Thursday, November 20, 2014

Honey Lemon Slices

It is citrus season.
My Meyer lemon tree produced a whopping 5 lemons this year.  Sad, but better than last year's 2. Container citrus culture is not producing the harvest I'd hoped for.
Nevertheless, we have a good assortment of organic citrus at the local stores these days, and lemons, oranges, and grapefruit are piled high in the fruit bowl ready for a quick snack or adding to tea or a recipe.

Honey and lemon is a tried and true remedy that most everyone is familiar with.
A cup of hot tea laden with honey and lemon juice is a quick fix for a scratchy throat.

Today I visited a friend and she showed me her latest 'recipe'- Lemon Slices in Honey.
Simply thinly sliced lemons suspended in a jar of honey.  She had this in the refrigerator to infuse.

This sounds like a great way to preserve my lemon harvest, and will be handy for when Lemon & Honey tea is ordered.

Have you ever preserved lemon slices in honey?  
How else do you use lemon in your household?

Herbal Blessings,

Catherine

Friday, November 7, 2014

Still Room Recipes Herbal Jams and Jellies

Blackberry Jam

Holiday gift giving season will soon be here.  Gifts from the still room are in the planning.  Most years I stick to bath and body themed gifts- sugar scrubs, bath salts, tub tea.  But this year I am going to add herbal jams and jellies to the list. 

One of my favorite herb books, The Pleasure of Herbs by Phyllis Shaudys, devotes 5 pages in the October chapter to herb jellies.  With herb and juice combinations such as the following suggestions, I've got lots of options to try:

  • Mint/apple juice
  • Thyme/purple grape juice
  • Rose Geranium/apple juice
  • Orange Mint/apple juice
  • Lemon Balm/red grape juice
  • Lemon Thyme/white grape juice
In the spirit of Christmas, I think my first batch will be Cranberry, Orange, Ginger.  I'll let you know how this turns out.

It seems jam and jelly is a popular item this season, after I added jams and jellies to this year's gift list, and planned  this post, I got an email from  Mountain Rose Herbs and what does it contain?  Making Herbal Jam & Jelly!  I love the synchronicity! 

So who else is making herbal jams and jellies this season?  
I'd love it if you'd share a recipe with us.


Herbal Blessings,

Catherine

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Rose

Few things are as lovely in my mind as October roses.  This beauty is blooming in the church courtyard garden.  Tiny, pink, Fairy roses are in bloom in my backyard as well as the Nearly Wild rose which blooms off and on all year round.

While I enjoy roses any time of the year, there is something special about them this season.  Perhaps it is the contrast of blooming roses and falling leaves.  One in bloom, one in decline.

I collect rose petals to dry and snip roses for floating in a teacup or tucking in a vase, savoring the scent and beauty of autumn roses.

Soon I'll be stirring up bath salts and tub tea for Christmas gifts ... some rose scented of course!

Do you have October roses in your part of the world?
How do you use roses in your home- for decorating, bath and beauty potions, in cookery?

Happy Weekend my friends!
Blessings,
Catherine Ann

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October in the Herb Garden


'Tis the season for planting herbs in my part of the world.
I've sown seeds for parsley, dill, cilantro, borage, St. John's wort, poppy, and other cool weather lovers over the past few weeks.  I see tiny, ferny dill seedlings, a borage or two, and wait expectantly for the slower germinators to sprout.

I've transplanted echinacea, Russian sage, hyssop, lavender, and mint; and potted up scented geraniums, patchouli and others that will spend the winter indoors.

Next comes planting garlic and my favorite flowers- violas and dianthus.

I do love fall gardening!

What is happening in your herb garden this season?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Autumn Tea


Any season is the season for tea, but autumn breezes, falling leaves, and a steaming pot of tea seem to be made for each other.  I have my countertop tea basket filled with an assortment of tea bags- 
Irish Breakfast (my morning wake up brew)
Zen ( a lovely mix of green tea and mint)
Sweet Tangerine Energy (nice for the afternoon when I get a bit drowsy)
Women's Energy (seems I've needed an energy boost lately, hence 2 energy teas in the basket)
Chamomile & Lavender (a simple blend of two wonderfully relaxing herbs)
Ceylon (a gift from dear friends in Sri Lanka)
Tulsi Rose (my evening favorite these days)

And in the cabinet, there are quart jars filled with loose leaf teas for brewing with a tea sock, by the cup or by the pot-
Orange Spice (a favorite fall & winter brew)
Fairytale Tea (a sweet blend from Mountain Rose herbs)
Oolong
Assam
Seasons of Discontent (for allergy ridden days)
Jasmine

A variety of teas, honey, soy milk, and my favorite cup- autumn tea time bliss!

