herbs

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) are delicate, brightly colored edible flowers with round lilypad-shaped foliage.  Similar in taste to watercress, they make lovely garnishes, beautify salads or rice paper wraps such as spring rolls, make adorable canapes when stuffed with a sweet or savory soft whipped filling, can be folded into mayo or whipped butter that’s then “set” in decorative molds and enjoyed on breads, vegetables, baked potatoes or anything else you would slather with butter.  Easy to grow directly in the ground or in containers, every garden should be punctuated with nasturtiums, not only for their cheerfulness, but their value in natural pest control.  
 
 
According to Wiki, nasturtiums have been used in herbal medicine for their antiseptic and expectorant qualities. Good for chest colds, respiratory and urinary tract infections, and to promote formation of new blood cells. All parts are edible.  The flowers contain about 130 mg (2g) of vitamin C per 100g  (3.5 oz), about equivalent to parsley. 


CRAFTING NASTURTIUM BUTTER

  • Grab your basket and gather up organically-grown flowers with some amount of stem still attached, along with a nice variety of leaf sizes. 
  • Gently wash in cool water, shake off excess droplets, and allow to air dry between sheets of plain white paper towels.  
 

  • Whip room temperature butter (sweet or salted, but do keep it organic) just enough to make it light and fluffy. 

 

  • Pinch  a generous amount of petals and snippets of stem directly into the butter.  
  • Chiffonade a couple leaves by rolling them up together in a cigar-like fashion and slicing into thin strips. Add to butter.   (Optional:  Add bits of scallion, chives or any other herbs. A little beet juice for a pink hue.)
  • Mix until well incorporated.
  • Smooth a little butter into the bottoms of your chosen molds and press an arrangement of whole flowers, buds and small leaves to design out a decorative top.  

 

mini tart/cheesecake pans with those removable bottoms are great molds!
  • Using an offset spatula, press butter into molds and smooth top. 
  • Press a piece of parchment paper on top and freeze until solid.  
  • To unmold, tap upside down on counter, or apply a towel soaked in hot water, or run under hot water for a few seconds.
Use the larger leaves as “plating doilies” for a presentation with dainty style.
Packaged and labeled, I offered these at our August South Jersey Food Swap here at OneFlewOver Farm.
 The “bottom” of one that was pressed into a mini casserole dish.
 
Wrap the unmolded butters up like a gift in parchment, then wrap again airtight in plastic.  Label and freeze for a special occasion or an everyday affair.

Fresh Herb Butters and Succotash for the sufferin’

Sometimes a simple word will snag on my brain as it rolls off my tongue and I’ll subliminally ponder where in the world that ubiquitous word originated anyway, and how ironic it is that it sounds so perfectly right for exactly what it is. Nowadays, the etymology of just about anything, whether confirmed fact or suspicious wive’s tale, is but a quickie search and Wiki walk away. 



September is like the pentultimate checkpoint before the final curtain call on the plentitude of the “backyard-fresh” and locally-grown produce we enjoy all summer.  Dozens of just-picked, quick-blanched and sharp-sheared ears of corn from Reed’s Farm, as well as our own modest  corn crop, have already been hustled into air-tight bags for chilly weather comfort foods… think airy fluffs of custard casseroles, souffles and spoonbreads.

So, with this pensive thought of pending seasonal changes, I ventured out early Saturday morning to tend to errands I’d put off forever if it weren’t for the fact that my favorite cool weather business attire jackets were due for a dry cleaning and my swimming pool damaged hair was overdue a good chopping. Whenever I do manage to drag myself “out there,” I usually make it a mission to cram as many “necessary things” as can possibly be squeezed into that venture… motivation often coming from unnecessary things accumulating in corners and tote bags… some migrating closer and closer to the doorway as gentle reminders that it’s time to make a public appearance.
 
Heading home with a half dozen errands checked off the list, a few solid drops in the AmVets used clothing bin and no “confrontational episodes” encountered, my sense of accomplishment evolved into shameless thoughts of deserved rewards, which led to a glimmering hope that Reed’s, which is right on route, still had some corn and maybe something else of seasonal interest… besides apples.  I knew a basket of blushing ripe peaches was wishful thinking, but I’m not ready for apples just yet. Oh, joyous reward, there were limas!  Corn, too, they said for about 7 to 10 more days; thus, I knew this was to be my last “husky” haul ’til July 2013.   
 
With little regard and nary a care as to what else might round out our Sunday dinner plates, I was squarely making succotash!  I really didn’t need to store up any more corn, so I figured I’d  try some Pinterest experiments on “alternative ways to cook corn” with a few ears while hulling limas and finally getting around to whisking together fresh herb butters to freeze before a mean October frost delivered its buzz-killing blow to the herbs gone wild party in the half barrels outside the kitchen door…and then, of course, there’s that experimental corn that so graciously made itself available for the obligatory herbed butter taste test, volunteering without protest to lie still for repeated merciless slatherings…  now well-decorated kernels, a medal of honor is served.     
 

To make herbed butters:

Gather an assortment of sprigs of organically-grown herbs and/or edible flowers, chop or snip into bits and incorporate well into cold unsalted butter of the finest quality.  Spread smoothly into tin molds, jar lids, any cutesy vessel on hand, or log roll with parchment if you want to make cookie-cutter slices later.  Keep it simple or get creative with combos or a multitude of additions such as citrus zest (lime/cilantro, lemon/tarragon), boldly colorful juices such as carrot or beet (so as to use a bare minimum of liquid), garlic, crushed nuts or seeds (try hemp or chia), flowers such as nasturtium, viola, borage, or those bolting above the herbs or veggies.

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