‘It’ll Do’ Herbs

I do not have time to be a picky perfectionist. I do tasks between other tasks.

This is not multi-tasking. This is fragmented tasking. I call it “It’ll do mode.”

I have to get it done now, before some other need shows up and high-jacks my plans.

I know how to dry herbs properly. I have an air-dryer. What I do not have is the time.

I cut off the tops of my favorite Pesto Basil.

I keep this by the walk so a waft of aroma greets folks as they head toward the door.

I washed the tops. Snipped them into pieces.

Dried them on a pizza pan in a 200 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Removed stems and crumbled leaves.

I also took cuttings to try to root them because I never seem to find my favorites two years in a row.

Grab your scissors and do it now. A distraction is headed your way.

I dried sage this morning. I cut it several days ago and left town again. The twigs had gone limp. I washed them off, patted them dry and put them on the pizza pan.

This time the oven was at 170 degrees for one hour. The house smells like heaven. (but is still a mess…Hi Ho!) The branches must be stiff and dry when done.

Crumble off leaves.

Compost twigs.

Sort the crumbs on parchment then smash them some more. Then pour the sage into last year’s empty bottle and change the year.

During the drying time I walked to the mail box, folded laundry, texted my son, called my sister and ordered gifts on Amazon. I usually use a warm oven after baking, but I don’t have time to do that either.

Maybe tomorrow, but today “It’ll do.”


Baking and Basil

It is time to harvest your basil.

I have an easy way to dry it after I bake something.

As my oven is baking, I go cut some basil.

I wash it, pat it dry, remove stems and put the leaves in pans on parchment paper.

AFTER the oven is off, I put the pans of basil in it to dry.

I leave them until the oven cools. (sometimes longer)

I place the labeled herb bottle on the stove top to remind me the basil is in there.

The leaves should get brittle and crumbly.

I pulverize these with mortar and pestle.

Pour them back onto parchment to funnel into the labeled bottle.

If I had to set up my dryer, this would never get done. I do some every time I bake in the fall.

Charlotte, the rabbit gets the stems and veggie scraps.


FLOW in Fall

Parsley in Protective Custody

My parsley plant started disappearing again.

Last time this happened, I found a little striped Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on it.


After a few days it crawled up on the Passion vine, changed shape,


formed a chrysalis, and disappeared.


This time though, I could not find the culprit.

Each day the plant got smaller and smaller.

Ah Ha!  I finally caught the bandit in action.

No Black Swallowtail this go-round.

It was a black New Zealand Lop rabbit, Charlotte.


The plant has been moved out of reach of Miss Munchie.


She was out there searching for her snack this morning.


Whew! These rabbits keep me hopping.


Herb Vinegars

 I wish I could send all these lovely aromas through the internet.

It has been a long time since I have made herb vinegars.

These are experiments.  If you want a tried-and-true recipe, there are many on the internet.

I chose to make my own recipes using my nose.

First I clipped various herbs from the bunny yard/herb garden.

I placed these in labeled, separate bags.

They were then washed and patted dry.


I clipped pieces and placed them in a dish to check out the aromas of the combos.


I then placed these combinations in heat-treated bottles.  I used a chop stick to push pieces into the bottom of the bottles.

I heated (not boiled) the chosen vinegar.


The recipe for each bottle was written on a sticker and put on the bottom of the bottle.


Since these were experiments, I did not fill the whole bottles.

I used white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

Strain the apple cider vinegar because it has debris in it.


This would make your vinegar ugly.

I will allow these bottles to steep for a few weeks and then taste test.


Do not put these in a sunny location. They will fade and heat up.

I will let you know if I have a winning combination.


Elfin Thyme is Creeping Along

I love this tiny thyme! It’s Elfin Creeping Thyme.


It flows over the rocks like water.

Its new leaves are bright green. Some leaves blush to burgundy. Most stay a soothing bluish green.


Its leaves are so tiny, that the clump looks like carpet until you lean in to get a closer look.




The trick to keeping thyme happy is DRAINAGE. They hate sitting in soggy soil

That’s why my thyme gets perched on top of a rock wall.




Grow Where You Are Planted

I must be surrounded by plants to be at home.

I am fortunate that I have a yard that I can fill up with green friends.

I saw a young lady through a window in Italy, that was a kindred spirit in an urban setting.

This is a photo of her kitchen window. I took it from the window of our apartment elevator.

20151004_170041 These are planters hanging on her window shutters.

We would see her through this window in the evenings. She would be cooking in her kitchen. Probably using herbs from her window boxes.

I never met her, but I love this little Italian cook.


Fresh 2 Frozen

I love to grow herbs. I love to cook with them, make herbal vinegar and add them to teas.

The best way to keep their flavor is to freeze them while they are fresh.

I will show you how I take some basil from fresh to frozen, so that it tastes fresh whenever you choose to use it.

Cut the ends of the stems off of the plant. These pieces should be about the top third of the whole branch.

Variegated basil bush.
Variegated basil bush.

If it is blooming, I keep a few blooms when I process the leaves.

Cutting the leaves is not a random act. If you follow the pattern of the leaves on the stem, you will get the best leaves and the most leaves.

Lay out a twig and figure out the growth of leaves and leaflets.

Fresh twig of basil.
Fresh twig of basil.

I call the big leaf attached to the stem the “mama leaf” and the set of leaflets above it the “baby leaflets.”

I usually pull down the mama and cut off the babies for preserving.

Leaf arrangement.
Leaf arrangement.

Then I take my collection of young leaflets to the chopper. I add a little distilled water and give them a whirl.

Chopper and distilled water
Chopper and distilled water

Chopped basil.
Chopped basil.

Then I pack 2 tablespoons of the crushed concoction into small containers to freeze.

Two tablespoon portions.
Two tablespoon portions.

I would have used an ice cube tray, but I couldn’t find one.  Don’t get me started….

Frozen Basil
Frozen Basil

Now, I have frozen blocks of basil in 2 tablespoon amounts to add to spagettis, pastas and soups.