Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lemon-y Herbs

Here is the April 2014 Newsletter from The Herb Cottage

Lemon-y Herbs for Summer

Last month I wrote about Lemongrass, so this month I thought I'd continue with the lemon theme and discuss a few other lemony herbs. Lemon flavored herbs are great for summer: they make light and refreshing iced tea, add bright notes to grilled fish and seafood and combine well with salads.

Here are my favorites!

Lemon Verbena, Aloysia citrodora

Lemon Verbena Flowers

A perennial shrub from 3 to 6 feet tall, Lemon Verbena is also known as Lemon Beebrush due to its attraction to bees when in flower.

The leaves will freeze and fall off the plant at 32 deg. F, but the wood is said to be hardy to -10 deg. F. Since I don't live where it gets that cold, I have no experience with such low temperatures. I do know, my Lemon Verbena comes back every Spring on the old wood. So, if yours freezes, do not prune the woody stems all the way down. Prune for shape, if you like, but know new leaves will soon populate the old, woody stems.
In containers, I've found the smaller woody stems to also freeze, but new growth reliably comes from the root system.

Lemon Verbena can be a bit of a lanky, leggy grower and a bit of Spring pruning can help shape the plant. Left on its own, it's not the most attractive plant in the herb garden. The flavor of Lemon Verbena, however, easily makes up for any lack of physical beauty.

In the garden in the Southern US, give Lemon Verbena some afternoon shade and it'll be very happy, providing you with lots of leaves for tea and cooking. If you have a bee garden, Lemon Verbena is a good addition. The flowers are very attractive to our little pollinating friends. It makes sprays of white to pinkish flowers. Very attractive in arrangements, too.

I like to refer to Lemon Verbena as The Queen of Lemon Herbs! It's flavor and scent is most like a real lemon, giving it the ability to make terrific tea, hot or iced. Used in cakes and cookies, it adds a distinct lemon flavor.

Here's a recipe I found using Lemon Verbena in a muffin recipe with another summer favorite, zucchini:

Lemon Verbena and Nut Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 cup packed shredded zucchini - do not drain
12 lemon verbena leaves, sliced finely

Into a large bowl, put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon peel, cinnamon and nuts.
In another bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, beating in the milk and the oil.
Add to the flour mix and stir well.
Then add the zucchini and lemon verbena and stir all together.
Grease mini-muffin tins and then fill 3/4 full.
Bake at 400 deg. F for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the tins.
Test with toothpick.

Glaze: juice the 2 lemons from above and add enough confectioners sugar to make a thin glaze. While the muffins are still hot, dip the tops in the glaze and set on wire rack to drain.

Recipe from In the Kitchen at Shale Hill Farm

Lemon Basil, Ocimum x citriodorum

Lemon Basil

Many people don't realize there is more to basil than simply the Italian or Sweet variety that is so popular for Pesto and other cooking applications. There is Lemon, Lime, various red and purple leaved varieties, African of several types, holy basil or Tulsi from India, Cinnamon, Licorice, Thai and more. Lemon and Lime are similar in that they have a soft and fruity aroma and flavor. Lemon Basil is said to be a cross between standard Basil and African Basil.

Lemon Basil is grown in Northeastern Africa and Southern Asia for culinary purposes. In Laos, it is used in a popular stew called a 'lam' and in Indonesia it is called 'kemangi' and is said to be the only basil used.

It grows like the other basil types, likes warm weather, lots of sun and is not particularly drought tolerant. The leaves are narrower than the Italian types. It's flowers are white and attractive to bees. As with the other basils, it makes a nice container plant or addition to the herb or flower bed.

Use Lemon Basil instead of your traditional basil for pesto, either alone or mixed half and half with parsely or even standard basil. Then try it on pasta, to top steamed, roasted or grilled vegetables or in iced tea for a different flavor. Here's an easy Basil Pesto Recipe. which can be adapted by using varied combinations of leafy green herbs such as Lemon Basil, Parsely or even Lime Basil.

If using chopped Lemon Basil in a dish, add it to the food at the very end of cooking as the flavor cooks out rapidly. Or, simply sprinkle the chopped herb over your dish for a burst of lemony basil flavor. Sauteed Spring or Summer vegetables tossed with Lemon Basil is easy and flavorful to mix with pasta, quinoa or couscous.

Lemon Thyme, Thymus citriodora

Variegated Lemon Thyme

Ah, Lemon Thyme! If you like lemon and savory flavors, then Lemon Thyme is the herb for you. It is so delicious with grilled or steamed vegetables, chicken- stuff it under the skin of a breast portion- and in dips and spreads. Try in with salmon, trout and shrimp.

Lemon Thyme, a variety of the common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, is a perennial herb in most areas. It comes in a couple of types. There is a green variety then there is the Variegated Lemon Thyme with bright green leaves edged in gold. Both have a bright lemony scent and flavor. Lemon Thyme, like the other thymes, grows low to the ground, needs really good drainage and, in the Southern US, grows best with afternoon shade in the summer. The variegated variety is not as winter hardy as the green-leaf type, but I have no trouble with it in my Zone 8b garden.

It puts on tiny pink to lavender flowers during the summer that are visited by bees and other pollinators. Thyme is a great container plant because you can give it perfect drainage there and it looks cute cascading over the edge of a pot.

