Thursday, September 6, 2012

                                   THE MATURE HERB GARDEN'S BOUNTY

                                                            Summer's Harvest

When we moved into our detached town home with a "postage size stamp lot" compared to the 2.5 acres we had in Virginia, we requested permission from the association for a small vegetable garden.
Each year since we have managed to raise in MN's short season tomatoes, green beans, melons, shallots, carrots, etc. This year we decided to convert the small space into an herb garden. We went on a hunt for varieties that are not just your run of the mill nursery offerings. We were fortunate and found scented geraniums, savory, stevia, lemon verbena, marjoram and the standards of basil, flat and curly parsley, oregano, dill and rosemary. These we added to our already existing perennials of chives, tarragon, lavender and sorrel. In an earlier post, there are photos of the young nursery finds just planted.
As August approached and there had been substantial growth, I started to plan to preserve the herbs. In years past I have made herbal olive oils, vinegars, pesto, herbal seasoning blends and butter mixtures.

Years ago on a visit to Jefferson's home, Monticello I purchased a small herb book  "The Herbal Pantry". At the time the book sold for $18.00 and I hemmed and hawed about the price. I asked why so much for such a small book? The clerk answered that "everyone loves the book". Making that purchase has given me season after season of sheer delight. It is by and away my favorite preserving book. There is no end to the many varieties of cordials, jams, oils, vinegars, seasoning mixes, butters and on and on that one can make.
Sage curly,  parsley basil and stevia
Scented geraniums in pots along with prostrate rosemary I have manged to winter over in the pot for three years now.

French melons, small but oh!!! so sweet

our one and only pumpkin

So here in the photos I have captured the mature garden, the drying and cleaning process. Sterile  antique Ball jars line my kitchen table ready to be filled with each dried herb. This year I have decided to keep each dried herb separate without making seasoning blends. I have made herbal sugars with the scented geraniums and lavender. These will stand ready all winter for baking scones, muffins and cakes. Added to hot cereals and fresh fruit is just a delight too.
Rosemary and savory tied to the drying rack

Tarragon. It grows like a bush here. Never had any success in VA because of the humidity.

Thyme drying on my baking cooling rack which lets the air circulate underneath
Sifting out the stems with my antique sifter. I sit on the covered front porch and then just sweep away that which does not make the bowl
Antique Ball jars

Here is my copy of the The Herbal Pantry by Emilie Tolley

Dried tarragon 

Scented  sugars with scented geranium leaves and lavender.
I have citrus, rose lemon and orange scented geraniums

Friday, July 20, 2012

Memorable Birthday Gift. My Publication Arrived on July 19th

A few months back I saw a call for artistic submissions to Creating Vintage Charm Magazine. In keeping with my NewYears list of things I would like to accomplish: Create a blog, try to get published, get accepted to a juried craft show…, I took the opportunity to make a submission.
I was overjoyed when I was notified of my acceptance. Then came what seemed like an interminable wait for the magazine to be published. I checked in May and again in June. As the summer solstice approached, I thought well now it is officially summer the issue must be out.. Not yet. Well, about a week ago when I checked, voila! I immediately ordered my copy.
July19th is my birthday. My husband Joe brought in the mail and said, "you have another present". It was my copy of the magazine!!!! This is my first publication and I was so overjoyed to see my artistic creation in print!
See my "Vitorian Bathing Girls Summer Banner" here in the summer 2012 issue of Creating Vintage Charm Magazine.

Please visit my Shop for my currently available creations at:

Monday, July 16, 2012


This year we decided to expand the herb garden rather than to plant vegetables.
I decided to do a little entertaining in the month of June.  I put aside other interests, gave the house a good cleaning and invited a few friends over for two consecutive weekends. With the herb garden putting on some nice growth, I perused through some of my favorite herb books to plan the menu. Being summer I opted for a cold plate presentation.

I decided on a favorite chicken salad  recipe from Martha Stewart. She is great for entertaining, as her recipes are ample.
The chicken salad was layered upon a bed of cucumber slices uniformly sliced with the mandoline on croissants.

Two and a half pounds of chicken breasts were laid on a bed of parsley, thyme and bay leaves.
They were then roasted, cooled and shredded.

I then made a homemade mayonnaise

In keeping with the herbal celebration theme, I added fresh spinach, watercress, chives and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the mayonnaise

The mayonnaise was added to the chicken salad and chilled overnight to let the flavors marry.

Next in the preparation was a homemade lemon cake. This recipe comes form one of my very favorite herb books by
Emellie Tolley
Lemon verbena was steeped in milk and added to both the cake and the icing recipe.
Citrus geranium leaves were layered on the bottom of the cake pan which are visible above.

