Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fragrance Garden at the Morton Arboretum - Herb(s) of the Week

This week I stopped by the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.  I drive past it everyday and stop in on my way home several times a week if my own garden permits.

The weather Monday was spectacular.  The sun was out there was a gentle breeze and the temperature was only in the high 70s.  For Illinois at the end of July this is heaven!  As a result I grabbed my dinner and when the the arboretum to enjoy the outdoors.  After eating I strolled the area and stumbled across the Fragrance Garden.  Located a the north end of Joy Path, this quiet little oasis was just the perfect spot to stop. I did not have my camera with me, so these images were taken with my camera on my phone.

There are several benches and resting areas and frog pond mixed in among the plantings.

This was the view from one of the shaded benches.  I liked the fact that this garden had a number of herbal plantings.  The flowers were mostly spent so I did not find much fragrance in a overcome your senses sort of way, but the bees and the butterflies were everywhere!

I loved the overall look of the bee balm plantings.  There were two clusters a traditional scarlet and a pink.
Pink Supreme Dwarf Bee Balm

traditional red

If the pink was a dwarf, I wonder what the regular size of this hybrid is, because it was waist high. There were catmints, and creeping thyme and this chive-like plant that I have noticed is all the rage in landscape plantings this year.  I had been wondering about the name and I now know it is: Summer Beauty German Garlic. A Allium variety with a large purple flower head and all the scent of traditional chives.

I wandered the garden slowly on the brick path and took in the view from several different benches.

The most spectacular find for me was this hybrid of Purple cone flower called Salsa Red Sombrero.  It has a flatter shape and an amazing red color I was surprised my camera phone could capture.

This was by far my favorite item and I came back to it several times.  However, I also enjoy a leaf variation too!  And this garden did not disappoint in that aspect either.  They had a dark leafed bugbane and a golden leafed anise hyssop.
Black Negligee Komchatka Bugbane

Golden Jubilee Anise Hyssop

It was an enjoyable hour I spend resting and exploring in the Fragrance Garden at the Morton Arboretum and I suggest if you live nearby you invest in a membership so you can just pop in after a long day and enjoy the nature and the beauty.  
                                You never know what you might find...

Like this perfect tiny leaf catmint that I will be adding to my fairy garden next year.
Kit Kat Catmint  (normal leaves left for scale)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Green Cleaning - Cleaning wood and tile floors

We recently had company and so I gave our home a thorough cleaning.  I washed the floors, carpets, walls, etc.  Probably cleaning more than I would do for myself this time of year.  The floors were the hardest to clean, as we have cats and I have been tracking in some dirt from the garden these past couple months.

That put me on a tangent of thought.  What is good to clean the floors that will not harm them, me or the cats.  Here was what I came up with:

In our old house we had wood floors, real wood floors, not pergola.  These were finished with varnish and tung oil, so as a result I used mineral spirits or Murphy’s oil soap with water.  I infused the water with herbs for disinfecting.  I like to use thyme water as thyme is a natural germ fighter (thymol -essence of thyme- is the main ingredient in items like Lysol).  Herbal waters are herbs steeped in warm water for a long period, like a concentrated tea.

Here is the recipe I use to make a Murphy’s oil soap cleaner.

Versatile Cleaner Concentrate –

This concentrate can be mixed with herbal waters or vinegars for more powerful cleaning.

1 Tablespoon essential oil (you can use your favorite scent or a combination of scents) 

1/2 cup concentrated oil soap paste

Mix the soap paste (like Murphy's Concentrate available at the hardware store) with the essential oil in a glass container with a metal or plastic spoon.  Blend until the oil stops separating (sometimes a bit more paste is needed to get a good consistency and no separation).  I use lemon oil as a first choice, but a combination with thyme oil, grapefruit or other citrus oils will also work well.

TO USE -- Dilute by adding 1 to 3 teaspoons of concentrate to 4 cups of plain or herbal water. 

