Garlic & Texas

Now is the time! September is garlic planting time in Texas!

Holly K. Ross- Writer

As we get out and about now selling our herbs a Farmer’s Markets and Garden Festivals, I am frequently asked if I have any garlic.  When I ask questions to clarify just what the customer is looking for, I am surprised that they are looking for seedlings so that they can grow their own Garlic.  How marvelous!  Just one problem…

If you want to grow garlic in Texas you need to plant is in September, the same with strawberries- but that is a whole other blog and soapbox.  Once planted in September, the bulbs will sprout and grow all winter long then in June or so, the tops will start to turn brown and it is time to harvest.  Yes, no matter where you live garlic takes that long to grow.  But, it is so worth it and it really is easy.

To get started, you will need something to…

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The Dandelion

“She turned to the sunlight

And shook her

yellow head,

And whispered to

her neighbor:

“Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne

I have always loved dandelions.  Blowing the seeds was a wonderful pastime when I was a child.  Little did I know that I was spreading the love- dandelion love.

Now I love dandelions for a whole different reason.  It is such a joy to see their little sunny faces shinning in the sun.  This always signals that the deep of winter is over.  But the real beauty of the dandelion is in the healing properties that the plant possesses. Even without reported healing properties, the dandelion has a high amount of vitamins and minerals.  The University of Maryland Medical Center has this to say:

While many people think of the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) as a pesky weed, it is chock full of vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines.

Herbalists recommend dandelion for liver cleansing and ridding the body of toxins.  You can drink tea made from dandelion leaves and blossoms, take a tincture made from the plant and roots, or you can take supplements found in your local health food store.

If your looking for dandelions in your own gardens, look for the yellow blossoms suspended on a single stem, the yellow blossoms on branching stems are not true dandelions.  They are actually called “false dandelions”- how creative.

 

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Dandelion

 

In the photo above you can see the single stem with one flower.  When I harvest dandelions I want to get as much of the root as possible.  To do this, I use an old finished weed popper.

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Weed-popper, works like a charm
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Harvested dandelions

Once the plants are harvested, I wash the soil away and let them air dry.  Once dry, the plants are then chopped and covered with vodka or brandy.  The mixture will steep for six weeks and then be strained.  After the liquid is strained it is now a finished tincture.  I use this for my family anytime our immune system needs a boost.  This post is not intended to be medical advice, just for information- you do your own research and then make your own health decisions.

Even if you don’t choose to use dandelion for your own benefit- leave them for the bees.  Dandelions are one of the first sources of pollen and nectar for the bees in the spring.

Vegetable and Herb Seed Germination Chart

I was just talking about this on Facebook @ Hollyberry Herb Farm. This is a great chart, Thank you Town and Country Gardening.

Town & Country Gardening

Temperature, it’s all about the soil temperature.
Soil temperature is almost never to warm, however, soils that are to cool and damp at worst can cause your seed to rot in the ground and at best take many days to germinate. Seedling in cool soil grow slowly and often do not develop into healthy productive plants.

vegetable seed germination chart

herb seed germination chart

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The One Thing The Food Industry Won’t Tell You

Slate’ Criticizes the ‘Home-Cooked Family Dinner’: Joel Salatin Responds

Tags: Joel Salatin, family dinner, home cooking, Slate

Victimhood escalates to stratospheric whining with Amanda Marcotte’s recent Slate post titled Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner.

Joel SalatinThe piece concluded more often than not family members (especially the male ones) were ingrates and, generally, home-cooked meals were too stressful, expensive, time-consuming, and utensil-dependent to be worthy of the trouble.

Marcotte’s indictment of what she considers a romanticized cultural icon certainly speaks volumes about where our cultural mainstream food values reside. Indeed, the average American is probably far more interested and knowledgeable about the latest belly-button piercing in Hollywood celebrity culture than what will become flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone at 6 p.m.

In the circles I run in and market to, the home-cooked meal is revered as the ultimate expression of food integrity. The home-cooked meal indicates a reverence for our bodies’ fuel, a respect for biology, and a committed remedial spirit toward all the shenanigans in our industrial, pathogen-laden, nutrient-deficient food-and-farming system.

