Browse Monica's Skyridge Farm Journal

First week of October 2010
Third week of August 2010
First week of August 2010
Third week of July 2010
Second week of July 2010

From the Farm
March 2011

Hello again! I am just waking up from my long winter nap. . . We will have Spring.

Why Do the Chickens Cross the Road? To get back to the family who gave them to me to start with because we are getting ready to put in gardens. I had to pick between chickens and gardens. Fresh eggs or tomatoes? I picked gardens. The family across the road is going to keep them till late summer and bring them back. A beautiful rooster and 3 hens. The rooster went home with them on Saturday. Sunday morning I heard him calling the hens from across the road. The girls were sitting under the big cedar tree in the backyard just talking it up. They are going tonight, then we will put in asparagus and potatoes and onions. I asked for suggestions on keeping the chickens out of the garden. Last summer they tilled out all the weeds and grass . Then they dug up my strawberry plants and threw them out in the yard. So I put chicken scratch in my weedy overgrown herb garden and they tilled all the weeds out, my herbs were established and not bothered. They did a lot of work I was not up to doing. Suggestions for keeping both chickens and garden were: Cover the chickens fenced area, pen them in. Or cover the gardens. Put chicken wire and mulch over my plants. Clip the chickens’ wings. My cousin Frank said his mother used to get her scissors and clip the long wings on one side, they would not fly out of the pen. There are suggestions for chili powder, moth balls, chicken tractors. I opted for the best for everyone just to send them across the road for the growing season.  I will miss them but I will have gardens. I offered to trade tomatoes and peppers for fresh eggs with my neighbors.

On Angel’s Wings
Angel TopiariesLook at this beautiful collection of wire topiaries for the garden. Every week one of my favorite customers has been bringing me his latest creation. His family runs a painting company that paints metal such as awnings. The wire that is left over from some of their work he fashions into a yard art type of garden trellis and has it powder paint coated and brings one to me. He was making them for fun, gifting them to his friends. It was such a hit at the market I encouraged him to let me sell them for him there. He would wait until I wasn’t looking and then place one in my booth or on my table. I have them all lined up here, shortest in front, tallest in back (learned that in Catholic grade school.  I was always in front). I told him he needed a name for this project. Since he is a preacher I am going to suggest On Angel’s Wings because the plants are lifted up to heaven and protected from maladies of being “earthbound”.  If you think of names from scripture let me know. The dark “Boysenberry” colored one I can see Hyacinth bean vine in. The square short one is to protect your plant from predators he said. Someone at the market suggested he make one for cranky spouses.  He is making tomato cages. He is refining his work every week. I decided I could not keep all these (though I would love to) and would pick one. I picked the tall pale yellow one and will put my great grandmother’s antique rose bush in it. I will have a hard time parting with them. We decided he should charge $20 and up for them. 

Pane Siciliano
Pane SicilianoLook at this beautiful bread. It is from the Harvestyme Bread Artisan Bakery at the market. Pat knows it is my favorite bread. It takes him two days to make this loaf. It is a very dense almost sourdough type of bread. This is in trade for herbs for his wife Helen. I am always good for that since I will never be able to cook like this but certainly can share plants. If people had to wait on me to bake a loaf of bread it would take me two days and I would be crying. Their bakery items are absolutely phenomenal, check out his website,, and tell them I bragged on them. 

New babies
The new greenhouse is full of plants – new on my list this year:
Homestead Purple verbena – an heirloom perennial verbena, blooms all summer.
Georgia’s pink verbena – named after Georgia who works at a nursery in Texas.
Confetti lantana – a little more orange than the old fashioned Camara Pink, (my favorite) I have one of those saved from my mom’s house in my yard.  Great butterfly plant.
Dianthus – Firewitch and Frosty Fire. Perennial herbal groundcover dianthus, fragrant leaves, edible flowers.
Coronation Gold yarrow (achillea) – a taller plant than Moonshine yarrow, hardy perennial, great cut flower, everlasting.

