The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables--with Recipes.

By Paris Wolfe- Prospective Member WRHS



In mid-April, Milan, Ohio, farmer Lee Jones released The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables--with Recipes. The 640-page hefty hardback focuses on plant-based dining, unusual vegetable use and regenerative farming. AND it includes information about herbs and edible flowers.

If you don’t buy the book, at least borrow it from your library for the powerful prose and fabulous photos. It will give you a chef’s eye view on emerging vegetable and herb opportunities.

For example, you probably already knew that you could eat certain marigold (Tegetes tennifolia) flowers. But did you know you can eat the lacy leaves, too? The Chef’s Garden has dubbed these “Citrus lace” as they have citrusy fragrance and orange-soda-like flavors. 

And you’re probably familiar with the basil family – sweet green, dark opal, Thai, lemon, lime, cinnamon and more. But did you know you can eat the seeds? The book describes the flavor as floral, almost vanilla and suggests using gelled seeds as a garnish on sashimi or chilled desserts.

The herb information isn’t easily delineated in one section but woven throughout the book. The first reference starts in the Onions section, page 66 with chives – standard and garlic. The final reference is on page 609 with a recipe for Herb Kombucha. And the book has so much information and many recipes in between.

Consider recipes created by Chef Jamie Simpson, like poached peaches with basil syrup, basil oil and basil seed crackers or lavender-scented cauliflower soup.

The book’s grand finale is a section on edible flowers. Again, these aren’t just the obvious like dianthus and violas. They include vegetable and herb blooms as well, things like arugula flowers, fava blossoms and Oxalis.

It’s only recently that home chefs could order all the products sold by The Chef’s Garden. Before the pandemic limited restaurant dining, most of the herbs and vegetables were shipped to chefs at top national restaurants. When COVID changed the frequency of restaurant dining, the farm pivoted. They are now making specialty herbs and vegetables available to home cooks. The cookbook shows everyone how to get the most from this produce … even if they grow it themselves at home.

Complete with 100 recipes, Jones says, “The book is a place to inspire ways of using vegetables and reducing waste … a home cook, a chef, a farmer, a gardener can find some great tips … it’s really about inspiring people to consider the entire vegetable.”

Recipes are just part of the book’s value. It includes stories like how Chef Charlie Trotter inspired The Chef’s Garden’s explosion into microgreens. A sidebar offers basic information about fiddlehead ferns.  Another sidebar explains how to grow lemongrass. Information about nutrient content is woven through the entire narrative.

The cookbook is comprehensive and compelling. Written in Farmer Jones folksy voice it makes complex information delightful and easily accessible. This is the kind of cookbook culinary enthusiasts read for fun, not just for cooking. It belongs on the coffee table as much as the kitchen table.   

  The book – hardcover ($55)  and Kindle ($29.99) editions – is available on in mid-April.

Picture from the Chefs Garden

March 2021 Herb of the Month ~ Viola Tricolor


By Sherry Schmidt ~ Western Reserve Herb Society~ Herb Scents Editor




Pic 1


 “Perhaps no flower (not excepting even the queenly rose) claims to be so universal a favorite, as the viola tricolor; none currently has been honored with so rich a variety of names, at once expressive of grace, delicacy and tenderness”.

Dix, Dorothea Lynde. The garland of flora. S. G. Goodrich and Co. and Carter and Hendee, 1829.

Viola tricolor is a tiny 3-colored member of the Violaceae family.  As a result of its popularity, both in society and in Romantic poetry, it has acquired many common names, including Wild Pansy, Johnny Jump-up, Heartsease, Heart's Ease, Heart's Delight, Tickle-my-fancy, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, Come-and-cuddle-me, Three faces in a hood, Love-in-idleness, or Pink of my john.

This little plant is an herbaceous annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial wildflower found in lichen-dominated or meadow-like rocky outcrops, dry and sloping meadows, banks, fields, gardens, wastelands, sand fields, as well as seaside beaches.  It was brought to North America from Europe.


Pic 2

Viola tricolor blooms spring through summer.  After blooming, the fertile flowers are replaced by seed capsules producing up to 50 seeds in each capsule making it spread easily, though it is not particularly aggressive.  When mature, the capsule will divide into 3 parts and the seed will be ejected.  The plants are hermaphroditic and self-fertile, pollinated by bees.