I would imagine most of the ungrateful males in these families watch TV or see a lot of food ads on their computers. You won’t find integrity food advertised on TV or pop-culture web sites. It’ll be a steady brainwash of junk food, convenience, highly processed food-like materials. That we can physically chew and swallow the stuff does not make it desirable for our bodies.

Further, since when are women the only ones who are supposed to shoulder the burden for integrity food? Why doesn’t Marcotte, rather than whining about unappreciated women, write instead about families who seem to think sports leagues and biggest-screen TVs are more important than health? Who think pharmaceutical companies are responsible for wellness?  Who think no difference exists between factory chickens and pastured chickens?

Here’s the question I would like to ask these families: “Are you spending time or money on anything unnecessary?” Cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, lottery tickets, People Magazine, TV, cell phone, soccer games, potato chips . . . ?  Show me the household devoid of any of these luxuries, then let’s talk. Otherwise, you’re just unwilling to do what’s more important, which is provide for the health of your family and your environment. That’s a personal choice, and one that’s entirely within your control.

I’m amazed at the difficult situations I hear about in which people do indeed rise to the occasion. Whether it’s sprouting mung beans or alfalfa seeds in a quart jar on the windowsill or buying grain by the bushel, resourceful, can-do people committed to changing their situation figure out a way to do it.

For Marcotte to accept irresponsibility this easily underscores a profound courage deficiency. Turn off the TV, get out of the car, get off the phone and get in the kitchen — men, women and children. The most expensive potatoes in the nation are cheaper by the pound than the cheapest potato chips. Ditto healthful ground beef from pastured cattle versus fast-food burgers.  

With slow cookers, indoor plumbing, timed-bake and refrigerators, today’s techno-enabled kitchens allow busy people to cook from scratch and eat with integrity far easier than during Great Grandma’s time. She had to fetch water from the spring, split stove wood, start a fire and churn the butter and she still managed to feed a large family very well. If our generation can’t do at least as well with our 40-hour work week and kitchen tech, then we deserve to eat adulterated pseudo food that sends us to an early grave. I don’t know that anyone’s children deserve this, however.

While extreme hardship does certainly exist — and my heart breaks for impoverished people who truly have no resources — let’s not excuse the other 98 percent from their responsibility on that account. If everyone who could do something would do it, perhaps we would all have enough left over to help the egregious hardship cases. Soccer moms driving their kiddos half a day one way to a tournament, stopping at the drive-by for “chicken” nuggets, and then dismissing the kitchen as “too stressful” is an upside-down value system. And how many of the men whining about not liking what they’re being fed spend their Saturdays on the riding mower managing a monoculture, fertilized ecological-dead-zone of a suburban lawn, rather than using their resources to grow something nutritious for their families and wholesome for the planet? When do we start talking about them? Hmmmmm?

Photo by Richard Lord: Joel Salatin raises pastured poultry and grass-fed beef at Polyface Farms in Swoope, Va.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/slate-family-dinner-zb0z1409zsie.aspx#ixzz3Ckxhk96M

Please Help The Small Farmer- The FDA has a new law that will put many out of business.

What follows below is an overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act- what congress passed left room for the small organic farmer.  The name seems harmless enough and our food should be safe, but there is so much more to it.  In the regulations the FDA is trying to implement All producers, both big and small are being lumped together an will have very expensive regulations saddled on their businesses.  There is a small farm exemption but what constitutes a small farm is very unclear and the FDA is given the authority to revoke a small farms exemption without any proof of a public health concern.  Once the exemption is revoked, the exemption is gone for good.  This huge expense placed on small farms will force many out of business- as stated by the FDA, a fact with which the agency seems to be unconcerned.  Loosing the small organic farmers from your local farmer’s markets will not make your food supply more safe- it will be devastating to your food supply.

In addition to all of this, most of the food contamination cases we have seen in the past have been traced back to the super large industrial farms shipping produce in from foreign countries including Mexico.  These safety regulations will not apply to them.  Therefore, those companies can offer cheap produce and food that is largely unchecked upon entry to our country and our local farmers will have to increase their prices to cover the cost of the regulations and unnecessary testing.  Therefore, the local small farmers will have an even harder time competing.