A simple decoration of fresh lavender buds and bee-balm decorated the cake.

Raspberries freshly picked form the garden in the morning were mixed with fresh mango and dressed with a light dusting of turbinado sugar and peach brandy.

Looking through one of my southern table decorating books , I got the inspiration to use  a set of Villeroy & Bock dishes that I purchased from the factory in Germany. The pattern is colorfully decorated with a lively jungle managerie of monkeys, leopards and toucans

A drink station was set up for lemon water and iced teas   spiked with fresh mint.

A bouquet of fresh lilies just coming into bloom  added color and a heavenly scent.

My lovely lady guests Karen and Mitzi of whom I made their acquaintance through St.Anne's , our church.

Karen and I
Where there is food there will be our dog Monique.

Mitzi and myself

Plated and ready to eat.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spring at the Burgess's Home

I have fallen so far behind on the posts that I have wanted to make. We invested in a new camera and I have been taking pictures with every intention to feature them here. Well I am going to endeavor to make posts more often. Here goes some photos that go back to Spring!!!
 Here is my husband, Joseph at the kitchen table. He is deservedly proud of his baking accomplishment.
Here are Joe's delicious Easter hot cross buns. He made these for  St Anne's coffee hour. Those daffodils were in bloom at Easter, This is the first time that I have seen flowers in my yard in bloom in MN at Easter.

When we moved here, we gave up our 2.5 acres that we had in Virginia. After years of being in the garden club, I was determined to take this small yard and transition it into a potential cutting garden. I just love bringing in fresh flowers from the garden to make bouquets.
This year the garden reached it's apogee of bloom on May27th when I shot all of the these photos.

This lovely clamatis is on the side of the house

I was so delighted to find a southern stalwart .
A wisteria that can survive in zone 4.
We live on the corner. For privacy I asked joe to make this low stone wall and pergola.
The wisteria provides the privacy we sought.

At the front door there are two climbing roses. Knowing that the yard was small I thought why not go vertical.

This year we decided not to grow vegetables in our  wee garden.
We filled the beds with herbs.
I love to preserve my herbs. Each year I make pesto, herbal olive oil, herbal vinegar, herbal butters and dry the herbs.

In Virginia we delighted in growing scented geraniums . Never could find them here in MN until this year.
I made a lemon flavored cake with the lemon verbena and citrus geraniums leaves.

Here is our dog, Monique. She is a Petite Basset Griffon Vendee (PBGV)
She is in the scent hound group. Originally a rabbit hunting dog. However, because of the rabbits (which she shows no inclination to hunt) we now are growing herbs rather than vegetables.
This is under our kitchen window which faces north.
the ladies mantle likes it here. In the early spring I have a few lilies  of the valley. My mom, Dolores liked those and it always reminds me of her.

This is a bed in the front right hand corner of the yard . I just love when the poppies are in bloom. The color scheme here is where I have my hot colors.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Dinner

  1. Table is set with my beautiful Quimper faience

JE SUIS DANS L'HUMEUR DE FAIRE CUIRE LE FRANÇAIS AUJOURD'HUI. J'UTILISE MES LIVRES DE CUISINE FRANÇAIS ET FAIS DES PLATS de PROVENCE. J'AI ACHETÉ UN POULET DE GAMME LIBRE. JE FAIS POULARDE AUX QUARANTE GOUSSES D'AIL AVEC LES ANCHOIS ET LES CABRIOLES. JE FAIS AUSSI ARTICHAUTS un LA BARIGOULE. NOUS L'AURONS AVEC UN VERRE DE VIN ET DE QUELQUES BAIES POUR LE DÉSERT. L'ESPOIR VOUS AVEZ UN DIMANCHE REPOSANT. AMITIE VAL ET JOE   Alright now in English:  I purchased a free range chicken at the market and was in the mood to cook a french meal today. I used two of my french cookbooks and decided on recipes from Provence. I made the chicken with anchovies and capers,  40 cloves of garlic and stuffed with thyme. When done a sauce was made with the pan drippings, rosted garlic and a reductin of red wine. In french that is poularde aux gousses d'ail avec les anchois aet les cabrioles. I also found beautiful plump artichokes at the market and agin made a recipe from Provance. This was stuffed artichokes. It is stufffed with ham, shallots and mushrooms bound with a egg that is roasted in the oven in a merepoix of onion, carrots, tyme, garlic and white wine. In french that is artichauts un La Barigoule. A glass of wine and some berries for desert made for a sumptous sunday repas.