What are your favorite teas for this time of year?
Do you mix your own tea blends?  I plan to play with that a bit in the coming days!

Herbal Blessings,

Catherine


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scents of the Season ~ Spicy Potpourri Mix


Fall is in the forecast here, and I am very ready.  I'm anticipating the rain and sweater weather that the weatherman predicts for this weekend.  Texas weather is rather fickle, so I'll believe it when I see it, but I'm hopeful!

In celebration of fall's arrival, I will be making one of my favorite 'Simmering Scents' for the stovetop- a mixture of dried oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and bay leaves.  I simmer mine in a cute little enamel pot that a dear friend sent me with her own 'simmering potpourri' one year.

The photo above was made as 'traditional' potpourri, so I added in some essential oil of orange to make it more highly fragranced.  I also added orris root powder  to preserve the scent (which explains the dusty white powder on the side of the bowl, which did not make for a pretty picture, oh well....).

For a quick simmering scent- use peels of fresh oranges, lemons, and or apples, along with a few shakes of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick or two.  I like to add in rosemary sprigs or mint sometimes in place of the cinnamon.

Do you have a favorite simmering scent for fall?

Do you make 'old fashioned' potpourri for display in bowls or jars?  

Please share your favorite way to bring a 'scent of the season' into your home!

Blessings,

Catherine


Monday, September 8, 2014

Autumn in the Still Room


Planning for Autumn in the Still Room in these last days of Summer ...  herbs drying for storage


ginger infused honey on the kitchen windowsill (a pitiful photo, but the honey will be delicious!) ...
star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom seeds all waiting to be stirred into a potpourri for simmering on the stove ...  planning a printable for sharing with you ... 
So many ideas seem to flit about in my head this time of year ... gathering them like acorns and storing them away for the days to come.

What good things are brewing in your Still Room this time of year?

Blessings,

Catherine Ann

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Seasons in the Still Room



I love the changing of the seasons, and I have to admit that Autumn (or Fall, whichever you call it) is my favorite time of year. I love the apples and pumpkins, the colorful leaves, acorns, dried Indian corn, chrysanthemums and other assorted autumnal things.  Fall is also the best ever time for gardening in my part of the world, and after the heat of summer, I relish cool mornings and warm afternoons spent in the garden.  Many herbs thrive in our mostly mild winters and fall is the time to plant perennials and seeds for early spring bloomers such as poppies, dill, cilantro, and borage.  
Inside, I take an inventory of the Still Room Pantry about this time of year.  Now is the time to restock and create a stock of herbal helpers for the coming cold/flu season.  I'll post more on stocking the Still Room later.  I also begin a list of herbal gifts I want to make for the holiday season.  Again, a post or two on Herbal Holidays is in the works for you in the days to come.
I also do more baking in the cool, crisp days of autumn. Muffins, coffee cakes, cobblers, and herb-laden biscuits and breads to accompany soups and stews are what I bake most often.  I'm working on a Still Room Recipe Book, which I plan to have ready in time for the holidays.  The following recipe is one way I like to welcome Autumn into our house:

Autumn Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 375.
Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish.

Apple mixture:
2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
pinch of nutmeg 

1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. sugar

Toss apples with lemon juice, sugar and spices to coat.
Place in baking dish.

Topping:
6 tbsp. butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (or 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup chopped nuts)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom

Use pastry cutter or your fingers to mix butter into other ingredients until you have a coarse, crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over the apples.
Bake until bubbly and brown, about 1 hour.
Serve plain or topped with ice cream, whipped cream or yogurt.

What are your favorite things about Autumn?
What herbs do you use most this time of year?