After reading the overview, please follow the link at the bottom to a site that will allow you to comment directly to the FDA with your concerns.  This site even has letters typed up that you can  copy and paste into the comment section at the FDA’s website.  It will take a bit of your time, but all of us have to stand up for our food supplies and the endangered species called the American small farmer.  Please help.  The comment deadline is November 15th.  We can change the fact that the law is in place at this time, but we can have a voice to make certain that the guidelines adopted are clear and helpful to the small farmers.

What is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)?

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major update of federal food safety laws since 1938. FSMA gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods. FSMA does not change food safety regulations for meat, poultry, and egg products, which are under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction.

FSMA authorizes new regulations at the farm level for producers and certain facilities. Specifically, FSMA mandates the establishment of:

FSMA includes key provisions to make these new regulations scale-appropriate, conservation-friendly, and accessible to certified organic producers and value-added producers. The regulations focus on addressing food safety risks from microbial pathogen contamination (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Shigella). FSMA does not address food safety risks from genetically engineered crops, pesticide use, or antibiotic resistance.

FDA has released its proposed (draft) Produce Rule and Preventive Controls Rule and is seeking public comments on both! 

Why Does it Matter?

Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to fork. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) includes new regulations of practices on produce farms and in facilities that process food for people to eat. This means it represents some big changes to our food system – and it is extremely important for the Food and Drug Administration to get these regulations right so that they improve food safety without placing an unfair burden on family farms.

The risk of foodborne illness — that is, the risk of getting sick or dying from food contaminated with pathogens like E. coli — is largely preventable by good food safety measures applied at every stage of the food supply chain. Examples of good measures include hand washing and keeping foods at the right temperature. However, it’s not as simple as requiring all farms and facilities to meet identical safety requirements. Depending on the complexity of the supply chain, types of food, and practices implemented from farm to table, different kinds of farms and facilities face different types of risks when it comes to contamination that could cause illness.

With the right approach, we will be able to help ensure good food safety practices across the nation without placing an unfair burden on family farmers.

Ultimately, we want to ensure a safe food supply, strong on-farm conservation of natural resources, and thriving family farms and small value-added farm and food businesses. With regulations and requirements that are tailored to different types and sizes of operations, we can achieve these objectives.

Where Did FSMA Come From?

Due to a rise in major outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and increasing bioterrorism concerns after 9/11, both Congress and the Administration proposed new food safety measures in 2009 that expanded food safety regulations to the farm level. Previously, food safety regulatory oversight was focused mainly on the processing, food handling, and manufacturing sectors – areas shown to be of highest risk for foodborne pathogen contamination.

In 2009 and 2010, Congress debated a number of food safety proposals that directly and indirectly affected farms and on-farm processing. These proposals extended regulatory authorities to farms and made some on-farm safety standards mandatory. Concurrently, the Obama Administration created an inter-agency Food Safety Working Group through which the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture started adopting new food safety standards and oversight.

Given the potential impacts of these new food safety proposals on sustainable food production, NSAC created a task force and engaged in the legislative debate. NSAC’s priority was to make sure that the new food safety measures worked for sustainable and organic farmers, and for consumers who wanted access to fresh, local food. Due to NSAC’s leadership and the actions of thousands of farmers and concerned consumers, the new food safety law that Congress passed and that President Obama signed – the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – included the following critical provisions:

What Happens Next?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started the lengthy process of implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA is currently in what is known as the rulemaking stage – meaning they are turning the bill – FSMA – passed by Congress into actual rules and regulations. They have released their proposed (draft) regulations for public comment as part of this process. These proposed regulations show FDA’s thinking on how to implement the provisions in FSMA and are not yet final. Currently, FDA is requesting comments on two proposed regulations:

After FDA has received and reviewed the comments, the agency will prepare to publish final rules (with rules as big as these, the agency might opt to release another draft set of rules before finalizing them). All of the positive provisions listed above that Congress passed as part of FSMA must make it into the final rules published by FDA to become part of the new regulations.

