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Category: herbs

a cup of herbal tea

The Power of Tea: Herbs for Coping with Grief and Hard Times

There are times in your life when you are blindsided by events that turn everything upside down and inside out. The path forward is not at all clear; the only thing you know is that things will never be the same. This post is about how a cup of herbal tea can help us cope with grief, get some rest when we need it most, boost our immune systems when we are most vulnerable, and get ourselves recentered. We dedicate this post to the memory of our good friend, Andy, who was hit by a drunk driver. Please don't drink and drive.

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Pre-spring Garden and Wild Greens for the Pickin’

Early March: what's in the garden? Chard, kale, collards, beets, leeks, early garlic & onions, lots of herbs, rhubarb -- and then there are some of the bold & unusual: lovage, French sorrel, and cardoon -- but don't forget wild greens! Dandelions, nettles, mustards,chickweed, purslane, and others are nutritional powerhouses and are great to add to soups & salads before the rest of the garden gets going.

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Seed Catalog Frenzy

It is that time of year again: Seed Catalog Frenzy season! Nothing like planning a garden to beat the winter doldrums! Here are a dozen of seed companies that are guaranteed to wake hibernating gardeners. If you are looking for organic, heirloom, and/or unusual varieties of veggies, herbs, fruits, flowers, and shrubs -- look no further!

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Support our Local Farms: PCC Tour of Nash’s Delta Farm; Visit Nearby Dungeness Valley Creamery

Saturday, Jan. 16, is the PCC Farmland Trust tour of the Delta Farm, part of the 400+ acres farmed by Nash Huber and his crew. Sign up and see first hand how he manages to keep us all fed through the winter. While you're in the area, stop in and see the Dungeness Valley Creamery, which recently received some bad press by the WSDA which implied a link between e. coli and their certified raw milk. Nothing could be further from the truth! See for yourself what a wonderful dairy they have and taste the difference in raw milk that comes from cows that are catered to! Supporting our local family farms is just so important to preserving farmland in our region. It is such a privilege to have them here. Meet the hands that provide us with such incredible bounty!

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Garlic Scapes Return!

bouquet-of-garlic-scapesI have been getting a lot of questions about garlic scapes lately – and in checking my blog stats, a lot of people are searching for recipes using scapes. Scapes, those curly flower shoots from the hardneck varieties of garlic, arrive just as we are running out of our green garlic harvest. My favorite way to use them is in pestos with parsley, olive oil, & parmesan cheese. They are also great in hummus and other dips. Cook them very gently and pair them with things that aren’t too overpowering so their delicate flavors shine through. They can be used like green onions in salads – and are particularly good in bean salads. They are great in every combination of stir-fry imaginable. Toss them into omelettes. Roast them with asparagus.  Chop them up over fish. Infuse them in butter. The possibilities are endless! And if they get too tall and tough to eat, cut them and put them in a vase!

This afternoon, I strolled (ok – hobbled – but that’s for another post) through the garden and saw a very simple, fast, easy, and gourmet (!) dinner before me: first-of-the-season garlic scapes, first snow peas, salad greens, & thinnings – all tossed together in a tortilla. Here’s the recipe (loosely defined — I don’t really believe in recipes, just guidelines):

Spring Garden Tour Tortillas

  • A dozen garlic scapes, coarsely chopped
  • Several handfuls of snow peas
  • A few beet thinnings – some with little beets (chop stems; separate out leaves)
  • A few chard thinnings (chop stems; separate out leaves)
  • Some radish thinnings (separate leaves)
  • Numerous leaves of red & green leafed lettuce (we have tons!)
  • Numerous leaves of spinach
  • Also used: some leftover chicken, chopped (optional – this could also be meatless), some olive oil,  a little balsamic vinegar, and some tortillas.

Just an aside – I don’t believe in wasting anything. I feed scraggly hairy roots to my worms, but eat just about everything else. Stems are good. Radish leaves loose their prickles when lightly cooked. But the idea here is to get creative with whatever you have on hand. Here we go:

Heat a frying pan hot – toss in a little olive oil – and then toss in the scapes, peas, the little beets, & stems from the beets & chard. Cook a couple minutes at most.

Snack on the radishes while you cook everything.

Toss in the chicken, give it a stir, & the chopped greens (beet leaves, chard, radish tops). Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar – not much, because it can be overpowering – just enough to give it a little tang. Stir & cover.

As soon as the greens are wilted (about 1 minute), fill a tortilla, top with fresh lettuces & spinach, and eat. The wilted greens add a bit of moisture to the mix, so you might have to tilt the pan to let it drain to one side. Cheese would also be good, but some of us are lactose-sensitive, and it is just fine without. Chopped nuts might be nice. Too bad I forgot chopped chives!

Fast – fresh – fabulous – fun – several reasons to grow your own or buy from your neighbor!

Garlic Status – Summer Solstice ’08

Garlic Status_Summer Solstice 2008

Despite the cold spring here in the Pacific Northwest, the garlic has been thriving! We got everything weeded over the weekend and thoroughly watered. You can almost feel them reaching upward, waiting for that promised sunshine!

As you can see from the photos, I planted the garlic rather densely in beds (4 rows/bed) this year, which has really facilitated the weeding, fertilizing, & watering tasks! The picture in the lower right quadrant shows 2 plots in the background that were recently tilled under — I had grown a green manure crop of a combination of clover, vetch, and ryegrass; I will be planting them again soon with more of the same; these will be garlic beds for next year and 2010. Yes, those are the Olympic Mountains in the background. Gorgeous morning!

Also pictured are the tall spikes, often called “spears” of the elephant garlic. The hardneck varieties send smaller shoots, called “scapes”; pictured are the tight-curling scapes of the rocambole hardnecks. I have been cutting these off (yes! you can have some if you are in the neighborhood!) and using them in pestos, salad dressings, & stir fries. They also add an unusual touch to floral arrangements. I am making some garlic hummus to bring to a barbecue this weekend, and am thinking about how the scapes might be quite beautiful pickled in a jar! Mmm!

I figure bulb harvesting is about a month or so away (a little late this year). I may get one more watering in, but will stop the water after that, which will help prevent molds and extend the shelf-life of the bulbs.

We might hit 70 today when the official summer starts at 4:30 today! That is welcome news for those of us who have been wearing sweatshirts all spring! Celebrate the solstice!