Friday, January 30, 2015

Buffalo Cheesy Dip - Weekend Recipe

Something Special for the Big Game!

Buffalo Cheese Dip

4 ounces cream cheese at room temp
½ cup sour cream
½ cup Frank’s red hot sauce (or ¼ cup other hot sauce)
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
¼ tsp. celery seeds
2 scallions, finely chopped
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (about 1 ounce)
Celery and carrot sticks

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine the cream cheese, sour cream and hot sauce in a bow.  Fold in the chicken.  Spread in a small (6 cup) baking dish and sprinkle with cheddar, celery seeds and scallions

Bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes.  Top with the blue cheese.  Serve with the celery and carrot sticks and crackers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mini Herb of the Week - Tarragon

We do an in-depth study of growing and using various herbs once or twice a month.  So we thought in between those larger posts we would do a shorter post on a single aspect of an herb and call that a Mini Herb of the Week.

For our first Mini Herb of the Week, we chose Tarragon.  I grow tarragon to make vinegar mostly, but I do use it in my Butter N Cheese Herb Mix, Bouquet Garni Blends, Ranch Dressings and Tarragon Yogurt Dip. We posted a nice blog on Tarragon back in 2012.

It is easy to grow, simple to harvest and dry, and I have not had many issues growing it.  However, when I had to replant after the flood (see post) not all the herbs went back into hills as they had been before and the tarragon I thought could grow under just about any conditions, was affected negatively by this change.
hills after the flood, tarragon is way over by the fence having relocated

Growing Tarragon

tarragon sprouting in spring
Tarragon dies back in winter and is often the slowest plant to reappear in late spring if the winter was cold and wet and continues into Spring. This is because Tarragon likes a well-drained almost dry and warm soil to grow in.  When I had the hills, the soil drained properly and the tarragon was happy.  However, drainage was an issue when the hills were swept away, as now the plants were lower and the soil more dense.  It also did not warm as soon as the hills did. They work kinda like a container. Because you control the soil, containers warm early in the spring.

Tarragon’s roots will tightly intertwine and it can choke itself out if not divided every one to two years. The relocation due to the flood was good for the tarragon as we cut apart the plants and replanted them in a nice sunny location and we expected a great season for tarragon. 

We were not so lucky. The plants never got bushy, cuttings them did not result in more active growth, the leaves on the bottom fell off and generally the plant looked the same as it did from replanting shock most of the summer.

To avoid these issues you can grow your tarragon in a container where you can mix a lighter spoil that will drain quickly.  It will flop over a bit in a container because of its height, but you will not have the drainage issues.

If you are planting tarragon in the ground pick a sunny well-drained location. Plants benefit from a good fertilizing at the start of the growing season. Work some crab meal or aged chicken manure into your soil. I recommend container gardeners fertilize with fish emulsion.  I raised them back up into hills once I realized they were unhappy.  I was worrying about the sage, thyme and the tender perennials when I first rebuilt that garden rows, Tarragon, alas was not on the list at first.

French tarragon does not set seed, so don’t be tempted to buy a seed packet. It will be Russian tarragon which is nearly tasteless. Regular using and cutting of plants early in the season develops a desirable compact growth habit, but the second year you need to clip more often or it grows very tall.

tarragon flourishing now that it is back in the hill!
The first year, a tarragon plant is slow to grow if you buy a nursery plant, but once Tarragon gets going it grows by leaps and bounds and the delicate, fresh anise-like flavor pairs beautifully with salads, eggs, fish and chicken. I love it in herbal vinegar and as an ingredient in sauces (like this one.)

Lemon-Tarragon Sauce

Partly hollandaise and partly béarnaise sauce, this Mediterranean accented recipe can be used on seafood, turkey, zucchini or my favorite cooked or raw carrots.