Basil  Palmiers
Basil PalmiersAnd a recipe for you – I did actually cook these. They are so simple and easy. I made cinnamon palmiers first, these are wonderful sweet pastries. The basil palmiers are savory.  Great appetizers.  Right now we don’t have basil but arugula is a great pesto replacement until we do have basil. 

Basil Palmiers - Palmiers au Basilic
Rebecca Franklin About.Com French Food

When one thinks of palmiers – the tiny scroll-like pastries - sweet, flaky cookies come to mind. While these are flaky and delicate like the original, that’s where the similarities end. This recipe for basil palmiers uses a pesto-like filling of fresh basil and garlic for a wonderful, savory flavor.

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Total Time: 30 minutes
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lb puff pastry (1 sheet store bought)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Pulse together the basil, garlic, and olive oil until it forms a finely textured paste.  Roll the pastry dough into a large rectangle, about 15-inches by 12-inches. Using a pastry brush or spoon, spread the basil paste in a thin, even layer over the dough. Starting at the long ends of the rectangle, loosely roll each side inward until they meet in the middle. To hold difficult pastry together, brush it with the egg, if needed.  Slice the pastry crosswise into 1/4-inch palmiers – they’ll look l ike little scrolls - and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with the ground black pepper and bake them for 12-15 minutes, until they puff and turn golden brown. Remove them from the baking sheet and serve warm or at room temperature.  This recipe makes 30 basil palmiers.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese over the basil paste and dough before rolling it into palmiers.

Companion Planting
Plant basil with tomatoes – plant the smaller bush sweet varieties. Don’t plant fennel with ANYTHING. Everything hates fennel but the butterfly caterpillars. Fennel hates everything.  Parsley loves tomatoes, tansy likes fruit trees, lovage is good planted with everything.

Happy Spring is just around the corner.

Love, Monica


From the Farm
First week of October 2010
Look what happened to me a few weeks ago. I was sitting at my old table with my old friend LJ and my Mexican neighbor from across the road came walking up with a huge bag in her hand. Her son had been mowing for me. She said, “I have a surprise for you.” And in the bag looked like two huge chickens. When we put them out in the pen I had prepared there were five. I thought, “these are not the big egg laying chickens I had in mind but this is such good practice”. Three speckled hens, one dark red hen and one beautiful red and dark blue rooster. We made feeders for them out of old milk jugs, one for chicken scratch, one for water. She has almost fifty she said and they roam around all day and roost at night. Mine will do that eventually. My dog run roost is inside a very large high fenced pen. I have been getting 1 to 2 very nice pink eggs in one of the nests every day. The first egg I found was like being a kid again on Easter Sunday. The day after they got here the chickens flew over the fence. So the next day I put up more chicken fence up to about ten feet. They stayed in their big pen all day and then flew into a tree to roost at night then would run loose in the yard all day. The redheaded hen had run into the woods though and did not come back. The rooster goes to the West fence every day and cockadoodle doos about six times for her and then turns back. So sad. But she was not the egg layer thank you. So we have  the rooster and three tan speckled hens. After two weeks of them flying the coop from the tree roosting and me chasing them around the yard, Becky and I, I learned that if I go out at dusk and simply herd them into their coop they are happy all night with branches on top of the nesting boxes for them to roost on and they stay in their pen all day.  I give them my left over greens and watermelon rinds that I was putting in my huge compost tub that is in their pen and they have stirred the compost for me. I love them.