Herbal Blessings,
Catherine

Monday, July 28, 2014

Basil, Sweet Basil

basil

Basil loves the summer heat, but I have to be vigilant in keeping the blossoms plucked off or else it will promptly go to seed and wither away.  Thankfully, there are a multitude of lovely uses for basil to keep the plants nicely pruned and productive.  A few favorites are:

Caprese salad- a summertime staple in our home, even the littlest (and pickiest) Love loves this!  
The one above is a simple tossed together version.
You will need:
vine ripened tomatoes (don't even bother with those grocery store imposters)
fresh mozzarella (lovely if you make your own ... or buy from the grocery store)
fresh basil leaves (not dried, fresh is a must here)
extra virgin olive oil (your favorite brand or variety)
balsamic vinegar (or wine vinegar, or whatever you fancy)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss tomatoes and mozzarella in a serving dish.
Add a handful of torn basil leaves.
Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
Sprinkle on sea salt and black pepper to taste.

This is a great light lunch.  I serve this with garlic toasts, croutons, or gluten free crackers.
Enjoy!

Here's a link to a very pretty Pioneer Woman version, if you have nice slicing tomatoes, this makes a beautiful presentation.

Basil also livens up the salad bowl, the pasta plate, and when there is lots and lots of basil needing preserving quick, I blend it into pesto and freeze in ice cubes, or make a simple basil & olive oil puree and freeze that.  Then, when winter comes and the basil has gone away, I can pull a few pesto or basil paste cubes from the freezer and toss them into the soup or pasta sauce.  Basil chopped and mixed into softened butter is delicious on bread or summer vegetables.  Basil infused vinegar is beautiful, especially when made with purple basil, and makes delicious salad dressings and very nice gifts.  

These are just a few simple ways I  use up the bountiful basil in the herb garden.

What are your favorite ways to use basil?

What is your favorite variety- sweet, purple, Thai, holy, lemon, lettuce leaf ... ?

I enjoy them all!  Lemon is my favorite, but that's no surprise, is it?

Blessings,

Catherine 


Friday, July 18, 2014

Lemon Verbena Love

Lemon Verbena

I love lemony herbs, and my favorite of all is Lemon Verbena.  It has a delicious lemon fragrance that is wonderful in the teapot, baked goods, and scenting the home.  
As much as I love Lemon Verbena, it doesn't particularly love my Texas climate.  It burns up in the summer and freezes in the winter, so I treat it as an annual or a very tender perennial.  But in my book, it is well worth growing, even as an annual.  It dries well, so thankfully I can order a supply from Mountain Rose Herbs if my harvest is slim.

I'm not the only one who loves this lemony gem- here is a blog by the Lemon Verbena Lady!  This is a link to her recipes that feature Lemon Verbena.
She has great information on her blog about all kinds of herbs, not just Lemon Verbena, so do spend some time perusing her posts.  

How do you use Lemon Verbena in your home?
Do you have a favorite recipe?



Monday, July 14, 2014

Simple Recipe for Hot Summer Days


















Herb Buttered Pasta

Cook 1 lb. pasta per package directions.
While pasta is cooking, melt 2/3 cup butter and stir in 2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh basil and parsley, along with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

When pasta is done, drain and stir in herb butter.
Top with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread for a tasty summertime meal.

Blessings,
Catherine

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

12 Herbs for Hot Summer Days



It is HOT here, the thermometer is edging closer and closer to that dreaded 100 mark.  Now begins the season of hiding out indoors from lunchtime until the sun goes down in the evenings, and then it will still be uncomfortably warm.  I often slip out early in the day and gather snippings of herbs and flowers to brew up a nice herbal sun tea.


Some herbs wilt like I do in the summer heat, but there are hardy herbs that seem to enjoy the hot summer days (or at least not wither away if kept properly watered).

12 Heat Loving Herbs

basil
lavender
lemon balm (requires afternoon shade)
lemon verbena
Mexican mint marigold
mint (if grown in a shady spot and kept well-watered)
mugwort
oregano
rose
rosemary
thyme
sage

All of the above do reasonably well in my heart of Texas (HOT!) summer garden.  They do require almost daily watering and a few demand afternoon shade to keep them from burning up in the summer sun.  A thick layer of mulch helps hold in moisture and keep the soil cooler, too.

What herb grow well in your summer herb garden?








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