Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, December 25, 2015

25 Days of Herbs and Celebrations - December 25

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 25

My Saffron growing no blooms yet.
Herb: Saffron, Crocus Sativus,  Song of Solomon  4:14, “Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, With all the trees of frankincense, Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices. 15 "You are a garden spring, A well of fresh water, And streams flowing from Lebanon."

Christmas Day! The Day Jesus Christ was born and is celebrated, and the 1st Day of The Twelve Days of Christmas*

6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. . .9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord

The Herb:
Saffron is an ancient spice beloved for both its flavor and value.  Made from the stigmas of the crocus flower, they must be hand-picked.  To glean 1 lb (450 g) of dry saffron requires the harvest of 50,000–75,000 flowers.

The “Safflower” plant (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is considered a poor man’s Saffron substitute, as is Calendula flower, both used to brighten foods, but with out the real Saffron flavor.

Saffron will grow in our desert gardens.  I have finally found a good location for my current plantings (they had too much shade in my first try) and keeping my fingers crossed for a harvest.  Pictured are my 3 bulbs doing nicely so far.

In desert gardens plant the bulbs in the fall, in full sun in well draining soil.  I have been advised to watch carefully for when the flower blooms to quickly collect the stigmas for use.  A few is all I expect so I need to plan on what special dish I will use them in.

Saffron is most commonly associated with rice recipes, such as Pilaf, where it imparts its beautiful color and flavor.

Saffron is also used in baking and a traditional way to use the spice is in “St. Lucia Saffron Bun” aka Swedish Saffron Bun and several other names.  Sometimes associated with St.Lucia’s Feast Day December 13th, this recipe would be a nice one for any time in December.

Rachel Ray has a recipe for Saffron Rice Pilaf, and would qualify as a comfort food.


Oh Holy Night
Celtic Women

12 Days of Christmas

*The 12 days of Christmas are commercially celebrated starting on December 14th, with ads and promotions of various kinds.  However the REAL 12 days of Christmas begins December 25th the Traditional 1st Day of Christmas celebration and ends on the January 5th – the eve of the Epiphany – January 6thIn Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles  Epiphany is also known as Little Christmas.

In 567 the Council of Tours proclaimed that the entire period between Christmas and Epiphany should be considered part of the celebration, creating what became known as the twelve days of Christmas, or what the English called Christmastide. On the last of the twelve days, called Twelfth Night, various cultures developed a wide range of additional special festivities. The variation extends even to the issue of how to count the days. If Christmas Day is the first of the twelve days, then Twelfth Night would be on January 5, the eve of Epiphany. If December 26, the day after Christmas, is the first day, then Twelfth Night falls on January 6, the evening of Epiphany itself. --

Twelfth Night is a festival celebrating the coming of the Epiphany in many branches of Christianity.  My family celebrated both Christmas and Epiphany/Little Christmas.  Our tradition was to leave the tree up until after January 6th.

A Twelfth Night Dinner to celebrate the coming Epiphany is another tradition.  Southern Living gives one example of a celebratory Twelfth Night Dinner. 

In 2008 I posted about each of the 12 days of Christmas.  Here is my 2014 blog recap of all 12 links so you can continue celebrating Christmas until January 6th.

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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David Oberpriller said...

Great series of posts, I enjoyed them all. I know it was a lot of work; thanks for doing this. Have a Merry Christmas!

Catherine, The Herb Lady said...

Thank you David. I am happy you and others have enjoyed these. Yes a lot of work, but the nice thing about a blog is they are now there for anyone to find them at any time.

Happy New Year!