Thursday, November 20, 2014

They Said What About My Favorite, Lemon Verbena? Part Two


Lemon Verbena Hanging Out in the Kitchen Sink!
Well, I didn't imagine I would become so engrossed in this topic.  I'm sort of obsessed with finding the source of the dermatitis remarks.  So here is a second wave of fun herbal factoids that I have found.  Yes, I did find another source of the sensitivity issue and it comes from across the pond.

I will start with the earliest factoid not about the sensitivity issue.  In Sybil Leek's Book of Herbs (1980) she says that lemon verbena "relieves harsh, barking coughs, which can be a strain on the heart."

Taylor's Guide to Herbs (1995) Edited by Rita Buchanan says "It is recommended for colds, headaches, colic, dyspepsia and fever.  Rub leaves in pets' fur to repel fleas and on yourself to repel mosquitoes."  I will be trying that last tip about mosquitoes and will let you know!

The Illustrated Book of Herbs (1996) by Barbara Hey talks about putting a handful of lemon verbena in the vacuum to perfume the air.  She also talks about stinkbugs in dry conditions are a problem for lemon verbenas.  She talks about using paraffin in a can with a stick.  I just use a jar with soapy water in it.  You do have to be adept at getting them.  I have gotten pretty good.  So good that they tattoo my hands with an orange coloring!  Ms. Hey says if you miss them, a lizard may take care of them for you.  I think I might get a pet lizard!

Paul Seitz in The Complete Herb Gardener (1996) says protect lemon verbena from rust.  My lemon verbenas never get rust (knock on wood) but I must remember that other parts of the country may have this disease affecting lemon verbenas.  He also says "use only small amounts and not over a prolonged period of time."

Deni Bown in Herbal (2001) and in her Encyclopedia of Herbs for the Herb Society of America (1995 or 96) says "the essential oil was once popular in perfumery, notably in a citrus-scented cologne know as eau de verveine. (My favorite summertime perfume!) Its use declined following evidence that it may sensitize the skin to sunlight."  I'm going to being looking into her bibliography and seeing her sources and if I can find a much earlier source.

Sarah Baker the Editor of Herbaceous (2003) talks about powdery mildew as a problem for lemon verbena!  In SW Pennsylvania, I have never heard of this disease as a problem for lemon verbena.

In the Reader's Digest The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs (2013) Barbara Booth, Editor talks about a common name for lemon verbena as lemon beebrush.  In cooking, the leaves are best used fresh and young.  Use sparingly, otherwise the flavor can overwhelm the food and be reminiscent of lemon-scented soap!  This book originally was published in Australia.  I just have never had the taste of lemon-scented soap in any cooking or baking where I have used lemon verbena.  I guess just stick with the recipes suggestions as far as amounts of lemon verbena used and you should be fine.

In Culinary Herbs & Spices of the World (2013) Ben-Erik Van Wyk talks about growing lemon verbena from seed.  He is from South Africa and maybe you can grow lemon verbena from seed there.  Have you ever seen a packet of lemon verbena seeds?  I would love to find them if they exist.  I would still suggest taking cutting from your existing plant to make new plants.

So Deni Bown is another author talking about sensitivity to lemon verbena.  I am on a quest.  Looking for that very old source.  I'll let you know what else I find.

It is very cold here in the 'Burgh.  We are going to moderate over the weekend.  So sorry for the Buffalo area!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Monday, November 17, 2014

They Said What About My Favorite, Lemon Verbena?

An Interesting Insect on My Favorite!
I've gone into overdrive inside with herbal chores, but I took some time out the other day to pick up a couple or more books and checked out what they had to say about lemon verbena.  I was surprised by what I found.

In the Handbook on Culinary Herbs from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1982) said under Horticultural Use:   "No special horticultural value" -- that hurts!  It is a very beautiful plant that doesn't overpower the herb garden and has a fabulous lemon smell.  Very special horticultural value if you ask me!

