Herbs

The Cook’s Herb Garden

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Bookshare, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Herbs | 28 comments

The Cook’s Herb Garden

The Cook’s Herb Garden is another DK book that I’m delighted to share with you. Now is the perfect time to prepare the summer’s herb garden and this book is filled with step-by-step pictorial instructions for choosing, growing, harvesting, storing and using herbs. Herbs are probably the easiest plants to grow since they really don’t like a lot of fussing. Most grow best in a 50-50 well-draining mix of sand and soil, require regular watering and an occasional feed of liquid fertilizer in summer. That’s it, couldn’t be easier. Images below from: The Cook’s Herb Garden – copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Inc – used with permission and with thanks.  The Cook’s Herb Garden – Everyday Essentials: While basic growing, harvesting and cooking instructions are attached to each herb listed in the comprehensive herb catalogue, everyone of those topics is described in greater detail further on in the book.  One of the things I really like about the section on using herbs is the recipe section. There are some super recipes that I haven’t heard of before but can’t wait to try: Cream of Herb Soup; Watercress Butter; Chimichurri (Argentinian Meat Sauce); Black Currant Cordial; Mixed Herb Pesto, shown below; plus many more. Suggestions for using the Everyday Essential Herbs shown in planter: Cilantro: Use fresh, chopped leaves in salads, with coconut, citrus, avocado, fish and meat. The dried seeds are spicy, sweet and mildly orange-flavored – use them in Indian and Asian dishes. Thyme: Add to any savory dish or use to flavor poultry, pork, and fish dishes; add to stuffings and vegetables. Flat-Leaf Parsley: Both the stems and leaves can be added to a multitude of savory dishes; from omelets to stews to baked fish. Sage: Chop very fine and use in small amounts. Add toward the end of cooking to risotto and pork, veal and venison dishes; pick a stem for bouquet garni; use dried leaves for stuffing, poultry, fish, potatoes and carrots; use flowers to make summer teas. Purple Basil: Basil is best known for use with tomatoes. Basil’s flavor intensifies when cooked. For a more subtle taste use it raw or add it at the end of cooking. For more ways to use basil check out Basil does it all Oregano: Oregano’s pungent, spicy flavor gives a unique lift to Mediterranean ingredients and dishes – pizza, pasta, fish, meat beans, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Mixed Herb Pesto recipe, from The Cook’s Herb Garden, uses basil, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and garlic – all herbs that you can easily grow yourself. Toss the pesto with pasta, stir it into rice or use as salad dressing (whisk 1Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice into 3-4 Tbsp. pesto.) Serves 2 Prep 15 MINS Cook 20 MINS 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped basil 2 tsp. coarsely chopped oregano 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley 2 garlic cloves Coarse sea salt 1 ¾ oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, grated 3-3 ½ oz (90-100ml) fruity olive oil Freshly ground black pepper 10 oz (300g) dried pasta 1 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional) Put the herbs in a large mortar, reserving 1 Tbsp. to finish. Smash the garlic with the flat of a knife, peel and add to the mortar. Sprinkle in a little salt. Pound down onto the mixture until it is mushy. Add the Parmesan a little at a time and beat vigorously to blend. Slowly beat in the olive oil until you have a thick coarse paste, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. of the cooking...

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Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 49 comments

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

This is the time of year when herbs really come into their own and I consider myself fortunate to be able to harvest them straight from my garden. But it’s not necessary to have a backyard garden to benefit from the bounty. Right now you’ll find a great selection of the freshest herbs at the best prices at Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and even Supermarkets. Herbs are the most useful plants. For the longest time we thought using herbs was to add a basil leaf to tomato soup or to sprinkle chives on a baked potato. We have now become much more aware and accepting of herbs contribution to healthy living. Many of the herbs we use everyday have multiple uses – culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal. In this post I’m sharing just a few of the many ways to use Basil, Chives, Dill and Parsley. If you have no allergic reaction when using herbs in cooking or drinking, you should be fine using them for FIRST AID or cosmetic purposes. Unless you are trained to do so, NEVER use herbs to replace medical diagnosis or treatment. FOUR EVERYDAY HERBS. BASIL. This is one of the herbs that everyone knows and loves. It’s a pretty plant that grows equally well in the flower bed, the window box, the vegetable/herb garden or indoors during the winter. It’s also a must have plant for the pollinator garden. It is one of the most versatile plants with many uses – culinary, beverage, medicinal, cosmetic and even as insect repellant. Culinary Uses: Try basil with beans; pasta; chicken; fish; meatloaf; Italian cooking of all kinds; anything with tomato; and of course, to make pesto or boursin. More Uses: I wrote an earlier post about basil and rather than repeat the information, I’m simply adding the link: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHIVES. We grow garlic chives that have the pretty purple flower balls like little lollipops that the bees go crazy about. They are extremely easy to grow, indoors or out, and act as an aphid repellant (unfortunately not as eliminator) for our roses. Chives are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Culinary Uses: Chives are great added to butters, cheese dishes, dips, eggs/omelets, potatoes, salads, sauces, seafood, soups and vegetables. We enjoy the mild taste so much that we have completely replaced green onions with chives. Medicinal Uses: Chives are loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C and a host of other nutrients. Because of the high Vitamin C content, chives give chicken soup an extra boost when dealing with a cold. Added to a broth, soup or stew they are used to ease digestive problems; treat anemia; and as food for sick or convalescing patients. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DILL:  There was a time when we made gallons of pickles and relishes and used lots of dill. We don’t bother with that anymore and also no longer bother growing dill. (The dill shown above is store bought.) But I still know enough about using it to share. Dill is used most often for culinary purposes but it has some excellent medicinal qualities. It contains many important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and C plus iron and calcium. Culinary Uses: Eggs, poultry, salads, potato salad, and as a sauce (recipe below) for fish, especially salmon. Dill Sauce: 1 cup yogurt 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped 1 Tbsp. lemon juice Dash of Worcestershire sauce Directions: Blend all the ingredients together. Serve with fish, delightful over salmon. Medicinal Uses: Dill is a centuries old herb...

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Lavender: Health Benefits and Uses

Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Gardening, Health, Herbs, Lavender | 36 comments

Lavender: Health Benefits and Uses

Lavender is my very favourite herb, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who’s been following my blog for a while. I’ve used it in all kinds of ways, from sachets tucked inside my pillow case, to lavender vinegar for a hair rinse, to a soothing lavender-oatmeal bath (how-to at the bottom of this post), and more. When I found out about the pollinators declining, I decided to enlarge my lavender garden to attract more bees and butterflies. But is seems that my decisions never fly solo – each one leads to another one. In this case, the decision to learn more about lavender’s many health benefits. It was believed in ancient times that adding lavender to baths added not only a pleasant scent, but also purified the body and spirit. We now know that lavender, when inhaled, produces a calming, sedative effect, which makes it easy to understand why the ancients held those beliefs. Note: Where it refers to lavender essential oil, it means pure essential oil, not the synthetic stuff found in pharmacies and other retail outlets. That oil doesn’t have any healing properties. Lavender oil is very strong and incorrect use can damage the skin. For home use it is recommended that lavender oil be mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, to alleviate risk. Start small – 2 drops of lavender oil to 1/2 tsp. coconut oil. Where below it states lavender oil, before applying it to skin remember to mix it with the carrier oil. Lavender and aromatherapy: The reason lavender promotes relaxation is because it slows the activity of the nervous system.  The more relaxed we are, the better we feel and the more able to fight off headaches, depression, nervous disorders and exhaustion. The right amount of sleep is needed to maintain good physical and mental health. Lavender can often help achieve the relaxation necessary for a good night’s sleep. In one sleep study of the elderly, it was found that putting a few drops of lavender essential oil on their pillows often increased sleep regularity without the need for stronger sleep aids. Placing a lavender sachet inside the pillow case works as well. Lavender and the digestive system: Lavender (a member of the mint family) is of great benefit to the digestive system. Lavender tea can relieve indigestion, nausea, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also improve the appetite. To make the tea: Pour one cup of freshly boiled water over a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers. Cover and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink. Do not use the essential oil. It is toxic if taken internally. Lavender and skin ailments: Holistic doctors treat skin ailments such as acne, fungal infections, wounds and eczema with lavender essential oil. To do so at home, use the lavender oil mixed with the coconut oil. Lavender and pain: Acupuncturists and chiropractors often use lavender oil when treating patients – a massage with essential oil has been proven to reduce joint pain. (A warm lavender/oatmeal bath can also help – directions below.) Lavender is currently being studied for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is already known that the  essential oil can be used as an effective natural antiseptic to treat minor cuts and scrapes. Never pour essential oil on an open wound. Lavender and circulation: Lavender improves blood circulation which of course has many positive benefits. including: Decreased risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis; Important in diabetes management; Fewer leg cramps. Lavender and other benefits: Massage with essential oil can improve concentration, learning, reduce anxiety and level out mood disturbances....