4 Tbls. fresh tarragon or 4 tsp. dried
1 Tbls. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp capers

Mix all ingredients together and allow to meld.  You can chill it or warm it, before serving.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fun in the Herb Room - How Tuesday Making Scented Ink

I do one of two things in January and February.  I either make jewelry, a hobby I do not get to indulge in during the growing season, or I craft new herby things.  This year I am going to be offering a few new herb themed items, like photographic cards, seed paper cards, and garden journals utilizing my many herb and garden photographs and information.  That leaves me time to experiment with other herb fun for the home this winter.

In keeping in the theme of herb cards and in celebration of National Handwriting Day (that was just a few days ago)  I thought I would craft some lavender ink.  Scented ink is a Victorian tradition when writing notes reached its zenith.  Here is one scented with lavender for you to try at home.

Lavender Ink
1/4 cup lavender buds
1/3 cup water
1 bottle ink (black is better as lavender adds a brown tint)

Crush the herbs and place with water in a non-reactive saucepan.

Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes.  Keep an eye on the pan so the water does not boil away.

When the water is a brown shade you know you have extracted the scent from the lavender.

Strain and discard the lavender.

Add 4 teaspoons of the scented water to a bottle of ink.

You get a gentle lavender scent mildly perceptible and you can use a quill or a fountain pen.

I played with my calligraphy pens to write this!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Enjoying Seed Catalogs - My list for 2015

January has been so gray and dark this year.  The sun has been fleeting and there is no snow to liven up my days either.  As a result all I can think about is the next gardening season.  Those thoughts made me start looking for catalogs.
chervil seed

Due to high costs of printing and postage, many seed houses have gone to online only. Even if you get paper catalogs, check out the websites for specials, sales, blogs and gardening tips.
Here's a list of some catalogs I'm perusing this month:
Botanical Interests Seeds (877) 821-4340; Paper catalog free. Large selection includes Asian veg, perennial flowers, organic seed and info packed seed packets.
Hudson Valley Seed Library Online catalog only. A great source for heirloom and open-pollinated garden seeds packaged in frame able, beautiful garden-themed packages.  The selection is smaller, but you know the seeds grow in Zone 4-6 because they were raised in zone 4-6!
Seed Savers Exchange (563) 382-5990;  You can get a paper catalog for a fee or shop online. This is a not-for profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.  Members get a seed discount. Great place to get exotic seeds and old time plants, they carry herbs, flowers and vegetables.
Nichols Garden Seed Catalog (800) 422-3985; Online catalog only. Specializes in seeds and plants for the gardener/cook. Good selection of herb and vegetable varieties suitable for container gardening selected by Rose Marie Nichols McGee,
Renee's Garden Seeds (888) 880-7228; Online catalog only. Great selection of seeds for heirloom and cottage flower gardens, herbs, and vegetables from around the world.

Seeds from Italy (785) 748- 0959; Paper catalog free. If you like all things Italian, this is the place to shop. Over 400 varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds, all imported from the old country from a company, Franchi, that has been in business almost longer then the US has been a country.
Richter's Herbs (800) 668-4372; Paper catalog free. A treasure trove for folks looking for the unusual. Richter's offers mail-order plants as well as seeds, so don't pass on this one even if you don't grow from seed. They are in Canada so pay attention to when they are shipping so you get the plants you want when you want them.
Peaceful Valley Organics (888) 784-1722; Catalog $2. A one-stop shop for the organic grower – seeds, fertilizers, bare root trees and tools.
Reimer Seeds; Online catalog only, and contact is by Internet or fax (866) 716-4748. Almost 4,000 varieties of veggies, herbs and flowers. Specializing in tomatoes and hot, hot peppers — a destination for chili heads.
Seeds of Change (888) 762-7333; Paper catalog free. Purveyors of certified organic seeds and seedlings.  I have always gotten my bean seeds from them. They have a nice Native American component.
Pinetree Garden Seeds (207) 926-3400; Paper catalog free. Best prices on seeds. Now selling plants and all sorts of do-it-yourself supplies including cosmetic components.  The selection of herbs, because of the cosmetic theme, is wonderful.  They are located in Maine so understand a northern growing season.
With seeds in mind try this herbal tea recipe while you are reading!

