Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Herbs and History~

Those who know me well know I'm an avid history buff...the more ancient the times, the more intense the interest.

I found this to be a very calming bit to know.

In Victorian times the seeds of Fennel came to symbolize the virtue of strength.

At one time , fennel seeds were combined with those of Dill and Caraway in little sacks or purses, to be chewed at prayer meetings to quell hunger pangs; they were
known as "meeting seeds."

Fennel is a self sowing herb valued for it's distinctive aroma.
The leaves have an aniseed aroma.

I make this wonderful cleanser for my skin a couple of times a week during the winter.

1 tablespoon fennel seed
8 ounces of boiling water
1 teaspoon local honey
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Lightly crush the fennel seeds,
place in the boiling water and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.

Strain the cool liquid into a small bowl, add honey and buttermilk.
Put into a clean bottle and keep in the frig.

Used once or twice a day this will last about a week.

Rub over face and neck or the whole body...leave on for a few minutes and gently rinse away with a soft cloth and warm water.

Leaves the skin silky, clean, and delicious smelling.

This makes a lovely wash for children and small babies.

Little girls adore it and it's just bold enough that little boys don't think it's to girlie.

Enjoy-pamper yourself and your children~

Bea Kunz

Friday, January 23, 2009

Stevia-the Sweet Herb~

Stevia is considered easy to grow but it does have some basic requirements.

No doubt you have been keeping up with all the latest concerning Stevia. If not check out the Organic Consumers site and get the updates. Interesting to say the least. Exciting to say more~

Stevia rebaudiana is one of about 154 members of the genus Stevia. A member of the Sunflower family, stevia is a small herbaceous subtropical perennial shrub that grows to 2 maybe 3 feet tall.

Stevia supposedly grows best in cooler climates but for some strange reason it has done well for me in middle, southern Tennessee. During the growing season it supposedly thrives best at between 60 and 85 degrees.
Here in our part of Tennessee, we range more in the 90's during the average growing season.

It grows as a perennial in frost free zones but otherwise can be grown as an annual.

Stevia rebaudiana is the only member of the genus containing the sweet compounds.

When you are planning to try your luck at growing Stevia, look for plants that have been grown from cuttings with a high stevioside content.
Cuttings are more reliable than seeds, so I read...but, I had beautiful plants this last year from seeds that self sowed.

I have concluded it is like most herbs...will thrive under most any and all conditions if it has good soil, lots of sun, and a wee bit of care.

Plant outside in early spring after all danger of frost has passed. It is very tender to hard frost and it's also very brittle to the take care when working around your plants.

Sandy Loam soil with plenty of organic matter is great.
A layer of mulch works after the soil heats up and stays hot.
And I would certainly advise growing it in a raised bed...but then I grow everything in raised beds...just makes life for the plants and for me much better!

Stevia requires a consistently moist soil...but not waterlogged.
I use a manure fertilizer worked into the soil before planting.

Above all else avoid high-nitrogen chemical fertilizers, they produce large leaves and no flavor.

Sweet growing and enjoy~

Bea Kunz

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama, Victory, and Gardens~

Today's blog post is dedicated to our new president.

As many of you did I'm sure I watched all the fanfare with great humility and a sense of hope...hope that I haven't felt in a long while.

Hope for a better tomorrow for our great country.
Hope for peace or at least a truce with other countries.
Hope for a real understanding of the issues we face and how they must be dealt with.
Hope for a unity of thought that will bring together not tear apart.
Hope that we have finally elected a President with the courage and determination to
look and to see...and to act.

There has been a big push for a garden on the White House lawn.
This may or may not be an idea that has power to spring forward.
On the surface it may seem like a silly thought compared to other issues.
But what I hope to see from President Obama is the acceptance of the idea that our food sources in this country have to be a priority.
Just as important as our nations security....for without secure and safe food supplies, all else is a rather lame issue.

My mother planted a Victory garden in 1940's...I feel rather blessed to be planting one some 60 years later.

Sage Hill Farms has a star of hope that hangs proudly on the kitchen peak of the house.
We will be adding a new section to our gardens this year..." Hope Gardens."...a garden for sharing.