I also make vinegar cleaners, but you should never use vinegar on a wood floor, as this will discolor the finish or sealant.  Murphy’s Oil Soap will work with vinegar too.  I like a thyme or lemon herb vinegar using the recipe above on my tile floors (vinyl and ceramic) in the bathroom and kitchen.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rhubarb Punch - Weekend Recipe

Last week the Lemon Verbena Lady shared a recipe using her (and my) favorite herb - Lemon Verbena.  That got me to thinking of ways to use lemon verbena and since I have two bigs bags of cut up rhubarb in the freezer from this spring, this is what I came up with.
Rhubarb Punch
A truly unique taste that you'll love.  The lush lemon flavor of the Lemon Verbena accents the tart rhubarb perfectly.

2 pounds rhubarb, chopped
4 cups water
2 Tbls fresh Lemon Verbena, chopped

3/4 cup sugar

Juice from 1 orange

Juice from 1 lemon

3/4 cup soda water
In saucepan, bring rhubarb, herbs, and 4 cups water to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until rhubarb is softened. In cheesecloth lined sieve set over bowl, strain rhubarb for at least 2 hours or overnight. Discard pulp. Stir sugar and orange and lemon juices into rhubarb juice. Transfer to pitcher and refrigerate. Just before serving, add soda water.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lemon Basil 'Sweet Dani' - Herb of the Week

Herb of the Week ‘Sweet Dani’ Lemon Basil 
                    (Ocimun basilicum ‘Sweet Dani’)

In 1998, just a few years after I started my first herb garden the All-American Selection was ‘Sweet Dani’, a vigorous, large-leaved green basil with a strong, fresh lemon scent.  At the time it was a new basil hybrid with characteristics of Ocimum basilicum and O. americanum.  Having an intense lemon flavor owing to a high concentration of citral, up to 65 percent, in the essential oil.  That year it was grown from seed by the volunteers at the Oak Park Conservatory and I purchased my first Sweet Dani Lemon Basil. 

As lemon basil’s go it has the strongest lemon taste and is reminiscent of a lemon oil.  All-America Selections is a nonprofit organization that tests and introduces new flower and vegetable varieties, evaluating their performance in trials across North America. ‘Sweet Dani’ was selected as a winner in the vegetable category in 1998.

James E. Simon, a research professor at ­Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and his colleague in the horticulture department, Mario Morales was the creator of  ‘Sweet Dani.’  It grew out of a bigger proj­ect Simon was working on during the late 1980s on basils’ essential oils. He became interested in breeding basils for their ornamental value and spent 6 years perfecting this plant.

Simon’s idea was to put together a diverse group of basils, let them cross-pollinate, and see what happened. He and his staff rounded up eighty different basils—deep purple basils from Iran, treelike green camphor basils from Africa, handsome cinnamon basils with glossy green leaves and dark purple flower spikes, and many others—and grew them together on a plot at Purdue’s O’Neall Vegetable Research Farm. At the end of the season, they gathered seed from the plants and mixed them together in a paper bag.

The following year, they sowed the seeds, and soon the experimental field was full of strange and beautiful basils. The wide sweep of color, form, and bloom in the field suggested basils’ uncommon diversity. Simon prowled the field, checking the form and aroma of every plant, and selected a handful as worthy of further study. One of these was a tall plant with a lemon aroma that later became ‘Sweet Dani’.

The chosen plants were dug up, brought into a greenhouse, and separated to discourage further cross-­pollination. Seed was collected from each plant, and the long process of reselection and stabilization of each plant’s characteristics began. Building up a plentiful supply of reliable seed took many plant generations, and it was several years before ‘Sweet Dani’ was ready for commercial release.

Delaware State University botanist Arthur O. Tucker identified the probable parents of the hybrid, and Simon named his plant to honor his daughter, Daniella.

To Grow

‘Sweet Dani’ is as easy to grow as other basils, either from seed or plants, both of which are readily available in garden centers or by mail order. Start seeds indoors a few weeks before the frost-free date. Keep the seedlings in a warm place and give them plenty of light. Harden them off gradually and wait to transplant them outside until nighttime temperatures are reliably above 55°F.

This is a fast-growing basil with germination happening in as few as three days.  Seedlings grow quickly and can be transplanted as soon as they have 4 true leaves which can happen in two weeks.  As with all basil’s do not transplant them outdoors until all possibility of frost has passed and the overnight temperature does not dip below 40 degrees.  This Lemon Basil will grow to 30 inches tall and 15 inches wide.  They start producing flowers early, small white flowers on 5- to 8-inch spikes, so need to be clipped often.  The mature green leaves are egg-shaped and strongly veined, reaching 2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.