NSAC is carefully analyzing the proposed rules to ensure this happens, and we need your help – it is critical for sustainable farmers and consumers who care about where their food comes from to write comments to FDA about the proposed regulations to ensure that FDA correctly implements FSMA! Check out the links below to learn more about the two rules – and then submit your own comments to FDA!

 

Click HERE for the page to enable you to leave your comment with the FDA.  There is a button for producers and a button for consumers.

Thank you for you time.

Just another note- the FDA that is charged with inspection, regulation, and enforcing the exemption rule is staffed with many big Monsanto boys appointed by the President- going back several terms.  Is it any wonder that this act is damaging to small farmers?  Monsanto has been suing and bulling small farmers for years and putting them out of business.

Basil- For A Moment More & How To Make An Herbal Vinegar

As I left out on my morning run, for the first time this year I wore a hooded sweatshirt over my t-shirt and wind-pants with a cap on my head.  For us here in East Texas, that is just almost cold.  I could see my breath but there was no frost on the ground, just a heavy dew.  Oh, but how brilliantly the dew shone in the early morning sun with the reds and golds of the leaves finally beginning to show.  I was not the only one feeling invigorated by this Autumn morning, as I ran by the field across from our place, the resident horse came galloping up to the fence and ran along with me until she ran out of field.  Some days, it is an effort to choose to run but not today.

purple basil and kale

One thing the morning did tell me was that basil and it’s other hot weather friends are not long for this world.  So, in preparation for the influx of herbs & peppers that are about to line my drying racks and the hall (I have to make use of the space I have so I have fishing line strung down the hall to hang herbs on) I am getting the jars and vinegar’s ready to go.  Making herbal vinegar is an easy process, they make wonderful gifts and they add so much to your kitchen prowess.  A pork loin marinated in basil vinegar tastes like something from a five star restaurant.

purple basil and vinegar

For the most part, which herb you use and which vinegar to use are completely up to you and your taste buds.  A good place to start is with white wine vinegar and basil.  This will make a wonderful vinaigrette or marinade.  If you have purple basil, you will have the most beautiful purple/pink vinegar you ever laid your eyes on as seen in the above picture.  The purple basil is Dark Opal and the green is Sweet Genovese- both of these are the standard type basil flavor with which you would make pesto or spaghetti sauce.  Health food stores will generally have better prices on large quantities of vinegar in its various forms.

The recipe below calls for chives, if you don’t have any you can leave that off.  If you have not been growing herbs long enough to have this much material to cut from, you can purchase fresh herbs at your local farmer’s market.  Remember, any flavors you like together will go together in the vinegar such as rosemary and garlic, oregano, basil, and sun/oven roasted tomatoes.  While learning the way, start with small batches this way if it tastes bad, you didn’t lose much.  However, every mistake is a lesson learned and experience is the best teacher.

For sterilizing your jars, wash them with hot soapy water, rinse and dry in a 225′ oven for 15 minutes or use a dishwasher.

 

Basil, Chive, & Lemon Vinegar

Zest of ½ lemon

5 Basil Leaves

10 stalks of chives

1 cup white vinegar ( any type such as rice or wine)

 

Zest lemon, crush or chop basil and chives, place in a clean dry jar.  Pour vinegar in and cap- vinegar should cover all the herbs completely add more if needed. After 24 hours add more vinegar if the herbs have soaked up the vinegar.  Vinegar is ready to go after 24 hours, but the flavor will develop the longer it sits so 10 -14 days is fine too.  Strain herbs out and compost them.  Store  vinegar in a cool dark place, it will keep indefinitely.

Making these things at home is a safe activity- it has been being done since ancient times.  Use good sense, clean and dry utensils and jars- moisture is your enemy- and all will be well.  Remember- if it is growing funny things, bubbling like it is boiling but there is no heat or it smells raunchy- throw it out.  Please consult your county extension office if you would like more detailed information on canning.

herbal vinegars

 

The choices are endless, just make certain that you label and date all your creations at the time to place them in the jars.  Trust me, you won’t be able to remember it later!

