The Un Neatness of it All

It is Fall. Here in Texas the weather this year is untypically Fall like. Cool nights in the 50’s with highs in the mid to low 70’s, enjoyable and unusual for us.  Typically, the temperatures go from HOT to cold without much in between, like fall weather.

My garden beds have been in great need of cleaning out for a couple of months now. (I like a clean and tidy house.  I also like my beds and yard to be neat and tidy.)  When I let the clean out of the gardens go (like I have for months) it feels untidy and like I need to clean house.  So, with the help of my husband we set out to clean out some garden beds.

I started in the round garden bed that is directly in front of the porch we sit on every day.  We enjoy sitting on the porch chatting at the end of our day, relaxing.  This round bed was atrocious. Grass was 2 feet high overwhelming the mint that was trying to come back now that the weather has cooled off. I was pulling and digging out the roots that run underground.  We trimmed hedges, cleaned out weeds, raked, pulled and picked up for hours.

As I was cleaning the round bed I began to wonder “Can there be beauty or calm in the un neatness of it all?” The un neatness of it all……. 

As I was looking at the tall grass I was pulling and tossing to the side; I saw some light colored fuzzy soft looking ends on some of the grass. I became curious and had to take a break and see if I could work some of that fuzzy soft looking grass heads out away from the other burn pile bound stack of garden debris.

Someone described me as tenacious one time and I have to say, that I am.  I sat on the damp ground and carefully worked out the grass heads and stems until I had a small pile of them.  Taken away from all of the other un neatness, I thought these were simple and lovely.  Looked like something you might find in a Fall floral arrangement. I left them in the pile on the grass and went back to my tasks.

The stopping place was determined. I looked over the yard at the garden beds and received the instant gratification one can get from yard work.  The beds we worked looked much better and the round bed showed a few remaining pieces of mint popping up to catch the afternoon sun.

I finally picked up the small pile of grass I had set aside and decided I thought it was lovely.  I put it in a small vase, created for me by my daughter years ago, and looked for other opportunities for what might be lovely and calm laying in the un neatness scattered all across the front of my house.

There, simply lovely.

Placed in the vase by my chair in my now favorite corner on my porch it provides a calm beauty.

There will always be un neatness on my small acreage and in my gardens but as I’m walking thru it each day I will remember to look for the beauty and calm in the un neatness of it all.

Life can be un neat, messy, full of weeds so it blocks our view of what may be calm and beautiful. Don’t forget to look.

Banana, Pancakes, Autumn Spice

I had very ripe bananas this morning when I got ready to make some breakfast.  I decided to make one of my favorite things, Banana Pancakes.

Make your pancake batter as you normally do.  If it is from scratch or mix it doesn’t matter.  All you are going to do is add some very ripe bananas.  I made a standard amount of pancake batter for a family of 4.

Mash up 2 ripe bananas.  Once well mashed add them into your batter.  Then add C & J Farms 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Autumn Spice Blend.  Mix until well incorporated.  Cook as normal.

This is so yummy as it is but would be amazing with our new Chocolate Honey on top.

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This Herb May Help a Cough, Congestion

Mullein is a common weed prominent all over the United States, often found along stretches of the highway, on the edges of forests and on the gravely sides of railroad tracks. But this plant is much more than a bit of roadside greenery, as it may assist in the recovery of several common conditions within it its fuzzy, pale green leaves and yellow rosettes. Originally used by the natives in several parts of the United States, this plant is still used because of its, beneficial effects on the respiratory system. Assisting with common ailments such as coughing, lung weakness, respiratory constriction and chest colds, the mullein plant is truly a lung healing herb.

Known as Verbascum thapsus, its Latin name, mullein is considered beneficial for the lungs because it is an expectorant. This means that the herb may help the body remove excess mucus from lungs and soothes the mucus membranes with its emollient properties. It is therefore excellent for helping with the relief of bronchitis, heavy coughing, chest colds and even asthma. Both the leaves and the flowers of the plant contain saponins, natural detergents which make a cough more productive in releasing and expelling phlegm from the walls of the lungs, and mucilage, a gelatinous substance which soothes any irritated membrane.

The herb is also a diuretic and thus can relieve urinary tract inflammation when taken through a tea. It can also be used to decrease inflammation in the bowels, helping to reduce colitis and other issues.

