Saturday, December 11, 2010

I never promised you an "Urb" garden

But if you read this you just might get one. You never know what you will find from Facebook friends.  I have a friend who is living in the Netherlands now.  She posted this on her site. I have to admit it is too much trouble for me but if I were younger and had more energy I would surely give it a try. Thank you Gayla.
Herb and Urban Garden makes the Urb Garden
This is the ultimate herb garden. It’s not yet in production, but was designed by Xavier Calluaud and shows lots of promise. It employs drip watering, worms and compost to provide fresh edible plants. The design is named “Urb Garden” and was designed in Australia. The Urb Garden is a vertical garden designed to encourage personal food production in small urban domestic environments.

The vertical garden is compact which is perfect for balconies, courtyards and community gardens.
It’s made from HDPE which is easily recycled and fully weather resistant. Food scraps are then placed into the worm farm which produces liquid fertilizer. Water is then added to the fertilizer and the liquid is pumped up to a holding tank. It then drips down through the growing pods and then drains back to the tank to be recycled through the system. The potting mix can be refreshed with castings from the worm farm before replanting.
For photos and instruction follow the links.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Over the years, I have done some research on December, Christmas and Winter Holiday Herbs, and here is just a little information that I found about some of these holiday herbs.

December Holiday Herbs and Their Symbolism

· Basil Ocimum basilicum - Love and good wishes, herbs of kings
· Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis - Glory, reward of merit
· Boxwood Buxus sempervirens - Constancy, stoicism, constant love
· Cedar Cedrus, fir Abies, juniper Juniperus, spruce Picea abies - Living presence of the Holy Spirit, prayers ascending
· Costmary Tanacetum balsamita - Bible Herb, Herbes Sainte-Marie, fidelity
· Cypress Cupressus sempervirens - Longevity, eternal life, mourning
· Everlastings Helichrysum (Celosia, Globe, Statice, Amaranth, Strawflower) - Life everlasting
· Holly Ilex - Reminder of the crown of thorns
· Ivy Hedera - Reminds us by its habit of clinging to a strong wall of our Human frailties in need of divine support
· Marigold Tagetes - Mary's plant, friendship flower
· Marjoram Origanum marjorana and Oregano Origanum vulgare - Joy, happiness, kindness
· Mint Mentha - Lady's mint, eternal refreshment, wisdom, virtue
· Mistletoe Viscum - Eternal life springs forth in the midst of seeming death
· Myrtle Myrtus communis - Love, dedicated to Mary, symbol of virginity
· Parsley Petroselinum crispum - Mary's little finger, festivity, feast
· Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium - Manger herb, flee away
· Pine Pinus - Longevity, eternal and vigorous life, friendship
· Pot Marigold Calendula Officinalis - Mary's Gold
· Rose Rosa - Purity, God's love expressed
· Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis - Mary's tree, remembrance, love, friendship, loyalty
· Rue Ruta graveolens - Herb of grace, virtue, banishes evil
· Sage Salvia officinalis - Immortality, health, happiness
· Santolina Santolina chamaecyparissus - Great virtue, avoids evil
· Statice Limonium sinuatum and Globe Amaranth gomphrena - Life everlasting
· Thyme Thymus - Bravery, a manger herb
· Winter Savory Satureja montana - Interest, spiciness, manger herb
· Wormwood Artemisia absinthium - Life everlasting, absence
· Yew Taxus -Penitence, sorrow, sadness

COSTMARY Tanacetum balsamita--Costmary leaves were used to add spice to holiday ale, or wassail, in old Europe. Ivy and bay laurel were long used, along with other greens, to help celebrate the winter solstice in early Europe, with ivy symbolizing friendship and bay laurel as a reminder that the long winter would soon melt into spring.

ENGLISH PENNYROYAL Mentha pulegium--This perennial herb was said to have been placed in the manger on the night of the Christ child's birth and burst into bloom the moment the child was born. English pennyroyal adds a fragrant aroma to wreaths but can be toxic if ingested, so keep it out of reach of pets and children. It is often used in potpourri and cosmetics and is native to southern Europe and western Asia.

NOTE: Safety/Precautions for Pennyroyal which is a well-known abortificant

Pennyroyal has been used traditionally to induce abortions. Pennyroyal is dangerous and has led to serious adverse effects and death. Therefore, pennyroyal should not be used for this or any purpose.

This is a medicinal herb and should not be taken internally for any reason.

LAVENDER Lavandula--The Virgin Mary is said to have dried her newborn's swaddling clothes by spreading them on a bed of wild lavender. This herb, also of the mint family, grows as a small evergreen shrub. It has grey-green leaves, light purple flowers, and a sweet floral scent. When dried it can be used whole for wreaths and centerpieces or crushed to use in sachets for closets or drawers or to scent a bath.

ROSEMARY Rosmarinus officinalis--One of the most beautiful and fragrant of the seasoned herbs, rosemary, according to folklore, will bring happiness for the coming year to anyone who smells it on Christmas Eve.

Until the 20th century, rosemary was a very popular Christmas evergreen, right up there with holly and mistletoe. A gilded rosemary sprig was a treasured gift. Why it fell out of use is a mystery, but it is starting to make a comeback with the use of rosemary in holiday wreaths and rosemary topiaries as small Christmas trees. Perhaps the use of rosemary, which symbolizes remembrance, can help us to remember the meanings of our winter holidays.

Just a note on those cute little rosemary Christmas trees: They don’t like being pruned up as a Christmas tree, and they don’t like living in the house, so right after Christmas plant them outside and let them grow back to their nature shape, and you will be rewarded with a great culinary herb.

During the flight into Egypt, Mary spread her child's garments on a rosemary plant to dry. The flowers, originally white, turned blue and acquired the sweet scent they have today.

Another legend claims that at midnight on January 5, the "old Christmas Eve," rosemary plants will simultaneously burst into flower in celebration of Christmas. Rosemary plants add attractiveness and fragrance to holiday wreaths and are especially suitable for tussie mussies, which are small bouquets made with dried flowers, doilies, and ribbons for use at individual place settings on the holiday dinner table.

WILD THYME Thymus serpyllum--This pungent herb, a member of the mint family, was collected from the fields outside of Bethlehem to make a soft bed for Mary during the birth of her child. It is thought to have antiseptic properties and was burned as incense later in history by the Greeks. Today thyme is a popular culinary seasoning but can be used in dried flower arrangements, bouquets, and potpourri during the holiday season.

FRANKINCENSE Boswellia sacra and MYRRH Commiphora myrrha--Christianity teaches that frankincense and myrrh were given by the Three Kings along with gold, as gifts to baby Jesus. They were once considered to be rare treasures. Legend has it that both frankincense and myrrh were worth their weight in gold. Also yarrow Achillea, sometimes called the “carpenter’s weed” because of its healing powers, is significant in the holiday tradition because of its association with Joseph the Carpenter. Today there is a blend of frankincense, myrrh and gold yarrow which is named “Potpourri of Three Kings”.

All three of these herbs have been used as medicinal herbs for centuries. Both frankincense Boswellia sacra and myrrh Commiphora myrrha are drought-resident shrubs which grow in the wild in the Middle East and the resins are harvested throughout the year, but the resins collected during the hottest and driest part of the season are considered the best. If you want to try to grow them, they will need well-drained to dry soil and full sun with temperatures being a minimum 50º to 60º. (The above two photos are myrrh trees.)

I FOUND THE FOLLOWING TO BE VERY INTERESTING. It was sent to me by Michael Bettler, LUCIA'S GARDEN, 2216 Portsmouth, Houston, Texas 77098.


The motto of the floral industry is "Say It With Flowers", and out of that expression comes a chronicle of human history's experience with agriculture, horticulture, and floriculture. There are trees that mark our seasons by their green leaves, "evergreens", trees that mark our seasons by their changes of color, such as maples, sycamores, elms, tallows and so many other native and nonnative trees. There are nut trees like the native pecans, fruit trees, berry bushes that give us seasonal fruit. Junipers, ferns and ivy vines serve as natural garlands of color and seasonal food for wild birds and back yard critters alike.

We sing about the traditional Christmas tree, and create garlands of evergreen boughs to decorate our homes, to remind us that even in the dark of midwinter, life continues. If we have a fire place and hearth in our home, a Yule Log serves the tradition of keeping a fire lit during "the longest night" to symbolize a promise that the sun will come tomorrow. Bonfires do the same in fields, kept burning all night to welcome the new day's morning sun. Pomegranates carry on the Greek myth of Persephone and the Persian and Indian seasonal promises of Spring.

From the kitchen, spices such as cinnamon, cloves and allspice scent the house. Mixtures of apples, dried grapes, plums, apricots and citrus peel form the base of a hot wassail to warm us. Bay laurel wreaths hang on the door to remind us of the glory of the season, and bay leaves punctuate the sauces of roast beef and wild game. Sage is mixed with rice dishes and squash. Beans love a bit of thyme and oregano. The food of winter is the joy and celebration of the fall harvest.

There are also the spiritual traditions of winter herbs that are often forgotten but so easily accessible to us. Their symbols are as important and represent another aspect of winter we tend to overlook in all the color and lights, the hustle and gift wrapping of the season. These are the seasonal symbols that can be added to a winter feast bouquet, tucked into napkin rings, added to sprays on side tables and tucked into the ribbons tied on presents as extra gifts from the garden. Rosemary represents remembrance for special friends. Lavender is a fragrant scent of the sweetness of life. Horehound is a wish for health. Marjoram is for the joy of the festivities, as is its cousin Oregano. Mint is a reminder of home. Sage speaks of virtue and long life. Thyme is for courage to face the darkness of the long winter nights. All of these can be made into bouquets or tussie-mussies to be given to friends, hung on the door handles of neighbors' front doors, or the bedroom door handles of visiting house guests.

And there is the story of the three Magi, the three Wise Men and their gifts of "Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh". There is much discussion on whether the "gold" was the metal "gold" or if it was another incense, as are Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) and Myrrh (Commiphora erythraea). Frankincense as an incense was used to purify temples more than 2,000 years ago.

It is still used for that purpose today in much of the world. Myrrh as an incense was used to purify the air in clinics, lodges and inns. Today Myrrh is found in mouth wash and tooth paste.

