I know of a place where the wild thyme grows
Thymus Vulgaris, garden thyme, is one of the four great medicinal and culinary herbs; parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme….. A herb is a plant where the leafy green and flowering parts are found useful in cooking and natural medicine. Whereas, a spice is produced from other parts of a plant; seeds, bark, roots, fruit…. Ergo ginger is a spice, whereas the ash tree is used both as a herb and a spice.
Trust me, thyme is most definitely a herb and an important ingredient in Mediterranean, Indian, and Caribbean recipes. Thyme is also a basic ingredient in perfumery.
In medicine, thyme should be treated with caution because, like all herbs, it contains some very powerful and complex chemicals, especially thymol. Interestingly the antiseptic thymol is a major ingredient of Listerine mouthwash and most alcohol-free hand sanitisers.
Other major and powerful compounds found in the common or garden thyme are; borneol, carvavrol, eucalyptol, menthene, thymene, and tannin. The major effects of these compounds are; antibiotic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, balsamic, carminative, and soporific. (Balsamic really means ‘elixir’)
Thyme tea, (usually made with dried leaves), is calming, helps most people to sleep, fights off coughs, reduces inflammations, and much reduces embarrassing night-time flatulence. As with most natural herb teas women of child-bearing age should take care as it increases blood flow to the uterus. Thyme in wine is good, and I use sprigs of thyme in both olive oil and apple cider vinegar, (makes a fabulous salad dressing) Thyme tea is a potent female aphrodisiac. Thyme and marijuana cookies should be treated with very great care indeed.
A sprig of thyme under the pillow is an aid to calm sleep, and a good bunch of thyme in your bath will help kill off very nasty things like toenail fungus, athletes foot, and the hookworm ancylostomiasis.
Thyme of any variety is easy to grow, it prefers a well-drained gravelly soil in full sun. Collect your thyme in spring and early summer. Bees love thyme as the flowers are nectar-rich ~ real thyme honey has all of the properties you can find in the plant.
if you have a scrap of space, grow herbs
rose hips are the fruit of the flower of love
no matter what they say, rose hips are indeed a fruit
High summer presses its heat and humidity down on us, and yet in England the hedgerows are already beginning to ripen with wild harvest. One of the hedgerow’s natural bounties is the false fruit of the dog rose, (rosa canina), more commonly known in England as rose hips.
You can do a lot of stuff with rose hips, from making syrups and jams, to my preferred use which is to make a tincture of rose hips and rosemary in apple cider vinegar. As well as sweetening and adding taste to the cider vinegar. the rose hips also add diuretic, lithontriptic, and mild laxative qualities to your brew. As for rosemary, this stuff is almost a cure-all. I just add an odd number of fresh sprigs to the bottle, (for good fortune it must be an odd number.)
The finished product, (ready in about 6 weeks and will keep for a year or a lot longer), is a great basis for a salad dressing. Diluted in water it is also a first class tonic and as part of a whole-body cleanse. There may be no truth whatsoever in the persistent rumour that this concoction is a very potent female aphrodisiac. However, it is well known to be a cure for practically whatever that ails you.
You can also make a true tincture of rose hips using medicinal alcohol, (or vodka). For those of us with a real taste for booze, just make a rose hip brandy or vodka. I have even heard of rose hip gin, and although I’ve never tasted it, I have it on very good authority, from a very close friend, that this booze is the bomb.
The dog rose is an important plant to the herbalist, because the leaves, petals, and hips all have their uses. In a hedgerow, the plant may reach six feet or more in height, its flowers can be anything from white to a delicate pink, and if will guard its bounty with some particularly persistent thorns. (You can also use the hips, leaves, and petals of the cultivated rose, but I would look for a rose variety that’s as close to the wild rose as possible.)
Some say that you must be very careful when picking fruits, berries, and salad leaves from the wild ~ the uninitiated may pick themselves a deadly poison. And that everything belongs to somebody, so be discreet. All I know is that the mixture of rose hips, rosemary, and organic apple cider vinegar is as near to a sorcerer’s brew as anything I know.
a rose by any other name is still as sweet
even if it’s a dog
There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments. ~ Janet K. Phillips
For me, building a patio planter, or raised bed, out of any materials you like, is a fairly straightforward project. However, I know that isn’t so for everyone.
