Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

25 + 12 Days of Christmas - herbs + history + fun stuff.

Dear Folks,
Syrian Oregano

With my love of all things culinary herbal, two years ago I decided to expand my research and knowledge into the culinary herbs mentioned in the Bible.

The Biblical lands are home to 3 of the world's major religions and those lands are so similar to our own desert southwest, we can grow those herbs here.

You may wish to bookmark this page so you can come back as you wish to look up a day or herb.

So without further ado - check out my "Herbal Advent Calendar" of multi-cultural herbs and celebrations.

25 Days of 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.

Herbs of The Bible

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

Cassia (Cinnamomum iners)
Sow Thistle (Milk Thistle)
Coriander (Cilantro seed)
Lavender (called Spikenard in the Bible)
Hyssop – of the Bible is generally recognized as Syrian Oregano Origanum syriacum
Nigella (BlackCumin or Black Caraway)
Laurel (Bay Leaf)

12 Days of Christmas Blog Post links

While some folks, particularly the commercial companies,  celebrate the 12 days of Christmas leading UP to Christmas Day - the 12 days actually begin with Christmas Day 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 first posted on the 12 days of Christmas back in 2008.

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.

If you want to grow more culinary herbs - check out my herb planting chart for purchase ($5.00).  It is a PDF so you can have it handy all the time.  I cover 48 culinary herbs with suggested planting times and food pairing information.  Click here to go directly to the page or find it in the side bar on the top right of this blog.

I hope you find this a fun way to explore herb history and fun ideas.

Have a best day in the garden and kitchen!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Garden Harvest and A Holiday Crafting Site

Dear Folks,

I hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving.

A few days ago, I went out to check on my sweet peppers and tomatoes and filled my apron with a bunch of each!  I have some pepper and tomato plants in a couple of different locations.  This one is a Southwest area which means it gets very little morning sun this time of year but is loving what it gets.

The sugar peas are starting to give me some edible pods.  I am still getting cherries from the Barbados (Acerola) tree.  And I still have lots of sweet potatoes and the occasional eggplant to harvest.  I used the sweet potato leaves for a BLT last night, always fun.  I add fresh basil leaves and a few sugar pea leaves to the "lettuce" portion of the sandwich and those gorgeous looking tomatoes.  Yum.

I like to make my own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and through the holidays (pretty much to have on hand all year, in fact).  I try to get organic cranberries and use organic sugar.  I canned up some the day before Thanksgiving.  We use cranberry sauce like jam for any and everything (turkey sandwiches!).

Since cranberry sauce recipes usually start out with "a bag" of, I tweaked the recipe to accommodate whatever size bag you purchase.  For each 4 ounces (by bag weight) you need 1/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup of sugar.  Bring the water and sugar to a boil, stir until dissolved then add cranberries, reduce to a simmer, cover and WATCH, even at a simmer they sometimes want to boil over.  And if you are as bad at multitasking as I am you need to monitor.  :-)  Simmer for about 8-10 minutes until all the berries have burst, stirring once in a while.  The lovely thing about cranberries is how much pectin they naturally have..  They "want" to be a nice firm jam when cooled.  I decided to use 4 ounce jars for canning from now on, as even the 8 oz can be too much all at once.  Even refrigerated they can go bad if you have a guy like my guy who likes to have 4-6 types of jam available all the time.

Fun craft ideas from the Victorian Age.  I have loved all of the BBC special "farm" series shows which each highlighted a farm time in history.  This link is to a special craft page for creating Victorian type Christmas ideas from cards to decorations.


I am posting with links to my 25 Days of Christmas - but wait there's more - and the 12 Days of Christmas!

I am The Herb Lady, so two years ago I decided to expand my research into the herbs of the Bible for the holidays and focused on 25 culinary herbs to create my version of the 25 days of Christmas - sort of an Herbal Advent Calendar.  Be sure to watch for the blog post.

I also then created a post for each of the 12 Days of Christmas which traditionally does not start on December 1st but, in fact, starts with December 25th.

When you get the post you may want to bookmark it so you can come back to it whenever you want to check out "the day".  I have a lot of information in each one.

Speaking of Herbs - check out my Herb Planting Chart for sale as a PDF in the side bar here on the blog. I have information on growing 48 different culinary herbs here in the desert southwest and USDA Zone 9b and above.

Have a best day in the garden and kitchen,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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