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How I started An Etsy Shop

Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Herbs | 40 comments

How I started An Etsy Shop

 Guess what? I am now an Etsy Shop owner. That really wasn’t one of my goals for the year but sometimes life happens and you just roll with it. That’s what happened with my Etsy Shop. What is an Etsy Shop? Etsy is an online global market place where creative people come to sell and buy handmade or vintage items. It is also a social network made up of more than a million sellers and thirty million buyers. Since it is a social network, in order to have a successful Etsy Shop, it’s important to take an active part in the community, something I’m still learning about. If you want to take a peek at my shop, you can find me at: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/LavenderbyLenie How this all came about is rather interesting. It wasn’t so much that this shop was planned as that I was nudged into it. It all started back when I did a post on “Bring Back the Pollinators”.  http://frugalforeveryone.ca/bring-back-the-pollinators/  At that time I decided to increase my organic lavender garden by 120 plants to attract more bees and butterflies. Of course that many additional lavender plants would give me a humongous amount of lavender to play with. Making up lavender products seemed the obvious solution, but then what? That’s an awful lot of gifts, so……….why not sell them.  Etsy Shop – A perfect match. Planning products for sale naturally requires a sales outlet. eBay was the first consideration, especially since we already had an excellent reputation there with 100% positive feedback. That was worth a lot, but eBay fees have been creeping up and are now rather on the high side. Then Meredith came along to provide the answer and this step fell into place with no effort on my part. Meredith, a super creative member of my blogging group, had recently set up her own artsy shop on Etsy  – https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ThePaletteMuse and wrote about it in a post on her blog. That sounded interesting and worth looking into as a possible outlet for lavender products. As it turned out, it was a perfect match. More learning required: At this point I had the raw material, ideas for products and a possible sales outlet, but more was needed. Since the customers can only view photos of the products, it was important to make those appealing. This was definitely one of my weak points and something I had been working on and learning about but it was slow going. Once again things worked in my favour. At my next visit to the Library, staff greeted me with information about free computer training they were offering they knew would be of interest to me. They know me well. For some time learning Paint had been on my todo list and here was the perfect opportunity. Of course I signed up. The really good part, once Paint had been conquered, was that it became easy to make up the labels and envelopes for the different lavender products, as you can see from the photo to the left. The Etsy Shop – Almost there: Moving right along on to the next step…learning about Etsy. Things again worked according to plan – if there had been a plan, that is. It turned out that the gal teaching the computer tutorials was a bit of an Etsy expert. She knew all about it and ran me through the whole process, from setting up the shop to listing items. And that’s how I simply coasted along to become an Etsy Shop owner. Want to set up your own Etsy Shop? I was extremely fortunate...

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Host A Heart-Healthy Tea Party

Posted by on Feb 8, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 55 comments

Host A Heart-Healthy Tea Party

February is National Heart Health Month. Wouldn’t it be fun to promote awareness by hosting a heart-healthy Tea Party? You could go all out, putting all the la-de-da and elegance that you can think of into the planning. This would include the dress-up, the hats, the flowers, fancy china, tablecloths, napkins, etc. It would be fun to pretend you’re Kate Middleton throwing a party for her royal in-laws. None of this needs to cost a lot- it just needs to look impressive. A good Thrift Store would be able to provide anything needed for next to nothing. This would include table linens, dishes, serving platters, etc. Things wouldn’t need to match, it’s actually better if they don’t. Of course, hosting a heart-healthy tea party means the focus is on food and drinks that are exactly that – heart-healthy choices. While scones, a traditional food could be served, they should be oatmeal scones served with light cream cheese (or yogurt cream cheese) instead of clotted cream, and topped with quick strawberry spread. (Recipes/Instructions later in this article). If you need inspiration, check out the gorgeous photos in this post about Afternoon Tea at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel in London, England.  http://www.safariontheblog.com/2015/01/afternoon-tea-at-the-sheraton-park-lane-hotel-london.html Now let’s go plan a  Tea Party. The details: Set the date and the time – traditionally between two and five in the afternoon Send out fancy invitations Ask the guests – young girls love this one – to dress-up: dresses, hats and if available, white gloves. If boys or men are invited they should wear suits and ties Plan the table(s) setting: Tablecloths and cloth napkins Flower arrangements – one bouquet divided into smaller ones is perfect The dishes, again, nothing needs to match: Tea Pots, Cream Pots, Sugar Bowl, Honey Bowl, Dish for Lemon Slices Serving Dishes of all kinds Cups and Saucers Small Plates Cutlery The Tea: It may be possible to buy a variety pack of herbal teas which will allow your guests to sample different kinds. They may prefer to drink regular black or green tea or be more adventurous and try the different herb teas or even a combination. Both black and green tea contain tannins which are good for heart-health. One of the best herbs for general heart-health is hawthorn (the berries). Celestial Seasonings, available at any supermarket, includes hawthorn berries in several of their teas. For children rooibos tea is a pretty safe bet. A great way to get used to drinking herbal teas is to mix them with regular tea. Ginger and  cinnamon, two spices that most people normally have on hand, are excellent heart-healthy choices. Try adding 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger to a pot of regular, chamomile or mint tea. Provide cinnamon sticks in place of spoons to stir the tea. The Food: Besides the spices mention above, oatmeal, fruit (apples, cherries), berries (red ones like strawberries and raspberries), nuts (almonds, walnuts), and dark chocolate all benefit the heart. None of those foods are exotic, hard to find or costly. Some suggestions to get you started: Fancy cucumber or salmon sandwiches Oatmeal Scones http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Scottish-Oat-Scones/ Yogurt Cream Cheese  http://frugalforeveryone.ca/yummy-yogurt-treats-so-easy-to-make/ (make the cream cheese plain without the herbs) Quick Strawberry Spread: Boil together until spreading consistency 3 cups chopped strawberries (frozen is fine), 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Make a few days ahead and refrigerate until ready to use. Strawberries partially dipped in melted dark chocolate Small apple tarts topped with cinnamon You get the idea – be fancy, be elegant, be hoity-toity. Present heart-healthy food and drink, then simply enjoy. Talk to you again next...

