Summer is upon us and planting has commenced here at Pryme Thyme. Those herbs that can be started ahead of time are safely in their little seed trays and we are awaiting their arrival into the world. My mint is all up as is the chives. Tulips are opening with their "show off" color all over the garden and the hyacinths smell delicious. The grass has turned a brilliant green and my weeping cherry looks like a waterfall of white blossoms trailing to the ground. The earth has come alive again, there is no doubt about that.
This issue of Pryme Thyme will cover a variety of late spring/early summer topics. We will discuss the flower lavender and many of its uses. There is a article on Floral Delicacies, or flowers you can eat. Next is an article on natural anticeptics of which lavender is one. In the craft department you will find instructions on how to make a lavender wreath. An article on starting your garden is also available on Pryme Thyme during May and June.
Something new has developed for me. Llewellyn Publications has just sent me notification that they will be publishing my book on herbs. They will be changing my title so I can't be sure what it will be right now and I'm not too sure when it will come out, but I will definitely keep you up to date with it. I can tell you it is a book for the beginner. It takes several herbs that are easy to grow and explains how to plant, harvest, store and use them. I was just so excited, I had to tell you!
By Deborah C. Harding
I remember spring when my mother would dry the sheets outside for the first time after a long hard winter. They had such a lovely scent especially after she would iron them using lavender water. To me, lavender is the scent of spring.
In the Middle Ages lavender was a symbol of love and considered an aphrodisiac. However, it was also sprinkled upon the head to keep the "sprinkled one" chase. It was used in Europe for coughs and for upset digestive system. It was used to keep moths away and to freshen sickrooms. Up until World War I it was used as a disinfectant for wounds.
Lavender is grown commercially for perfume and products containing the lavender scent. English Lavender is most widely used for this purpose (Lavandula angustifolia).
There are several other lavender species, at least 28. There is also spike or Portuguese lavender (L. latifolia). My favorite is Munsted. It is very hardy in cold climates.
Lavender has been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages. It can be used as a mild sedative. A teaspoon of flowers in 1 pint of boiled water can be drunk. It can be a soothing lotion for eczema and psoriasis. It is good in a footbath for sore feet. A compress of lavender relieves chest congestion, insect bites and bruises. Use lavender in moderation, internally. The oil rubbed into the forehead is said to invoke pleasant prophetic dreams and peaceful slumber.
Lavender is used in culinary delights. Lavender sorbet is especially tasty. Lavender jelly is also a delectable taste treat. (see recipes at end of article)
Lavender stimulates the skin along with cleansing it. Lavender vinegar will cleanse oily skin quite well.
Lavender dries well retaining its color so it can be used in dried flower arrangements or wreaths.
Lavender is best purchased as a plant in that it has a long germination time. Cuttings can be taken from the side shoots in the summer. When they are one year old, they can be planted in the ground about 4 to 6 inches apart. Once lavender blooms make sure you cut it. You can probably get two harvests in one growing season.
If you live in a harsh winter climate, make sure you protect your lavender with a mulch of leaves. You will have your lavender for years and years.
Lavender can be grown in containers. They can be clipped as topiaries or bonsai trees.
Flower buds will remain fragrant for some time. To dry stalks just hang them upside down in small bunches. The buds can be stored in airtight jars.
Make lavender water by adding 7 to 10 drops of lavender oil to 1 quart distilled water. Place in a spray bottle and spray clothing or sheets before ironing.
By Deborah C. Harding
We think nothing of eating tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce out of our gardens, but did you know you can also make sumptuous dishes out of pansies, roses, chive blossoms, daylilys, chrysanthemums and other flowers. These produce many floral delicacies that will cause your taste buds to shiver with anticipation.
Culinary uses of flowers dates back to around 140 BC. Oriental cuisine utilized daylililes and chrysthanthemums. They used daylilys to give their dishes a crunch and made a chrysthanthemum soup that was as beautiful as it was delicious. The Romans used roses and violets in their recipes to sweeten them and make them aromatic. Italian and Spanish cultures incorporate herb flowers into their cuisine for strong flavor. American Indians cooked with squash blossoms as they grew plentifully in the countryside. It is said the bitter herbs told of in the Bible and eaten at the Passover table were actually dandelions.
