Drying Herbs-Parsley, Basil and Thyme

My herbs are growing like crazy this year!! And I really don’t want to waste them so… since I had success with drying mint leaves I thought I would try to dry some herbs, Parsley, Basil and Thyme.

There is nothing like fresh herbs to add to you recipes but over the winter it’s kinda hard to keep fresh herbs on hand and those little packets of herbs you get at the store are not always in the best condition and they can be a little pricey too.

And even though I have a decent green thumb, I have never had success with herbs indoors. But now that I think of it, I have not tried since I moved in my house. Maybe I’ll give it a try this winter.

So, let’s get started. You will need paper plates and paper towels. I also used parchment paper to put the dried herbs on before I crumbled them but you could use another paper plate.

You will also need airtight containers to store them in, you can buy cute little jars to do this or just save jars from jelly or condiments. Label each jar with the name of the herb and the year. The dried herbs should be good for a year.

After selecting the herb you want to dry first, make good cuttings and make sure you rinse off any dirt and bugs. I like to set the herbs in a glass jar with a little water to keep them fresh, then when the leaves are completely dry you can begin the drying process. You do NOT want to dry the herbs while they are still wet, the heat from the microwave will cook them instead of drying.

Parsley: This was a little bit of a challenge until I got it figured out! First I tried the oven knowing it would get brown, but I gave it a shot, but it stank! Smelled burnt instead of dried. Then I tried the microwave and they actually caught fire and threw sparks… What the HECK!!!

The first time I tried drying them in the microwave, I just put them on a glass plate like I did my mint. I was surprised when they actually sparked! Then I tried putting a shot glass with just a little water in it, back in the corner of the microwave. All that did was add more moisture which I figured it would but after seeing the sparks fly, I thought it was at least worth a shot! Lastly I used paper plates and covered the parsley with paper towels. And that worked like a charm!

       

Just lay out the parsley on a paper plate, a single layer, cover with paper towels and then nuke them in 30 second increments until they are completely dry and easily crumble when you touch them. Check the parsley after each 30 second increment. Depending on the parsley, the time to dry will vary. I had some stems that had large thick leaves and then I had some stems that had smaller, thinner leaves which did not take as long.

I also left the dried parsley sit on parchment paper for several hours before I crumbled them. You don’t have to do that but I just wanted to make sure they were completely dry.

Basil: Again, lay the leaves on a paper plate in a single layer and not overlapping, and cover with paper towels. Nuke them in 20 or 30 second increments. My basil leave actually left off steam as they dried. I may have slightly panicked at first but then I put a paper towel over them and the drying process went well.

Nuke them in increments until they are dry. I left the leaves sit for a few hours before crumbling. I did run across one or two that were not completely dry so I popped them back in for a few seconds until they were crumbly.

Thyme: I just love this herb, it has to be one of my favorites. I put it in just about everything; scrambled eggs, quiche, soups, roasts, pasta salads, LOVE it!

I did the same with the thyme, laying sprigs of thyme on a paper plate and cover with a paper towel. The thyme definitely dried quicker and that is because the leaves are much smaller and there is less moisture in the herb.

So I only needed 2 increments of 30 seconds and it was done. After a few minutes I just ran my fingers down the stem and the dried leaves just fell off! Then I folded the paper plate in half and used it as a funnel to slide the herbs into the glass jar.

This was a fun project that I did on a Sunday that was just too darn hot to be outside. I’m sure I will have more herbs later as the plants fill in again. And I plan on giving some dried herbs as gifts too. Better start saving more jars!

Houseplants, Flowers and Butterfly’s

I have a deep imbedded love for houseplants and flowers. I think it started when I was quite young, maybe around 10, while I was visiting my aunt in Baltimore. She is also a houseplant and flower addict.

  

Anyway, she took me along to run her errands, one of those stops was a plant shop. She bought me a plant, and the addiction began.

