Herb of the Month

We present “herb of the month” – feel free to pick at 6th & Trafalgar RoundAbout garden

Take Thyme

Timely Tips from Mary

Take thyme – there’s lots of it, and the plants will benefit from a fall trim.

There’s regular old garden-variety thymus vulgaris on the south side and there’s a small but growing patch of lemon thyme on the west side. If there are seeds there, take them and plant your own. Thyme is easy to grow. Here are some timely facts about thyme.

  • Old Folk Lore says that planting Thyme in your garden will coax fairies out of their hiding places so that you can get a glimpse at the illusive creatures!
  • The crushed leaves make an excellent topical dressing for bug bites and bee stings.
  • The Greeks considered the herb to be sacred, burning it in their temples to purify the air. 

    From: http://www.preservingyourharvest.com/Thyme.html

Recipes from Jane

Sweet Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts with Thyme

1 tablespoon butter

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 stems fresh thyme

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed, but very cold

2 ounces fresh chèvre (goat) cheese

In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the onions and thyme, and sauté, stirring often, for 15 minutes.

Add the sugar to the onions, and sauté another 10 minutes, adjusting the heat if the onions are turning brown too quickly.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Lay out the puff pastry, and use a 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter to cut out 9 puff pastry circles.

Arrange the pastry circles on a cookie sheet. Top with the onion mixture (remove the thyme stems!), then top with chèvre. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Garnish, if you like, with the stingiest drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and more fresh thyme.


Lemon-Thyme Bruschetta

Serves 10 as an appetizer

1 baguette; thinly sliced

8 ounces ricotta cheese

1 lemon; zested

Salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Honey

8 springs fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix together ricotta and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Toast baguette slices in the oven for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned and warm. Spread liberally with seasoned ricotta. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with thyme. Serve warm.

Previous Herbs of the Month – If they’re growing in the garden when you visit, feel free to snip some.

AUGUST:

This month the oregano and marjoram are very abundant. People ask: which is which and what’s the difference? The marjoram is lighter in colour and also flavour (and considered a bit more precious). Oregano (pronounced either orEGano or oreGANo (British) -is stronger.Both used in Italian dishes with tomatoes. Pick for salads and spaghetti sauces. Good time to pick and dry herbs.

Here are some suggestions:  http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetablepatch/a/DryingHerbs.htm and although that page says harvest before flowering, I also found: No need to remove the oregano flowers – but if you’re harvesting your oregano, take the flowers along with the leaves – they are edible. And,yes, you can grow indoors (as it dies down outside, at least in Vancouver) if you have a sunny window. Feel free to dig up up to 25% of what’s in the garden.

Take some that’s close to the concrete edge. Enjoy!

July – Chocolate Mint

Pick for a garnish for desserts (ice cream/ fresh fruit) or just pile some into a tea pot and make a delicious tea. “Bruise” the leaves a bit or chop up to release flavour. People are surprised to find that this is entirely natural. A friend tried to give some to her husband who suspected it was a genetically modified food!

This herb, like most mints, dies down over winter but will spring back in spring with enthusiasm. It seems to be a bit more delicate than some mints,as I’ve now met several people who say they planted some and it died.

Want to grow your own? Just dig up a little bit, or usually just planting a sprig with one one or two leaf joints buried and it should do it. Need help? Just ask.

October note: There’s still lots of chocolate mint growing near the centre around the rugosa bush. I added compost and put some in the metal pan.It’ll die down soon,but right now it looks just fine.

June – HERB of the MONTH

LEMON BALM

(Melissa officinalis) perennial herb in the mint family. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent. During summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear. These attract bees, hence the genus name Melissa (Greek for ‘honey bee’). The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as a repellant for mosquitos.Lemon balm is also used medicinally as an herbal tea, or in extract form. It is claimed to have antibacterial and antiviral properties.Lemon balm has been shown to improve mood and mental performance. (Summarized from Wikipedia)

Message from Mary You can’t pick this too much – Go crazy. And if you want a plant of your own, just dig a bit up and give it a good home. Pinch a bit and sniff it. Take some home to clip for salads or tea. Doesn’t dry well – Use fresh.

Recipes from Jane

Lemon Balm Salad Dressing

1 cup lemon balm, shredded 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1 cup olive oil salt / pepper Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover tightly and chill for 1 hour until flavors have blended.

Lemon Balm Cookies

2 tbsp. minced lemon balm leaves 1 tsp. lemon juice 1 c. butter, softened 2/3 c. sugar 1 egg 2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp. salt Whole lemon balm leaves for garnish In small dish, combine first 2 ingredients, press mixture with back of spoon to blend. In large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and lemon mixture. Gradually beat in flour and salt. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Roll in wax paper. Preheat oven to 350°F. On wax paper slice into slices about 1/8″ thick. On ungreased cookie sheet bake 8 to 10 minutes. Will brown slightly around edges. Yield: about 60 cookies.

Lemon Balm Lemonade

4 lemons 1/2 c fresh lemon balm leaves 1/2 cup sugar 2/3 cup boiling water 2 1/2 cups water ice (optional) 2 -3 fresh sprigs lemon balm, to decorate Scrub the lemons well. Peel the rind thinly, avoiding the white pith, and set aside the lemons. Place the lemon rind, lemon balm leaves, and the sugar into a small heat-proof pitcher. Pour the boiling water into the pitcher and stir well, crushing the lemon balm leaves to release their flavor. Leave mixture to infuse for about 15 minutes. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze out the juice. Strain juice into a large glass pitcher, add a few fresh sprigs of lemon balm, and add the cooled, strained syrup. Top up with water or half-water half-ice, and chill until needed.

http://www.kitsecoarts.wordpress.com/herbs

HerboftheMonthLemonBalm -pdf version

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