Creating a Life of Plenty

When it is cold, I think of summer!

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Yeah, I was not expecting a windchill of 37 degrees F on the first of October, but what are you going to do…those who doubt climate change can kind of kiss my patooty…this year’s weather has been, in a word, FUNKY!
But I am not one to grumble, I just find things to do, this morning, I cut the last of the rosemary from the garden and am in the process of drying it. This rosemary will be used for making burning bundles later this year. I also harvested the thyme and oregano and they are drying as we speak. I continued my work on my holiday presents.
I celebrate all the winter holidays because I have friends and family that do the same, so my gift list is what you would call eclectic ;-)…but never fear…gifts from the garden never dissapoint no matter what the occasion.
In the past I have made flavored oils and vinegars with small herb bounty from the container herb garden I have kept for years, but with this years addition of an herb garden I was able to grow more and different herbs…and that got me thinking of different products to make.
Instead of oils and vinegars this year, I am going to make syrups! Herb flavored syrups are so versatile you can’t believe. Sweet herb syrups can be used to flavor everything from your morning pancakes to your evening cocktail, they add flavor and moistness to cakes and quick breads and they can also be used to treat ailments both directly and indirectly….directly by the attributes of the herbs and sometimes indirectly by acting as a carrier for other less delicious medicines!
Since I had a glut of Lemon Verbena in the garden late in the year, I decided to make Lemon Verbena syrup and include a bottle of soda with my holiday gifts. People can use them together to make a delightful lemonade or they could use the recipe (below) for a sparkling cocktail anytime of the year!
Lemon Verbena Syrup
(Makes about 9 cups)
8 cups sugar
8 cups water
4 cups fresh lemon verbena leaves
Bring water and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan, stirring to disolve sugar. Add lemon verbena leaves. Bring to a very low boil. Then immediately reduce the heat to bring back to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain the lemon verbena leaves and discard. Decant and either seal with cork and wax (can be stored for several months in a cool dark place) or refrigerate for up to one month.
Pear/Lemon Fizz
(makes one drink)
1/2 ounce pear flavored vodka
3/4 ounce Lemon Verbena Syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Champagne (for floating)
1 fresh (or dried depending on the time of year) lemon verbena leaf for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, syrup, and juice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass, float champagne and add the leaf for garnish!
Happy Gardening!

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