Rosemary For Remembrance- And A Whole Lot More!

trailing rosemary

When folks think of herbs, Rosemary is always one that comes to mind.  We have sold a lot of rosemary which always surprises me given the fact that once Rosemary is established it grows quickly and makes a rather large shrub.  It would seem that one plant would be all a person needed in a decade.  But, with its lovely evergreen foliage, fabulous scent, and many uses Rosemary is one that people just can’t pass up.

But, I have confession to make about Rosemary.  I don’t really like the taste of it in my food.  Yes, there you have it, an herb farmer that doesn’t like to cook with Rosemary.  The flavor is growing on me as I have been experimenting with different flavor combinations.  I am also finding that with Rosemary being such a strong scented/flavored herb that you only need just a dash of it in a dish.  That may be part of the reason that my first excursions into the world of cooking with Rosemary were disappointing- I treated it like thyme or parsley and used way too much.  I am finding that just a smattering of dried Rosemary on oven roasted sweet potato fries or home-fries made with regular spuds it very tasty.  Most have eaten rosemary in some form and the culinary uses are the uses most thought of in considering this lovely shrub.

Rosemary is a great plant for landscaping- it can be used as a hedge. .  But for the herbal medicine cabinet, Rosemary is an essential herb to grow.  Thankfully, in most areas of Texas, Rosemary thrives as our winters are mild and drought and poor soil are not of much concern to an established plant.

Health Benefits of Rosemary:

A rich source of calcium, Iron and dietary fiber, Rosemary is a powerful addition to the diet.

Rosemary is used to stimulate the mind and in stimulating the brain, clarity is achieved.  This benefit of Rosemary is what lead the ancient cultures to believe that Rosemary was for remembrance and those in higher learning would wear wreaths of rosemary on their heads to help them remember all the information they were learning. Now wearing the sprigs on your head my not have helped (except for the aromatherapy) but studies have now proven that the oils from rosemary do stimulate the brain.

Medical New Today reports these attributes concerning rosemary:

Rich source of antioxidants – laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important tole in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals.

Improving digestion – In Europe rosemary is often used to help treat indigestion – Germany’s Commission E has approved it for the treatment of dyspepsia. However, it should be noted that there is currently no meaningful scientific evidence to support this claim.

Enhancing memory and concentration – blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance, according to research in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE.

Neurological protection – scientists have found that rosemary is also good for your brain.Rosemary contains an ingredient, carnosic acid, that fights off free radical damage in the brain.

Carnosic acid can protect the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration. The findings were published in The Journal of Neurochemistry and Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Prevent brain aging – Kyoto University researchers in Japan revealed that rosemary may significantly help prevent brain aging.

Cancer – Research published in Oncolocy Reports found that “crude ethanolic rosemary extract (RO) has differential anti-proliferative effects on human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.”

Another study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, concluded thatrosemary can be considered an herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent.

In addition, a report published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents that can develop during cooking.

 

Protection against macular degeneration – a study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, led by Stuart A. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, revealed that a major component of rosemary, carnosic acid, can significantly promote eye health.

The rosemary plant that I take most of my cuttings from was planted the summer before the record drought of 2011.  During that drought I could not water all my property and the bed containing the rosemary was one that received no extra water for two months.  To my amazement, that plant doubled in size- despite temps that never came out of the 100’s, no rain, and winds that felt so hot you would have thought that they were blowing straight from the pit of hell.  Rosemary moved up my list of plants I love just because of that summer.  Then I began to learn of all the benefits Rosemary has and I would never have an herb garden without at least one plant.

A couple of weeks ago I pruned the plant pretty heavy needing cuttings for propagation.  From the cuttings, I filled 10 flats containing 20 cups each- that is 200 new plants, provided all the cuttings root and prosper.  I am pretty confident they will, Rosemary roots like a dream.  Rosemary officinallis is the strain of this rosemary- just the original “plain Jane”.  I know there are a lot of more fancy cultivars out there, but this one has proven itself in our climate unlike several other varieties that I have planted. Therefore, this is my go-to plant.  I want folks to succeed when they take plants home from Hollyberry Herb Farm so I am sticking to what works.  I do have an “Arp” variety that is so far doing well and we will see, if it is still going strong next summer I will add that to my favorites list.