A typical flower has violet or purple upper petals, white lateral petals and a yellow lower petal.  Several purple veins originate from the flower’s throat.  Its leaves have a variety of shapes.  The lower blades are cordate-ovate, or heart- to egg-shaped.  The middle and upper leaves are lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate (resembling a lance), rounded at the end and having parallel sides. 

The beautiful flowers of Viola tricolor have a mild pea flavor, which combines equally well with sweet or savory foods, such as grilled meats and steamed vegetables.  When newly opened, Viola flowers may be used to decorate salads.  Candied violets are the flowers preserved by a coating of egg white and crystallized sugar. Alternatively, hot syrup is poured over the fresh flower and stirred until the sugar recrystallizes and has dried.  Candied violets are still made commercially in Toulouse, France, where they are known as violettes de Toulouse. They are used for decorating cakes or trifles, or included in aromatic desserts.  The French are also known for their violet syrup.  Viola essence flavors the liqueurs Crème Yvette, Crème de Violette, and Parfait d'Amour.

Pic 3

Viola tricolor has medicinal benefits.  It contains saponins (a naturally-occurring chemical compound), salicylates (a natural anti-inflammatory) and flavonoids (with powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties).  Herbal uses include the treatment of eczema and autoimmune diseases and as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, expectorant, capillary tonic, laxative and diuretic.  Topical applications are for cradle cap, diaper rash, weeping sores, itchy skin, varicose ulcers and ringworm.

This viola has many additional uses.  It supports Fritillary butterfly larvae.  The flowers attract honeybees, bumblebees, long-tongued bees (Anaphora sp.), syrphid flies (Rhingia sp.), and butterflies.  Its flowers can be used to make yellow, green and blue-green dyes.  The leaves can be used in place of litmus paper to test acidity or alkalinity.  Viola tricolor is also the progenitor of the cultivated garden pansy.

Pic 4

In the language of flowers, Viola is a symbol of innocence, modesty, and decency by the allusion of its little corolla, which seems to hesitate to leave its casket of leaves.

Rosemary vs. March - Successfully caring for your overwintered Rosemary Plants!

By Lynne Griffin, Vice Chairman WRHS




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If you are overwintering a Rosemary plant, March represents a critical period.  This herb has increased needs for both any fresh warm air available (above 40 degrees) and plenty of water.  Check the soil daily for moisture and add water as needed (this is not too much to ask as it is only temporary until frost is no longer imminent and your herb can be planted out in a garden location).  If the soil does dry out and your Rosemary begins to wilt, add a generous amount of water and check on it the next morning.  If it does not respond to watering and perk up, harvest as much of the Rosemary plant as possible before it dies and plan on purchasing a new one in the spring.

Rosemary plants can be set outdoors on warm spring days (temp. above 40 degrees in a protected, shady, calm site). It will need to be brought back inside overnight and anytime the temperature begins to drop.

Also, Rosemary is particularly susceptible to Powdery Mildew during the month of March. Powdery Mildew can be identified by the appearance of a powdery looking growth accumulating on it’s needles. This is due to the herb’s increased need for water and see saw periods of dryness and watering.  Again, checking the soil moisture daily with your fingertip can avoid this problem, but not always. Try to keep the soil evenly moist. Included is a recipe for Powdery Mildew that I have used successfully on Rosemary with this problem.

Anti-Powdery Mildew Recipe for Rosemary

1 Gallon water

2 Tablespoons Baking Soda

2 Tablespoons Salad Oil

Mix together and shake well.

Put into a spray bottle.

Shake well before each use.

Spray on affected areas weekly.

Sometimes you can do everything right, follow all instructions, utilize every tip and the Rosemary plant will die anyway. However, don’t give up yet, as there is a back up plan available!  Simply buy a new Rosemary plant from your favorite nursery and try again next year.

Experience is a great teacher!                      

All about Parsley! IHA's Herb of the Year!


By Paris Wolfe~ Education Committee- Western Reserve Herb Society

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For the past 26 years, the International Herb Association has chosen an Herb of the Year™. The ubiquitous and versatile biennial parsley ( Petroselinum crispum)  is the star of 2021.