(The above two photos are a frankincense tree and frankincense resin.)

The "gold", if it was not the metal is thought to be "Aloeswood." (This is not Aloe Vera, a soft-tissue succulent.) *Aloeswood (Aquilaria spc.) is a hard wood that is the most expensive wood in the world. It is still used today as an incense, and a piece of it can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars an ounce, hence its value as "gold". These symbols of the Gifts of the Magi are Gold for Christ the King, Frankincense for Christ the Priest, and Myrrh for Christ the Healer.

If you are not Christian in your beliefs, the word "incense" denotes a material used to produce a fragrant odor, a perfume from spices and tree gums or resins. Incense is universal, and even regional incense varieties exist, such as "Copal" from Central and South America, members of the pine family along with pinon (Pinus cembroides).

Find the "Herbs of Winter" from your family's traditions and continue these in your home during the long nights. Bring loved ones and friends together and renew your belief in the coming of the sun, and keep the cold winter away.

Michael Bettler

*While doing research on Aloeswood, I found where it was noted that it has also been used in nearly every religious tradition. It was aloeswood and myrrh that was burned at Jesus burial ceremony.


8 Tablespoons Butter (1 stick of butter)
½ Tablespoons fresh Rosemary, finely chopped (1 ½ teaspoons)
¼ Cup superfine sugar
1 ¼ Cups all-purpose flour

Sugar (can use red and green colored sugar)

Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Work in the flour and rosemary to make soft dough; shape into a ball. Roll out on a floured surface until ¼ inch thick, cut into rounds with a 2” fluted cutter, or cut into any shape that you like. Bake on a greased baking sheet in a 325° oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shortbread changes color. Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with sugar. Makes about 12 cookies.

Recipe from A Collection of Recipes complied by the Aransas/San Patricio County Master Gardener Association April 1999

Compiled and submitted by:
Linda Turner Collins

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our Annual Christmas Party Wednesday, December 8, 2010

 Meeting will be @ 11:00 a.m.: Marilyn Vaughn has graciously offered her home for our Holiday Christmas Luncheon.  We are having a pot-luck luncheon (pot-luck means just that, i.e. SURPRISE!) with dishes using herbs if possible, a $10.00 gift exchange and good company.  Linda will try to remember to bring the wine.
Marilyn lives at 330 Spanish Woods Dr.  That is the main road through Spanish Woods subdivision.   Here is a map
View Larger Map

Hope to see  you there.
Lost?  Call Marilyn 727-1723;  Ruth 230-0332; Linda 729-6037

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Every year in the U.S.A. we celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November with a dinner consisting of a wonderful array of foods, including turkey, stuffing, corn casseroles, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie to name just a few. Oh, and of course family, friends, parades and FOOTBALL!

Now where did we get some of these traditional turkey-day foods? Of course from the English colonists at Plymouth a/k/a Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, the Native American Tribe that occupied the area now known as New England where the Pilgrims settled in December 1620. The Wampanoag were a horticultural people who supplemented their agriculture with hunting and fishing. They taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, melons, Jerusalem Artichokes, groundnut, a potato-like root, and other vegetables, in addition to teaching them hunting and fishing skills.

With few supplies, cold, sick and slowly starving to death, less than half of the original Pilgrims managed to survive the first winter of 1620-1621. However, with the help of the Wampanoag, the remaining Pilgrims had a bountiful 1621 fall harvest. Sometime between September 21 and November 11, 1621, the 52 Pilgrims shared their bounty with the 90 Wampanoag at a three-day harvest feast, now known as Thanksgiving. There were no forks at the time, but rather just knives and spoons, and plates which were usually wooden. They wiped their hands on large cloth napkins which they also used to pick up hot morsels of food. Salt would have been on the table at the harvest feast, and people would have sprinkled it on their food. Pepper was something that they used for cooking but wasn't available on the table.

Items most likely on the menu included the following:

• CORNBREAD: admired by both the English and Native Americans
• ENGLISH CHEESE PIE: cheese was important to the English
• VENISON: five deer were brought by the Native Americans
• DUCKS & GEESE: gathered by the English
• WILD TURKEY: Native Americans and English alike enjoyed this meal
• STUFFING: with herbs, onions and/or oats
• GARLIC AND ONIONS: staples of the diet
• PUMPKIN PUDDING: there wasn't pumpkin pie at the time
• INDIAN PUDDING: can be served as a warm or cold dessert

In September and October 1621, a variety of both dried and fresh vegetables were available to the Pilgrims. The produce from their house-gardens were likely to have a number of herbs which included wild onions, wild garlic, leeks, sorrel, yarrow, lettuce, carrots, radishes, currants, liverwort, watercress, parsnips, collards, turnips, spinach, cabbages, parsley, marjoram, sage, rosemary and thyme. Also it is thought that dried cultivated beans and dried wild blueberries may have been available as well as native pumpkins, grapes, nuts and cranberries which were a favorite of the Wampanoag.

The following is a more detailed list of foods that were available to the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag for their 1621 feast:

• FISH: cod, bass, herring, shad, bluefish, and lots of eel.
• SEAFOOD: clams, lobsters, mussels, and very small quantities of oysters
• BIRDS: wild turkey, goose, duck, crane, swan, partridge, and other miscellaneous waterfowl; they were also known to have occasionally eaten eagles (which "tasted like mutton" according to Winslow in 1623.)
• OTHER MEAT: venison (deer), possibly some salt pork or chicken.
• GRAIN: wheat flour, Indian corn and corn meal; barley (mainly for beer-making).
• FRUITS: raspberries, strawberries, grapes, plums, cherries, blueberries, gooseberries (these would have been dried, as none would have been in season).
• VEGETABLES: small quantity of peas, squashes (including pumpkins), beans
• NUTS: walnuts, chestnuts, acorns, hickory nuts, ground nuts
• HERBS and SEASONINGS: wild onions and garlic, leeks, strawberry leaves, currants, sorrel, yarrow, carvel, brooklime, liverwort, watercress, and flax; from England they brought seeds and probably planted radishes, lettuce, carrots, onions, and cabbage. Salt was available on the table, but pepper was used only during cooking. Olive oil in small quantities may have been brought over, although the Pilgrims had to sell most of their oil and butter before sailing, in order to stay on budget.
• OTHER: maple syrup, honey; small quantities of butter, Holland cheese, and eggs.

Furthermore, it is thought that the Pilgrims used many spices, some of which they brought over to the New World, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit, which was used in sauces for meats. In the seventeenth century, cooks did not use proportions or talk about teaspoons and tablespoons, but rather they just improvised. Also they dried Indian corn, ham, fish, and herbs.

According to some food historians, they can only guess as to what favorite herb seeds and cuttings were brought from the English gardens. Although medicinal herbs would have been a priority, basic culinary herbs in use at the time by English "goodwives" included mint, sage, parsley, thyme, marjoram, tansy, pennyroyal, rosemary and chamomile. Rooted cuttings were most likely stuck into root vegetables to help them survive the 66-day trip.

The local Native Americans taught the Pilgrims about native vegetables and herbs including many different kinds of nuts, berries, greens, and mushrooms which they gathered from the woods. Along with the many herbs especially valuable for medicinal uses, the settlers also learned to use strawberry and blackberry leaves, sassafras root, bee balm, and birch bark for teas.

The following quotes about the gathering of herbs and vegetables by the Wampanoag are from website

SEQUAN and AUKEETEAMITCH (March to May) Spring:
Spring greens are probably one of the most important food source used by the Natives at this time of the year. These supplement the dwindling supplies of corn and provide vitamins lacking during the winter. Roots and tubers of plants such as Bulrush, Cattail, Jerusalem Artichoke and Groundnuts are available year round, but were added to soups in the spring. Other plants and plant parts such as Cattail shoots, Fiddlehead Ferns, Milkweed and Poke shoots are only available in the spring, as some of these plants become poisonous later in their growth cycle.

The sprouts from other plants like sumac, raspberry were. . . . Wild onions and garlic would begin to be used in the late spring into summer. Berries would begin to be used in May, towards the middle to the end of the month. Raspberries and Strawberries should begin to fruit and these can be dried or used fresh.

NEEPUN or QUASQUSQUAN (June to August) Summer:
Corn, which Winslow noted was "...very deare to them...” in July, was probably used up around this time, and the beans and squash which may have been present in early spring were definitely gone by summer. Green beans and summer squash do begin to ripen and are collected in July and August. Green corn (also known as corn in the milk) is available in August, which, among the Iroquois, is considered a time of celebration. It is not known if the Wampanoag celebrated the ripening of the corn with Green Corn Festivals the way the Iroquois did, or if they only celebrated the harvest later in the year.

Bulrush and cattail roots and bulrush shoots can still be collected during the summer, and bulrush seeds are ready to be harvested, dried and ground into flour in August and September. Cattail pollen can be collected in late July and can be eaten raw, cooked in soup, or roasted and the seeds can be ground into flour. Onion and garlic can be used, the onion especially with fish. Purslane and goosefoot (Chenopodium) can also be put into soups or more correctly boiled separately and eaten throughout the summer. Beach plums and blueberries ripen in July and can be harvested and dried at this time, while choke cherries ripen in August and can also be dried.

TAQUONCK (September to November) Fall:
In the Fall, subsistence focused on products from the garden and the fall deer hunt. The horticulture which had been practice in southeastern Massachusetts from at least 1100 A.D (900 years ago) provided the people with much of their food in the fall and especially the winter. Corn, which began to be harvested in its milk stage in August, matured in late September and was harvested in October after the plants had died. The corn was thoroughly dried, and some of it was placed in underground storage pits for the winter. Beans were also dried on the vine and stored for the winter, whereas squash may have been sliced in rings or spiral sliced and dried in the sun to use in winter. Small dark green watermelons which are grown in the garden are harvested and eaten as they become ripe. Finally, sunflowers, grown on the edges of the gardens, are harvested now and boiled to remove their oil, which is saved to be used later (See Oils and Grease below).

Certain wild plant species are harvested during the fall as well. Prominent among these are various types of nuts, such as hazel, hickory, beech, butternut, chestnuts and white oak acorns. Some years, more nuts would be harvested than in other years, depending on how well the corn crop had done that year (Williams 1643: 168). The final berries of the season, cranberries and grapes were harvested at this time and eaten fresh or dried.

