Tuesday, February 9, 2016
I want to remind everyone about our program tomorrow, Wednesday, February 10 at 10:00 a.m. Cindy Meredith is giving a program on "Gardening Myths" at our regular meeting place 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Hope to see everyone there!
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Cindy Meredith Proprietor of The Herb Cottage in Hallettesville, Texas recently posted the following comment about Ann McCormick.
She said "From Ann McCormick, The Herb'N Cowgirl, this article on spices is excellent! Spice up your New Year with Ann's advice."
When we put up a calendar for the New Year, we often contemplate turning over a new leaf in our everyday life. Resolutions are made to lose weight, phone home more often, be nicer to the neighbors. When you’re thinking about what you’d like to change this year, give some thought to your food and how well it’s flavored. To get you going on this here a few suggestions for “seasonal resolutions” you can keep all year long.
Focus on One Spice Each Month
Sometimes we just get into a flavor rut, making foods automatically without considering how the seasoning could be enhanced. But major overhaul of how foods are flavored can cause a domestic riot, especially if you have a meat-and-potatoes guy around the house.
Instead of risking a revolt, try making changes a little at a time. Focus on one herb or spice each month. At least once a week consider how that seasoning could be included to make things taste better. For January, perhaps you can begin with paprika or chili powder. Try a little in the scrambled eggs or on the pot roast. Then in February, try another herb, thyme perhaps. By the end of the year, you will have increased your seasoning know-how with a dozen herbs and spices…and have better flavored food in the bargain.
Chances are you are storing your spice jars in a place that is either awkward to reach or bad for the spices themselves. A simple relocation may help encourage you to use them and keep them more flavorful.
Spice jars should be within easy reach when you are cooking. Keeping them on a shelf in the laundry room behind the canned tomatoes just doesn’t cut it. Think about where you do most of your work in the kitchen. Your spices should be within arm’s reach or, at most, one step away.
When selecting a location, remember that the three enemies of flavor are light, humidity, and exposure to air. Don’t store spice jars in freezers or refrigerators, above the sink or the stove, and never, never in a sunny window. Herbs and spices like cool, dry, dark spots. Freezers and refrigerators are the most humid places in the house (except for the bathroom after a hot shower). The sink and stove both contribute heavily to the humidity when they are in use. Sunny windows literally bleach out the flavor in your seasonings.
No, I don’t mean get out the dusting cloth and polish the jars. What you probably need to clean out is the contents of those spice jars! How old is that tarragon you keep shoving to the back? Is your paprika turning pale and tasting weak? If you’ve had any spice for more than two years, it’s time to toss them and get more. Having fresh spices will give you a better flavor boost when you use them.
Grow Your Own Herb(s)
Dried herbs are convenient, but fresh herbs always taste better. Let this be the year that you try growing at least one herb to use in your kitchen. Select something you already use frequently. Here are some of the more popular and hardy herbs ideally suited for growing in your garden or on the patio:
- Chives – Sprinkle fresh on soups, add to seasoned breads
- Oregano – Perfect with any tomato based dish
- Parsley – Good with scrambled eggs or mixed with meat seasonings
- Mint – Add to desserts as flavoring or garnish
- Rosemary – Use with roast poultry or grilled lamb
- Thyme – Goes with any meat seasoning or in biscuit mixes
If this is your first attempt at growing herbs, don’t get over-enthusiastic and buy twenty-seven different ones. Just try one or two and learn how to grow them. Success growing oregano will encourage you to go on and try thyme or rosemary. You can do it!
Learn to Make Something From Scratch
A recent survey revealed that only 70 percent of U. S. households own cookware (pots, pans, baking trays) and one third “rarely, if ever” cook from scratch. Add to this our fondness for fast food and it becomes clear we are losing our ability to make our own food the way we like it. Much of the food we eat is pre-packaged and seasoned according to a test panel at General Foods or Pillsbury. This is what I call the “least common denominator” method of food flavoring.
This year, buck the trend and learn to make something from scratch. If you don’t bake, try making cookies, a satisfying and quickly rewarding snack. If you rely heavily on those seasoning packets in the “Heat and Eat” aisle of your supermarket, try learning how to make your own salad dressing, or pasta sauce, or pot roast flavoring. It’s not rocket science.
Go Get ‘Em!