Parsley – both flat and curly – is probably one of the Western world’s most popular herbs. And why not? It’s been cultivated in Europe for more than 2000 years. Or so they say. Greek mythology, which reaches as far back as 900 BC, associates parsley with Archemorous or the hero-God Ophletes.

The story vaguely goes something like this … where Archemorous blood was shed, the herb sprouted. At some point Persephone gathered his spirit in the form of parsley. Because Persephone helped guide souls to the underworld, she is often depicted with a bouquet of parsley. And that led to parsley use to decorate tombstones and memorials.

Legend says parsley must visit Persephone’s husband – Hades -- nine times before sprouting. Anyone who has tried to cultivate it from seed knows that sprouting takes so long that might be true.

Charles the Great (742 AD - 814 AD), the influential Roman emperor who brought together western and central Europe, is given some credit for the herb’s popularity as he grew it all over his property.

Two main groups of parsley are the original Italian aka flat and the new-ish French aka curly. Some folks (like my late mother-in-law) claim flat-leaf parsley is superior because of its stronger flavor. Other folks prefer the frilly leaves and lighter herbaceousness of the curly variety. Flat leave varieties have other benefits … they’re easier to cultivate and more weather tolerant.

This Herb of the Year is extremely versatile in the kitchen and blends well with other seasonings. It has fans, as both seasoning and garnish, around the globe. Parsley-forward preparations include persillade, tabbouleh, Italian salsa verde, gremolata and more.

Its useful properties include breath freshener, supposedly strong enough to fight garlic. It also has diuretic properties, but should not be consumed in large quantities, especially by pregnant women.

New herbies will find it among the easiest plants to grow in containers or soil, once sprouted. Actual sprouts require patience as they may take 4 to 6 weeks to appear. Once above ground, parsley plants will thrive in ordinary soil in almost any light.

Their first year the plants form a whirl of mostly prolific foliage. (Unless the critters get there first.) The second year, leaves are sparse and flower umbels appear. As the leaves are harvested for cooking, they are replaced by new growth.

Whatever your preference – flat or curly – celebrate parsley this year!

What to do with all of that delightful Mint!

 By Bobbi Henkel - WRHS Garden Chair

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Peppermint is one of the easiest to grow and most versatile of the common kitchen herbs.  It gives back to your effort with its lovely green appearance and pretty little tufts of terminal racemes of flower spikes.   But, the fragrance and the taste potential give its most sought after delights.

Ease of growing:   Mint grows in full or partial sun, and can easily be started in pots on your patio, or placed into soil directly in places where you wouldn’t care if it spreads like wildfire.

It attracts pollinators and grows in lousy clay soil like my Ohio backyard,  but even better in some cultivated lovely loamy humus.  Even Miracle Grow.  Don’t let it dry out.  It loves moisture and is a frost-hardy perennial in zones 3-12.   And, if you’re worried and want it to produce even longer, bring it into your garage or porch over the winter.  My pots stay outdoors in Northern Ohio Winters and are about 5 years old so far.

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Fresh cut for flower bouquets:  The leaves are a pretty deep green growing off square stems that hold their shape easily.   You can mix them into black eyed Susans  and you have a sensual treat because of the fragrance and the colors.   The blooms appear at the terminus of the stems in little tufts of white or light pink or lavender.

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To use Peppermint freshly picked:  Choose small tender bright green leaves and pick whole stems.  Wash it under cold water and pat it dry with a towel.

Add a sprig to garnish a glass of lemonade or iced tea

Add small leaves to fruit salads:  cantaloupe, watermelon, berries with a squirt of lemon over them all.  Chill and serve. Also? Why don't you mix up fresh Arnold Palmers:  1/2 lemonade with 1/2 cold tea and add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh peppermint.    Allow to stand for an hour then strain and serve over ice. This allows a subtle hint of mint.   Longer steeping yields stronger flavor.

Freeze finely chopped peppermint (2 tsps) into ice cube tray compartments.  Add water or lemonade to fill the cube compartments and freeze.  Use the cubes in beverages immediately or up to two months later if kept in plastic bags in the freezer.  You are ready for mojitos anytime  or you can add them to spice up steamed veggies:  baby carrots, new potatoes are the ones I do with a little butter and lemon or lime juice.

