Saturday, October 17, 2009

Essential Oils and Herb Recipes

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree toward heaven still, and there's a barrel that I didn't fill beside it, and there may be two or three apples I didn't pick upon some bough. But I am done with apple -picking now. Essence of winter sleep is on the night, the scent of apples: I am drowsing off. ~Robert Frost

I love fall with all it's color and fragrances. I thought today I would share a recipe and a tip on using essential oils plus a few more herb recipes you can try this fall.

I love making simple room sprays, which are light and can be used anywhere in the house. I like spraying them over the bed and around the room before I go to sleep.

This is a simple recipe:

4 ounces distilled water
4-6 drops Chamomile Essential Oil
4-6 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
4-6 drops Tangerine or Sweet Orange Essential Oil
4-6 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Mix this in a small spray bottle and spray when you need a relaxing moment. Shake before each use. Notes: I tend to go a little heavier on the lavender. It's a flexible recipe!

Essential oil tips: Add 15-20 drops of Rosemary oil and 10-12 drops of Lemon to unscented shampoo as a treatment for dandruff. Baby shampoo will also work. Stir well. Wash hair as usual.
Garlic Roasted Vegetables

1 butternut squash, seeded and chunked
2 pounds unpeeled red potatoes
2 medium sweet onions, chopped large
5 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 dried thyme
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the squash, potatoes, onions and garlic in large shallow baking pan or casserole dish. Spread evenly in the pan and drizzle with olive oil. I don't use too much-- just enough to drizzle over the top so it touches most of the vegetables a little bit. Salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle the herbs over the top. Bake 45-50 minutes, turning once after the vegetables are lightly browned.

Tomato Pesto
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
From "You Say Tomato" by Joanne Weir

1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cups fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped and drained
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add pine nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from skillet. Place basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Stop and scrape down sides. Add cheese and crushed red pepper and pulse a few times to make a thick paste. Transfer to a bowl and fold in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Greek Chicken

About 5 pounds chicken quarters (leg and thigh together)
2/3 cup minced garlic (3 heads if using fresh)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
21/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Rinse chicken, pat dry, and cut off any visible fat. Place the quarters in a large 12 x 17-inch pan. In a bowl, mix the minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, pepper,and salt. Smear the garlic mixture evenly over chicken, then arrange in a single layer. Bake in a 375 degree F. oven until skin is well browned, about 11/2 hours. After 45 minutes, baste the chicken with pan juices about every 10 to 15 minutes. When done, transfer chicken to a warm platter. Skim the fat off of the juices and discard. To the pan, add 1/2 cup boiling water to pan, stirring to loosen
browned bits, while heating it on a medium burner. Boil for a minute or so, and transfer to a bowl or gravy server. Sprinkle the parsley over the chicken and provide the sauce for guests. Serves 8.

Quick Herb Salt

2 Tbsp. kosher salt or sea salt
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. fresh thyme

Place 1 tablespoon of the salt, the fennel seeds, peppercorns, and thyme in a blender or grinder. Pulse until finely ground. Place in a glass jar (I use empty spice jars). Add the remaining salt. Use this on meats, poultry or fish.

Vanilla Lavender Syrup

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 cups water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped lavender buds/flowers

Boil the sugar, water, and vanilla bean gently for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and stir in the vanilla extract and lavender. Cool and strain. Use in tea or desserts.

Tips on crafting with lavender:


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Preparing Our Landscape for Winter

A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air. ~Eric Sloane

Today I have a few more tips for preparing our garden and landscape as winter approaches.

-If you are transplanting or planting new lilies, (all varieties) try adding peat to the soil before planting. This will help the soil, and the lilies.

-If you have any ponds or water features with water plants now is a good time to thin them out if they have become crowded. Also, clean out any leaves or other debris and cover the pond with a net or mesh outdoor fabric to keep it clean until spring.

-You can plant rhubarb in October and clean up any existing patches that you have already. As with other perennials you want to clean up dead foliage, leaves and other debris around the plants to avoid anything damp/wet from laying against the crowns/centers of the rhubarb plants. If your plants have become very large you can also divide them. Mulch the rhubarb with compost.

Are you getting the urge to "clean" your houseplants? Don't use those commercial leaf shine products, just use a damp, clean cotton rag to gently wipe the leaves of your house plants. If you find they are quite dirty you can add a teeny bit of dish soap like Ivory to your water, then dip in the rag and wipe the leaves. As a preventive measure, buy a small spray bottle, fill it with water and spray your plants on a regular basis!

On OFL we have tips on preparing your roses for winter: