Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring is Around the Corner...Well Almost!

I was out poking around and found these daffodils that we transplanted last year coming up from the leaves! We are having a brief warm up so I felt compelled to change my home page to a more optimistic one! Thoughts of spring are creeping into my head, but WAIT there is more snow coming this weekend! Yikes! When will it end. The good and bad news from that is that we seem to have had a lot of snow, but in reality it is around 30 inches. Nothing really at all! We love reality! Hope you are enjoying the weather where you are!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Que Rico Pork!

Sunday nights is my night to cook and I cooked a pork roast. It got rave reviews from the Herbal Husband! It is a recipe from the Three Rivers Cookbook II from the 80's. I usually make slits in the roast and insert slivers of garlic and rosemary and then slather it with dijon mustard. It's good, but this is better and very easy! Here is the recipe:

Roast Pork Fillet in White Wine
"Wonderful on a chilly night"

4 lb. pork loin with bones (I use a 2-1/2 lb. boneless roast)
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I used my blog vinegar)
2 cloves garlic
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme leaves
salt & pepper

Combine wine, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme in a nonmetal baking dish just large enough to hold meat. (I used a Ziploc bag. What did we do when we didn't have these wonderful bags! I know put in a nonmetal baking dish just large enough to hold meat!) Put pork in marinade and refrigerate overnight. Turn pork several times until ready to roast. Drain pork and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 cup of marinade over meat and roast 1/2 hour per pound or until thermometer registers 170 degrees. ( I roasted it 2 hours at 325 degrees. The Herbal Husband wants his meat dead and not walking off the plate!) Let sit 15 minutes before carving.

The Herbal Husband said forget the other recipes, this is the one to make! Hopefully I will remember in which book it is! Well, now I have this posting! That works! Hope you enjoy it. I'm looking forward to having a pork sandwich on a nice fresh roll with a lot of the Mayor's Magic Mustard on it! You can get the spice blend for the mustard from The Rosemary House.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More Green and Silver in the Herb Garden!

Believe it or not there is still snow on the ground here! During the brief time last week when the ground was exposed, I snapped some pictures of green growth in the herb garden. The gray green plant in the upper part of the photo is Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' or Berggarten sage. You can use it just as you would the regular garden sage for cooking. It really shines with its bigger leaves along a border. It is reliably hardy for us in Zone 6. I have had this one bloom, but it does not usually bloom in the northern part of the country. The other spot of gray green toward the bottom of the photo is Thymus argentea 'Hi-Ho' or Hi-Ho Silver Thyme. I really have a hard time wintering this one. I think it likes the spot I placed it in this year. Whoo Hoo! Finally, I got something right!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Here is My Heart for You!

Yesterday I made the Infused Sugar (Bay Laurel) Sugar Cookies that I talked about in an earlier posting. I made them with this cookie cutter that I purchased through a catalog that I used to receive called Gooseberry Patch. I do not think they have the exact cutter anymore. I broke a few of the finger making these, but the Herbal Husband loved the recipe and the thought behind them. He thought the cookies were very tasty and when he said there aren't any herbs in these. I said but there are because it is bay laurel infused sugar. He was impressed. Notes on the recipe
icing sugar is also powdered sugar and the first cookies in the oven I baked for 15 minutes and the next batches took less time. I didn't use the egg white and extra sugar at the end. The Herbal Husband liked them just as well. Hope you do also!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Think I Found a Solution for the Leaning Arbor!

The Herbal Husband and I have been chasing the feral cats out of our yard for months now. We know the way to get them is by trapping them, but then there are skunks in the neighborhood also. We had one of those in our garage for Halloween one year, but that's another story! I looked out the window while I was fixing breakfast and there was one half of the solution to my leaning arbor! Did the cat want to play with the squirrel? Was it trying to attack it? It finally gave up, climbed down and ran away. Click on the picture to enlarge it. Never a dull moment!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lemon Balm in the Herb Garden....Not Quite!

