Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Need An Herbal Timeout!

I need to get my herbal focus on and get ready for my presentation next Tuesday, April 5th!  Sooo I do have some things to share with you, my award and our landscape, but I'll talk about them next week.  Although it is very cold for this time of year and we may have snow again overnight, I'm not going to be out in the garden!  You won't be missing a thing.  I promise.  Will take photos just in case.  So talk amongst yourselves and I'll be back in an herbal minute! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Yippee Kind of Day!

These look bigger than they are.  These are 'tete a tete' variety of daffodils.  I have talked about them in other posts in different years.  You all know who live in deer country that the deer don't like daffodils. Yeah!  They love tulips though and we have some stray tulips in the back garden that before we notice them up and blooming, they are eaten.  Just the blooms, not the stem!  I keep thinking I'm going to move them into the fenced area up front.  It never seems to happen.  Well, off to have lunch with my master gardening friend and I'm being honored tonight with the master gardener emeritus award.  Hope you are having a great day wherever on the planet you may be.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

B is for Basil or it could be O too!

A while back (not saying how long) Becca from A Southern Garden by Becca mentioned she wanted me to discuss what herbs I had planted in my garden and how I used them.  Well, Becca, you are a lucky woman because as I can see by yesterday's post, you already have planted your basil!  It looks beautiful and healthy.  We won't be able to plant basil until at least mid-May and maybe not until June!  Here is a quick lesson on basil.

Basil  Ocimum basilicum  In the above photo, I have given you my favorite book about basil.  Thomas DeBaggio was an herb gardener extraordinaire who just passed away in late February.  He was a class act and knew the ins and outs of herbs growing them for his herb farm in Virginia for many years.  He teamed up with one of my favorite modern herb authors, Susan Belsinger on this book about basil.  Susan lived in Italy for a number of years.  When you think of basil, you always think of Italy first.  It is funny to think that basil is not native to Italy, but to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and South America.  It came to Europe about 2,000 years ago and was used more for its alleged supernatural powers than for culinary uses.  What I like about the book is that it talks about the individual varieties of basil and then the recipes in the back of the book take some of those basils and uses them in ways you may not be thinking.

I also want to give a link to my fellow guest blogger at The Herb Companion, Ramona Werst from Texas who is passionate about her basil and may be a great link for all of my southern readers.  She also has a free 25 page e-book about teaching you to Love Your Basil.

There are between 30 and 150 basil species.  Maybe more.  I have grown a lot of them.  My favorites to grow and use are sweet basil of different varieties, including 'Pistou' and 'Boxwood', they both are small leaf and small size basils, cinnamon and lemon basils for jellies.

In the summer we use whole sweet basil leaves paired with tomato slices, feta cheese and black olives and balsamic vinegar and olive oil and maybe some avocado.
Then there always has to be a pizza or two.
I'm not sure what is on this pizza, but we just sprinkle sweet basil leaves chopped up after it comes out of the oven.  You can put chopped basil leaves on just about any pizza whether you make it or not.

Here is my favorite Pesto recipe.  It's from the Cheap Thrills Cuisine and Washington Post.  At the link, you can find most of their recent recipes.  I think maybe from 2000 onwards.

Presto it's Pesto
You'll need a food processor a blender.
Pick 4 cups of fresh basil leaves.
Put 2 cups of basil in processor with 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Puree on pulse speed.
Add 6 large peeled garlic cloves and puree again. (I only use a clove or two at the most.  Add all 6 if you can tolerate the garlic.)
Stir in 1/2 cup of pine nuts.  Puree.
Add the remaining basil leaves.  Pulse until it forms a runny paste.
Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.
Recipe makes one cup of spicy pesto sauce.
Use as a base for cheese pizzas.
Try on garlic bread.
Pesto's great as a flavor enhancer for sauces.  Just a 1 teaspoon or so livens a sauce.

This recipe is easily cut in half.

Growing Basil

Because we are cold here in southwestern Pennsylvania at night sometimes until mid to late May, you need to wait to plant basil seeds or plants until the last minute.  The soil temperature needs to be at least 50 degrees and may be more like 55 to 60 degrees before you can plant it.  I have planted my basil plants early some years and have not lost them, but they just don't grow.  They literally pause until the weather warms up.  If  your area is expecting frost, don't plant them until the danger of frost is past.  Even temperatures in the 40's is too cold.  You will have to cover them or bring them inside.  If you are planting seeds, you should start them inside about April 1 or so.  They should be ready to plant around May 15th and even two weeks later will be OK.  This information is only for the herb gardeners in the Mid-Atlantic area.  For all of you in the deep south like Becca, you can plant now, lucky you!  We don't have that much space and time to start seeds, so we generally buy our plants.

Harvesting Basil

You want to start clipping your plants frequently to keep them from going to flower and then seed.  In my experience, lemon basil quickly goes to flower, so you must keep clipping flowers and make sure that it doesn't not flower too quickly.  The Herbal Husband suggested that I clipped the leaves every few days and make jelly.  I did that with great success.  The smell as you are clipping is just the best.  Lemon basil and cinnamon basil were the most jellies I made last year.  I had several plants of each and it worked out very well.

Here is the link for the scented basil jelly recipe from Renee's Garden.
You can also harvest leaves and process them with some water and place them in ice cube trays and freeze them for winter use.

Insects and Diseases of Basil 

Unfortunately four-lined plant bug does like basil, but again the damage is mostly cosmetic and there is only one generation a season.  I usually don't have any other problems.  Here is a link for Johnny's Seeds grower's library about 3/4 of the way down, click on Basil Diseases.  This pamphlet talks about insects and diseases of basil.  Fusarium wilt can be a problem with sweet basil only so be sure to get fusarium resistant seeds because the disease is spread through contaminated seeds.  It does not seem to affect the specialty basils.

Because I can't have large quantities of tomato sauce any longer, this is my go to recipe when I have spaghetti.  I need to run make our lunch.  I made myself hungry!  I'll add more to this post later.
It isn't raining or snowing out either so we are going to work in the garden this afternoon.  The first daffs are up!  Yippee!  Talk to you soon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Attack of the Angelica!

Had a beautiful work day yesterday and probably could have done some more today.  Well, yesterday we worked on moving the angelica out of my herb garden.  Most of it any how.  It will be a gradual process, but once it gets going, it sends roots to China!  Here is the space later on, especially on or near the wall.  It is much better.  Thanks Herbal Husband!

Hope you had a great day.  We went to see The Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew MacConaughey.  Very good performances, good cast and a very good performance by Matthew MacConaughey!  Worth seeing if you are thinking about it!   Got to run make dinner!  Talk to you later.  Way behind on my guest blogging and posts for my buddy, Becca and you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My First Herbal Flower! Happy Spring!

Well, spring is here, here's my first herbal flower, the humble dandelion!  If you are allergic to latex, don't eat the flower.  However, besides the latex issue, the flowers and greens are delicious as long as you aren't spraying your lawn with chemicals.  Worked in the garden this afternoon.  It was a wonderful day!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  I'll show you more tomorrow.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Young and Old, Herbally Speaking!

There is a lot to talk about in this photo from 19 years ago, but focus on the right side of the photo.  This is a photo of our young bay tree.  I'm thinking because bay trees are so expensive and small in the beginning that this is a two year tree.  1990 is when I started my herb garden.  So our bay tree is 21 years old!  Break out the bay rum!  Sorry I had to do it!  Actually I need to make the aftershave bay rum for you know who!  Something else for my herbal list.  Didn't get a lot of my herbal list accomplished this winter that's almost OVER!  It is not a complicated process, but I need to get my workspace put back together.  Was too exhausted yesterday!  So here is our bay tree as of yesterday.  It is a bear to get in and out, but it is very fragrant and worth the hassles.  Much cooler today.  Was hoping to get outside and dig some things out of the herb garden, but it might have to wait.  Got to work on my workspace!  Talk to you later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Before and After!

This is my workroom window before and here it is after!

And the view outside!  So if you in the market for new basement windows, check out Pittsburgh Glass Block Co.  This is NOT a paid endorsement.  Just very satisfied customers!  If you are in the Pittsburgh area, please give them a call.  Our installer, Tom was the nicest, very efficient and cleaned up the mess!  Most of my basement mess is in my dining room and living room!  Got to run and start putting things away!  A big check mark on the renovation list.  We are rolling!

