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Thursday, December 24, 2015

25 Days of Herbs and Celebrations - December 24

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 24

Herb: Marjorum/Marjoram, Origanum majorana Leviticus14:4  Then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed.

Marjoram is one of the plants mentioned as the Hyssop of the bible, and while it is a member of the same family as the Syrian Oregano (Za'atar) which is generally agreed to be THE Hyssop, marjoram would have been known to the people of the biblical time and area.

Light The Yule Log!

NORAD's Santa Tracker for the family and children to watch Santa's Travels.

Marjoram is a member of the “oregano” family but with a big difference in flavor.

Marjoram:  Oregano’s Citrusy Cousin
by Catherine, The Herb Lady  - originally published in the East Valley Tribune September 25, 2004

     Many new-to-cooking or gardening get a little confused between Marjoram and Oregano.  It's not surprising.  Sweet Marjoram, Origanum majorana L. (formerly called Majorana hortensis Moench and sometimes called Majorana majorana L.) is from the same family as Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum),  and they both have relatives in the same Oregano family (Wild Marjoram is Origanum vulgare - not hirtum) and some of those relatives are called Marjoram and taste more like Oregano, and vis-a-versa. All are perennials from the mint family (Lamiaceae) many of which come from the Mediterranean area of the world, while Sweet Marjoram hails originally from Asia Minor (Turkey and Cypress).
     So what is the difference?  Sweet Marjoram has a sweeter, citrusy backnote rising from the essential oils Terpineol (Cardamon) and Sabinene (Star Anise, Cardamon, Lemon, Lime and the Lavadin branch of the Lavender family), and lacks the pungent, peppery bite of Greek Oregano (which comes from Carvacrol and Thymol - also found in Thyme and Savory).

Whooeee! Got all that?
     While frequently associated with sausage and stuffing recipes, Marjoram is another herb than can stand on it's own. A preferred herb (over Oregano) by many cooks [it is the preferred herb in Herbes de Provence over Oregano], its flavor and spicy aspects are dependent on soil quality, sunlight and time of year.  My Golden Marjoram is only golden in the winter when the sun moves to the southern sky and it gets more light.  [Pictured is my Golden Marjoram not golden when the picture was taken in August – because it was on the south side of a large citrus tree.]
     Like many aromatic perennials it needs excellent draining soil, 4-6 hours of light a day and deep watering. Marjoram tends to a creeping or sprawling habit, which makes it great as a ground cover.  It grows slowly and over a couple of years with intermittent harvesting can be 2-3 feet in diameter.

Plant Marjoram in the fall for healthiest plants.  Transplant into sunny well draining area. The plant, like most perennials will not do a lot of growing during the winter but they will be putting down deep healthy roots, which is what you want.


Marjoram Raspberry Jelly
From my cookbook “101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady”
     Herb Jellies are an excellent flavor addition to roasts (in addition to a toast or cookie topping).

2 cups (divided) reconstituted frozen unsweetened raspberry juice (use 1/3 less water recommended)
1 teaspoon gelatin
1 teaspoon marjoram, crushed

     Sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup cold juice to soften (about 2 minutes). Meanwhile heat second cup of juice to near boiling.  When hot mix, with cold juice and stir well to dissolve gelatin.
     Chill until soft stage starts.
     Stir in crushed marjoram pour in jar, cap and gently shake jar every 1/2 hour to keep herb mixed (keeping refrigerated). About 5 hours to loose jelly consistency. Store no longer than 4 weeks, DO NOT freeze or process for canning.

Stove Top Roast w/Herb Jelly
From my cookbook “101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady”

One  2-pound pork roast (or small chicken)
1  good size onion
1/2 cup Marjoram Raspberry Jelly
1/2 cup water
1 or 2 firm pears or apples cored and cut in half (leave skins on).

     Peel and slice onion in 1/4 inch slices, make a bed of these in the bottom of a heavy pot.  Place roast on onions, coat top with half of jelly. Turn burner on high, add water, cover, cook for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until meat is done. Use rest of jelly to glaze through cooking retaining 1 tablespoon.

     About 50 minutes into cooking place fruit cut side down beside roast.  45 minutes for first pound, 35 for each additional pound. Remove meat allow to rest for 10-15 minutes and glaze with final tablespoon of jelly.
     Serve with fruit and a nice green salad.


Silent Night

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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