Lemon Savory, Satureja biflora

Lemon Savory

I wrote a rather long newsletter last year on the Satureja, or Savory, family of herbs. Included was this lemony flavored herb known as Lemon Savory. It looks a little like a cross between thyme and an oregano with small rounded leaves. It's very tender- winter hardy only to Zone 11, but is well worth growing in the summer months. It dried well and keeps its flavor, so if you should grow a lot of it, you can preserve it for winter use. I've never seen it sold commercially as a dried herb.

Like many herbs, it likes lots of sun and like other savories, it's fairly drought tolerant. I grow it easily from seed found at The Thyme Garden, a wonderful nursery located in Oregon. If you have an established plant you can ground layer it to propagate it. That is nothing more than letting a branch or two or three... tound the soil nearby, keeping the soil moist until new roots form where the little branch meets the soil. You can bury a part of the stem and put a rock on it to keep it in the ground or use a bent piece of wire to keep the stem in contact with the soil so the roots can form. Once roots have formed, simply clip the stem the new plant off the mother plant, gently dig it up and replant it where you want it.

I use Lemon Savory much the same way I use Lemon Thyme, on fish, especially salmon, with shrimp and other seafood. It is a nice addition to a vinaigrette either as a tossed green salad dressing or a marinade. It also pairs well with grilled, sauteed or roasted vegetables and is delicious added to chicken soup or stock. You can add it early in the time, as, unlike Lemon Basil, for instance, it does keep its flavor during cooking.

Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is one of those herbs that is found in lots of old herb gardens. It has quite a history of medicinal use and is also used for flavoring food. It is in the mint family and can be a bit of a garden thug if it's happy where it's growing. It grows in a mounded form, but sends out runners like other mints and can end up taking over quite a bit of garden real estate. I would not be without it, however.

I use it for tea, distill it into a hydrosol that is used to soothe irritated skin, add it to baked goods and let it flower to attract bees.

The plant is named 'Melissa', which is Greek for honey, due to its sweet aroma. 'Officinalis' is the medicinal designation for a plant, meaning it is the one traditionally used in herbal healing. It makes a soothing tea which will settle an upset stomach. It blends well with other tea herbs such as peppermint, hibiscus and green tea.

Here is more information on Lemon Balm

Here in the Southern US and especially in South Texas, Lemon Balm likes more shade than sun. In more temperate areas, it can be grown in a sunny spot. It's not particular about soil conditions and can take heavier, less porous soil than some of the other herbs. It flowers in late summer here. After the flowers fade, I trim the plant down quite a bit... at least by half. By then, the leaves are looking sort of ratty due to the high heat of summer and the plant looks better after a pruning. As the summer wanes, new growth is put on and by fall there is lots of fresh, new growth ready for harvest.

Lemon Balm Quick Bread

3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup lemon balm leaves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
grated rind of one lemon

Grate the lemon peel and remove the juice from the lemon. Reserve the juice for the glaze.
Cream butter, sugar, and finely chopped leaves.
Add eggs and beat well to get a smooth consistency.
Add remaining ingredients (flour through lemon rind).
Pour into one large or four miniature greased loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes if using a large pan or 25-30 minutes if using miniature pans.
Before removing from the pans, use a toothpick to prick holes in the crust.
Pour Lemon Balm Glaze over the top while the loaves are still warm.
Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. Loaves can be frozen for later use.


1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon balm leaves
juice from one fresh lemon (about 4 tablespoons)

~~TIP: To avoid having bits of chopped herbs in the bread, steep the chopped leaves in the liquid for a half an hour or so. If you heat the liquid first, then add the herbs, the flavor develops more fully. This liquid can then be stored in the refrigerator for later use, or used right away in the recipe

Here is a PDF of the recipe you can print out.

Lemon Balm Beginning to Flower

I hope this Newsletter has given you some inspiration to grow and try some of the fresh, flavorful, refreshing Lemon-y Herbs that are out there for you. A cold glass of iced tea on a hot afternoon is a great way to start using these lemon-y herbs.


Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
-- Nathaniel Hawthorne, American author

Until Next Time,
Good Growing to You,
Cindy Meredith, proprietor
The Herb Cottage
442 CR 233
Hallettsville, TX 77964
phone & fax: 979-562-2153, cell: 361-258-1192
Visit Cindy's Blog at


The Rockport Herbies met on Wednesday and I gave a program on herbal cocktails and summer herb drinks- beyond iced tea. Here are my notes and some recipes:

Simple Syrup:
Equal parts sugar and water
Heat and stir sugar in water to dissolve

For an Herbal Simple Syrup:
After syrup is made, add coarsely chopped or torn herbs and steep until the syrup is cool.
Strain, label and store in fridge.

For a Summer Herbal Soda:
Use about 1 tablespoon (or to taste) to an 8 ounce glass
Fill glass with ice and sparkling water, garnish with herb or a piece of fruit.

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
1 16-ounce glass
3 strawberries - de-stemmed
5 basil leaves
1.5 ounce Smirnoff Strawberry Vodka
1 ounce Island Oasis Strawberry Puree (or just pureed strawberries)
Fill (approximately 4 oz.) Lemonade
Muddle 3 strawberries - de-stemmed, with the five basil leaves and Smirnoff in a 16-ounce glass. Mix Strawberry Vodka, and Island Oasis Strawberry Puree in mixing glass or martini shaker. Add ice, shake for 15 seconds and pour into glass. Fill with lemonade and stir.
Garnish with extra strawberry and basil.

