Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hair Rinse perfect for Blond Hair - Bath Blend of the Month

This month I am posting a hair rinse made with calendula.  It is no surprise this herb is being used on hair and scalps. Calendula extractions are often used to hydrate dry scalps, remove dandruff, and improve the condition of the scalp. With its regenerative properties it helps the hair follicles grow abundantly allowing for a thicker mane, and the antioxidants help protect the hair and scalp against cell-damaging free radicals. It is believed to promote stronger hair by the increase of collagen production and circulation in hair follicles. The benefits are similar to a scalp massage that increases blood circulation to the hair follicles. This plant is soothing to sensitive scalps and quite popular in hair rinses for adding shine, calming irritated scalps, and bringing out naturally warm highlights in blonde hair.

Calendula Hair Rinse
1 ounce of calendula petals (about 1/2 cup)
3 cups water
1 Tbls plain vinegar or calendula herb vinegar
3 to 5 drops rosemary essential oil

Bring water to a boil, then add calendula petals to water and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.  Combine 2 cups of resulting tea and add vinegar and essential oil. Makes 2 treatments for short hair, 1 for long.

To Use: Pour over hair after shampoo, leave on for a few minutes and rinse.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Four Herbs you can still grow from seed in June

Herbs are often easy to grow from seed, but planting early is the key to getting a harvest the first year.  However, there are a few herbs that you can grow later in the season to enjoy a harvest this year and next.

flat-leaf parsley

Parsley is top of my list, for it improves so many dishes and is packed full of healthy vitamins and minerals. Italian, or flat-leaved parsley, is gaining in popularity over the more decorative, curly kind, for it has more flavor.  Parsley is a flavor enhancer, making it a great companion in dried blends.  However, if when dry it turns brown, discard as the flavor is gone.

I buy mine as nursery plants, for there may be some truth in the adage that the seeds of parsley go to the devil and back six times before sprouting, and I haven’t the patience to wait that long.

To speed up germination, soak the seeds in lukewarm water overnight, or place them in the freezer for a day. Then, pour hot water over the soil before sowing. The seedlings should be transplanted at the 4-6 leaf stage. Parsley likes a rich, moist soil and can be grown in sun or semi-shade. When harvesting, pick the leaves from the outer edges first.

Cilantro with seeds (coriander)
Cilantro is either loved or hated. My husband, for instance, cannot stand the smell of its fresh leaves, but likes their taste in salad, while I find my appetite activated when I am merely within sniffing distance of the plants. Cilantro bolts (goes to seed) in hot summer days, so to enjoy a longer harvest, sow seed every two weeks to give you a continuous crop.  And save the seed – called coriander to sow or enjoy as a spice.

Sow it at regular intervals to provide a constant supply, and close together, allowing the plants to support each other. Cut the leaves right down when harvesting, then leave the plants to produce another crop. Cilantro does not like full sun and needs to be grown in light, well-composted soil.

Dill Weed and Seed
Dill has fine, feathery leaves with a taste of caraway seeds. It resembles a small fennel, but the two are not related and should not be grown together. Plant dill in slightly acidic soil that is well-drained. It is the perfect accompaniment to many fish dishes and can also be used to flavor soups, cheeses and butters. In Illinois our soil tends to be alkaline due to the limestone everywhere, so I top dress with pine needles around the plants once they emerge from seed to provide a bit more acid for them to flourish.  It is not required, I just like a lot of foliage. 

Like Cilantro you want to sow seed every two weeks to get a continuous crop of dill weed. The seed should mature just in time for pickling season.

Chives will spread by seed if you do not cut off the flower heads, making it an easy herb to grow from seed.  The narrow leaf common chives have an onion flavor and the flat leaved garlic chives have a mild garlic flavor.  Both make great vinegar. Give them a sunny location in a pot or in the ground and you will have plants for years to come.  They winter over in zone 5 very well.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Summer Charitable gifting and an Iced Tea Recipe

Hello and welcome to National Garden Week. It started June 7 and runs through June 13. 

This year we were hoping to celebrate with a participation in the Lisle Women
s Club Garden Gait, garden walk and boutique held at Lisle Station Park.  However due to Covid-19 the Lisle Women's Club chose to postpone this years event to 2021.

Garden Gait Tea

We have decided to make available our specially created Garden Gait Tea in both 100% herbs or a combination of herbs and black tea.  This tea was designed by the members of the Lisle Women's Club several years ago and we sell the tea each year and donate a portion of the sales to the Women's Club.  So if you order either style of Garden Gait Tea in the next 30 days, we will donate 50% of the sale price to the Women's Club to add to their scholarship fund. 

You can get Garden Gait Tea both with and without caffeine and as either a sun tea or a loose tea throughout the month of June.  

On June 17 we will be doing an online class called Language of Flowers.  This presentation includes learning about using the language of flowers, or floriography, to send coded messages during the Victorian era.  We also include understanding the messages and practice figuring out different bouquets created for interpretation.  This program will be done through District 214 and one can register for the class using this link: Sign up for Language of Flowers.

Participants will be sent a digital handout and a link to join the online class.

June is National Iced Tea Month, so since we were talking about tea earlier I thought I would share an easy Iced tea you can craft at home using fresh or dried herbs.

Wisdom Tea
Mint for wisdom, rosemary to improve the memory and lemon balm, sometimes called "The Scholars Herb."  We cannot guarantee it will make you wiser, but it is cooling and refreshing!

