Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My 1,500 Post and a New Jelly Recipe Using the 2015 Herb of the Year!

I just don' t know what happened to the first post I did earlier in the day.  I thought it posted when it really didn't!  I think I have too many devices at the moment.  Too confusing! So I made my first harvest of summer savory last week and I kept it in a Chinese takeout soup container until I could make the jelly today.  So with thanks to The St. Louis Herb Society Cookbook for inspiration, here is my take on Savory Grapefruit Jelly.

Savory Grapefruit Jelly
(Makes four 8 oz. jars)

4 tablespoons of fresh or 2 tablespoons of dried summer savory
2 cups of ruby red grapefruit juice (1-1/2 cups of flavored juice)
3-1/2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (Will also try white wine vinegar or rice
1 pouch of Certo

Wash jars, lids and rings.  Boil jars in a pot of water for 10 minutes.  Place lids in hot water.  You don't need to boil them.

Place 2 cups of juice and herbs in a 3-1/2 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil and count to ten.  Take off the burner, cover and steep for 15 minutes.  Taste and steep longer if necessary.

In the meantime, measure 3-1/2 cups of sugar and the lemon juice or vinegar of your choice in another 3-1/2 quart saucepan.  Cut open the pouch of Certo and stand in a measuring cup until you need it.  Add 1-1/2 cups of juice (The rest is good with a bit of ice for the cook!) to the sugar and lemon juice or vinegar.  Bring to a boil that can't be stirred down.  Take off the burner and quickly add the Certo, put back on burner and boil for exactly 1 minute.

Remove from burner and let stand while you get the jars and lids out of the water.  Then with a tablespoon skim off the layer of foam until you have a clear top.  Pour into the jars.  Use a teaspoon to clear the bubbles on top and put on the lids.  Place in the water bath and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from water and let jars cool.  You should hear a pop on each of the lids.  If they do not seal, refrigerate the unsealed jar and use promptly.

I have never used Sure Jell instead of Certo, but a reader has asked about substituting Sure Jell for Certo.  I don't think you can do it in the same proportions.  Here is what I would try if you are using Sure Jell:

Savory Grapefruit Jelly Using Sure Jell
(Makes five Maybe six 8 oz. jars)

3-1/2 cups of grapefruit juice with 1/3 or 1/2 cup of summer savory
2 T. of lemon juice or vinegar of your choice (white wine or rice vinegar)
4 cups of sugar
1 box of Sure Jell

I think because the juice amount has been increased, I would increase the amount of summer savory.  Four tablespoons is a 1/4 cup, I would try 1/3 of a cup of herb maybe a 1/2.  Do the same as above in heating and steeping and then measure out 3 cups of flavored juice.  Add Sure Jell to the flavored juice in a large saucepan.  Bring to a hard boil and add sugar.  Again bring to a hard boil and continue to boil for l minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.  Pour at once into hot, sterilized jars and seal in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  I would guess that this mixture would produce an extra jar at least.  I would wash and sterilize at least six 8 oz. jars to be sure.

Would winter savory substitute for the summer savory?  I would say yes, but winter savory is a bit stronger so I would steep it 10 minutes not 15 and see how it tastes and then go from there.  If it needs more time you could add it.

I would use this jelly as a glaze in the last 15 minutes of baking pork or chicken and the cookbook mentioned fish.  I would also use it with thumbprint cookies and as a quick appetizer with a block of cream cheese and putting some of the jelly on top of cream cheese with crackers.  So it is still raining here and we are just doing whatever we can when we can.  Hope you had a great day.  Talk to you later!

Savory Grapefruit Jelly

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blogging with Photos from Smartphone!

A Very Soggy Herb Garden!
Prolific Chamomile!
First of the Daylilies Blooming!
This is One of the Containers from the Class I Did in May!
Well, this will be a lot of trial and mostly error!  I got a smartphone last week and have been practicing to take photos.  I just downloaded them now and I got error messages.  So you are seeing some but not some of my better photos!  Ugh!  OK, this is an update.  I think I figured out how to get all of the photos downloaded.  So I will be sharing more in the coming days.  And the rain just continues downward.  We have been getting an inch a day some days.  Yesterday was our first sunny dry day in weeks and we are just going to be rainy and cool for at least two weeks more!