Summer Watermelon Situation


8 cups diced watermelon (about 1/2 of a small watermelon), plus slices for garnish
8 ounces lemon vodka, chilled
7 ounces simple syrup, recipe follows
1 (17.5-ounce) can coconut juice
1 lemon
Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water


Chill watermelon in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Serve very cold in a chilled glass, and garnish with watermelon or lemon slices.

Blackberry Herb Cocktail

Yield: Serves 6


  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine), chilled
  • Garnishes: fresh rosemary sprigs and blackberries


Simmer blackberries, sugar, water, and rosemary in a small heavy saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced by about two thirds, about 20 minutes.
Pour into a very fine sieve set over a glass measure and let stand 5 minutes (there will be about 1/3 cup). Discard solids (do not press on them). Chill syrup, covered, until cold.
Divide Prosecco among 6 small flutes, then pour 1 1/2 teaspoons syrup into each drink.
Cooks' notes: This recipe makes more syrup than you'll need for 6 drinks. Use additional for extra cocktails or stir it into sparkling water or lemonade for delicious nonalcoholic drinks. Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days.

Rosemary Ruby Cocktail

Prepare Rosemary Simple Syrup
To a tall glass add:
1 tablespoon Rosemary Simple Syrup
fill glass with ice, add Ruby Red Grapefruit juice and a dash of bitters
Stir and enjoy!



Have you ever sipped a shrub? Not a bush, but a fruit syrup, preserved with vinegar and mixed with water or alcohol to make a tangy, refreshing beverage. An old-fashioned favorite, shrubs have steadily made a comeback, especially on cocktail menus, but they aren't solely the province of mixologists. Making a shrub syrup at home is a fun way to preserve and play with seasonal fruit, and this template may be followed for practically any fruit you have on hand. In addition to drinks, you can use the brightly flavored syrup in salad dressings, as a glaze for meats, or add a splash to homemade jam.
The word "shrub" is derived from the Arabic sharbah, which means "a drink." "Sherbet" and "syrup" also come from this Arabic root. Although drinking vinegars aren't so common today, they have a long history stretching back to the Babylonians, who added date vinegar to water to make it safe to drink, and the Romans, who mixed vinegar and water to make a beverage called posca. Colonial-era sailors carried shrubs, rich with Vitamin C, aboard their boats to prevent scurvy. Shrubs also gained popularity during the Temperance movement and many 19th and early 20th century housekeeping manuals contain recipes for them.

2 cups fresh, whole berries (frozen also works)
2 cups vinegar (we like using Champagne or apple cider vinegar, though distilled white vinegar may be substituted in a pinch)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, or more, to taste

Large glass jar with lid
Clean glass bottle

Combine the fruit and vinegar in a large jar, tightly screw on the lid and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Let infuse for one week at room temperature, shaking daily. Strain the juice through a double layer of cheesecloth and funnel into a clean glass bottle. Add sugar and shake to combine. Refrigerate for one week before using, shaking daily until sugar has fully dissolved.

To dilute in a drink, add one ounce (or more, depending on taste) to five ounces of soda water. Serve over ice.

Following the method outlined above, you can experiment with these other flavor combinations:
Blackberry + fresh thyme
Cucumber + mint + honey
Cherry + vanilla bean + maple syrup
Ginger + Demerara sugar
Apple + agave
Strawberry + basil

Mint Champagne Shrub


  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup elderflower liqueur
  • 1/3 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Chilled sparkling wine $
  • Garnish: fresh mint leaves


  1. Muddle first 2 ingredients in a cocktail shaker to release flavors; add elderflower liqueur and next 3 ingredients. Fill shaker with ice; cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into 8 (8-oz.) glasses; top with sparkling wine.

Monday, May 12, 2014

"CULINARY HERBS 101" April 26, 2014 at the Botanical Gardens

We had tons of fun giving the program on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at the Botanical Gardens Cindy Meredith, Lois Atwood and Linda T. Collins presented the following program at the gardens. We really enjoyed it and want to thank Carol Krank with the gardens for scheduling the program!

OK because I was at my doctor's office in Houston the day before the program, I didn't get the handout copies made, BUT like I told everyone, everything will be posted on here so here goes.  The recipes are at the bottom of this blog! 
CULINARY HERBS 101: Growing, Harvesting and Using
Introduction: Cooking with Herbs
The following is my outline for culinary herbs which is done in note form.  Not all sentences are complete, but the information is here. 
·       Herb vs. ‘erb  (English vs. French) Either pronounciation is acceptable. 

·       Herbs are good for you.  Using herbs can be a substitute for salt and fat because you still get the rich taste of food that you are looking for.   Also herbs are high in vitamins and minerals.   Herbs can also be used to soothe the digestive tract.  In additional medicinal herbs have been used for years before we had pharmaceutical companies. 

·       Herb vs. spice: Or soft tissue vs. woody tissue.

·       Herbs: Plants that do not develop persistent woody tissue;

·       Spices: Derive from the roots, barks, unopened flowers and seedpods of woody shrubs and trees; various aromatic vegetable products.

