Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

25 Days of Herbs and Celebrations - December 19

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 19
Herb:  Sage - (Salvia sp.) Jeremiah 18:18 – “Then they said, "Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah. Surely the law is not going to be lost to the priest, nor counsel to the sage, nor the divine word to the prophet! Come on and let us strike at him with our tongue, and let us give no heed to any of his words."

The word Sage has long been used to denote a wise person.
My Common Garden Sage

2016 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of the Pulses, to celebrate all the great benefits of eating legumes.  See the references for beans in recipes below.

The Bible describes the belief, even then, of the health value of eating pulses.

Daniel 1:12 -- "Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink.  13 "Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king's choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see."

During captivity, Daniel shows the benefits of eating only pulses (vegetables etc.) and water, so effective "And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." --
Sage, Salvia officinalis, is a member of the prodigious mint family (Lamiaceae formally Labiatae).

[My "Azurea" Blue Sage (above) is not as tasty as the primary culinary sages, but the flower is stunning.]

Sage is one of the herb/spice components of Poultry Seasoning and so identified with Thanksgiving turkey stuffing with onion and celery, in my family it would not be a good tasking stuffing or turkey with out it.

While researching my cookbook some years ago I traced back the use of "sage and onion" to make stuffing in England.  The real origin is not exactly known, but what was discovered was that the cooks found that their Masters and Mistresses digested their fatty meals better when sage was used.  Modern science has shown that as with many herbs which are digestive aids, sage in particularly helps the body digest fatty meats.
From my book "101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady":

Herb Facts:
There are some 900 identified members of the sage (Salvia) family (including the stuffing sage we are all so familiar with) which originated in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas of the world, and has been known since the ancient Greek and Roman times. Sage (Salvia officinalis L.) is another member of the immense mint (Lamiaceae) family.
          Sage's antiseptic qualities (Salvia comes from Latin meaning "save") are generally used for mouth and throat ulcers and menopausal sweats (as a tea or gargle). Externally it can be used in an ointment for insect bites.
          The rubbed dried sage you purchase in the spice section is usually a combination of Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis l.) and Greek Sage (Salvia triloba [now known as
Salvia fruticosa]).
          The use of sage in our traditional stuffing mixes most likely came from the “sage and onion” stuffing beginning in Elizabethan times.  The cooks discovered their master, mistress & guests digested their food better when the stuffing was used. While all strongly aromatic herbs are digestive aids (at least) sage in particular helps digest fatty meats better.
          One old piece of wisdom notes the mastery of the household by the woman, where sage flourishes.
          Several varieties of the garden sage are not only tasty but also stunning landscaping plants: Purple Sage (Salvia officinalis 'Purpurea'); Tricolor Sage (Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor'); Golden Sage (Salvia Officinalis 'Golden'); and a variety, Berggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten') which puts more energy into its tasty leaves than the flowers. Try a little wisdom in your garden!

Sage is a perennial in the gardens and is best planted during the cool time of the year in a sunny, well draining spot.  The first year or two it can be slow growing, but can eventually be a huge shrub.  Do not overwater sage.


With 2016 designated the International Year of Pulses, this is an opportunity to match Sage with various beans.

TheKitchn is a great site for recipes and food discussions and this link has suggested herbs for use with various beans.  I would bookmark the link.

Sage is suggested with Cannelli, Fava, Kidney, Lima and Pinto – but really try sage with any bean together with other herbs like thyme and rosemary.

Baked Potatoes, Sage And Eggs
From “101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady”
Here is a great recipe to have on hand if you have left over mashed potatoes.

            Incorporate the sage in the potatoes or sprinkle on top of the eggs before baking.

3          cups of mashed potatoes
4          eggs
1          teaspoon dried sage, or 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh sage
1/2       cup spinach, kale or arugula, finely shredded
Salt & pepper to taste

            Preheat oven to 350. Have casserole or other pan ready, spray lightly with Pam if desired. If using leftover mashed potatoes fluff up so they will spread easily. Fold sage into potatoes and spread the potatoes thickly in the center of the oven dish—to about 1 inch thick. Using a small juice glass make 4 depressions in the potatoes. Evenly distribute the shredded greens in the depressions, crack and place an egg on top of each "well." Salt and pepper to taste. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the eggs are just set (poached) but not hard. Serve as a breakfast entree or a side dish. Enjoy.


Do You Hear What I Hear
Bing Crosby

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
Frank Sinatra

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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