CookbooksI spent the day with my good friend Mitzi Thursday in Norman. She gave me a true Ferris Bueller day, Monica version.  I ate quiche and salad and coconut milk chocolate/peanut butter ice cream at Forward Foods. We went to Native Roots which is an all organic natural grocery. We went to Stash and Roxy’s, two really fun antique/collectibles shops.  We went to two used bookstores. I bought three great cookbooks.  I always read them and copy my favorites and have all good intentions of using them some day.  I am sending Spencer the Sam Stern cookbook, a teenager when he started publishing cookbooks, he is so much fun, great recipes. He has five out now. I found the third one called, “Get Cooking”. Mitzi found some paperback mysteries. She likes the ones about cooking but she also found a Susan Wittig Albert herb mystery which we all collected a few years ago.  Mitzi and I went to The Earth for coffee, two thrift stores. I found some plates that matched my little set for fall and the most beautiful jar. Mitzi cooks. Her house can smell like Italian herb heaven.  She caters and she does specialty cooking for intolerance to dairy, soy, gluten, sugar. She told me all about agave, hummus, coconut milk, green tea. It was a seminar on health and an inspiring day.  I loved it. Thanks, Mitzi!!!

pot pourriI’ve also been doing pot pourri,  sleep pillows and Sweet Annie wreaths for the fall market. “Home At Last” is a blend of botanicals to include roses for “love”, rosemary for “remembrance”, lavender for “devotion”, eucalyptus for “protection”, etc. all “going home” related “scented sentiments”. This includes basil from my garden for “best wishes”, (wishing it was pesto). This has a faint smell of apple pie, coffee, lemon. For a while it smelled of something my mother used to rub on me in the winter. How appropriate. I fixed that.  “Home for the Holidays” is a blend of orange peel, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, lemon verbena, etc. with a citrusy/clove fragrance which includes some of my Sweet Annie.  “Through the Woods” is a wintery mix with tiny pine cones, rose hips, tilia flowers, smells of woods and Christmas and includes some juniper berries and sumac pods from the farm.

Aubergine Roll-ups in Lush Sauce
from Get Cooking

A classic Italian dish. Soft strips of aubergine (eggplant) get stuffed with melting cheese and herbs layered in full on tomato sauce. Get on your mobile. Get some mates round.

Lush Tomato Sauce
4 T good olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion finely chopped
14 oz tin chopped tomatoes or plum tomatoes drained
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

Veg Rolls 
2 large firm shiny aubergines
3 T flour
Salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil for frying
3-4 T freshly grated Parmesan
Bunch of fresh basil
4 oz Halloumi plus 9 oz Mozzarella or 12 oz Mozzarella
Extra Parmesan and olive oil for topping,

Heat olive oil gently in a pan, cook garlic and onion for 5 minutes or till soft, not colored, Add tomatoes sugar salt and pepper.

Reduce heat. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. if it gets too thick, add a splash of water. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Add lemon juice.

Meantime slice each aubergine into 5-6 thin lengths.

Slap flour on a large plate. Season it. Slap eggs on another plate.

Tip a few glugs of oil into a large frying pan. Heat gently.

Meantime dip aubergine slices into flower then egg till coated. Increase heat. Fry for 1-2 minutes each side or till golden. Rest on kitchen paper. Cook remainder

Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F

Spread a bit of tomato sauce in the base of a large shallow ovenproof dish

Sprinkle each aubergine slice with salt. pepper and Parmesan. Add a basil leaf and a tsp of grated Halloumi or small slice of Mozzarella. Roll the veg over its filling. Place seam down on tomato sauce. Repeat. Save half Mozzarella for topping.

Cover rolls with remaining sauce. Top with sliced Mozzarella, Parmesan and a drizzle of oil. Bake for 20 minutes or more till hot and bubbling.

I got a really nice e-mail from Hummingbird Farm in Maine. She gave me some great tips on indoor kitchen gardens which I am giving a program on the end of October and one in February. and there are some great recipes on there, tips for overwintering rosemary and lots of other great info.

So forget the sleep pillows till another day. I didn’t have time for the nap after all.