Long lasting changes are best done a little at a time as we incorporate new behavior into old routine. Make this the year you take charge of your home cooking and add spice to your life.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
The following is courtesy of website:
Climbing Pinkie photo by Linda T. Collins
For many gardeners, a rose is a rose. But before you plant one, you need to delve a little deeper. There are several categories of roses, and within each one, there are numerous cultivars.
Now is an excellent time to plant hardy shrubs, including roses, but before you go to the nursery, think about how you want to use them and why you intend to grow them.
The trend is to incorporate roses into your landscape planting just like any other shrub. This works well with old garden roses, landscape roses, polyanthas and floribundas.
Rose bushes vary greatly in size, so also consider how big a shrub would look best in your location.
If you want to grow roses with perfect flowers on long stems for cutting, choose cultivars of hybrid teas and grandifloras (although most roses make nice cut flowers). These rose bushes often have rather tall, awkward shapes that do not combine easily with other plants. That, along with their exacting cultural requirements, such as pruning and spraying, is why these roses are often grown together in separate beds.
If you want to train roses on a trellis, arbor or fence, choose rose cultivars from the climbers, ramblers and old garden rose categories. Look for those that produce long, vigorous canes, such as the noisette roses.
Repeat-flowering (everblooming) roses bloom heavily in April, May and June and again in October, November and December — and intermittently through the summer.
Once-blooming roses bloom profusely around April, May and June, then produce few or no flowers afterward.
The following list does not include all categories of roses, but does cover the more popular ones that will do well in our area.
Hybrid tea roses: Large, exquisitely shaped flowers produced singly on long stems are the hallmarks of hybrid teas. The flowers of many cultivars are richly fragrant and come in an amazing range of colors. The plants range in size up to more than 6 feet and can be leggy and awkward in appearance. Often highly susceptible to black spot, these roses generally require regular spraying and pruning to remain healthy. Repeat flowering.
Rosa chinensis was the first repeat-blooming rose discovered.
Grandiflora roses: These are tall plants that produce hybrid-tea-like flowers singly or in clusters of a few flowers on long stems. Generally comparable to hybrid teas, they also require similar care. Repeat flowering.
Floribunda roses: A useful type for landscape planting, the shrubby growth is less ungainly than hybrid teas. The flowers are smaller than hybrid teas, often brightly colored and produced in clusters. Fragrance is light or lacking entirely. Repeat flowering.
Polyantha roses: Excellent in landscape plantings, polyanthas are vigorously growing bushy plants that produce small flowers in large clusters or sprays. Most are relatively disease resistant, and they are some of the more reliable and easy to grow roses for our area. Many cultivars are fairly small, staying around 3 feet, while others can get quite a bit larger. Repeat flowering.
Climbing roses and ramblers: Many types of roses will produce long canes that can be tied or trained on a support. Some roses have been bred to climb while others are vigorous mutations of bush roses. Climbing roses generally do not "climb" the way vines do, and must be tied or woven onto supports. Ramblers and many climbers are once blooming, but some climbers are repeat flowering so check before purchasing.
Miniature roses: Tiny to small bushes under 2 feet, miniature roses are delightful in containers. They are very hardy and will easily tolerate winter weather when planted in the ground. On a small scale (less than an inch), the flowers are similar to hybrid teas and come in many colors. Repeat flowering.
Landscape roses: This is a catchall category for rose cultivars that tend to be bushy and useful for landscape planting. This category includes the popular and reliable Knock Out roses and the smaller-growing Drift roses. Repeat flowering.
Old Garden roses: "Old garden rose" or "antique rose" are catchall terms used for many distinct categories developed before 1867. Some grow better in Louisiana than others. These roses are outstanding choices for our gardens. Within each category, there are many cultivars. Old garden roses are generally less available at local nurseries than other types. Watch for plant sales at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park. The garden's staff often propagates old garden roses from its collection and offers the plants at its sales. Or you can find old garden roses online at specialized mail-order nurseries, such as the Antique Rose Emporium.
China roses: Rosa chinensis was the first repeat-blooming rose discovered, and the China roses are derived from this species. (All repeat flowering roses likely have R. chinensis in their breeding.) The abundant flowers are not highly scented and have thin, delicate petals. The foliage is neat, dark green, pointed and rarely bothered by black spot. These roses have a bushy, twiggy growth habit that fits in well with landscape plantings. Repeat flowering.
Tea roses: Wonderful roses for Louisiana, teas produce relatively large flowers in pastel shades and light reds. The fragrant flowers are produced continuously on robust bushes that are rugged and disease resistant. Repeat flowering.
