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Thursday, December 17, 2015

25 Days of Herbs and Celebrations - December 17

Dear Folks,

Celebrating the Multicultural festivities of December, I thought I would pick an herb or spice which is referenced in the Bible (land of three of the Major Religions of the world) and used in many cuisines around the entire world, as a way of gathering together all the wealth of diversity around us - in true celebration.

Day 17
Herb:  Garlic (Allium sativum) Numbers 11:5 “"We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,
Garlic, elephant garlic bulbettes and elephant garlic

Both regular garlic (Allium sativum) and elephant garlic (Allium empeloprasum) are members of the onion family.  Elephant garlic is not actually a "garlic" but rather a Leek on Steroids, and has a milder (some think too mild) garlic flavor.  You can't see the leaves in the picture, but they are 'strappy' like leek and could be used to flavor foods.  In fact, even the stalk and leaves of either plant, which are generally disposed of after harvest, can be used to flavor soup, stews, and broths.

Other “named” garlics are Garlic Chives, aka Asian or Chinese Chives, Allium tuberosum, and Society Garlic, Tulbaghia violacea.  Garlic Chives like onion chives are grown for their leaves and flowers to be used in cooking and has a milder garlic flavor.  Society Garlic is a totally different plant family and is grown for its beautiful orchid like flowers and leaves in cooking.  Society Garlic is said to have the Anti-Garlic affect on your breath.
End of my harvest after "curing."

Garlic is best known for its edible cloves contained in a ‘head’ which have from 6/8 and up to 14 cloves depending on the variety grown.

Garlic has long been known for its health benefits dating back to 2000 BC and Galen eulogized it as the "rustic's theriac" (cure-all) – wikipedia

Garlic has antimicrobial properties and has been suggested for use, and researched in issues like cholesterol, cardiac, cancer and the common cold.

And it makes many foods taste wonderful, which is why the ancient Jews lamented the lack of them in their food!

We plant garlic October 1-31st in the desert garden do ensure enough winter chill to form the heads in April.

But a lesser known type of growth is ‘green garlic’ where the young plant is pulled, similar to an onion scallion and the whole bulb and green tops are used to provide a mild garlic flavor in cooking.

In the desert garden you can plant the cloves now through mid-February, every 2-3 weeks, to provide a continuous crop of Green Garlic to your kitchen.


Herbed Butter
     Herbed butters, so called "compound butters" because they mix herbs and spices with butter and occasionally oil, are an excellent way to add flavor to your holiday cooking.
     All fresh herb butters should be refrigerated and used within 5-7 days.  Can be frozen as a log and sliced and used when needed.

1 stick of softened butter
1 teaspoon of chopped Garlic
1 teaspoon of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of chopped celery leaves
     Blend well. Spread mixture in a long "tube" on wax paper, roll and store in the refrigerator.  Cut slices for use.
     Uses: use in mashed potatoes or on top of baked potatoes, top steamed vegetables, herb toasted bread, slide chilled slices under the skin of poultry, place a small pat on just grilled steak, or place a small slice in center of crescent roll dough before rolling up and baking.
     A Better Butter can be made my blending (your blender will work better with this than a food processor) equal parts of olive or avocado oil and softened butter, to which the herbs can be added.  This creates a sweeter, spreadable butter mixture.

Roasting Whole Garlic Heads

Most Preferred: Slice off the tippy top of the garlic head to expose just a small part of each clove. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the cut top.
1) Roast on the grill on indirect heat for approximately 40-45 minutes - squeeze to test (don't burn yourself!) - it should feel softened.
2) Oven: at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

Second Most Preferred: Separate the clove from the head and do NOT not peel. Toss in along side of any roast you are cooking, or place in a single layer in a pan and oven back at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes - squeeze to see if they have softened.

Roasting garlic mellows the flavor, bringing an incredible nutty taste to it. Squeezing the pulp from the skins is the easiest way to express the roasted garlic out. Add to mashed potatoes, spread on toasted bread with or without added tomatoes, basil and cheese, add to salad dressing and sauces.

Freeze in air tight container for long term storage. Refrigerate and use within a week for short term keeping.


Mistletoe and Holly
Frank Sinatra


Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Bruce Springsteen


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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