Mr. President, do tell us what you think of the garden idea on the White House lawn.
Are you aware of the dangers in our food supplies ?
Are you, like so many American families, concerned about the food your family relies on for good nutrition.

Thank you in advance for making this issue a priority.

May God bless you and this great United States of America.

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Is For Planning~

~Planning Your Herb Gardens~

The first thing to consider is how much time you wish to devote to your garden during the course of a day, week or year.
Maintenance is required, be it little or much.

My suggestion is to start out small and grow the size as you grow in knowledge and desire.

You can find this article in its entirety on the Sage Hill Farms website.
A perfect Kitchen Garden will have some sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary,chive, dill, and basil. During the winter the basil will be the first thing to go, the dill and chive will last until the first hard frost...which is different for us all.

Basil is easy to dry and just as delicious and effective as fresh.

Today I'm making Split Pea/Basil Pesto soup, from my freezer.

Remove split pea soup prepared ahead of time from freezer, place in soup pot over low heat until defrosted, add 1/2 cup light cream, stir in and add 1 cube of basil pesto straight from the freezer to soup pot.

Stir gently until well mixed and serve piping hot.

PS: Will be good the second day, but I don't suggest freezing the leftover.


Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Herbs In The Kitchen~

Herbs have been described as the soul of cookery and the praise of cooks.

They can turn a bland and routine meal into a sensuous experience.

Many herbs make foods more palatable by easing digestion.
Lemon balm, basil, dill fennel, mint, rosemary and sage have long been
eaten for their carminative qualities.

The Romans ate anise cakes after meals.
Indians ate roasted seeds.

The knowledge has always been and always been applied.Herbs were used in medieval times to preserve foods.
Meats were wrapped in tansy, both to deter flies and to flavor the meat.
Penny royal was used on long sea voyages to keep water fresh.

I've read that a salad for King Henry VIII included over 50 leaves, buds, flowers, and roots.

After the Industrial Revolution and the move from countryside into the towns and cities, herbs became less and less important as a staple in the kitchen.

With a fresh interest in the culinary arts and with the green movement bringing much needed focus to our food supplies, the way they are grown, harvested, and transported, and the loss that occurs during this process...herbs are once again becoming an option to put back some of that loss...both through flavor and nutrients.

Fresh herbs versus dried herbs~~~~~~

Both have amazing properties and offer a wide range of options and results.

Fresh from the garden is almost always the best, but...this isn't always available.

When herbs are dried in the proper manner and kept in the best conditions of an airtight container away from heat and light rarely can you tell the difference in terms of quality or flavor.

Herbs such as parsley, watercress, and comfrey supply a small and rich balance of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.

A few cups of hot herbal tea will most always bring comfort in many ways, both to the body and the spirit.

If you don't have one already, plan a Kitchen Garden for your spring cooking.

As always, if you have questions I'm an email or phone call away.

Visit the website and read some of the articles available there.


Bea Kunz

Friday, January 16, 2009

Herbs In January~

January is the month to be still and reflect on the garden past.
A time to admire all the accomplishments, to plan new projects for the spring, to enjoy delicious soups and teas made from the bounty of the past season.

Sage, oregano and thyme should still be strong and green in the garden.

Sage is wonderful cooked into a brown skillet of cornbread.

Oregano and thyme along with some garlic, onion, and whatever vegetables you like most will deliver a pot of soup fit for the most demanding appetite.

Any herb you have available will make a super pot of tea.

Make it an herbal month...enjoy and be blessed~

Bea Kunz

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Food and Herb Interactions

We all know that whole grains are important for our diet, but do you know they contain natural substances known as phytates that can block the absorption of herbs.( and some minerals)

To avoid this problem, take your herbs and mineral supplements two hours before eating whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, Bulgar, oat bran,
wheat bran, wheat berries, cracked wheat, wild rice, buckwheat and barley.

Fresh herbs, herb seasonings, and teas are absorbed in a different no issues there.

Remember that herbs can have side effects just like prescription
drugs...if you are using them in a medicinal manner. It pays to be cautious about what you mix when eating and drinking.