When I was out in the herb garden the other day, I thought OMG, lemon balm in the herb garden. Not an entirely bad thing, but look how much under the grapevine! Don't want this much! I mentioned it to the Herbal Husband. He said it is not lemon balm but that weed! Yikes! Not another weed! Yes, it is purple dead nettle. Thanks to my weed bible, Weeds of the Northeast on page 249, it describes it with pictures and everything, but NOT how to get rid of it. Usually that is pulling it out by hand in this house. Particularly in this location with the grape roots in close proximity. The book calls it A WINTER ANNUAL! It is also in the mint family. So that's why it is working its way into the herb garden! Each plant produces 200 seeds! Don't want that happening. It is just still brutally cold outside. Hopefully next week, we can get out there and take care of it. Hope you are warm where you are!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Finding Green in the Herb Garden!

Just went out to the herb garden and took this picture. The chive babies have progressed and this is an ornamental sorrel called blood sorrel or bloody dock or Rumex sanguineus. It likes it wet. This one to the left survived in spite of not being near the water. It does not have the sharp lemon flavor that regular sorrel or Rumex acetosa has. So use it as a little punch of color in the garden.

Monday, February 16, 2009

An Herbal Gem-Mulberry Creek Herb Farm

One of my favorite catalogs came the other day from Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, Ohio. It is three hours away from us, but I have loved each time I go because they have such unique and special organic herbs, veggies and miniatures plants. Mark and Karen Langan and their kids have such a special place. Let's cut to the chase. Karen's letter in the inside cover usually covers the events of the past year and the activities to come in the current one. The title of this year's letter is "Farewell from Mulberry Creek?" I talked with my Herbal Companion today and she thinks that they are ending their mail order portion of their business only! In the inside of the catalog there is a letter to the local community which talks about continuing "in business for another year (Thank God!). We intend on staying that way until we retire to an "easier" lifestyle. (in other words, another 25 years)." Hopefully that is the way it is, but in the body of the inside cover letter is this sentence, "Short of a miracle, this will be our last season."!!! I've been too much in shock to e-mail them to find out. I'm asking if you live in the Sandusky/Huron area or Ohio or surrounding states in close proximity to visit this wonderful herb nursery. They will have their annual herb fair on Saturday, June 27th (10 AM to 5 PM) and Sunday, June 28th (Noon to 5 PM) featuring Ireland & "Going Greener". It is $5.00 per adult (includes 1 free herb) and kids and classes are free. I'm planning on going with the Herbal Husband! Keep this herbal gem going!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Herbal Husband Loved the Valentine's Dinner!

The Chicken Rice Divan looks a little messy, but it was really delicious! The Herbal Husband loved it! Here is the recipe from the Three Rivers Cookbook:

Chicken Rice Divan

2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen broccoli spears
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
6 large slices cooked chicken or 2 cups cubed chicken
salt & pepper
1 cup cooked rice

White Sauce:
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup dairy sour cream

Cook broccoli according to directions; drain. Arrange in 11-1/2" by 7-1/2" by 1-1/2" baking dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Top with chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon on cooked rice. Prepare white sauce: Melt butter, blend in flour, add milk all at once. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice; gently fold in sour cream, and pour over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serves: 6
(I doubled the sauce recipe and you will need a larger container if you double the sauce. I also used an herbal salt along with pepper when I seasoned the chicken layer.)

Hope you enjoyed your Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day and What's for Dessert?

That's the first words out of the Herbal Husband's mouth this morning! I volunteered to cook today! What was I thinking? Maybe that we have a waffle iron that makes heart shaped waffles! Perfect for today. You can see that the fork and knife were poised to demolish those waffles! They were also protecting his food. Getting ready for dinner tonight.
There's a lot going on on that table! Here is our dinner table for tonight. I'm making Chicken Divan and rolls and what's for dessert is plain cheesecake. Yes, he likes plain jello too. Please don't make me explain. I don't have an explanation.

