Summer freezing

Oh I just love the taste of summer! Fresh tomatoes,  fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary. Are you sensing a theme here?

Freshness is so wonderful in the summer. And having a garden, I experience abundance in a very literal way. My gardens over flow with produce in the summer and fall. I harvest herbs daily, many of them I turn into the wonderful blends, oils and potions I sell here on the website. But I also bring plenty of them into my kitchen to cook with.

When winter comes around and snow covers the garden, I am thankful for the herbs I have stashed away in my freezer.

To freeze woody or hard herbs, such a rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, tarragon, etc. I love to put them in a fat base and put them in the freezer. I prefer olive oil or butter, they work equally well.

Chop up your herbs, you can keep them seperate or mix them. Fill an ice cube tray about 2/3rds or 3/4trs full with the herbs. If some stick out, it is no big deal. Then pour in either olive oil, or melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer over night.

The next day pop them out of the ice cube trays and put in a freezer bag. Date and label and wait for winter!

These are great to saute onions and garlic in. They are wonderful to put into homemade bread, or on homemade bread. They make a handy base for meats in the crock pot. And they can just be dropped into soups and stews.

For other herbs that are soft such as basil, parsley and chives. I freeze them in oil too, but the taste will change. For these herbs I prefer to make a paste out of them, similar to pesto. Load up the food processor with hand fulls of your herbs. Again, mix or seperate as you prefer. Then put in just a little bit of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice and process away. If the mix is on the dry side, drizzle in the olive oil as it runs until you have a paste. You can use melted butter too, just make sure it is fairly cool, as too hot will cook the herbs.

To put these in ice cube trays, I find it helps to grease the trays a bit. Just swipe them with some olive oil, then scoop in your paste. Again cover with plastic wrap and freeze over night. In the morning, bag, date and label.

The lemon juice helps keep the brightness of the herb flavor. Not exactly the same as fresh, but still wonderful for winter.

An Encyclopedic Friend

 

Do you have one of those people in your circle of friends who seems to know all the odd trivia? They have an answer for everything, and odd little bits to insert into any conversation.

I am one of those people. I get random phone calls, emails, and instant messages asking various questions all day. It has always intrigued me where these questions come from, and why the person is asking. Now, I do not claim to be the omniscient being of fancy. On occasion I don’t know the answer, so I go look it up. Then I know for the future.

Some of the questions I have answered today:

What is tiramisu?

Well, only heaven on a plate. It is an Italian cake dessert. You take lady fingers and dip them in coffee, then layer them with marscapone cheese (whipped with cream and egg yolks). Drip the whole thing over with a chocolate liquer and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Here is a recipe.

How many miles in a league?

About three and a half. The calculator says precisely 3.45233834 miles.

What is entropy?

Entropy is why ice melts, and ice baths stop cooking vegetables. It is a thermodynamic principle that causes heat to seek a level, like water seeks a level due to gravity. Cold is only an absence of heat, so when something hot comes into contact with something cold, the heat evens out with both bodies becoming the same temperature. Since heat is simply the presence of molecules vibrating or moving at a higher frequency, the transfer of energy at this molecular level spreads out the heat, and tadaa! entropy.

What is the difference between a cigar and a cigarillo?

Cigarillos are sort of like little cigarette sized cigars. They are wrapped in whole tobacco leaf like a cigar, not paper like a cigarette. They are much smaller than cigars though and are known on the continent as seven minute cigars. Cigarillos are however often machine made, where as a good cigar (and who wants a cheap cigar?) is rolled and packed by hand. Since cigarillos are often smoked like cigarettes, they are packaged similarly and are not stored in humidors. They are a lower quality product that a cigar, and the price reflects that. But they are closer to a cigar than a cigarette can ever hope to be.

How is ozone made?

Ozone is when there are three oxygen atoms together in one molecule. Oxygen, which is two oxygen atoms in one molecule floating around in the stratosphere is struck by ultra-violet rays (at the right velocity and angle), this splits the molecule into two free oxygen atoms, which then attach to existing 2 atom oxygen molecules, hence producing ozone. Ozone is naturally made and destroyed in the stratosphere. Without pollution, the planet maintains a balance of creation and depletion that keeps the ozone layer fairly consistent, but not constant. As the thickness and concentration varies based on the location and temperature.

and What does skullcap do?
In short answer, it grows. But you probably mean more than that. Medicinally speaking it is considered antispasmodic, slightly astringent, diuretic, nervine, sedative and strongly tonic. It has been used to treat various problems of the nervous system including epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, delirium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquillizers, and neuralgia. It is also used for calming and relieving stress, promoting suppressed menstruation, relieving breast pain and encouraging expulsion of the placenta. Due to its strong action on the uterus it is not recommended for use during pregnancy, as it can cause abortion. Use with caution, causes giddiness, stupor, confusion and twitching, in excess.

Magically speaking Skullcap is used for love, fidelity, and attracting money. Fidelity is an interesting use here, as it is the sort of ‘stay with me, or pay the price’ kind of fidelity. I include attracting money, as it is given as a traditional association, but I much prefer bay leaves and lodestone for that myself. For its use in love magic, it is a stupor of love, being lost in a glamour and a haze. It is most often used for sleep and connection with Mercurial entities. Providing you are only using a pinch, and have other appropriate herbs, I do like a bit of skullcap in my dream pillows. Especially if they are for prophetic dreaming. And, it goes great in small doses in incense designed to put you in touch with the Mercurial spirits. Combine with mugwort for such uses.

But, who really needs an encyclopedic friend like me around these days with google?