Jane Newdick in The Magic of Herbs (1991) talks about "infusing leaves to make a mouth cleanser; lemon verbena is said to strength teeth and gums as well as prevent tooth decay."  I will be using this tip!

In The Complete Book of Herbs (1994) by Andi Clevely and Katherine Richmond say "hot leaf pulp is effective against toothache.   Caution:  Large doses or prolonged use can cause internal irritation.  Also they have a recipe for a lemon verbena hair rinse.  It stimulates the pores and circulation.  1 handful of lemon verbena leaves and l cup boiling water.  1.   Pour the boiling water over the lemon verbena leaves and leave to soak for at least 1 hour.  2.  Strain the mix and discard the leaves.  Pour this rinse over your hair after conditioning."

Stephen Orr in The American Herbal (2014) talks about "large doses of lemon verbena tea can cause gastric irritation."  I would hope that would be an extreme amount!

But in the next book I read, Jekka McVicar says in Herbs for the Home (1995) "that a cup of tea before bedtime is refreshing and has mild sedative properties; it can also soothe bronchial and nasal congestion and ease indigestion.  However, long-term use may cause stomach irritation."  The next time I have sleep difficulties or indigestion, I will try a cup of my favorite, lemon verbena.

In Homegrown Tea (2014) which started this whole idea about this post, Cassie Liversidge gives a warning about lemon verbena that it "can occasionally cause skin irritation when touched, as the leaves are slightly rough.  Handle with gloves if your skin is sensitive.  Known to cause contact dermatitis, so handle with care."  I just have never heard of this in any other book until...

Rodale's 21st Century Herbal (2014) by Michael J. Balick gives the same caution as Cassie Liversidge--"Caution:  lemon verbena can cause contact dermatitis in some people."  I looked in an earlier version of Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987) and it isn't mentioned in it.

So I am going to continue my research because I would like to get to the bottom of the causes dermatitis issue and because I have had dermatitis problems with angelica.  Fortunately, I have not had dermatitis issues with my beloved lemon verbena!  My search hasn't ended.  If any readers have a early dermatitis passage on lemon verbena, please share it.  Thanks!  

Hope you have had a great day.  The snow never materialized here.  There were flakes in the air but no snow on the ground.  A couple very cold nights and one cold day and we will be back to normal by the weekend.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Been Busy in My Herbal Work Space!


Somehow I Never Get a Really Cleaned Up Work Table This Time of Year!
We Recycle Everything Including Pill Containers for...
The Perfect Insect Trap!  Not What I Had In Mind!
Don't Always Get a Chance to Use Everything I Dry!
Even Though I Have Been Drying Herbs For a Long Time, This Still Happens!

Cleveland Sage Potpourri
One of My Favorite Books by Ann Lovejoy
Well, it is the time of year that my work table and space are overloaded with herbal treasures.  It is also the time of year to discover what is lurking in those opened containers used for dried herbs and what herbs need to be recycled because they are moldy!

I have had pretty good luck recently.  Not too much has gone to waste.  I have had some Cleveland Sage sit on my work table for a couple of years in an airtight container.  So I have put it to good use in a potpourri from The Sage Garden by Ann Lovejoy.  My cousin who is an architect has worked with Ms. Lovejoy in the Bainbridge Island, WA area.  It is a small world sometimes.

Cleveland Sage Potpourri

1 cup dried Cleveland sage foliage
1 cup dried rose petals
1 cup dried lavender leaves and flowers
1 cup dried sweet Annie foliage
2-inch section of a vanilla bean
2 tablespoons dried rosemary foliage
1 tablespoon dried orange zest
1 tablespoon ground orris root (fixative)
2 to 3 drops clary sage oil
2 to 3 drops rose oil

Toss dried leaves and flowers gently (like a salad).  Add orange zest and orris root and stir carefully to blend.  Dot essential oils over the whole and shake gently.  Store in an oversized, tightly closed jar or container (mixture should fill container about halfway) for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking container once or twice a week while melding.  To use, put 1/2 cup of mixture into a bowl and set in a room that needs refreshing or use in sachets.  Store remaining mixture in tightly covered jar out of direct light.