 Another of my favorite uses for chopped peppermint is to combine it with parsley, bulgur wheat and lemon juice to make your own tabbouleh salads

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Dried:   wash your fresh peppermint under cold water and pat it dry.  Then allow it to dry for a few days in a warm dry not at all humid place.  You can hang several stems upside down in paper bags for a few days until the leaves are crispy.

Add it to summer beverages and allow to sit overnight.  Strain, and serve over ice.  Dried mint is stronger than fresh so this makes a minty lemonade for those of us who love that menthol flavor in tea or ginger ale or lemonade. 

Slip a few leaves into your facial mask for a subtle pleasant minty lift that distracts you from thoughts of pandemics.

Steep dried mint into boiling water and add honey for a soothing mint tea great for sore throats.

Make the dried leaves into a “Mint Potpourri” and house them in little fabric pockets to ward off spiders and add fragrance to closets or drawers.

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Mint Jelly: This recipe from Simply Recipes is one of or favorites because it uses tart Granny Smith Apples as its base so it needs no added pectin! This delicious jelly will always add a little zip to your roast lamb, fish dishes, or chicken.

The  oils in mints are strongest when picked from mid summer leaves when the plants are receiving 14 hours of sunshine a day.   Pinch off blooms to retain tenderness in new leaves and bushier plants.   Older tougher leaves are stronger tasting and less pleasant, but still make great dried preparations for potpourri’s that are said to repel spiders.

Growing mints in your garden allows a fragrant green colony of plants that are pleasant to humans but not to deer, squirrels, mice, or ants.    If you don’t mind their love of life and desire to take over the adjacent spaces, they are terrific 2 to 3 foot high covers serving to hide in front of air conditioner boxes.   If you mind their spreading tendencies, sink pots into the soil that impede the roots from trespassing beyond the container limits.  I just create “peppermint pots” that offer free aromatherapy when I water them in the evening.

Sigh.   Bliss, bliss. 




We are still in the middle of our month of fundraising, and if you would care to support our “No Fair Herb Fair” with a tax exempt donation of any size it will always be greatly appreciated.
Through your donations, The Western Reserve Herb Society is preserving our legacy of expanding and sharing knowledge of these wonderful plants and their impact on our lives, our culture, and our environment.
To make a donation in honor of the “No Fair Herb Fair!” please go to
Thank you so much!



St. Hildegard of Bingen, the medieval herbalist! 

By Shanon Sterringer ~ WRHS Member

Ph.D., D.Min, MA Theology, MA Ministry, BA
Ordained Priest, GSC

It is hard to believe it has been almost a year since I had the privilege of presenting Hildegard the Medieval Herbalist at one of the monthly WRHS meetings.  Many of you are familiar with this amazing woman who practiced healing, not only through the use of foods and herbs, but precious gemstones.  Her work Physica serves as an encyclopedia for the use of many natural elements for holistic health and well-being.  She sees their healing properties existing through her theological understanding of viriditas (greening power) which she believed was the life-source that came from our Creator Source.  Viriditas animates and sustains all that is alive.


St. Hildegard of Bingen describes amethyst in her work, Physica in the following way: “Amethyst develops when the sun shows its circle, as though it was crowned, which it does when it prefigures some change in the vestment of the Lord, in the Church.  Amethyst grows as a gum, and so there are many of them.  It is hot and fiery and a bit airy, since the air is a bit cool when the sun shows its circle.” She goes on to describe how to use it medicinally.  For Hildegard, God’s providence permeates every particle of the created world and therefore everything in nature has an ordered purposed.  Human beings are a part of the divine order and therefore will find benefit in mind, body and spirit from the natural world.


One herb that is of particular interest to Hildegard, and Hildegard followers today, is fennel.  In her work she recorded almost two full pages on fennel including the following: “In whatever way it is eaten, it makes a person happy and brings a gentle heat and good perspiration, and make for good digestion… Eating fennel or its seeds every day diminishes bad phlegm and decaying matter, keeps bad breath in check and makes one’s eyes see clearly, by its good heat and beneficial powers.”  Fennel tea and seeds are often consumed today following meals to aid in the digestive process. 

