A Storm, Growing Herbs, and Making Meadow Tea

Last night, we had quite a storm.  I was awakened at 11 PM and was still in a half dreaming stage when I thought the house was lifting off its foundation.  It was really an odd sensation.  The wind was like none I have ever experienced, blowing hard and loud.  My husband got up to check on things and said the rain was blowing in all directions.  I was told the tornado sirens went off, although we did not hear them.  Thank the Lord, there was no major damage.  Up the alley from us, there were some trees down that caused the garbage truck to have to back all the way up the alley to collect the trash.  When I walked the dog this morning, I was surprised to only see some scattered trash, leaves, and branches.  The air felt freshly washed and was sweet with the scent of honeysuckle.  The mist was rising from the hills, and the birds were calling to each other across the valley.  Reminds me of the song “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.  And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.”  Early morning out in nature is a sweet time with the Lord.

As I walked around the yard, I observed a number of the plants were bowed over from the rain and wind, but I am sure they will revive in the sunshine.  This year I wanted to experiment more with herbs.  I planted lavender, basil, and dill seeds which have not made their appearance yet.  The cilantro from the last year reseeded itself and is growing nicely.  The parsley and mint came back again.  Last year the parsley grew in abundance, but this year it is wanting to bolt.  I keep breaking off the flowers hoping it will continue to produce.  Last year I was still harvesting parsley in December.

Parsley on the right

 

Cilantro

When I was a child growing up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, the mint grew wild in our meadow.  Several times in the summer, my mother or I would gather some and she would make “meadow” tea.  I still enjoy the taste, but so far our children have not come to like it.  This morning, I harvested some mint and began to make tea.  Here is the recipe I use.

Meadow (Mint) Tea

2 cups packed with mint leaves (I remove the leaves from the stems and discard the stems.)

1/2 cup honey (or 1 cup sugar)

4 cups boiling water

Place mint leaves in glass bowl.  Add sweetener.  Pour boiling water over leaves and stir to dissolve sweetener.  Place glass plate over bowl.  Let sit over night.  Strain off leaves.  Place in pitcher and add enough water to make a gallon.  The tea is not extremely sweet, but I like it.  You could add more or less sweetener to suit your taste.  Unless I am taking the tea to a gathering, I usually freeze it in quart containers since I am the only one in the family who drinks it.  Enjoy this refreshing treat on a warm summer day!

Mint
Mint

Mint

 

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Rain, Seeds, and a Kitchen Mishap

The last few weeks have been a busy time with celebrating Jesus’ resurrection, family and friends visiting, a dance recital, and plugging away at the last days of home school work.

Easter with family.  You can see how serious the children were!
Easter with family. You can see how serious the children were!

We experienced a dry spell; but I was so thankful that at just the right time, the Lord provided rain to water the plants. We had quite a few days of rain, but everyday there was a time of sunshine which is perfect weather for gardening. The first harvest of the season was when I picked a few leaves of spinach today for our lunch. The lettuce and onions are growing. The cilantro from last year reseeded itself and will soon be large enough to use. The potatoes finally showed themselves this week. I was beginning to wonder. When my in-laws were visiting over Easter, we dug beside one and found a long sprout; so I knew they had not rotted. It took six weeks for them to send up leaves.

Spinach and Lettuce
Spinach and Lettuce

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This week, I had a brainstorm and decided to plant pole beans all around the back and front porches. The beans should grow up and attach themselves around the spindles of the porches. I look forward to seeing how they do. By the way, the pack of pole beans was one I had on hand from years ago. I keep my leftover seeds in the freezer and they last for years.

Today I planted some more lettuce and parsley seeds in addition to basil, lavender, dill, and some wildflower seeds.

This week, I am hoping to get out to our shared garden patch to get the green bean seeds in the ground. Green beans are our main vegetable through the winter. I am praying for a good harvest this year. Last year, the plants were attacked by the Mexican bean beetle and did not produce many beans.

On another note, I have to share a kitchen story. Today I was baking a delicious applesauce spice cake using a recipe from a friend in Pennsylvania. Early in the day, I mixed the dry ingredients together and set out the stick of butter and pint of frozen applesauce to soften and thaw. Several hours later, I mixed everything together including adding the black walnuts, chocolate chips, and raisins. I stuck the pan in the oven, set the timer, and began cleaning up the counter. I noticed the honey jar sitting on the counter and thought to myself, “Why is that sitting there?” Like a lightening bolt, the thought came to me that I had not added any sweetener to the cake. I quickly pulled out the cake, put the batter back in the mixing bowl, and added the honey. Shew! That was a close one, but maybe it would not have tasted so bad with the applesauce, chocolate chips, and raisins. I’m glad I found my mistake before it was too late. That reminds me of the time I made zucchini muffins and had them baked and put away before I realized I had forgotten to add the zucchini! Anyone else do silly things like that?