Saturday, December 22, 2012

Keep those poinsettias going

I've seen large trunked obviously old poinsettias in California and they probably have a lot of them in Florida and possibly in the Rio Grande Valley, but I never expected to hear of one this old in Lousiana.  I am sure someone could do the same here in the Rockport area. It's a great story of one poinsettias long life.

Giant 70-year-old poinsettia thrives in Lake Charles

Lake Charles LA (KPLC) Most poinsettias you see are just small potted plants in the stores or nurseries. But how about a 12-foot tall poinsettia?

For one Lake Charles resident, Karen Bryant, there's one growing right next to her home and it has been doing so for close to 70 years.

The poinsettia was planted in the 1940s and was owned by Bryant's neighbor. When Bryant moved into her current home more than 30 years ago, she would often help the woman care for her plants.

When the woman passed away in the early 2000s, and a new family moved into the home, Bryant asked the new residents if she could have the poinsettia.

"She told me if you plant it on the south side of a building, it will come back every year. So, when he decided he was going to destroy it, I asked him for the root system and he gave it to me," Bryant said.

And that's what she did. She removed the poinsettia roots and replanted them on the south side of her home next door.

"But this plant, this root system comes from the 1940s when this street, Auburn Street, was just a dirt road and that's when they built their home," she said.

Today, Bryant tends the plant every year. She even re-planted some around her home and she's given pieces of the giant poinsettia to her neighbors.

To Bryant, the plant is a gift that keeps on giving.

"She loved flowers. And I have a love of plants because of her," Bryant said.

Check out the attached video of the story to see more of the giant poinsettia.
I hope someone in our herb group has a story like this they can tell us.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Taste Test: Low-Cost Olive Oil Bests Pricier Brands

I found this to be very interesting.  Check it out. 

Here's how the brands ranked after the tasters voted for their favorite:

1. Goya. This cheap olive oil, the only one made entirely from Spanish olives, won the title of best olive oil with its "citrusy" flavor and hint of pepper. It even impressed one Israeli taster who insisted that no supermarket oil could stand up to those of her home country.

2. Pompeian. Although its name implies Italy, the runner-up in our olive oil review is imported from a mix of countries. Its "bit of spiciness" and "taste of olives" appealed even to those who disliked the sharpness of the aftertaste.

3. Colavita. The olives for this oil come exclusively from Italy and produce a taste our panelists described as "smooth," "tangy," and "very clean." The flavor is "neutral" and "not too sharp," according to the testers, some of whom considered this a detriment. They found the oil boring compared with other, more strongly flavored oils.

4. Trader Joe's President's Reserve. While two testers had strong adverse reactions to the taste, some liked the "strong olive flavor" of this Italian import. The "acrid" aftertaste is what put them off.

5. Bertolli. This "balanced" and mild olive oil, made from olives imported from four countries, elicited no delight from our tasters, although they commented it would be "easy to use."

Be sure to read the rest of the article at website:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Twelve Herbs of Christmas

I was going through some old emails and ran across this one. 

News From the Homestead:

The Twelve Herbs of Christmas

Post image for News From the Homestead: The Twelve Herbs of Christmas
by Ann on December 19, 2011
At this time of year the shortening days and cooler temperatures make make an end to our year of gardening. Although not much is happening in our gardens, they can still be part of the fun. In the spirit of the holidays, I have created my own lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” For each day in the song, I have inserted herbs that have traditionally been associated with Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Here’s a quick rundown followed by the lyrics:

Gold Lady’s Bedstraw -Lady’s bedstraw was one of the Manger Herbs. Tradition states that before the birth of Jesus, the bedstraw flowers bloomed white. After the birth in the manger the abundant bedstraw in the barn was used by Joseph and Mary to create a soft, sweet bed for the baby Jesus. Ever after the herb’s blossoms turned to gold in honor of the royal birth.

To read the rest of the article check out website:

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Winter Holidays or whatever you celebrate!  Have a wonderful season! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

We had our annual Christmas party and luncheon today. As usual Barb McSpadden provided a beautiful home and setting for our pot luck dishes. And if you didn't know, apparently everyone in our group is an excellent cook. We had some great food.