·       SOME ARE BOTH HERBS & SPICES, i.e. dill, fennel, cilantro, chicory,

Warm Weather Herbs vs. Cool Weather Herbs that Grow in South Texas

·       Planting Herbs (warm weather herbs vs. cool weather herbs) or annuals vs. perennials: This means planting warm weather herbs and removing when they die and then planting cool weather herbs, thereby having a year-round garden.  Remember that down here on the coastal bend that many of the annuals become perennials. 
·       Warm weather:  (1) basils (full sun), (2) mints (partial shade), (3) scented geranium (full sun to partial shade) many varieties, (4) lemongrass (full sun), (5) Texas Marigold Mint (full sun to partial shade) used rather than tarragon in the south also know as Texas Taragon, (6) rosemary (full sun to partial shade) many varieties, including prostrate which are creepers, (7) thyme (dapple sun) many varieties with 3 groups consisting of upright shrubs 12 to 18”; creeping up to 6” and flat creepers only 1 to 2”
·       Cool weather:  (1) chervil (partial shade) anise flavor, can be used like parsley, (2) coriander a/k/a cilantro full sun, (3) dill  (full sun), (4) lavender (dapple sun) (many varieties) cannot survive the hot, muggy summers, 3 types of lavender, English, French, Spanish, (5) sage (full sun), (6) tarragon (partial shade)  (artemisia dracunculus) French vs. Russian, say that it must be totally dormant at least 8 weeks out of the year, with dormancy being brought on by freezing ground.

Which herbs are grown for culinary uses – The basic to begin with are:

  • Basil Ocimum basilicum over 150 species, but the best for cooking are sweet, sometimes referred to as Genovese, although they are two different basils, along with lemon, lime, cinnamon, Thai and lettuce leaf, i.e. Valentino, Mammoth, and Napolitano. The lettuce leaf varieties can be used on a sandwich in place of lettuce. Basil is a must-have herb for every kitchen. Grows in full sun; Basil - pesto, tomato sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice, potato dishes, prawns, meat, chicken and poultry, pasta, rice, egg dishes.
  • Bay Laurus nobilis make sure that you get the true Mediterranean bay laurel and not the California bay which is known also as Oregon myrtle and pepperwood and often substituted for bay laurel. Red bay Persea borbonia, which grows in south Texas, has very aromatic leaves which can be substituted for the common spice, bay leaf, which normally is obtained from bay laurel L. nobilis, a European species in the same family. Caution - Bay leaf does not break down during cooking, so always remove it from a dish before serving. It can cause internal damage by perforation. Bay - soups, stews, casseroles, meat and poultry marinades, stocks.
  • Borage Borago officinalis (Green Salad In Place Of Cucumber); can also eat flowers; grows 1–2 feet high and 2–3 feet wide, producing gray-green, fuzzy, cucumber-flavored leaves. It prefers cool weather. Pink buds open to blue star-shaped flowers with a cone of black anthers. Its delicate flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects and are often used for garnish.
  • Chili Peppers Capsicum are high in Vitamin C and a must for Tex-Mex foods; Chili - meat, chicken and poultry, shellfish, tomato dishes, curries.
  • Cardamom Eletaria cardamomum Family: Zingiberaceae Culinary: Use the dried, ripe seed of the plant if you can get the plant to produce seeds which is very unusual in Texas. Used extensively in Indian cuisine.
  • German Chamomile Matricaria recutita an annual, although considered an annual, can be taken into the greenhouse and carried over the winter in more southern localities. It is used in ointments and salves, and its flowers are used as a tea, which is said to calm, sooth, and provide relief from spasms and cramps. It will grow to 18 inches in full sun to partial shade. Like catnip, it can also be made into a “sleep pillow.”
  • Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile hardy perennial, is low growing, 6–9 inches, with tall flower stalks. It releases a pleasing odor when walked on and makes a nice ground cover, for which it was used historically.
  • Chervil Anthriscus cerefoliumt is a relatively unknown and unused low growing herb. Chervil, with its mild anise flavor, can be used in place of parsley and in sauces and thrown into a salad for an added surprise flavor. Chervil grows to a height of 12 to 26 inches. Chervil prefers a cool and moist location; otherwise it rapidly goes to seed.
  • Chives which are one of the allium species a/k/a onion genus (leeks, shallots, scallions, chives both onion and garlic, garlic), the hardy perennial chives, onion and garlic are often confused. Onion chives have tubular leaves and lavender flowers, and garlic chives have flat leaves and white flowers which bloom all summer. The garlic chives are stronger in flavor, so they should be used in moderation. Chives - salads, chicken, soups, cheese dishes, egg dishes, mayonnaise, vinaigrettes.
  • Coriander (English) a/k/a cilantro (Spanish) Coriandrum sativum Have you ever tried to grow cilantro during the hot, humid summer months and failed? Cilantro, a cool-weather annual, is one of the many cool-weather herbs that needs to be planted in the late fall, and it should thrive through May when it will bolt. Let it do so and come fall you should be rewarded with a new bed of cilantro. Cilantro is a plant that is both a spice, the seeds, and an herb, the leaves. Coriander - Asian dishes, stir fries, curries, soups, salads, seafood. You also might try new ‘Delfino’ cilantro, an All America Selections winner that bears finely cut, feathery leaves. After two years of growing ‘Delfino’, Jensen says it was the slowest cilantro to bolt in the Johnny’s field trials and it has a mild flavor that may make converts of people who think they don’t like the taste of cilantro.
  • Dill Anethum graveolens Bouquet, Fernleaf, Mammoth. Likes full sun, protect from strong winds. Plant every two weeks or so for continuous dill. Great cool-weather herb, with foliage is aromatic, feathery and fernlike plumes. Swallowtail larvae depend on it. Culinary: Dill pickles, salads, breads, baked potatoes, soups, butters, vinegars, fresh vegetables and fish and seafood. Both an herb and spice (seeds). Tea made from dill promotes sleep and reduces nervousness and aids in digestion. It is another cool-weather annual which should be planted in the fall. It, like cilantro, is both a spice and an herb. Recipes will specify dill seed when calling for the seed or dill weed or dill when calling for the leaf. OK, we all know about the wonderful flavor of dill pickles. However, dill can be used in many culinary dishes, including fish, seafood dishes, potatoes (great in potato salad or roasted potatoes) and other vegetables, breads, soups, and sauces. Also dill can be used to make herbal butters, oils and vinegars. And if you really want to perk up an omelet, put a little dill in the egg mixture. Dill tea is said to promote sleep, reduce nervousness and aid in digestion. It is said that early American settlers called dill seed "meetinghouse seed," chewing them to stave off the boredom and hunger of long sessions in church or town meetings. They also used dill to ward off witches. Huh, I wonder if it works. Dill - salads, sauces, fish, salad, sour cream, cheese and potato dishes.
  • Epazote Chenopodium ambrosioides No discussion of the herb flavors of Mexico would be complete without epazote (e-pa-ZO-te). Fresh epazote has dark green serrated leaves. You'll probably need to visit a Hispanic food store to find it fresh. The dried leaves have less punch but are a reasonable substitute. Epazote is often used with dried beans, corn or fish. It is reputed to be effective in reducing intestinal gas. Epazote behaves like a tender perennial in most of Texas. It will survive to the coming year if winter temperatures are mild. Because of its invasive habit - springing up at the drop of a seed - don't add epazote to your herb garden. Plant it separately instead, somewhere it will have lots of sun and open space.
  • Fennel Foeniculum vulgare Green, Florence and Bronze Fennel seed can be planted in either spring or fall or transplant nursery grown plants to the garden, because fennel is a perennial and will not die after setting seed. The entire anise-flavored culinary herb is used, including the seeds, bulb, stems and fronds. After collecting the seeds, cut the plant down to the ground and new growth will follow. One cup of fennel has only 30 calories. It is high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium and iron. It breaks down fats and aids in digestion. It is another herb with a history of medicinal, magical and culinary uses. Fennel was used by the ancient Egyptians as a food and medicine, and was considered a snake bite remedy in ancient China. During the Middle Ages it was hung over doorways to drive away evil spirits. Fennel - stuffings, sauces, seafood. NOTE: Dill and fennel will cross pollinate. According to the Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses by Deni Bown, page 386, she states the following: Closely related genera may also interbreed if they are grown together and flower at the same time; dill and fennel are known to cross, resulting in plants that are indeterminate in flavor. We found this to be true in our Master Gardener demonstration gardens.
