Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Five!

One of the First Herb Books I Bought!
The Complete Herb Book by Maggie Stuckey was one of the first herb books I bought way back in the early 1990's.  Remember I really started gardening with herbs seriously when we bought our house in 1989.  This is a small paperback jammed packed with herbal information, recipes, crafts and gardening tips, etc.  It has given me an immeasurable wealth of information over the years.

On the traditions of savory, it was brought by the Romans to the United Kingdom and northern Europe and became important in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes.  It was said that the juice of savory was used for ringing ears, a poultice was used externally for joint pain and even for arthritis and a tea made from savory by the American colonists was said to lift the spirits and then there was savory and the power of the aphrodisiac.  One 17th century herbalist warned that "It is forbidden to use it much in meats because it stirreth him that useth it to lechery."  Fair warning!

In this digital age, I e-mailed Maggie this morning asking permission to share some of her recipes in the book.  She wrote right back and gave her permission.  So wonderful to share our knowledge and she has inspired me my whole herbal life.  So here are a couple of my favorite uses for savory from Maggie Stuckey's The Complete Herb Book:

Herb Blend No. 1--Meat and Vegetable Dishes

2 parts marjoram
2 parts savory
1 part basil
1 part thyme
1 part tarragon

Bouquet Garni for Fish

2 tablespoons celery leaves (I used lovage)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 bay leaves, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried savory
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

Mix all ingredients; divide into three equal portions and tie into cheesecloth bags (or I use the teabags or spice bags that are made of muslin).

Mediterranean Rice (Serves 4 to 6)

1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh summer savory
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram
1-1/2 cups chicken or beef stock
1-1/2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes

Saute the onion and garlic in oil over low heat until soft.  Add the rice, thyme, oregano, savory and marjoram and cook for a few minutes more, stirring constantly.

Add the stock and the tomatoes; cover and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for approximately 50 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

The Herbal Husband is the rice cooker in the family, but I do do a version of rice that he loves.  We're going to try this recipe this summer.  It just sounds so fresh and tasty.

I'm also doing a container class at the end of May and Maggie has co-written one of my favorite container books with Rose Marie Nichols McGee called McGee and Stuckey's Bountiful Container.  In The Complete Book of Herbs, she mentions a couple of combinations with savory for containers that sound good.  Salad burnet, creeping savory and woolly thyme in a container and then a window box for summer with basil, calendula, chervil, chives, dill and summer savory.  Thank you Maggie Stuckey for letting me share your savory recipes with my readers!  You can find all of her books through Bookfinder.  She also sent along a photo of the latest cover of The Complete Herb Book.

A More Up-To-Date Version of the Cover

So hopefully we will continue to learn about savory together.  I have read a lot more information about the 2015 Herb of the Year.  So please stay tuned.  It has been a blustery day here in the 'Burgh.  Rainy, sunny and sort of warm.  Better than it has been.  The daffodils are slowly rising from the ground.

The 'Goodwin Creek' lavender has slowly dried out from over watering.  Please if you get an Easter plant and it is in a foil wrapper either take it off entirely (less festive) or poke large holes in the bottom so that the water drains out of the wrapper and the container.  I said to The Herbal Husband that if we take the lavender out of the container, I thought that we could squeeze another cup of water out of the soil.  Never a dull moment here.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I'll talk to you later.

Monday, March 30, 2015

So Excited, Herbally Speaking!

What?!  A Chive Blossom!
The Primula Moved into the Herb Garden Is Blooming!
Well, as some of you have seen on Facebook, the herb garden has come to life even with our cold temperatures.  We have started to clean old herb residue from the new plants coming up.  I do think that the old chives laying over the new ones, protected that little blossom!  Mary Nell on Facebook also reminded me of the Mother Nature, longer days fact, etc. which is also true.  After the winter we have had temperature wise I am glad to see that herbs have survived.  The sorrel is coming back as well.  The lemon herb garden survived.  More photos to follow.

Part of My Lemon Herb Garden--Sorrel!
I Do Have Catnip in My Herb Garden.  It's the Lemon Catnip!
I will say there are causalities, herbally speaking and I will show you those in future posts.  We have a sunny and somewhat warmer day into the 40's, but the wind is blowing fiercely.  We probably have a wind chill in the low 30's or high 20's.  We are forecast to be 70 on Thursday for one day only!  Very March and April like!  Never know what you are going to get.  Hope you are having a great day!  I will talk to you again soon!    

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Wonderful Meal at Kazan's-London, England-May 2014

A Kazan's Delight or Maybe Two!
Olives and Bread
The Sultan's Shish Kebabs
Sut Lac-Rice Pudding
Spiced Turkish Tea
Thought an overview of my trip might be appropriate here and I had already done it!  Here is a link to a post called:  An Overview of My England Trip 2014!  Really I have wonderful friends in England and my English friend, Gloria who lives in Spain, who is always up for my adventures.  I'm blessed to have all of these fabulous people in my life.