It is important to point out that you should never use flowers in cooking that have been sprayed with a pesticide. Therefore, avoid flowers that would come from a florist. The safe way to use flowers in cooking is to grow them yourself. Make sure that you do not have your grass treated with any of the chemicals used by lawn services. This will leach into the soil where your flowers may lie. Besides, dandelions are edible too. It is a shame to destroy them. If you neighbors have their lawn sprayed make sure your flower garden is pretty far away from their yard so that your flowers do not get contaminated.
The list of flowers that can be safely used in cooking is very long. They include the following:
Basil flowers (Ocimum basilicum) Taste - spicy, peppery flavor.
Calendula (Calendula officianalis) Taste - spicy, tangy, peppery; gives food a yellow color like saffron. Be careful if you are diabetic. This flower can lower your blood sugar rapidly. Some say this is an old wives tale but I have experienced this first hand and would not consume this flower if you are a diabetic.
Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) Also called pinks. Taste - clove like.
Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) Taste - slight apple flavor
Chives (Cichorium intybus) Taste - mild oniony flavor
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium) Taste - slightly bitter, pungent.
Cornflower or Bachelor's Buttons (Centaurea cynaus) Taste - sweet, clove like.
English Daisy (Bellis perennis) Taste - Tangy, like lettuce.
Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) Taste - light and sweet.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosasinensis) Taste - acidic.
Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) Taste - bland, but they look pretty in a salad.
Johnny-Jump-Up (Viola tricolor) Taste - sweet. Don't eat too many, could be toxic.
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) Taste - sweet delicate.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) - Taste peppery but sweet.
Pansy (Viola X wittrockiana) Taste - Mildly sweet.
Rose (Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis) Taste - Sweet aromatic flavor. Make sure you remove the bitter white ends of the petals.
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum) Tastes - bitter
Squash Blossom (Cucurbita pepo) Taste - Sweet nectar flavor
Tuberous Begonia (Begonia X tuberosa) Taste - crisp sour lemony, Only the hybrids are edible. Should not be consumed by those suffering with gout, kidneystones or rheumatism. Eat only in moderation.
Violet (Viola species) Taste - crunchy, fresh taste. Only petals are edible.
Many flowers are poisonous and immediately toxic. For a listing of those flowers and also more flowers that are edible consult Mingo Company's Homecooking web page at http://homecooking.miningco.com/library/weekly/blflowersnot.htm.
Pick your flowers in the morning or late afternoon when the water content is the highest. They can be stored in the refrigerator until you wish to use them and they will not wilt. To prepare your flowers, pour cold water into a bowl and add about a teaspoon of salt. If they have wilted use ice water. Gently submerge with your ands and splash them around then drain them on paper towels. Remove the petals for use. If the petal has a white area close to where it was plucked, make sure it is removed but tearing or cutting off. This area will be extremely bitter.
Use flowers sparingly at first as many can give you mild digestive problems if you are not used to them. If you have allergies, be very careful and try one type of flower in very small amounts at a time.
Whether you use your flowers in salads, omelets, or in a sweet bread, they will certainly become a conversation piece at the table. They not only look pretty but they taste sensational. Create a Floral Delicacy for you next dinner party and get ready for the compliments.
Tossed Flower Salad
This is my husband's recipe. It uses many herb blossoms that have to be picked anyway in order to keep your herbs growing. He makes this every time he goes out to pick off the blossoms instead of throwing them away.
Various greens: iceburg, romaine, bib, spinach, dandelion greens, etc.
Whole Nasturtium flowers
Petals from 2 or 3 Calendula
Petals from 2 or 3 roses (the white ends removed)
A handful of whole chive blossoms
A handful of one or the combination of: Marjoram blossoms
Petals from 6 to 8 pansies
Combine enough greens to more than half fill your bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients.
1 T olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping T Dijon mustard
1/4 c fresh shredded basil
2 T honey, or enough to balance the acidity of the dressing
Whip all together and pour over the salad. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
ROSE PETAL BREAD
This is also my husband's recipe. He adapted it from a 12th century recipe. The taste will raise eyebrows. It tastes just like a rose smells. This recipe will give you muscles as it is mixed entirely by hand.