It has been an absolutely beautiful day in the 'Burgh!  Little cooler tomorrow.  Better for the first day of gardening.  Can't wait.  Talk to you later!  I'll get back to herbs in the next posts.  Have a scanned photo to show you of a young bay tree!  I found out how old it is!  Will share with you tomorrow!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Had to Let You Know!

We finally found a company to cut back our ivy that is growing up on our roof and in the gutters!  Of course, it is not cheap, but at least we have found someone to do it!  We have gotten several estimates, but no one has come back to do the job!  At least we didn't pay any money or lose any!  They are also going to take out some trees and trim some bushes as well!  Yippee!  What a relief!  Hope you had a great day!  Will show you what we are getting in tomorrow's post tomorrow!  Ha!  That's a tongue twister!  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Shoutout for the Ladies of McIntyre Garden Club!

Well, I just want to give a shoutout to the ladies of McIntyre Garden Club.  We had a delicious soup, bread and dessert lunch and then my flavor infusions program.  Repeating myself with the same program, but I think they enjoyed it.  I really did.  Thanks ladies for having me!  Hope you had a great day.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Sugar and Spice Hour!

You might need to click on the cartoon above to read what's underneath..  It's from my master gardening friend, Shelley!  Maybe she's trying to give me some herbal words of wisdom!  It's not too much like what I do for my presentations, but I thought we might all need a chuckle today.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Roller Coaster Ride and A Big Addition to My Parsley Post of February 28th!

Yikes, with sincere apologies to Barbara Swain, I have finally added 3/4 cup of lightly packed chopped parsley to the parsley salad recipe!  I kept reading the 3/4 cup minced celery as parsley!  Sorry Barbara!  Everything is corrected FINALLY!

As you can see the snow went bye-bye last night and it's in the high 40's or low 50's here today.  The sun is out.  It's looking good.  The rivers are receding, I think.  As I keep saying to you, it is March in the 'Burgh!  In the final stages of getting my handout together for April and still working on my PowerPoint.  It's a lot of work.  Second presentation on Wednesday.  Should be fun.  Similar to the garden club last week.  Well, I've got my handouts proofread so I need to correct them.  Talk to you later.

Friday, March 11, 2011

More March Snow in the 'Burgh!

Woke up to heavy, wet snow this morning!  But it is nothing when we think of the people of Japan and the tragedy that happened there today!  Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan today in their time of need.  We continue to pray for the people of New Zealand.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hey, Just Waiting for the Snow!

This was the other day and my buddy the squirrel was hanging out on the windowsill grooming!  It is raining out today and more snow is headed this way for tomorrow!  Still March in the 'Burgh and just in time for the St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday!  Hopefully you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Working on my Power Point presentation for my April talk!  Yesterday I thought I had to start over, but fortunately I didn't!  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Joining the Red & White Quilt Exhibit!

I'm joining in the Red & White Quilt exhibit hosted by Taryn at Repro Quilt Lover.  It is conjunction with a major exhibit of red and white quilts sponsored by the American Folk Art Museum in New York from March 25 to 30 at the Park Avenue Armory.  Admission is FREE!  Nothing is free any more especially in New York.  650 red and white quilts in one location!  Hope some of you get to see them!

My quilts from top to bottom are the Double Irish Chain in time of St. Patrick's Day, a Basket quilt and a Feathered Star quilt.  They were all purchased at antique shops or shows.  Hope you allow me this small diversion from herbs!  Just do a post about your red and white quilts and you may win some great red and white quilt magnets!  Go on over to Repro Quilt Lover at the link above.  I'm going right now!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Big Shoutout for the Ladies of Guyasuta Garden Club!

This is my new and improved storyboard for my Flavor Infusions presentation.  I had a great time with the Guyasuta Garden Club.  Great questions and a wonderful, delicious lunch.  Thanks for coming and participating and allowing me to inspire you all, ladies!  It was a fun day!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  A mild day finally!  More rain to come!  Talk to you later!

Monday, March 7, 2011

OK, Couldn't Stay Away! Making Herbal Butter!