This is a photo from the back of the Hildegard Haus in Fairport Harbor (where I live and pastor a community of faith).  Growing alongside of the church building is a beautiful crop of fennel.  Last year I worked in the dye garden and in the fall, I was invited to take a handful of fennel seeds from one of the plants.  This small handful of seeds produced an abundant crop here in Fairport Harbor. It is so beautiful, in part because it captures Hildegard’s charism and the spirit of the Western Reserve Herb Society.  While I have truly missed being at the WRHS garden this year, I feel gratitude each day as I walk out into the courtyard at the Hildegard Haus to visit the fennel plants. 


Another popular Hildegard themed treat is her recipe for “Cookies of Joy” or sometimes referred to as “Nerve Cookies” because they are meant to calm one’s nerves by bringing joy.  These cookies are often made from spelt flour (one of Hildegard’s preferred grains) and include her “Spices of Joy” mixture – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.  In Physica, she wrote: “Take some nutmeg and an equal weight of cinnamon and a bit of cloves and pulverize them.  Then make small cakes with this and fine whole wheat flour (or spelt) and water.  Eat them often.  It will calm all bitterness of the heart and mind, open your heart and impaired senses, and make your mind cheerful.”  There are many recipes circulating for these cookies and when I have hosted retreats or events, many different versions often appear on the buffet table.  Some very unique, and all delicious!  A recipe is included at the end of this blog post, but I encourage you to play with it and make it your own!

Hildegard of Bingen died on September 17, 1179 and so her feast day is celebrated each year in her memory and honor.  We not only celebrate to remember who she was and what she did in 12th century Germany, but to be inspired to bring some of the charism of this remarkable woman, a German Benedictine Nun and Mystic, into our world today.  She has much to teach us about the created world, including the rich treasures of plants, trees, herbs, precious stones and foods.  Her wisdom reaches far beyond this blog post, but for now we can start by kicking back with a cup of fennel tea and a cookie of joy - actually in her book, Hildegard says to eat five or six of them each day!  


Above is a photo of me from our Hildegard “feast” we celebrated as the culmination of a 12-day international virtual pilgrimage with participants from all over the world.  We started in Fairport Harbor each day and then traveled to Germany and experienced the viriditas (greening power) of Hildegard’s homeland through her art, music, preaching and of course, her use of herbs, plants and precious stones. As you can see on the table in front of me, I celebrated with spelt, chestnuts, fennel tea and cookies of joy!  May this season of harvest be overflowing with viridity!

In her book, From Saint Hildegard’s Kitchen: Foods of Health, Foods of Joy,  Jany Fournier-Rosset includes the following recipe:

Cookies That Bring Joy

 12 Tbsps+1tsp butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

4 egg yolks

2 ½ cups spelt flour

1 tsp salt

2 rounded tbsps “Spices of Joy”

Melt the butter under low heat, add the sugar, honey, and egg yolks, beating lightly.  Add the flour and salt, combine gently.  Refrigerate this cookie dough after mixing, for at least one hour.  Remove from refrigerator.  Roll out onto a floured surface, cut with a cookie cutter. Bake on a baking sheet at 400 F for 10-15 minutes until golden, watching closely.

Tinctures , Tonics & Teas ~ Mulled Grape Juice

By Beth Schreibman Gehring ~ Chairman of Education Western Reserve Herb Society


It’s definitely getting cooler outside and I’m so grateful that I put up a dozen quarts of sweet grape juice every year just for Autumn nights like these. I love to heat some up and infuse it with mulling spices, just like you would do with fresh cider or red wine. I make my own mulling spices and to bring out the flavor even more I toast them quickly in my cast iron skillet.  I learned this little trick on a magical evening in Paris several years ago from a wine seller in Montmartre. I’ll never forget that starry evening…it was St. Valentines day and Jim and I had walked up to Sacre Couer from our Airbnb to hold hands, listen to the street musicians and look out over the city. As we walked back down the cobblestone road, I smelled the unmistakable fragrance of mulled wine and clove studded oranges. Directly to the right of me was a beautiful little bistro, and out front they had a stock pot full of the best Vin Chaud I’ve ever tasted.

I asked the proprietor in my really awful French what made it so good and he generously showed me the trick. This takes a bit more time to make, but I promise it’s worth it and it’s just as good with freshly pressed grape juice. Strolling down the street, arm in arm with Jim and sipping that cup of steaming spiced wine is, to this day, one of my most treasured memories. 


