I'm Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh growing herbs is a passion I've had for more than 20 years now. The Backyard Patch is my own herb business started in 1995. I specialize in fresh, amazing, organic blended herbs. Those for cooking, tea and bath -- and they are all home-grown and hand-blended. In the last 20 years I have gained a knowledge of herbs and their flavors that I share here.
Check out the first post with Tarragon Mustard that also shows all the links for the Gift Card Giveaway. You can enter the giveaway until Midnight on Wednesday November 22, 2017
This rosy cider simmers for just 10 minutes, making a great choice
for drop-in visitors or last-minute parties. Great served with Christmas
Rosie Christmas Cider
1 small orange, halved 1 teaspoon whole cloves 8 cups apple cider or apple juice 4 cups cranberry juice 1 tablespoon honey 6 inches stick cinnamon
Push tips of cloves into
orange rinds. In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven, combine cider,
cranberry juice and honey. Add clove-studded orange halves and stick cinnamon.
Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Discard orange
halves and cinnamon sticks before serving.
Holiday Spice Cookies
take some planning and a bit of effort, but the recipients of these cookie gifts will be grinning all
through the holiday. And the spicy flavor makes them a perfect complement
to the Cider recipe above.
3/4 cup vegetable
shortening (preferably trans-fat-free)
2/3 cup packed light brown
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 cup granulated
Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium
bowl, whisk together the flour, Cinnful Dessert Blend, baking soda, salt, and
pepper. Using an electric mixer, beat the shortening and sugar on medium-high
speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in the egg,
molasses, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined (do
not over mix). Place the granulated sugar on a plate. Roll heaping
tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls; roll in the sugar to coat. Place on
parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Using a glass,
press the balls to a ⅜-inch thickness and sprinkle with more granulated
sugar. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the edges
are firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer
to racks to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room
temperature for up to 5 days.
*Email me at Marcy@backyardpatch.com
if you want a substitute spice blend for the Cinnful Desert Blend mentioned in
I decided to give my guests some holiday cash! In addition to helping you make some herbal and edible gifts this Christmas, we are kicking off the holiday posts with a gift card giveaway. Scroll past the recipe to find all the details. And stop back for more recipes and entry reminders in the coming days.
Make a hand-made mustard and pair it with Herbal Honey for a perfect homemade gift. They this sophisticated mustard that is very simple to make.
1/4 cup black mustard
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup dry powdered
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried
1/8 teaspoon ground
Mix mustard seeds,
powdered mustard, and water in the upper pan of a lined, glass or stainless steel double boiler.
Let stand at least three hours. In another stainless steel or enamel saucepan, mix the
wine, vinegar, tarragon, and allspice and bring to a boil. Strain the liquid
into the mustard mixture and blend well. In the lower pan of the
double boiler, heat water to boiling, then reduce heat to a simmer. Place the
upper pan, containing the mustard mixture, on top. Cook, stirring, until the
mustard is as thick as you like. It will thicken a bit more as it
cools. Cover and refrigerate.
Mustard keeps for an extended time, so make ahead and give as a gift, just tell the recipient to keep it refrigerated and bring freshness into their winter cooking.
Now if you do not want to make all your gifts, then check out these great gift cards we are giving away and visit some great blogs in the process!
Please stop by and say hi to these wonderful ladies and their blogs.
The giveaway will end midnight on Wednesday, November 22nd, the night before Thanksgiving. You will have 48 hours to respond to the email claiming the prize. If you respond right away, we will get you the gift card code promptly so that you can shop with it on Black Friday! If we don't hear in 48 hours, we will choose another winner. a Rafflecopter giveaway
One of my favorite meal items when I eat out is the mini
loaf of wheat bread and butter you get at the Outback Restaurant. I do not go out there very often however, so
I found a way to make a honeyed butter with herbs that is an improvement on
that sweet restaurant treat so I do not have to wait until my next birthday to
Heat the honey in the microwave until just warm (about 30 to
454 seconds.) Stir in the herbs, cover
with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 24 hours. Skim the herbs from the top and discard. Bring honey to room temperature and whip for
1 minute with a hand held mixer set at medium speed. Add butter and mix 30 seconds more until
mixture is light and creamy.
Because honey has a great shelf life and anti-bacterial
qualities, you can store this covered in the refrigerator for up to 3
weeks. It should always be served at
room temperature for best flavor.
What can you use whipped butter on?
butter can be piped onto dishes to make your food look extra fancy. Garnish
foods with savory whipped butter directly before serving to preserve your
·While savory whipped
butter is best the same day made, it can be made ahead and kept in the
refrigerator until it's time to serve.
pair savory whipped butter with dessert! A chili-infused whipped butter,
for instance, would pair nicely withbrownies, and a basil-lemon flavored whipped butter would
be a delight with a lemon tart.
