Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Under the Texan Sun

The air was fragrant with a thousand
trodden aromatic herbs, with fields of lavender,
and with the brightest roses blushing in tufts....
-William Cullen Bryant

I decided early yesterday morning to begin drying some of the herbs I'm harvesting hand-over-fist around Freeman House. It was a lovely way to occupy a few minutes... walking through the dew, quietly snipping herbs, dropping them in the basket, listening to the birds and the breeze. If I squinted hard enough I could almost imagine I was a young Diane Lane in Tuscany. Almost. [Sigh]

Anyway, I brought in some Greek Oregano, regular Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Basil and Lavender and went to work filling the kitchen sink with water. Then I played, pretty much, sloshing and swishing the green stems through the water, letting the dirt whirl away and settle at the bottom of the sink.

For those gardener/cooks out there: how do you dry your herbs? I know there are several ways folks swear by, but I usually hang mine upside down in a paper bag and let them dry that way. I decided yesterday, though, upon the advice of a friend, to try sun-drying the sage and oregano. Does it make much difference? I'm not sure. All I know is that while visitors had to step over rack after rack of cheesecloth-covered herbs to get to the kitchen door, the herbs were dry and crunchy by the end of the day. Texas' fierce August sun wouldn't have it any other way.

Uh-hum. Point being, I figure clipping and drying herbs now will yield plenty of spice blends to hand out as holiday gifts. (Consider this your fair Christmas warning.) While in Dallas recently I loaded up on these glass spice bottles, and plan to fill some of them with these mixtures:

Freeman House Chicken/Fish Blend

2 T. dried basil
2 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried thyme
½ t. dried, grated lemon peel
1 t. celery seed
2 T. onion powder
1 t. black pepper

And, of course, this one, for all things pasta and tomato-y that come out of the kitchen, including Italian herb bread...

Freeman House Italian Blend

2 T. dried basil
2 T. dried oregano
2 T. dried thyme
1 T. dried sage
1 T. garlic powder
1 t. black pepper

I'm also putting together some bath herbs... you know... tying them up in little bags so when guests come they can take their glass of wine or hot tea to the clawfoot tub, settle in, and soak in the smells of homegrown lavender and chamomile and mint....

Hmm. Never, in a million years, would I have guessed that at 28 years old I'd be drying herbs and putting spice blend recipes on a blog like a little old lady. (And teaching knitting classes? I'm halfway to becoming Miss Marple already!) But just so you know, I'm taking off for a mountain adventure in Mexico on Sunday and will be out all next week. So before I go, these herbs really need to get dried.

Besides, it's actually kind of fun to watch your hard work sitting all labeled and dried in shiny spice bottles and sweet bath bags. Just goes to show, I guess, how life really can be terrific under the Texan sun.


Penless Thoughts said...

You are so interesting to read. I think your gift idea is wonderful.
Have a grand time in Mexico.

Anonymous said...

OOOOh, thanks for sharing the blends. I can't wait to put some together from the grocery store spice aisle and try them. Alas, I'm not a gardner. UT will love it even if it's not homegrown, so thanks. And I can't wait to hear about your mountain trip to Mexico. Have a wonderful time! Auntie M

Lallee said...

Brin, I haven't had much time for leaving comments lately, but I still enjoy your blog regularly.

I need to try drying some of my herbs. I haven't done that before. Don't think of yourself as acting old, think of it as culinary and romantic ;-) I'll be eager to come back and see what suggestions you receive.

Enjoy Mexico. Ole!

Heather said...

What fun~It would be so much fun to have my own herbs that I grew, but for now I enjoy reading and seeing yours!!

Cottage said...

Brin, thank you for the herb recipes You are always up to something fun and inspiring. :) I hope you have a fabulous time in Mexico but I will pout at not having my daily dose of Freeman House. However, I have thought of a way for you to make it up to me...lol! You can send me a cutting of your sage plant. Can you believe it? I can't find one to save me life!

Have a Blessed and Beautiful time in Mexico! Melissa

betty r said...

Ahhh...now I want a lavendar scented bath..
My lavendar is not doing well, I just planted it this year, I'm hoping it will do better next year.
I have dried herbs both ways, outside in the sun or hanging upside down. I can't really tell which is better except that the sun does it faster! Thanks for the herb recipes...kind of you to share!
Have a fun and happy holiday in Mexico..you deserve it, although I will miss your daily postings...

Sue said...

Isn't there a movie by that name! LOL Should be now! :) I don't know what I'll do for a whole week without Freeman House! But do have a grand time, safe travels!

Mary said...

Brin you will be missed, however have a fab time in Mexico and bring us lots more interesting stories please.
Hope you have a good housesitter for Freeman House - wish I was closer and could take care of your beautiful homeplace! I'd even play in your herbs - but only if I get some of that Frozen Hot Chocolate!
Bon voyage - Mary.

Melissa Michaels said...

Wow, I am really impressed with your blog! Did I read you were in your 20's? Maybe I was mistaken. I am 40 and I just figured out how to blog about 4 weeks ago, and I can't even do half of the stuff you are doing! You are an amazing woman!
Great to see you sharing your faith as well as all of your inspiring ideas for living! I too am the owner of a fixer upper and in way over my head. Good times, huh?
I definitely look forward to reading all of your stuff!

bellacolle said...

Oh, your herbs are lovely! have some I need to deal with... lol...
Have fun in Mexico! You deserve it!

jimr75 said...

Oh you're kidding!

I hit the "next blog" button and here's where I land. How on earth are you?


Brin said...

The Loobster? No way. NO WAY! No way, no how! How in the world are you?

Duh. Need to go to your blog so I make sure you see this....