3 Tbls. Chamomile
3 Tbls. Lemon Balm
1 Tbls. Fennel Seed
1 tsp. crushed Coriander seed
1 tsp. snipped dried apricot

Combine the items in a glass jar and shake to combine.  Use 1 to 2 Tsp. per cup of hot water and steep 5 to 7 minutes.  The sweet licorice taste of the fennel makes this both comforting and soothing on a winter day.  And you can make it iced for warm weather drinking.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vegetable Spiral Bread Sticks - Weekend Recipe

These savory wrapped vegetable sticks are perfect for parties.  They make an impressive appetizer. Just in case you are looking for something different for the big game!?

3 medium carrots
12 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
1 tube (11 ounces) refrigerated breadsticks
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. chopped dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. savory or thyme, crumbled

Cut carrots lengthwise into quarters. In a large skillet, bring 2 in. of water to a boil. Add carrots; cook for 3 minutes. Add asparagus; cook 2-3 minutes longer. Drain and rinse with cold water; pat dry.

Cut each piece of breadstick dough in half. Roll each piece into a 7-in. rope. Wrap one rope in a spiral around each vegetable. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; tuck ends of dough under vegetables to secure.

Brush with egg white. Combine cheese and oregano; sprinkle over sticks. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen. 

Adapted from a recipe in Light & Tasty February/March 2001

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Summer Savory - Herb of the Week

I did a post on savory back in 2010, but since it is the herb of the year for 2015 I thought I would revisit it.  There are actually 30 types of savory, Summer savory and Winter Savory, are two of the most common one is an annual the latter a perennial.

For this week I will focus on Summer Savory, to see the details of Winter Savory see my previous herb of the week post. Later this year I will do some follow up on a few of the other species.

Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis) the Herb of the Week and Herb of the Year.

According to some books summer and winter savory are identical in all applications except gardening. They have a long history of being used in cooking that stretches back in Europe at least 2000 years. Ancient Egyptians used savory in love potions.
summer savory going to flower
The Roman writer Pliny created the Latin name Satureja, which is based on satyr, the half-man / half-goat creature of ancient mythology.  Romans used it extensively in cooking and are attributed with introducing it to England.  The Poet Virgil suggested planting it near beehives because of the pleasant tasting honey it produced.

Summer Savory was considered valuable for heating, drying, and carminative action (reducing gas) according to Nicolas Culpepper.  It was even recommended as a cure for deafness.

To Grow

Summer Savory is an annual that can grow in all zones.  It has a branching root system and bushy finely hair stems.  It grows to about 12 to 18 inches and will bloom from midsummer through frost with white to pale pink two-lipped flowers.  The leaves are soft, hairless, linear and about 1 inch long attached directly to the stem in pairs.  The leaves are grayish, turning purplish in late summer or early autumn. The entire plant is highly aromatic.

Both types of savory grow from seed or cuttings.  Always use fresh seed as the viability is reduced after a year.  Summer Savory germinates quickly.  Sow seeds not more than ¼ inch deep in flats and transplant later, or plant directly into the garden.  Space plants about 10 inches apart and keep them well weeded.  Pinch them regularly to encourage bushiness and if the plants begin to flop, mound soil slightly around the base.  Keep them well watered for best growth.  You can also grow Summer Savory indoors in containers. If growing for transplant start later than you might other herbs as these can get very leggy with a hardening of the stems in limited light.

To Use

You can begin harvesting summer savory as soon as the plants get about 6 inches tall.  If you keep snipping the tops of the branches, you’ll be able to extend the harvest.  When the plant insists on flowering, cut the whole plant and lay them on screening or paper towel in a warn shady place.  When dry (about 48 hours) strip the leaves from the stems and store in an airtight jar.  Collect the seeds as soon as they start to brown, place in airtight jar with a bit of drying agent (desiccant) and store for next seasons planting.

The slender stems and small leaves of Summer Savory are pretty enough to tuck into flower arrangements for the table so one can enjoy the wonderful fragrance.  Savory is the origin of the word savory used to speak about food, so its link to cooking is well established. Not gown nearly enough by home gardeners, it is a common ingredient in meat and vegetable dishes, and especially popular in high-end restaurants. 