·Chives, thyme, sage, and rosemary make a fantastic
pairing as a steak or meat topping.
·Use a bit of mustard in the butter instead of honey
and you make a fantastic butter for sandwiches and burgers (as a bonus, it's
tasty for dipping fries, chips, or pretzels, too),
·Add a savory whipped butter to spicy soup such as
Halloween is populated with many characters the most popular
are witches. But Fairies are often
associated with Halloween too, now most fairies are considered shy and
withdrawn hiding in gardens and enjoying blooms, but a more mischievous version
of a fairy is called a hobgoblin, often considered to be fearsome creatures, that
historically just brought bad luck. But there are three deadly herbs that are
often found in literature about Halloween Witches. Incense is often burned by
witches and those conducting magic. An incense
made with frankincense, myrrh and dill was used to ward off hobgoblins.
Hobgoblin beer logo
A selection of other herbs are often associated with being
used to create mischief as well, some are even poisons, yet still used in some
magick and healing.
These three herbs are often called the witching herbs,
perhaps because each can cause hallucinations:
Hyoscyamus niger, commonly
known as henbane, black henbane or stinking nightshade,
is a poisonous plant in the family Solanaceae. The name henbane
dates at least to AD 1265. The origins of the word are unclear, but
"hen" probably originally meant death rather than referring to chickens. Other
etymologies of the word associate it with the Indo-European stem *bhelena whose
hypothetical meaning is 'crazy plant.' Henbane was historically used in
combination with other plants, such as mandrake, deadly nightshade,
and jimsom weed as an anesthetic potion, as well as for
its psychoactive properties in "magick brews". These
psychoactive properties include visual hallucinations and a sensation of
Henbane was one of the ingredients in gruit,
traditionally used in beers as a flavoring. Several cities, most
notably Pilsen, were named after its German name "Bilsenkraut"
in the context of its production for beer flavoring. The
recipe for henbane beer includes dried chopped henbane herbage, bayberry, water, brewing malt, honey, dried yeast, and
brown sugar. Henbane fell out of usage for beer when it was replaced
by hops in the 11th to 16th centuries, as the Bavarian Purity Law of
1516 outlawed ingredients other than barley, hops, yeast, and water.
In 2008, celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson recommended
henbane as a "tasty addition to salads" in the August 2008 issue
of Healthy and Organic Living magazine. He subsequently said he had
made an error, confusing the herb with fat hen, a member of the spinach
family. He apologized, and the magazine sent subscribers an urgent message
stating, "[henbane] is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten".
Plants like Henbane should only be collected and used by
people who are very experienced. The plant
H. niger is susceptible to considerable
diversity of character, causing varieties which have by some been considered as
distinct species. Thus the plant is sometimes annual, the stem almost
unbranched, smaller and less downy than in the biennial form, the
leaves shorter and less hairy and the flowers often yellow, without any purple
markings. The annual plant also flowers in July or August, the biennial in May
The annual and biennial form spring indifferently from the
same crop of seed, the former growing during summer to a height of from 1 to 2
feet, and flowering and perfecting seed, the latter producing the first season
only a tuft of radical leaves, which disappear in winter, leaving underground a
thick, fleshy root, from the crown of which arises in spring a branched, flowering
stem, usually much taller and more vigorous than the flowering stems of the
annual plants. The annual form is apparently produced by the weaker and later
developed seeds formed in the fruit at the ends of the shoots; it is considered
to be less active than the typical species and differs in being of dwarfed
growth and having rather paler flowers.
Henbane will grow on most soils, in sandy spots near the
sea, on chalky slopes, and in cultivation flourishing in a good loam. It is,
however, invasive in its growth, the seeds being prone to lie dormant for a
season or more, refusing to germinate at all in some places, and the crop
varying without any apparent reason, sometimes dying in patches. In some
maritime locations it can be grown without any trouble. It requires a light,
moderately rich and well-drained soil for successful growth and an open, sunny
situation, but does not want much attention beyond keeping the ground free from
commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, is a perennial herbaceous
plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae, which includes tomatoes,
potatoes, and eggplant. It is native to Europe, North Africa,
and Western Asia. Its distribution extends from Great Britain in
the west to western Ukraine and the Iranian province
of Gilan in the east. It is also naturalized and/or introduced in
some parts of Canada and the United States. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine, which cause
a bizarre delirium and hallucinations. Atropa belladonna has
unpredictable effects. The antidote for belladonna poisoning is the same
as for atropine.