2 pkg yeast
1-3/4 c warm water
6 T honey
6 to 8 c wheat flour
2/3 c softened currants
1-2/3 T salt
6 T oil
1-1/2 tsp rosemary (fresh)
1-1/2 tsp basil (fresh)
2/3 to 1 c finely chopped fresh rose petals the white ends removed
4 drops red food coloring
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Sprinkle yeast on 1/2 c of the warm water; stir in the honey. Let this sit for 5 minutes. Add the remaining warm water and beat in 2-1/2 to 3 cups of the flour. Beat this with a wooden spoon about 200 strokes. Cover with a damp cloth to rise 30 to 45 minutes or until the size is doubled. Stir down. In a bowl beat 5 whole eggs and 1 yolk. Stir in the currants. Beat in the salt and oil. Mix this into the dough. In a mortar crush herbs and rose petals. Mix in cinnamon and add to batter. Dough should be a light pink color. If not, add food coloring and mix in. Add the remaining flour and mix with your hands then turn out on a floured board and knead for 10 to 12 minutes.. Place dough in a buttered bowl and cover. Let rise until size is doubled. Punch it down and turn out onto a floured board. Let rise 5 minutes. Shape into 3 balls. Place these balls on a buttered baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rise again until double in size. Brush with remaining egg which has been beaten. Bake in 375-degree oven about 50 minutes.
This recipe I made up from a quiche that originally used saffron. I don't know anyone who can afford saffron. It doesn't exactly have the same taste, but it isn't too far from it.
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c butter
1 T grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 c cold water
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T butter
4 to 5 eggs
10 to 20 calendula petals, removing the white part of the petal
1-1/2 c milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp soy sauce
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
1-1/2 c grated Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a mixing bowl combine flour, butter and Parmesan. Cut in with a pastry cutter until the granules resemble the size of a pea. Add enough cold water for the dough to stick together without sticking to your hands while you are mixing it. Let the dough rest 10 minutes. Roll out on wax paper and turn into a buttered and floured 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
In a frying pan sauté mushrooms and onions in butter. In another bowl mix together the eggs, milk, garlic and soy sauce beating until frothy. Add parsley and all but 2 T of the calendula petals that should be set aside.
When the crust is done, put the drained mushrooms and onions in the bottom and pour in the egg mixture. Sprinkle the Swiss cheese on top and bake another 50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center. Let stand 10 minutes to cool. Sprinkle with remaining calendula petals and serve.
BLUE FLOWER OMELET
This is a recipe I found in my grandmother's hand written cookbook. She loved chive flowers.
4 T milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 T minced chives
3 T butter
12 chive blossoms
In a frying pan melt the butter. In a bowl combine all ingredients except chive blossoms. Mix until frothy. Pour into the frying pan. As the edges of the omelet begin to set, reduce the heat and pull the sides away allowing the liquid to run underneath to cook. If you can flip the omelet over, do so. When all eggs are done, sprinkle the chive blossoms over the top and fold over omelet. Cook 3 more minutes and serve.
Rub lavender oil on your forehead before going to sleep to induce sweet dreams
Here is how to make a beautiful tiny wreath suitable for hanging in bedrooms, bathrooms or anywhere. You will need the following items:
1 large bunch of fresh lavender with stems about 4-5 inches long
Green florists wire on a spool (light gage)
1/8" ribbon, color of your choice
Dried rose buds (small)
Dried baby's breath (small)
Low temperature glue gun
Take a small bunch of lavender stems (about 8 to 10 of them) and wrap wire tightly near the middle of the stem. (not too tight or the stems will break) Do not cut wire. Take another small bunch and place them on top of the first bunch but down a bit so the flower buds do not cover the first flower buds. They will be directly underneath them. Wrap in place with the wire catching the stems of the first bunch. Take another small bunch and place it on top of the second bunch so that the flower heads cover the stems of the second bunch. Do not cut wire; just keep winding it around. Continue in the same manner until the lavender garland you have created measures about 12 to 14 inches long. Bring the ends together and wrap with the wire. Cut the wire. You will have some long stems showing. Cut these off as close to the flower heads as possible. This will be the top of your wreath.