Summer Savory tastes like peppery thyme and blends well with most other flavors, helping to bring them together.  Use fresh or dried leaves to season beans of all kinds. It is popular in herb butters, soups, beef soup, eggs, snap beans, peas, rutabagas, eggplant, asparagus, parsnips, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, squash, garlic, liver, fish and quince.  German cooking is famous for savory and beans, and there are many claims that savory should always be served with beans as it is an anti-flatulent.

savory bread
Summer savory also fairly effective in treating a number of medical issues.  The active constituents are caracrol (carracol), p-cymene, and tannin, which is a mild antiseptic with astringent properties.

A tea made with summer savory can be used for occasional diarrhea, minor stomach upsets and mild sore throats.  In Europe it is taken by those with diabetes to alleviate excessive thirst.  The flavor is pleasant, but should be taken in moderation.  Steep 2 to 4 Tablespoons of dried herbs in 1 cup of hot water to make a medicinal infusion.  Limit yourself to 1 cup per day.  

Apply fresh sprigs to bee or wasp stings. Both Summer and Winter Savory are considered to have a reputation as aphrodisiacs.  The flowering tops can be added to a bowl of hot water to make a cleansing facial steam. Dried leaves give a wonderful scent to potpourri.  And using the fresh stems to craft an herbal vinegar can ad a fresh light delicious flavor to dressings and marinades.

Try these recipes to get a feel for the flavor of savory and how it works well with other herbs.


Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage 
This hearty soup, with its lentils and sausage, seems made for savory. A firm whole-grain bread would be ideal alongside. This recipes serves 4.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 pound lentils (about 2 1/3 cups)
1 1/2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (one 15-ounce can)
2 1/2 quarts water, more if needed
4 teaspoons dried summer savory, or 1/4 cup chopped fresh savory
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the celery, onion, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the lentils; tomatoes; water; dried savory, if using; bay leaf; salt; and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning, until browned, about 3 minutes in all. Remove. When the sausage is cool enough to handle, cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stir the sausage and fresh savory, if using, into the soup and simmer it for 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. If the soup is too thick for your taste, thin it with additional water.

Chicken and Orzo
A perfect summer recipe, this is a quick and easy recipe for a fast dinner and most items can be kept on hand to make a quick meal. Serves 4

2 Tbls. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
3 sprigs fresh thyme, striped from stems and chopped (1/2 tsp. dried)
2 cans 14 ½ oz. each) chicken broth
2 cups orzo pasta
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
½ cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground pepper to taste
½ tsp. summer savory, dried

In skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook 2 – 3 minutes.  Add thyme and broth bringing to a boil.  Add orzo and chicken and stir.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Stir in cheese and black pepper and savory.  Serve immediately.

Potato skin curls with herbs

3 cups canola oil
1-3/4 cups coarsely chopped mixed fresh herbs, 
           such as rosemary, parsley, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, and summer savory
5 lb. medium Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and dried well
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the oil and 3/4 cup of the herbs. Warm over low heat until the herbs begin to sizzle, 3 to 5 minutes. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes more, then remove the pan from the heat and let the oil cool completely.

Heat the oven to 200°F.

Using a paring knife, peel the potato skins about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches long. (If working ahead, submerge the skins in water for up to 2 hours.)

Strain the herb oil through a fine sieve and discard the herbs. Return the oil to the pan, put a deep fat/candy thermometer in the oil, and set the pan over medium heat until it reaches 365°F. If the potato skins were soaked in water, drain and blot them dry. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, fry the peels until golden and puffed, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the peels to a wire rack set on a large rimmed baking sheet; keep the curls warm in the oven. Repeat with the rest of the curls.