Therefore, in a spirit of helpfulness, here are a trio of videos showing how to make a few examples of planters you could use a prototypes for whatever you would like in your yard. As you can see, it’s a pretty straightforward project.
this easy wall planter
is one of my favourite ideas
Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade and drinking wine.
I have a friend who would like me to make a couple of planters for her yard.
Perhaps she will get some ideas of the kind of thing she wants, needs, and desires from these pictures. Hey, I’m just going to be building them and filling them with dirt.
used railway sleepers (ties) make a great, everlasting planter
and they are strong enough to use as a retaining wall
but you should really line them with something
stone planters are a cool idea
this isn’t as difficult as it looks
Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.
In early June this year I will be flying out to Southern California, and then on to Arizona for a week or so.
One of the things I like best about SoCal is the beautiful flowers ~ the like of which we don’t see here in England.
perhaps I should get a book on the wild flowers of the USA
Southern California is the Land of Crazy Colourful Dreams
I like California,
and I very much like my friend in California
Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education. ~ Mark Twain
Most will regard the humble cauliflower as a boring side dish ~ at best. Perhaps something not to put into one’s shopping cart on a regular basis. But, as I hope these smashing recipes from some great cooks will show you, there are a lot of exciting dishes you can make with this cruciferous vegetable. Cauliflower is from the same plant family as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts and is said to be even better for you, in some ways, than these green vegetables.
First this week we have these cool cauliflower rice carne asada bowls with mango salsa, from Teighan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest. This whole meal will take you an hour to make, but you can do so much with the leftovers afterwards. Lunch at work, tacos, burritos, topped with a fried egg…
Cauliflowere Rice Carne Asada Bowls with Mango Salsa
Cauliflower cheese is a classic dish, but this creamy cauliflower gratin from Chungah at Damn Delicious is just a little bit special. Again this easy dish will take you about an hour, and again this is something that you can reheat in the microwave at work. Or have with a nice steak for dinner later in the week.
Creamy Cauliflower Gratin
Next, from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower there’s this cool dish to think about; zucchini lentil pasta with mashed cauliflower. Made with mushrooms, squash, and grape tomatoes ~ with a side of creamy mashed cauliflower. It looks very delicious for a midweek dinner.
Zucchini Lentil Pasta with Mashed Cauliflower
Yvette’s Gourmet Kitchen has this brilliant looking recipe for roasted cauliflower with almonds and capers. I think you can have this dish ready in 30 minutes. It’s vegan if you use a vegetarian substitute for the Parmesan cheese.
Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Capers
Here’s something exotically different and up-market from Petra at Food Eat Love; cauliflower soup with beetroot and gin cured salmon. This dish is something for a really posh dinner party ~or be even posher than that and serve to your house-guests at breakfast. The dish only takes 10 minutes to prepare, but you have to cure the salmon for 36 hours before that.
Cauliflower Soup with Beetroot and Gin Cured Salmon
A blog-post of cauliflower recipes wouldn’t be anything without a soup. Ergo from Alanna at the Bojon Gourmet we have cauliflower and yellow split pea soup with turmeric and curried ghee. Both cauliflower and turmeric are supposed to be very good for you. This is a great soup to make a lot of, to take to work later, as it will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator.
Cauliflower and Yellow Split Pea Soup with Turmeric and Curried Ghee
And finally this week we have our list, this time from delish. So, how about 70 crazy creative things to make with cauliflower???? These 70 cool recipes include this loaded grilled cauliflower by Lauren Miyashiro, which should take you about 20 minutes to prepare.
Loaded Grilled Cauliflower
cauliflower is easy to grow, even if you only have a small garden, it’s pretty decorative too.
Is there anything a Mediterranean Diet can’t cure?
Specifically, I wonder if a Mediterranean diet can help to cure this terrible head-cold I’ve suddenly contracted? Or more likely stop me from catching a cold in the first place? Well yes it could ~ but only if I really upped the amount of raw garlic I eat.