A Mullein Tea Recipe
Ingredients
1 ½ cups boiling water
1-2 teaspoons dried mullein leaves and/or flowers (flowers make a sweeter tea)
1 teaspoon dried spearmint (optional for flavor)
1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)

Method
Steep the mullein leaves in hot water inside a tea ball or strainer for 15 minutes. Add honey if you like a sweeter tea.

Other Ways to Use this Herb:
Mullein extract infused with olive oil has been used to reduce the inflammation of earaches, sore joints, insect bites and hemorrhoids because of its soothing properties.

Simple poultices made out of fresh, mashed mullein and flowers mixed with water can also be used to relieve, burns, boils and sores.

Notes to Know:
Native Americans and the Amish smoked the dried leaves to relax the lungs when respiratory coughing was uncontrollable, or breathing became too difficult. Often just making a smudge of the leaves would suffice.

If you decide to make your own concoctions from mullein, which is easy to do, make sure that you strain all your product through a very fine sieve to remove the hairs from the leaves. These hairs are what most people find irritating if they have allergies.

Mullein must always be heated thoroughly before being ingested due to the saponins which are rather toxic. After being heated, mullein is fine for humans.

This is for information only.  Though this herb has been used for centuries.

A study: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308991417_Assessing_the_Effectiveness_of_Mullein_on_Respiratory_Conditions_Such_as_Asthma

https://www.organicauthority.com/health/mullein-herbal-tea

Herbal Teas – Tasty and Beneficial

The more I garden and learn about herbs, the more I want to know.  I enjoy learning about herbs, spices and plants of all kinds.  Once this box got opened for me, there is no closing it.  It continually spills over and over again with more and more information. A beautiful spilling of floral, culinary, medicinal informational delight. Today I want to share a little information on Making Herbal Teas or more correctly; making an infusion.  An herbal tea is called a ( tinsanes =  /tɪ-zahn).  In reality, it is not a tea without one of the tea plants Camelia Sinensis leaves in it.  Instead they are infusions made from leaves, bark, roots, berries, seeds, and spices. I will continue to refer to them here as Herbal Teas or Teas.

Here is where the difference between herbs and spices kind of get thrown together.  As many spices are added to herbal teas too.  Some of those spices are cinnamon, ginger, turmeric which have been found as extremely beneficial for our health. The difference between and herb and a spice: Herbs come from the leafy and green part of the plant. Spices are parts of the plant other than the leafy bit such as the root, stem, bulb, bark or seeds. Examples of herbs include basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and mint. Examples of spices include coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and turmeric.

Herbal teas can be as simple or complex as you want them to be.  Sometimes there is nothing better than a simple hot cup of steeped lemon grass.  This herb is a mild sweet citrus flavor that I find soft, pleasant and calming.

Most herbal teas are much more complex combining herbs and spices for flavor and health benefits.  Teas for fighting colds and flu, which by the way, really do make a difference!  Teas for cardiovascular health, blood pressure improvement, general immune system building.  Whatever flavor combinations you have or make to enjoy each and every component will have positive health properties.

Grow some Stevia plant’s to use as a natural sweetener.  This plant’s leaves are seriously sweet right off of the plant. Use your culinary Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Lavender and so many more for brewing your favorite herbal delight.  Steep the leaves, roots, bark or flowers in hot water (not boiling) for 15 minutes to ensure all of the flavor and nutritional oils have been brought out.  Then enjoy it hot or cold, either way is great.

One more thing to make mention for you to consider – most all true Herbal Teas are caffeine free. The plant, Camelia Sinensis, has caffeine.

You can blend your own as easy as harvesting the plants you have or using dried herbs from your pantry.  Grab your tea ball or tea bags and get started.  Whatever your reason, to have an herb garden, to enjoy herbal teas for flavor or for health and wellness; there is much to enjoy.  If you have never tried an herbal tea, consider starting today.

We keep organic blended teas made and ready to go at the farm store here at C & J Farms.   Some of the herbal teas we carry are – Happy Tummy Tea, Cold and Flu Tea (this is so effective!!), Lemon Tea, Red Rooibos Tea, Earl Grey with Coneflower (this has caffiene), Blues Tea and more.  We offer lists of ingredients in each tea, tea kitchen accessories and a great conversation on herbs, spices and herbal teas.

If you want to know more about what we carry you will have to come by the store,give us a call, or contact us via our email.  We will be happy to help you find an herbal tea delight to suit what you might be looking for.

lemon honey in lemon grass tea 2

Peaches, Pork and Sage with Gravy

Did you know Sage is a perennial plant?  It prefers cool weather and thrives but will survive even in Texas hot summers.  It is one of my favorite herbs.   The flowers make beautiful cut flowers in the summer time.