One of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood where I stay in London is Kazan's.  It is Turkish cuisine and I always enjoy going there.  I have lunch or dinner at least a couple of times.  So as a treat to myself on my last evening, I had a Kazan Delight.  It is apple and pomegranate juice with fresh pomegranate seeds and rose petal syrup.  I might have had two of those.  Then instead of an appetizer, I just had the olives and bread which were more than enough.  My entree was the lamb (you can also have chicken) kebabs with rice and salad.  To finish my delicious meal, I did have their rice pudding which is a favorite of mine and spiced Turkish tea.   The perfect finish to a wonderful trip.

Well, it is going to be warming up and we are hopefully going to be out in the garden sometime this week.  The Herbal Husband is especially anxious to get things started.  We don't even have the ornamental grasses cut back yet!  It was a long and cold winter!  Hope spring lasts a while.  Seems we  jump right into summer lately.  Hopefully it is warming up wherever you are.  Talk to you later.   

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Revisit to Fulham Palace and Its Gardens!

2010 Visit to the Fulham Palace Herb Garden!

This was the information on the sign for the herb garden:
"The walled garden at Fulham Palace was enclosed in the 1760's to form a kitchen garden.  The gateway and entrance wall are Tudor.  The glasshouse for grapes (vinery) and garden buildings (bothies) existed by 1825 and the knot garden of box hedges was laid out in the 1830's.  It was planted with herbs in this century (20th century).  The wisteria pergola is at least a hundred years old."
I always try when I go to England to come with some new herb gardens that I haven't seen before.  September is a beautiful month to visit England.  It has warmed up and the gardens of every sort are blooming at full intensity.  The herb garden when we first visited in 2010 was in a state of flux.  The gardens were overgrown.  Although there were beautiful specimen bay trees, one golden and one green, the rest of the herb garden needed some TLC.  I made sure that I could go back to a new herb garden at Fulham Palace on my visit in May 2014.
One Beautiful Golden Bay Tree
So I not only returned to Fulham Palace, but discovered one of the many allotments in London on the road to Fulham Palace.
Allotments Are On Part of the Original 36 Acres of Fulham Palace
Allotments Are An Important Part of Gardening in England
East Courtyard at Fulham Palace
The Wisteria Blooming
The Knot Garden Was Replanted With Box in its Original 1830 Layout
The Glasshouses Rebuilt Along A Wall
Lavender Blooming
Scented Geraniums Blooming As Well
The Replanted Knot Garden
The Tudor Wall Entrance Drawing You Into the Knot Garden!
Fulham Palace has been called a Hampton Court Palace in miniature because of its Tudor structures.  The bishops of London have called it home for over 1,000 years.  The present Bishop is living in more modest quarters in the city. The Tudor wall enclosing the two acre garden was constructed between 1764 and 1766.  The glasshouses were reconstructed in 2010-12 as close to the original as possible through archaeological research.

The knot garden was planted with box hedges and designed for Bishop Blomfield in the 1830's.  In 1915, it was planted with irises and roses.  In the 1980's the Hammersmith and Fulham Council filled it with herbs.  It was replanted in 2011 using herbaceous perennials in the knots to coincide with the colors of the coat of arms of the Bishop, blue, red and yellow.  It is a very tranquil garden.  Only some herbs in the knots and no bay trees in sight.  Their root structures alone were taking up space.  Hopefully they were moved to another part of the garden.  I will just have to go back to do further research!

Henry Compton was one of the botanising Bishops who gave the Palace's gardens more important trees and shrubs than any other bishop.  When he died his collection was dispersed, but some trees still remain on the grounds.  I am anxious to go back next time and not only track down the bay trees and also view the almost 60 rare trees located on the grounds.  There is also a lovely small cafe and terrace to enjoy your meal outside if it isn't raining.  I battled a sudden downpour during my visit, but if you aren't using your umbrella in London, you are very, very lucky!  Lots of families with children come and enjoy the expansive lawn to play.  It is a beautiful Palace and gardens not to be missed.

Well, we have had a January day here in the 'Burgh.  It is 21 degrees at the moment!  The forecast is for 60 by Wednesday, no fooling!  Hope you have had a wonderful Saturday.  One more post to go for my 2014 trip.  Then we should be out in the gardens getting plants cut back!  Talk to you later. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Return to Finish the Geffrye Museum Period Gardens, London, England-May 2014!

Entrance to the Geffrye Museum of Domestic Interiors
Another Look at the Hedge Germander and Santolina Knot Garden
Chives in Bloom in Raised Beds in the Late Elizabethan Garden
Southernwood-The 2014 Herb of the Year in Late Elizabethan Garden
The Mid-late Georgian Garden
The Auricula Theatre in the Mid-late Georgian Garden
Rosa 'De Meaux'
A Wild and Crazy Lemon Verbena!
Mid-late Victorian Bedding Bed!