Cut a 6-inch length of ribbon. Bring it through the wire at the back of your wreath at the joining point and tie making a loop. Hang your wreath on a peg or nail and let the stems and flowers air dry. This will take about 2 to 4 weeks depending on the humidity in your area.
After the wreath has dried, you can decorate it. Make a small bow with the ribbon and hot glue it on the wreath where the ends come together. Glue a rose bud onto the knot of the bow. Glue rosebuds all around the wreath then fill by gluing in small bunches of baby's breath.
This makes a great gift for Mother's Day or any day. Instead of placing a bow on a present, tape a tiny lavender wreath to it and see the recipient's eyes light up.
This is another great gift. You don't need fresh lavender to make this. You will need the following:
Dried lavender buds (dried flowers)
Dotted Swiss material
1/4 to 1/2 inch lace edging with one gathered edge
1/8" ribbon, color of your choice
A sewing machine
A small safety pin
For each sachet mix 1/2 c lavender buds with 3 to 4 drops of lavender oil. Do not use a metal bowl or pan to mix this in since metal tends to change the chemical compounds of the oils. The best way to do this is to dump the buds in a plastic sandwich bag and drop oil in. Close bag and shake - set aside.
From the dotted Swiss material cut a 6 x 12 inch rectangle. Fold down 1 long edge 1" and stitch close to the raw edge creating a casting. This will be the top of your sachet bag.
Cut a 12-1/2" length of lace edging and stick this underneath the casting to cover the raw edge of the dotted Swiss material. Trim edging to fit.
Fold bag in half to make square with the casting and lace inside. Stitch the open short side from the bottom of the bag up to but not including the casting. Clip the seam to 1/8" and turn sachet bag right side out - the casting with lace will be on the outside now.
Cut a 12" length of ribbon and knot one end. Poke a safety pin through the other end of the ribbon and secure. Pull the safety pin through the casting and out the other end so that the ribbon runs through end to end. Remove the safety pin and knot that end of the ribbon.
Fill the bag 3/4 full with lavender bud mixture. Pull both ends of ribbon pulling taunt and tie. Cut the ends of the ribbon to the desired length.
Place sachets in closets or drawers to lend a sweet clean scent to clothing.
Rub Lavender on the forehead to help get rid of a headache.
Antiseptic Remedies for Wounds
With the approach of summer there is the increased incidence of scraps, scratches and other wounds. There are many different home remedies that will prevent infection and ease the pain of these wounds.
Honeysuckle leaves are a great antiseptic just as the flowers are. If you pull off a flower from the vine, there is usually a watery substance that comes from where the flower was growing to the vine. This can be applied to a cut or scrape and will lend antiseptic qualities. You can also put a handful of honeysuckle leaves in 1 pint of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. You can wash a wound with this to bring on healing or use as a poultice.
Plantain is also a great antiseptic. Bruise some leaves and bind to a wound after you have cleaned it. Leave it on for several hours and no infection will ensue.
If you live in the tropics and have papaya around you can take a slice and bandage it over the wound leaving it on over night. Then eat the rest (I love papaya).
Another good antiseptic and pain reliever is Aloe Vera. Take a leaf and split it placing the inside of the leaf on the wound. Bandage and leave over night.
An infusion of Thyme makes a good antiseptic. This was used during the Civil War and World War I. Take 2 T dried thyme and pour 1 cup boiling water over it. Steep for 15 minutes covered and strain. Cool and use as a wash.
Lavender is another infection fighter. Grind 2 T lavender flowers with 2 T cinnamon. Add to 1 pint of ethyl alcohol. Close and allow this to steep for 2 weeks. Strain and bottle. This will keep for quite some time. Use on scraps, cuts and scratches. This is also good for insect bites.
For a quick fix, squeeze lemon juice (from a lemon) on stings or cuts. This will smart a bit, but it will also stop the bleeding.