The biggest treat of all was the good fun and laughter we shared. We played that Wright game for the gifts, its a lot of fun and sometimes doesn't come out quite right, but never mind, no one was left out.

We had a tour of Barb's wonderful gardens, to me they are a wonder. I can't grow much out here with our salty water, leaf cutter ants and gophers.  This year the gophers managed to eat the roots to my orchid tree.  That was the major damage, there was much more of the minor kind.

When I checked my email I had the Aggie Horticulture update newsletter and there are some links in it I would like to share with you.

First: Christmas Cactus by Cynthia W. Mueller, Master Gardener, Galveston County
 The Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesi) is a favorite holiday season house plant, but one which needs careful attention to details if it is to live and flower again the next year. It is closely related to Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) and Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncatus), all with fleshy, flattened, segmented joints and showy flowers ranging in color from white through pink, red and purple. These are cacti which in nature live in the crotches of jungle trees, and benefit from light, porous soil mixed with leafmold and sand.
For the rest of the article be sure to click the link above.

Second: Possum-haw Holly (Ilex decidua)
Dr. William C. Welch, Professor & Landscape Horticulturist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
 Each year in November and December, there is a flurry of interest by consumers, customers, and gardeners in what they call the 'yaupon-like plant without any leaves'. Ilex decidua attracts so much attention because of its spectacular and unique presentation of red, orange, and yellow fruit, which appear when the foliage drops in November or early December. The colorful berries usually remain all winter unless they are removed by the cedar waxwing or one of the other nine species of birds known to feed on the fruit. Possum-haw hollies are useful in the landscape as large shrubs or small trees, and may occur with single or multiple trunks. Female plants are preferred, since male selections are fruitless and provide little ornamental value.   Click above to read the rest.
Third: Dill, or Dillweed (Anethum graveolens) by Liz Ball, for the National Garden Bureau
 Dill (Anethum graveolens), a member of the carrot family, has been a favorite culinary herb for centuries, valued both for its flavorful foliage and pungent seeds. The name "dill" comes from an old Norse word, "dilla," which means "to lull," this plant having been frequently prescribed as a tea to treat insomnia and digestive problems. Dill is a delightful herb with many culinary uses. Native to southern Europe, it is a staple in Greek cooking. It is common in Scandinavian and German food as well. Fresh or dried, dill leaves add a distinctive flavor to salads, fish, vegetable casseroles and soups. Used whole or ground, dill seeds add zest to breads, cheeses, and salad dressings. The seeds are the best way to use dill in dishes that require cooking over a long time. Of course, dill is best known as a pickling herb for cucumbers, and also green beans, carrots and beets. Again, click the link for the rest of the article.
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Natural Sweeteners

I received this email from Ruth's niece today. Very interesting and I would like to pass on the information to all of you Herbies!

Let's take a look at natural sweeteners-we all know that sugar, although natural, isn't good for you and in fact, we should avoid that white stuff at all cost. But, what about raw sugar, the kind in the store labeled Turbinado? Since it's
raw, doesn't it have some nutritive value? No, sorry, it doesn't. It's had all the molasses content refined out, too-it's just not as highly refined. It does have a higher moisture content, though, so the flavor's a little different and it has slightly less calories per teaspoon than white sugar.

Molasses: This is where the sugar's nutrients went to! Molasses is a high potassium food, and also contains iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, selenium, and copper. Blackstrap molasses contains even more of these nutrients.

Raw honey: The key word here is "raw." Refined honey is almost as useless as refined sugar. Raw honey is rich in anti-oxidants, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is so beneficial to the body, that you can also apply it to scrapes for a healing boost.

Maple Syrup: This sweetener is also high in antioxidants, enzymes, and manganese. It also contains zinc. Why use artificially-flavored, chemical concoctions when you can pour maple syrup on your pancakes?

Agave nectar: Though one-and-half times sweeter than sugar, agave has a lower glycemic index and doesn't cause as sharp a rise in blood sugar. It is rich in saponins, which is beneficial for lowering excess cholesterol; and also contains inulin, a type of fiber that helps stabilize blood sugar levels, making it a great sugar substitute.

In my next post, we'll take a look at a natural sweetener that is very low in calories, helps control blood sugar swings, and you can grow it yourself!