Skyridge Farm, From the Garden
Third week of August 2010

Herb Vinegar

This is a great time for harvesting from the garden for vinegars. I will put simple nstructions for herb vinegars at the end of this blog. My favorite is salad burnet and lemon verbena  with white wine vinegar.  Deb Tripp’s is peaches and cloves and cinnamon basil in champagne vinegar, (pictured in the making). Deb also makes a blueberry/lemon grass vinegar in apple cider vinegar with the “funk” still in it. This usually has to be found at the health food store but is so worth the find for the health values. Blueberries high in antioxidants, lemongrass good for arthritis . . . and the funky cider vinegar a general all purpose tonic and oh so tasty. Herb vinegars are good in combination with EVOO for a great light salad dressing, added into vegetables for a kick in flavor, great sprinkled over grilled chicken for that scrape the plate finish. Great on fish and cucumbers . . .

From the market: I came home Saturday with peach pie from Granny’s and Asian Pears from Heak’s trees, she saved me the not so pretty ones because they are just as tasty but maybe not quite market quality. These are the best pears, crunchy, not too sweet. Great flavor. They keep well.  Heak has two chickens. One is named Itsy. Itsy got attacked by a chicken hawk and hurt its shoulder. She says Itsy comes when you call it by name. She said never have just one chicken. They are social.

From the farm and gardens: I do plan to get my own chickens this fall when it cools off, any advice you have is welcomed.  I have been told to get pullets. I have the coop and the pen ready to go. I don’t have a clue how to take care of them and being on ten acres no telling what will come along but it is a large enclosed area with cover. I would like to have guineas and chickens. The chickens for the eggs with the Salmonella scare and the guineas to eat the squash bugs, ticks, scorpions and to be “watchdogs” because I get a lot of company off the turnpike for some reason. There must be a sign at the bottom of the hill that says, “Free shade and water if you break down”.

This is my basil garden. It is full and beautiful. Everything is going to seed August Basilright now except the Greek columnar, seen to be tall and green in the middle of the planting with no flowers or seeds.  The Marseille is fully leafed out, I do believe you could get as much basil for pesto from one container grown Marseille as you could the taller sweet and Genovese basils.  Marseille is an heirloom basil of choice in France. The flowers of basil are also very edible. If you are cutting these back to keep them from flowering be sure to cut them back to the second or third node of leaves.  Since I am not going to cook with my basils I have allowed them to go to seed and will the end of this week when it is cooler cut them back, tie them to dry and put them in a potpourri for the holidays. Especially my Christmas basil which I am very happy with. The leaves are dark green, dark burgundy flowers and the fragrance is a mix of cinnamon and pine.

Handmade PaperI have started to make paper again, this is a picture of some paper I am saving for journals, dream diaries, guest books, etc. I have been waiting for the weather to “break” since last Christmas as I make paper in a blender in a tub to dry in the yard on a pleasant breezy day.  Those don’t happen that often in Oklahoma. We are “weather challenged.” I have been using my Kent’s Beauty Oregano blooms, scented geraniums leaves and balsam flowers right now. I use what is in season to put in my paper. (Click photo to enlarge)

I had a couple of people tell me not to send them this blog because I just make them tired. I loved hearing that it makes me miss my mother. She was not quite as delicate about it. She said I made her “butt tired”.  Even when she had Alzheimers and wasn’t quite sure who I was she would say, “Don’t you get tired?”, “Does your mother know you are out driving around?” I would ask her “What did you do today?” and she would say, “I don’t remember. I hope it was all legal.” She was a lot of fun but I have always been a hyper girl and still have way too much fun at once. Take care, I do need a nap. Next time I’ll tell you about sleep/dream pillows. 


