Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017, An Almost Herbal Year in Review!

January--A Cold and Snowy Selfie!
February--Sun and Snow!
March--A Symposium with the Western Reserve Unit of The Herb Society of America!
April--The Peppermint Scented Geranium Blooming in the Garage!
May--The Apricot-Pink Digitalis!
June--The Apothecary's Rose
July--Must be Time for Bee Balm!
August--Finally Got The Prairie Garden Finished!
September--The Herb Garden at the Geffrye, London, England!
October--Pineapple Sage in Full Bloom!
November--Spearmint Survives it All Until Snow Comes!
December--Brings Joys of Cuban Oregano Blooming!
There are always surprises in the herb garden and as I look back over the year 2017, it was better than I thought it was!  I think I am having more and more senior moments, herbally speaking!  I need to grow more herbs!  I didn't seem to want to post too much, but what I did post represented the herb garden at its maximum.   I have some major trouble spots to deal with in my herb garden in 2018.  Not sure whether they will be addressed or ignored.  Sometimes in this household, we just choose to look past the bad to the good.

I did not do one post celebrating the 2017 Herb of the Year!  I still have the same pile of magazines sitting by my chair to read.  Maybe in 2018?  You remember what it was don't you?  Cilantro/Coriander, one of The Herbal Husband's favorites.  Oh, yes, we have hops to explore in 2018 as well!  I am sure that hops will be interesting besides for making beer.  Please dear herb gods, come up with an interesting use for hops other than beer!

OK well I keep saying this, but I thought I would be finished blogging, but The Herbal Husband says to carry on every once in a while.  He wants you to see our trip in August and I still have to finish my May 2016 trip for you.  Soo we will carry on for now.  My stitching is bringing me great joy and I had lots of finished projects for me, 27 in all!  Still frigid here in the 'Burgh!  Stay warm!  Happy New Year!  I will see you in 2018!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

How I Dry My Herbs and Uses for Those Herbs!

What An Herbal Mess!
My work space is even more jammed than normal.  What you see on the table may or may not be used.  The Herbal Husband cut down even the brown bits and it remains to be smelled and decided about their fate!  I have no excuses for not getting this done.  Oh, maybe one.  I have been stitching!

One of my faithful readers, Faith asked a few weeks ago how I dry my herbs and how do I use them.  Faith, depending on how much time I have, I either hang them or layer them in paper toweling.  You can dry them in a very slow oven or in the microwave. I have an electric stove.  It would be better in a gas oven and microwaves are hit or miss.  I just let them air dry naturally.  You must make sure that the herbs are dry not wet from rain or dew so that they don't get moldy.  I don't put a whole lot of stems together, because they will not dry easily.  Here is a link to a previous post, Drying Your Herbs Made Simple and Smells from the Herb Garden Contained! that may be of help.

That post talks about paper towel layering which I love because you get a bonus of scented paper toweling.  The two main reasons I dry my herbs are to make potpourri for gift giving and to make herbal tea.  I also make herb mixes if I have enough herbs cut.  Most times I don't have that luxury.

Potpourri my way is getting a big container and it is usually a plastic one with a cover.  I have gotten in trouble suggesting plastic containers as storage.  If the herbs are at all wet and have not dried, you will get moldy herbs not dry ones.  And that has happened to me.  I am not immune from mistakes!  Glass containers with tops are preferred and tinted ones even better so the herbs do not fade.  I have some really big old glass jars that came from a commercial kitchen.  I think all of those jars are now plastic not glass.  Any way I just dump my ingredients into the container and mix it all up.  And then as I make gifts, I use tiny hemlock cones to infuse the potpourri with essential oils with individual containers.  Ingredients can include lemon verbena, rose petals, lavender flowers, mints, thyme, calendula petals, etc.  Continuing the Potpourri Conversation and Getting Crazy with the Boxes! has a bunch of potpourri resources.  Unless you want to buy your ingredients, you will be limited by what you dry.  But I have found that recipients are very amazed and grateful that you thought enough about them to give them a gift from your herb garden.  Simple Holiday Crafts with Herbs that I wrote for Mother Earth Living several years ago has some more favorite tips.  Just be sure to click on the Continue Reading tab to get the full post!   As I said in that post, a potpourri recipe is like a culinary recipe and you may not have all of the ingredients, but you may find a new combination that works better for you.

I sometimes don't talk enough about an herbal subject as I should and tea maybe one of them.  I did a post for Mother Earth Living in 2014 that was called Celebrate National Hot Tea Month and it will give you three of my favorite herbal tea blends and some other resources.  Again find that Continue Reading button and click it to get the full post!  Making Herbal Tea Blends gives you a French tisane recipe favorite and Tea Around Town  you will find a link to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article that has a bunch of information that I think you will find useful.  Again, it does come down to the herbs you have dried and how you will use them.  Hopefully these resources will give you some great ideas!