PAPONE (December to February) Winter:
Winter subsistence continued in much the same way that the fall did. Hunting and fresh water fishing provided meat for the family, while their vegetable needs were the crops which had been dried and stored from the previous years planting season. During the late winter into very early spring, a community may be faced with dwindling food supplies. This would be especially if it was a particularly hard and long winter Corn, beans and squash crops were probably initially cultivated in this area as a way of supplementing the winter food supplies with a reliable and predictable food source. With the approach of spring, families would again begin to look for the spring greens and returning fish as welcome changes from the winter diet, and the cycle begins anew.

Although today our Thanksgiving celebration occurs about two months later in the year than the Pilgrims' celebration, we still season our dishes with many of the same herbs they used, especially sage, thyme and rosemary. These are all woody perennials which, in late November, are not yet completely dormant in the northern gardens of the U.S.A. However, in south Texas this is when they thrive, and come summer the sage and thyme will die back due to our intense heat and humidity. The rosemary can and does thrive year round here in south Texas providing it has excellent drainage.

In addition to adding sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, Mexican Mint Marigold (sometimes referred to as Texas Tarragon and is a replacement for French Tarragon), and other herbs to turkey dressing, the leaves can be placed in the cavity of the Thanksgiving turkey. And for a great presentation, slide your hands between the turkey breast meat and skin to loosen the skin. Rub butter or margarine on the breast meat and arrange the leaves under the skin. Pat the skin down and roast, and when finished, the leaves will show through the browned skin.

So go ahead and be creative in the kitchen this Thanksgiving by learning to use fresh herbs which add wonderful flavors to many dishes. When you add fresh herbs, you can decrease your intake of salt and oils without losing flavor. Here are some suggestions for using culinary herbs in your cooking.

Herbs and Foods:
• Basil - pesto, tomato sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice, potato dishes, prawns, meat, poultry, pasta, rice, egg dishes, substituting for lettuce on sandwiches.
• Bay - soups, stews, casseroles, meat and poultry marinades, stocks.
• Chili - meat, poultry, shellfish, tomato dishes, curries.
• Chives - salads, poultry, soups, cheese dishes, egg dishes, mayonnaise, vinaigrettes.
• Coriander/Cilantro - Asian dishes, stir fries, curries, soups, salads, seafood.
• Dill - salads, sauces, fish, salad, sour cream, cheese and potato dishes.
• Fennel - stuffings, sauces, seafood, eating as a vegetable.
• Garlic - soups, sauces, pasta, meat, poultry, shellfish, pesto, salad dressings, and bread.
• Ginger - cakes, biscuits, Asian dishes.
• Lemongrass - Asian dishes, stir fries, curries, seafood, soups, rice, tea.
• Marjoram - meat, fish, egg dishes, cheese dishes, pizza.
• Mint - drinks, confectionary, meat, poultry, yoghurt, desserts, sauces, vegetable dishes.
• Oregano - cheese dishes, egg dishes, tomato sauce, pizza, meat, stuffing, bread, pasta.
• Parsley - pesto, egg dishes, pasta, rice dishes, salads, butter, sauces, seafood, vegetable dishes.
• Rosemary - fish, poultry, meat, bread, sauces, potatoes, soups.
• Sage - stuffings, tomato dishes, cheese dishes.
• Tarragon - salad dressing, fish, poultry, meat, egg dishes.
• Thyme - chowders, bread, poultry, soups, stock, stews, stuffings, butter, cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar.

Herb Combinations:
• Basil - with chives, chili, garlic, oregano.
• Bay - with parsley, thyme, garlic, oregano, marjoram.
• Chili - with coriander, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, oregano.
• Chives - with basil, garlic, tarragon.
• Dill - with chives, garlic, parsley, tarragon.
• Garlic - with basil, rosemary, sage, fennel, chili, coriander.
• Oregano - with basil, parsley, chives, thyme, bay, chili.
• Sage - with rosemary, garlic, marjoram.
• Thyme - with bay, parsley, garlic, rosemary.

NOTE: When substituting fresh herbs for a recipe which calls for dried herbs, triple the amount with fresh herbs. For instance if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of a dried herbs, then use 3 tablespoons of the fresh herb. Also if using dried herbs, keep them in a cool, dry area, away from sunshine and keep them no longer than six months. And remember throw out that old jar of sage because it can and does go rancid after more than a year.

Here is my own stuffing recipe using fresh herbs that everyone seems to love.


1 16-ounce package corn bread stuffing or make your own corn bread
1 ½ to 2 cups canned chicken broth
14 ounces sausage of your choice
8 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups chopped sweet yellow onion
¾ cup chopped celery (leaves too)
¾ cup chopped leeks (white part only)
¾ cup chopped fennel bulb (can add a few green leaves)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
¾ cup nuts of your choice or can add and/or substitute with chopped water chestnuts
½ cup raisins or dried currants or dried cranberries
Salt and Pepper
2 large eggs beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Mix corn bread stuffing and chicken broth in a large bowl. Set aside. In a large heavy skillet brown sausage until cooked. Drain and transfer sausage to the bowl with the stuffing. Drain off fat in skillet. Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, leeks, fennel and garlic to skillet and cook just until tender. Transfer to bowl with the stuffing. Mix in nuts and fruit and season mixture with salt and pepper. Then add beaten eggs and mix. Be sure not to have the mixture to hot when you add eggs or the eggs will cook. Transfer beaten mixture to the baking dish. Cover dish and bake about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp.

According to Deni Bown, author of The Herb Society of America Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses the definition of an herb (either the French pronunciation of 'erb or the English pronunciation of herb with the hard H is correct) is:

“The term ‘herb’ also has more than one definition. Botanists describe an herb as a small, seed-bearing plant with fleshly, rather than woody, parts (from which we get the term ‘herbaceous’). In this book, it refers to a far wider range of plants. In addition to herbaceous perennials, herbs include trees, shrubs, annuals, vines, and more primitive plants, such as ferns, mosses, algae, lichens, and fungi. They are valued for their flavor, fragrance, medicinal and healthful qualities, economic and industrial uses, pesticidal properties, and coloring materials (dyes).”

Some information was obtained from the following websites:

Compiled and submitted by:
Linda Turner Collins
Rockport, Texas
October 20, 2006

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tour and luncheon at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard

The Aransas/San Patricio County Master Gardeners are taking a trip to Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.

FIELD TRIP FUN! Tour and luncheon at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard in Elmendorf on Friday, Dec. 3, 2010. The 45-60 minute tour will cover olive culture and cultivation, production practices, olive varieties, oil pressing and olive products. Lunch will include celery root bisque, Chicken Puttanesca (braised chicken over sauted polenta in a spicy olive caper sauce), and flourless olive oil chocolate cake served with whipped cream and seasonal berries. Yum! There will also be tastings of the olive products in their gift shop. The cost is $35 which includes the tour and lunch. We will leave the Extension office at 8:30 a.m. and return around 5:30 p.m. Either email or call the office at 361-790-0103 to reserve a spot. Deadline is Nov. 30, 2010. They will charge us for everyone signed up on that date. For more information see website or check out the brochures at the Extension office. Gay Hejtmancik went on this tour and highly recommends it, call her after next week if you want to know more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cindy Meredith will present a program on Stevia at our November Meeting

 Our meeting will be held November 10th at ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas, at 10 AM.
Come learn everything you wanted to know about this natural sweetener Stevia Stevia rebaudiana.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Fall Brings

Here is Cindy's latest newletter from The Herb Cottage.

Fall is a lovely time of year.

For us here in Texas it means the intense summer heat is over, even though days still warm up into the 80's. The angle of the sun creates a different light. If I were a painter, I would paint landscapes during the Fall due to the colors created by the light. Our extreme summer temperatures tend to make the various green shades of plant leaves look somewhat washed out. Fall brings the bright greens alive again.

To read the rest check out: What Fall Brings.

Great Gardening!

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Field Trip to The Herb Cottage, Hallettsville"

"Field Trip to The Herb Cottage, Hallettsville"

WHAT: Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group

WHEN: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 @ 8:00 a.m.

WHERE: Ace Hardware Parking Lot, Rockport, Texas

We are taking a field trip up to the Herb Cottage in Hallettsville website: Cindy has a good selection of herbs for us to choose from including some of them that we didn't have at the MG plant sale, i.e. rosemary, stevia, chives, both garlic and onion, mints, thymes, vegetables including salad greens and lots of succelents.

We pack our own lunches and then almost everyone brings something to share, whether it be a salad, dessert, or whatever. Cindy will provide us with some wonderful herb iced tea. We will carpool, so we will need to know how many of us are going? And we want to leave enough room to bring back lots of plants! Please let me know by Tuesday, October 12 at telephone number 361-729-6037. Looking forward to having another great field trip up in the country!

I was thinking that maybe I need to add some additional information about our Field Trips for those of you that haven't made one of our fun trips.

Generally we have just our group take Field Trips wtih us, but our group loves to have any and all that are interested in herbs to join us. So feel free to invite anyone that you know that might be interested. We leave the Rockport Ace Hardware store parking lot at 8:00, and get to The Herb Cottage around 9:45 or so. We then check out all the plants and have a question and answer tour of the plants, eat lunch some where around 11:30 to noon, have a short business meeting during lunch, and generally leave to head back to Rockport around 1:00. I guess that I needed to add this information to my email. If you have any questions, just give me a call. Thanks!

And be sure to check out our websites noted above. Cindy, Ruth and I keep it updated with lots of great information on gardening, the environment and recipes. Don't be shy; just click on the link and you might be surprised at all of the information including photos!

Our herb study group was founded in March 2003 and meets the second Wednesday of every month at the ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas at 10:00 a.m. to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs including the historical uses of the herbs and tips for successful propagation and cultivation. We are open to the public. Some members of the group are available as speakers to other audiences.

The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to increasing public knowledge and awareness about herbs.

Linda T. Collins
Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group
Post Office Box 1988
Rockport, TX 78381
361-729-6058 (Fax)

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This post is to let everyone know that the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Fall Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, October 2, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at Green Acres. The address is:

Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport, Texas, 361-790-0103

I made an order for herbs with Perennial Favorites, and they delivered some really nice herbs last Thursday which will be for sale on Saturday!