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Bring Back the Pollinators

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs | 64 comments

Bring Back the Pollinators

Winter has settled in, making this a perfect time to browse through seed catalogs to dream and plan the Spring garden. While browsing through the William Dam catalog I came across some important information that I want to share. The following is taken straight from that catalog: www.damseeds.com  “The Humble Bee.                               Such a small creature in this vast world, but such an important part of our lives. In the last year every paper, blog, and social media site has made comments on the humble bee. From our local 4H clubs to our churches, even to the great office of the White House, people are waking up to how we impact creation. As a seed company the bee is vital to our survival: without some form of pollination there would be no seed, and natural pollinators always work best. There is great debate into what has caused the decrease in the bees and other pollinators. While seed treatments have taken a lot of the blame for bee population decline, ecologists all agree it is a combination of causes. So what can we do as growers and gardeners? University studies have shown that increasing habitat and providing a wide range of flower pollen and food will make for healthier bees. Healthier bees will be able to withstand virus, predators, and chemical contamination. We believe increasing diversity of habitat is very important to the bees – growing food and providing pollen plants is at the top of the list. This summer we dedicated half of our flower trials to studying which flowers and plants benefit bees and other pollinators. It was amazing to see the results, and actively feeding bees did not sting us. A simple thing like allowing broccoli to flower gave the bees a month of food. As stewards of this Creation we live in, simple things can make a difference. Grow a flower, save the bees.” For the first time ever, they have devoted two pages in their catalog to plants that benefit pollinators. This really helps in choosing the right plants. We have a quarter acre of wasteland that needs to be planted which we will now do by spreading their Bee Feed Mix. Our yard has been a bird and butterfly friendly habitat for years – to attract even more varieties we’ll also spread their Bird and Butterfly Mix. Their Beneficial Insect Mix and Northeast American Wildflower Mix are two mixes that will have to wait till next year. Won’t the flowers in the picture below pretty up an area that is now waste land? There are a number of individual plants which can be tucked into any flower bed, vegetable/herb garden or even window boxes. Besides attracting pollinators, any of these will add beauty to the yard. They include: Achillea, Agastache, Alyssum, Asclepias, Aster, Basils, Borage, Buddleja, Catnip, Centaura, Clover, Coreopsis, Dill, Dracocephaleum, Echinacea, Flax, Gaillardia, Gaura, Helianthus-garden types, Helenium, Heliotrope, Latavera, Lavender, Malope, Marigolds, Monarda, Mustards, Oregano, Orlaya, Parsley, Phacelia, Prickly Poppy, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Thyme, Tithonia, Tomato, Verbena, Zinnias. A few other facts  about pollinators: Monarch Caterpillars eat only Asclepias (Milkweed) during their life, however, the adult butterflies have a more varied diet that includes: Aster, Buddleja, Echinacea, Verbena and Zinnia; Butterflies like flowers that give them a platform to hold onto while they sip the nectar, so include flowers like Achillea, Rudbeckia, Tithonia, and Zinnias; Bees love broccoli. Leave some of your broccoli, arugula and other mustards to bolt to provide a month of food for bees. Since herbs play a...

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