Monday, August 31, 2009

Sharing the Garden

Look who I am sharing my Garden with today.....
So glad that they came to visit!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Hour or not...

                                                  These wonderful Grape Vines were here when we bought this property. Our son did build an arbor for the grapes to grow on. They look great but I have done
nothing with them.

 Gosh...anybody have any helpful thoughts....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicken Salad with Mint!!

There is nothing like the taste of mint in the summer! It really brings a wonderful fresh taste to this Chicken Salad.

Chicken Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers

1 container Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup mayo( I like the new kind with Olive Oil)
2 medium tomatoes( quartered and seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks)
3/4 English Cucumber  cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons coarse salt
About 2 cups of cooked chicken breast( I use whole skinned chicken breasts I have baked in the oven,then I take the skin off and shred when cooled)
Freshly grounded pepper
1tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1garlic clove
1/2 cup fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh oregano

Combine tomatoes and cucmber in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Let sit about 30 minutes. Meanwhile mix the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice,rest of salt and chicken together. Season with pepper and stir.

Add the tomatoes and cucumbers to the chicken. Then mix in the herbs.  This can be served in a pita pocket or on a bed of fresh baby greens.

Recipe adapted and personally changed fromMartha

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gathering Time

                               Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
                               Old Time is still a-flying
                               And this same flower that smiles today
                               Tomorrow will be dying
                                                                                         Robert Herrick

So sorry my post have been sparse the last few days....the days have been so heavenly, that I have stayed in the Garden till dark. I 'll be better soon.        Enjoy !!!   

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grilled Peach Salad

Last night we went to a cookout at our son's house in Louisville. It was his mother in law's birthday, so we had a very special night. I brought this salad and it was wonderful! It has just a hint of mint and the rice vinegar makes the dressing so light!

3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the rice wine vinegar and Dijon Mustard in a small bowl. Slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl, whisking constantly to emulsify. Season with salt.

3 peaches, pits removed and cut into wedges
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon salt
5 cups mesclun greens mix
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup feta cheese

Place the peaches in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss well. Place on the grill and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Place the mesclun mix in a large bowl. Add the chopped pecans, feta and cooked peaches. Then layer the mint on top. Drizzle the salad with dressing and toss to coat.

This recipe is from Paula Dean( I did adapt it a bit)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hip hip hooray for Hops

Somehow I thought that growing Hops would be a cool thing to do for my beer loving husband. Not that we would ever attempt to brew beer, that seems like way too much trouble. Plus we love to explore local mini breweries, so it might hamper the fun.
The Hops I grow is the common Hops (Humulus lupulus). It is a perennial herbaceous plant that sends up shoots in the spring and then dies back in the fall. All the information about Hops claim that Hops can grow between 8 to 20 inches a week. I agree with that statement 100%. It has become a nuisance for me in the Herb Garden where I have it growing on a tee pee shaped trellis. Every week I have to cut it back, or it would encompass the Herb Garden.

This Herb has taken over two other spots accidentally, I had used both spots as a dumping area for cut Hops and voila...suddenly it was consuming my butterfly bushes. Last Sunday I decided an intervention was in order and from prior experience, I knew that the tiny stiff hairs on the stems can be a real irritant, so I wore protective clothing. These hairs help the plant cling and grow up any surface including your arms and legs. I ended up with a rash wrapping around my legs and all up my arms. It wrapped so tight it actually caused bruising on my arms and legs, wow gardening is tough business! I will be very careful in the future!
photo from

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brown Eyed Susans--A Tribute to Dad

As I mentioned previously, every year my father, would note in writing the day the Daffodils first bloomed in the Spring as well as the first day the Brown Eyed Susans opened. When we moved from Indiana, the Brown Eyed Susans came along and have filled my gardens with his love. So this is for you Dad; I know you are watching..... much love!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Tonight I made my Dilled Green Bean Salad. It is so tasty and such a great salad to take to a gathering. Here's the thing...I have struggled to grow Dill. I know all the spec's on Dill say how easy it is to grow, but it does not like me. I think it is because it is labeled as a calming herb and I am anything but calm. The early settlers named this herb the "meetin seed" because children were given this herb seed to chew during long church meetings to help them remain calm. Perhaps I should chew on this herb seed daily.

This is a duel purpose herb, I love the young fresh leaves, they are so lightly scented. The fresh seed heads , still in the green state , I use to make Dill Vinegar and then I collect the dried seeds to either reseed or use in dishes.

At the Botanical Gardens we are overrun with Dill and Fennel, so much that they are becoming way to friendly creating Dinnell .(a cross between dill and fennel) Perhaps as I get older and my patience increases, I will be blessed with a good crop of Dill.