I have been literally running out between rain showers and cutting what I can and drying what I can before it turns moldy.  I decided on jelly flavors today and cut my first round of summer savory to make jelly.  I have two choices and maybe I will make some with one flavor and make more later with another flavor if it keeps growing and does not rot!  Savory not a good herb of the year when it is so wet.  I have an abundance of tarragon.  So I will make tarragon jelly this year as well.  The herbs in containers are doing very well.  BTW, we got a new awning and if I can download a photo of it, I'll share it with my next post.

I have just try to keep ahead of the weeds and harvesting when necessary.  Hope you aren't too wet.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It is a Blessing and Honor to be a Blogger!

I have made some very dear friends over the years through blogging.  Some that I have never met.  I still feel close to each of you in different ways.  You will understand my title once I tell you this story.  Several years ago another blogger, Pat Taylor, who writes Thoughts From Taylorsoutback wrote a comment to me about this blog.  We connected through our love of herbs.  We have written back and forth ever since.  Recently she and her husband, John have been dealing with her elderly parents.  I have tried to be there for her when I could because I really lived the life they are leading now.

Among all of the adventures in her life, she owned a quilt shop and she has made me some lovely and cherished pieces over the years.  So the other day she announced to me that a package was on the way.  It arrived today and when I opened it a whole bunch of emotions ran through me.  Here is what the package contained.  It is a very special wall hanging.  I'm sorry the photos don't do it justice.

Garden ABC's
She Did the Embroidery As Well!
The Back is Almost As Wonderful as the Front!
  The Herbal Husband said there is a signature on the back.  It says:

Garden ABC's
Embroidered, Pieced and Quilted by
Patricia Lloyd Taylor

You see the Taylors have begun to downsize as we all must do and she thought that I would enjoy this treasure.  You can be sure that I will dear Pat!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!  It will bring joy to both The Herbal Husband and me!  It is a blessing and Honor to be a Blogger!

We had some more rain and it has been warm and muggy.  It may be a strange year for the herb garden.  Trying to keep up with weeds, trimming and harvesting.  I will get around to an herbal post soon.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Trying Blogger from My Tablet!

Really An Herbal Jungle!  Very Wet and Wild!
I can't believe that I am blogging from my tablet and not my laptop.  I never thought this would happen.  We are in the midst of serious storms at the moment.  So I don't want to write a whole lot in case we lose power.  We were working outside to get some tasks done like trimming spent blossoms of dianthus, sage and salad burnet.  Cut some more chamomile blossoms.  Going to have a banner year with those.  I didn't take any photos with my tablet.  So I will add a photo or two when I can.  Have some exciting news that I will share with you soon.  So hope you had a drier day than we did.  Talk to you later.

Even the Slug Wanted Out of the Garden!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Went to Dilltown for the Picky-A-Dilly Herb Faire!

A Lovely Herbal Tribute Garden to Cynthia Gilmore, Founder of the Dillweed B & B
Susanna Reppert-Brill and David Brill Were on "Vacation" with The Rosemary House Booth
Matteo's Herbs Had Wonderful Combinations of Herbs in Containers
Cindy Rogers Did a Talk About Savory--2015 Herb of the Year
Lamb's Ear Farm Was Selling Beautiful Perennials
Well, it's about time we got over to Dilltown for the Pick-A-Dilly Herb Faire co-sponsored by the Herb Study Group of Indiana County and the Dillweed Bed & Breakfast that has been going on for 17 years!  Bonnie and I made it late to the faire, herbally speaking!  I guess better late than never!  It was a very cloudy humid day but fortunately not 90 plus degrees as yesterday was.

You could miss Dilltown if you weren't paying attention, but not today.  All herbal eyes were there today and there was a good crowd there to buy jewelry, crafts, herbal products, antiques and particularly plants and of course, food, including pesto pizza which is a signature dish of the Dillweed.  There were a number of great vendors with exceptional plants for sale.  Bonnie and I are always available for breakfast, lunch or dinner and retail experiences of herb plants.

In the midst of the vendors was a lovely tribute garden to the founder of the Dillweed Bed & Breakfast who passed away last year from leukemia.  Her garden will live on in her memory.  We were happy to see Susanna Reppert Brill and David Brill, her husband manning The Rosemary House booth and enjoying their breakfast of pesto pizza!  They got a mini vacation staying at the Dillweed Bed & Breakfast and had thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I got my favorite, decaf Rosemary's Chai.  It is better than any chai I have found in England or the U.S.

