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September 2020

Tinctures , Tonics & Teas ~ Mulled Grape Juice

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

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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. 

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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 https://www.westernreserveherbsociety.org/support-our.../
 

 

 

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

 

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Sorrel, from the Garden to the Table

By Iwona Yike - WRHS Active Member

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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. 

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Traditional Polish sorrel soup with eggs

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  • 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 https://www.westernreserveherbsociety.org/support-our.../

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. 

 

April

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.

Clematis

            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.

Hollyhocks[1]

         

Foxglove

 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 https://www.westernreserveherbsociety.org/support-our-organization/