Dilled Green Bean Salad

1lb fresh green beans
1/2 cup salad oil
1/2 cup dill vinegar
1Tblsp fresh dill weed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teas dried mustard
1/2 teas sugar
1/2 teas salt
1/8 teas pepper
1 onion sliced
Cook green beans till crisp. Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over the green beans. Refrigerate overnight.Drain before serving.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Herrenhausen Oregano

These pictures are from the Herb Garden at the Botanical Gardens in Shelby County. Quite honestly we put this variety in the garden because the local garden store had extra and gave us a good deal. It has turned out to be a highlight of the garden. Tonight we had a work and photograph session(for the local magazine), the Herrenhausen had bees dancing from one plant to the next as well as a wonderful array of butterflies
Last week I cut some of this plant because it had fallen into the path. I put it in the hatch back of my car and promptly forgot it was there. All during the week, I kept smelling this nice fragrance. After about 4 days, I remembered the Oregano in the back of my car, voila it was perfectly dried. The purple flowers were preserved true to their growing color.
My car has tinted windows, so it is perfect for drying herbs, low light,warm,and dry. The color remained perfect, and it now rests in a basket in my dinning room. This is a great tip for Mom's always on the go. I refer to it as "The Cut and Go Drying Method"
I have never used this variety of Oregano for culinary purposes, I have heard it overpowers the dish with its' perfume. But I would highly recommend growing this variety for its' beauty!

(Origanum laevigatum 'Herrenhausen')

Yummy Lemon Tea Bread

Working in the Lemon Balm, inspired me to find one of my favorite recipes..Lemon Tea Bread

3/4 c. milk
1 Tbsp. finely chopped lemon balm
1 Tbsp. chopped lemon thyme
1 Tbsp. chopped lemon verbena
2 c. all pupose flour
1/1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1/4 Tsp. salt
6 Tbsp.butter( at room temperature)
1c. sugar
2 eggs
1Tbsp. grated lemon zest

Butter a 9x5x3 inch pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat the milk with the chopped herbs and let it steep until cool.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl cream the butter and gradually beat in the sugar. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the lemon zest, Add the flour mixture alternately with the herbed milk. Mix until the batter is just blended. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center and comes out clean. Remove from the pan onto a wire rack that is set over a sheet of waxed paper. Pour Lemon Glaze over the still hot bread, Decorate with a few sprigs of lemon thyme.

Lemon Glaze:
Juice of 2 lemons Confectioners sugar

Put the lemons juice in a bowl and add the sugar, stirring until a thick, but still pourable paste forms. Pour the glaze over the hot bread.

Recipe from the "Cooking with Herbs" published by the Columbus Herb Society in Columbus, Indiana. I was a founding member of this group. I did change the recipe a bit by adding the Lemon Verbena.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Battle of the Balm

Tonight as the evening began to close in on the day, I felt the aggravating bites of mosquitoes. I decided it was time to attend to a task I had saved for just such an occasion, the cutting of the Lemon Balm.(Melissa Officinalis). Lemon Balm is good for helping to ward off insects and at this point I was desperate.

My Lemon Balm had been assigned a spot on the far side of the Herb House, but it was attempting a coup on the Oregano in the front of the Herb House. Aggressive action was in order.

Lemon Balm is a perennial herb that can be invasive. I love the leaf, it is heart shaped with scalloped edges. The fact that bees love the flowers and the herb’s wonderful lemon scent make it a good addition to the garden, but do take heed. At the Arboretum Garden Lemon Balm is trying to rule the Tea Garden, consequently we will be giving away free Lemon Balm to anyone who wanders into the park.

I use the young leaves of this lemon queen in salads; add it to fish and chicken, and lemonade. Basically, any place where you would use lemon peel, Lemon Balm can be substituted. I have a friend in Indiana that swore she polished her furniture with it plus put it under the cushions to keep the fleas away. (She had a big dog)

One parting comment, I am fascinated by all the Lemon Herbs! Many years ago I was sharing herbs with a class of 3rd graders. I passed around Lemon Balm and asked the youngsters to identify the scent. One kiddo could barely contain himself; “I know, I know, it is pledge!”

My task is now completed and the Lemon Balm somewhat controlled. I am bug free and ready to relax with a cool glass of wine or perhaps lemoncello would be more appropriate.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zesty and Wonderful Basil Vinegar

The storm on Tuesday knocked over many plants in the garden. My tall sunflowers came crashing down on the Opal Basil. So I am "forced" to trim the Basil. The good news is that now I am going to make Opal Basil Vinegar. This is one of my favorite harvesting tasks.

It is so easy to make this wonderful delight. I harvest some stems and leaves of Opal Basil. I rinse them and let them dry. Then I put a gallon of white vinegar in a pot and bring it to a boil. I do not let it boil! In the same container the vinegar was in, I stuff( don't you like the technical aspect of this recipe) opal basil leaves in the container and then pour the hot vinegar back into the jug. It is so cool..the vinegar turns this amazing reddish/pink color instantly.
I let the vinegar seep and then strain it and put it into decorative jars. I will sometimes leave it in the jugs for several months. It is amazing!! I do put a fresh sprig of basil ( with a blossom) in the decorative jar for an added decorative touch.
When we first moved to Shelbyville, I was busy making this vinegar and I had some plumbing issues so the local appliance center was there to fix it. I had about 10 jugs of vinegar and basil on the counter. I could tell there where some questions...finally the worker turned to me and said "Ma'm(we are in the south) is that wine you are making"? I guess the beautiful rose color fooled them!