Coming to the end of another year, 2017!  I will be doing my year-end review in the next post!  Not much to review although I did manage to do at least one post per month over the year!  It is frigid in the 'Burgh and as I sit sipping a lemon ginger tea (lemongrass, ginger, lemon peel and a cinnamon stick) to make me feel better, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I didn't get Christmas presents, I got a cold!  Healthy all year and get to the holidays and collapse!  I think it is that way for a lot of people!  Stay warm if you in the northern half of the U.S.  I will talk to you later.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year, Herbally Speaking!

Mini Cross Stitch Ornaments on Our Tree!
So here we are in the holiday season.  I haven't been very vocal.  Hopefully in 2018 you will hear more from me.  I have some questions to answer and trips to finish and a new Herb of the Year, hops!  And I didn't even discuss the 2017 Herb of the Year yet.

So I am just going to pop up and blog when I get inspired.  We may have a white Christmas.  Hope so.  I will try to keep my blog header photo current.  So take care.  I will talk to you later.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Drum Roll Please! And The Winner Is... Winner Has Replied!

The Trusty Dusty Cheese Basket and The Herbal Husband!
Yes, he is back in the northern hemisphere!  He had a great time with family and friends and now it's back to business, herbally speaking.  The old cheese basket is ready with the potential winning names.  I still don't have a list of items that will go into the box.  So you will get jam and jelly as pictured in my last post and whatever we can fit in that large flat rate box.  You will be happy!  Oh,  almost forgot, the winner's name is:


I have reached out to the winner.  And I heard from her.  We will get the box ready and get it in the mail promptly.  You will have it in any case before Christmas.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has participated in my blog this year.  You are all herbal blessings to me and The Herbal Husband.  We would like to wish everyone who reads these words a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Annual Herbal Holiday Box Giveaway! This Contest Has Ended!

We are at that time of year already!  Didn't the year fly by?  Since I did not do a blogiversary giveaway in August, it was my ninth year, we will blow the doors off with this herbal holiday giveaway.  My herbal packer a/k/a The Herbal Husband is away at the moment, but on his return next week, I will have more specific contents.  It is a Large Flat Rate box.  You can put a lot in this box.  Here is what I know for sure.

You will get one each of my raspberry jam and four other jellies to include, tarragon wine and rose geranium from last year and lemon verbena and pineapple sage from this year.

Part of the Herbal Items in the Herbal Holiday Box!
Then it will be up to the herbal packer a/k/a The Herbal Husband to decide what else will fit.  He is a marvel so you will be happy I know.

More Herbal Goodies in This Bag, BAG IS NOT PART OF THE GIVEAWAY!
OK, this contest will run from the time posted today, Tuesday, December 5, 2017 to Noon (12:00 PM) Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.  It is open to residents of the 50 states of the United States.  It gets too pricey for foreign countries.  Please leave a comment with CONTACT INFORMATION ON THIS POST ONLY.  Just a genuine way I can contact you!  Oh one entry per person please!   I will try to have a complete list of items before the contest ends posted.  The Herbal Husband will have the honor to pick the winner next week and then we will get in touch and mail the box as soon as we can.  Facebook friends please comment on this post on the Facebook side to enter.  Good luck everyone! 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Holy Blooming Cuban Oregano!

What a Surprise When I Was Watering Today!
In all my years of growing this herb, I don't think I have ever had this herb bloom.  I love this herb, Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) which is not actually an oregano at all.  It has a bunch of common names:  Mexican Mint, Indian Borage, Caribbean Oregano, Country Borage, French Thyme, Indian Mint, Soup Mint, Spanish Thyme and Cuban Oregano.  It is so important to know your botanical name.  Common names are different in different areas of the world as you can see above.
It is very easy to grow in a container.  It was used in Victorian times as a bedding plant.  It is a tender perennial here in the 'Burgh.  It has a very pungent smell and flavor, a camphorous one.  There are lots of people in the Caribbean regions who use it in cooking.  I just tasted a flower and I would not use it in cooking.  It is too intense for me.  If you are interested in trying to cook with it, here is a recipe for Grilled Cuban Oregano Chicken from the Feral Kitchen and the 10 Best Cuban Oregano Recipes from Yummly.  Please let me know if you try any of these recipes.

We were much more seasonal today with sunshine and even cold temperatures seem better when there is sun.  The wildlife and I got along a bit better today, but I am counting the days until The Herbal Husband returns.  Hope you have had a great day.  It is December already!  I feel like I have glided through this year!  You may think so too!  OK we are getting closer until I unveil the contents of my annual Herbal Christmas box.  It is epic this year!  Talk to you soon.