Herbal Vinegars
Take a sterilized pint or quart jar with a plastic lid or line the metal lid with plastic wrap. Place your washed and patted dry herbs and other ingredients in the jar. Pour in 5% vinegar: White wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar (not distilled), champagne vinegar or rice vinegar. Use the white wine vinegars with colorful herbs to tint for color. The purple basils will turn it pink! Red wine vinegars will tone down strongly flavored herbs such as rosemary. Champagne vinegars work well with fruit, spices. Add in peppercorns, chile peppers, lemon zest or lemon peel curls. Some of my favorite herbs for vinegars are salad burnet, basils, lemon verbena, tarragons, thymes, mints, lemon grass, garlic cloves.  Chive blossoms and nasturtium blossoms are pretty and add a “peppery” kick.  Experiment with fruited vinegars with peaches, blueberries, etc. Some recipes call for heating the vinegar before adding it to the ingredients. This is not necessary. Cover all the herbs with the vinegar, close up the jar, shake it up daily for about two to three weeks. Taste it to see if it is strong enough. If it is not strong enough add herbs and let it sit another week or so. Strain it when it is to your taste and pour it into decorative bottles with corks or plastic lids. Add a sprig of herb for decoration. Label it well with the ingredients, add raffia ties or ribbon and a gift tag if you are giving these for gifts. If giving these for gifts remind people to use it in the next few weeks.  Promise them more next year. There are a lot of really good information sites on the internet for herb vinegars. The combinations are limitless and I have never known anyone to make a “bad” vinegar. They are all wonderful.


Skyridge Farm
First week of August 2010

I heard from so many gardeners going through the market that they are not getting tomatoes on their tomato plants except for the cherry types. I am pretty sure that this is because we had a cool wet spring and then all of a sudden got slammed with a whole week of 100 degree temps when the blossoms were setting fruit which prevented the fruiting. OKLAHOMA gotta love it. Will these produce tomatoes in the fall when it cools off?

Farmers Market – I went home from the market with these beautiful eggplants (that look like seahorses or small penguins!), Armenian cucumbers, Asian pears, cantaloupe, and amaranth greens. I sent Spencer a new herb cookbook that had recipes for “aubergines” and “courgettes” and “poussins”.  After some minor research I learned that the aubergines are eggplant, the courgettes are zuchinni, and the poussins are young chickens.  The eggplant and zuchinni can be baked or grilled.  I also have an abundance of Armenian cucumbers from Spencer’s garden that Barbara Stelle helped me with before Spencer came to visit. These are wonderful cucumbers. They are also called “snake melon”. This is one of the best regarded slicing cucumbers. It is crisp, thin skinned, soft, mild flavored and few but soft seeds. It doesn’t need to be peeled or seeded. It is not good for pickling.  This is the beauty of Armenian cucumbers, when sliced across it has beautiful scalloped edges as you would find if you had done this with a fork on a regular cucumber. Very tasty. We chilled ours in white vinegar with red onions, water.

Thanks to Wayne  at WM Barnwool for a HUGE cantaloupe which he promised me would take “no real culinary skills”. Also he had Green Zebra striped heirloom tomatoes. Beautiful and tasty.

In Europe a poussin is a butcher term for a young chicken, less than 28 days old at slaughter and usually weight 400 – 450 grams but not above 750 grams. It is sometimes also called “spring chicken” although that term usually refers to chickens weighing 750 to 850 grams. In the United States poussin is an alternative name for a small sized (cross bred) chicken called Rock Cornish hen, developed in the late 1950’s which is twice as old and twice as large as the typical British poussin. So a poussin must be very small, one recipe says six poussins would compare to one large chicken.

Not that I am going to cook anything. But here are some great recipes for you all. These are especially for Bonnie who asked about cooking with mint . . not that I am going to . . . Please share your info and recipes with me. If anyone wants to send Spencer a recipe. send it to me and I will forward it on. Next time herb vinegars. We are just waiting for the heat to break here in Oklahoma. Won’t we love that.

Baked Courgettes with Mint

Creamy yet tangy goat’s cheese combines with fresh mint to make simple baked courgettes into a special dish.