The Cleveland sage has a very sharp, crisp scent of sage.  The common sage smell is a little more muted.  I was overwhelmed by the sweet Annie as it can be potent!  I used a lot more rosemary than it says (I used a cup!)  I think it will turn out just fine.  Hope you had a productive day wherever you may be.  We worked out in the herb garden cutting annuals back and getting sticks, strings and Velcro out before we may get a bit of snow tomorrow!  We are going to get mostly rain, but snow is supposed to stick!  I'll take some photos if it does!  Our neighbors in Ohio have had a big dose already!  Talk to you later.

Friday, November 14, 2014

End of the Season in the Herb Garden!

Bye, Bye Pineapple Sage!
Really the growing season in the herb garden was a very long one this year!  The pineapple and tangerine sages have finally bit the dust for another season.  Hopefully one or both of them will seed in the garden for next year.  The tangerine sage was the one to do it this year.  Maybe the pineapple sage will come back next year.  It has happened in other seasons.  You never know.

I live with a lot of canning jars and I'm hoping that one of my master gardening friends who does a harvest class will take them off my hands.  We are still working on how many, but it is going to be a bunch!  Even though I eat a milked up version of tomato sauce, I'm going to be making two more batches of sauce and that will end my quart canning days.  I'll just stick (pun intended) to making jam and jelly until it isn't fun any more or I ruin a few too many batches.

Hope you had a great day.  It definitely wasn't outside for us.  Crisp, cold and sunny day.  Very little snow unlike our neighbors in Ohio.  Glad you didn't send the snow this way!  We are working on various projects inside.  I need to clear off my work table and get my artemisia tree, potpourri and other projects started and finished.  Time is flying by!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Another Perfect Gift Giving Suggestion, The Essential Herbal Magazine!

Under the Sun, the first five years Volume One
By The Hearth, the first five years Volume Two
Through the Seasons in One Huge Herbal Volume 2008-2012
A Fun Herbal Magazine Written by Herbie People for Herbie People!
I'm still an old fashioned kind of herbal person.  I love books and magazines that I can hold and sniff and cherish!  The world doesn't always agree with me these days!  Here is a local publication (because it is from my home state of Pennsylvania) that is all herbal and written by many talented herbal people called The Essential Herbal Magazine.

Tina Sams and her band of herbie enthusiasts write about what's on their herbal minds, the latest trends and controversies in herbs, herbal recipes and everything else about herbs you can think of and maybe some topics you hadn't thought of.  The first three photos are compilations of the first five years in two volumes, Under The Sun and By The Hearth and she has just come out with a huge herbal volume from 2008-2012, called Through The Seasons.  It just arrived yesterday and I can already tell it will be a go to guide for me.  I got all three out so I can peruse them again with an herbal cup of tea.

The fourth photo is of the current magazine cover, November-December, 2014.  The magazine is published six times a year for $24 a year in both print or pdf files for digital download.  A bargain at any price in my opinion.  If you are on Facebook, you can like their page and find out when the latest issue is out and on its way to your door or inbox.   There are also a lot of other herbal products like soaps, incenses, salves and balms.  You get the idea.

So again think of your small herbal business owners this time of year.  They are looking to you for support this holiday season and all year round.  It is freezing here but the pineapple sage is hanging in there.  Just going to enjoy it in the herb garden for as long as it is blooming.  And no snow yet!
33 degrees and holding on!
Started to clean out the shelves in the basement!  Monumental job there!  Finding some interesting items!  Will share with you soon.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Beautiful Day in the Garden and More Harvesting Tips, including Fennel Seeds and Parsley!

