Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, January 02, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - 9th Day of Christmas

9th day of Christmas - January 2nd

Howdy Folks, hope you made it through the end and beginning of the year with little impairment.

January 2nd is also the Feast day of St. Basil The Great, Bishop during the later part of 300 AD, in an area where modern Turkey lies — "Hot-blooded and somewhat imperious, Basil was also generous and sympathetic. He personally organized a soup kitchen and distributed food to the poor during a famine following a drought. He gave away his personal family inheritance to benefit the poor of his diocese." —

There is a lot more to read at the Wiki site, including an almost humorous exchange between the Bishop and the Prefect of the Emperor Valens.


Sweet Bay, Greek Bay, or bay leaf (Laurus nobilis) is the 2009 Herb of The Year, as designated by the International Herb Association a professional trade association of herb specialists and other interested folks.

Many cooks would not have a complete kitchen without dried bay leaf, so it is more than appropriate to consider planting this shrubby ‘tree'.

This plant is a shrub, meaning its many trunks and branches can be pruned to desired shape — although you really want all the nice growth so you can pluck leaves anytime you want them for the kitchen*. Growing much like a citrus tree with multiple trunks rising from the root, it can be frost sensitive in the early years here in the valley, and also can sustain sunburn from hot western sun.

It also grows very, very ssslllooooowww the first several years so practice your garden patience. If happy, it can eventually get to 6-15 feet tall.

Choose a location with a southern, southeast or east exposure where you can gently cover it if need be in the frost winter nights - if you have a block wall fence or side of building with southern exposure that will give it needed extra warmth in the winter and shelter in the summer - - but give it room to grow! Supply it with well draining soil and standard herb watering — water well, then let it dry out some. It does not generally need extra fertilizer if the soil is of good quality to begin with.

It is possible to grow Bay from seed (I've done it) but I do not recommend it. If you can't find the plant for sale locally, you can order Bay plants from one of my favorite suppliers right now (I checked and they have them in stock now -- shipped from California): f5cdf791db

They do have a minimum number of plants to order (can be mix and match) to ensure careful packaging of plants (which MVG does superbly well — great customer service too!)

*Bay leaves and oregano are traditional insect repellants in cupboards or even in bins/containers of flour.

Weather this weekend is supposed to dip again temperature wise and also we may get more rain, then the long-range forecast is showing a rise in temps and sunny days later on next week — perfect gardening weather!


Those ripening oranges in the back yard are just one ingredient in this lovely oil

(From "101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady")
1 cup of fruity olive oil
4 dried bay leaves
1 peel of orange, remove white pith

Heat oil to almost boiling. In a heat proof glass container, place bay leaves and orange peel, add hot oil, cap and let steep for 1 week on the counter. Strain and refrigerate.

Use to make salad dressing; roast fruit halves (like peaches, pears or plums) brushed with a bit of this oil, and a small sprinkle of salt; it is particularly wonderful when tossed with cut up vegetables such as sweet potatoes which are then oven roasted or grilled; try basting chicken or other poultry with this oil for a moister and flavorful resulting meal.

TIP: Store some leaves with your rice or beans in glass jars and pre-flavor them slightly. Also you can infuse wine with bay leaves to make a great tasting sauteing liquid for any foods.


One Step Away! — From What?
Statement, question and answer is the campaign profile of Change.Org a valley organization of help-groups trying to address not just the needs but the solutions, for homelessness. Is a family member, friend, or a neighbor One Step Away from being homeless?

The mission of the umbrella group Human Services Campus "is to use the power of collaboration to provide solutions to end homelessness. Our vision is our community without homelessness and our legacy is a model for collaborative community solutions."

You can donate on their site with a button — not paypal, but easier than other sites donation pages.

Speaking of Neighbors, so much of the struggles going on for many people and because of the wars going on, has reminded me for a long time of the "Victory Gardens" of WWII and the rationing and metal collection efforts that went along with the war time years.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors — Community Gardens — Sanctuary From Stress — Peaceful Places — Home-Cooked Meals. What if . . .

You and your neighbors treated your neighborhood or street like a tiny village. What do you each do, who gardens with what, are their elderly or disable living along, do you like to cook, or knit, or sew. Could you . . .

--Use a neighbor for some of the work you need done
--Make an extra portion of any meal and take it over to the neighbor (better yet ask one of the children to deliver it, so they feel helpful and learn at the same time)
--Share garden planning with neighbors who also garden, divvy up the types of plants, then share the harvest — with gardening space in many modern neighborhoods limited in size, having Henry grow tomatoes, and Lucy grow scallions, chives or garlic, and Michael growing potatoes, image the tasty banquets possible with the shared harvest — trade citrus for other veggies in a street- swap-meet
--Knit something for anyone on your ‘village-street' — do you know you can ‘knit a coat' literally — out of worn out or outgrown clothes — it is a take off on an old-fashioned rag rug, or memory quilt. (I personally love lap throws, have made them, given them and received them.)
--IF YOU need help, make a flyer anyway you can and take them around to neighbors — be considerate and don't litter and be respectful no matter how terrible you are feeling about things, offer to trade anything useful for something helpful — in the olden days barter was as simple as making a home cooked meal for someone who repaired your fence or washing machine.

Older neighborhoods in cities became known for the commonality of their people, architecture and history. Any neighborhood or street can be a community/village of people who do things together when they can and try to be there when needed.

What if . . .

. . . you needed a friend and the people next door and on your street were friends you could turn to? Imagine a small village of friends and they live on your street.

Old Time Radio:

Neck-in-neck with popularity with Nashville's Grand Ole Opry was Chicago-based WLS National Barn Dance. Its toe-tapping listenership covered both rural communities and city dwellers for several decades. In the 1920's, people paid the 75 cent admission to see the performance with a barn loft stage and bales of hay for the musicians to sit on.

(Note: As mentioned in the post from the 8th Day of Christmas - Gene Autry got his start in part on National Barn Dance.)

This show is from December 12, 1942. Listen free.

Merry 9th Day of Christmas!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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