using herbs for homemade gifts

The herb garden is my favorite! 

The immediate reward compared to the little input in maintaining it is what I love. The little plants are inexpensive and several of them come back every spring. You’ll be surprised how particularly prolific herbs are! The delight in stepping out of the farmhouse kitchen and cutting a handful of sage for the chicken roast can’t be easily surpassed. Of course, the herbs’ various scents are pleasurable for even the littlest ones in the family : ).

They enjoy chewing on the leaves of most of the herbs. “Spearmint tastes like chewing gum, but it doesn’t make a mess in your hair.”

Over the summers, we’ve put together little herb favors from our own harvest. Homemade food gifts are always cherished for their thoughtfulness. Maybe consider presenting the herb-infused gifts to friends with a list of serving suggestions.

Lavender sprigs are a delicate bundle to gift.  It will brighten anyone’s day gathered in simple ribbon.  This takes no time nor effort, yet it may cheer the recipient alongside a simple batch of cookies or a pot of soup.

Salt-Herb Blends – Sprinkle a custom seasoning onto vegetables and meats before cooking, or pass it at the table.  Combine 1/4 cup coarse salt with 2 to 4 tablespoons mixed ground spices, chopped fresh herbs, or zest (be sure to refrigerate fresh-herb and zest blends; discard unused portion after 1 week).  Try mix-ins such as caraway seeds and pepper; thyme and lemon zest; toasted black-and-white sesame seeds; and chile powder and oregano.

Herb Infused Honey – Enhance the flavor and aroma of an ordinary jar of honey by putting in two or three sprigs of fresh herbs into the syrup.  Lavender is a wonderful addition!

Herb Infused Olive Oil – Choosing a pretty bottle always makes the gift special.  Wash the herbs and dry them thoroughly.  Extra virgin olive oil will taste best.  Add the herb sprigs, a couple of whole garlics (unpeeled) and even a little chile pepper for a full flavored oil.  Oil is often used for preserving food, so it will not go bad at room temperature.

Herb Infused Vinegar – Select a favorite mild vinegar (white wine or rice) and add 5 herb sprigs to 2 cups of vinegar (a 12-16 oz. bottle will do great).  Oregano, rosemary, tarragon, or thyme, lightly crushed or left whole add a fair amount of flavor to the vinegar.  The vinegar can be stored at room temperature. 

 with love, Damaris
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Family Currents

Making jam when summer fruit is at its peak is fun and oh-so-delicious! While the boys have been busy working in the barn, the girls and I have made several batches of strawberry freezer jam and plan to make blueberry jam too. With freezer jam, there is no huge pot of boiling water, no precise timing, no sterilizing, and no extra heat in the house! Really, there is no mess. We’ve used honey and also Sucanat as the sweetener, and this pectin works well with both. I always pick it up at Whole Foods, but other health food stores should carry it too.


We thought we were ripe for a farm update! We’ve been eating early girls and grape tomatoes and sharing with our neighbor. We’ve also been enjoying the sweet green peppers and banana peppers. Six cauliflower heads are clean and ready to roast for dinner tonight, and the cabbages look enormous! Kale just keeps coming so we haven’t bought lettuce or spinach all summer. On a sad note, a raccoon feasted on the corn and knocked a few stalks down. Booooo.


Nathan and the boys just put some more hive boxes together, and Nathan placed them on the hives. The kids know that if they give him a hand, they’ll usually get to sample some honey off of his hive tool! We brought in a bowl of some comb and honey which he scraped out of the frames – it’s the best! It seems to be different every time we harvest, this time, so flowery. Mid-summer honey is a pale amber and the comb is delicious to chew on!

with love, Damaris