A Big Blue Sky and a Warm Pleasant Day!
The Containers Got a Sunbath!
Happy in the Sunshine!
Mints, Scented Geranium and Figs (Brown Fig Count 108!)
Planted Garlic!
Time to Harvest Parsley!
A Few Rose Geranium Leaves to Dry!
Bronze Fennel Seeds!
German Chamomile Still Blooming!  Not For Long!
Lemon Eucalyptus Leaves to Dry!
Well, the last nice day to work in the garden was today.  Tomorrow the cold air is coming our way.  Not supposed to be as intense as our neighbors to the north have gotten already.  But it will be a wake up call after the beautiful day we had today.  I got out into the garden and clipped any last leaves of herbs that needed to be harvested.

Fennel seeds should be harvested when they are green not brown.  I just clip the seed heads and throw them in a paper bag until dried.

Green Not Brown for Fennel Seeds
As far as parsley goes, I always have at least three parsley plants each year.  They are a true biennial and produce leaves in their first year and go to seed in the second year.  Not completely a bad thing because swallowtail caterpillars love parsley in its second year.  Back to the story, I somehow got three second year parsley plants to start this year.  They went to seed and disappeared!  Only got one parsley to replace them.  So I pretty much do the same technique that I use for chives.  I do a parsley dill soup in the winter that uses a cup of parsley leaves in the recipe.  I just use a small Chinese takeout container and place a cup of leaves in each container.  I always try to mark what it is (in case I lose my herbal mind) and the date.  Then just place them in the freezer.  I always try to use my freezer harvest up before the end of winter.

A Cup of Parsley to Go Into the Freezer!
I also cut to dry rose scented pelargonium leaves, lemon eucalyptus, coconut scented pelargonium leaves (not sure that they will dry well).  Just wanted to mention that the vinegars I made two weeks ago are ready to decant.  Have to find some small bottles and it may be one more addition to my Christmas basket/box this year!  Stay tuned.

Hope you had a great day outside if you were in the eastern half of the U.S.  I really enjoyed it.  Here is a last look at the pineapple sage.  The bees were still trying to get nectar from it this afternoon.
Bee Enjoying the Blossoms of the Pineapple Sage!
A Beautiful End to a Day in the Herb Garden!
Talk to you later.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Herbal Beginnings, Herbal Choices, Herbal Passions and Herbal Blessings! An Herbal Gift for Giving!

Well, I had to give it away in the title of my post!  It isn't about my life in herbs!  I'm going to try and give you some gift choices for the upcoming holiday season.  By all means, if you have an herb shop or herb farm in your vicinity and they are open for holiday shopping, please patronize them!  I have a bunch of links on my home page and maybe they will do mail order if they aren't around the corner from you.  Remember to patronize the small businesses.

I have been wanting to do a post about the four books in an herbal series by herb farm owner extraordinaire, Carolee Snyder.  Her herb business is called Carolee's Herb Farm in Hartford City, Indiana.  The series is all about the adventures of Callie Gardener.  Each of the four books has twelve monthly chapters.  At the end of each chapter, Carolee talks about an herb of the month.  The last chapter of each book has herbal recipes for four different courses.  Herbal Beginnings has appetizers and cocktails, Herbal Choices has soups and salads, Herbal Passions has entrees, side dishes and other delights and Herbal Blessings has desserts and other great recipes.

I loved each of these books for different reasons.  Herbal Beginnings gives Callie the courage to start her own herb business after being stood up by her fiance.  The twists and turns of her life and all of those prospective boyfriends and her beloved lab, Wicca, who is almost human makes this a wonderful first chapter to her extremely busy life on the herb farm.  Then to add on top of that herb education and recipes!  It is a real winner!  We especially loved the pesto stuffed eggs and lavender pizza recipes.  I look forward to trying more of the recipes in the coming months.

In Herbal Choices, Callie's adventures continue with marriage possibilities, boyfriends, girlfriends, Wicca and herb farm adventures in its second season.  Twelve different herbs to learn about and soup and salad recipes that I'm eager to try.