Carefully add the remaining 1 cup of herbs to the oil (the oil will splatter). Fry until crisp, 20 to 30 seconds. Drain the herbs, using either a wire mesh skimmer or a fine sieve set over a heatproof bowl and then transfer to the rack with the curls. (Discard the oil once cool.) Toss the herbs and potato curls and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

10 Top Recipes from 2014 - Weekend Recipes

I was more diligent about posting my recipes in 2014.  I shared them on Facebook and here in the Blog and linked a few back to my Twitter account as well.

These are the top 10 recipes from my posts last year.  I thought I would gather them together so if you missed them, you can see what others are enjoying as well.

This year we will continue to dig into our stash of recipes and post one at least every weekend with more shared in the Herb of the Week posts too!

#10 most popular - Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin - Our Cinnful Dessert blend was another big hit with surplus pumpkin seeds.

#9  Iced Green Tea Chai - Chai is even better in the summer with a bit of ice than you would expect after drinking it rich and hot all winter!

#8 Ratatouille on the Grill this a great vegetarian meal!

#7 Flavored Mustard - we will take another pilgrimage to the Mustard Museum in 2015 and I am sure we will have more of these for you.  I love a flavored mustard on my sandwiches and in my cooking.

#6 Saffron Risotto - This rare and expensive herb is just worth trying at least once a year and this creamy recipes is a perfect partner.

#5 Mid Winter Minestrone - When it is cold a hearty partner like this will keep you warm.

#4 Bee Balm Recipes - This was an extension of an Herb of the Week where I shared more than one recipes using this prolific and citrusy herb.  I know you will love the flavors as much as I do!

#3 Soothing Bath Sachet - my bath recipes were among the most popular and this simple sachet with soothing milk was one of my favorites.

#2 Chicken Pot Roast in a Crock Pot - This one has my chef husbands seal of approval.  The Chicken is tender, the vegetables tasty and the fragrance is wonderful as it fills the house.  Great way to try out lima beans if you have been leery...

#1 The most popular recipes in 2014 - Sporty Bath Blend - great smelling when you are not, this blend is good as a bath or a foot soak.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Apple Youling - a reason to enjoy apples in Winter

Learned a new historical fact this month.  On 12th night, which was January 6, 12 days after Christmas, in England they used to go out into the apple orchards and toast the trees and bless them with a tasting of last year’s cider.  Of course that cider was fermented (kinda like the hard cider that is enjoying such popularity these days.)  As a result drunken rowdiness occurred giving the day the name Apple Youling (or Howling.)

courtesy of istock

So why apples you ask?

Well remember water was rarely pure and often harbored disease so even in the early years of this country Apple Cider was a very important drink and if some got fermented all the better.

In those days apples were seen as being a cure for many things.  You remember that phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  We know now they are high in antioxidants, which reverse the aging process.  They also contain flavonoids, phytonutrients and a goof amount of fiber.  With all those compounds working for you it is actually a good idea to eat that apple a day.

I suggest celebrating Apple Youling with a drink of apple cider and an apple themed treat.  Try one of these:

Apple Crumble
Similar to a cobbler, but the crust is sweeter and crumbly.

5 cups of apples - Granny Smith, Macintosh, or related apples will do
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and slice the apples. Spread them in a buttered 1- 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle the apples with water. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add 1 stick of butter a little at a time, using a pastry blender to cut the piece in so that the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread evenly over the top of the apples and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the crust browns.

This one is a bit more complicated, but if you love donuts this is a great way to control the ingredients and the sugar.  Chas loves these without the sugar coating and I have to agree they are tasty that way, especially with English Breakfast Tea.

Baked Applesauce Cinnamon Doughnuts

2 packages dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (105-115°)
5¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1¼ cups unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

To coat before baking:
2 tablespoons melted margarine

To coat after baking:
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or BYP Cinnful Dessert Blend)
2 tablespoons melted margarine

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 3 cups flour, applesauce, margarine, eggs, spices, and salt; beat at low speed with electric mixer until moistened. Beat at medium speed for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of flour, ½ cup at a time, to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to ½ inch thickness; cut with a lightly floured 2½ inch doughnut cutter. Combine doughnut holes and any remaining scraps of dough; reroll to ½ inch thickness and cut as before.

