Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Days 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 of 25 Days of December Herbal Celebrations!

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.

A note about the herbs and spices I selected. There is agreement on some of the herbs (garlic, onion and mint for example) and some continuing discussion on which plant the Bible referred to.  After many years there is a consensus - although still discussed by some - that the Hyssop of the Bible is Syrian Oregano (Origanum maru).  Since Hyssop (Hyssopus officionalis) is not indigenous to the lands of the BIble but Syrian Oregano is, I have included it as the Biblical plant.

References to Hanukkah are listed in some of the posts but may not fall within the celebration time because the dates vary each year.

Day 21
Herb:  Laurel (Bay Leaf),  Psalm 37:35 “I have seen the wicked ingreat power, and spreading himself like a green  bay tree.”  Isaiah 44:14 “He plants a laurel, and the rain makes it grow.” There are several different translations of these passages some referring to Laurel,Bay,  or luxuriant tree, Cedar, Fir, or even Ash.

Since Bay is native to the Biblical lands, I will focus on Bay for this post.

About The Herb:
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) sometimes called sweet bay or Grecian Laurel, native to the Mediterranean area, is a shrubby tree. Used by the Greeks to honor their Olympic winners in a wreath, the herb is also associated with Apollo and the nymph Daphne.


Transplant Bay into a sunny, well draining spot in your garden.  It grows slowly the first couple of years and then really starts to take off. As a shrub, Bay can be harvested at will once your plant has good size growth on it.  Leaves can be picked as needed or whole branches can be harvested and dried.  Don’t toss the stems, they can also be used to flavor food or used as kabob skewers.

I did grow one ofmy plants from seed and I do not recommend it.  I planted 13 seeds and one!! came up 8 months later!!  Go with a transplant for happier success.

Read More Here

Day 22

HerbOnion, Allium cepa, 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, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."

I know many of us would also miss onions from our kitchen.  I just have to put some chopped in a hot pan with a bit of oil or butter and the house already smells like something good is cooking.

Onions along with garlic and leeks are considered both an herb (because the inside of the bulb is made up of leaves) and a vegetable.

All herbs are "spices"  but not all spices are herbs.  Herbs are the green, leafy part of the plant, whereas a spice is generally referred to as the dried seed, stem or root.

There is a lot of information on this common vegetable at Wikipedia, including some of the nutrient information.

Considerable differences exist between onion varieties in polyphenl content, with shallots having the highest level, six times the amount found in Vidalia onions, the variety with the smallest amount. 36 37 Yellow onions have the highest total flavonoid content, an amount 11 times higher than in white onions.Red onions have considerable content of anthocyanin pigments,with at least 25 different compounds identified representing 10% of total flavonoid content. 37 --

It is not surprising that this much-loved food not only adds great flavor to our dishes, but also healthy components.


Onions are planted by either seed or “sets” which are tiny baby onion bulbs.   The typical varieties of “bulb” onions – the kind we like to keep on hand with a papery skin, can be grown here in the desert garden.

Read More Here

Day 23

Herb:  Mustard, Brassicanigra,  Matthew 13:31 " He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than thegarden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES."

Festivus  a Secular celebration Originally a family tradition of scriptwriter DanO'Keefe, who worked on the American sitcom Seinfeld, Festivus enteredpopular culture after it was made the focus of the 1997 episode TheStrike.  Theme:  Festivus forthe Rest of Us, guides the "parody holiday festival" and as aform of playful consumer resistance.

Read up on Festivus and ways to celebrate it at:  --


Plant Mustard seed in the fall and expect 80+ days to mature seed harvest.  You can pick some of thegreen leaves during the growing period, but don’t harvest too much – you want the plant to have plenty of energy to flower and produce seed.

Read More Here

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 thebible, 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).

Read More Here

Day 25

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 first born 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, andthe 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 yougood news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in thecity 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 of50,000–75,000 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.

Read More Here

I mention that Christmas Day is the 1st Day of Christmas even though the commercial retailers and others choose any 12 days leading up TO Christmas, the traditional start of the 12 days IS December 25th and end on January 6th, Epiphany.  Sometimes called "Little Christmas" (our family celebrated this too), these 12 days are usually ended with a "12th Night Feast"

I did a separate set of blogs for the 12 Days of Christmas.  If you would enjoy those here is the link for a post with all of the 12 days post links.

List of 12 Days of Christmas Post Links

I hope you have enjoyed these posts.

Have a wonderful, peaceful and loving Holiday Season.

Merry Christmas!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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