I was really impressed with Matteo's Herbs and their selection of herbal combinations in containers something I just spoke about to a local garden club.  They are located in the town of Johnstown just down the hill from Dilltown.  If you are in that area, please check out their selection.  It looks good, herbally speaking.

So glad to learn a bit more about savory and I came away with a selection of booklets relating to some of the Herb of the Years as proclaimed by the International Herb Association complied by the Herb Study Group.  The Lamb's Ear Farm from Shelocta was one of several vendors with really great choices of plants.

The Herbal Husband was perturbed that I didn't bring anything home with me plantwise.  Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the choices and I really did go crazy in Virginia for our trip to the Herb Society Meeting and bought a carload of riches as far as herbs go.  And if I had brought home a bunch of plants, he might have been wondering where they would be planted!  I can't win some times!  So that was my day.  BTW, Bonnie bought my favorite, lemon verbena and a veronica called 'Baby Bomb' so it was a great trip for her.  Just between you and me, Bonnie and I are thinking about going to the Mulberry Creek Herb Farm's annual festival and it is a medieval one this year, June 27 and 28, 2015 with the lovely Kathleen Gips reprising her herbal role of Lady Katherine of Lovain.  Not to be missed.

We are still humid and warm almost as hot as we were yesterday.  So I would say the ickies and stickies are here for a while.  Hope you had a great day.  I'll talk to you later.     

Monday, June 8, 2015

Herb Society Meeting at Williamsburg, May, 2015, Part Four!

Shells Would be Typical for Paths in Colonial Times
Herbs Were Planted Closest to the Kitchen

A Row of Peonies for Decoration
Vegetables and Greens

More of the Greens
Cardoons or Artichokes
The Dynamic Kirk Brown
Christiana Campbell's Tavern Sign
The Front Door and Porch of Christiana Campbell's Tavern
A Toast to Williamsburg and the Herb Society of America!
One Last Stop on the Way Home to Plant Herbs at DeBaggio's Herb Farm!
2016 Herb of the Year Capsicum
Well, I must confess that while the merry band of herb lovers was happy with my garden tour in Williamsburg I made a big mistake.  So when we paid attention to Don Haynie and his dedicated volunteers from the Tidewater Unit who presented the different herb gardens in the historic area, it clicked with both Bonnie and I at the same time.  We rushed over after the presentations were done to take photos of the garden we had missed.  The kitchen garden at the Governor's Palace was RIGHT BEHIND the kitchen!  So here you go ladies.  It was terraced on a hillside starting with the most important plants, the herbs.  I loved the pathways which were of shells very typical for that time period. 

Saturday brought more great speakers including Kirk Brown, Dr. Doug Tallamy, Debra Knapke and one of our favorites, Holly Shimizu.  She and her husband have designed and planted a new historic garden in Lewes, Delaware.  It was very interesting as was all of the speakers.  Sometimes I get fidgety after a day of speakers but this went by quickly and it ended with us receiving a plant to take home to analyze as a 2016 Herb of the Year.  I got the 'Fish' pepper because next year capsicum is the herb of the year.

What an interesting plant this is besides being variegated, it is an African American heirloom which is a mutation of a Serrano pepper.  Click the link above to find out more about the 'Fish' pepper from one of my favorite herbalists, Susan Belsinger.  I will be giving our thoughts to the Herb Society as we go along.  We just transplanted it to a container and it should be just perfect for container gardening.

We ended our trip to Williamsburg and the HSA conference with dinner at one of my favorite taverns, Christiana Campbell's Tavern.  We pigged out and as you can see by our attire we enjoyed ourselves.  On the way home we made one more important stop at DeBaggio's Herb Farm in Chantilly, Virginia.  If you are going to be in the Chantilly area before July 1, please stop by.  You won't be disappointed.  They will be closed for the season on July 2.  Well, I hope you know from my posts that we had a wonderful time and learned a lot and had some great retail experiences, herbally speaking.

I just wanted to conclude by saying I loved being back in Williamsburg.  I thought it might be a busier time of year, but it wasn't.  It was not too hot and humid.  Good work Herb Society for picking this time in Williamsburg.  I would go back at this time again another year. I have one more post about Williamsburg but it can wait for another day.  Talk to you later.   

Herb Society Meeting in Williamsburg, May 2015, Part Three!

Pasteur & Galt Apothecary Garden
The Pleasure Garden of the Benjamin Powell House
The Kitchen Garden of the Benjamin Powell House
Leicester Longwool Sheep
Lots of Pleasure Gardens to See
The Best Pleasure Garden is One in the Shade
View of the York River from the Riverwalk Restaurant, Yorktown, VA
Had to Have Crab Cakes!