There will be an assortment of basils, oreganos, thymes, mints, parsleys and fennels to name just a few herbs for sale. And we have a limited amount of vetiver grass which is a wonderful ornamental grass.

Be sure to check out this website entitled Vetiver Grass: The Sweet Smell of Erosion Control.

My vetiver grass growing in my yard.

See you all next Saturday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Remarkable Plants of Texas

I have posted the program from Sept 8th with discussion pages and links on  our website:

Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bee Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban

My sister-in-law in California sent this to me. It concerns the waning of bee populations worldwide and how, in Italy, by banning a class of chemical pesticides, bee populations rebounded.

"Nicotine Bees" Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban

by Roberta Cruger, Los Angeles on 05.15.10

Following France and Germany, last year the Italian Agriculture Ministry
suspended the use of a class of pesticides, nicotine-based neonicotinoids,
as a "precautionary measure." The compelling results - restored bee
populations - prompted the government to uphold the ban. Yesterday, copies
of the film 'Nicotine Bees' were delivered to the US Congress explaining the
pesticide's connection to Colony Collapse Disorder. Despite the evidence,
why does CCD remain a 'mystery' in the US?Nicotinyl pesticides, containing
clothianidin, thiametoxam and imidacloprid, used to coat plant seeds, are
released into the lymph as a permanent insecticide inside the plant. But
after just sucking dew from maize leaves that absorbed neonicotinoids,
disoriented bees can't find their way to the apiary. Massive numbers of bees
get lost and die.

In 2009, Italy's neonicotinoid-free corn sowing resulted in no cases of
widespread bee mortality in apiaries around the crops. This had not happened
since 1999. The European Research Center, Youris, reported that Moreno
Greatti, from the University of Udine stated, "Bee hives have not suffered
depopulation and mortality coinciding with maize sowing this year.
Beekeepers from Northern Italy and all over the country are unanimous in
recognizing that the suspension of neonicotinoid- and fipronil-coated maize

Although varroasis (infections from mites) and other pathologies are found
at other times of the year, suspending neurotoxic insecticides improved the
situation significantly. Francesco Panella, President of the Italian
Association of Beekepers, says: "On behalf of beegrowers working in a
countryside dominated by maize crops, I wrote to the Minister of Agriculture
to confirm the great news, for once: thanks to the suspension of the
bee-killing seed coating, the hives in the Po Valley are flourishing again."

Not true in Southern Italy, where bee mortality was high in citrus groves,
which were sprayed with neonicotinoids, also used in vineyards and other
crops. The new law has been challenged by the agrochemical industry but the
Italian government upheld the ban.

Want to eat?

With pollination responsible for one-third of our food supply, the loss of
30% of our bee population prompted the Pollinator Protection Campaign by the Sierra Club. It bought 333 copies of Nicotine Bees which were delivered to Congress on May 13 and 14, along with 50 more from the filmmakers, with
a letter from the National Honey Bee Advisory Board. The American Beekeeping Federation and American Honey Producers Association are asking Congress to stop the threats from systemic pesticides to food supplies, honeybees and pollinators. Send a copy to the other 152 members of Congress by contacting the Sierra Club's bee campaign.

The bees steep decline in 2005 and 2006 was catastrophic around the world.
In theUK bee numbers have been halved over 20 years, with reasons including the pesticide and warmer winters due to climate change. Honeybee pollinated fruit trees and crops in Britain amount to £165m annually, so a campaign to grow bees in city gardens and roofs has been an attempt to halt decline.

Despite the scientific data, reports still claim the reason for the bee
crisis is unclear, even blaming cell phones. So what's really holding up the
banning of neonicotinoids? As a beekeeper in the documentary says, "A fifth
grader can figure this out."

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Ancient Nubians Produced Beer with Tetracycline In it

I came across this while doing some online reading today.  Unfortunately, it doesn't say what they used to make that beer. Too bad, we could have had a great time with it. It is from Wired Science
Ancient Nubians Made Antibiotic Beer
by Jess McNally

Chemical analysis of the bones of ancient Sudanese Nubians who lived nearly 2000 years ago shows they were ingesting the antibiotic tetracycline on a regular basis, likely from a special brew of beer. The find is the strongest yet that antibiotics were previously discovered by humans before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.

“I’m going to ask Alexander Fleming to hand back his Nobel Prize,” joked chemist Mark Nelson, who works on developing new tetracyclines at Paratek Pharmaceuticals and is lead author of the paper published June in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Nelson found large amounts of tetracycline in the bones tested from the ancient population, which lived in the Nubian kingdom (present day Sudan) between 250 A.D. and 550 A.D. and left no written record.

“The bones of these ancient people were saturated with tetracycline, showing that they had been taking it for a long time,” Nelson said in a press release August 30. “I’m convinced that they had the science of fermentation under control and were purposely producing the drug.”

“This discovery will provide a whole new framework for understanding the relationship between microbes and antibiotics,” said anthropologist Dennis Van Gerven of University of Colorado at Boulder. “There might have been other populations that were also doing the same thing, anywhere that there were these microbes. This is going to drive other scientists to start this search, and that is incredibly important.”

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More on Lemon Grass

Here's more on Lemon Grass from Ellen Zimmerman's June Newsletter from 2009:

HERB OF THE MONTH – Lemongrass Revisited - June 2009

Every summer I enjoy making delicious, fresh Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus, tea from my beautiful, full, ever-sweet Lemongrass plant. I remember my sweet friend Dorothy giving me a black plastic pot with just two skinny sharp leaves sticking up, and saying, “Here’s some Lemongrass for you”. Well before you knew it, those two tiny leaves became a full-bodied, large incredible herb that I use all summer long. To harvest fresh Lemongrass you need to cut the leaf way at the bottom of the plant. This thick part of the leaf, which is whitish, is where the best flavor is. Of course I use the entire leaf as well, cut up in smaller pieces. You need to gently boil, or decoct, the Lemongrass for awhile (approximately 30 minutes) to help release the flavor. Then I let it sit on the stove for an hour or so, to steep even more. Finally I strain it and add a little honey. It is wonderful hot, but these days I like it iced. It keeps well in the refrigerator for at least three days staying tasty, fresh and wonderful. My very popular Summer Lemon Tea is made with these fresh Lemongrass stalks, Lemon Balm, Melissa officinale and Lemon Verbena, Aloysia triphylla. Lemon Verbena is mentioned in the famous movie, Gone with the Wind, as Scarlet O’Hara’s mothers favorite plant. I decoct these three herbs together and enjoy an incredible iced summer lemon tea at a picnic, a pool party or any summer celebration.

Lemongrass is not only refreshing but quite medicinal too. Lemongrass, also known as Fever Grass, is used just for that, fevers. It is also useful for coughs and colds. It can promote perspiration and the excretion of phlegm; eases stomach cramps, and is especially useful for children and infants. Lemongrass is also considered a stimulant so you can use it as such. Lemongrass has significant anti-fungal properties, acts as a wonderful anti-oxidant and also works as an insect repellent.
Lemongrass is easy to grow in our warm Central Texas environment. It will grow vigorously during the summer and may die back in the winter if we have a frost or two. I usually mulch it during the winter season. In early spring, I like to cut it back and allow it to begin it’s growth once again. In my experience the plant will last several years as long as you nurture it appropriately.

If you don’t already have a Lemongrass plant, get one A perennial member of the Poacea (Grass) family, Lemongrass can be enjoyed as tea, in soups, stews, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, and as a valuable and safe medicinal plant.

Shrimp season is in full blast down here in south Texas!

OH BOY! Shrimp season is in full blast down here in south Texas! I went down to the Fulton Dock on Saturday and bought 2 pounds of 8-10 count shrimp for only $8.00 a pound. OH BOY were they good! I made Shrimp Kabobs for dinner Saturday night. Then on Sunday I cooked the rest of them for lunch. I melted a stick of butter and added two 6" to 8" stems of lemongrass chopped into 2" sticks, about a tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning, about a tablespoon of White Wine Worcestershire Sauce, and about a half cup of dry white wine. I let it reduce a little, then added the shrimp and cooked until they were done. With shrimp that big it took about 4-5 minutes. Oh yes, and lemon slices were put into all the shrimp dishes! OH BOY, were they the best. Then last night I fixed a Cobb salad, and we ate it with the remaining 4 shrimp. And today we are getting 5 pounds of 16-20 count shrimp today for Labor Day weekend! OH BOY, I do love living on the coast!

And then after using the lemongrass stems, I took all of the leaves and added some mint and steeped them together in hot water for about an hour. OH BOY does that ever make a great refreshing summertime tea!

And if you want to check out growing your own lemongrass be sure to check out GROW SOME LEMONGRASS. AND while we are on the subjecct of lemongrass, be sure to check out this website that was forwarded to me by Cindy Curing properties of Lemongrass. Very interesting!

I guess that we had an OH BOY weekend! Anyway, I decided to type up my OH BOY SHRIMP recipe as follows:


*1 to 1 ½ pounds shrimp with heads and shells (8-10 count)
1 stick butter (not margarine)
2 6” to 8” sticks lemongrass, chopped in 1” to 2” pieces
1 tablespoon shrimp seasoning
1 tablespoon White Wine Worcestershire Sauce
½ cup dry white wine
1 garlic clove minced
½ lemon sliced
** Mexican Mint Marigold a/k/a Texas Tarragon (optional)

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the lemongrass pieces, shrimp seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, wine, and garlic. Continue cooking and reduce by about 1/3 to 1/2; then add shrimp and continue reducing, about 5 minutes, don’t over cook the shrimp. Add sliced lemons, stir and serve.

* You can use any size shrimp, BUT remember the smaller the shrimp the less time they take to cook. Cook shrimp until they turn pink all over. Overcooked shrimp are tough.

** (Optional) You can add about a tablespoon of fresh Mexican Mint Marigold a/k/a Texas Tarragon about a minute or so before serving.

Also I found the following recipe that looks very good at website:

Lemongrass and Citrus Poached Salmon

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes

"This is a very light and delicate dish with a smooth and subtle lemon and citrus flavor that melts in your mouth."