Place doughnuts on baking sheets coated with cooking spray; brush 2 tablespoons melted margarine over doughnuts. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free place for 40 minutes.
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a large zip-top heavy-duty plastic bag, and set aside. Bake doughnuts at 425° for 8 minutes or until golden. Immediately brush remaining 2 tablespoons melted margarine over baked doughnuts; add doughnuts to plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat. Yield: 3 dozen doughnuts.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Spiced Pear Liqueur - Weekend recipe

My new obsession is alcohol based on herb flavors.  I have been searching around and locating different recipes and trying them out on friends.  I have had no complaints yet!

I shared one of these, my apple cocktail, last year.  Now I am going to so something with pears.

Spiced Pear Liqueur

8 ripe Pears (about 4 cups juice)
2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 whole nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick, about 3 – 4 inches
4 cups vodka
½ cup white wine

2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Combine the pear juice, ginger root, spices, vodka and wine in a wide mouth mason jar with a tight fitting lid.  Steep for 5 weeks.  Strain out the lumps, then filter through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.  Make the syrup by bringing water to a boil in a small saucepan, add sugar and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.  Cool.  Add half the syrup to the liqueur and taste, then continue to add and taste until it is as sweet as you like.  Pour into a bottle, cap and age for about 4 weeks.

You can drink this as an aperitif (it should be ready just in time for summer outings) or serve it over ice cream, mix with seltzer or club soda over ice for a sweet cool drink or even add a Tablespoon to your tea or coffee for some added flare.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter Savory - Herb of the Week

I did a post on Savory back in 2010 but since it is the International Herb Association Herb of the Year for 2015 I thought I would revisit it.  There are actually 30 types of savory, Summer Savory and Winter Savory, are two of the most common; one is an annual, the latter a perennial.  This week (because all I can think of is winter while it is -20 wind chill here) I will focus on the perennial, Winter Savory (Satureja montana) and next time (in two weeks) I will focus on Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis).  Later this year I will do some follow up on a few of the other species.

Winter Savory (Satureja Montana) Herb of the Week

According to some books summer and winter savory are identical in all applications except gardening. They have a long history of being used in cooking that stretches back in Europe at least 2000 years. Shakespeare mentions Savory in The Winter’s Tale together with lavender and marjoram.  Winter savory is recommended by several old writers in combination with other herbs.  17th century herbalist, John Parkinson, described how it was dried and powdered and mixed with bread crumbs, “to breade their meate.”  To this day Savory is still a popular ingredient in stuffing.

To Grow

Known as Mountain Savory, Winter Savory is a semi-evergreen hardy perennial that grows to 12 inches with an 8 inch spread.  It flowers with small white / pink flowers in the summer.  The leaves are dark green, linear and very aromatic. 

Both types of savory grow from seed or cuttings.  Always use fresh seed as the viability is reduced after a year.  Winter Savory is somewhat slower to sprout; start it in a flat so you can keep track of the tiny seeds.  It does not need bottom heat and takes about 10 to 15 days to germinate.  Set plants in the garden 10 to 12 inches apart after the soil has warmed up and threat of frost has passed.  You can grow it in a container, bringing it inside for the winter if you live in a cold climate.  As it is only perfectly hardy to zone 6, however, I was able to mulch it and keep it sheltered outdoors and it overwintered in my Zone 5 garden just fine.

You can also grow Winter Savory from softwood cuttings in spring, using a bark, peat, grit potting soil.  When these have rooted they should be planted out about 6 inches apart.

It grows in any well-drained soil of average to poor fertility and requires less water than its annual counterpart.  In fact, too much moisture in the soil can cause winter kill.  It prefers full sun. Winter savory is hardy as far north as New York City and can be harvest fresh all winter.  You will need to replace the plants every two or three years as it is a short-lived perennial and will begin to die from the inside out.  You can however take cuttings from you existing plant to make replacements.

It makes a good edging plant and can look very pretty in summer, because it can withstand occasional clipping this also makes a nice herb to use in a hedge or maze.

