Posts tagged herbs
As children we often had tea parties with our friends and toys. We’d set out a little table and covered it with a cloth, or put down a picnic blanket. Then we’d place out tiny little tea cups for each guest. We’d entertain our friends with “tea,” which was usually water, and desserts, which were sometimes fresh baked cookies that Mom had made for our special gathering, and sometimes flowers or other interesting things from the garden.
For many of us, as we got older, we began thinking of tea as something to drink in the winter to stay warm. But a delicious glass of iced gourmet tea is one of the best thirst quenchers there is on a hot summer day.
So, why not set out the table, cover it with a bright summer table cloth, bring out your best china tea cups and saucers, prepare some tasty cool summer treats, and invite your friends over to enjoy an afternoon tea party. You could even “play dress-up” and request that everyone where a festive hat, or white gloves, or both. Allow the child in you to come out and play for the afternoon. Indulge in lots of yummy treats, lots of cooling tea, and lots of lighthearted talk.
If it too hot in the afternoon, in your area, then have a morning or evening tryst in the garden. I can’t think of anything more relaxing than an evening in the screened in porch, with just candlelight, the lightening bugs as entertainment, some fresh fruit to munch on, and a tall ice-cold glass of tea to keep the humidity at bay.
Last post I promised that I would talk about the different types of basil and how to use them. Nowdays there are many more flavors of basil than just sweet. One of the most popular is lemon basil.
Lemon basil has a delicate flavor, distinctly lemon with a hint of basil spiciness. It is not as robust, nor does it grow as large or with as big of leaves as sweet basil. The essential oil that creates the lemony flavor is easily destroyed with high temperature cooking, so it is best to add lemon basil at the end of the cooking cycle, except in baking when it cannot be added at the end. Lemon basil is excellent in raw dishes, too, especially salads and in salad dressing.
Low temperature dehydrating is a must for this type of basil in order to retain its delicate lemony taste.
Next is licorice basil. It is distinctly licorice with a strong basil spiciness, too. It is a smaller plant and leaf, as well. It is delicious in both cooked and raw dishes. It’s flavor is robust and strong and not easily damaged with cooking. It is excellent on pizzas in place of or combination with sweet basil.
Dry it the same way you would sweet basil.
Cinnamon basil has a sweet cinnamony pungence with sweet basil overtones. It also is a smaller plant and leaf than sweet basil. It holds it flavor well in cooking and can be used in raw dishes as well.
Dry it like sweet basil.
Holy basil. This basil has a very distinct flavor. The plant is smaller with smaller leaves than sweet basil. The leaves and stems are slightly hairy. I’ve only used holy basil for tea, so don’t know if it works well in cooking or raw preparations.
It dries excellently and is a prolific self-seeder in this area (zone 7a).
All basils are best if cut and dried before flowers set, but that can be hard, especially with holy basil, which seems to blossom almost from day one.
More basils next time. (Yes there are even more to choose from.)