2 1/2 pounds salmon fillet
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart orange juice
2 cups white wine
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups chopped lemon grass
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

1. Remove skin from salmon, then cut into desired portions.
2. In a large pot, combine chicken stock, orange juice, white wine, onion, garlic and lemon grass. Season with salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to a low boil. Place the salmon in the poaching liquid until flaky and tender, about 5 minutes.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners News Column Archives

While doing some research today, I came across the following website with lots of great gardening articles written by the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners. Be sure to check out News Column Archives.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Herbs

Here is the latest July 2010 Newletter from Cindy at The Herb Cottage

Summer Herbs

In our hot, humid South, it's sometimes difficult to stay focused on the garden during the hottest summer days that we're experiencing now. The sun is searing, the temperatures rise to the mid-nineties by early afternoon and the gardener decides to call it quits and go inside for the rest of the day. Just because the weather is very hot does not mean we don't garden during the summer... we do. We go out in the early morning and the evenings to enjoy the tranquility and scents of the herb beds, pull weeds, water and, as I did recently, recover a bed from some terribly overgrown parsley.

This Summer brings a wealth of growth from our herbs. We've been graced with summer rain and the herb plants are showing the results of inches of rain. Last year we were in a terrible drought by this time of year and even the hardiest herbs were showing stress. This year the Mint and Lemon Balm are thick and full, the Sweet, Lemon and Lime Basil are shrubby and full of flavor and the Rosemary has new growth on the tips of most of the branches.

I know those of you who don't live in the South have had your share of weather trials this summer and I hope your herb gardens are giving your much pleasure in spite of inclement weather episodes.

So, what's looking best this summer in your garden? Here, the Oregano is outstanding. I've already harvested flowers for hydrosols and I still could cut back more foliage to make the plant a little more compact. I plan to make more Herbal Vinegars, too, and Oregano is a staple in many of the blends I like. As I mentioned, the Rosemary is growing vigorously. It's another one I like for Herbal Vinegar and hydrosols as well.

Of course, Basil loves our hot, humid weather so long as it gets enough water. In between rain storms I water the Basil to keep it looking good. I have yet to make Pesto this year, but hope to get to it before too long. I also like to use the citrus basil in Herbal Vinegar for marinades on fish and chicken. The red and purple Basil, varieties like Osmin Purple, Purple Ruffles or Red Rubin, make Herbal Vinegars of a rich cranberry color with a flavor to match. Perfect for a housewarming or holiday gift.

Those of us in a climate where Bay Laurel grows know how well it does with very little water in the heat of summer. Bay is somewhat winter hardy. It took two mornings of 18ºF last Winter without damage. If you've never used fresh Bay in your cooking, you are missing out, in my opinion. Fresh Bay leaves add a deeper, richer bay flavor than the dried ones. Bay is also a pretty plant for holiday decorating, as it is evergreen, dark green in color and fragrant.

Some herbs that play out in our intense summer heat are Dill, Cilantro and sometimes, even Thyme. Here, Dill and Cilantro are definitely cool season herbs and die out after forming seed in the late spring. Thyme needs excellent drainage to survive our spring and summer rainstorms when we get inches of rain at a time. My English, Creeping, one Lemon Thyme and Lavender Thyme plants all died. The one bigger Lemon Thyme that is planted in a shadier spot, in raised bed, is doing pretty well. Also I have a Lavender Thyme in a hanging pot that is doing very well, so long as I remember to water it.

Parsley will do fine during the hot summer months if planted where it gets some afternoon shade. Of course, Parsley, being a biennial, does best in the summer if it's in its first year of growth. In its second year, it'll put on a flower stalk and start to go to seed more quickly in the heat. If you do allow parsley to seed out, and let some fall, you won't have to replant parsley. It'll come up for you when the soil temperature is a little cooler.

In general, herbs just laugh at summertime heat and keep on growing with a minimum of water and fuss. I hope yours are doing so, and that you're enjoying the summer, your herbs and all the wonderful things you can do with them.

Lemon Eucalyptus after the main trunk has been cut. Lots of new lush growth.


Like cars in amusement parks, our direction is often determined through collisions. -Yahia Lababidi, author (b. 1973)

Until Next Time,
Good Growing to You,
Cindy Meredith, proprietor
The Herb Cottage
442 CR 233
Hallettsville, TX 77964
phone & fax: 979-562-2153

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 14, 2010 Meeting


WHAT: Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group

WHEN: Second Wednesday of every month, next meeting July 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas

WHY: To educate those interested in herbs.

The Herb Society of America is a very influencial organization. Come hear how it came to be. Everyone is invited to our next herb & rose study grooup to participate in this program.

Our herb study group was founded in March 2003 and meets the second Wednesday of every month at the ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas at 10:00 a.m. to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs including the historical uses of the herbs and tips for successful propagation and cultivation. We are open to the public. Some members of the group are available as speakers to other audiences.

The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to increasing public knowledge and awareness about herbs.

Check out

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Lots of people grow pampas grass and other ornamental grasses for landscaping, but I like lemongrass the best because it looks good, smells good, is easy to grow and is a wonderful culinary herb which I use extensively in my kitchen.

It is widely cultivated in the tropics and subtropics. There are two different species, i.e. West Indian Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus, which is native to southern India and Ceylon, and East Indian Lemongrass C. flexuosus, also known as Cochin or Malabar grass, which is native to India. In India it is believed that growing a row of lemongrass plants will repel tigers.

West Indian Lemongrass C. citratus
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grass)
Tender perennial
Zones: 8 - 10
Height: 3’ to 5’
Width: 3’

East Indian Lemongrass C. flexuosus
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grass)
Tender perennial
Zones: 9 - 11
Height: 2’ to 3’
Width: 2’ to 3’

Both species are frost tender perennials that can withstand temperatures down to 10° to 20° with very heavy mulching. They can be grown in the ground or in containers. In the Deep South, it can be overwintered outside by cutting back the top and mulching the remaining crown heavily. I don’t cut mine back, but just leave them in the ground with at least 3” of mulch. Because the East Indian Lemongrass is smaller, it makes for a very good container plant. Lemongrass likes moist, well-drained soil and prefers full sun, but it can take some dapple sunlight. The blades are blue-green throughout the summer, with the leaves turning a rusty red in fall. They say flowering is rare, but I know that all of mine flower every fall. And the blades are sharp, so be careful to always rub upward and not downward. Propagation is by root or plant division.

Lemongrass is used not only as a culinary herb, but also as an aromatherapy herb, in perfumes and cosmetics, and as a medicinal herb, since it is considered a carminative and also used as an insect repellent. In addition, it has been used to reduce a fever by inducing sweating, alleviate cold symptoms and headaches, calm upset stomachs, and relieve spasms. It inhibits the growth of fungi and bacteria and is used externally to treat ringworm, lice, athlete’s foot, and scabies.

Lemongrass has a very unusual lemon flavor which tastes lemony, but not the least bit acidic. It makes for a wonderful tea, hot or iced, being high in Vitamin C and adds lemon flavoring to the dishes of many Asian cuisines. Harvest the stem right down to ground and chop like a scallion. It is easy to mince lemongrass in a food processor or minichopper.

The leaves can be put into marinades, broths and stocks. The part of the plant that is used most often is the lower, almost white section of the stem. Depending on the recipe, you can cut the white part into 2” to 3” stems, thinly slice crosswise, finely chop, pound or mince. Tie together a bunch of lemongrass stems and leaves with butcher's string, and drop it into a slow-cooking dish and remove just before serving. Whenever using the larger pieces, be sure to discard them before serving because they are fibrous, sharp and tough. It is also very good minced and added to rice, making a nice dish of lemongrass rice or fried rice. It can be used in stir fries, rice, sauces, curries, poultry, fish, seafood, soups, and tea. It can be frozen for later use. Cut some stalks down at ground level, and then soak in water and use as skewers on the grill cooking bite size pieces of chicken, shrimp and your favorite vegetables.

1 whole chicken
1 1/4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 lemongrass leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon corn flour

Place the chicken on a saucer in a saucepan. Add the water, sprinkle salt and pepper over and heap the lemongrass onto the breast. Cover and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, basting occasionally with the liquid. To eat hot, remove chicken and keep warm. Strain the liquid into a small saucepan and stir in a tablespoon corn flour blended to a smooth paste with a little milk. Stir until thickened and pour over the chicken. To eat the chicken cold, put it into a deep bowl and pour the strained liquid over it. Cool, and then chill overnight. The liquid will have jelled and there will be a layer of fat which should be removed.

10 stalks lemongrass
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup coconut milk (stir before measuring)

Peel the tough outer layers from the lemongrass and discard them. Cut the remainder into 1cm lengths. In a saucepan over high heat, combine lemongrass, sugar, salt and 2 ½ cups water. Stir until liquid comes to the boil. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 20 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids to extract moisture. Discard solids. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir syrup until cool, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Whisk in the coconut milk. If mixture is lumpy, pour through a fine strainer. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze. Or freeze in a suitable dish until just firm, 2-4 hours. Scoop into bowls, or scrape with a large form to form a slushy ice. Serve immediately.

2 stalks lemongrass
2 green or red chills, finely chopped
1 large tomato, coarsely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients and let sit at room temperature for about one hour, then refrigerate. Use within one day.

Photo by Linda Turner Collins
Lemongrass in bloom & Duchess de Brabant Rose

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Growing Herbs in Texas: Harvesting Parsley and Basil

Be sure to check out Growing Herbs in Texas: Harvesting Parsley and Basil by Cynthia Meredith!

And for us that have been to The Herb Cottage and seen the tall lemon eucalyptus tree, you need to read about how the tree was removed after it died this past winter.

Cindy states:

The big job in the garden, however, was when we took down the tall lemon eucalyptus tree that died during the winter. Originally, we called a fellow whose ad in the local paper said "Tree Removal". But, when he called to tell us he couldn't keep his appointment to assess our project due to a broken arm received on a tree trimming job, we decided to do the job ourselves. We even treated ourselves to a new chainsaw, which will also come in handy to cut up the numerous dead pecan tree branches that have started to fall.