Herbal Passions, continues Callie's adventures in the Joyful Heart Farm, her tryouts of herbal recipes with her girls' nights out, old and new loves, lots of surprises and of course, herbs and entree, side dishes and other delights.

Herbal Blessings is my favorite and the final book of this series.  It is Callie's fourth year in business.  I don't want to give too much away but it is an exciting time for Callie.  Carolee asked if she could use my pineapple sage jelly recipe and so you will not only get my recipe, but lots of herbal dessert ideas in this final chapter of her series.

So I hope I have started your gift giving thoughts with some herbal ones.  Carolee not only has these books but many other choices for herbal gifts, including t-shirts and sweatshirts with herbal themes.  She does do mail order for everything, but plants.

It is a glorious day in the 'Burgh.  Hope you are out enjoying your herb garden.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Raspberry Vinegar Recipe for Tricia Hantke!

Picked on Tuesday, November 4, 2014
I try when I can to fulfill reader's wishes for recipes, ideas, answers for their herbal questions.  Tricia Hantke asked if I could share the raspberry vinegar recipe from the same book as my raspberry jam recipe comes from.  I would be happy to do that.  As you can see from the photo I picked the last raspberries on Tuesday.  It has been a great season for the raspberry!  This vinegar recipe is from the Time-Life Series The Good Cook Preserving by the Editors of Time-Life Books from 1981.

"Raspberry Vinegar
This vinegar, diluted with warm water, is an old remedy for sore throats.  When there were colds about, it was often taken around as a nightcap to children in boarding schools.  It is served in Yorkshire with Yorkshire pudding, as a sweet.

To make about 1 quart [l liter]
________________________________________________________________
2 lb.                                                  raspberries, ripe and dry (about               1 kg.
                                                        4 pints [2 liters])
________________________________________________________________
2 1/2 cups                                        malt vinegar                                             625 ml.
________________________________________________________________
about                                               sugar                                                       about
4 cups                                                                                                             1 liter
________________________________________________________________
Put the berries into a wide-necked jar and mash them well with a wooden spoon; then pour the cold vinegar onto them and leave, covered, for six days.  Stir the mixture each day.
   Now strain the raspberries through a jelly bag without pressing, and measure the liquid.  Measure 2 cups [1/2 liter] of sugar to every 2-1/2 cups [625 ml.] of liquid, and stir together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Boil gently for 10 minutes, removing any scum that rises.  Leave until cold, then pour into bottles and cork firmly.

Gertrude Mann
Berry Cooking"

The only suggestion I would make is to sterilize the jar you use.  The vinegar should be OK on the shelf for six months or so.  Hope this is what you were looking for, Tricia.  I'm always here to answer your herbal questions.  It is sunny but cool here.  A brief warmup and then the Polar Vortex is coming!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Crafts!

I haven't come up with anything new and exciting this year!  I will be lucky to get an artemisia tree done and decorated.  I was out at Well Sweep Herb Farm over the weekend and got bunches of beautiful dried flowers to help in decorating my tree.  Dried flowers are something that Well Sweep has been known for this time of year.  I think this year it will be a combo tree of Sweet Annie and Silver King artemisias.  Here are the directions for the tree Artemisia Tree.

Artemisia Christmas Treet
Another year I used old potpourri to make wreaths for decoration.  Here is the directions for the potpourri wreaths.

Bow Is a Little Too Big But You Get the Idea!
The spices were the next to get the wreath treatment.  These are a very favorite of mine and hopefully I will get some time to do them.  Here is my post from Mother Earth Living for these charming spice wreaths.

These Wreaths Smell Wonderful!
Here is a lamb's ear ornament I made as well.

Some of the Items Needed to Make the Lamb's Ear Ornament!
These all can be done and ready for Christmas giving.  No excuses!  Was trying to put my favorites together for you so you could have easier access to the directions.  Hope you are having a great day.  Still a little mild here.  Rain and cooler for the rest of the week.  Talk to you later.