Building an Earth Oven, Part II: Insulation, Finish Plaster, and Cob Mosaic — The Druids Garden

In last week’s post , we began exploring the build of an earth oven.  An Earth Oven is a simple structure, made of clay, sand, straw, stone, and fire brick, that you can use to cook foods in a traditional way.  Last week’s post walked you through the first set of steps for building your…

Building an Earth Oven, Part II: Insulation, Finish Plaster, and Cob Mosaic — The Druids Garden

The Perfect Lilac Shortbread & The Art of Enfleurage — Gather Victoria

I am enamored of lilac. Her scent on warm spring evenings evokes the happiest of memories. Every year I attempt to capture her glorious scent in baking and every year I learn yet another lesson about her culinary intricacies.  Through trial and error, I discovered what perfumers knew long ago, lilac’s intoxicating fragrance is notoriously…

The Perfect Lilac Shortbread & The Art of Enfleurage — Gather Victoria

Building an Earth Oven Part I: Foundation, Dome, and Structure — The Druids Garden

An earth oven is an oven made of cob (a mixture of clay, sand, and straw) with insulating features (firebricks, bottles).  It is an extremely efficient and sustainable method of doing any baking you might need to do. One firing of your earth oven can allow you to bake different things for hours (pizzas, bread,…

Building an Earth Oven Part I: Foundation, Dome, and Structure — The Druids Garden

Black Madonna of Montserrat: Chocolate Rose Crown Cake — Gather Victoria

I thought I’d share this recipe from Gather Victoria Patreon for two reasons. May is the sacred month of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in Roman Catholic tradition, roses are the emblematic flower of the Blessed Virgin Mary – and roses will be blooming shortly!  On May 31st  a “crown cake”  is typically baked “affirming…

Black Madonna of Montserrat: Chocolate Rose Crown Cake — Gather Victoria

Know Your Tarragon – The Herb of the Month

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

French tarragon in a potIt pays to pay attention to plant labels. Especially in the case of tarragon–especially if you are planning to use tarragon in your cooking. If you are growing tarragon for culinary purposes, be sure the label on the plant or seed that you buy says “French tarragon” or Artemisia dracunculus ‘Sativa’, to be sure. If the label says only “tarragon,” you may be purchasing Russian tarragon, which is not the tarragon you want for your roast chicken or béarnaise sauce. 

Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus, is The Herb Society of America’s Herb of the Month for March. Read on for more information about the plants we call tarragon.

French tarragon — Artemisia dracunculus ‘Sativa’    

The botanical name for tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus, comes from the Latin word meaning “little dragon” or “snake.” It is thought that the plant was given this name because its roots…

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Gather Ye Redbuds While Ye May – A Colorful Harbinger of Spring…and Edible, Too!

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Karen Cottingham

Eastern_Redbud_by Dan Keck via wikimediaHere in Texas, there’s a saying: “We have two seasons – summer and winter.” That’s not quite true; but if you’re not paying attention, spring can slip right past. And the last thing I want is to miss a single day of our glorious, but ephemeral, spring. 

The nights here are still cold – sometimes approaching freezing – but the robins have arrived, so I know springtime is near. It’s time to listen for a hushed prelude to seasonal change, time to look for intimations of life beginning to stir. Every few days, this calls for a visit to the two redbud trees in my Houston neighborhood to check the trunks and bare branches for any evidence of tiny pink flowers. Nothing to see for weeks on end; then suddenly, here they are – scattered crimson buds emerging straight from the furrowed bark, swelling with life, and…

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Hawthorn Berry Brownie Cake w/ Hawthorn Berry Buttercream Frosting — Gather Victoria

What more appropriate treat could there be for an occasion of the heart like Valentines Day? After all, many herbalists consider hawthorn berries the ultimate heart tonic and every kitchen witch knows that bewitching hawthorn opens the heart to love.  Heart-warming.& heart-strengthening, hawthorn heals, protects and uplifts heavy hearts, supporting us physically, emotionally and spiritually. …

Hawthorn Berry Brownie Cake w/ Hawthorn Berry Buttercream Frosting — Gather Victoria

Mother Holle Cloud Tart w/ Cranberry & Hawthorn Berry Curd — Gather Victoria

Happy Winter Solstice! I’m sharing this recipe from the Gather Victoria Winter Magic ECookbook because it encapsulates the archetypal drama of the season – the rebirth of the light. And that meant plenty of cakes, cookies, and confections for the old winter witches like Frau Holle! Their symbols are very much alive in our holiday…

Mother Holle Cloud Tart w/ Cranberry & Hawthorn Berry Curd — Gather Victoria

Cloves – A Holiday Spice and Herb of the Month

The Herb Society of America Blog

Botanical print of cloveThe spice that we call cloves comes from the clove tree, Syzygium aromaticum. This evergreen herbal tree is in the Myrtle (Myrtaceae) family and is native to the Molucca Islands in the Pacific Ocean. These islands were once called the Spice Islands and now are a part of Indonesia. 

The tree needs a warm, humid climate, and deep, loamy soil to grow well. It is said that it also needs to see the sea in order to thrive. It does indeed grow well near the coasts of tropical islands. The clove tree can reach a height of 26 – 40 feet and begins to flower when it is about five years old. At 20 years, it is ready to begin harvesting the cloves, which are the unopened flower buds, growing in clusters of 10 – 15 buds. The tree continues to produce cloves for more than 80 years…

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Herbs for Holiday Baking

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Peggy Riccio

Pumpkin pie with sage leaves and marigold flowersWhen I think of herbs for Christmas, I always think of the Simon and Garfunkel “Scarborough Fair” song:  “Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.” Sure, there is peppermint and plenty of spices, but these herbs seem to be the most popular during the holidays. I think that is because these plants are still green in the garden. In my USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Virginia garden, I can still pick these plants in December to use in the kitchen. My mint plants, always in containers, overwinter well, and I can harvest spearmint and peppermint.

When using these herbs, don’t just think of flavor and cooking. Think of the plant itself, the structure, size, weight, and texture of the branches and leaves. Think of how the stem or leaf can be used to decorate the dish and your table. 

Parsley

Parsley is a biennial…

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