The tree measured almost 50 feet tall, exactly the distance from the base of the tree to our fence. After much studying of angles, reminding ourselves where the power lines are, roping the tree off so it wouldn't fall into said power lines if the cut was not right, my husband fired up the chain saw and made the precision cuts necessary to fell the tree and have it land where we wanted it to. And, it did ... pretty much. We were quite relieved and pleased that the tree was down with the only collateral damage being a pottery Toad Abode given to me by a friend. The pieces now decorate the cactus garden. The sprouts from the base of the old tree can grow up shrub like and full. Just today, I inadvertently ran the hose across some of the stalks that lie on the ground, and was rewarded with the pungent aroma of the lemon eucalyptus. Lovely.

Such a beautiful tree Cindy, but you can plant another one now!

Great Gardening!

Photos by Cindy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life is just a bowl of cherries, no, this time it's tomatoes

I've been trying to grow a nice bunch of tomato plants since I moved to this spot. I've had all sorts of critters to claim them; raccoons, squirrels, leaf cutter ants and bugs.
Look what I have this year!

A couple of years ago I had my husband enclose an 8' x 16' area. I cleaned out the grass, laid down newspapers and then started putting my grass cutter clippings (including the live oak leaves) over the newspapers.  Last year we did have tomatoes but they were attacked by all the animals listed above.

This year it is fenced and has chicken wire over the top of the tomatoes.  The tomatoes have since grown through it and are still flowering and producing.  We had one raccoon episode, but I put up bags holding Irish Spring soap in three areas around the little garden. I had been told it would keep away the deer.  It seems to have kept the deer and the raccoons away and we have hardly had any squirrels in the yard this year so I don't know if they are repelled by it.

Here is a picture of the tomato garden.

Do you see the bags holding the strong smelling soap?  I do have pepper plants in there, too, but they don't really show in this photo.  Next year maybe I can have some squash and green beans.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Hey Herbies!

OK, this blog isn't about herbs or is it?! No, not the kind of herbs that we generally think of, but many of the plants listed below are actually perennial herbs, but I don't think any of us want to rush out and get them.

However, this blog is about saving our Texas waterways from aquatic invasive species. I don't know if you have seen some of our waterways and how they are being taken over by invasive plants, especially water giant salvinia, water lettuce and water hyacinths to name just a few. I first became "more aware" of what was going on a few years ago when Terry and I took a boat tour of Saw Mill Pond, Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake while RV'ing at the Caddo Lake State Park. I was shocked at how most of the bayou had been taken over by water hyacinths. I was there last year and talked to the same boat tour guide, and she said that they are making a concerted effort to rid the bayous and lake of the invasive plants. I did see fewer hyacinths than I had the previous year. Since then, I have been making an effort to try to educate people on how devastating these invasive plants are to our waterways.

So my intention is to make everyone aware of what is happening out there on the waterways. I tried posting information on the Aquatic Plant Exchange Forum, but for the most part, I received negative comments and remarks.

Do you know that many aquatic plants are illegal in many states with laws varying from state to state, i.e. what is illegal in one state does not mean it is illegal in another state? I do know that there are many Illegal and Invasive Plants in Texas. In fact possession of these plants is illegal and can be punishable with fines and/or imprisonment. Read the following:

The State of Texas doesn't just frown on the possession of harmful or potentially harmful exotic plants. It is illegal to posses [sic] these plants in Texas. Possession of any prohibited plant species is a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code Misdemeanor punishable by

-a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $2000,
-a jail term not to exceed 180 days, or
-both a fine AND imprisonment.

Each individual plant of a prohibited species constitutes a separate violation. The law applies to everyone: aquatic plant producers and distributors, garden centers, pond supply stores, pet stores, and individual pondkeepers. So if Joe Ponder is caught with 10 water hyacinth in his backyard pond, that would be 10 separate violations, with potential fines totaling $20,000.

Texas Prohibited Plant Species

Information courtesy of
Texas Invasive Plant Database

• Giant Duckweed a/k/a Dotted Duckmeat Spirodela oligorrhiza
• Common Salvinia a/k/a Water Fern Salvinia minima
• Common Water Hyacinth a/k/a Floating Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes
• Rooted Water Hyacinth a/k/a Anchored Water Hyacinth Eichhornia azurea
• Water Lettuce Pistia stratiotes
• Hydrilla a/k/a Florida Elodea Hydrilla verticillata
• Lagarosiphon a/k/a African Elodea, Oxygen-Weed Lagarosiphon major
• Eurasian Watermilfoil a/k/a Spike Watermilfoil Myriophyllum spicatum
• Parrot Feather Watermilfoil Myriophyllum aquaticum
• Alligatorweed Alternanthera philoxeroides
• Paperbark a/k/a Melaleuca, Paperbark Tea Tree, Punk Tree, Cajeput Tree, White Bottlebrush Tree Melaleuca quinquenervia
• Torpedograss a/k/a Couch panicum Panicum repens
• Water Spinach a/k/a Aquatic Morning Glory, Swamp Morning Glory Ipomoea aquatica
• Giant Salvinia Salvinia molesta is also Federally Prohibited.

Recently while waiting at a doctor's office, I came upon the April 2010 issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine with an article entitled Texas Under Attack by Larry D. Hodge. It is an excellent article, and I hope that you will read the entire article. Some of the excerpts are as follows:

Invasive species are marching on Texas — but beneficial bugs are bracing for battle.
By Larry D. Hodge

Paddling a kayak across Old Folks Playground on Caddo Lake brings me face to face with the enemy. Giant salvinia and water hyacinth crowd in from every direction, a noxious salad that, like an alien in a sci-fi movie, chokes the life out of its host.

Caddo Lake is dying a slow death, and it’s not the only part of Texas in trouble. From the Rio Grande to the Canadian, the Sabine to the Pecos, non-native plants brought into the state by accident, good intentions or sheer ignorance have reshaped our lands and waters. In less than 200 years we have introduced more than 800 non-native plant species, some of which are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.

Guy Nesom of Fort Worth, a systematic botanist and retired college professor, has given Texas a gift no other state has: a complete list of documented non-native species, 820 in all, classified according to their potential to be controlled or eradicated. Among the 51 species Nesom classifies as F1 (invasive in both disturbed and natural habitats and negatively affecting native species) are some familiar names: Arundo donax (giant river cane), several species of Tamarix (salt cedar trees), Salvinia molesta (giant salvinia), Hydrilla verticillata (hydrilla) and Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth).

Put simply, invasives can kill a lake, and giant salvinia is the worst of the lot, capable of doubling its coverage area in a week or less.

Photo by Photographer: Steve Dewey
Source: Utah State University,

Salt cedars have been described as one of the worst ecological disasters in the western United States. First reported in the U.S. in 1823, they now occupy some 2 million acres of the most valuable land — riparian areas along streams and rivers. Salt cedars displace native plants and the wildlife that depends on them, lower water tables, increase soil salinity to the level that native cottonwoods and willows cannot grow, and dry up springs and small streams. Every river system in West Texas has salt cedar.

Ecologist Andrea Litt, with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute in Kingsville, states the following:

Invasive plants can alter the quantity and quality of habitat for native wildlife by affecting cover, food and other habitat features important for these species, resulting in shifts in community composition, abundance and population structure,” she says. In other words, when invasive plants move in, the Texas we know goes away: plants, bugs, birds, mammals, fish.


The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will launch an extensive campaign this month to increase public awareness about the threat of aquatic invasive species like giant salvinia. With funding from the Texas Legislature, the comprehensive campaign will include — television ads, print ads, floating buoys, billboards, ads at gas stations, events, a redesigned website with comprehensive information on invasive species in Texas, and more, all aimed at educating boaters and anglers about the impact of giant salvinia and what they can do to stop its spread. TPWD is also developing partnerships with fishing organizations, communities and corporate sponsors to help spread the message.

Information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine can be found at website:

So let us do our part in keeping our Texas waterways free of aquatic invasive plants!

Caddo Lake Photos by Linda Turner Collins

Monday, May 24, 2010

Edible Flowers

There are many edible flowers out there, but before consuming, know what they are and where they came from. You don't want to eat anything that has been sprayed with a poison. And you don't want to eat something that is poisonous. The following is a list of edible flowers.

Anise Hyssop
Bee Balm
Day Lily
English Daisy
Lemon Blossom
Lemon Verbena
Pineapple Guava
Pineapple Sage
Runner Bean
Scented Geranium
Society Garlic
Squash Blossom
Tuberous Begonia

NOTE: BE CAREFUL YOU USE ONLY THE PARTS OF THE PLANT THAT ARE EDIBLE, i.e. sometimes the leaves, sometimes the flowers, sometimes the roots, sometimes all of the plant. And buy your herbs from a reputable source and become knowledgeable of the botanical names. Many plants have the same common names, which can be confusing and vague and often apply to more than one variety of plant. So get to know your plants by the botanical names which are specific and thereby eliminate confusion rather than the common names. It really isn’t all that hard!

You will notice that in the following article the common names are used rather than the botanical names. The reason for this is because I compiled several different articles that I found on the Internet and didn't bother to add the botanical names. Sorry about that!

Alliums (leeks, chives, garlic, garlic chives) - Known as the "Flowering Onions." There are approximately four hundred species that includes the familiar onion, garlic, chives, ramps, and shallots. All members of this genus are edible. Their flavors range from mild onions and leeks right through to strong onion and garlic. All parts of the plants are edible. The flowers tend to have a stronger flavor than the leaves and the young developing seed-heads are even stronger. We eat the leaves and flowers mainly in salads. The leaves can also be cooked as a flavoring with other vegetables in soups, etc.

Chive Blossoms - Use whenever a light onion flavor and aroma is desired. Separate the florets and enjoy the mild, onion flavor in a variety of dishes.

Garlic Blossoms - The flowers can be white or pink, and the stems are flat instead of round. The flavor has a garlicky zing that brings out the flavor of your favorite food. Milder than the garlic bulb. Wonderful in salads.

