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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Days 4, 5 & 6 of 25 Days of December Herbal Celebrations!

Dear Folks,

Continuing my re-posting of 25 days celebrating herbs mentioned in the bible, here are days 4, 5 & 6 featuring:

Cassia, Chamomile and Chicory

Day 4
Herb:  Cassia (Cinnamomum iners
) Exodus 30, Psalm 45:8, Job 42:14

Like True Cinnamon (Day 3 Cinnamon zeylanicum), Cassia is mentioned in the bible for its perfume and scenting properties in anointing oil, and was traded in commerce.  Job named his second daughter after the herb (Keziah, Job 42:15  Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.)  We can believe that he must have thought them very special to name one after a valuable trading spice and to grant them an inheritance.

(Image: source: Naturalis Biodiversity Center/Wikimedia Commons)


Make cinnamon sugar for dusting pancakes, waffles, oatmeal or the top of whipped cream desserts.  I keep a shaker jar of cinnamon sugar in the pantry right next to the salt and pepper.

To make a large amount, combine:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Store in glass away from light and moisture.

A small shaker jar holds quite a bit less.  So adjusting for the size of your shaker, 1 part cinnamon to 4 parts sugar,  = 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to 4 teaspoons of sugar.  Add several grains of rice to the shaker to keep the mix from clumping if moisture gets in.

Read More Here:

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).

Read More Here:

Day 6
Herb:  Chicory,
(a bitter herb of the Bible) Numbers 9:11

The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Exodus 12:8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Hanukkah (Dates vary each year)
The Bitter Herbs used in Hanukkah Celebrations is symbolic of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire.  Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.  See wikipedia for more history and information.

Feast of St. Nicholas called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century Christian Saint and Greek Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey). -- Wikipedia

Read More Here:

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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eBundle Coming In January!

Dear Folks,

Do you know what an eBundle is?  I did not until I was asked to participate with one of my writings in a ...

Back 2 Basics eBundle.

This eBundle of author works on a variety of sustainable-focused books etc. will be available, for sale, 1 week only during "Bundle Week" - scheduled January 17 - January 22, 2017.  The buyer has the entire rest of 2017 to download their purchased eBundle.

What is an eBundle?

"A collection of over 60 eBooks, memberships and courses at over 90% off, to help you discover the value of getting back to doing things for yourself, growing your own food, living without toxins, bringing back forgotten skills, and living frugally."

All the details are still being put together, like where and how you buy your copy.  I will keep you updated as I have more information.

This is kind of an exciting new project for me to participate with a collection of authors of like-minded sustainable living ideas and goals.

---You can become an affiliate to earn some commissions from selling the bundle too!  As soon as I have the page/links for you to check out becoming an affiliate I will post the information.

You can also message me through my facebook page to be put on a 'notice' list as soon as I have the affiliate information.

My Facebook Page

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Days 1, 2 & 3 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 of the Bible (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.

I am including some of the most enjoyed songs of the Christmas and secular celebrations of the month.

A nice site for talking to and teaching your children or grandchildren, about the multicultural celebrations of December, is Education World, with this nice page.

Day 1
Herb:  Myrtle

By Catherine, The Herb Lady - originally appearing in the East Valley Tribune December, 24, 2005
      Is there a more appropriate biblical herb to contemplate for the holidays than Myrtle (Myrtus Communis) with its ancient meanings?
      Biblical references (Nehemia 8:15; Isaiah 41:19 and 55:13; Zachariah 1:8-11) speak to Myrtle as a symbol of recovery, festivals and the divine establishment of the people in the land.
      Myrtle was woven into wreaths for the winners of Olympic games; was a sacred plant of the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Roman goddess Venus; and the Myrtle-nymphs were prophetesses who taught the god Aristaeus, son of Apollo and Cyrene, how to make cheese, build beehives, and cultivate olives.
      Parts of the Myrtle have been used in tanning which also imparted scent to the leather.

Read the Entire post here:

Day 2
Herb:  Anise
     (Pimpinella anisum) in the family Apiaceae (carrot and parsley) native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia and shares some flavor characteristics with fennel, star anise, licorice, chervil and tarragon.

Although references to translations of the Bible speak of Anise - it is usually Dill which is referred to.  I am including it in this 25 Days posting, because the people of the Biblical lands would have known Anise through the Romans and Greeks.

Anise is used primarily in sweet foods like cookies, such as the popular German Pfeffernüsse around the holidays, it is used to flavor black jelly beans, and liquors such as Italian Sambuca and Greek Ouzo.  From Roman times (and probably earlier) the seeds were chewed for digestive relief.
     Its primary essential oil is Anethol, which is also found in other licorice tasting herbs such as fennel, tarragon and chervil. It also contains a minute amount of limonene (the lemon essential oil). Other essences account for its sweeter taste.

Read the Entire Post Here.

Day 3
Herb:  Cinnamon
Proverbs 7:17

(Cinnamomum verum) -  Ceylon Cinnamon is considered the True Cinnamon contrasted to another Biblical herb Cassia (discussed in the next post - Day 4).  It is the bark of the tree which gives all the wonderful flavor.