Green Leaf Holistics

Linda Scherrer

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Just a reminder that our next program on November 14, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. is “Aromatics" presented by Cindy Meredith and Mary Ann Davis. Cindy is setting up her distiller as an example of one way to produce aromatics. Mary Ann is doing Potpourri.

We are open to the public. You can find us at the ACISD Maintenance Department Formerly Rockport Elementary, 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas. For more information you can call Linda Collins at 361-729-6037! Hope to see you there!
 Website for making Potpourri. 

 Recipe for Christmas Potpourri!
Mary Ann telling us how to make potpourri!
Cindy and her distiller!
 For more information about Potpourri, Mary Ann Davis suggests the book The Complete Book of Potpourri and Perfumery by Denise Greig. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Basalmic Vinegar

I ran across this post on a blog called Maggie's Farm.  I found it so interesting I'm copying it here.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The good Balsamic Vinegar comes from Modena (home of Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini), where they have been making it for a thousand years. I have some days when I hunger for some Balsamic.

It's called "balsamic" because it was thought to be a good balsam, or balm, for pain and disease. Our North American Balsam Fir was thought to be good for diseases too, hence its name. The Romans viewed vinegar as a balm and a medicine - hence the Roman soldier kindly offering Jesus vinegar on the cross.

They make it from boiled-down Trebbiano grape juice. Balsamic Vinegar is not a wine vinegar.

The aging process seems to be key. As the volume shrinks over time and the vinegar becomes more syrupy, it is moved into smaller and smaller wood casks made of different woods until ready. Juniper is the final cask. 15 and 25 year-old Italian Balsamic Vinegars are readily available, and there are 100 year-old ones. The 15 year-old one in the photo is $70/bottle. Unlike a bottle of wine of that price, however, you only have to use a few drops at a time.

Northern Italians would never touch our supermarket stuff, nor would any really good American restaurant. However, the available quality is getting better and better.

The old story Marcella Hazan relates is about the old Northern Italian guy who ran down to the cellar when the Americans began bombing. Then he remembered, and ran up to the room where his precious small casks of very old Balsamic were stored and rushed them down to the cellar. Then he realized that he had forgotten one more thing: His wife.

Ever tried a good Balsamic on strawberries? It's a classic Italian dessert. It's equally good on fresh fig halves with a touch of honey or sugar. Just make sure you use the good stuff.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink, Our Essays at 14:42

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pat Baugh is out of the hospital and back home! YEA!

November 10, 2012

OK, here we go again.  I received an email last night from Diane.  She said that her Mother is at home.  She convinced the doctor that she was OK to go home on Friday rather than having to wait until Monday.  So Pat is home now, but Diane asked if some of us could get together to send Pat a daily meal.  Sandy mentioned that Pat really likes salads, so that is something that is good and easy.  We have our upcoming meeting this Wednesday, November 14, so maybe we can make a calendar list of "Meals for Pat"! 


November 9, 2012

Last night I received an email from Diane, Pat's daughter, and she informed me that Pat is going to be released from Gulf Pointe Plaza on Monday, November 12, 2012.  Terry and I are going over to pick her up and take her home.  Her ability to get around for a while will be difficult, so I was thinking that maybe some of us can get together and arrange to have a daily meal delivered to her and Ruff, probably lunch.  If you might be interested, please let me know.  I will keep everyone informed.


We surprised Pat on her birthday!  She totally enjoyed her party.  Pat's daughter Diane said the folloing:

The Birthday Party yall had for her meant more to her than you could ever know. She was overwhelmed. I Thank You for that. That was the second birthday party she can ever remember having. Yall are awesome!!!


Latest Update on Pat!
Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pat's birthday is this coming Monday, October 22.  Is anyone interested in going over with me to give her a small birthday celebration?  Let me know, OK? 
OK, after some discussion, we decided to go wish Pat a Happy Birthday on Monday around 1:00 p.m. We will have pumpkin pie cheesecake from Trader Joe's and some herbal iced tea too!

I called Pat this morning.  She seems to be in good spirits overall. She has physical therapy every morning except for Saturday and Sunday. She would love to see friends. So if you have a little free time, stop by to visit with her.  She doesn't have a phone in her room, but you can call the front desk and leave a message.