Like other basils, ‘Sweet Dani’ needs full sun for compact, strong growth. Water the plants regularly and fertilize every two weeks and after extensive harvests. Leaves may be harvested regularly, even from young plants, to encourage branching and maximum regrowth and to discourage flower formation.  The finest growth occurs during periods when night temperatures are above 60°F. In most areas of the United States, basils have a limited period of rapid growth.

Basils grow best in a site with daylong sun, but most varieties can subsist on as little as three to four hours of direct sunlight. They will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but will grow best in a well-drained, loamy, nearly neutral soil (pH 6 to 6.5) that is well endowed with nutrients. Good air circulation discourages fungus diseases.

During their summer growth, basil plants are desperate to flower and set seed. That’s the way to preserve the species, and it may help farmers and florists, but it sure cuts down on the amount of pesto that can be made from a single plant. As soon as stems begin flowering, their foliage production ends; however, home gardeners can combat basils’ drive for flowers by pruning plants heavily to keep them producing foliage all summer. Start pruning when the plant has six to eight pairs of leaves. Don’t just nip the flowers as they form; instead clip off all but two to four leaves. Within as little as three weeks, the pruned stem will have regrown two to four new, harvestable branches.


Sprinkle leaves or flowers in salads, steep them in hot water for a tea, or add them to dishes that call for basil or lemon, such as fish and chicken. Add basil at the end of the cooking period to retain as much flavor as possible.

Basil is best when used minutes after it is picked. To keep basil fresh for a day or two, place the stems in a jar of water away from sunlight. To have it fresh for seven to ten days, cover the jar and stems loosely with a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator.
Keeping basil for longer periods of time can be a problem. Freezing turns the leaves dark and flavorless.

Perhaps the best way for most people to preserve their basil harvest is to make and freeze batches of wonderfully flavorful pesto, which can be thawed easily and used in many ways. When freezing pesto, leave out the garlic; instead, chop and add some fresh garlic when you’re ready to use the pesto. Adding a small amount of chopped fresh parsley to the thawed pesto will give it a greener, fresher taste; you can also add more Parmesan cheese.

Basil is also traditionally preserved by hanging in bundles to dry or by laying stems on screens in a well-­ventilated spot away from direct sun. When they are crispy, strip the leaves from the stems, pack the whole dried leaves in clean jars with tight lids, and store them in a cool, dark place for as long as a year. Always dry your basil leaves whole, then crumble them into your preparation as needed. Once crushed, dried leaves lose their essential oils and ­fragrance rapidly.

Cooks around the world use basil with fresh and cooked vegetables, in ­salads, with eggs, meats, and seafood, in soups and breads, with all kinds of cheeses, and for seasoning vinegars and oils. Accompanied by fresh tomato slices, it is wonderful in a sandwich in place of lettuce, and it adds a pleasant flavor to butter, vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces.

Cook fresh basil only briefly or add it as a garnish to long-simmered ­dishes. In some recipes, such as in pesto, dried basil just won’t work: the fresh herb is essential. Otherwise, when substituting dried basil for fresh, use only about a third as much as you would fresh. It is always best to season lightly at first, taste, and then add more dried basil if ­necessary.

If a recipe calls for packed basil leaves, press them down in the measuring cup to measure.

You can use any basil you choose to make pesto, so using a lemon basil will give you a sweeter less pungent pesto.  I much prefer it to regular basil pesto, especially as a topping on chicken or in a pasta served with chicken. Traditionally, pesto is served with flat noodles such as trenette, fettuccine, or linguine. Try it also as a tasty sauce for grilled or roasted fish and vegetables, or as a savory garnish for vegetable soups such as minestrone. Mix equal parts of sour cream to pesto to create a smooth green dip for crudit├ęs.

Lemon Basil Pesto

3 c. packed fresh lemon basil leaves
1 c. fresh loosely packed parsley
3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 T. olive oil
3 T. pine nuts

Place all above ingredients into blender, except cheese.  Blend thoroughly and add cheese.  Blend well again.  Stir into warm pasta or spread over chicken and fish in the last few minutes of cooking.  Pour olive oil over surface until covered to store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.  You can freeze the pesto once the oil covers the top and keep it for about 3 months.