My favorite spices to use for this are orange peel, fresh ginger root, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, star anise and allspice. After I toss them over the heat for a bit I put them into my mortar and pestle to crush them to bring out even more flavor. After that,  into a muslin spice bag they go! Infuse the bag of mulling spice in one quart of simmering grape juice and add a healthy jigger of Madeira or Port. 

Soon I’ll be enjoying this steaming hot and outside by a bonfire under next week’s Hunters Moon. Fresh pears, roasted chestnut puree,  a crusty bit of baguette and a wedge of savory Roquefort are a perfect accompaniment along with the twinkling stars. Try this…you won’t be sorry. It’s a truly satisfying and soul warming Autumn sip.

Herbs from a Witch's Garden by Andrea Jackson


Click this link to watch the Go to Meeting recording of our wonderful program ~Herbs from a Witches garden, by Andrea Jackson   

This was our very first program hosted on Go to Meeting, so there are a few glitches at first as we hit our stride with the learning curve...Just hang in there though...they go away like magic!


There is no donation required for this wonderful program, but if you would care to support our “No Fair Herb Fair” with a tax exempt donation of any size it will always be greatly appreciated.
Through your donations, The Western Reserve Herb Society is preserving our legacy of expanding and sharing knowledge of these wonderful plants and their impact on our lives, our culture, and our environment.
To make a donation in honor of the “No Fair Herb Fair!” please go to



Copyright: Andrea Jackson 2020.
May not be reproduced or photocopied without written consent from the author.



Sorrel, from the Garden to the Table

By Iwona Yike - WRHS Active Member


Rumex sanguineus

Sorrel is a leafy plant popular in European cuisine. The word sorrel comes from the Old French – surele – meaning – sour.

  Within the buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family, the genus Rumex includes over 200 species of edible and medicinal herbs, although some are considered weeds. They are native to Europe, parts of Asia and Africa but can now be found throughout the world including the US.  

   Among the most common species cultivated in the garden are Rumex acetosa (Large leaf sorrel) and Rumex sanguineus (Red veined sorrel), both available as young plants from specialty herb farms such as Mulberry Creek Farm in Huron, OH.  Seeds can be purchased online but some come from abroad and may not be USDA certified.

Sorrel is a hardy perennial, easy to grow. The plants are resistant to frost, pests and diseases. They thrive in full sun in slightly acidic clay soil but do very well in other types of moist soil, except for light, sandy soils. Leaves can be harvested from spring through fall.

 Nutritional benefits of this plant have been known for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used it to promote digestive health. Its broad, bright green, pointed leaves have a tangy, sour taste due to the presence of oxalic acid. They are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, B2, B6, folic acid and beta-carotene as well as in minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and silica. Sorrel is also a good source of fiber and tannins. 

Even though it contains so many desirable nutrients, sorrel should be consumed in moderation because oxalic acid binds calcium forming insoluble compounds that are found in kidney stones.  It may also decrease the absorption of calcium from other foods. People suffering from kidney diseases, different forms of arthritis and osteoporosis should avoid eating sorrel. It is worth noting that concerns about oxalic acid are not limited to the consumption of this vegetable.  Eating spinach, rhubarb, beets, Swiss chard, beans or even drinking a lot of black tea may cause similar problems. Adding certain dairy products such as milk, sour cream, goat cheese or eggs is recommended when preparing oxalate-rich foods in order to neutralize the acid and limit its adverse effects.

  Sorrel is often used in French and Egyptian dishes including soups, sandwiches and salads. Sauces made from the leaves can complement fish, meat and egg dishes. Cooking with sorrel is extremely popular in Central and Eastern Europe. The traditional Polish-style sorrel soup with its fresh, tangy taste and a beautiful green color can be called a quintessence of spring. It is also known as green borscht and almost every family has their own version of the recipe. 