She is still concerned about her garden and knows that she can no longer work in the garden. So she is still looking for someone to come over once a week and mow her front yard, do needed weeding and watering. Let me or Pat know if you can help.

OK Everyone!  Here is the latest on Pat via emails below between Lois and me:

Friday, October 19, 2012 6:56 PM

Thank you Lois! I was in Houston today, but I'm back home. I'm going to send this email out to everyone, including me since I'm also guilty of not going to see Pat! Thank you for the information!

OK like Lois said, Pat is at:

Gulf Pointe Plaza
Room 207
1008 Enterprise Boulevard
Rockport, TX 78382
(361) 727-1800

Lois said:

I went to see Pat today at Gulf Pointe Plaza room 207 She would REALLY enjoy a visit. It looks like she will be there for some time. Send out your best guilt producing email. It could be any of us there.


Hey Herbies!

Most of you probably already know about our member Pat Baugh being in the hospital with a broken pelvis.  I'll post the emails that I sent out about Pat. 

Email Friday, October 05, 2012 11:22 AM
Hello All!

I received a call this morning from Lois letting me know that Pat Baugh fell and broke her pelvis while gardening in her backyard Wednesday evening. She is in Spohn South Hospital, Room 308, phone number 361-985-5000.

I then called Pat and talked to her. She is in lots of pain and because of where the break is located, surgery is not an option. She is supposed to start physical therapy and will be using a walker. Pat is very concerned about her gardens and will need help. There is no way that she will be able to continue maintaining her beautiful yard. So if any of you that might know someone looking for a gardening job, either let me know 361-729-6037 or Pat telephone number 361-729-9405.

I will keep everyone informed about Pat.

Email Monday, October 08, 2012 11:04 AM

Hey Everyone!

Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group this Wednesday! Don't forget Barb's "Garlic" program this Wednesday! I requested it be put in the Caller-Times and the Pilot, but I couldn't find it posted. 

For more information click on website:

And some information about Pat!
I called Ruff, Pat's hubby, just a short while ago. He said that Pat is still in the hospital awaiting Dr. Hahn's OK for her to transfer to Gulf Point. He said that Dr. Hahn has been busy and hasn't signed any paperwork for Pat. I do know one of his nurses, so I might try calling her to see if she can help. I also told him that I had two names for potential gardeners for Pat thanks to Darlene Gooris and Ginger Smith. That seemed to make him happy.
I then called Pat. She was having physical therapy trying to learn to walk again. I told her that I would call her back later today and check on her.
I'm really worried, because a broken pelvis is no fun. I broke mine about 25 years ago while skiing. It took over a year to finally heal, and I was in the hospital for 2 weeks and crutches for 3 months. I really can sympathize with Pat because I know how much pain she is experiencing.
I will keep everyone informed. Thanks!

Linda a/k/a Herbie


Monday, October 1, 2012

"Garlic" by Barb McSpadden October 10, 2012 at 10:00

Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group

Just a reminder that our next program is Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:00. Find us at the ACISD Maintenance Department Formerly Rockport Elementary, 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas. Our program will be:
"Garlic" by Barb McSpadden

 Do you like it raw?
Or cooked?

Come and learn everything you ever wanted to know about herbs. Did you know that there are over 2,000 herbs and that roses are herbs too? And did you know that many of our Texas Native Plants are also herbs? Herbs have been used for centuries for not only culinary purposes, but also for medicinal uses, in cosmetics, cleaning solutions, clothing (one of which is Gossypium cotton), building supplies and art and craft purposes.
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.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Amaranth, Sunflowers and Jerusalem Artichokes

This is my version of the Remarkable Plants of Texas for September's  program.  While I could not find a reference to Jerusalem artichokes in the book Remarkable Plants of Texas by Matt Warner Turner, they are definitely a sunflower.

Even though I wanted to present the herb club members with edible (maybe not delectable) choices of cooked sunflowers I found that the truly edible varieties are not present in quantity in our area, and were not to be found in the area of the Hill Country I was visiting, either.  So, I thought, we will just try these very abundant silverleaf sunflowers and see what happens.  Well, as it turned out, not much happened.  The buds do look like they would make a nice edible dish, but the ones I tried burned.  I hope to reclaim the pot.  As for boiling the seed heads to get the oil, nope, that didn't happen either.  I did get some nicely colored water and you will get the color, dingy greenish brown.  NO OIL at all.  I am pretty sure, though, the sap could be used as a glue, as my fingers were very sticky.
So onto the program and here it is:

Amaranth – Amaranthus spp.