1/3 c. lemon basil leaves
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. finely chopped fresh oregano or 1/5 t. dried
3 T. olive oil
2 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
optional: 1/4 c. pine nuts

Combine ingredients in blender and blend unto emulsified.  Serve over fresh lettuce.

Lemon Basil Butter
Great on cooked vegetables or pasta or on top of poached eggs or fish.

1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
2 t. lemon juice
1 T. chopped fresh parley
3 T. chopped fresh lemon basil
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Cream the butter and beat in the lemon juice a little at a time.  Beat in the parsley and basil and season.  Serve in a serving dish or place on wax paper and roll in a log. Chill overnight and slice and serve.  Butter can also be frozen for up to two months without loosing flavor.

Lemon Basil Fruit Salad

2 cups fresh raspberries or blackberries
2 cups fresh strawberries - hulled and sliced
One (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges - drained
One (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks - drained
2 tablespoons white grape juice
¼ cup fresh lemon basil, minced

Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Lemon Basil Facial Mask

handful of lemon basil leaves
1/2 of an avocado
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. honey

Pulverize the fresh lemon basil leaves in a blender or food processor. Peel the avocado and mash. Add avocado to basil in blender, along with lemon juice and honey.  Blend until smooth.

Smear this mixture all over your face, don't get too close to your eyes.  Then leave on 15 to 30 minutes or as long as you want.  Rinse off with lukewarm water.  Follow with a moisturizer. 

** Some of the information on the history of this basil came from a 1998 article by Thomas DiBaggio in Herb Companion Magazine.

To obtain good seed for Sweet Dani, I recommend the Territorial Seed Company

Monday, July 22, 2013

Traveling to Janesville, WI and the Rotary Gardens

On the fourth of July my husband and I traveled to Wisconsin.  Part of the trip for me was a stop at the Rotary Botanical Gardens is Janesville, Wisconsin.  I drag the hubby, who is not much of a gardener, really to see gardens all the time.  He tolerates it because he usually gets to pick the lunch spot afterwards.

This time, however, he enjoyed the gardens as much if not more than I did.  He was impressed by how much they could fit into a small space, only about 20 acres.  The best part was as a non-profit location they have sponsorships of various types.  Most obviously the benches.  Yet what a perfectly appropriate and tasteful way to accomplish it.  Each bench has a garden theme saying carved into it!  They were fun to find, enjoyable to read and perfect placed for taking a seat to enjoy the views.

I loved that this place was open on a holiday! We arrived just as it opened so we could see all of it and ended up staying longer than planned.  As you exit the visitor center you enter the formal garden.

This just happened to be where the Herb Gardens were located.  Maintained by the Janesville Area Herb Society, there are three different herb gardens. A Sensory Garden, a Medicinal Garden and Culinary Garden.  Each had a somewhat formal design and center statue, but the herbs used and presented had nice variety.

The Sensory Garden - see the clay tiles, they each held a scented herb.
Culinary Herb Garden
My husband and I probably spent an hour looking at all the formal garden patches.  They were each a different theme, like Italy or France in addition to the three Herb Gardens.

There is a lake off to one edge of the Rotary Botanic Gardens that has a public boat launch, so there were a few people out with canoes and kayaks in the water.

Like the Chicago Botanic Gardens they had an orientation map with cut flowers to give you an idea of what was in bloom that day.
A pergola and patio near the lake gave great views.  It was sunny and warm that day, but we found great shade in the fern and hosta gardens.  And some tranquility in the Japanese Gardens.

The "Cliff" garden I think this was called had a striking assortment of plants among rocks.

One of the special features of the Rotary Botanic Gardens is the transitions.  You never feel hurried from one garden to another and most special, the transitions are never abrupt.  You just move from one garden to another with relaxing ease.  The decorative features are picturesque and I had to have my Kodak moment on the crooked bridge.

