Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, January 05, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - 12th Day of Christmas

12th Day of Christmas - January 5th

Twelfth Night, Eve of the Epiphany, or Little Christmas Eve

A day and evening of celebration closing out the Christmas holidays, and for some celebrating the traditional arrival of the Three Wise Men to the Child Jesus, on January 6th, the Epiphany. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, January 6th is their Christmas, so this day is their Christmas Eve.

On the 12th and last Day of Christmas, I thought it would be a nice idea to tell you about the Arizona Interfaith Movement.

Their mission is, "to build bridges of understanding, respect, and support among diverse people of faith through education, dialogue, service, and the implementation of the Golden Rule."

Check out their site and look into the events they sponsor.


Silver and blue are traditional colors used in Twelfth Night celebrations. They also make a lovely combination of colors in the garden. Right now my Mexican Blue Sage (Salvia Chamaedryoides) is blooming — with its sky blue flowers and silvery green foliage it is a bright spot in the rusty and umbra pallette of the winter leaves. The blue morph pansy is also an almost startling find when meandering through the gardens. The silvery leaves of Lambs Ears are coming up all over — I actually need to keep this lovely petable-not-edible plant under supervision or it will take over the entire garden.

Lemon and lime balms are bursting with new growth. On the aromatic side of the garden the fall-planted garlic plants are coming along nicely — I can't wait to harvest full garlic heads this spring.

Consider planting some ornamental kales and cabbages (which are edible). They have lovely silvery/purple and white leaves and make stunning mixes in edible beds along side of pansies and curly parsley.

Garden Reminder: Now through the end of February is your best planting time for all the cool weather veggies and herbs. If you want to try to keep some dill and cilantro going into the warmer time, determine where you garden will have some shade as the sun moves back towards the north, and seed in there. Finish pruning your stone fruit trees now — before the lenghtening days and warming temps produce flowers.

IF your peach and other stone fruit trees prunings have buds on them as you prune, save some branches and bring them inside, re-cut under water, and place them in a vase of luke-warm water. The flowers will open for you and create a lovely arrangement.


The following three-tier recipe set can be used in many other ways, experiment and have some fun with the concepts — these are from my book "101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady."


A poached egg over mixed greens is a midnight snack idea suggested on returning from a night out. The fennel seed condiment (see third recipe) was inspiration for a snack worthy of a stellar post-performance meal, and a nice ending to the Christmas season.

3 cups mixed baby greens
3 poached eggs (see poaching tip next page)
Sliced tomatoes
Warm Herb Yogurt Sauce (see next recipe)

Place one cup of greens in the middle of plate—creating a nest. Slice tomatoes and arrange attractively around the 'nest.'
Poach eggs (you can do this ahead of time—chill and re-warm by gently placing in hot water for 15-30 seconds). Place a poached egg in each greens nest, pour sauce over egg and serve.
Poaching Tip: If you are like me and your poached eggs are not stellar in appearance, an egg poacher is a life saver (the microwave kind work very well—just remember to put some water in each bowl and prick the egg yolk to permit steam to escape).


1 cup of plain yogurt, gelatin-free
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 teaspoons corn starch
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons of Fennel Parsley Condiment (below)

Place yogurt in a sauce pan and very, very gently warm—stirring regularly (using a double boiler may be easier). Add in lemon juice and olive oil. Mix corn starch and water together and pour slowly into warmed yogurt—stirring to desired thickness. Add condiment and stir in well.


1 teaspoon fennel seed, ground
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
In a mini-processor or with mortar and pestle, mix fennel and parsley, add oil, and add enough water to make a paste. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Use in following recipes.
Other Uses: As a sandwich spread with sliced chicken; make tuna salad with 1 tablespoon Fennel/Parsley Condiment, 6 oz. tuna, mayo and a bit of salt and pepper; toss with 1 cup chopped tomatoes and a bit of salt and pepper if desired; 1 tablespoon mixed into scrambled eggs.


With limes and cilantro in season, serve this sparkling homemade soda and toast the end of the 12 days of Christmas. (Coriander/cilantro is one of the Biblical herbs.)

1 1/2 cups of fresh lime juice
1/2 cup rinsed and dried cilantro
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup boiling water
4 1/2 cups of sparkling water, club soda, or seltzer
Sprigs of cilantro for garnish

Add sugar to boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved, add cilantro and let steep until cooled. Strain into lime juice. Add sparkling, chilled water, stir and serve with a sprig of cilantro in each glass.

Option: By the glass — Stir and dissolve sugar in lime juice, add cilantro and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Strain, and use chilled still, water, club soda, seltzer or sparkling water. Ratio is 1/4 cup of lime syrup to 3/4 cups of water.


This 12th and last "spirit of generosity" is about the Leukemia Society.

Once called the ‘beautiful killer' because so many victims died looking great (no outward symptoms), this terrible disease took my mother in a horrible way, and my young cousin.

Many strides have been made since my mom died, in fact enough that she may have lived much longer had these medical breakthroughs been available then. But more, of course, needs to be done. You can make a donation on the site via a paypal option.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Office of Donor Services
1311 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605

MORE: There are so many worthwhile groups which can use help — financially or through volunteer work. And while organizations like Leukemia Society have great and pressing needs to stop terrible diseases, sometimes the little things in life such as giving a box of hygienic supplies to a homeless person can have as great an impact (see the 8th day of Christmas for Shoebox ministry). Find the spirit of generosity that fits you — small gestures can make big changes.

Old Time Radio:

Dinah Shore was one of the very popular radio songstress' of radio, then going on to host her own show on TV. A very classy lady, she could still hold her own with the silly antics of comedians such as Groucho Marx. Listen free.

Merry 12th Day of Christmas!

Dear Folks, I sure hope you have enjoyed these 12 days of Christmas posts, and that you will come back soon to see what else I have growing and cooking. You can subscribe directly to this blog -- see the box in the sidebar.

Happy New Year!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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