The genus has some of the oldest and most important food plants in the world. Cultivated and uncultivated produce thousands of tiny seeds. They are very fine but very nutritious. Most varieties have a very high protein content. Up to 16% - higher than most varieties of wheat which is 12-14%, rice 7-10%, and corn 9-10%.
Amaranth protein is rich in lysine, an amino acid that is low in most other cereal. Its lysine content twice that of wheat and three times that of corn. It also contains more fiber, calcium, and oil than most other grains.

The Aztecs used amaranth as a grain and considered the plant a symbol of immortality.

From Wikipedia
Kiwicha, as amaranth is known today in the Andes, was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas. Known to the Aztecs as huautli, it is thought to have represented up to 80% of their caloric consumption before the conquest. Another important use of amaranth throughout Mesoamerica was to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning "joy" in Spanish. Diego Duran described the festivities for Huitzilopochtli, a blue hummingbird god. (Real hummingbirds feed on amaranth flowers.) The Aztec month of Panquetzaliztli (7 December to 26 December) was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. People decorated their homes and trees with paper flags; there were ritual races, processions, dances, songs, prayers, and finally human sacrifices. This was one of the more important Aztec festivals, and the people prepared for the whole month. They fasted or ate very little; a statue of the god was made out of amaranth (huautli) seeds and honey, and at the end of the month, it was cut into small pieces so everybody could eat a little piece of the god. After the Spanish conquest, cultivation of amaranth was outlawed, while some of the festivities were subsumed into the Christmas celebration.
Because of its importance as a symbol of indigenous culture, its gluten-free palatability, easy to cook, and its protein particularly well suited to human nutritional needs, interest in grain amaranth (especially A. cruentus and A. hypochondriacus) revived in the 1970s. It was recovered in Mexico from wild varieties and is now commercially cultivated. It is a popular snack sold in Mexico, sometimes mixed with chocolate or puffed rice, and its use has spread to Europe and parts of North America. Amaranth and quinoa are called pseudograins because of their flavor and cooking similarities to grains. 


Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is one of the few crop species that originated in North America (most originated in the fertile crescent, Asia or South or Central America). It was probably a "camp follower" of several of the western native American tribes who domesticated the crop (possibly 1000 BC) and then carried it eastward and southward of North America. The first Europeans observed sunflower cultivated in many places from southern Canada to Mexico.

Sunflower was probably first introduced to Europe through Spain, and spread through Europe as a curiosity until it reached Russia where it was readily adapted. Selection for high oil in Russia began in 1860 and was largely responsible for increasing oil content from 28% to almost 50%. The high-oil lines from Russia were reintroduced into the U.S. after World War II, which rekindled interest in the crop. However, it was the discovery of the male-sterile and restorer gene system that made hybrids feasible and increased commercial interest in the crop. Production of sunflowers subsequently rose dramatically in the Great Plains states as marketers found new niches for the seeds as an oil crop, a birdseed crop, and as a human snack food. Production in these regions in the 1980s has declined mostly because of low prices, but also due to disease, insect and bird problems. Sunflower acreage is now moving westward into dryer regions; however, 85% of the North American sunflower seed is still produced in North and South Dakota and Minnesota.

From the book:
Sixteen or more species in the state of Texas.

It is phototrophic aka heliotrophic, meaning it follows the sum. Even before the flowers open the leaves and buds follow the course of the sun, facing toward the east in the morning, straight up at noon, and sharply toward the west in the late afternoon. At night the leaves point downward, while ther terminal buds face toward the sky, gradually leaning eastward again as dawn approaches. Once the flowers open and first ray florets unfurl, the stems below the flower heads harden and the flowers freeze in a position tilted toward the east or northeast. The Kiowa Indian name for the sunflower , ho-son-u, literally meaning “looking at you.”