Finally Met the Elusive Carolee Snyder!
Beautiful Herbs on the Speakers Stage
So everyone in my little band of merry herb lovers wanted to see the apothecary garden.  It wasn't on the official tour map and I wondered why.  It was a lovely garden and one that should have been seen by all of the members of the Herb Society because medicinal herbs are such an important part of why we are learning about herbs in the first place.

Pasteur and Galt were competitors at first and then they formed a partnership and when Pasteur retired, Galt continued on.  So the inside of the apothecary is stocked and furnished just as it would have been in Galt's time.  During the war, they had to deal with public health issues such as small pox and whopping cough.  They obtained most of their potions and herbs from England at first.  What was fascinating and wonderful to me is that they treated both free and enslaved men and women.

The last garden was at the far edge of the Historic Area past the Capitol.  Not everyone ventured on, but Kathleen, Bonnie and I wanted to see it and I am glad we did.  The Benjamin Powell House and Garden was another combination of pleasure and kitchen garden.  Also they had sheep that Colonial Williamsburg is working to preserve, the Leicester Longwool sheep.  George Washington raised these sheep at Mount Vernon.

This part of the Historic Area had nice pleasure gardens and we were encouraged by the members of the Tidewater Unit to just go and walk into these gardens on our own.  It was really a lovely day.  We ended our day with dinner with Kathleen our long time friend from the Western Reserve Unit and long-time resident of Chagrin Falls and former owner of the Village Herb Shop.  We went down to Yorktown along the York River to the Riverwalk Restaurant.  A beautiful restaurant, great food and wonderful company!

On the first day of the conference I finally met Carolee Snyder who has sold her farm and is now semi-retired.  Don't try to find her at the farm, but she will still be writing her newsletter about all of her adventures.  I thought I did a lot when I travel.  Carolee seems to do twice as much.  We had wonderful speakers on the first day and day two would be even better if that's possible.

So one more post and I will finish our trip to the Herb Society Meeting in Williamsburg.  Talk to you soon. 

Herb Society Meeting at Williamsburg, May, 2015, Part Two!

The Back Entrance of the Governor's Palace
Ballroom Gardens
A Very Shaded Walkway to the Terraces and Canal
The Box Gardens
The Terraces and Canal
Just Like England!
You Can Get Around the Palace Green in Style!
Chowning's Tavern!  Time for Lunch!
John Who Reads His Poetry for the Tavern Audiences
Our Merry Herb Lovers at Lunch!
Our Entertainment Included a Fiddle Player!
The Wetherburn Tavern Herbs
The Prentis House Pleasure Gardens
The Prentis House Kitchen Garden and Orchard
A Bird Bottle Ready for Nesting
Also wanted to mention we had an herb lover from New Orleans named Ann tag along with the group.  From the start, Bonnie and I decided that we wanted to concentrate on the gardens and not worry about seeing the insides of the buildings in Colonial Williamsburg.  So with that in mind, I'm still talking about the garden tour day and continuing down the Palace Green to the Governor's Palace.  While we saw the pleasure gardens, we missed what I was really wanting to see and that was the kitchen garden.  Sorry ladies!  You will get to see that in Part Three!

I jumped ahead with the Geddy kitchen garden in the previous post so now it is time to go in style in a horse and carriage for lunch.  We just walked it!  We ended up right at Chowning's Tavern and had a delicious and very entertaining lunch.  You don't have to have lunch reservations at any of the taverns that are serving lunch, but not all of them serve lunch every day.

We then went to Wetherburn's Tavern which is one of the original buildings in the Historic Area and the one of the most complete inventories of objects, furniture and even plants, from seeds and pits from fruits and vegetables that were found in the well.  Again, the gardens including herbs, flowers and vegetables was very utilitarian!

The Prentis House garden is one of pleasure, a small kitchen garden and orchard.  As I told the ladies one of the first laws as Williamsburg was being developed was that the residential areas all had to have a fence of wood to keep out livestock, including horses, cows, sheep, etc. and I think also to define property lines.  The commercial buildings, the college, the church, the palace and the capitol were all surrounded by brick walls.

There is more to see.  I'm going to try to get the rest posted today if I can.  Dark clouds overhead here.  Hope you are safe if storms are coming your way.  Talk to you later.