It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and
poison. Before the Middle Ages, it was used as an anesthetic for surgery;
the ancient Romans used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and
the wife of Claudius both were rumored to have used it for murder);
and, predating this, it was used to make poison-tipped arrows. The genus
name Atropa comes
from Atropos ("unable to be turned aside"), one of the
three Fates in Greek mythology, who cut the thread of life after her
sisters had spun and measured it; and the name "bella donna" is
derived from Italian and means "beautiful woman" because
the herb was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes to
make them appear seductive.
Belladonna was first found in the Southern and Central
Europe. It is now cultivated in other parts of the world such as Sweden,
Britain, North America, Asia, etc. In many countries, it is considered as a
poisonous weed. In India too, belladonna is grown widely.
Mandrake Mandragora officinarum
is the type species of the plant genus Mandragora. It is often known
as mandrake, although this name is also used for other plants. A mandrake is
the root of a plant, historically derived either from plants of the genus Mandragora found in the Mediterranean
region, or from other species, such as Bryonia
alba, the English mandrake, which have similar properties. The plants from
which the root is obtained are also called "mandrakes".
The name derives from the fact the branching root was often
similar to the shape of a man. Mediterranean mandrakes are perennial herbaceous
plants with ovate leaves arranged in a rosette, a thick upright root, often
branched, and bell-shaped flowers followed by yellow or orange berries.
They have been placed in different species by different authors. They are a variable perennial herbaceous plants with long thick roots
(often branched) and almost no stem. The leaves are borne in a basal rosette,
and are very variable in size and shape, with a maximum length of 18 inches.
They are usually either elliptical in shape or wider towards the end, with
varying degrees of hairiness.
Mandrake from Harry Potter Series
Because mandrakes contain deliriant, hallucinogenic, tropane
alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they
have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout
history. Accidental poisoning is not uncommon. Ingesting mandrake root is
likely to have other adverse effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. In the
past, mandrake was often made into amulets which were believed to
bring good fortune, cure sterility, etc. In one superstition, people who pull
up this root will be condemned to hell, and the mandrake root would scream
as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it. Therefore,
in the past, people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used
these animals to pull the roots from the soil. They have long been used
in magick rituals, today also in contemporary pagan traditions
such as Wicca and Odinism.
So burn your incense and keep away the hobgoblins and try not to get into too much mischief this Halloween.
A plant with strong ties to Halloween is the elderberry, Sambucus nigra. A small, bushy tree with white flowers and almost black berries, the elderberry was associated with the Germanic goddess Holle (or sometimes Hulda) and was named Hollerbeier for her.
Guardian of the dead, the goddess survives today in caricature as a Halloween witch. But as Frau Holle, she was a caring grandmother and wise crone. She helped souls cross over and took messages to them—perhaps written in elderberry juice ink. She is often seen as being half white and half black or being in both the world of the living and the dead.
Frau Holle, as she is known in Germany, was called The Queen of the Witches. The brothers Grimm tell a story of step-sisters who both go to visit Frau Holle in the 'nether realms'. They begin their journey to her by falling in a well........... Sandra Kleinshimdt, Encyclopedia Mythica
With the influx of German immigrants to the United States before the turn of the last century, these traditions were brought here. In North America, European immigrants found their elderberry’s close relative, S. canadensis, and continued their traditions. People carried pieces of its wood for protection, tied prayers to its branches and left apples beneath it as offerings. Among the Pennsylvania Dutch it is a the number one magical plant.
The elderberry is revered for its health benefits. Since the time of Hippocrates, the benefits of taking elderberry in all its forms have been touted and shared. A tea from its flowers treats cold and flu symptoms, substantiated by the German Commission E (that country’s equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), and its berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.
Flowering Elderberry courtesy of Tina Sams
So I felt it only perfect to share an Elderberry Cordial recipe for the weekend. The dark purple color also makes it perfect for a Halloween gathering!
recipe adapted from Hollerbeier Haven newletter
1 quart fresh ripe elderberries, stems removed (frozen will do also, but not dried)
1 cup water
1/2-inch piece of ginger root
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
honey and brandy (proportions below)
Combine berries with water. Simmer over low heat for 40 minutes, or until berries begin to release their juices. Mash with a potato masher to get all the possible juice.
Strain the pulp from hot berry juice and return liquid to a clean pot. Add the ginger, cloves and allspice and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain again.
Measure the amount you have of this spiced berry infusion and add an equal amount of honey and 1/2 of the amount of good brandy. Bottle it and store until you can enjoy it on Halloween.