Jonathan and the rosemary.  What a great, tough plant
Jonathan and the rosemary. What a great, tough plant

So, if you haven’t already, plant some rosemary!  You will be glad you did.

Do you cook with rosemary?  If so , how do you use it?

A Season of Transition- Are We There Yet?

tran·si·tion
noun
  1. the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
My handsome flight medic
My handsome flight medic

This has been the definition of our lives over the past three years.  In reality, we are all in a constant state of transition as nothing stays the same.  We either move forward or we deteriorate.  However, so often the change is small and not so noticeable and then there are those times where change is monumental.

Our first monumental change was Tony retiring from Mother Francis where he had been employed as a paramedic first on the ambulance and then as a flight medic for 16 years.  Given that our oldest was only 17, this was the only thing our children remembered Tony ever doing.  This was a good change, but scary.  We started our business selling plants, shrubs, and herbs- what was then called The Farm On Holly’s Hill.  I was so glad to have him home and not working so many hours  and being so tired all the time. We could be together everyday and sleep in the same bed every night.  I have never regretted making this change not that it was easy.  We have worked very hard.

What I did not know , was that once Tony quit flying and working in the field of emergency medicine, he began suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Now, his was not so severe that he could not function but he began having nightmares and night sweats about all that he had seen and heard.  His sleep was horrible, he would hear the buzzer go off in his head and then be up all night because of the adrenaline rush that this triggered.  It was a rough year and for the most part I had no idea.  I am a heavy sleeper and he is good at keeping things from me if he thinks it will cause me to worry.  When he did tell me- after the trouble had passed- I said, “Why didn’t you tell me? I could have been nice to you on those days and not fussed so much.” To that he replied, ” I just wanted things to be normal.”  Oh, maybe I should work on “normal” a bit, huh?

I write all this, not because I want sympathy but to say that if you have a loved one working in this field be aware that they see so much more than they will ever talk about.  Just know that even if they haven’t been in combat, there has been trauma.  Tony would probably not really like me posting this because he is a very private person and keeps most stuff inside.  But he deserves a lot of credit for how long he worked helping people.  The average tenure is his field is 2 years, he stayed for 16.  This makes him a virtual legend, the old guy.

Now, we are in our third year with the business and have changed the name to Hollyberry Herb Farm.  Not only did we change the name but also our focus.  This spring was the first year that we did not sell shrubs but focused mainly on herbs.  This has been a great change, one that I have really enjoyed.  Instead of flea markets and trades days, we sell at the farmer’s market every Saturday.

Last October, our oldest moved out for school.  We moved farms in March leaving behind the house we had lived in for the past 13 years.  Savannah graduated from High school.  Both girls move into an apartment in Athens next week and will attend college there.  So, I have gone from home schooling four children to two children in a 12 month period.

What I hope to be the last monumental change for us for awhile is that Tony has been hired by Amazon.com and will be working full time off the farm again.  We both knew the season had passed for him being home full-time working only a part time job on the side.  He will be a medical representative at a major warehouse, kind of like a school nurse.  No more working in the field, he will have air conditioning, set hours, and private sector pay.  Tony has certainly earned it.  I am so happy for him.  As I write this, he has just landed in Phoenix Arizona where he will be in training for 3 weeks.  I hate having him gone for that long, but it is only temporary, an uncomfortable step to something far better.

Now, I would really like to just settle down.  Develop a rhythm with the two kiddos still at home, work my gardens and sell my herbs- that would be on my list of wishes.  We shall see.  I can’t foresee any more major changes to come.  Well, I say that when- you have a daughter that is 20 you could have some major changes popping up if some one pops the question but there are no candidates at this time so I think we are safe- for a while.

Goodness, when I read back over this realize just why I have been so tired lately.  I need to rest!  And rest I will, Sierra , I, and Jonathan will be headed to Galveston next week.  We will miss the rest of the bunch something fierce, but it will help pass the time while their dad is away.  I get happy just thinking about it.  There is nothing more soothing than the sound of waves rolling in to the beach.

What changes are you facing?