A diet rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic and nuts protects our bodies and our brains, especially as we get older. However, to get the most benefit from a Mediterranean diet we also need to cut down on alcohol ~ one drink a day for women, (try not to spill it, and drink red wine, not white), and one or two drinks a day for men. Lucky for me I don’t drink at all these days. But, a glass of red wine every day is actually very good for you.
It isn’t only the Mediterranean peoples who ate that type of diet, the Vikings did too, and nobody ever accused a viking of being a sickly wuss.
Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. ~ Hippocrates
People from the Mediterranean region have longer life expectancies and are generally healthier than people from Northern Europe and the United States of America. The United Kingdom ranks 19th and the USA 31st in terms of average life expectancy, (out of 183 counties listed).
People from around the sunny Mediterranean have lower risks of suffering; Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers, colitis, depression, heart diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and strokes. Trust me, you do not want to get type 2 diabetes, and you really, really, don’t want to have a stroke.
A proper Mediterranean diet isn’t all baguettes, pizza, pasta, and roasted lamb with lots of herbs. A healthy Mediterranean diet consists of the region’s fruits, vegetables, (especially leafy greens like spinach), seafood, olive oil, cheese, and a couple of glasses of a robust red wine. These are all anti-inflammatory foods.
But you also need to add a lot of fresh air, sunshine, and lots of physical activity to the mixture to obtain the most benefits. If you are not already doing so, then you should walk 10,000 steps a day, both to improve your health and help prevent an early death.
Modern scientific evidence suggests that many, (some), of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet accrue directly from all the good olive oil included in just about every recipe, dish, meal eaten around the Mare Nostrum.
Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, (MUFAs), which are supposed to be good for you ~ at least the Mayo Clinic says that MUFAs are good for you. In fact the well-respected Mayo Clinic says that olive oil is good for you ~ in moderation.
So; your Mediterranean diet should include;
- The very best extra virgin olive oil you can get. Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on Earth. Only ever buy extra virgin olive oil.
- Fresh fish. The oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards, and sardines are full of vitamins D, B, omega 3 fatty acids, and selenium. Eating oily fish a couple of times a week is said to help prevent; arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, prostate cancer, schizophrenia, and blindness / impaired vision.
- Green fruits and vegetables. It seems that eating green plant stuff can reduce the risk of cancer, helps maintain strong bones and good teeth, and promotes the health of your eyesight in your senior years. Popeye was right all along, spinach is good for you ~ and so are kale and dandelion leaves.
- Garlic. Everyone knows that Mediterranean people eat a lot of garlic. The Ancient Egyptians used garlic as a medicine. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed a hell of a lot of garlic. The health benefits of garlic include; fighting off allergies, keeping bacterial and viral infections at bay, improving your skin, prevents colds and sore throats, reduces the risk of thrombosis, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, helps prevent type 2 diabetes, reduces cancer risks, helps beat anaemia, and improves your sex life, (if she can stand the smell). If you can manage it, eat raw garlic, especially if you have dental problems.
- Nuts and seeds. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are good for your heart. It seems nuts and seeds contain lots of unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, fibre, vitamin E, and something called L-arginine. Allegedly L-arginine does wonders for your sex life.
- A glass of a robust red wine, (when I was drinking I would always choose an Italian red). The health benefits of red wine were known as far back as the ancient Egyptians. It seems a regular glass of red wine boosts heart health, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of degenerative diseases, helps reduce he risks of type 2 diabetes, stops you being so obese, and may prevent Alzheimer’s
However, some things about the Mediterranean lifestyle are very, very bad for you. Men from the Mediterranean coasts of; Spain, France, Corsica, Italy, Greece, (and less desirable places like Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and Albania), smoke far too much, drive like maniacs in unroadworthy heaps, drive when they’re drunk, and sleep in the afternoons when they’re drunk. In medieval Hell-Holes like Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt you will just get ripped off and / or assaulted / shot / blown up.
And yet, parts of the Mediterranean are among the most beautiful, most magical, most spiritual places on this Mother Earth. Guys, take your girl there, soon and often.