I gave this heart to the Herbal Husband 24 years ago and I thought it was time to give it to him again.

It has inside an angel to watch over you! It is done by my favorite folk artist, Nancy Thomas. Hope you are enjoying the day with someone you love.

Friday, February 13, 2009

St. Valentine and Tussie Mussies!

Valentine's Day in early Roman days was thought to be the start of pairing for birds so the emphasis on love and its messages. Samuel Pepys is credited with recording the first account of sending the modern paper valentine. This little booklet from Adelma Simmons and Caprilands talks of having a party and giving tussie mussies as a gift to the party goers. The tussie mussie on the left was given to a friend as a congratulatory bouquet when she became a registered architect. I usually put roses for love and grace for the pink roses, rosemary for remembrance, mint for wisdom, some sage for long life and good health, lemon balm for the pleasant company of friends and scented geranium for preference. This was made in the summer and Adelma talks about her tussie mussies being limited to what is in the greenhouse in February. Maybe surprise your significant other not tomorrow, but later in the year when spring brings up the first herbs. I'll have more about our Valentine's Day tomorrow. I'm going to postpone making the sugar cookies until next week. Another treat for the Herbal Husband! He always enjoys herbal treats any time of the year!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blooming Through the Screen!

I was attempting to clean the other day and discovered that the Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus had bloomed again. It was probably closer to the actual time it is supposed to be in bloom. This one little leaf on the left grew through the hole of the screen and bloomed beautifully! The things that occupy my time these days! Hope they are a diversion for you as well!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chives Do Survive!

Under all this dried stuff are my chive babies! If you want a reliable herb, plant chives (Allium schoenoprasum) ! One of the tastiest herbs and obviously one of the first to come back in the garden! It is so exciting to see plants surviving after winter's cold. We are not done with our cold and snow, but I think these little plants will do fine.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Always A Squirrel Enjoying the Birds' Food!

You can count on the gray squirrels of the world to be in our backyard when no other wildlife has appeared! This one was having a wonderful time feasting on the bird food so loving thrown by the Herbal Husband. I will have to get a picture of the Herbal Husband chasing a squirrel. It is priceless! The neighbors think we are a little nuts! More for the squirrels to eat!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It Looks Like a Science Experiment!

No, it's not a science experiment nor soil test results! Not a great picture either! It is salad dressing! I made it from the blog vinegar I made late last year and the French Country Vinaigrette dressing base from Penzeys Spices in a Greaves jam jar (minus the delicious jam or jelly or it might be a chili sauce jar) from Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada. They have jellies and jams that I don't make like cherry jam, orange marmalade and mixed berries. Niagara on the Lake is very quaint. I went with a group of master gardeners a couple of years ago and did not get enough time. I need to go back for a visit with the Herbal Husband! Hope you are making homemade salad dressing or using your herbal vinegars to flavor your cooking!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Is It Me or Is This Leaning?

When the Herbal Husband and I put this arbor together several years ago, we had to put it together in our garage. It was pouring rain on the Saturday we decided to put it together. You see it was two separate arbors and two by eights or tens between for support. We have no power tools. The Herbal Husband says that we need the exercise! I remember when we got the first arbor put together, we could not move it because the ceiling was too low! The Spanish started to fly! I always know to take cover when that happens! We finally got them out of the garage and put it together. It has served us for about ten years! I think though that we will have to come up with another plan. It is slowly collapsing and it has fallen over because of too much wind! That happened a couple of years ago when the Herbal Husband was vacationing in Lima! It is always an adventure at our house.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Rare Day in the Herb Garden!

This is a rare day in winter for the 'Burgh. It is warmish (in the 40s) and there is blue sky and the SUN IS SHINING! Not quite the January thaw. That looks like it might be next week! Enjoy the sun wherever you may be!