occurring in your herb garden.  I am always just a click away!  Won't pin down a specific day of the week that I will post.  Will just try to be here once a week!  BTW, we have the ickies and stickies back and almost 90 the next couple of days!  Yikes!  Always love September's arrival because it brings cooler temperatures.  Not this year!  Talk to you soon!

It Has Been A Great Season for Raspberries!
Tiramisu for My Birthday Dinner!
Me and My Sunflower Posse!
Our Volunteer Sunflowers Were Some of My Favorites!
Unknown Variety of Sunflower!

Unknown Variety of Sunflower

Monday, August 22, 2016

Holy Chive Blossoms!

Been So Wet Even The Slugs Are Attracted to the Chives!
Went out on Saturday to cut fresh chives for my scrambled eggs!  What did I find?  A big, juicy slug!  We usually have small little things!  These are like the Pacific Northwest!  It was actually wrapped around the chive stem.  Not getting to enjoy my chives, Mr. Slug!  Then I gave it as a gift to the birds!  I thought that was very fitting.   Never knew that slugs would be a problem here in the 'Burgh.  Something else to worry about! 

Finally some cooler weather today!  Going out to the garden and try to get some things done that should have been done early!  Hope you are having a fabulous day wherever you may be!  Your box should be in the mail in the morning, Sharon!  Thanks to everyone who participated and who keep me on this herbal journey.  Glad you want to keep learning about herbs.  I do too!  Talk to you later.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

And The Winner Is. . .

Well I just wanted to thank everyone who participated in my little herbal giveaway and for all the lovely comments both here and on Facebook.  You are why I am still writing this little herbal blog.  You keep me inspired even though I may not be blogging each day.  As custom dictates, The Herbal Husband pulled the name out of the cheese basket.  Soo the winner of the herbal box is:
Congratulations!  Please send me your mailing address to my Gmail account and we will get your box in the mail.  There may be an extra surprise in the box as well.  I HAVE HEARD FROM THE WINNER!  
We are going to be cooler and less humid today.  Hopefully easier to work in the garden.  Talk to you later.
The Infamous Cheese Basket!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Garden in the Park Field Day, North Park, Allegheny County, PA--Saturday, August 20, 2016!

The Trial Gardens of Annuals
The Monument to the War Veterans and Herb Garden

Mailbox for Leaving Questions and Comments
A Beautiful and Lush Herb Garden!
Basil Envy!
Pot of Herbes de Provence!
Part of the Pollinator Gardens!
More Basil Envy and the Garden Marketplace!
Tomato Tasting, Plant Sale, Garlic and Basil Tasting and Produce Sold!
Tents of Local Community Action Groups and Organizations!
Well, we have come to another year in the North Park Demonstration Gardens with the Allegheny County Master Gardeners.  A group that I hold near and dear to my heart because I was a part of this organization for ten years.  This day is a wonderful tribute to the work that the master gardeners do in the community and in this particular garden.  There was also a Garden in the Park day in South Park.  Really these ladies and gentlemen work their tails off to get ready for four hours of tastings, including Penn State Creamery ice cream and tours of the trial gardens and answering questions about plants and critters.  It is a fun day for the kids and adults. 

Not only a demonstration garden for local greenhouses, but this year trial plants from the Southeast Agricultural Research Extension (SEAREC), which is located in Landisville, PA, have been planted in the North Park Demonstration Garden. All the plants are labeled with their botanical names, and the breeder.  No matter how much I think I know about plants there is always something new to learn.

In the herb garden which is located in a stone bed around the monument for the veterans, they had different tastings and herbal drinks which were needed on a very warm and humid day.  They also shared a recipe to make an version of herbes de Provence which are a combination of heat loving herbs commonly found in the south of France which include all or some of the following:

Summer savory
Culinary Lavender (any of the Lavendula angustifolia types)

This blend reminds me of France and would be easy to make now with the abundance of fresh herbs to dry in our gardens.  Just brush a bit of olive oil on a piece of chicken or fish and sprinkle with the Provence mix and cook on the grill, in the oven or on the stove top.

All in all it was a wonderful day at Garden in the Park Field Day in North Park!  So don't forget that tomorrow is the end for signing up for the giveaway.  Please click on the link to sign up for the herbal box here.  We are still hot and humid here in the 'Burgh!  Overnight we are supposed to get a front through that will cool us off and take the humidity away.  Can't wait for that!  Talk to you tomorrow with the winner's name!   
Another View of the Lush Herb Garden!

Monday, August 15, 2016

If The Garlic Chives Are Blooming, It Must Be August and Other Herbal Thoughts!

Fall Is Approaching!
August means a couple of things for me in the herb garden!  Garlic chives will bloom and you must keep the flower heads clipped to keep them from spreading far and wide.  Also you need to be thinking about what you will be bringing inside in containers, harvesting plants for drying and/or freezing (which really you should have been doing all along) and for me I need to take stock of what herbs I will make into jelly.  Most of you don't have to worry about that.

Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) do have a place in the herb garden.  The leaves give that garlic flavor that may be more palatable for some including me.  The white flowers add a pop of brightness to all of the other flowers in the herb garden and they keep attracting those wonderful pollinators that we need.  I just try to keep my garlic chives in a clump and dig out the extras.  They are a beautiful perennial addition to the herb garden.

It has been like a sauna and monsoon season at the same time here in the 'Burgh!  The herb garden is definitely lush.  The weeds are rampant as well!  Hopefully you have had a great day wherever you may be.  Don't forget my giveaway.  You can click on this link to leave a comment and hopefully win.  An All Homemade Herbal Giveaway!  The giveaway ends on Sunday, August 21, 2016 at Noon!  One entry per person please! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

An All Homemade Herbal Giveaway for My Eighth Blogversary! This Contest is Closed!

Homemade Fruit Jam and Herbal Jellies!
A Bottle of Purple Basil Vinegar!
Spiced Lavender Potpourri and a Selection of Herbal Teas Too!
Well, I have finally gotten around to putting together a giveaway for my readers in the continental United States.  Postage prices have just skyrocketed and so I must keep this giveaway to the lower 48 states.  As you can see above, you will get one jar of each of the following:

                                                  Raspberry Jam
                                                  Savory Grapefruit Jelly
                                                  Rose Geranium Jelly
                                                  Pineapple Sage Jelly
                                                  Tarragon Wine Jelly

I am including a bottle of Purple Basil Vinegar and a jar of Spiced Lavender PotpourriThe tea selections will be 5 bags each of the Herbs of Shakespeare, Love of Lemon and Chamomile.  So the box may not be the biggest, but you will get the essence of my herb garden and the joy I have when I make these products.

So if you want to win this box, please leave a comment on this post or make a comment on the post on my Facebook timeline.  YOU MUST BE A RESIDENT OF THE LOWER 48 STATES OF THE UNITED STATES TO WIN.  The contest will be open until next Sunday, August 21, 2016 at Noon E.D.T.  Good luck!  One entry per person please!

We have the extreme ickies and stickies here!  Just looking outside makes you drip!  It is quite seriously dangerous heat wise!  Lots of lightning and thunder and some downpours!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!