8 small courgettes
1.tbsp olive oil plus extra for greasing
4 oz. goat cheese cut into thin strips or you could use mozzarella or mild cheddar
1 small bunch fresh mint finely chopped
Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut out eight rectangles of foil large enough to encase each courgette and brush with a little oil. Trim the courgettes and cut a thin slit along the length of each. Insert pieces of goat cheese in the slits. Add a little mint and sprinkle with the olive oil and black pepper. Wrap each courgette in foil rectangle, place on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes until tender. I am sure these could easily be grilled instead.

Spiced Aubergine with Mint YogurtSpencer's Herb Recipes

A minty yogurt sauces is the perfect complement to aubergines cooked with mixed spices. Serves 4.

2-3 aubergines
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup greek style yogurt
1 garlic clove crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
Salt and ground black pepper

Slice the aubergines thickly and place in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes rinse the aub ergine slices and pat dry thoroughly.

Arrange the aubergines on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Sprinkle over half of each spice. Cook under a hot grill until softened and browned. Turn over the aubergine slices, brush again with oil, and sprinkle with the remaining spices. Grill for a further 4-5 minutes until the second sides are browned. Meanwhile make the mint yogurt. Mix together the yogurt, crushed garlic and mint and season to taste with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Spoon into a small serving bowl. Arrange the grilled aubergines on a serving plate, sprinkle with chopped mint and serve with the mint yogurt.



Skyridge Farm
Third week of July 2010

Spencer in the mintThis is a picture of Spencer in the mints. Before he left to go home, literally as he was supposed to be getting in the car, he hand wrote me a recipe for whole wheat pita chips with mascarpone chive dip. I was to hand these out at the market. I am starting him a ring binder for his recipes.

This is my dog Becky sitting backwards on the picnic table. Here is some info from the article in Herb Companion on Herbal pest repellents : Randy Kidd

Recommended herbs: Rosemary, ((Rosmarinus officinalis), Wormwood, (artemesia absinthium, pennyroyal, (Mentha pulegium)  Tansy, (Tanacetum, vulgare) Southernwood artemesia, (Artemesia abrotanum),  lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)  or eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus).

Rinse or dip: select three or four herbs from the following list and mix equal parts of the dried herbs together. Pour boiling water over the mixture and steep until cool. Apply to your pet, leave to dry and reapply every two to three days as needed.  Powder: To dried pyrethrum flowers add equal pars of two or three of the dried herbs listed and pulverize the herbs into a powder with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Then apply powder liberally to the animal rubbing into hair so that it reaches the skin.  Herbal oils: combine equal parts of essential oisl with as cintronella, cedarwood, lemongrass or rosemary. Dilute in water 3 to 5 drops of oil per ounce of water and use as a dip or rinse.

Last week I went to the book store to get packing paper from my good friend Nichole for my food co-op shipments and she knows I don’t cook but I love cookbooks especially the pictures. She was showing me one I hadn’t seen, “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” – Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.  This is a beautiful book, a beautiful story and I believe it is going to be made into a movie. This is about a girl from Oklahoma who moved to Los Angeles, lived the city life, came back to Oklahoma on a visit, met a rancher, fell in love and the rest is in the book in gorgeous photos with down home recipes. I also bought recently “Dollars to Donuts” a cookbook about the Hard Rock Café in Stroud, Oklahoma Route 66. This is a great story also of a young woman who bought the café and shares her recipes. I recently read the Julia Child book which I fell in love with, her life story, almost made me want to learn to cook.

ZinniaI came home from the farmer’s market yesterday with these beautiful zinnias from Renrick’s. At the end of the market it is amazing what the vendors share with the other vendors. Renee knows I make paper and that her zinnias will go in my “Its been so long since I’ve Zinnia” card. The story is Robert Zinn back in the 1800s when the great search was on in the world for therapeutic plants, fell to his death off a cliff while reaching for a rare flower. His friends named the Zinnia after him and in the Language of Flowers zinnia stands for “thoughts of absent friends”.  I will hang these to dry, they will bleed color in to the paper that way. Thanks Renee. 