To Use

Snip off the tips of branches in small amounts.  Harvest larger quantities for drying, about 6 inches above the soil surface.  Cut again near the end of summer.  Hang the stems upside down to try.  Winter savory can be harvested before or after it flowers.


Savory is used in cooking and is its most popular way to be used.  Under grown by home gardeners it is a common ingredient in meat and vegetable dishes, and especially popular in high end restaurants.  Winter savory can also be used medicinally but it is inferior to summer savory, so instead focus on it culinary uses. Savory can stimulate appetite and aid digestion. I shared a number of stuffing recipes some with savory recently.

Winter savory combines well with vegetables and rich meats.  The flavor of Winter Savory is both coarser and stronger than Summer Savory it has a strong sharp peppery flavor with a piny undertone. The advantage of Winter Savory is it provides fresh leaves into early winter. It is good used with strong meats and pates.  The flavor being strong means one should use it sparingly to start until you get used to the flavor. Cook with fresh or dried beans and lentils or in a white sauce for bean dishes.  Mix with parsley and chives for roasting duck. 

Apply fresh sprigs to bee or wasp stings. Both Summer and Winter Savory are considered to have a reputation as aphrodisiacs.  The flowering tops can be used to make a cleansing facial steam. You can make a vinegar with Winter savory also which has an interesting flavor and makes a great marinade.


Barbecues angler fish with Winter savory

1 ½ lb. angler fish
1 lemon both juice and grated rind.
1 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
good handful of winter savory

Remove any bones from the angler fish and cut the flesh into ½ inch cubes.  Lay the cubes in a deep dish.  Mix the lemon rind and juice, olive oil and salt & pepper together in a bowl.  Break the winter savory into small sprigs and add to the mixture.  Pour this marinade over the fish and leave for 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.  Thread the angler fish onto 4 skewers.  Cook over barbecue or under the broiler) for 5 10 minutes, turning often and using the marinade for basting.  Serve on a bed of boiled rice and accompany with green salad.

Soup Seasoning Blend

1 tsp. peppercorns
2 tsp. dried basil
3 tsp. dried thyme
6 tsp. marjoram
6 tsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp. dried winter savory
4 Tbsp. dried celery leaves
6 bay leaves

Mix together and divide among 6 cheesecloth bags, with one bay leaf per bag. Add a bag to a pot of homemade vegetable or bean-based soup.

Poultry Sage Rub  

This rub is of course for poultry, but it is also good on fish, beef, pork, and  turkey.

1 teaspoon granulated lemon peel
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon granulated onion
1 Tablespoon rosemary finely chopped
1 Tablespoon rubbed sage
1/3 cup sage leaf
1/3 cup winter savory

Combine the above ingredients and stir until well blended. Place in a glass jar and seal. Makes one cup of mix.

Directions for use:

Sprinkle and rub the mix according to taste preferences on both sides of fish, beef, pork, chicken or turkey before grilling, broiling, baking or frying. A general guide for use is 1/2 to one teaspoon per serving.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Once a Month Bath Recipe - Hard Days End Bath Blend

January is a hard month.  The recovery from the holidays as well as the cold and harsh winter weather in the north combine to make this month difficult for the skin and the mind.  A soothing bath will help to soothe these ills. Here is a perfect blend to create.

Hard Days End

  • 1/2 Cup Lavender
  • 1/2 Cup Uncooked Oatmeal
  • 1/4 Cup Dry Orange Peel
  • 1/2 Cup Chamomile
  • 1/4 Cup Rosemary
  • 12 Bay Leaves, Crushed

Mix any of the following blends as dry ingredients. Stir well and stuff a metal tea ball or muslin bag with the blend (lace or cotton fabric will also work). As you run your bath, place the tea ball or bag in the tub, under the running water. Then, relax and enjoy!

** Each month around the fourth, we post a bath salt, scrub, or other blend or recipe that you can make at home for your bath!

If you love Bath and Sap items, check them out on our website.
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