Angelica - Depending on the variety, flower range from pale lavender-blue to deep rose. It has a flavor similar to licorice. Angelica is valued culinary from the seeds and stems, which are candied and used in liqueurs, to the young leaves and shoots, which can be added to a green salad. Because of its celery-like flavor, Angelica has a natural affinity with fish. The leaves have a stronger, clean taste and make a interesting addition to salads. In its native northern Europe, even the mature leaves are used, particularly by the Laplanders, as a natural fish preservative. Many people in the cold Northern regions such as Greenland, Siberia, and Finland consider Angelica a vegetable, and eat the stems raw, sometimes spread with butter. Young leaves can be made into a tea.

Anise Hyssop - Both flowers and leaves have a delicate anise or licorice flavor. Some people say the flavor reminds them of root beer. The blossoms make attractive plate garnishes and are often used in Chinese-style dishes.

Apple Blossoms - Apple Blossoms have a delicate floral flavor and aroma. They are a nice accompaniment to fruit dishes and can easily be candied to use as a garnish. NOTE: Eat in moderation as the flowers may contain cyanide precursors. The seeds of the apple fruit and their wild relations are poisonous.

Arugula - Also called garden rocket, roquette, rocket-salad, Oruga, Rocketsalad, rocket-gentle; Raukenkohl (German); rouquelle (French); rucola (Italian). An Italian green usually appreciated raw in salads or on sandwiches. The flowers are small, white with dark centers and can be used in the salad for a light piquant flavor. The flowers taste very similar to the leaves and range in color from white to yellowish with dark purple veins. Arugula resembles radish leaves in both appearance and taste. Leaves are compound and have a spicy, peppery flavor that starts mild in young leaves and intensifies as they mature.
Arugula Salad
Arugula, Pear and Asiago Cheese Salad
Walnut, Arugula & Gorgonzola Crostini

Aquatic Plants - Cattails have edible shoots and roots and even the pollen has been used in making biscuits. Arrowheads form large edible tubers at the root ends, called duck potatoes, which were consumed by Native Americans. Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) has many historic medicinal uses and its spicy vegetation continues to be used in salads and garnishes. Water lily roots are a common source of food in many parts of the world especialy in Far East and have historic medicinal value.

Banana Blossoms - Also know as Banana Hearts. The flowers are a purple-maroon torpedo shaped growth appears out of the top of usually the largest of the trunks. Banana blossoms are used in Southeast Asian cuisines. The blossoms can be cooked or eaten raw. The tough covering is usually removed until you get to the almost white tender parts of the blossom. It should be sliced and let it sit in water until most of the sap are gone. If you eat it raw, make sure the blossom comes from a variety that isn't bitter. Most of the Southeast Asian varieties aren't bitter.

Basil - Depending on the type, the flowers are either bright white, pale pink, or a delicate lavender. The flavor of the flower is milder, but similar to the leaves of the same plant. Basil also has different varieties that have different milder flavors like lemon and mint. Sprinkle them over salad or pasta for a concentrated flavor and a spark of color that gives any dish a fresh, festive look.
Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil

Bee Balm - Also called Wild Bergamot, Wild Oswego Tea, Horsemint, Monarda. Wild bee balm tastes like oregano and mint. The taste of bee balm is reminiscent of citrus with soft mingling of lemon and orange. The red flowers have a minty flavor. Any place you use oregano, you can use bee balm blossoms. The leaves and flower petals can also be used in both fruit and regular salads. The leaves taste like the main ingredient in Earl Gray Tea and can be used as a substitute.

Borage - Has lovely cornflower blue star-shaped flowers. Blossoms have a cool, cucumber taste. Wonderful in punches, lemonade, gin and tonics, sorbets, chilled soups, cheese tortas, and dips.

Broccoli Florets - The top portion of broccoli is actually flower buds. Given time each will burst into a bright yellow flower, which is why they are called florets. Small yellow flowers have a mild spiciness (mild broccoli flavor), and are delicious in salads or in a stir-fry or steamer.

Burnet - The taste usually is likened to that of cucumbers, and burnet can be used interchangeably with borage.

Calendula - Also called Marigolds. A wonderful edible flower. Flavors range from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery. Their sharp taste resembles saffron (also known as Poor Man’s Saffron). Has pretty petals in golden-orange hues. Sprinkle them on soups, pasta or rice dishes, herb butters, and salads. Petals add a yellow tint to soups, spreads, and scrambled eggs.

Carnations - Steep in wine, candy, or use as cake decoration. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Dianthus are the miniature member of the carnation family with light clove-like or nutmeg scent. Petals add color to salads or aspics. Carnation petals are one of secret ingredients that has been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.

Chamomile - The flowers are small and daisy-like and have a sweet, apple-like flavor. NOTE: Drink chamomile tea in moderation as it contains thuaone; ragweed sufferers may be allergic to chamomile.

Chervil - Chervil flowers are delicate white flowers with an anise flavor. Chervil's flavor is lost very easily, either by drying the herb, or too much heat. That is why it should be added at the end of cooking or sprinkled on in its fresh, raw state.

Chicory - Earthy flavor, eat either the petals or the buds. Chicory has a pleasant, mild-bitter taste that has been compared to endive. The buds can be pickled.

Chrysanthemums - Tangy, slightly bitter, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange. They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower. They should be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar. Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only. Young leaves and stems of the Crown Daisy, also known as Chop Suey Greens or Shingiku in Japan, are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning.

Cilantro/Coriander - Like the leaves and seeds, the flowers have a strong herbal flavor. Use leaves and flowers raw as the flavor fades quickly when cooked. Sprinkle to taste on salads, bean dishes, and cold vegetable dishes.

Citrus blossoms (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat) - Use highly scented waxy petals sparingly. Distilled orange flower water is characteristic of Middle Eastern pastries and beverages. Citrus flavor and lemony.

Clover - Sweet, anise-like, licorice.

Cornflower - Also called Bachelor’s button. They have a slightly sweet to spicy, clove-like flavor. Bloom is a natural food dye. More commonly used as garnish.

Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) - Also called Sweet Rocket or Dame's Violet. This plant is often mistaken for Phlox. Phlox has five petals, Dame's Rocket has just four. The flowers, which resemble phlox, are deep lavender, and sometimes pink to white. The plant is part of the mustard family, which also includes radishes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and, mustard. The plant and flowers are edible, but fairly bitter. The flowers are attractive added to green salads. The young leaves can also be added to your salad greens (for culinary purposes, the leaves should be picked before the plant flowers). The seed can also be sprouted and added to salads. NOTE: It is not the same variety as the herb commonly called Rocket, which is used as a green in salads.

Dandelions - Member of Daisy family. Flowers are sweetest when picked young, and just before eating. They have a sweet, honey-like flavor. Mature flowers are bitter. Dandelion buds are tastier than the flowers: best to pick these when they are very close to the ground, tightly bunched in the center, and about the size of a small gumball. Good raw or steamed. Also made into wine. Young leaves taste good steamed, or tossed in salads. When serving a rice dish use dandelion petals like confetti over the rice.

Day Lilies - Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Chewable consistency. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Also great to stuff like squash blossoms. Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad. In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus. NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day Lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation.

Dill - Tangy; like leaves but stronger. Use yellow dill flowers as you would the herb itself - to season hot or cold soups, seafood, dressings or dips. Seeds used in pickling and baking.

Elderberry - The blossoms are a creamy color and have a sweet scent and sweet taste. When harvesting elderberry flowers, do not wash them as that removes much of the fragrance and flavor. Instead check them carefully for insects. The fruit is used to make wine. The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have all been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries. NOTE: All other parts of this plant, except the berries, are mildly toxic! They contain a bitter alkaloid and glycoside that may change into cyanide. The cooked ripe berries of the edible elders are harmless. Eating uncooked berries may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

English Daisy - The flowers have a mildly bitter taste and are most commonly used for their looks than their flavor. The petals are used as a garnish and in salads.

Fennel - Lovely, star-burst yellow flowers have a mile anise flavor. Use with desserts or cold soups, or as a garnish with entrees.

Fuchsia - Blooms have a slightly acidic flavor. Explosive colors and graceful shape make it ideal as garnish. The berries are also edible.

Garden Sorrel - Sorrel flowers are tart, lemon tasting. So use like a lemon, on pizza, a salad topping, in sauces, over cucumber salads.

Gladiolus - Flowers (anthers removed) have a nondescript flavor (taste vaguely like lettuce) but make lovely receptacles for sweet or savory spreads or mousses. Toss individual petals in salads.

Hibiscus - Cranberry-like flavor with citrus overtones. Use slightly acidic petals sparingly in salads or as garnish.

Hollyhock - Very bland tasting flavor.

Honeysuckle - Sweet honey flavor. Only the flowers are edible. NOTE: Berries are highly poisonous - Do not eat them!

Hyacinth - Only the Wild Hyacinth (Brodiaea douglasii) bulbs are edible. The bulbs can be used like potatoes and eaten either raw or cooked and has a sweet, nutlike flavor. NOTE: The common hyacinth (found in your gardens) is toxic and must not be eaten.

Impatiens - Very bland taste.

Jasmine - The flowers are intensely fragrant and are traditionally used for scenting tea.

Johnny-Jump-Ups - Lovely yellow, white and purple blooms have a mild wintergreen flavor and can be used in salads, to decorate cakes, or served with soft cheese. They are also a great addition to drinks, soups, desserts or salads.

Lavender - Sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes. Flowers look beautiful and taste good too in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake, or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams. Lavender lends itself to savory dishes also, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans or sorbets. NOTE: Do not consume lavender oil unless you absolutely know that it has not be sprayed and is culinary safe.

Lemon Verbena - Tiny cream-colored citrus-scented blossoms. Leaves and flowers steeped as an herb tea, and used to flavor custards and flans.

Lilac - The flavor of lilacs varies from plant to plant. Very perfumy, slightly bitter. Has a distinct lemony taste with floral, pungent overtones. Great in salads.

Linden - Small flowers, white to yellow was are delightfully fragrant and have a honey like flavor. NOTE: Frequent consumption of linden flower tea can cause heart damage

Marjoram - Flowers are a milder version of plant's leaf. Use as you would the herb.

Mint - The flavor of the flowers is minty, with different overtones depending on the variety. Mint flowers and leaves are great in Middle Eastern dishes.

Mustard - Young leaves can be steamed, used as a herb, eaten raw, or cooked like spinach. NOTE: Some people are highly allergic to mustard. Start with a small amount.