Friday, January 22, 2016
I found the following post on Facebook Food Republic and thought that it was a good article for our Rockport Herbies Blog. If you haven't done so be sure to check to check out Food Republic website:
Information is courtesy of Facebook Food Republic: http://www.foodrepublic.com/2011/05/11/what-makes-food-spicy/
FOOD SCIENCE 101: THE CHEMISTRY OF CAPSAICIN
By: Jared Levan
By: Jared Levan
Most men would agree that the creation of food is considered an art. While this may be true, the fundamentals of food—and of flavor—rely greatly on science and how the molecules in our food interact with the molecules of our bodies. That being said, consider this a lesson in the science of food. Today’s topic: capsaicin.
What is capsaicin?
Capsaicin (pronounced cap-say-a-sin), an organic compound produced by the seeds in plants of the genus Capsicum, is the active ingredient that gives spicy food its fiery heat. Capable of bringing even the bravest of men to submission if administered in high enough a concentration, this natural irritant is present in all chili peppers and functions as an evolutionary defense mechanism against the one thing we do best—eat them.
Why the burn?
No lesson on capsaicin, or its effects, would be complete without a brief explanation of your body’s primary instrument for taste—the tongue. Not only is the human tongue the strongest muscle in the human body relative to its size, but it is also home to the millions of microscopic receptors that make our sense of taste possible. In addition to the five tastes of bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami, your tongue contains thousands of pain receptors, called VR1 receptors—capsaicin’s prime target. Here’s how it works. Capsaicin molecules in your food come in contact and bind to the pain receptors on your tongue. What ensues is a burning sensation, signaled by the brain, which is identical to what happens when you get your hand too close to a hot fire—it burns! The difference with the burn from capsaicin? No physical damage is actually done to the tongue. Kind of cool, right?
While many of you can appreciate a substantial degree of heat from the plethora of chili concoctions out there, sometimes the burn can be too hot. What can you do if you overstep your threshold for pain?
If you do fear a capsaicin “overdose,” steer clear of the water glass. Though it would seem that a nice gulp of ice cold water will douse the flames within, think again. It will only make it worse. The reason is simple: capsaicin, as an oil, does not mix with water and will only spread the burn.
Sugar & Fat
Consider them culinary “S.P.F”—or pice rotection actors. The chemistry of why fat-laden foods will sooth the sting of capsaicin is just as simple as why water will not. While insoluble in water, capsaicin is soluble (which simply means it will dissolve) in other oils, such as those found in milk products and other fatty foods. Once diluted with other fats, the capsaicin molecules in your mouth are incapable of binding to the VR1 pain receptors on your tongue. As an illustration, imagine a broken play in football where your quarterback—represented here by capsaicin—gets sacked by the entire defensive line.
Much like with fats, sugar too will block the capsaicin from binding to pain receptors and is the reason why sweet wines are generally paired with spicy foods—their high residual sugar content coats your mouth and helps prevent the intense burn of supremely spicy foods.
What’s the point?
Besides maybe a good sweat, what can you gain from shoveling down capsaicin-rich chilies? The easiest explanation, though not a scientific one, is for their taste. Peppers such as the habanero or the jalapeño, for example, have long been used in Latin and Caribbean cuisines because of the distinct and unmatchable flavors they impart on the foods to which they are added. Scientifically speaking, the spicy significance of capsaicin has evolved from the chemistry of taste to hot-topic applications in medicine, such as a capsaicin-enriched cream used by arthritis patients to relieve pain. Whatever your motivation, get it while it’s hot.
Monday, January 11, 2016
THANK YOU MARILYN VAUGHAN FOR GIVING THE PROGRAM AND A TOUR OF YOUR BEAUTIFUL GARDENS!!
On 1/11/2016 4:57 PM, Linda Collins wrote:
I'm so glad that the holiday season is over. Maybe we can slow down finally
I want to remind everyone about our upcoming program this Wednesday, January 13 at 10:00 a.m. I'm sorry about such late notice.
Cindy Meredith is giving a program on "Moringa: The Miracle Tree" at Marilyn Vaughan's house located at:
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Hope to see everyone there!
Linda T. Collins
Monday, November 16, 2015
Everyone is so busy, so rather than research and type new information and recipes, I'm just going to suggest that you go to all of our past November Blogs located to the left under Blog Archives. We have lots of good information and recipes!