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Saturday, December 05, 2015

25 Days of Herbs and Celebrations - December 5

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 5
Herb:  Chamomile -- Isaiah 40:6 "All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field"

Chamaemelum nobile, is the herb most known for its calming and sleep aid properties. Perhaps no other herb is quite as useful as Chamomile to take the edge off some the frensy which accompanies holiday preparations (except maybe Lavender - Day 12)

CHAMOMILE OR CAMOMILE...anyway you wish to spell it, this herb is worth finding and keeping near by.
By: Catherine, The Herb Lady, Originally published in the East Valley Tribune December 27, 2003
       It is said of Chamomile "May all your wishes come true" (in the language of herbs and flowers-Flora's Dictionary by Kathleen Gips), and that would be appropriate for this hectic but happy season of the year.
       So sit down with a relaxing cup of chamomile tea, put your feet up and I will tell you about this simple herb.
       There are actually a couple of species of Chamomile (the usual American spelling); German Chamomile, matricaria recutita (aka M. chamomilla); annual used in teas and cosmetics; Roman Chamomile, chamaemelum nobile (aka Anthemis nobilis), perennial used in teas, cosmetics and lawns; English Chamomile, chamaemelum nobile 'Treneague' is a perennial non-flowering variety of the Roman species used in the popular "chamomile lawn" of England; and a dyer's herb (yellow coloring) Golden Marguerite, dyers's chamomile, (Anthemis tinctoria 'Kelwayi').
       The tea you are drinking is most likely the Roman variety which most people prefer.
       The apple scented daisy-like flowers and leaves are a calmative (meaning calming) agent, used for insomnia, nerves, as a digestive aid, and there is some research going on into its anti-inflammatory properties.  Teas are generally made from the flowers, but if you grow your own, you can use the leaves also.
       A note of caution. Chamomile is a member of the Compositae (daisy) family, and as such some people are allergic to the flower tea (if you have ever had a "morning after" type
headache after sipping chamomile you may be allergic to these types of flowers). A leaf tea may not cause the reaction, although leaf alone is inferior in its actions.
       Chamomile has traditionally been used as a hair rinse for blonde or light colored hair to enhance the highlights (Rosemary does the same for brunets).
       Easily grown here in the cooler weather, chamomile does not like our summer sun, but may summer over in a protected spot. That protected spot can be a traditional "lawn" of this fragrant herb on the south/southeast side of your property (where it gets no western summer sun) or as a "seat" in a raised bench (again, traditionally used in a cut stone or poured concrete planting beds, these shaded seats-some with elaborate backs, were planted with chamomile or mosses, and kept sheared low, for a fragrant or soft resting place).
The Camomile Bench at sissinghurst

       You may start seeing the plants for sale now. Put them in the ground right away in well-draining soil. Allow to dry out a little between waterings. Lightly shear chamomile to encourage side growth. If allowed to go to flower and seed, it will reseed itself for next year. Chamomile is considered a "physician" plant in companion planting parlance, meaning it perks up nearby plants.
    Take a break with chamomile the plant, the flowers, the tea will reward and refresh you.  (Picture:  Had to share this lovely idea for a bench planted with chamomile.)

Good For You Chamomile Tea
1 sprig or 1 tablespoon dried herb or 1 tea bag of Chamomile
1/8 inch slice of fresh ginger
1 thin slice of lemon, lime or orange (or 1/8 tsp peel)
Stevia, honey or sugar to sweeten if desired
8 ounces of just boiled water (do not over boil the water)
       Steep all for 10 minutes, strain, sit down and relax with this fragrant tea.

Hair Rinse for Blondes
       And, about that hair rinse steep plain chamomile in hot water (rosemary for brunnets), cool and rinse hair with solution following shampooing, do not rinse out.  For more intense
highlighting, sit in sun and/or add lemon juice (not for brunnets) or reduce basic solution to half volume by simmering for 20-40 minutes in a non-reactive pot.

One more recipe - from my cookbook "101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady"


Warm Camomile Dressing Salad

Serve this tangy side dish with baked, roasted or grilled pork and apple slices. The chamomile echoes the apple. Recipe can be doubled.

1 medium tomato sliced thin
1 cucumber peeled and sliced thin
6 ounces white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried chamomile crushed
1/4 teaspoon honey
Alternate layers of tomato and cucumber attractively on the plate. (Other vegetables can be added or substituted to the cucumber, i.e., avocado, thin sliced fennel or jicama).
Bring the vinegar, chamomile and honey to a boil and reduce by 2/3—approximately 15 minutes. Cool slightly—you want it warm, not boiling hot. Spoon over salad, serve and enjoy.


Silver Bells
Bing Crosby

Carol Of The Bells
One of the most beloved of the Christmas songs, originally composed as an A Cappella piece taken from a pagan Ukrainian New Year's chant.

It is performed as either an instrumental, woman's choir or as an A Cappella rendition.

A Cappella Group Pentatonix

Carol Of the Bells
Piano Guys - Instrumental

Carol Of The Bells
Classic Choir & Orchestra

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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If you enjoyed the recipe in this post from my book - you can find more recipes featuring herbs (and a Two-Flower Soup recipe featuring Chamomile and Cauliflower) in "101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady" at Amazon or on my publisher's site.

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