Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February, March, April and May Programs!!!

SUBJECT: "The many faces of the herb Artemisia- varieties, uses, growing" presented by Cindy Meredith

WHEN: Second Wednesday of every month, next meeting February 8, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

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

Cindy Meredith has agreed to give a talk on the Artemisia Family.  Pat Baugh is doing the March program on "Starting with Seeds".  I'll do something in April unless someone wants to volunteer; I was thinking Roses. And Mary Ann Davis is giving the May program on Potpourri.

So we need to get the remainder of the year's programs filled up! I'll pass the sign-up sheet around next week so have your program title ready to put on paper! Thanks!

Monday, January 30, 2012

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map!!

In one of my nursery magazines today, I learned we now have a new, updated USDA Hardiness Zone Map!! 
The old map has been in place since 1990. Now, you can focus on your state up close. Here's what the USDA has to say:

"This is the most sophisticated Plant Hardiness Zone Map yet for the United States," said Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "The increases in accuracy and detail that this map represents will be extremely useful for gardeners and researchers."

Here's the link to the new map: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/#

Check it out!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Herb Cottage Newsletter: Winter Gardening!

I thought that you might enjoy reading Cindy's Herb Cottage Newsletter: Winter Gardening!.  Check it out for some good recipes including KALE SOUP WITH SORRELIt sounds so good! 


  • 1 large bunch Kale or Swiss Chard

  • About 15 - 20 large leaves Sorrel

  • Small Bunch Parsley

  • 2 quarts of broth- I like to use Chicken, but if you are a vegetarian or vegan you can use a vegetable broth

  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 1 onion- chopped

  • 2 Cloves Garlic- chopped

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Add Olive Oil to soup pot, heat. When hot add chopped Onion and Garlic. Cook until slightly brown.. about 10 minutes. Add broth to pot and bring to simmer. Add coarsely chopped Kale and Sorrel leaves and Parsley and simmer until greens are cooked... about 10 minutes.

    Cool soup slightly and then puree in blender or food processor. NOTE: if processing hot soup, be careful not to let it spew up and out of blender. It's best to let the soup cool first.

    Return soup to pot and heat before serving. Add a dollop of sour cream, if desired and sprinkle with chives. This soup can also be eaten chilled rather than heated.

    If you have a lot of Parsley, you can use it in pesto sauces as well as dry it for later use. Sometimes, Parsley doesn't thrive in our Texas summer, so a supply of the newly dried herb will get you through the summer months.

    Parsley can be mixed with Basil for a lovely pesto. I like it with Roasted Walnuts added, rather than the traditional Pine Nuts. You can also make a Parsley and Sorrel pesto to flavor soups and even stews where you'd like a tangy flavor.


  • 2 cups clean leaves -- you can use all one variety of herb such as basil, parlsey or cilantro OR-- use a mix of herbs and greens or herbs such as Parsley mixed with Basil or Cilantro. Throw in a few Hot Peppers for a spicier pesto. Or, add Roasted Sweet Peppers for a savory flavor.

  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup nuts. Pine nuts are traditional, but you can use pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazel nuts or cashews for a different flavor. Roasting the nuts beforehand brings out their flavor.

  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese such as Parmesan, Asiago or Romano, or a blend.

  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, according to your taste

  • Approximately 1/2 cup olive or other vegetable oil.

  • The amount of oil can vary depending on how much cheese and nuts you put in.

    Food Processor:

    Add all ingredients and process until you have a smooth, well-mixed pesto. The consistency should be similar to that of mayonnaise.


    This is a little more work than using a food processor, but makes an equally delicious pesto.

    Place about a quarter of the basil leaves in the blender jar adding 1/2 cup oil, the nuts and cheese. Blend (I use the puree setting or high setting.) You'll need a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to push the mixture down onto the blades fairly often.

    --Don't do what I did one time.... and stick a wooden spoon in the jar before the blades stopped turning. The spoon was jerked from my hand, bounced out of the jar, sprayed oil and basil everywhere and broke the spoon inside the jar. I threw the whole mess away and had to start over so I didn't have splinters in the pesto. In other words.... wait until the blades have stopped turning before sticking the spoon in!!!

    After you have that first mix pretty well blended and the nuts are well ground, just keep adding the basil leaves about a handful at time until all the leaves are used up. If the mix is too thick, add a little oil to thin it down. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth. In fact, I like the pesto a little coarse so I can see the leaves, but the nuts should be well ground.

    To preserve the pesto, I fill ice cube trays with the mixture and freeze it over night. The next day I remove the pesto cubes and store them in a plastic bag or tub in the freezer. One cube is one serving. If you make different pesto with lots of green ingredients, be sure to label the bags so you'll know which is which!

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Cindy's Newsletter and January 11, 2012 Program

    Hey Everyone! 

    I know that all of us with the Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group wish you a Happy 2012 New Year!!  In the meantime, you can check out Cindy's latest December 2011 newsletter. 

    Spring brings thoughts of new growth, little green shoots peeking out from melting snow or winter mulch and that first tomato plant in the ground. But, as we know, gardens, whether in the ground or containers, don't happen overnight. Preparation is needed.

    Click on the December 2011 newsletter noted above for the rest of the article!

    And don't forget our January 11,  2012 program!  Cindy is presenting a program on Cocoa/Chocolate- What makes the ’new’ super-food so good for you… or is it?? History, Lore and more on Chocolate. Samples and tasting, too!!  So plan on attending the program on January 11 at 10:00 a.m. at ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas.

    Happy Gardening!