Both current and historical uses for the sunflower are manifold. The seeds are the most obvious part used. They are eaten raw or roasted. But their main use is for the oil. Native Americans obtained the oil by boiling the seeds and skimming it off. They used it for cooking as well as for mixing ceremonial paint. The Caddo added ground sunflower seeds to cornmeal for cakes or tamales. They also added it to porridge or rolled it with roasted corn into small balls called bogan. The Apaches made a bread of it. The fine long fibers from the sunflower stems have been used for thread, cordage, and paper. The coagulated sap was used for chewing gum by the Kiowa.

The small unopened flower heads can be eaten whole and are said to taste similar to artichokes. They have been found in corprolites in the lower Pecos dating back to 6000BC!

They have also been used for dye.

By the way, I reclaimed the pot by soaking ammonia in it for several days, with the lid on to keep the fumes contained. I brushed it and then used a Brillo pad to shine it. Looks as good as new and it is 30 years old stainless Farberware.

Herb Fair in Houston

South Texas Unit


The Herb Society of America

Our 40th Annual 

Herb Fair

Friday, October 19, 2012
Open only to patrons who have made $20 or more in pre-purchases
4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Open to the general public
7:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Hermann Park Garden Center
Houston, Texas

For more information go to website:


Saturday, September 22, 2012

21st Annual San Antonio Herb Market

The 21st Annual Herb Market

Come Celebrate Rose "Herb of The Year" for 2012
Date: Saturday October 20, 2012
Time: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Place: The Historic Pearl Brewery
Pearl Parkway & Avenue A
Bring the family and friends. Its free and open to the public.

9:00 – 2:00 "Ask The Experts" Local Rose & Herb Experts
Questions about Herbs? Ask our experts!
9:30– 10:15 Growing Herbs 101 Shane Dunford
Learn how easy it is to grow herbs in your landscape and containers. Shane is the Managing Director of Nature’s Herb Farm and will guide you through the proper care for herbs in our region.
10:30 – 11:30 Rose, Herb of the Year Robbi Will
We are excited to have Robbi Will with The Antique Rose Emporium as our Featured Speaker. Robbi will share the lore and legends of the Rose and and will enchant you with the rich history of roses explaining why for thousands of years cultures across the globe have valued this fragrant and beautiful plant. And if you think that roses are hard to grow - think again. You will learn the species that do well here with very little maintenance.
12:00– 1:00 Cooking Demo:
Cooking With Rose Chef Steve McHugh
Chef Steve McHugh, always the creative chef, will share the culinary side of this versatile herb. Come see his demo and share a taste of what may become your new favorite ingredient!
1:30– 2:30 Roses as Medicine,
Aromatherapy & Craft
San Antonio Herb Society
Join the SA Herb Society as they share ways of using Rose in the home.

For more information click on the following website:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


It's that time of year again, so check out:

Monday, September 19, 2011



You will find lots of good information about hummers, butterflies and their favorite plants!

If possible be sure to get down here to Rockport, Texas for our upcoming Hummer/Bird Celebration.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hot Peppers

The August program was indeed Hot Peppers by Barb McSpadden.  Like some of the presenters before her she brought goodies to try.  They were wonderful.

Herbie here!  I found the article The Patron Saint of Peppers by Jeff Baker!  It is on page 174 of The Old Farmer's 2012 Almanac!  Barb referenced this during her program!

Click on website:

And here is a good article about Peppers by Skip Richter, Contributing Editor for Texas Gardener. 

Peter Piper was definitely before his time. Peppers are still the trendy veggies you must have for your vegetable garden to be… well, to be cool. But they are not just for the vegetable patch, as numerous new ornamental types are available for setting annual beds ablaze with color.

Bell, cherry, chili, pimiento, banana, paprika, tabasco, habanero, piquin and the list goes on, making peppers among the most diverse and versatile of garden veggies. Although "discovered" in the 1500s by Spanish explorers to the New World, American gardeners and consumers are now rediscovering the versatile pepper.

To read the rest of the article click on website:

You might want to check out website HARVESTING HOT PEPPERS

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Hot Peppers" by Barb McSpadden August 8, 2012 at 10:00


Due to family circumstances at Barb’s house the subject will be "Remarkable Plants of Texas" by Ruth Hoese. Sorry for the late notice.



Just a reminder that our next program is Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:00. Find us at the ACISD Maintenance Department Formerly Rockport Elementary, 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas.

