Friday, September 22, 2017

Basil - Did You Know .......

Something else I like to do is genealogy.  It’s an interesting, frustrating, exciting, and annoying hobby.  Over the years, however, I’ve been able to trace various branches of the Abbott/Bace family back to their very early days.

One thing I’ve discovered is, that except for a few, most of the great, great’s were farmers. Now, I mentioned that I’m a gardener and like to grow herbs.  I like herbs because they have many uses other than culinary, they’re pretty, they bloom, they attract beneficial bugs (bees and butterflies) and I can grow them successfully.  However, growing tomatoes or onions or carrots or eggplants, I am much less successful.  Therefore, I’ve decided the “farmer” gene jumped right over me and landed elsewhere in the family.

I will talk about herbs, from to time.  Some you may recognize as an herb, some you may think of as a flowering pretty thing.  And what is an herb exactly?

An herb is any plant, annual or perennial, shrub, flower, tree, vine, or weed, any plant that has properties used for culinary, medical, aromatherapy, or spiritual needs. 

But today, I’ll talk about one you recognize – BASIL.  So, DID YOU KNOW ……

Basil is a heat-loving, aromatic annual and there are somewhere between 50-100 different types.  It is a member of the mint family and some basil varieties have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years.  It grows well in the garden and equally well as a potted plant. 

So, if you are going to use it with foods – put it in salads, use it with tomatoes, peas, squash, lamb, fish, eggs, cheese, potatoes, pasta, breads, garlic, and olives.  For the most intense flavor, basil should be added at the end of the cooking process. Prolonged cooking (like stews or soups) will cause the oils to dissipate.

Basil has medical uses also.  In past times it was used to treat alcoholism, boredom, childbirth recovery, cholera, colds, constipation, convulsions, cough, cramps, croup, deafness, delirium, depression, diarrea, dropsy (congestive heart failure) and dysentery.  Today, some herbalists recommend it for use as a natural anti-inflammatory, to help with colds and coughs, relieve indigestion, use as a facial steam for headaches (bonus – it helps smooth wrinkles), and relief for stings and bites. It has high antioxidant properties and is a good source of Vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium.

It’s a good companion plant, so put it with the asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, chili and bell peppers, eggplant, oregano, potatoes and tomatoes in your garden.  Growing Basil with any of those vegetables is said to make each taste better.

Now, here are some facts about the use of Basil that you probably haven’t tried but you just never
know – might work, won’t hurt.  Ancient Romans thought eating Basil would protect them from fire breathing dragons. It is also used to keep goats away from your property, that’s a concern for you.  Basil is referred to as The Money Plant - it brings wealth to those who carry it in their pockets and is used to attract customers to a place of business by placing some in the cash register or on the doorsill.  Small amounts placed in each room of your house brings protection. 

I’ve grown about 10 different types – all are very fragrant and the flowers attract bees.  These days I only grow Sweet Basil and can harvest enough during it’s growing season (May – first freeze) to dry or freeze in ice cubes for use throughout the rest of the year.  And, surprisingly, my Basil did very well during the GREAT FLOOD OF 2017.  I cut it back pretty hard and it’s coming back with all sorts of new growth.

Take care


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