For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
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Dividing Iris', Drying Your Herbs, More Herbal Personal Care and Yummy Herb Recipe's!

Well we are already into June and summer is right around the corner.  We have enjoyed all the beauty that spring brings and now we can start to welcome all the special things that summer has to offer... vine ripened heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil along with garlic put together to make a mouth watering Brushetta, Black Eyed Susan's, daisy's and cone flowers are getting ready to show off their colorful faces while our peonies and iris' are bowing out graciously.  Now is the time to start doing some divisions of certain plants, iris' being one.  Herbs are producing prolifically and drying them right now is an optimal time.  If you are a canner and put up your summer's bounty, then you will want to have all those wonderful herbs well gathered and ready to add into your spaghetti and bar-b-que sauce's, not to mention salsa and soups.  I am excited about starting to put the good stuff up here... Rhubarb is ready to be froze and saved to make some yummy strawberry-rhubarb pies, preserves and sauces (more on that next time)... oh my... summer!

Most of us are about to say farewell to our lovely iris' and the best thing you can do for them is split em' up!  Iris' thrive with division, they will bloom steadily year after year as well as allow you to create lots more pretty spots for their complex blooms to wow all who pass by.  They truly are a beautiful flower... it's amazing when you look at that ugly rhizome and imagine the beauty that comes out of it. Anyway, here are a few tips & tricks for successful iris division...
*When your iris' are through blooming it is time to divide.  You will need a sharp shovel and possibly a hand trowel along with a pair of scissors.
*When attempting to split your iris rhizomes, be sure to break large enough chunks away with a good root system attached. Carefully snap off without loosening the entire cluster of rhizomes from it's base. 
*Once you have about 1/3 off the rhizomes taken off you should stop.  Check the remaining clump and if their are any rotted or dead ones, remove carefully and discard.
*With a pair of scissors cut the leaves and any flower stem from your rhizomes to about 6" to 8" in height. 
*Once you have decided on the new location to plant, be sure the soil is loosened to about 6" in depth.  Carefully lay the rhizomes down and wiggle it down into the loosened soil, but do not bury! The tops of the rhizomes need to be fully exposed, otherwise your iris will not bloom the next year. Be sure to water generously after transplant and for several days after, especially if there has been no rain.  This will allow the roots to settle in.  Enjoy for years to come.

We are in full swing with our herbs right now and we are busily harvesting and drying them for later use this summer.  Using fresh herbs is absolutely possible and with some things it is far better, but in the heat of canning season, the last thing I feel like doing is drying my herbs.  So now is the time before the season hits full tilt.
Here are a few drying tips...
*Bunch your herbs up into small clumps, tie with a rubber band and hang upside down in a cool, dark room~ maybe like an attic or basement if that is a possibility for you.
*You can also use a dehydrator to dry them... this works great for drying fruit as well for later use in granola's or snack mixes.
*Try drying them on baking sheets on a low oven of about 150 degrees; single layer the herbs, don't pile on; check every 15 to 20 minutes, when dry enough to crumble, put the dried herbs in gallon size plastic baggies and crumble.  Store in air tight glass or plastic containers.
  
Here are some more fun personal care recipes along with some yummy's for your tummy recipe's as well... enjoy!

Creamy Strawberry Face Mask
This face mask will refresh your skin and leave it feeling oh so soft...
Take 1 cup of mashed berries and add about 1 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream (of course all ingredients should be organic); mix and pat on your face.  Lay flat on your back in a relaxed position for about 15 to 20 minutes and let it do it's job.  Rinse with warm water and enjoy your day!

Herbal Splash's
Combine 6 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs of your choice and 2 cups of spring water in a non-metal pan and bring to a gentle boil.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes; cool completely, strain and put in a spritzer bottle. 
Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Here are some herb combo's to get you started...
*Rose, lavender and thyme
*lavender alone or with mint
*Chamomile & lemon balm
*Rose alone
... be creative and use your favorite herbs & come up with combo's of your own!

Herb Salt

This recipe is for dried herbs and can be used on a multitude of dishes.  Try adding it to olive oil and brushing on when grilling.
1 cup sea salt
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
4 Tbsp. parsley
2 Tbsp. lemon balm
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. paprika
4 Tbsp. basil
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it is evenly mixed and finely chopped.  Store in a glass container!

Herb Bundles For The Cook

Use the herb bundles to flavor stock for soups or sauces.
Use all dried herbs:
1/2 cup parsley flakes
2 Tbsp. rosemary
1/4 cup thyme
2 Tbsp. marjoram
1/4 cup celery leaves
5 medium bay leaves, crushed
cheese cloth folded to double thickness
twine

1. In a small bowl, stir herbs together until well mixed.    
 
2. Cut 16- 4" squares of cheesecloth; place 1 tbsp. of herbal mixture in the center of each square; bring corners together and tie with twine to close the bag.
3. Store in airtight container in a cool, dark place.
* Use 1 bundle per quart of stock.  Remove bundle prior to serving.

Whipped Herb Butter
Use this to make corn on the cob even better or spread liberally over veggies on the grill...
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp. basil
1 fresh garlic clove, minced or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Beat all ingredients together at high speed in a small mixer bowl until light & fluffy; store covered in fridge.
... other ideas for this butter
*use on baked potatoes with fresh chives
*spread on sliced bread and top with cheese for yummy garlic toast- broil on high for about 1 minute, or until golden brown
*serve with shrimp melted to dip
*spread over chicken before grilling and then brush liberally during... yummy

Happy Day,
Jean
           
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