Nasturtiums - Come in varieties ranging from trailing to upright and in brilliant sunset colors with peppery flavors. Nasturtiums rank among most common edible flowers. Blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavor similar to watercress. Stuff whole flowers with savory mousse. Leaves add peppery tang to salads. Pickled seed pods are less expensive substitute for capers. Use entire flowers to garnish platters, salads, cheese tortas, open-faced sandwiches, and savory appetizers.

Okra - Also known as Ochro, Okoro, Quimgombo, Quingumbo, Ladies Fingers and Gumbo. It has hibiscus-like flowers and seed pods that, when picked tender, produce a delicious vegetable dish when stewed or fried. When cooked it resembles asparagus yet it may be left raw and served in a cold salad. The ripe seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee; the seed can be dried and powdered for storage and future use.

Oregano - Milder version of plant's leaf. Use as you would the herb.

Pansy - Pansies have a slightly sweet green or grassy flavor. If you eat only the petals, the flavor is extremely mild, but if you eat the whole flower, there is a winter, green overtone. Use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, green salad, desserts or in soups.

Pea Blossoms - Edible garden peas bloom mostly in white, but may have other pale coloring. The blossoms are slightly sweet and crunchy and they taste like peas. The shoots and vine tendrils are edible, with a delicate, pea-like flavor. Here again, remember that harvesting blooms will diminish your pea harvest, so you may want to plant extra. NOTE: Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous.

Peach blossoms

Pear blossoms

Peony - In China the fallen petals are parboiled and sweetened as a tea-time delicacy. Peony water was used for drinking in the middle ages. Add peony petals to your summer salad or try floating in punches and lemonades.

Pineapple Guava - The flavor is sweet and tropical, somewhat like a freshly picked ripe papaya or exotic melon still warm from the sun.

Primrose - Colorful with a sweet, but bland taste.

Queen Anne's Lace - Also known as Wild Carrot and Bishop's Lace. It is the original carrot, from which modern cultivars were developed, and it is edible with a light carrot flavor. The flowers are small and white, and bloom in a lacy, flat-topped cluster. Great in salads. NOTE: The problem is, it is closely related to, and looks almost exactly like another wild plant, Wild or Poison Hemlock, which often grows profusely in similar habitats, and is said to be the most poisonous plant native to the United States. The best way to differentiate between the two plants is to remember that Queen Anne's Lace has a hairy stem, while the stems of Wild Hemlock are smooth and hairless and hollow with purple spots.

Radish Flowers - Depending on the variety, flowers may be pink, white or yellow, and will have a distinctive, spicy bite (has a radish flavor). Best used in salads.

Rosemary - Milder version of leaf. Fresh or dried herb and blossoms enhance flavor of Mediterranean dishes. Use with meats, seafoods, sorbets or dressings.
Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Roses - Flavors depend on type, color, and soil conditions. Flavor reminiscent of strawberries and green apples. Sweet, with subtle undertones ranging from fruit to mint to spice. All roses are edible, with the flavor being more pronounced in the darker varieties. In miniature varieties can garnish ice cream and desserts, or larger petals can be sprinkled on desserts or salads. Freeze them in ice cubes and float them in punches also. Petals used in syrups, jellies, perfumed butters and sweet spreads. NOTE: Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals.
Rose Petal Jam

Safflower - Its dried flowers, Mexican saffron, are used as a food colorant in place of the more aromatic and expensive Spanish saffron.

Sage - The flowers are violet-blue, pink or white up to 1 3/8 inches long, small, tube like, clustered together in whorls along the stem tops. Flowers have a subtler sage taste than the leaves and can be used in salads and as a garnish. Flowers are a delicious companion to many foods including beans, corn dishes, sautéed or stuffed mushrooms, or pesto sauce.

Savory - The flavor of the flowers is somewhat hot and peppery.

Scarlet Runner Beans - Bean pods toughen as they age, so make use of young pods as well as flowers. NOTE: Sweet Pea flowers are not edible.

Scented Geraniums - The flower flavor generally corresponds to the variety. For example, a lemon-scented geranium would have lemon-scented flowers. They come in fragrances from citrus and spice to fruits and flowers, and usually in colors of pinks and pastels. Sprinkle them over desserts and in refreshing drinks or freeze in ice cubes. NOTE: Citronelle variety may not be edible.

Snap Dragon - Delicate garden variety can be bland to bitter. Flavors depend on type, color, and soil conditions. Probably not the best flower to eat.

Squash Blossoms - Squash and pumpkin blossoms are edible and taste mildly of raw squash. Prepare the blossoms by washing and trimming the stems and remove the stamens.

Sunflower - The flower is best eaten in the bud stage when it tastes similar to artichokes. Once the flower opens, the petals may be used like chrysanthemums, the flavor is distinctly bittersweet. The unopened flower buds can also be steamed like artichokes.

Sweet Woodruff - The flower flavor is sweet and grassy with a hint of nutty, vanilla flavor. NOTE: Can have a blood thinning effect if eaten in large amounts

Thyme - Milder version of leaf. Use sprigs as garnish or remove flowers and sprinkle over soups, or anywhere the herb might be used.

Tuberous Begonia - NOTE: Only Hybrids are edible. The petals of the tuberous begonias are edible. Their bright colors and sour, fruity taste bring flavor and beauty to any summer salad. Begonia blossoms have a delicious citrus sour taste and a juicy crunch. The petals are used as a garnish and in salads. Stems, also, can be used in place of rhubarb. NOTE: The flowers and stems contain oxalic acid and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidney stones, or rheumatism.

Tulip Petals - Flavor varies from tulip to tulip, but generally the petals taste like sweet lettuce, fresh baby peas, or a cucumber-like texture and flavor. NOTE: Some people have had strong allergic reactions to them. If touching them causes a rash, numbness etc. Don't eat them! Don't eat the bulbs ever.

Violets - Sweet, perfumed flavor. Related flowers, Johnny jump-ups or violas, and pansies now come in colorful purples and yellows to apricot and pastel hues. I like to eat the tender leaves and flowers in salads. I also use the flowers to beautifully embellish desserts and iced drinks. Freeze them in punches to delight children and adults alike. All of these flowers make pretty adornments for frosted cakes, sorbets, or any other desserts, and they may be crystallized as well. heart-shaped leaves are edible, and tasty when cooked like spinach.

Yucca Petals - The white Yucca flower is crunchy with a mildly sweet taste (a hint of artichoke). In the spring, they can be used in salads and as a garnish.

Courtesy of website:

And here is more information along with recipes.

RE: Romantic Herbs????

• Posted by: Daisyduckworth NSWAust (My Page) on Tue, Feb 8, 05 at 0:53

There is nothing more romantic than red roses. Plenty recipes out there for rose jam, rose jelly etc. with hips and/or petals used, and the best results come from the reddest, most heavily perfumed roses.

Below is an easy lavender recipe. Make sure to use the real English lavender flowers. Many other flowers are edible, too.

Try making a salad with flowers such as calendula, violets, pansies, nasturtiums, chives, etc. Here's a sample recipe:

Use a large, flat dish for this salad. Select some large-leafed herbs (angelica, lovage, comfrey, nasturtium, chicory or dandelion) and cover the dish with the leaves. In the middle, put a mound of grated carrot, and surround it with some small raw cauliflower florets. Make a circle of nasturtium flowers alternating with honeyed bergamot flowers and leaf sprigs, then surround this with alfalfa or other sprouts. Around this, make a rainbow circle of borage flowers, violets, pink or red rose petals and yellow dill or fennel flowers. Edge the dish with sprays of parsley and mint. Add some radish roses and celery curls if desired. Pour over a light salad dressing.

In a jar with a lid, put 6 tablespoons salad oil, 2 tablespoons herb or wine vinegar or lemon juice, a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper and a scant teaspoon honey. Put the lid on and shake well.

Mixed Weed and Flower Salad
!/2 cup young rocket leaves
1/2 cup young dandelion leaves
1 cup young lamb's quarter leaves
1/2 cup purslane, chopped
1 small head of lettuce, torn
1/2 cup young nasturtium and violet leaves, torn
1/4 cup chive flowers
1/2 cup nasturtium and violet flowers
2 teaspoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped, salted smoked almonds
salt and white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup salad oil

Combine flowers and greens. Combine the honey and vinegar, whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the salad tossing gently to coat all ingredients. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and serve.

Flower Sandwiches
Mix together 125g cream cheese and about 1/2 cup flower petals of choice. Goes well with dark breads, or use it on crackers. Try lilac, peony, calendula, clove pink, carnation, rose or lavender flowers.

Make a marinade with lavender flowers, fennel flowers and ground pepper with a little bland oil. Goes well with tuna, served with a flower salad.

Lavender Heart Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh lavender florets -- OR
1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender -- roughly chopped
2 tablespoons superfine sugar for sprinkling

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in the flour and lavender and bring the mixture together in a soft ball. Cover and chill for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and stamp out about 16 cookies using a 2" heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place on a heavy baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden. Sprinkle with sugar then leave the cookies standing for 5 minutes to set. Using a metal spatula, transfer carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

More Edible Flowers: acacia, angelica, alkanet, alexanders, almond, allyssum, anise, anise hyssop, apple blossom, banana, basil, bergamot, borage, burdock, calendula (marigold), chamomile, chicory, chives and garlic chives, clove pinks, coriander, cowslips, crucifix orchid, dandelion, day lily, elderflower, evening primrose, fennel, forget-me-not, fuschia, gardenia, garlic, ginger, hawthorn (may), heartsease, heliotrope, Japanese honeysuckle, jasmine (J. sambac), lady's smock, lawn daisy, lavender, lilac, lime blossom, loofah, lotus, lovage, marjoram, marshmallow, meadowsweet, milk thistle, mimosa, mints, mullein, musk mallow, mustard, nasturtium, orange blossom, onion, oregano, passionflower, peach blossom, primrose, primula, pumpkin, rose petals, rosella, rosemary, safflower, sage, scented geraniums leaves and flowers, Scots Thistle, snapdragon, St. John's wort, sunflower buds, salad rocket, soapwort, squash, sweet violet, sweet william, tansy, thyme, tulip, violet, viper's bugloss, wood betony, woodruff, yarrow, yucca, zucchini.