I’m glad I am a woman who once danced naked in the Mediterranean Sea at Midnight. ~ Mercedes McCambridge
A Mediterranean Diet is not only good for you, it has some utterly fabulous, great tasting recipes. Mix Mediterranean with Paleo and you may well have the perfect diet for your health, fitness, well-being, and gustatory satisfaction.
get robust red wine delivered
Folklore connects us with the wisdom of centuries past.
Modern science has ‘proved’ that old-fashioned weather lore is pretty accurate ~ for England anyhow, and what Gentleman really cares about any place but England? We shouldn’t call them old wives’ tales because much true ancient lore comes from sailors, soldiers, and farmers. Weather lore is often very accurate. And while older people often give good advice, the wisdom of ages past, seniors don’t much like taking advice from the young.
Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey’s end. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Going back beyond Roman Times, our oral history is full of rhymes, anecdotes, adages, warnings, and axioms. They wouldn’t have lasted this long if there wasn’t a lot of truth in them.
- Red sky at night, sailors delight. This appears in the Bible, where it relates to shepherds. It means that if the sky is red at sunset, then tomorrow will be a fine day ~ and this is mostly accurate. In fact this saying is utterly reliable when the weather comes in mostly from the west, as happens in Great Britain.
- Mackerel sky and mares tails make tall ships carry low sails. If there are high clouds that look like the scales of a fish, (altocumulus), and / or streaky clouds like a horse’s tail, (cirrus), then we are due for a storm with high winds within the day ~ allegedly. As it goes, this is always true. A prudent skipper will be ready to shorten sail if he sees a mackerel sky.
- St. Swithun’s Day. If it rains on St. Swithun’s day then it will rain for the next 40 days and nights. This lore, and the poem that goes with it can be traced back to the 14th Century, but probably goes as far back as the 9th Century in Southern England. It’s mostly not true ~ we never get 40 days and nights of consistent weather in England. However, St Swithun’s Day, (or St. Swithin’s Day), is on July 15th, and you can guarantee that if it does rain on that day England will have a wash-out of a summer. As a matter of fact, it rained all day here on St. Swithun’s day this year, and the weather has been very wet ever since then.
- It’s too cold for snow. In England this saying is true. It can be too cold for it to snow. Actually the whole saying is a misconception, it should really be ‘it’s too dry to snow’. Very cold air is always dry air, because only warmer air will carry water vapour, and you need water vapour in the air to have snow. It almost never snows in bitterly cold Antarctica.
- A ring around the moon means rain or snow is coming soon. This is very true, and also applies to predicting the arrival of a hurricane. The ring around the moon, (less frequently a ring around the sun), is due to ice crystals forming in cirrus clouds in the high atmosphere. If you remember cirrus clouds are also the mare’s tails that predict storms.
- A stitch in time saves nine. This saying goes at least as far back as the 18th century in England, and it’s completely true, relevant today, and utterly applicable to our lives. What is means is that if you sort out a small problem now, it will save you from it growing into a much bigger problem in the future. It is exactly analogous to that other saying One year’s seeds is seven years weeds, which appears in Shakespeare’s Richard II. Ignore a small problem and it will soon grow into a great big problem. Ignore acorns and before you know where you are you will be up to your armpits in oak trees.
- There will be the devil to pay. Meaning that if we do something very bad there will be terrible consequences later. This is always true. This saying has nothing whatsoever to do with Satan ~ like many English epigrams it has maritime origins. ‘The Devil’ was the longest seam on a planked wooden ship, and ‘Paying’ means caulking. If you’ve ever done it you’ll know that caulking a seam on a boat is a heartless task, involving thick string-like stuff, tar, a special caulking chisel, a hammer, and a lot of time.
A hell of a lot of English folklore goes back at least as far as the Roman occupation of Britain; for example ‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’. This saying is supposedly from Marcus Tullius Cicero, who died in 43 BC.
The snag with using folklore for your weather forecasts is that you don’t get to see the cute weather girls on TV. Seems a guy can’t have everything.
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