Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - 8th Day of Christmas

8th day of Christmas - January 1st

New Year's Day!

Time to dust the fuzzies from last year out of your head and look to the possibilities of this new day and new year.

Hogmanay is an old tradition of Celebrating January 1st and sometimes January 2ndThe origins of Hogmanay are unclear, but it may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances. Customs vary throughout Scotland, and usually include gift-giving and visiting the homes of friends and neighbours, with special attention given to the first-foot, the first guest of the new year. -- wikipedia


Time to plant my potatoes! I also will sprinkle in some cilantro seeds along the edges of the potato patch — they grow well together as companion plants.

However, if the only thing you and the family are up for on New Year's Day is sitting out in the garden, take time to enjoy the "betweens" — the stone fruit trees have dropped most of their leaves and some branches are even starting to show buds — the citrus fruit hangs like sunny ornaments ready for the first taste testing to see if they are ripe enough — the sweet alyssum is blooming its little heads off and the bees are coming out for their fragrant nectar — as too are the hummingbirds. The stark contrasts of fallen leaves and bare limbs to the colorful winter flowers makes a textured tapestry for viewing and enjoyment.


A meal of black-eyed peas and ham hock are a Southern tradition for New Year's Day to bring luck and humility to the family.

I have to confess that the idea sounds good, but I don't care for ham hock and wanted something which would cook up faster than the peas, so several years ago I developed my take-off for a wholesome and tasty option for any winter day.

1 carrot
2 inner (tender) stalks and leaves of celery
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (ex: thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley)
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 smoked turkey leg
1 lb of lentils

Rinse and pick over lentils, set aside. Finely chop carrot, celery, onion and garlic.
Heat oil in large pot. Add carrot, celery, onion and garlic, saute for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly. Add herbs and turmeric, stir to coat. Add turkey leg and enough water to cover, bring to boil and reduce to simmer cooking for 1 hour. Add lentils adding enough water to cover. Simmer until lentils are tender - about 20-25 minutes. Add water as necessary to keep all covered. Remove turkey leg and pick off all meat, dicing or shredding, return to pot, add salt if desired (but taste first!). Serve with rice or crusty bread.

How About A Pick-Me-Up Beverage to go with the Lentils?


Rosemary is a strong herb so you do not need much. If folks in the house have a cold or flu, make this recipe with thyme instead of rosemary. Thyme is long known for its helpful and healthful affects on the lungs. Citrus/vitamin C is good at cutting congestion too.

1 ½ cups of sugar
1 ½ cups of lemon juice
½ cup boiling water
5 cups of cold water (can be mix of ice and water to make the 5 cups)
1 4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary, rinsed and broken in small pieces (OR, twice as much of thyme)
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
Couple of slices of lemon to add at the end
Mix sugar and boiling water to dissolve, add herb and let steep for 15 minutes, strain and discard herb pieces. Mix strained syrup with lemon juice and zest, stir, then add cold water and lemon slices, stir and serve.


As if the homeless crisis was not bad enough before 2008, it got worse with entire families being added to this sad segment of society. Many agencies assist these folks such as United Way and Salvation Army (each wonderful in their own way).

Another you might not be aware of is "Shoebox Ministry" which hands out hygiene boxes to the homeless. This little act reaches folks who still need the dignity of feeling clean. You can donate directly with an easy paypal donation button on their site. This program works in conjunction with many other agencies.

Old Time Radio:

Gene Autry, America's Yodeling Cowboy, was "back in the saddle again" for 16 years on radio, sponsored by Wrigley's Doublemint Gum.

By 1940 Gene Autry was one of the four most popular movie stars in America, a major network radio star, and a top-selling recording artist and proud to have be on the air doing "Gene Autry's Melody Ranch," a radio version of his pictures.

Gene had written many tunes, including "Here Comes Santa Claus," (written in 1949) but earlier in his career via his association with the Wrigley family of Doublemint and Chicago Cubs fame in Chicago, he had learned that owning sports teams was a great investment. Gene went west again, to rope the ownership of Major League Baseball's California Angels, along with a number of radio and television stations. (He owned ranches in Florence and Winslow, and TV stations KOOL in Phoenix and KOLD in Tucson in addition to other stations from time to time in Arizona cities.)

Today's program features songs from Melody Ranch folks and Gene's sidekick Pat Buttram loses Champion Gene's horse. Listen Free.

Merry 8th Day of Christmas & Happy New Year's Day!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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