Mid-late Victorian Glasshouse
One More Mid-late Victorian Bedding Bed
An Edwardian Perennial Bed
Rosa 'Irene Watts'
I just have a few more posts from my 2014 visit to London, England.  I return to finish my post about The Geffrye period gardens.  Just outside the walled herb garden there is a long path of another garden rooms at the back of The Geffrye Museum of the Home.

In the Period Garden Rooms Guide it states:  "These gardens have been created to show the changing nature of English town gardens.  They form a series of garden rooms, to complement the period rooms inside the museum.  The layout of the gardens, the types of plants used and their arrangement within the beds are based on recent research into middle-class gardens in London and other major towns in England.  This research is ongoing, and these gardens will be developed as new evidence comes to light.
It really has become one of my must see gardens in London.  Every plant is very well marked.  There are wonderful signs going from period garden to period garden.  Describing what kind of gardens were popular for the period and giving a list of just some of the plants used.  It is a wonderful place for learning.  There was a group of school children running through the gardens taking notes.  It was so wonderful to see them enjoying the different plants and garden styles.  They will always remember their visit and hopefully it has sprouted many new gardeners.

Well we have returned to January if only for a couple of days!  It was flurrying earlier!  Yikes!  I did get myself a little herbal gift to cheer The Herbal Husband and me up!   It had 6" Lavender on the side of the pot.  I'm thinking it is either a 'green fringed' or a 'Goodwin Creek'.  It was decided on my Facebook page that it is a 'Goodwin Creek' one of my favorites.  Either way it will be going into my lavender container that was pirated for someone's tomato plant last season.  It will be perfect for my upcoming talk on herbal containers.   So I'll keep posting in the next few days while I'm still stuck inside.  Hope you have a great weekend.  Talk to you soon.

 'Goodwin Creek' Lavender

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Afternoon Tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury, London, England--May, 2014

The Menu at Bea's of Bloomsbury
The Scones and Desserts
The Sandwiches
A Pot of Lemon Verbena Tea
Bea's Are Known For Their Cupcakes!
During the last couple of trips to England, I have extra time to take afternoon tea which I love.  In 2013 I discovered Bea's of Bloomsbury near St. Paul's Cathedral.  It is a very small space but cozy.  I think Bea is originally from the Maryland or DC area of the United States.  She has left her mark on afternoon tea in London with her outstanding cupcakes.  I really loved my afternoon tea in 2013.  This time the dessert tray was filled with banana bread, blueberry lemon bread, vanilla marshmallow meringues and a vanilla passion fruit cupcake and of course, scones.  The sandwiches are cute and little and interesting fillings. This time there was not enough filling in any of the sandwiches and if I hadn't written the fillings down in my journal, I would not have remember them today.  They were tuna and cucumber, BBQ Pork and Cheddar and Roasted Pepper.   I always have lemon verbena tea when I go there and it was very good.  The one redeemed factor is that Bea's scones are at the top of my list as far as scones go.  When I go again, I will just have a cream tea which is scones, clotted cream and jam and tea.  If you really love dessert, Bea's of Bloomsbury is the place for you.  Will be finishing my visit to the gardens at the Geffrye Museum next time.

Ever changing weather here it was 70 yesterday and the 30's tonight and back in the teen's for lows on Saturday.  The weathermen are assuring Pittsburghers that this is the end of the January weather!  And the end of March next week!  It has been a long month!  Hope you had a great day.  Talk to you later.   

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

RHS Malvern Spring Festival-May 2014-Part Four!

Matthewman Sweet Peas
Hooksgreen Herbs
Hooksgreen Herbs
A Wonderful Selection of Herbs!  Sadly Not for Me!
Avon Bulbs
D'Arcy & Everest-Alpine Troughs
Blackmore &  Langdon Ltd.-Begonias & Delphiniums
Warmenhaven-Amaryllis, Allium & Ornithogalum
Dinnertime After A Long Day of Walking At RHS Malvern Spring Festival!
Typical English Meat Pie, Chips and Peas!
The Abbey Hotel in Great Malvern
Two of My Favorites!  Thanks for Spending Your Day with Me!
As you can see by all of my posts, there is a lot to see at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.  Until I went to the Chelsea Flower Show in 1996, I had never seen flowers, vegetables and herbs displayed in unusual ways.  If you can't get to see the Chelsea Flower Show in London, please think about going to Great Malvern and going to the 2015 RHS Malvern Spring Festival.  It is sure to be a good one.

I want to give a very special thank you to two of the kindest people on the planet, my friends, Simon and Debs Cook.  They have opened their arms to me and taken me lots of places including Great Malvern that I wouldn't have seen otherwise.  Love you two immensely!  So I'm going to continue with other English posts.  We still have to finish the Geffrye Museum gardens.  There is more to show you there.  Then there is another tea and garden to be seen.  So please stay tuned.

Weather is mild here.  We had some rain today.  We are going to the 50's today and tomorrow we will have rain and falling temperatures and then taking one final plunge over the weekend hopefully with some flurries!  March never has a dull moment.  Talk to you soon.