Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Boyce Thompson Arboretum - 15th Annual Herb Festival

Dear Folks,

I have participated in this annual event at the wonderful Arboretum in Superior, Arizona for, I believe 8 or 9 years — I think this is the first year we may have potentially-bad weather for it. Usually we have balmy high 80s-low 90s, but it is so worthwhile, benefiting the Arboretum and giving visitors a chance to visit with herb-related vendors and experts like myself, plus lovely music provided by the Levno duo flute and guitar. The Arizona Herb Association always has plants and experts available. Susan Corl, a folk artist, always brings her amazing talent and creative wares to the festival. Her email is

Jean Groen, my friend the desert foods and herbs expert, will be there today with her co-author and research partner Don Wells. Jean's foods are always super and amazing. Check out their website

If you don't get the chance to come out (today, April 11, 2009 — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), do plan on visiting another time. Visit their website, or call 520.689.2723.

So if you miss us today, I'm featuring one of my salt-free herb blends — RosemaryPlus. Here is the menu and recipes.

Cut tomatoes in half and sprinkle with RosemaryPlus, serve with toothpicks.

If you have not heard by now, artichoke hearts are number 7 on the top 20 antioxidant lists, and of course beans are always good for you. This light dip can be enhanced by more garlic (there is garlic in the RosemaryPlus).
2 tablespoons sesame seed, ground
2 cans garbanzo beans (15 oz.), drained
1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated) (13 3/4 oz.) liquid reserved (Can use frozen, reserve cooking water
1 teaspoon capers
Juice of one lemon
½ cup packed, fresh parsley, rinsed
1+ teaspoon RosemaryPlus

Tahini the traditional component of hummus is sesame seed butter - you can pre-grind* or even pre-toast the seeds before grinding

In a processor pulse all ingredients, using liquid from artichokes to create the desired consistency. This tasty dish can be a dip or a spread. Serve in hollowed-out cucumber boats or cucumber cubes, mushroom caps, in a hollowed-out roll, with crackers or chips.

*A dedicated coffee grinder - meaning never used for coffee - is a great spice grinder and it makes small batches of any seed or nut butter in seconds.

I always like to demonstrate the flavor-absorbing nature of bland tofu (its blessing and curse) — it you think of tofu as the cheese it is, then adding to foods becomes creatively easier. You always need to add a bit of salt to the tofu.

1 package of extra firm tofu, cubed
1 tablespoon RosemaryPlus
1/4+ teaspoon of salt, or to taste
Olive oil

Express/press out extra moisture from the tofu before cutting, but placing a heavy weight on it for about half an hour before cubing.

Place cubed tofu in bowl, gently toss with spice and half the salt. Let sit for half hour. In a clean jar pour a little olive oil in bottom, pile mixed tofu in jar, being sure to scrape bowl juices and spices into jar, add rest of salt to top, cover with additional olive oil, cap tightly and turn jar to mix well. Turn several times over one hour and serve or refrigerate — will keep for approximately 4-5 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Sprinkle pineapple chunks with RosemaryPlus, serve with toothpicks. The brisk spice of the RosemaryPlus brings out the sweetness even more so of the pineapple. Can use fresh, frozen-thawed or canned (only in juice, not syrup). Makes a great appetizer or dessert.

Have a wonderful weekend!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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