I also came home with a Yellow Meated Watermelon, thanks Wayne, Patchouli Almond soap, thanks Heather. Some of Faye’s Hand and Body Lotion, thanks Faye!, Amaranth greens which I will stir fry with their green onions and throw on some herbal vinegar,  thanks Ying Yangs.  The market is a wonderful place all the way around.  Next week we’ll talk about herb vinegars.



Skyridge Farm
Second week of July, 2010

I want to thank those of you who came to the market Saturday – it was great to see you and I had a chance to share my herb plants business with Spencer and Spencer with a lot of people I know and enjoy.  He had been  picking herbs out of my garden and market stock and so was excited about the whole herb booth, he had hand written a recipe for Chicken Parmesan and a survey on using different herbs which some of you graciously filled out.  The whole thing was a bit much for him and after a little while he very bluntly told me it was “too busy” he couldn’t take it any more and he needed to go home. Everyone at the market knows that about 1030 am every Saturday I begin to say the same thing to anyone who will listen. He took his money and went around the market, smelled the soaps, complimented the basket lady on her work, bought some fudge, peaches, blackberries, pie, cheese and was happy to be gone.  The farmers markets in North Carolina are more of a farm stand every few miles with only a few customers at a time and Saturday was SO busy at the market. So thanks again for being a part of it!

We came home and he made dinner. He wanted to do a “rub” for boneless skinless chicken breast that he had seen on Sunny Anderson? on the Food Network. He chopped peppers and onions, tomatoes into an extra virgin olive oil base with garlic and seasonings, the dry seasonings he sprinkled with his fingers from a bowl he had mixed up like they do on TV.  He coated the chicken pieces with it, sautéed it in a skillet and we dipped our chicken in the rest of it.  It was so good it almost made me want to learn to cook.  We had simple pasta and vegetables with it.

I ate the rest of the herbal oil/pepper mix in later servings myself and loved it. The latest issue of “Herb Companion” magazine had an excellent article on herbal oils and butters to be made for gifts but they recommended herbal oils be refrigerated and not be kept over a week, especially with garlic. They suggest that extra virgin olive oil makes a rich herb flavored oil for dipping or seasoning but using a lighter flavored oil like light olive, grape seed or canola will allow more of the herb flavor to be “front and center”.

 Herb Infused Dipping Oil:  ½ cup herbs, choose one or use a mix of parsley, basil, thyme and oregano, 1 tsp lemon or orange zest, 1 tsp cracked black pepper, 3 cups EVOO. Place clean dry herbs zest and pepper in sterilized 1 quart jar set aside, heat oil just until warm, slowly pour warm oil over herbs, allow to cool. Once cool pour oil through a wire mesh strainer discarding solids, cover and store in refrigerator for one week, discard after one week. Use drizzled over fresh tomatoes, toss with pasta, brush on meat and vegetables when grilling, use for salad dressing, use as a dip for French bread.

I have just gotten my gardens “in” in the last two weeks. It is mid July and we have all battled the crazy weather from tornadoes to hail to floods. Now we’ll battle the weeds and the biting flies. I put in an herbal “salad” garden, in the shade: (parsley, sorrel, Sylvetta arugula, lovage, chives, salad burnet, lemon basil (likes the shade). I put in a “basil garden”, Sweet Basil, Greek Columnar, Red Rubin, purple ruffles, Sweet Thai, Christmas basil, Aristotle, Amethyst and my favorite, Marseille. The red basils within a week went from a pale washed out color to a very dark almost black purple. I guess happy to be in the ground.  I got an e mail today from Bill Smith about a woman named Ramona who has a website dedicated to the love of basil and her basil collection. Sounds like me and my scented geraniums. Check out Ramona's Basil Garden   I then got an e mail from Anne Michalski with her basil soda recipe and a recipe from the Food Network for a basil /lime sorbet. Thank you Anne! I will try this with Spencer this week before he goes home.

Next week I want to tell you about some great cookbooks I found at the book store and some herbal remedies for your dogs for the summer.