  • Ginger Zingiber officinale: Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger) Culinary: Ginger has been called a spice lover’s spice. Use the roots of ginger sweets, meats, fish, poultry, and teas. It is used extensively in Chinese cooking. The roots of all gingers are edible and have varying degrees of hotness. A shiny, smooth, thick-skinned hand of ginger means fresh; peal the ginger for cooking. Ginger has been called a spice lover’s spice. Use the roots of ginger in sweets, meats, fish, poultry, and teas. It is used extensively in Chinese and Indian cooking. Do not freeze ginger because it becomes stringy and tough. Store it in a container or plastic bag and make sure it is covered with white wine, white wine vinegar, or sherry, and it will last for a very long time. This liquid can be used in recipes too such as salad dressings. Pickled ginger (gari) is used in Japanese sushi and helps settle an upset stomach. Also ginger ale and gingersnap cookies are good for an upset stomach. Ginger - cakes, biscuits, Asian dishes.
  • Kaffir Lime Citrus hystrix, c. papedia: Family: Rutaceae (Citrus) – Zones 10 - 11. All citrus trees are native to SE Asia. Small shrubby perennial trees, 10-16 feet with sharp spikes and unusual double leaves. It needs well drained soil and direct sunlight. Scent is a cross between lime, orange and lemon. Fruit has a rough knobby surface and thick skin. The outer rind is generally the only part of the fruit used The Kaffir lime is quite hardy and easily grown in full sun in a container or well-drained position in the garden. In fact the hotter the spot the better. Like all citrus, feed with a good all purpose fertilizer in spring and don’t forget to give your kaffir lime a little bit of a feed in winter to help it put out a fantastic spring flush of growth. When you notice a yellowing of the leaves, it might be chlorosis, but not iron, but rather zinc. I’ve been told by a owner of a citrus farm in the Valley that generally citrus that get chlorosis generally need zinc, then manganese, and then if these two don’t work, try iron as a last substitute. Culinary: Their leaves, zest, and juice are used in Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian cooking. It is used in Thai dishes, from soups and salads to curries and stir-fried dishes. They are the ingredient that blends marvelously with lemon grass and lime juice in soups.
  • Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis Herb of the Year 2007 both the lemon balm and the lime balm are in the mint family, and like mint, they are easy to grow and can become somewhat invasive. The fresh leaves give a citrus flavor when used in cooking. You can use it in any recipe to give a lemon flavor. Also it makes into a refreshing summertime iced tea. Lemon balm smells like lemon cough drops.
  • Lemon Verbena Aloysia triphylla is a tender perennial that is considered the sweetest of all the lemon herbs and is one of the favorites of herb gardeners. It is used as a culinary herb in teas, salads, desserts, vegetables and seafood dishes. Also a clean, dry sprig can be dropped into a bottle of white wine, recorked and let sit for a while in the refrigerator and then serve the cold wine for a refreshing summer time drink. For aromatic relief, add an infusion of fresh or dried leaves to your bath.
  • Lemon Grass Cymbopogonspp. Zone 8 - 10. Thought to be native to India/Tropical Asia. A clumping fountain grass which grows to 3’ to 5’. They say flowering is rare, but I know that all of mine and Pam’s flower. It is a frost tender perennial, and it can be grown in the ground or in containers. It likes moist, well-drained soil and likes full sun, but can take some dapple sunlight. The blades are sharp so be careful. Culinary: Their leaves can be used to make a tea, but it is probably too much work to try to get enough to get any flavor. The part of the plant that is used is the lower, almost white section of the stem. Depending on the recipe you can cut the white part into 2” to 3” stems, or thinly slice crosswise, or chopped, or pounded or minced. If you are using the larger pieces, discard before serving because they are fibrous and tough. It is used in SE Asian dishes and is great for any dish that you want to have a lemon flavor. It is great in stir fries, rice, sauces, curries, seafood, soups, and tea. Lemon grass is a tender perennial that can be grown as an ornamental grass. Be careful when handling the sharp edged leaves which can cause cuts much like a paper cut. You can run your hand up the leaves without any cuts, but be sure not to run your hand down the leaves. Lemongrass has a clear lemon flavor with flowery overtones. The leaves can be used to make a tea, but it is probably too much work to try to get enough to get flavor because the aroma fades quickly from the upper part of the leaf. Generally, the part of the plant that is used is the lower, light green to almost white section of the stem. Depending on the recipe you can cut the white part into 2” to 3” stems, or thinly slice crosswise, or chop, or pound or mince. If you are using the larger pieces, discard before serving because they are fibrous and tough. It is used in SE Asian dishes and is great for any dish that you want to have a lemon flavor.
  • Lemon Grass, East Indian Cymbopogon flexuosus smaller form of Cymbopogon spp. with same usage and cultural practices. Better for containers because of its smaller size. Can start from seed.
  • Marjoram Sweet marjoram Origanum majorana is considered the sweetest, and many think the best, of the origanums. Have you ever noticed that it is sometimes difficult to tell marjoram from oregano? That is because they are in the same genus. Any recipe that calls for oregano will often call for marjoram which has a more delicate flavor. It is used extensively in Italian and Greek cuisine in meat, soup, sauces, oils and vinegars. Sweet, mild aromatic herb used in meat dishes and with tomatoes. If left to flower, it's a great bee plant. Tea used to relieve symptoms of colds, headaches and to settle upset stomachs. Dried leaves are a fragrant ingredient in potpourri. Marjoram Sweet - meat, fish, egg dishes, cheese dishes, pizza.
  • Mexican Mint Marigold a/k/a Texas Tarragon Tagetes Lucida Use it to substitute for French Tarragon which will not grow here in the south because it is too hot and humid. The mild anise flavored leaves can be chopped and added to any dish calling for French Tarragon. It is good in soups, eggs, meats, especially poultry, salads, seafood, and it makes for a great tea. And when it blooms in the fall, snip those flowers and throw them into a salad for color and flavor. Tarragon - salad dressing, egg dishes.
  • Mints Mentha are generally divided into two groups, spearmint Mentha spicata and peppermint Mentha piperita with spearmint being the one that is the most often used. About 600 but spearmints & peppermints; will cross pollinate; damp & shade; Apple Mint has a very light taste and slightly fuzzy leaves. Chocolate Mint is a variation of Peppermint with purple stems and some say a hint of chocolate flavor - use like Peppermint. Doublemint tastes like a combination of Peppermint and Spearmint. Orange Mint (Mentha aquatica 'Citrata') tastes and smells like Bergamot, so it adds great to a fine Earl Grey tea. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) makes a great tea and is good for flavoring ice cream. There are plain and variegated forms of Pineapple Mint, which is very similar to Apple Mint; use the variegated form so you can tell them apart. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is good in tea in combination with Peppermint, but not so great alone. It makes great jelly for lamb and a nice garnish for desserts and mint juleps and is popular in Middle Easterncuisine. Mint tea, especially which made from Peppermint, is supposed to help settle the stomach, in addition to being used as a diuretic. Also available, but harder to find, are Candy, Corsican (hard but not impossible to grow down here in south Texas), Lavender (Mentha x piperita 'Lavender'), Lemon(try 'Hillary's Sweet Lemon'), and Lime Mint. I also grow Banana Mint which does smell and taste similar to bananas. And I have a somewhat rare Habeck Mint. This biblical mint has unusual long and narrow leaves with a spearmint taste and fragrance which makes an excellent tea. And what would the Kentucky Derby be without the Mint Julep (spearmint)? Mint - drinks, confectionary, meat, chicken, yoghurt, desserts, sauces, vegetable dishes.