1/4 cup Peppermint
1/4 cup Spearmint 
1/4 cup Rosemary
1/4 cup Lemon Balm   

Combine the herbs together and place in an airtight jar.  For each serving of tea, use 1 tsp. mix to 1 cup boiling water.  Add some honey, if desired.  Store in fridge for a delicious iced tea.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Cheese Blueberry and Lemon Verbena Pizza

The sauce on this pizza is made with blueberries smoothed over a cheese base and topped with peaches and my favorite herb lemon verbena.  This is the time of year I trim my leggy lemon verbena as I take them outside giving me a lot of extra leaves to use. This is not your everyday pizza, but it’s certainly a pizza worth having every day.

Cheese, Blueberry and Lemon verbena Sweet Pizza
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 ounces softened cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
One (10-inch) prepared pizza dough or crust
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 to 2 peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh lemon verbena

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Blend together ricotta, cream cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar and vanilla extract. Spread cheese mixture evenly over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

In microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan, combine blueberries, cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; toss to mix well. To make sauce in microwave, heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes (depending on your microwave’s wattage) until sauce thickens. To heat on stove, bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 minute or until sauce thickens. Let cool slightly and spread thickened blueberry sauce evenly on pizza.

Arrange sliced peaches on pizza in a spiral design. Top with cashews; sprinkle lemon verbena on top. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is lightly golden. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Unusual Pizza Weekend Recipe - Pork and Cabbage with Fennel Pizza

One last unusual pizza to cap the month.  This one with the tastes of fennel and celery seed bring a tasty earthy flavor to lean pork, which is perfectly balanced with cabbage and fresh sage.

Pork and Cabbage with Fennel Pizza  
Makes one 15-inch pizza

1 (12- to 14-ounce) prepared pizza dough
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons fennel seed, divided
1 teaspoon celery seed, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces lean pork (such as top loin), cut into strips or bite-sized pieces
4 cups sliced green cabbage
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded gruyére cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out dough to fit a large nonstick baking pan or pizza screen. Baste crust with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil; set aside.

Combine wheat germ, 1 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed and salt in a large plastic bag; shake until combined. Add pork cubes or strips and shake to coat with the herb mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add pork and cook, turning often, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove pork from skillet and set aside.

Using same skillet, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add cabbage, garlic and sugar along with remaining 1 teaspoon fennel seed and 1/2 teaspoon celery seed. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until cabbage is slightly wilted. Add balsamic vinegar and cook 1 minute more; set aside.

Sprinkle both cheeses evenly over pizza crust. Arrange herb-crusted pork and cabbage mixture over crust, spreading to the edges. Top with fresh sage. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is lightly golden and cheese is bubbly. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Crabmeat Pizza with Dill and Chervil Weekend Recipe

This is the perfect non-traditional pizza to try.  The herbs are not your traditional pizza herbs with dill and chervil, but they combine as a great complement to asparagus and crab, the other unusual ingredients. You can mix it up by trying other fresh herbs, such as tarragon and dill, or tarragon and basil if you do not have any chervil at home.  You can click here to learn about Chervil if you want to try the celery-like herb.  

Dill, Chervil and Crab Meat Pizza
1 (12- to 14-ounce) prepared pizza dough
1/2 cup prepared Alfredo sauce
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil
  (if you don't have fresh, use 1 Tablespoon BYP Seafood Seasoning to substitute for these two herbs)
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
12 ounces lump crab meat, flaked
1 cup chopped fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place pizza dough on a nonstick baking sheet or pizza screen. In a medium bowl, combine Alfredo sauce, yogurt, mustard, dill, chervil and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Spread sauce evenly over prepared pizza dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border for the crust.

Sprinkle both cheeses evenly over the pizza, then top with crab meat and asparagus. Sprinkle chives over toppings. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

Monday, May 18, 2020

7 Herbs for a Cutting Garden

I like to grow flowers for cutting bouquets but when I make a bouquet, I generally always add some herb or another.  They provide color, texture and scent to a lovely arrangement.  So here are some of the herbs I grow that make great bouquets.  And since some are perennials, you will get cuttings all season.

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a member of the mint family and a wonderful butterfly and bee plant.  The foliage is large leafed, but the cone-shape purple flower heads are gorgeous and make a long-lasting attention grabbing addition to a bouquet.  And the flowers are totally edible with an anise or licorice scent and taste.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) in the traditional style is not a good cutting herb, as it wilts easily.  But the smaller leafed varieties, like Thai Basil, Cinnamon Basil, or Dark Opal Basil will all look good and hold up well to a bouquet.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) also known as Pot Marigold, this plant sports puffball flower heads in yellow and orange. If you want to grow it for cuttings, try 'Prince' or 'Kablouna' which are taller cultivars.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) both have a wonderful feathery foliage which makes great filler in a bouquet, not to mention they are both tasty to cook with!

Lavender (Lavendula) comes in many varieties.  One can grow Lavender Lady from seed and it will bloom in the first year.  But if you want a taller stem for arrangements, try English Lavender.  If you want a textured leaf with a funky flower, try French Lavender, also known as Lavender Cotton.

Any Mint (Mentha) will work in a bouquet and can make tea.  The strong stems makes them good in a vase and you can chose any number of scents and flavors, like chocolate mint, apple mint (fuzzy leaves), Spearmint, peppermint, orange mint and others.

Sage (Salvia) has a number of varieties, but the most common is Garden Sage with silver-gray leaves  and purple flowers in spring that are edible and attractive  The flowers taste musky and savory and the leaves look good fresh and dried.

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