Gardening

The Herb Blurb – August 2020

Here we are at the last true month of summer.

Here we are at the last true month of summer. Feel it slipping away? Skip the drudgery of the to-do list and make some time now for celebrating this fleeting season. Yes, the pandemic is wearing on us all but there are options available. Go for a hike, take a nap in the hammock, swim in a local lake or stream, have a picnic and watch the sunset, load up the car and go camping for the night. Do something totally different. Turn off the phone, TV, computer, and experience a day tuned to activities that truly enrich, not deplete you.
The farmers market in August is overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, beans, peaches, plums, and melons. Get inspired and experience all these wonderful flavors. Break out the grill on these hot days and experiment with easy, healthy recipes using the peak of the harvest.
The-Herbalists-Happy-Hour-Cover-V7Two of my current favorite cookbooks are Love and Lemons Every Day, from the popular blog, great for vegetarians, and Sirroco, great Mideastern recipes by Sabrina Ghayour.
Speaking of books, The Herbalist’s Happy Hour – Crafted Cocktails and Tapas from the Garden is the perfect book for late summer days. A great reference for cooking up easy, fresh, delicious drinks, cocktails, and appetizers for entertaining and enjoying. You want this book. You need this book. Get it here.
The Pandemic
With all the attention on the pandemic and the vaccine, how about a broader discussion on underlying causes, prevention, and future actions? This is a wake-up call, let's wake up! Here is an excellent article by a fellow herbalist on this topic.
https://kamimcbride.com/lets-change-the-conversation-around-coronavirus/

 

Gardening

Time to start harvesting those herbs for your winter pantry. Harvest plants in the cooler parts of the day, early morning or evening. Most aerial parts can be clipped and bound with a rubber band. Once inside wash by submerging in a large bowl of cold water, dry on towels or use a salad spinner, label by writing a small piece of paper and tucking inside the rubber band, and hang upside down to dry. When dry, store in glass jars and label with the herb and the date.

Store in a cool dark place and you can enjoy your flavor enhancements all winter long. Let’s not forget the benefits of all the phytonutrients and antioxidants.

With the encroaching drought outside watering was recently cut off where I live. With all the recent rain I’m hoping this will be lifted. It’s so stressful to see your garden withering away.

With the rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels ravaging the garden I have tried out different spray deterrents and have found one that seems to be working. It is non-toxic, easy to make but needs to be applied after each rain. You will need a heavy-duty plastic spray bottle otherwise the heat of the peppers can cause leaks. Make sure you spray in the evening to prevent any burning. Try on a volunteer plant first, and see how it goes. I don’t use this on anything I plan to be eating or harvesting in the near future.

 

Non-toxic Critter Deterrent
1 cup fresh mint, stems included
1 head garlic, cloves separated and smashed
1 oz hot chili pequin, you can get packages in the Latin section of the grocery store
1 tbs. cloves
1 egg
1 tbs. cooking oil
Put mint, garlic, chili, and cloves in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit, undisturbed for 24 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth covered wire strainer into a glass mason jar. Add a whipped raw egg and the cooking oil. Put in a heavy-duty spray container, and douse your plants in the evening. Try it out on a plant first and if it seems to burn it, dilute with more water. I haven’t had any problems but that’s why I do it at night. You will need to respray after rain. Good luck!

 

Terrific Tomatoes

Tomatoes were not widely eaten in the US until the late 1800s. Belonging to the nightshade family they were considered poisonous. Today we know that tomatoes contain Vitamin C, A, iron, and potassium along with lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant which helps in preventing cancer. You will absorb more lycopene from cooked tomatoes than raw.
Farm fresh tomatoes will soon be nothing more than a memory. Before that sweet juicy flavor retreats for another year make the most of it with recipes sure to complement those end of summer meals. To really bring out that tomato flavor in sauces and soups add a bit of honey, agave or sugar. An Italian grandma told me that and it's true. Once we’re back to store-bought, try cherry tomato varieties which give more of that fresh tomato taste in the offseason.

Gazpacho

With juicy, ripe summer tomatoes available it’s time for delicious gazpacho.

  • 3 cups ripe summer tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper (or green) seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh chives
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. honey or agave
  • 6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend to desired consistency. Place in a non-metal, non-reactive storage container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight, allowing flavors to blend. Toppings can include sour cream, chives, shredded cheese, and croutons. You could also mound cooked shrimp or crab to ritz it up a notch.

Gazpacho

Recipes of the Month

Quick Pickled Jalapenos

You can also use this recipe for red onion, cauliflower, carrots, garlic, whatever you like. Just cut or slice veggies into small sections and sub in for the jalapenos. Get creative!
These will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Jalapenos with a bark-like texture on the outside will be the hottest. Pickling them removes a lot of the heat.

  • 8-10 jalapenos, seeds cored out and removed unless you want a lot of heat, sliced into rings
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup vinegar of choice, you can use wine, rice or organic apple cider
  • 1 tbs. kosher salt
  • 2 tbs. sugar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Pack jalapeno rings into glass canning jars. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil, Cover jalapenos with the vinegar mixture, cover, cool and store in the fridge. Great on nachos, burgers, sandwiches, all your Mexican meals.

Quick Pickled Jalapenos

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

What to do with all that roving zucchini? Now you know. A little more labor-intensive but so worth it. Delicious and quite the show stopper.

  • 6 zucchini blossoms
  • ¼ cup feta or goat cheese
  • 2 tbs chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 egg whipped
  • flour for dredging
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a sauté pan. Sauté onion until soft, add garlic and sauté for a minute more. Add mixture to cheeses and mash with a fork into a paste. Carefully open the zucchini flower and stuff the cheese inside. Press to close. In the sauté pan you used before, add enough oil to generously cover the bottom. Dip the blossoms with attached tiny zucchini (if they are there) into the egg and then into the flour, set aside, working quickly so the flour doesn’t get soggy,
Drop into pre-heated oil and brown on both sides, don’t cram the zucchini in the pan, serve immediately garnished with an edible flower or herb sprig. Delicious!

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Fresh Corn Salad

Great salad for picnics and al fresco dining. Love the sweetness of the fresh corn.

  • 1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels cut off the cob
  • ¼ cup chopped bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 2-4 medium radishes, sliced thin
  • ½ cup cucumber, diced small
  • ½ cup tomatoes diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ avocado sliced
  • Feta cheese to top (optional)
  • Cilantro, chopped for garnish
  • Lime dressing, recipe follows

You can also add black beans, chicken, shrimp, or other protein if desired.
To cut kernels off the cob, lay it flat on a cutting board and slice the kernels off with a sharp knife, turning the cob on its side as you go. Add corn, bell pepper, onion, radish, tomatoes, and seasoning into a bowl and toss lightly with the dressing. When ready to serve, gently add the avocado and the top with the feta and cilantro.

Lime Dressing

  • Juice from 1 lime – about 2 tbs.
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. or to taste, agave or honey

Combine in a covered glass container and shake well. A small mason jar works well.

Fresh Corn Salad
Posted in 2020, The Herb Blurb and tagged , , , , , , , .

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