Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I'm melting but the garden is growing and herbs are drying

I know my part of the country can get hot and hazy and humid in the summer but all summer?  Not usually...  When my husband woke up this morning, he asked me what I thought of the heavy fog outside.  I had him look out the front door... air as clear as can be.  It was all of our windows which were fogged due to humidity.  Sheesh...

I had to make a quick trip into town last night and the heat index was 106 when I checked just before leaving.  This wasn't too long before the sun was to go down.  It's to be even hotter today so I was out in the garden early.  I had to pull a few plants to give the tomatoes more air space (the tomatoes had all grown over those green bean plants).

Never... ever... have I seen tomato plants grow so big.   The green peppers are growing like crazy, too.  At least some species love the hot weather.  :)

I harvested a large amount of lemon balm to dry and the last of the Italian parsley to use today.  I didn't trim it like I should so it grew all spindly but (like most mints) the lemon balm grew beautifully with neglect.  There were more tomatoes but not quite enough Roma's to make a full batch for drying.  I set them aside and let them continue to ripen along with those on the vine.

The West Ladies Herb DVD has been such a blessing.  I have watched it many times and learned so much.  Just this morning, when I came back from the garden (glistening sweating!), I poured a cold glass of sun tea made with apple mint.  I added no sweetening at all and it was still delicious.  I loved learning about apple mint from the DVD.

I have dried herbs for years now but I still learned a lot from them.  Above is a picture of two herbs now stored in jars. The larger jar is dried lemon verbena, which was dried and then taken off the stem like I usually do.  However, the smaller jar contains my dried thyme, which was stored on the stem after it dried as they suggested.  So much easier to use!  I have more thyme drying in the little (mostly unused) bathroom.

Below is what I did with the basil I harvested last week.  I had misplaced my recipe for pesto I can freeze so I did a Google search and came up with lots of good ideas.  That's why I love using the internet for such learning, I get a lot of different ideas and experiences.

One writer suggested placing the pesto in tiny Dixie cups for freezing individual portions (as one usually uses just a little at a time).  Well, I had a box of those cups since I don't use them often and wallah!!!... this is what they turned out like.  I placed them in a plastic bag and on a plate overnight in the freezer and then transferred them to a freezer bag.

I made the pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts... I already had the walnuts and the pine nuts are beyond my budget right now.  It tasted just fine.

Yesterday was also spent in the kitchen as I'd promised the guys "something sweet".  I ended up making the chocolate cherry cake which I keep in the frig in this humidity.  It is so easy to make and I had all the ingredients in the pantry.  I made the oriental chicken "spareribs" for dinner, needing to use a package of deboned chicken thighs quickly and again having all the ingredients in the pantry.  (Let's here it for the pantry!!!)

The oven is not going on today!

Picture at the top of the post:  Homegrown tomatoes beside Queen Anne's Lace picked from the side of our country road.


Vee said...

I'm going to write down that tip about drying rosemary on the stem. That's a great one and one that I can use. I am so bad about harvesting my herbs. I just have them around for the aroma when I'm walking by I guess. Stay's been frightfully hot here today, too, and muggyyyyyy.

Manuela@TPOH said...

This heat wave is just crazy isn't it! I don't know if I can take much more! I hate going outside and the weeds are taking over. Our heat index is 105 today!

That's a great idea to put the pesto in those dixie cups! I'll make a note to do that next year. I've been using my crock pot a lot since I can't stand to turn on the oven.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago when I had lemon balm in the garden it seemed to come up by root and I had it a lot of places... For a while I had a hard time getting rid of it. I don't know if this is usual but if I had it again I think I would put it in a pot and put screening over the pot bottom hole. Am I the only one who has had this experience with lemon balm? When I made tea out of it it seemed odd tasting...How many leaves of mint or lemon balm do you use per average cup? Can you use cream in this type of tea or is it or best with only sugar? I am new to it but love tea. I learned several gardening things new at Rhonda's yesterday now more on your blog today Brenda. Many thanks!! Sarah

Mrs.Rabe said...

Oh so hot here too! And the heat index is crazy! The humidity is a killer!

I need to think ahead tonight for a meal for my family for tomorrow which doesn't use the oven!

Praising the Lord for Air Conditioning!

Heather L. said...

Dixie cups are a great idea!! i too omitted the pine nuts, but didn't replace them with anything as walnuts bother me. :(

Our favorite way to fix lemon balm is lemon balm tea (I think the Homestead Blessings group made apple mint tea this way, but we prefer the lemon balm). We "knead" the lemon balm in a bowl of water until it starts to turn "tea colored" and then we strain it and add a bit of agave nectar or honey. I LOVE it!!! Somehow the apple mint, when prepared this way, was too strong for me.

Charlene said...

Good idea about the Dixie cups--I've heard of freezing pesto in ice cube trays, too, then afterwards dumping them into a freezer bag for more long term storage.