One of several water features
The trails were attractive and easy to walk and most were accessible by all abilities with only a few not made for wheelchairs.  There was a sculpture garden, an idea garden and a Scottish Garden too.  It was while we enjoyed the sunken garden that we found out that the location was originally a BMX bike race course before being acquired by the Rotary.

Idea garden with sculptures in the background
A planted bench in the Highland Garden.  That red dot is my traveling stuffed lady bug.  She is a photo hog!
The Sunken Garden had a spectacular arch that had been rescued from the Parker Pen building along with other sculpture and architectural items salvaged from historic buildings of the area.

The two items which we still talk about long after the trip was a parsley hedge used in a seasonal garden and an arching elm tree called a  Camperdown Elm that we have decided we must own.

Camperdown Elm which was arched over the walkway
My husband even fit under the arch!
We started with herbs and ended with herbs, as the last place on our trek around the grounds took use to a seasonal display garden that sported these cute parsley hedges, that my husband still talks about.
Parsley hedge
The Rotary Botanic Gardens are just a short jog off Interstate 90 in Janesville, WI and I recommend the detour if you are anywhere near it.  You will not be disappointed.  I took a number of images of the herbs in the Gardens, so check back as I will be sharing more from this wonderful location.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Refrigerator Pickles - Weekend Recipe

I believe that I have shared this recipe before somewhere (probably one of my featured recipes on the Backyard Patch website,) but it is that time of year so I decided that it could use wider distrbution.

Spicy Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles
These are refrigerator pickles, meaning they are not actually canned and need to be kept in the refridgerator. Due to the vinegar and salt, they will keep for quite a while.
You will need some sterilized canning jars and some pickling cucumbers (they look like regular cucumbers but small- you can use regular but I hear they don't stay crisp.) The brine recipe below is enough for 1.5 pint sized jars, so double or triple it because you will definitely want more than that! The amount of cucumbers will vary depending on size, so you'll just have to guess.  You will need more than 1 and sometimes 3 or 4 to fill a pint jar.

Cut the end off of the cucumbers (there's an enzyme at the blossom end that will cause the pickles to turn mushy; if you remove it, they wont.) Cut them however you like your pickles to be shaped. I'm partial to spears, so I do 1/8ths longways. But you can do slices- or even leave them whole, though they'll take a lot longer to pickle.

Stuff the jars with the cucumbers. Just cram them in there, as many as you can, along with:

1 large sprig of fresh dill
1 big clove of garlic (quartered)
1 tsp dill seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black peppercorns

PER jar (not total.)

Then comes the brine:

1 c. white vinegar
1 c. water
3 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs pickling salt (you can use regular salt but your brine will be cloudy)

Heat all 4 items just long enough to dissolve the salt and sugar.

Let it cool a bit and then pour into the jars. Give it a few minutes to settle then you top off. If the brine is still really hot, they pickle faster- but the cucumbers will get cooked a bit and won't be as crisp. If you wait until the brine is totally cold they'll be nice and crunchy, but you'll have to wait longer for them to get all tasty. I am not know for my patience so it is usually cooled to warm before I pour.

Put the lids on the jars- tightly!- and let them sit out at room temperature overnight to get started. Then move them into the refrigerator.  They need to stand for three days before they are ready to eat.  Taste test to see if they are the flavor you like.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Herb of the Week - Cinnamon Basil

This week's Herb of the Week is Cinnamon Basil

Cinnamon basil is a cultivar of Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil). It contains cinnamate, the same chemical that gives cinnamon its flavor, and has a strong scent of cinnamon. The leaves are small to medium sized compared to traditional basil plants and the stems are maroon to red rather than green.  It is a plant of distinction, both in scent and appearance. The combination of basil and cinnamon flavors make cinnamon basil popular for use in hot drinks and with fruits.
Among my loves are the cultivars lemon and lime basil, but I thought I woud share one that is not citrus for a change and open your mind to the joys of Cinnamon Basil today. Let’s talk about its history and uses for a moment:

  • Some gardeners plant cinnamon basil close to their tomato plants in the
    garden to discourage bugs from damaging the tomato plants. Not only will it enhance the flavor of the tomato but also repels mosquitoes and white flies. It also will enhance the growth of asparagus and roses while protecting these plants from some insects. 
  • Rub its leaves on your skin or grow it in containers on your patio to help repel mosquitoes. You can also place fresh sprigs on top of food containers to keep flies from landing at picnics.
  • When dried, cinnamon basil is wonderful in potpourri and can be used in herb/dried flower wreaths.
  • Cooking with cinnamon basil is unique and interesting.  You can add it to your tea, use it in jellies, honeys, vinegars and baked goods.