  • Oregano Origanum 25 species including Greek Oregano, the most commonly used oregano, along with sweet marjoram, which is sometimes called the "prince of herbs". There are over 25 species of oregano including Greek oregano. Oregano is sometimes called wild marjoram. It is used extensively in Italian, Spanish and Mexican cooking. What’s spaghetti sauce without oregano, right? But you can also use oregano in vegetables, beans, meats and soups. Remember oregano is a strong herb, so go easy when seasoning dishes with it. Oregano - cheese dishes, egg dishes, tomato sauce, pizza, meat, stuffing, bread, pasta.
  • Oregano, Mexican Lippia graveolens It is a slender aromatic shrub or small tree, whose pubescent (felty) branches bear rounded to obtuse, bluntly serrated leaves. Fragrant flowers are yellowish or white with a yellow eye and occur throughout the year, especially after rains. With hot peppery leaves and beautiful tubular lavender flowers; Mexican Oregano is not a true oregano, but rather a member of the verbena family. It is often substituted for oregano in recipes as is the Cuban Oregano which is a member of the coleus family. Both the Mexican Oregano and Cuban Oregano can be substituted for oregano, but they will give a slightly different taste than true oregano.
  • Oregano, Mexican Poliomintha longiflora if you have room for just one native herb, then Mexican oregano is your best choice. The leaves of this shrubby herb are a somewhat spicy replacement for garden oregano. When substituting, reduce the amount in your recipe to about two-thirds of garden oregano. Mexican oregano likes full sun but will also grow in partial shade. This graceful perennial provides lovely color through summer and into fall with tubular white, pink and lavender flowers. It generally reaches 3 feet. In my shade garden, however, it is prostrate, growing no higher than about 10 inches. Although native to the drier regions of Texas, it can adapt to the humid gulf area. It can also be grown in containers, where it will delight you with a cascade of showy flowers.
  • Cuban Oregano Plectranthus amboinicus Cuban Oregano is a very tender perennial and a member of the same family as Coleus, and as such is not a true oregano. It does share the same general taste as the oreganos, and can be used as a substitute, though this is more common in Cuba and surrounding areas than it is in the US. Cuban Oregano makes a nice houseplant - especially the variegated type shown above, and is propagated easily by cuttings. This is not a true oregano, but is used in place of oregano in Caribbeancuisines. Fleshy, grey/green fuzzy leaves on a stocky trunk. Most gringos grow this in a pot as an ornamental. Very unusual and fragrant plant.
  • Parsley Petroselinum crispum curly-leaf French and flat-leaf Italian Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum, lots of vitamin A, B, C; swallowtail butterflies like this plus dill and fennel; freshens breath and helps tone down the garlic odor; flat-leaf is considered to be the more flavorful variety. OK, we all know about that little piece of parsley that restaurants place on your plates. Do you know that it is more than a garnish? When eaten after a meal, it is actually there to help“freshen” the breath and help to tone down garlic odor. Both the curly-leaf and the flat-leaf are easy to grow and attractive in the garden. These are cool-weather herbs that need to be planted in either early spring or late fall. Add parsley just before serving to preserve vitamins A, B and C and minerals. Swallowtail butterflies like parsley along with dill and fennel. Parsley - pesto, egg dishes, pasta, rice dishes, salads, butter, sauces, seafood, vegetable dishes.
  • Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis upright/prostrate and sun/shade; Native to the Mediterranean region and gets its name from ros (dew) and marinus (sea). In Texas it is a hardy, sun-loving perennial shrub, although it can take dapple sunlight. It needs a well-drained soil. And they can grow up to 5’high. The flowers of rosemary are generally blue, but there are also varieties that produce white and pink flowers. The rosemary can either be an upright or a prostrate. Culinary: Commercially it is used in backed goods, condiments, relishes, snake foods, gravies and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. It is great in fish, poultry, meat, bread, sauces, potatoes, soups and desserts. Tie together a small bundle and use as a brush for the barbecue. Go easy when first using rosemary. Rosemary is a very versatile must-have herb in the kitchen. It is very pungent, so use it sparingly until you learn to enjoy it. Use it in all kinds of recipes, i.e. meats, seafood, breads, vegetables, salads, eggs, butters, oils, vinegars, teas and even desserts. Use the woody stems as a skewer and thread meats and vegetables onto it and roast on the grill. I do not care for sweets, but I really like these rosemary cookies. Rosemary - fish, poultry, meat, bread, sauces, soups.
  • Sage Salvia officinalis a/k/a garden sage; over 900 species of salvias, Known most often simply as “sage,” S. officinalis comes in several varieties including tricolor, Berggarten, purple, golden and many others that describe difference in leaf color and shape. Slight difference in taste may occur from variety to variety, but they can be used interchangeably in recipes. You may also find that one variety does better in your garden than another, so experiment with several varieties. Sage - stuffings, tomato dishes, cheese dishes.
  • Salad Burnet Sanguisorba minor, like chervil, is a relatively unknown and unused herb. It is best grown as a cool-weather, short-lived perennial, so expect to replace it from time to time. The wonderful cucumber flavor is great in salads, vinegars, butters, vegetables, beans, mushrooms and other dishes. And it is considered to be a diuretic. Salad Burnet is a charming evergreen plant whose 12 inch fountains of scalloped foliage form a wonderful flower bed edging. Salad burnet will grow in a sunny site, but seems to do best when shaded in the afternoon. A prime location would be under a deciduous tree so that it can soak up winter’s rays, but not suffer a summer sunburn. Grown easily from seed, salad burnet has interesting “button-like” flower heads in the summer, but the main attraction is the cucumber scented foliage. The leaves make a delightful herbal vinegar to be used on fish and in salad dressings.
  • Thyme Thymus vulgarisabout 400 varieties; will cross pollinate; give dapple sunlight; Thyme can be used in the same recipes that include oregano and marjoram. Savory herb for flavoring meat, eggs, cheese dishes and soups. Robust grower. Spreads nicely to form a tight clump. Good drainage is essential, as this herb will easily "drown" if roots are allowed to say too wet. Plant in raised bed if necessary. Good for container planting. Lemon thyme is good in savory dishes especially fish, stuffings and vegetables. Thyme - chowders, bread, chicken and poultry, soups, stock, stews, stuffings, butter, cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar.
  • Savory, Winter Satureja montana is a perennial cousin to the annual Summer Savory S. hortensis. If harvested when stems are young, the flavor is very similar to the annual Savory. In cooking, winter savory has a reputation for going very well with both beans and meats, very often lighter meats such as chicken or turkey and can be used in stuffing. It has a strong flavor while uncooked but loses much of its flavor under prolonged cooking. It may also be used medicinally, it is a stimulant, and is also a known aphrodisiac. Older leaves can be very strong. Savory should not be eaten in excess by pregnant women.
Here are the recipes from the program!