Selling On Saturday

This Saturday began with an unusual event- I woke up before the alarm went off @ 4:50 am.  Usually, the alarm sounds and I feel bad for Tony being the one to get up and go to work.  Then the realization sets in that in fact it is I who must get up and get going.  I always enjoy my time at the market, I just don’t enjoy getting up at 5 am.  I know, for some of my fellow farmers and homesteaders, this is a daily time to rise.  But around here, our animals are trained not to even look for feeding until about 9 am.  I am usually up and about by 6:30 am but the feeding is done by the farm kids and they don’t rise nearly so early.

It was a good market at the White Rock Local Market, our weekly Saturday venue.  So many good folks come out to find real food and support local farmers.  Plant sales, as to be expected, are slow at this time.  Thankfully, the gardens are giving us lots of fresh cut herbs and extra produce to sell.  Any cut herbs that don’t sell are hung on the racks to dry and then to be sold as teas or seasoning.

I intended to take more photos of the market, but alas, I was busy or I was talking to my neighbors that I really like.  Maybe I will do better next week…

market july 20 2013Bell Peppers, Illini Gold Tomatoes, Tender Grey Zucchini, Yellow Crookneck Squash, Muncher Cucumbers, Sweet Banana Peppers, Matt’s Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Lemon Verbena, Tulsi, Sage, Thyme, Garden Sorrel,  Lemon Basil, Salad Burnett were the produce taken and sold.

 

Could You Use A Little More Thyme?

Lovely plant and wonderful scent
 

Growing and Using Thyme

 
Kitchen Dictionary: thyme
 
Pronounced: TIME
 
This is one of those little plants that laughs in the face of a Texas summer and remains undaunted by a few freezes.  The creeping variety has been spreading between the rock stepping stones in my herb garden for months.  I have to harvest it or it will cover the stones.  It is fabulous!  With dark green foliage that is so petit it belies its strong flavor, it is a perfect choice for edging the bed or filling in between the stones.
 
a-border-of-lemon-thyme-in-bloom
Lemon thyme in bloom used as a border in the garden.
For me, it was surprising to see that Thyme is classified as a Southern European and Mediterranean ingredient.  I thought it was totally southern cooking.  When you think of decidedly southern dishes such as Chicken n’ Dumplins, Turkey & Dressing, Roast Chicken, Meatloaf, and so on, Thyme is a key player in creating the warm comforting tones of these dishes.  If I am boiling chicken for almost anything, I have Thyme in the pot, too.  Nothing beats the flavor of a lightly battered filet of Tilapia with Thyme mixed in the flour and cornmeal, I don’t care who you are- that is good right there!
 
Being that Thyme is a perennial, it is easiest to start with a seedling in the garden.  Soggy places are no good for Thyme as it likes will drained soil.  Lots of sun is a must, but a little afternoon shade in a Texan summer is greatly appreciated.  This is an extremely easy plant to grow. 
 
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With Thyme being available in the garden year round, there is no reason not use fresh Thyme in all your cooking.  Just snip off what you need and chop it finely or tie the sprigs together with kitchen twine and remove before serving.  Thyme is a well-mannered herb and is not given to being over-powering in a dish.  To a roasted chicken, I will sprinkle about 2 teaspoons over the skin or add about 2 tablespoons to a pot of soup.  Your personal tastes really are the determining factor in how much to use.  Experience is the best teacher, so give it a try.
Thyme is perfect for filling gaps in a rock pathway
 
 
However; some days it may not be very convenient to get to the garden, so I like to keep dried herbs in the pantry. To dry Thyme, cut as much as you want from the plant- but never taking more than two thirds of the mother plant- and using a rubber band, secure the stems and hang in a dry place with good air circulation.  I have a little “clothes line” strung above my refrigerator where I clip bunches of herbs for drying.  Once dry, which will take about 2 weeks, remove the leaves from the stems and place the leaves in a air-tight container and store out of the sunlight.  Dried herbs keep for about 6 months and any extra you may have makes great gift ideas.
A “mini- clothesline” works great for drying small amounts of herbs 
 
 
Matches well with: beef, carrots, chicken, figs, fish, goat cheese, lamb, lentils, onions, peas, pork, potatoes, soups, tomatoes, venison 
 
So, get planting!  Everyone needs a little more “thyme” in their day!