An annual with leafy stems and thin branchy roots, the flowers of Cinnamon Basil are two-lipped, 1/2 inch long, white and grow in racemes at top of stems. However, just like all basil plants, you want to cut those flower heads off to improve the flavor of the leaves.  Leaves are opposite, ovate with an entire margin. They are 2-3 inches long and range from yellow-green to dark green depending on soil fertility. Leaves have a cinnamon fragrance and flavor.  Cinnamon Basil is hardy in zones 4 to 10, but is not resistant to temperatures lower than 40 degrees.

Cinnamon basil is one the easiest basils to grow. All basils are annuals, but this one germinates fast.  When planted from seed it takes approximately 5 to 7 days to sprout depending on how warm the soil is. It can be started indoors and transplanted into gardens or container pots. Cinnamon basil can grow up to 3 feet tall and, if you pinch back the leaves, it can bush out to 3 feet. 

You can also grow this herb by rooting a stem cutting in water.  Once rooted, it can be planted in soil once the roots are about an inch or so in length.

Choose a location in your garden that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day and contains a well-drained soil.  Plant cinnamon basil seeds directly into the ground a week or two after the last frost of the season. Cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of soil.  Water the seeds lightly and keep them moist until they sprout, which should take about a week.  When the seedlings have developed two or three leaves, thin the plants so that they are 6 to 12 inches apart.  Once the plants are established, add 2 to 3 inches of mulch to help maintain moisture and reduce weeds.  Water deeply every week throughout the growing season.


One of the main compounds in Basil, (E)-beta-caryophyllene, or BCP, offers anti-inflammatory properties similar to those found in Oregano.  It also helps fight bowel inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis.  It is used to treat respiratory disorders, allergies, diabetes, colds and flu, herpes virus, and infertility.  It is believed to be effective at fighting off free radicals which cause damage at the cellular level. It is even used in the treatment of some cancers.  It boosts the immune system and relieves common skin ailments. It is anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

Dry basil by hanging bunches of it upside down in a well-ventilated place for about a week. Once it is dried, remove the leaves and store them whole or crumbled in an airtight container for up to one year.

Use the dried leaves as a poultice  it is best to use fresh leaves rather than dried.  Cinnamon Basil’s medicinal properties are more potent when used in the form of an extract or oil. In Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cooking Cinnamon Basil is used to flavor soups and stews, meat and poultry, and even drinks and desserts.  Cinnamon Basil pairs exceptionally well with fruits.

When I harvest my cinnamon basil, I wash it, pinch the leaves from the stems, chop, place in labeled zip lock bags and freeze it. Anytime I want to use fresh cinnamon basil, all I have to do is reach in my freezer and I can cook with it all year round. Or you can rub leaves with olive oil and place in ice cube trays or plastic bags, then freeze to save them for later use. Use within one year.


Cinnamon Basil and Lime Icebox Cookies

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1/4 cup flax seed, ground
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/3 cups butter, softened
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
• 2 tablespoon grated lime zest
• 6 tablespoons fresh cinnamon basil leaves, chopped
• 2 cups pecans, chopped
• Parchment or wax paper for wrapping dough

Pinch some cinnamon basil leaves from your herb; wash it, chop it and put in a small bowl.  Add flours, flax seed, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix and set the mixture aside.  Add butter and beat until fluffy. Add sugar and eggs; beat the mixture until it becomes light and fluffy. Add vanilla, nutmeg, lime zest and cinnamon basil; blend. Take a measuring cup, scoop a cup from the flour mixture at a time and add it to the butter and blend. Add the nuts and gently stir.  Once the dough is mixed, remove from the bowl onto a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with flour. Shape the dough into a log shape and then wrap it completely with the parchment paper. Put it in a refrigerator overnight until the mixture gets hardened so that you can slice the dough. Take the dough that was refrigerated overnight, user a serrated and cut the dough about 1/4-inches to 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the cookies on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes until the cookies become golden brown. Once the pieces are baked, put on a rack to cool.