I was at the Farmers Market yesterday and there were fresh peaches everywhere and the scent was heavy in the air.  I picked up some to work on a few new Jam recipes but couldn’t resist them this morning.  They had made my kitchen fragrant.

We slept in so I was late getting started with preparing food to eat.  I decided this would be the main meal of the day.

Boneless pork chops were already thawed in the fridge, peaches were fragrant and I was looking at the rain revived sage in my garden out the window.

Ingredients:

4 Boneless pork chops
½ cup of cooking oil (your preference)
1 cup of flour
2 cup of milk
1 ½ tablespoon of fresh chopped sage (optional, you can use C & J Farms dried Sage instead)
Sage Square
2 tablespoon of C & J Farms Scarborough Fair (Sage, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme) a bit extra as you go.
1 ripe peach
1 tablespoon C & J Farms Salt & Black Pepper mix

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Put 1 cup milk in a bowl for dredging the pork chops.
Put 1 cup of flour in a bowl for dredging .  Add one 1 tablespoon of C & J Farms Scarborough Fair seasoning to the flour and stir it in.
Seasoning the pork chops on both sides with C & J Farms Salt & Pepper then add more Scarborough Fair on top of the chops. Now put each pork chop in the milk then in the seasoned flour. Set aside.

pork peaches sage 3

Put the oil in the skillet and get the oil hot at a medium high.  Once the oil is hot put the pork chops in and let them get a good crispy brown.  Approx. 2 minutes before turning. (You don’t want to over cook because the chops will get tough.) Then turn again another 2 to 3 minutes. Check for browning and doneness. Remove the chops cover and keep warm.

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Once done set aside some of the oil from cooking the chops (about 1 to 2 teaspoons) in a small skillet.

While the chops are browning, slice up your peaches. Set aside.
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Now the Sage Gravy:

In the oil the chops were cooked in (should be about 2 tablespoons in the pan, if not add some oil).  Begin to whisk in the seasoned flour mixture (you want this to still have Scarborough Fair seasoning in it) from the pork chop dredge, approx. 2 tablespoons. Add 2 cups of milk. 1 cup from the dredge and add one more cup.  Whisk the gravy and cook until thickened adding the fresh cut sage and a little salt and pepper (to taste) at the end. Remove from heat. Cover and keep warm.

Now sauté the sliced peaches in the skillet with the oil from the pork chops adding a bit more fresh chopped sage when they are soft. Once done, (this only takes about 1 to 2 minutes) add them on top of the pork chops.

pork peaches sage 7

Scramble the eggs in the same skillet.  Plate everything up and enjoy.

Sweet Orange Baked Pork Chops

Our Sweet Orange and Herb seasoning is fresh and simple but has a huge flavor.  Just add to your pork chops prior to cooking for a very new flavor.  We also enjoy our combined Black Pepper and Sea Salt.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. These pork chops are center cut 1/2 thick chops.

pork sweet orange 1
Lightly rub some olive oil (or any oil you like) on the pork chops.  Sprinkle liberally both sides of the chops with the  C & J Farms Sea Salt and Black Pepper and the C & J Farms Sweet Orange and Herb.

pork sweet orange 2

Cover with foil and place in the hot oven for about 1 hour.  After 1 hour remove the foil and place back in the oven to brown the chops.

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After the chops are cooked I put some of the juice from the chops over the chops and serve.

pork sweet orange 4

Yum, Sweet Orange!

Lavender – Spiced Nuts

Lavender – Spiced Nuts
by Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications

This is too delicious not to share.

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray
4 tsp. dried lavender buds
1 tsp. dried rosemary
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg white
1 tbsp. water
4 cups walnut or pecan halves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 15 x 10 in. baking pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray.
In a clean coffee grinder or small food processor grind lavender and rosemary to a fine powder. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Stir in sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl beat egg white and the water with a mixer on medium to high until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Add nuts; toss to coat.  Sprinkle sugar mixture over nuts; toss to coat.
Spread nuts in the prepared baking pan. Bake 10 minutes.  Stir nuts, separating any that stick together.  Bake 10 minutes more. Transfer foil with the nuts to a wire rack; cool.
Makes 14 servings 1/3 cup each.
Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks or freeze for longer storage.

lavender spice pecans