Quinoa Salad with Mint, Almonds and Cranberries
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • /2 cup dry-roasted almonds, unsalted or any nut you want to use
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped kale or any other of your favorite greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 18grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 13 minutes. Stir in olive oil; fluff quinoa with a fork. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Stir mint, almonds, dried cranberries, kale, carrots, celery, scallion, grape tomatoes, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.
North African Spiced Carrots

Serves: 6



1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

3 cups sliced carrots

1 cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Cooking Directions:

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, paprika, cumin and coriander; cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 20 seconds. Add carrots, water, lemon juice and salt; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and simmer, stirring often, until the carrots are just tender and the liquid is syrupy, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 servings

Chicken & Lemon Grass Rice Salad

Serves: about12 servings


  • *1 package sugar snap peas
  • *1 package fresh snow peas
  • 1 (16-ounce) package lemon grass rice, cooked
  • 1 cup water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken (HEB rotisserie chicken is good)
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • Add finely chopped jalapeƱo to the dish.
  • Add freshly chopped cilantro right before serving
  • ***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.

**Dressing Recipe: 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.
NOTE:  A few options.
  • *Used both fresh sugar snap peas and fresh snow peas; can add celery, carrots, asparagus, edamame, etc.
  • Fresh grated ginger and red pepper flakes
  • Added spicy stir fry sauce along with the hoisin sauce in equal amounts.
  • **I doubled the dressing recipe and added 1 tablespoon each of sesame oil and/or chili oil.  Chili oil will give it more heat!   OR DON'T ADD ANY DRESSING AND ENJOY THE FLAVOR OF THE LEMON GRASS! 
  • ***Substituted unsalted peanuts for the almonds.
Lemon Grass Rice
Cook rice according to directions, but add 2 stalks of lemon grass, only use the white portion towards the bottom.  Just pound it to release the flavors (can use a meat pounder or a rolling pen) and put it in for cooking, remove before serving. 
Cindy Meredith, prop.
442 CR 233
Hallettsville, TX 77964
phone & fax: 979/562-2153


2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Grated rind of one lemon
3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup lemon balm leaves, finely chopped

Grate the lemon peel and remove the juice from the lemon. Reserve the juice for the glaze.  Cream butter, sugar, and finely chopped leaves. Add eggs and beat well to get a smooth consistency. Add remaining ingredients (flour through lemon rind). Pour into one large or four miniature greased loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes if using a large pan or 25-30 minutes if using miniature pans.
Before removing from the pans, use a toothpick to prick holes in the crust.  Pour Lemon Balm Glaze over the top while the loaves are still warm.  Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. Loaves can be frozen for later use.

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon balm leaves
Juice from one fresh lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
To avoid having bits of chopped herbs in the bread, steep the chopped leaves in the liquid for a half an hour or so. If you heat the liquid first, then add the herbs, the flavor develops more fully. This liquid can then be stored in the refrigerator for later use, or used right away in the recipe.


We hope you will try these recipes which are great for summer!  Also be sure to check out our blog for lots of recipes!  Enjoy!

Herbie a/k/a Linda