Most herbs used in a culinary fashion will not be strong enough to cause any negative reaction in any form.

It's winter so stay warm and drink lots of herb tea~

Bea Kunz

Herb Gardening in 2009~

The Christmas and New Years holidays are over and I can get back to my herb blogging.

I enjoyed the detour and I really hope you didn't mind that I took the time and the space to devote to the holiday that symbolizes who we are, where we come from, and where we are going.

May your 2009 be as blessed as my 2008 has been.

January in the gardens is somewhat slow to non-existant.

The rosemary, thyme, and sage are the only green things around.

Soooo, my food choices have been seasonal vegetables and meats that benefit from these three herbs.


(Apple and Sage-Roasted Chicken with Pan Juices)

6 chemical free as you can find...

One 4-pound free range or organic roasting chicken
3/4 teaspoon pink or kosher salt
3 medium apples, cored and quartered
3 small onions
2 ribs celery (2/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup real butter, softened
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1/8 teaspoon cracked white pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup fruity white wine, such as Riesling
3/4 cup fresh apple cider

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2. Rub the inside of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Chop 1 apple, 1 onion, and the celery into 2-inch pieces. Toss the apple mixture with the garlic and 1 tablespoon sage, and place it all in the chicken cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck the wings securely under. Mix the butter and mustard to a smooth paste and rub over the chicken skin and sprinkle with the remaining salt and white pepper.
Place the bird in a medium roasting pan. Roast in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes. Brush any remaining mustard-butter over the bird and continue to roast for 1 1/4 more hours.
Baste the chicken with the pan drippings, and sprinkle with remaining sage and the thyme. Scatter the remaining apples and onions around the bird, tossing lightly to coat with the drippings. Add the white wine, and roast the chicken 20 minutes.

Baste the bird, and toss the apples and onions again for even browning. Continue to roast until bird juices run clear and the meat between the leg and thigh reaches 160° F. Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to a serving platter.

Arrange the apples and onions around the chicken.

3. Prepare the jus: Tip the roasting pan so the liquid pools to one end, and use a large spoon to remove any excess fat from the pan juices. Add apple cider and place the pan over medium-high heat. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan, and then pour the jus over the chicken, apples, and onions. Serve warm.

Baked sweet potatoes and green beans from the freezer tags this meal as a keeper.

Enjoy...and remember this is the time to read, order, plan, and get a good mental outline of your spring garden.

A good meal and a good seed/plant book...what more does one wish ?

Bea Kunz

Twelfth Night and All is Well~

Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the twelve days of Christmas festivities. In the church calendar, January 6 is Epiphany, the day the three Kings arrive to honor the miraculous baby, who is the symbol of our new hopes.

I've had a very relaxing past week, reading and researching some church and faith history.

One of the foods connected to this symbolic time is the Twelfth Night Cake or better know to many as the "King Cake"...the one and only connected to the ancient revelry of Mardi Gras celebration.

The cake is somewhat akin to a fruit cake or the Italian Panatone in some places, with lots of white or colored icing.
Inside the cake a small china doll is placed before baking...whomever gets the baby must host the next party.

I've been part of many Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans and had some of the finest King Cake ever baked.

It's a celebration that I have missed over the last 15 years...this has been part of this years reflect on things I no longer am involved in.

The memories are beautiful, but I have no desire to retrace my I will go forward and be content to visit the memory now and then.

The season is over now and it was good~

Bea Kunz~

Monday, January 05, 2009


Day 5 and all is well.

I've been traveling through cyber-space today looking for things I may have missed during 2008.

Technorati Profile

This is one of those missed "good" things.

Thanks to my lovely friend Ginger Carter-Marks, I'm now one step up from where I was early on day 5. Thank you Ginger.

Herb gardens at Sage Hill Farms are sleeping peacefully.

The little elves that come in the dark of night and leave interesting tid-bits for me to ponder-left a grand recipe for a new tea.

Take a stroll over to the website and see what you think. It's yummy and lively!

See you there~

Bea Kunz

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009~A new Year

Peace comes in all manner of shapes and sizes.

I wish for you the kind of peace that fits your need.

Have a great and joyous January!

Bea Kunz