I’ve had plants in my home ever since, even as a teenager I had plants in my room. To this day my aunt and I share plant and flower stories and cuttings.

  

I like to think I have a green thumb BUT there have been a few plants that I just cannot seem to keep alive. That doesn’t stop or discourage me although I do not like being the cause for a plants demise.

 

Same thing with my outside flowers and plants; I cannot get enough flowers for the summer! I have pots of annual flowers all over the front porch, back patio and even in the mulch beds. And my mulch beds are filled with perennials. I am always finding something new to me that sparks in my heart!

  

I still have a lot of empty spots in my flower beds that need filled in, so I am working on a list. Last year I bought some varieties of cone flowers, unfortunately the bunnies ate a lot of them and they never really grew after that. This year they are coming up nicely so I’m excited to see them bloom.

 

This is my third spring with my little lilac bush, my most favorite flower ever. Limelight hydrangea’s are also a favorite, I have 6 of those.

  

I like to hide little things in my flowers too. I have some trolls, one of which is doing yoga! And I have a small fairy garden set up for the granddaughters. I even have a frog doing yoga in one of the flower beds.

 

I also love butterfly bushes, the Black Knight is my favorite. And with all of these flowers, especially the butterfly bushes that I have, brings a lot of butterflies.

So now I “raise” them. I keep pots of parsley in all the beds, Black Swallowtails lay their eggs on parsley. And I have Butterfly Weed, Monarchs lay their eggs on that.

At the end of last summer I had 10 Black Swallowtail chrysalis’ that overwintered. All of them have eclosed this spring.

I had hoped to raise bees this year but there is a little bit of expense to start the set up. My home needs some attention and that is where I need to put that money this year, so maybe next year I can start beekeeping.

I suppose at some point I will no longer have room to buy anymore plants, I am getting really close but I’m not there yet!

Honey Lavender Lemonade

There is nothing more refreshing then fresh lemonade on a hot humid day.  It is really a treat on days that I am doing yard and garden work.

I up’d my lemonade game and made Honey Lavender Lemonade, and I cannot stay away from it!

Between the refreshing lemons and the sweetness from the honey simple syrup, the hint of lavender just took this drink to a different level.

I started with the simple syrup. To a small saucepan I poured in one cup of water, about ½ cup of sugar. I didn’t measure, I just eyeballed, which I do a lot! I heated that over a medium low heat, stirring often, until the sugar was dissolved. Then I turned off the heat and added ½ cup of my favorite honey. I stirred the simple syrup until the honey dissolved and then set it aside.

Next I steeped the lavender buds. I measured 2 T of organic lavender buds into a small coffee filter and tied it shut with a little piece of butcher twine. Tossed that in a coffee mug with water, about 1 cup of water and nuked it for about 2 minutes. Set it aside to steep. Basically your making lavender tea, YUM!

Finally I started working on the lemons. I squeezed about 6 lemons and got about one cup of lemon juice. I poured that into my Mom’s pretty Princess House pitcher.

When the simple syrup and lavender tea were cooled, I poured that in with the lemon juice and added an additional 3 cups of water.

Stir and serve. Garnish with lemon slices and a sprig of lavender. I will definitely be making this a lot this summer!

 

Honey Lavender Lemonade

5 cups water

½ cup sugar

½ cup honey

2 T organic lavender buds

1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice

  1. Start with the simple syrup. Add 1 cup of water and the sugar to a small saucepan. Heat the water until the sugar melts and remove from heat. Add the honey and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Add the lavender buds to a coffee filter and tie shut with butchers twine. To a coffee mug add 1 cup water and the lavender tea bag and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes and then let steep while you juice the lemons.
  3. Add the lemon juice to a pitcher, add the simple syrup and the lavender water. Then add the remaining 3 cups of water.

Strawberry Syrup

Who doesn’t love fresh picked strawberries in the spring! Yum! And who doesn’t like ice cream? Seriously, we can’t be friends if you don’t. Just kidding!