While the Biblical reference to Cinnamon is as a perfume (and you can find recipes for making ancient type perfumes using cinnamon, myrrh, and Frankincense) we most think of it for its excellent flavor in cooking and baking.

Taste:  True Cinnamon has a taste described as milder and sweet compared with descriptions of Cassia as strong and occasionally bitter.  Modern manufacturers opt for Cassia because of the bold taste and that fact it is cheaper than true cinnamon.

Medicinal:  The distinction is important because of the medicinal properties of True Cinnamon and toxicity of Cassia in high doses e.g., Levels of the blood-thinning agent coumarin in Ceylon cinnamon are much lower than those in cassia.  True Cinnamon is a benefit in reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels in diabetics.   It is usually recommended to add some cinnamon to the daily diet.

Read the Entire Post Here.

I hope you enjoy these posts.  I will be posting every few days with the following Days of December Herbal Celebrations.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Fall Seed Harvesting - AND, Watch For My Herb Celebration Posts Coming Up!

Dear Folks,

Time to harvest seed.  The summer plants are spent, and have "gone to seed" and are dried, meaning they are mature and viable.

I get questions from folks from time to time on when should they harvest seeds and the answer is when they are fully dried or almost dried.  That is it in a nutshell - and of course nuts are the seed of the tree. :-)

In the first picture working clockwise from the top are:  Garlic Chive Seeds, Egyptian Spinach (Corchorus olitorius, C. capsularis), and Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa).*

Some seeds like the Garlic Chives are pretty evident.  The tiny flowers begin to open and finish by folding back and revealing the black, dried seed.

Egyptian Spinach is an example of the long seed pod type plant.  The pod gradually dries and when fully or almost fully dried, the pod splits easily when you touch it.  I harvested these by hold the pod over a mason jar, pressing the pod, and the seeds freely flowed into the jar.

Roselle seed pods are a round thick skined capsule inside the swollen cranberry red calyx and you have to watch for when the seed pod starts to split at the seams.  If you harvest to soon the seeds will not be the mature, dull charcoal color.

I will package up these seeds for my use and to add to my Seed Bank Inventory.  They will be sown next March/April to give me Lettuce-Type Leaves (Egyptian Spinach and Roselle) and young garlic chives all next summer. 

I also saved the Roselle Calyx, after I shook out the seeds, to make tea and beverages this winter.  The dried Roselle looks quite different from the gorgeous glistening fresh "fruit" but the benefits are the same.  Some Vitamin C and other antioxidants are still present even dried and that nice lemony / cranberry flavor.

* In case you are not familiar with Roselle - if you have had tea which listed Hibiscus or Red Hibiscus as an ingredient, you have enjoyed the flavor and benefits of Roselle.

25 Days Celebrating Herbs of The Bible 

Worth Repeating!

Myrtle, Anise, Cinnamon, Cassia, Chamomile, Chicory, Dandelion, Sow Thistle, Horseradish, Sorrel, Coriander, Lavender, Cumin, Mint, Hyssop, Garlic, Leek, Sage, NIgella,  Laurel, Onion, Mustard, Marjoram, and Saffron.

[Pictured from my garden: Horseradish, Bay, Garlic and Syrian Oregano aka Hyssop.]

All of these herbs and spices are not only referenced in the Bible but also grown in the Biblical Lands.

Since the area is home to three of the major religions,  last year (2015) I posted a different herb each of the 25 (Advent) days of Christmas with history.  I discuss how the herb is used and some recipe ideas for you to enjoy and a craft project or two.  I also chose song links appropriate to the season.  NOTE:  all links in the posts should be good, but I apologize if any are no longer available.

To give you a heads up in case you want to prepare any of the recipe ideas, I am going to post 2 or 3 Days together every 2 or 3 days, instead of daily.  I don't want to miss a posting and I am current fielding some extra activities.

I hope you enjoy this month long Herbal Celebration!

Be sure to check out my side bar and below for gift ideas

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, November 28, 2016

My Cheese Ball Recipe - Great for a Party or a Snack!

Dear Folks,

Here is a recipe to make up for any gathering - even if it is just a nice quiet family evening.

My Cheese Ball

For a while now I've been wanting to try making a cheese ball.  I know it is simple and folks have been doing this appetizer for years but I kept balking at the Cream Cheese component most recipe ideas start out with.  I LOVE cheese and I want real cheese and real nutrition density.  Then I did some research and created this recipe last year.

Recipe can be doubled etc.

1/2 cup White Cheddar (Arizona Cheese Company makes a White Cheddar with garlic and black pepper-- available at local Farmers Markets)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt (enough to bind well)
3+ Tablespoons of finely diced red and green bell pepper
Sprinkle of paprika
Chopped Walnuts

Blend all with a spatula, then butter your hands and shape into a ball.  Roll in nuts to cover well.  Twist in plastic wrap, and chill.  Bring out about 15 minutes before serving to allow to soften a bit for spreading.

Last year I served this as dessert with sweet potato chips, blackberries, grapes, some spiced nuts a friend gave us and a mix of chocolates and cookies.  A take off on a dessert tray of cheese, fruit and nuts.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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