thyme, thyme, thyme…

I divided the thyme yesterday;  4.25 clumps were potted up nicely, and a small sprig was put in the Wardian case.  I hope to be able to keep them growing throughout the winter, possibly gifting one;  they dry out easily inside, though, and I don’t want to stress the giftee with guilt if suddenly they turn to dust…  Of course, it’s very tasty dried, so you really can’t lose.

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First I gave it a haircut…a nice trim netted plenty of fresh herb for cooking…

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I had to pull the entire plant out of the container, throw it on the ground, and jump on top the spade with all my might to break it up into pottable portions…

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I like thyme in sauces and soups, seasoning chicken and fish.   Mix it up with oregano, rosemary, or basil for a bouquet garni or use it alone for a flavorful vinegar infusion.   It adds a spicy scent to potpourri.

Thyme is traditionally considered an herb of courage.  In ancient Greece, it was believed to confer strength and bravery to all who who used it, so soldiers would take baths in it, as well as massage their skin with thyme oil.  Historically used as a medicinal herb,  it has been said to cure fevers, dispel melancholy, and prevent nightmares, among another indications.

Here’s what’s for dinner tonight:

Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms

Ingredients:

8 ounces/4 cups finely sliced cremini mushrooms

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon

Maldon/kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt Small clove garlic, minced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4 sprigs fresh thyme stripped to give 1 teaspoon leaves (I will use more, probably 3 tbs)

1 pound linguine

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste (more for me)
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Slice the mushrooms finely, and put them into a large bowl with the oil, salt, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, and gorgeously scented thyme leaves.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain loosely retaining some water. Quickly put the pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.

Toss everything together well, and then add the parsley, cheese and pepper before tossing again.

Eat with joy in your heart.

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Therapy

Ooph, lately I’ve felt as if I were hurtling through space at around 67,000 mph, rotating at greater than 1000 mph, while trying desperately to STOP!!!   We have enacted a complete news blackout…avoiding the TV, naturally, but even the radio and computer keep flashing headlines about…you know, all the stuff that upsets me so much.

As a nurse, I always ask, “How can I help?”.  Sometimes the answer is, “You can’t do a flipping thing about it”.  In the instance of such civil unrest, international wars, and the general bigoted stupidity of my fellow earthlings, I know that my red cape is powerless;  so I breathe in, breath out a kyrie…and harvest basil.

I grow tons of basil, you may have noticed.  Yesterday I harvested 10 plants for pesto, filling the porch with the smell of its sweetness and giving my brain a break from thinking.

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I’ll make Pesto JoJo with this batch…recipe can be found here.  I have 8 more plants left for fresh use—especially my beloved basil, mozarella, and tomato sandwiches—until frost.

Peace, kiddos.  Try to love one another.

The growing…

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Well, that seems like the fastest season ever—my grandkids came and went like a storm…a good one that drops rain just where it’s needed and leaves a rainbow on its way out…  The first evening they were here, back on July 8, I helped them plant a couple rows of zinnias.  We pretty much dropped the whole package in a little trench and the seedlings were up within a week.  They seem to be on hold now, and I’ll thin them out soon, but I have the faith to see them as blooming reminders of our creative powers, at any age.

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Out on the newly-screened front porch, we had a clear view of the bees and birds as they perched on the coneflower and daisies.  It was a good time to learn how important those players are in the botany of desire—and the essential lesson that bees are not aggressive, stinging, bad guys, but rather just the opposite.

I’m headed back to school next week—Next Week!!   There are a few holes in the garden that I’ll fill in with beans, peas, and spinach, but most of the work now is being done in the kitchen…tomato salads, pesto, and grilled peppers and squash…

The tomatoes are prolific right now, so I’m currently dedicated to eating them, but slicing and/or eating them like apples isn’t quite enough to keep up with the abundance.

Here’s a recipe I fixed yesterday, gone today…  It’s from an old article from 8/4/00 titled, “Too Many Tomatoes?  Make Salsa!”

The Mediterranean:  Chopped tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and Capers, with red wine vinaigrette.

I will be making this little gem today:

Greek Salsa:  Chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, black olives, feta cheese, with red wine vinaigrette.

The red wine vinaigrette is simply half red wine vinegar, half canola oil (or olive if you like), garlic, oregano, basil, or other fresh-snipped herbs, pepper and mix.

Try this one, too:

Corny Bean Salsa:  chopped tomatoes, corn kernels, black beans, minced Jalapeno peppers with cilantro-lime dressing.

The delicious dressing is made by mixing up a half-cup lime juice, half-cup canola oil, and mixing in granulated sugar, garlic, and chopped cilantro to taste…

Mmm….

 

between the rains…

The gardens are loving the rain.  Some of my plants look like they have tripled in size!

Before the deluge, however, my arugula had bolted, so I had to use it all up.  I was growing arugula before it was trendy, and feeling kinda smug about it.  Its fancy name is Eruca Sativa, but it is commonly called salad rocket, rucola, roquette, rugula, and colewort.  The Americanization of  the name is from the 1960’s, when NYT food editor Craig Claiborne called it arugula (jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya).

The Mediterraneans have been chowing down on the annual since Roman times, and several classical authors describe it as an aphrodisiac…  The poet Virgil himself wrote:  “the rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people”.  woo-hoo, ya’ll, and I just thought it tasted good.

It’s easy enough to grow, but like lettuce, heat causes it to bolt and taste stronger.  It can grow up to 3 feet or so, but since I put it in late, mine only reached about 18 inches.  It can (and should) be started earlier in Spring and sown directly in the garden.   Since it stayed so cold this year, I didn’t get any mesclun ingredients sown, so settled for plants.  There was no compromise in the taste, though.   I can sow some seeds again in September when space opens up in the garden and hopefully get a second crop.

 

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Recipes abound for the leafy green, but I usually just mix it into a salad.  For blogging purposes, however, I made up a little salad that Cavatappo’s (one of my favorite haunts in NYC)  introduced to me.  I’m sorry to admit that the pictures of the plate were not as appetizing as the actual meal, so I want you to just try it for yourself.  It’s delicious.

Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad 

Mix arugula, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  Use balsamic vinaigrette to taste.

Voila!  Couldn’t be easier!

There are some good balsamic vinaigrette products at the market, but I make up my own with balsamic vinegar, olive  oil, garlic and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand;  this time it was oregano, basil, and thyme.

I admit I didn’t know it was an aphrodisiac…I like it even better now..!

 

 

Chive Jive

I always feel kind of bad when I see people buy chive at the garden center.  I have to stop myself from offering a clump or two of my own to get some started.  Starting is all you have to do with this onion-family member–plant it anywhere and it will not only return every year, it will expand its girth to manymany times,  so divide it about every 3-4 years.   It’s among the first green to jump up in the spring and flowers earlier than any edible in my garden.    I grow two kinds:  a common and garlic.  The purple flowers of the common are such a welcome sight at the end of winter.  The garlic waits to show its white lacy blooms until mid-late summer and really is garlicky-good.

I’m growing them in containers this year, placed at the edge of the green beans and onions…

Both the green foliage and the flowers are tasty.  I harvest the flowers and put them in white vinegar, steep the concoction for a couple of weeks and then use it for vinaigrette.  Cut back as much as you want, the stems will grow back happily.

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Here’s an easy recipe…

Chive Dip a la Sonnystone

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup cream cheese

2/3 cup chopped chive

1 tbs. lemon juice

salt & pepper

Mix it all up, put it in the fridge for a while and dip it out with carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper, etc. etc.

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mmm, yummy…