Here is my favorite Recipe to use up my wonderful Opal Basil Vinegar. Enjoy!

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower

1 bunch broccoli

2 stalks celery diced

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp poppy seeds

1 tsp salt

1tsp dry mustard

1 onion finely diced

1/2 cup Opal Basil Vinegar

1 1/4 cup salad oil

Break cauliflower and broccoli into bite sized pieces. Add celery

Mix sugar, poppy seed, salt, mustard, and onion vinegar and onion and add to the vegetables. Refrigerate for at least three hours.

Stand back and wait for the love...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Natures Surprise...Too Much Rain

* Note that this was written last night, after the power came back on!

Well if the ground is too wet...what is a gardener to do?

I am trying hard to find a positive note to write about tonight. We have received too much rain today. In fact Louisville got 6 inches of rain in one hour! That is the record for rain in an hour. It has had very disastrous results. We have had a heck of a year. Wind, rain, ice, rain, get the picture. Mother Nature has taken out her anger on the Bluegrass State.

Another day for us without power and more trees down. Ready for the positive? Our grass looks amazing! And now for nature prevailing- check out the ajuga growing on the front of the herb house! Amazing.

One last plug for mint

In the Thursday July 30th edition of The Wall Street Journal there is a great article about mint. It is called "Death by Mint Oil: Natural Pesticides", and can be found on the link below. There is hope for this sweet smelling herb!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mint Freeze

This is a refreshing summer dessert, that my Mother use to serve to all her garden club friends. It looks so pretty in parfait glasses. I now have my Mom's glasses and smile when I serve this great dessert. ( Mom's recipe calls for adding food coloring, I do not do that, but I have included the food coloring in the recipe to preserve Mom's recipe.)

Mint Freeze

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup lemon juice
Green food coloring( I leave this out)
1 cup whipping cream

Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water -boil until sugar dissolves. Cool syrup and put mint and sugar in blender and run until fine. Stir in 1/2 cup lemon juice and green food coloring(or not)

Strain and discard mint. Freeze until smooth, fold in whipped cream. Put into the parfaits glasses and freeze until firm.

I add some small mint leaves as a garnish. As this settles in the glass, it forms layers and is so beautiful. Everyone loves it, it is refreshing, cool and so minty!!

Enjoy!! There is so much to love about mint. Some time we will explore the wonders of a Mint Julep!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Great Recipe-Mint

I was all set to blog on a totally different herb, but I tried a new recipe today, and it was great. Each week I pick a different cookbook, magazine, blog, or herb and plan all my recipes from that source .The last two weeks have been the "Clean Eating Magazine." (july /august ) Most all of the recipes have been good, but this was great!

The secret ingredient was mint, we all know about mint, however living in Kentucky I have a special connection. Also in one of my fields, wild mint grows all through it, so I surmise it must have been someone's garden many years ago, maybe Squire Boone's wife!

My favorite comment about mint is; " mint is like teenagers, easy to grow and nurture but impossible to control! "When we sold our first house in Shelbyville, I had an herb garden that was laden with mint. I asked the new owner if he would like me to transplant any plants. He replied oh no,he loved them all and then promptly tilled them under. Fast Forward.....I was talking to a class at the neighborhood grade school and a young person looked at me and said, oh you are the lady that owned our house, my Dad is so upset he tilled everything under and the mint keeps coming up. I just looked at him and smiled.

So I love mint!
Revenge is sweet, or at least minty!!


Grilled Chicken in Melon Bowls


2 large cantaloupes, washed, scrubbed, cut in half and seeded

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast,thinly sliced and chopped

1 cup cooked green fava beans or Lima beans, chilled( I left this out)

1 cup Romaine Lettuce, shredded

2 oz unsalted cashews

1 cup 100% orange juice

Juice 1 lime

2 to 3 oz fresh blueberries

1 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt

Mint leaves for garnish( I put them into the salad)

With a melon baller, scoop out each cantaloupe half, side aside melon balls. Drain the remaining liquid from melon and keep in reserve. Set aside melon halves and keep chilled.

I poached the chicken and then chilled. (The recipe called for grilling the chicken with a tbsp of olive oil.)

Place chicken, cut up, in a large mixing bowl. Add beans and lettuce; toss gently. Add melon balls, cashews,orange juice,lime juice, and reserved cantaloupe juice. Toss gently again. Divide among the cut cantaloupe bowls and dollop yogurt on top and then top with blueberries. Garnish with mint.

OK...I was tired and had been at the hospital in Indiana with my Mom all afternoon, so I put all the ingredients in a big bowl, added the blueberries,yogurt and mint on top. Chilled and then mixed it all together. It was wonderful!!!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fun from a Friend

Most Friends send you pictures of family etc ,etc.....but my friends send me pictures of herbs and how they use them. I love it. This is from a great Georgian Friend. Isn't it beautiful!


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