Recipe Tip: You can bake some of the cookies and freeze, then just microwave to thaw.  Or wrap the dough log and put in ziplock bag, and freeze.  When you are ready to use, thaw almost completely, but still stiff to slice into 1/4" to 1/2" slices and bake.

Basil-Pecan Cookies

5 fresh cinnamon basil leaves
1/4 cup sugar 
1 cup butter or margarine 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 cup chopped pecans 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Process basil and sugar in a blender or food processor until basil is minced.  Melt butter in a large saucepan; add basil mixture, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in chopped pecans and vanilla; remove from heat.  Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased baking sheets; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness with bottom of a large glass.  Bake cookies at 300° for 40 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks to cool.

*Regular basil may be substituted; increase ground cinnamon to 1 teaspoon.

Cinnamon Basil Orange Drink

1/2 cup rinsed, lightly packed fresh cinnamon basil leaves
2 teaspoons sugar 
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soda water
sprigs of fresh basil


In a 1-quart glass measure or bowl, combine basil leaves (see notes) and sugar. With a wooden spoon, crush leaves with the sugar until thoroughly bruised. Add orange juice and mix. Pour through a fine wire strainer into two ice-filled glasses (at least 10- to 12-oz. size). Add soda water to each glass and mix. Garnish coolers with rinsed sprigs of fresh basil.

Cinnamon Almond Drops
1 cup margarine
¾ cup sugar
2 Tbls. almond extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
3 Tbls. Cinnamon basil, minced
1 tsp. baking soda

Garnish: 1/3 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped; ¼ cup granulated sugar;  1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl mix together the margarine, brown sugar and ¾ cup sugar.  Add eggs, almond extract and cinnamon basil and mix well.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and mix well.  In a small bowl, mix together the ¼ cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon.  Roll the dough into level tablespoon sized balls, roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture then place them onto cookie sheets which have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the cookies are medium brown on the bottom.  Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies.

Cinnamon Basil Tea

Bring one cup of water to boil
Pour over 10-12 fresh Cinnamon Basil leaves

Cover and let steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain leaves from the water. Drink plain for maximum herbal benefit. If you must use a sweetener, use only raw honey.

More Cinnamon Basil Recipes are available from our more recent post in 2019

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sweet Tea and Garden Walks

This past weekend I had my booth at the Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire.  It was a bit on the warm side, but we were in the shade and most of the day there was a nice breeze.  I served a tea I originally made for the Lisle Women’s Club garden walk called “Garden Gait.”  The tea contains black tea, with lemon verbena, black berry leaf, hibiscus and lavender.  The color is on the reddish side of brown and has a certain natural sweetness.  Now I am not a lover of sweet teas and although I tell my customers that honey is the best way to sweeten an herb-based tea, I rarely use it myself.

Now in the summer I know that people love a southern sweet tea, even McDonald’s seems to be serving one these days.  So when  Marcus Stout of Golden Moon Tea posted this recipe for a semi sweet tea, one that strays from the ratio of 1 cup sugar to 5 cups tea used in traditional sweet tea recipes, I had to share it with you.

This iced tea recipe is a good example of a semi sweet tea. He used a Honey Pear Tea to enhance the honey flavor of it as well as adding wonderful fresh pear notes.  It was the addition of grated ginger that had me grabbing the ingredients to try it.  The fresh ginger gives it some brightness.  And you cannot go wrong when adding ginger to something with honey.   I do not have any Honey Pear Tea on hand, so I used an English Breakfast to make mine and it was wonderfully refreshing after watering the garden in 90 degree heat.

Honey Pear Sweet(ish) Tea
  • 4 cups water
  • 16 teaspoons of Golden Moon Honey Pear Tea (or English Breakfast)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • ½ cup honey
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 gallon pitcher

1.         Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan
2.        Add the tea and steep for 5 minutes (you want some of the tannins to come out so steeping it a little bit longer is OK)
3.        Strain into a 1 gallon pitcher
4.        Stir in the honey and ginger
5.        Add 6 cups cold water
6.        Serve over lots of ice

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