Traditional Polish sorrel soup with eggs


  • 6 cups of vegetable stock (chicken stock is optional, home made are the best)
  • 3-4 cups tightly packed young sorrel leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped*
  • 1/3 cups chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • salt and pepper

* the exact amount may vary depending on the sourness of the leaves and personal preferences; reserve some of the fresh leaves for garnish


  • slowly melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  • add onions and cook for for about 5 min or until softened
  • add sorrel and a pinch of salt (preserves color)
  • stir for about 5 minutes over low heat, then increase the heat to medium and stir for another 3-5 minutes
  • bring the vegetable stock to boil and add to spinach, mix well, simmer for 10 minutes
  • combine sour cream with flour in a small bowl and slowly add about 1 cup of hot soup to that bowl, stirring constantly to prevent sour cream from curdling
  • transfer sour cream mix to the saucepan with soup, stir well
  • allow to cool a little and transfer to a blender, blend for 15 sec or until the soup appears smooth
  • season with salt and pepper to taste
  • serve warm, pouring the soup into bowls over halved or quartered boiled eggs
  • garnish with some fresh sorrel leaves


Our organization, at its heart, is all about sharing our passion for herbs. We have worked tirelessly for 75 plus years to promote and inspire the use of herbs in our gardens and our lives.
Your support is vital in continuing this important mission. Your gifts support education through our public gardens, our education outreach programs, and our scholarships.
Through your donations, The Western Reserve Herb Society is preserving our legacy of expanding and sharing knowledge of these wonderful plants and their impact on our lives, our culture, and our environment.
To make a donation in honor of the “No Fair Herb Fair!” please go to

In and Out the Garden Gate - A Cottage Garden Transformation


The New Cottage Garden

Mary Lynn Fruit, Western Reserve Herb Society

September 2020

New Garden Flag

            As I recall now, it all started with a suggestion that the boxwood hedge which surrounded my Cottage Garden, was finally getting the best of me.  It would take me days to prune in the early summer months only to need pruning once again before the fall season.  So, in the fall of 2019, after serving faithfully for twenty years, the boxwoods were dug out - and a beautiful fence with towering arbors was installed in early 2020. 



What greeted me in the spring of this year brought tears and determination - a sweet garden in desperate need of rebirth - new soil, dreams of perennials for the pollinators, and  - of course -  delightful herbs.


            And so my journey began - in the midst of the pandemic and the uncertainty of what was happening to all of us - terribly missing my fellow gardeners of WRHS - I immersed myself in designing and planning the new cottage garden.  Clematis plants that had been dug out and wintered over in pots were once again planted around the arbors (and they took off!); peony shrubs that were moved to the back of the property (we have an "orphanage" for our plant residents that we just can't give up) are now situated around the fence; the sweet climbing rose that survived the installation of the fence is once again coming back to life; new teuteurs installed…and so on.




 Ah - the delight in buying new plants - the thrill never fades!  Pollinating plants and herbs - oh my! - Zinnias (which the birds and bees absolutely love!) as tall as me!  Hollyhocks and borage - foxglove and stachys, scented geraniums - sweet Dagmar Fraus; catmint and cosmos - how wild and carefree and beautiful! Wonderful thyme, basil, lovage, lavender, tarragon, rosemary…and the smiling faces of pot marigolds splashing color all around!   

Fairy Roses

            Believe me - a lot of trial and error this season (sometimes a lot more error I think), but most important are the small moments and memories that remain with me now.  The garter snake coming out the potting shed door that I almost stepped on; the kitties that come in the early morning to hunt; a sweet garden flag from my sister; the resident mouse; and the traveling Mr. Toady who returned at last - the birdies who nest and visit the birdbath - bees and butterflies and spiders, oh my! …

Fairy in the Garden

      If I could just for a time become a garden fairy with a small house of my own in the midst of the cottage garden…

Garden Visitor

  Cottage Elf

So as most of you gardeners know - gardens protect us; welcome us with open arms. They nourish our spirits and souls; heal us physically and emotionally.  I am so grateful for the many blessings that I have experienced this summer season.  I believe that gardening has the power to make this world a better place for all.  Time is so very fast and fleeting - don't let go of the moments that touch our spirits - those moments that are rare and beautiful and true.

Copyright: Mary Lynn Fruit 2020.
May not be reproduced or photocopied without written consent from the author.


Our organization, at its heart, is all about sharing our passion for herbs. We have worked tirelessly for 75 plus years to promote and inspire the use of herbs in our gardens and our lives.
Your support is vital in continuing this important mission. Your gifts support education through our public gardens, our education outreach programs, and our scholarships.
Through your donations, The Western Reserve Herb Society is preserving our legacy of expanding and sharing knowledge of these wonderful plants and their impact on our lives, our culture, and our environment.
To make a donation in honor of the “No Fair Herb Fair!” please go to