Our program will be "Hot Peppers" by Barb McSpadden! An appropriate topic considering our Texas heat!!


Here we are in south Texas where it's beautiful just to stay indoors with the a/c cranking and looking out the window at the bay and wondering when it will start to cool down. Gardening is out of the question with it being so hot and humid. Maybe a lazy day at the pool will make summer more tolerable. In the meantime, I've been thinking about some easy recipes for summer. Here are a few that might make your summer meals a little healthier and tasty!

This recipe is my sister's wonderful sangria that is great with Tex-Mex on a hot summer night.


½ cup sugar
¼ cup brandy
½ cup orange juice
Orange slices
Lime slices
Bottle of either white wine or red wine
½ cup sparkling wine or sparkling water

Fresh mint springs

Mix together and put into a pitcher with ice. Serve in tall, frosted glasses if available. Add a few sprigs of fresh mint! 

Boudro's is on the River Walk in San Antonio. They make this at your table, and it is the best guacamole I have ever tasted.


Juice of 1/4 of an orange
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 avocado seeded and scooped out of skin
2 Tbs roasted and charred Roma tomatoes diced
1 ea Serrano pepper roasted seeded and diced
1 Tbs medium dice red onions
1 tsp chopped cilantro
coarse ground salt to taste (sea salt is better)

Squeeze juices into bowl. Add avocado and coarsely chop. Add onions, roasted tomato, Serrano and cilantro fold into avocado mixture. Add salt (more is better). Result should be crudely chopped not mashed. That’s it.

Note: I found this comment online. "This is by far the best guacamole I've ever had. I asked our waiter about it and he said for the roasted tomatoes + Serrano peppers, you chop up 10 tomatoes to 1 Serrano pepper and roast it over a fire. Then use that mixture for the 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes in the recipe. Alternatively, I assume you could use 1 tomato and 1/10 pepper...if you want to figure out what that is."

This is great when served with a brisket and chips!


2 (15 ounce) cans beans, drained and rinsed, can use black beans, pinto beans, or a mix
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, cooked
3 firm tomatoes diced (if you prefer you can also peel and seed, but I prefer not too)
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 to 4 fresh jalapenos, finely chopped (if you prefer you can also seed the peppers)
½ cup chopped onion, either a sweet yellow such as 1015 or purple onion
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 avocadoes, peeled, pitted and diced

Combine all ingredients except for the avocadoes, cover and chill for a few hours. Before serving, toss in the avocadoes. Be sure not to cut up the avocadoes until right before you get ready to serve the salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.

This is a new spin on an old recipe.


6 to 8 eggs, hard-boiled
1/3 cup mayonnaise or Ranch Dressing or mix of both of these
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon stone ground Dijon Mustard
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, black or white or both

-Add 3 to 4 pieces fried bacon crumbled. Add some to mixture and saving a little to top on the eggs.
-Add 3 or 4 green onions finely chopped. Add some to mixture and saving a little to top on the eggs.

-Add a little black caviar on top. 

Cut eggs lengthwise and remove yolks; mash yolks with remaining ingredients. Refill into egg whites and sprinkle with paprika. Chill and serve.

My neighbor and friend, Barbra Fox, made this for one of our Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group's meetings. Very good! Great dish to take to a pot-luck dinner!

6 heaping tablespoons of Hellman's Mayonnaise
2 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of horseradish

1 head of cauliflower
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch of bulb onions
3 ribs of celery
1 can of black olives, thinly sliced
20 green olives, thinly sliced
*3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Mix together all ingredients except for tomatoes and put into a large plastic bag and refrigerate at least overnight. Right before serving, *add 3 Roma tomatoes.
Additions and/or variations for the salad. Here are just a few suggestions. 
• Finely chopped red onion
• Broccoli
• shredded cabbage
• Any color bell pepper
• Hot peppers (capsicums) for more heat
• Shredded or thinly sliced cucumbers
• Shredded or thinly sliced carrots
• sliced green onions
• roasted peanuts
• Bean sprouts
• Fresh herbs, any that you like

We were discussing that you can use just the sauce for coleslaw. And I was thinking that you could make it as an oriental salad by substituting the horseradish for wasabi (possibly using less depending on your heat level) with a little soy sauce and pouring it over some oriental vegetables such as parboiled sugar snap peas, parboiled snow peas, shredded or thinly sliced cucumbers, shredded or thinly sliced carrots, sliced green onions, roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, etc.

