“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I Peter 4:10
Today was the November Herb Seminar at Full Moon Natives & Herbs - All About Holiday Herbs - the use of 5 herbs and 5 spices for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Marvette Bagwell and I teamed up to share everything from cooking to crafting!
Most herbs were originally used because they symbolized a quality or were important to the spirit of the holidays. We have forgotten many of these symbolic meanings over the years, but there is renewed interest in recovering our holiday "roots." Herbs bring brightness to the sometimes heavier foods of the holidays.
SAGE (Salvia officinalis) – symbol of immortality, long & healthy life
BAY (Laurus nobilis) - symbol of merit and honor
- Spicy, citrus fragrance which seems to bring other flavors together giving them depth and richness
THYME (Thymus spp) – symbol of courage and strength
- pleasantly hot bite tempered by a savory-sweet note
- herbal butter, stuffing, herb bread
- place card mini pumpkins/wreaths, cinnamon/herb bundle, nativity stable & manger
MINI WREATHS: Gather several 8”-12” lengths of thyme (or any other small leafed herb) and twist into a small wreath, adding additional thyme until it looks full. Tie loose ends with a ribbon. May be used as place cards, Christmas ornaments or placed around the necks of small animal figurines!
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) – symbol of remembrance
- strong somewhat piney, mint-like flavor with a hint of ginger
- Christmas evergreen - popular with holly and mistletoe, vase w/fresh cranberries or topiary trees, yule log, tuck fresh sprigs into cards, favors or wrapped napkins
MINT (Mentha spp) – symbol of virtue, refreshment & hospitality
- unmistakable refreshing fragrance and flavor
- fresh or crystallized after dinner, paired with chocolate especially cocoa
- garnish to holiday platters, winter sachets
Marvette demonstrated several holiday herb recipes including holiday baked ham, butternut squash with sage pasta, savory monkey bread, spicy cranberry sauce, apple mint chutney and wassail. Recipes are available at http://fullmoonnatives.com/recipes.htm
Plus I shared one of my favorites for tasting too:
PUDDIN’ HEAD GINGERBREAD MEN
1/2 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 pkg instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 1/2 c flour
1/2tsp baking soda
1 1/2tsp ginger
Cream butter, sugar and pudding mix and egg, then add remaining ingredients. Chill 1 hour. Roll dough ¼” thick, cut with cookie cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 mins. Cool.
Icing: Mix 2c powdered sugar with 2Tbs frozen lemonade concentrate and ice cookies.
SPICES: Symbol of Festivity
Whether bold or subtle, spices impact our holiday traditions & fragrances as much as the foods. Their delightful flavors and aromas create holiday memories that will last a lifetime and make the house smell great!
CINNAMON (Cinnamomum cassia)
WIRED CINNAMON STAR
Thread 10 – 2” cinnamon sticks onto a 40-inch long wire in a continuous line. Bend to form the outer 5 star points so that the last stick is joined to the first stick at an inner angle. Twist the wire.
Use 5 – 1” cinnamon sticks to fit the inner pentagon and thread each stick into place twisting the wire around each intersection. Cut off excess wire and it's ready for your Christmas tree.
ALLSPICE (Pimenta diocia)
- tastes like a blend of spices with a slight peppery note
- adds a distinct holiday flavor to mulled drinks, mincemeat, fruit cake
CLOVES (Syzygium aromaticum)
- among the most intense in aroma and flavor of the spices
- baked goods, sweet potatoes, fruit desserts, studded ham plus chewing on clove will take bad breath away!
- pomanders (oranges, lemons or limes) studded with cloves and rolled in mixed spices
FRESH POMANDERS: Use a citrus zester to cut lines into the peel of lemons, limes or tangerines either free form or using a rubber band as a guide to create simple circles or complex snowflake designs. Insert whole cloves into the lines at regular intervals or to mark points where lines cross. Pomanders will remain fresh several days.
STAR ANISE (Illicium verum)
- the world’s prettiest spice with a star-shaped seed & anise-like flavor
- goes well with such holiday fare as poultry, pumpkin and fruits
- beautiful plate garnish, floated in a pot of tea, dip tree
GINGER (Zingiber officinale)
- pungent bite used fresh, ground or crystallized – relieves nausea
- classics like gingerbread men, paired with honey, nuts & dried fruit as well as the other holiday spices
- gingerbread houses
HERBAL GINGERBREAD HOUSE
- bay leaf: roof shingles, shrubbery, shutters
- mint: dried sprinkled on thinly iced roof
- rosemary: trees
- sage: dried as moss
- thyme: mini wreaths, garlands
- allspice: rocks, outline doors/windows, tree ornaments, berries
- star anise: roof peaks, fretwork, circular windows
- cinnamon: window boxes, fences, structural accents, arbors
- cloves: roof tops, door knobs, “nails”
- ginger: slices for stepping stones
Finally the morning ended with the option to create a unique and easy pinecone wreath!