As in all wounds, the most important thing is to clean the wound well to prevent infection. If the wound is deep don't waste your time on these remedies, get to an emergency center as soon as possible. This is also true if there is an excessive amount of blood loss. These remedies are only for the everyday scraped knees or elbows and minor cuts.
Don't forget Mothers' Day Sunday, May 9, 1999
See my article and recipes on a Mothers' Day Tea at
Creative Seasonings Network
There are also many great articles on herbs. The feature this month is Lavender
Use Lavender oil on mosquito bites and minor cuts to avoid infection.
The Herb Garden
Time has come to think about planting an herb garden or adding to an existing one. This article is for the beginner. Those of us who have experience with herb gardening know that it can be quite exciting and very overwhelming at first. The most important thing to remember when just starting out is not to pick too many herbs. Start out with just a few and add year to year. I started 20 years ago and at my present residence 10 years ago. I began with about 6 different herbs and now I have hardly any grass left in my yard. It is all dedicated to herbs, everlastings and flowers.
The best herbs to begin with are the ones that you will use most frequently. If you are new to the herbal world, you will probably be more familiar with the culinary or cooking herbs.
Basil is an annual, that means in cold climates it must be planted every year. Basil can be started by seed, but it generally needs bottom heat to germinate. You can achieve bottom heat by placing your seed trays on top of a refrigerator or by lowering a florescent light with chains from the ceiling and placing the trays on top of the light. You can also purchase plants from a garden store but don't plant them until all danger of frost is past. There are many varieties of basil. The best for the beginner is Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) but there is also lemon, cinnamon, anise and a purple leaf basil as well as many others. Basil is good in Italian or other Mediterranean dishes. It is good used fresh, frozen or dried.
No home should ever be without parsley. It works well with most meats, in stews and in soups. It is also a popular garnish. There are several types of parsley (Petroselinum crispum). Hamburg Parsley is really like a parsnip; you eat the root. The common types are curly leaf, which is good for garnish, and Italian Leaf, which has the best flavor. Parsley can be grown by seed planted directly in the ground after the earth warms in the late spring. Parsley doesn't transplant well. There is an old saying "Parsley goes to the devil seven times before it grows". This is because of its slow germination period. It can take up to six weeks for parsley to begin to grow, so don't give up hope. It can be sped along by soaking the seeds in water overnight right before planting them. Parsley is a biennial. It will come back for a second year but will go to seed. It is best to plant parsley every year. Parsley can be frozen or dried and can be grown indoors during the winter to provide year round flavor.
Chives (Allium Schoenoprasum) is another good herb for the beginner. Purchase a plant or get someone you know that has chives divide their plant and give you some. If you try to grow them from seed you must provide the seed with total darkness, moisture and temperature of about 60 degrees. Chives grow from bulbs and their leaves are hollow or straw-like. They lend an oniony taste to food. Chives can be either frozen or dried and even the flowers can be used in food. If you plan on bringing your chives in for the winter in order to have fresh seasoning, don't bring it all in. Leave some out. The chive bulbs need a cold rest period in which to restore themselves, just like tulips.
There are many different varieties of Thyme from which to pick. The most common in the culinary circle is Thymus vulgaris or Common Thyme. There is also camphor, lemon, caraway, and nutmeg flavors - to name a few. Thyme seeds also needs bottom heat, just like basil. This herbs work well with just about any meat or vegetable. Thyme can be frozen but works better, in my opinion, dried.
Soon you will find out that the herbs you are growing to enhance the flavor of your food can be used for many other things. They also have medicinal qualities, some can be used for dyes and other have pleasing aromatic qualities. Herbs have fascinating histories and the lore can be amusing and interesting. You will also find out, as many of us already have, that the world of herbs is a never ending learning experience.
The graphics used on this page came from two sources that you will find below.
Do you know what a fractal is? It is art created by mathamatical equations. Here is one of mine.
Want to see more? My friend, Steven Durham has a great site with plenty of fractals as well as some spacey ray tracing images on his web page. His main page is :
Go to his gallery to see some very incredible artwork.
As always all materialã Pryme Thymeä . Please contact us for reproduction of any kind.
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