This is a great dish to take to pot luck dinners or serve as an appetizer.  Everyone loves it!

¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon wasabi
½ cup canola oil

Blend all ingredients except oil in a food process; with machine running slowly add oil.  Cover and refrigerate.

2 pounds fresh trimmed asparagus (can use either green or white or a combination of the two.)

Blanch the asparagus by placing them into boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your asparagus.  Remove them and immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and chill in the refrigerator.

Or steam the asparagus until it is tender crispy.   Remove them and immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and chill in the refrigerator.

Large lettuce leaves or fresh field greens, tomatoes, avocados.

Black & white sesame seeds, toasted for just a minute or so to release the oils

Lettuce and/or wild greens

Arrange the lettuce on a good size chilled platter, then put the wild greens on top of the lettuce, then arrange the asparagus on top and drizzle with the dressing.  Sprinkle with both the roasted black and white sesame seeds.  Add a little ginger to the plate for garnish.  You can also add some cherry tomatoes for color and/or sliced avocados. 


½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder

Whisk oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, dry mustard and onion powder until blended, and then cover and chill at least 2 hours.

2 pounds fresh spinach, torn & coarse stems discarded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
½ cup toasted slivered almonds
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh dill

Toss spinach, green onions, almonds, strawberries and dill in a salad bowl and just before serving pour dressing over salad and toss. 

*More recipes for quina.

People who aren’t crazy about the texture of whole grains may delight in quinoa. Its tiny round grains have a slight flavor that can be described as “vegetable caviar.” Quinoa has a bland but pleasant flavor that is enhanced by the addition of flavorful broth or other ingredients. One half-cup serving contains 3.5 g of fiber.

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups cold, fresh water, broth, or stock
1/4 teaspoon salt (if unsalted broth is used)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil
1/2 teaspoon organic lemon zest
1 teaspoon organic orange zest
3/4 cup parsley, chopped
3 chopped scallions, including green tops
1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds with skin

Rinse the quinoa in cold water until it’s no longer sudsy. Drain well through a strainer. (Depending on whether you buy your quinoa packaged or in bulk, it may have been pre-rinsed, but it’s best to rinse anyway, because unless the bitter saponin that coats the grain has been thoroughly removed, your recipe will be ruined.)

In a 1-quart pan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the quinoa and salt. Reduce the heat to low/medium; cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and quickly boil off any remaining liquid. Scrape the grain into a serving dish.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and zests and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add the mixture to the cooled quinoa, stir, and serve chilled or at room temperature.

I served this cold for a wedding shower, and everyone loved it.

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 12 servings


  • 1 (9-ounce) package frozen sugar snap peas
  • 1 (16-ounce) package orzo, cooked and drained (can substitute with rice)
  • 1 cup water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken (store-cooked rotisserie chicken is good)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 (2-ounce) package slivered almonds, toasted (1/2 cup)
Cook sugar snap peas according to package directions; drain well.

In a large bowl, combine sugar snap peas, orzo, water chestnuts, chicken, green onion, and red bell pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. Pour over orzo mixture, tossing gently to coat. Stir in toasted almonds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

  • Used both fresh sugar snap peas and fresh snow peas; can add celery, carrots, asparagus, edamame, fresh spinach, 8 oz of mushrooms, etc.
  • Doubled the green onions.
  • Added two cloves of minced garlic.
  • Added spicy stir fry sauce along with the hoisin sauce in equal amounts.
  • Doubled the dressing recipe and added 1 tablespoon each of sesame oil and chili oil; substitute mayo for the oil
  • Grated ginger and red pepper flakes
  • Substituted unsalted peanuts for the almonds.
  • Added finely chopped jalapeño to the dish.
  • Added freshly chopped cilantro right before serving.
  • Cucumber instead of water chestnuts
  • Can substitute rice or quinoa for orzo.

* More recipes for quinoa: and

Also when I made the above quino, I added fresh oranges and a balsamic vinaigrette for more flavor!