Hi, just wanted to come by and show you that the chives are up and growing in the herb garden.  I needed some this morning when I made the herbal butters for tomorrow's class.  They are going to try a butter with my favorite butter dried mix (second and third photos) from The Village Herb Shop.  I truly sprinkle it on mayo in a sandwich to give it an herbal boost.  It is a very delicious mix.  I think dill based.  Then they will try a fresh herb butter (the bottom photo) and here is the recipe:

Herbal Butter
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter or margarine, softened
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (your choice)
• 1 clove of garlic, pressed
1. Finely chop herbs and mix into softened butter, add other ingredients.  Put in a covered container.  Refrigerate for 24 hours before using.
2. Herb butter may be kept refrigerated for two weeks or frozen for up to six months.  Put butter on vegetables, pasta, fish, meat, poultry, bread, etc.
Courtesy of  Pete Louquet, Tom Hamlin and Don Haynie, Spring and Summer Herbal Sampler, Raphine, VA:  Mid Valley Press, 1993, page 10.

The nice thing is that you can make it with or without the garlic.  I'm making it for tomorrow's class without the garlic.  I think they will enjoy and you will as well.  Got to run.  Hope you are having a great day!  I'll talk to you tomorrow after my talk!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March in the 'Burgh!

I was going to name this post "Now This is Just Getting Silly".  But it is March in the 'Burgh!  A few years ago (17 or so years ago) we had a two foot snow storm for the St. Patrick's Day parade!  This is nothing compared to that!  Getting ready for a presentation on Tuesday.  So I may take a short timeout to get my herbal ducks in a row.  Got to run!  The Herbal Husband with all of his calculations is helping with my presentation board! Talk to you later!  Maybe tomorrow!  Can't stay away too long!

Check out the parsley recipes post a few days ago.  I have added additional information.  Barbara Swain the original author of the parsley salad recipe stopped by.  I added her comments to the post!  Very cool to "meet" the actual authors of my favorite recipes!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Here's My Dinner from The Herbal Husband's Birthday!

I wanted to share my dinner from The Pines Tavern the other night.  Here's my salad baby field greens, pine nuts, prosciutto, balsamic vinaigrette, Gorgonzola cheese, some apples and those big juicy raspberries!  They were pretty good even if they weren't ours!  The Pines Tavern has a big garden every spring and summer and I always enjoy the salads there.  Here is my entree:  sea scallops,  lobster risotto and asparagus with a dusting of herbs.  It was delish!  Hopefully, you had a good day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Another Yippee Kind of Day!

Here are four yippee kind of moments!  I thought there were only a couple and then I found a couple more!  Yippee!  Spring is just around the corner.  Off to see The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and to Red Robin for hopefully, a free burger for his birthday.  Don't have that darn Rewards Card so I think we will have to beg!  Have sort of dropped the quotes.  I'll get back to it soon!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine-A Journey to Fenton House!

Here are the additional photos of Fenton House in Hampstead, England.  The first three were during the walk to the house from the Tube Station.  The next ones around the house and inside.  The last photos are of the three distinct gardens, the formal, the perennial borders and the kitchen garden.  It is really a lovely house and gardens and one if you are in the London area, you should not miss.  My English Herbal Companion and I had a great time. This is my last post on my England trip from last September.  Here is the link to the guest post called Herbal Travels:  The Fenton House Garden in England.  Hope you have a great day.  Talk to you later.
Found my Favorite, Lemon Verbena on the Way to Fenton House
The English Make Good Use of the Window Box for an Herb Garden!
What Not to Do With Trees in Containers!  Not Part of Fenton House!
The Front Gate of Fenton House
Big Bowl of Lavender as a Room Freshener
A View of the North Garden from the House
A Yew Hedge Forms the Entrance to the Gardens
Quite a Lavender Hedge!
A View of the Cross Borders.  I Spy Some Purple Sage!

Staircase to the Rose Garden with a Thyme Surprise!
The Rose Garden

 A Glasshouse

 A Flower Border in the Kitchen Garden!

The Orchard Waiting for the Apple Festival

 One of My Favorite Edible Flowers, Sunflowers!

 Nice Looking Lettuces for September!

My Favorite, Lemon Verbena
Part of the Herb Garden

 A Peek Over the Wall into the Kitchen Garden