I had some strawberries that I picked up at the grocery store, so they were not local and nor fresh picked. They were not very flavorful at all. So what to do with them?

Make strawberry sundae syrup!

I ended up with about one and half cups of strawberries cut in half, about ¾ cup of sugar and a couple of tablespoons of Cherry Pomegranate juice. You can just use water. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a light simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure it does not go to a heavy boil. After 5 minutes mash the strawberries, I used an old fashioned hand held potato masher. Love that kitchen tool! Let it simmer for another minute or two and turn off the heat.

It should thicken as it cools and still be pourable.

Depending on how sweet (or not so sweet) your berries are will dictate how much sugar you use to make the syrup.

You can serve this syrup warm or cold over ice cream, waffles, pancakes or French toast.

I hope you are enjoying the Memorial Day weekend.

Ginger Honey Lemonade

I have been enjoying a hot tea of fresh ginger, lemon and honey every afternoon.  All three of those ingredients are beneficial; anti-inflammatory, immune booster and aides in digestion.

But then I thought, why not make an iced lemonade from this awesome concoction!

I enjoyed the ginger lemonade the day that I cut my grass for the first time this season and wowza was it a delicious treat!  Very refreshing!

And it’s so very easy to make.  I had a very large piece of ginger, so I still have enough for another pitcher or several cups of hot tea.

I took five 1 inch pieces of the ginger, peeled it and cut it into halves and placed them into a sauce pan with 5 cups of water.  Cover the pot and bring it to a light simmer.  Let it simmer for about 15 minutes and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, take 5 lemons and squeeze the juice (minus the seeds!) into a pitcher.

When the ginger water is cooled but still ever so slightly warm, pour that into the pitcher with the lemon juice and then add ¼ cup of honey.  You can adjust the honey to more or less depending on how sweet you want the lemonade.

The honey will dissolve better if the lemonade is still just a little warm.

Pour over ice and add lemon slices, sit back in your lounge chair outside and enjoy!

Mojito’s and Mint Tea

I love when my herbs are growing and blooming!  But I REALLY love it with the mint has come in!

Last year I planted mint in a large pot, and it did very well.  It came back beautifully this spring.  But I had to plant another pot this year because I love it so much!

I have made my usual mint tea twice this spring and now I make mojito’s!!

img_1846
You can check out my recipe for the mint tea recipe here Fresh Mint Tea.  Although I plan to use some green tea bags the next time I make it, green tea is so healthy for us and I’m trying to incorporate more of it in my diet.

img_1830
For the mojito, first I made a simple syrup by using 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring the water to a light boil, stirring until the sugar is melted.  Remove from heat and add about 5 large mint leaves to the syrup to “steep” while it cools.

I cut a lime in half, set half of it aside and the other half I quartered and squeezed the lime juice into my glass with about 10 mint leaves.  Muddle to break up the leaves, for just about a minute.  Then I added the lime quarters that I squeezed the  juice from and muddled them for a few seconds.  Fill glass with ice.

After the simple syrup was cool, I added 2 ozs to my glass.  Then 2-3 ozs of white rum and topped off the glass with seltzer water.
Add a lime slice to the rim of the glass and float a sprig of mint on top as well.

img_1813
Mint Mojito

 

  • 15 mint leaves, more for a more minty taste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 ozs white rum
  • 1 lime
  • seltzer water

Make a simple syrup with the sugar and water by placing in a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil, stirring to melt the sugar.  When the sugar is melted stir in 5 mint leaves and set aside to cool.

Cut a lime in half; take half the lime and quarter it, squeeze juice into glass. Add 10 mint leaves and muddle.  Add the squeezed lime quarters and muddle lightly again.  I added another half of a slice of lime to the glass and to the rim.

Fill glass with ice, add the rum and mint infused simple syrup.  Top with a splash of seltzer water.

Live well friends and have a minty summer!  Be sure to follow me on Facebook for daily babbling and rambling!

img_1846