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7/20/2014

John Bartram comes to Tulsa

300 year old John Bartram, in the form of Kirk Ryan Brown, spoke to the Tulsa Herb Society this week. Less known than Carl Linnaeus, the notable plant botanist, Bartram, was responsible for enormous numbers of plant discoveries and plants entering general usage.

John Bartram, prolific botanist of the 1700s.
John Bartram ranting about Carl Linnaeus.
John (Kirk Brown) in the background, shown next to the statue of Carl Linnaeus in Tulsa. John never received the recognition that Linnaeus did, partly because Linnaeus was a self-promoter and a "hog for the headlines" according to Bartram. Carl Linnaeus, did eventually call Bartram "the greatest natural botanist in the world."
Our friend, Sue Stees, who co-hosted Kirk's visit to the Tulsa Herb Society.
John Bartram, telling his story of botanizing and seed selling.
Bartram was sometimes called "the father of American botany" because of his extensive plant and seed collecting. Bartram started the first retail seed company in America and the company continued to thrive for several generations after him.
Tables of refreshments were on hand - herb groups always love to eat!

Delicious refreshments and period beverages were enjoyed by all.
John Bartram, an American hero.
Bartram's contribution to American agriculture and gardening is enormous. While Carl Linneaus got publicity and naming rights to enormous numbers of plants, Bartram is almost forgotten today.

Bartram's Gardens survive to this day and you can visit them. Here's the link to details.

3/13/2014

Order Seed, Help Kids Gardening

A few of the 500 kids in one of their 3 gardens at school.
I've posted this before but thought a reminder would be in order since it's seed-ordering season. If you are going to order garden seed, consider ordering some of your seed through my website. On my home page, scroll down to the bottom and on the left you'll see this button:
We raised $465 from Renee Shepherd, from people who ordered her seed through our website, all of that money going directly to the kids' garden project. Thank you to all who ordered!
 
Kids gardening is important! When kids learn how to grow plants, learn where their food comes from and how to prepare healthy meals, they learn skills that will stay with them for their entire life. I've written about the amazing kids' garden project at the magnet school in Jonesboro, Arkansas, several times before. (Click here to see an earlier post and more photos). And here for the story about cooking with the kids in their amazing kitchen. But I thought you might like a reminder that this project is always struggling to find enough money for seed, soil and other supplies the kids need.


Learning to weed and identify the edible plants.
For 3 years we've had a button on our website, "Buy Seed, Help Kids." It's a project whereby you can order garden seed from Reneesgarden.com, for your own garden, and Renee Shepherd generously donates 25% of the revenue from your order, back to the school! It's a wonderful project. Unfortunately we only raise about $25 a year for the school. I don't know if people don't find the link, or don't want to order seed, but if you go to our website, LongCreekHerbs.com; here's the button you will see on the left side:


The lower left corner on our home page has the Help Children-Buy Seeds button. When you click on that, you are directed to a page with a code to enter when you place your order at Renee's Garden Seed You can order seed for your spring garden and when you order, it will count toward a donation for the kids' garden project, and you will receive outstanding seed.

Renee Shepherd, owner reneesgarden.com
Renee Shepherd donates to a wide variety of children's garden projects, both in the United States and in other countries. That's why we are so pleased to partner with her in helping this garden in Jonesboro, Arkansas. If you have not visited her website, please do so, her seed selections are outstanding and I grow many in my gardens each season.

To visit Renee's Garden website, go to our website at Long Creek Herbs, and click on the Help Children- Seeds button.  You'll find the link to Renee's Seeds website, look around and see if you aren't tempted by her spring seed offerings. Then when you order, use our code (it's in the instructions you'll see), so that she can make a donation to this wonderful project. Then, you will know that more kids, like this boy, below, can experience for the first time in their life, the taste and smell of a chive blossom and learn how to fix a meal using fresh herbs and vegetables right out of the garden.
I hope you'll consider ordering seed from Renee Shepherd, she has outstanding varieties you won't find anywhere else. And when you order, won't you do it through my website so the kids get credit? Thank you!
This was his first time smelling or tasting chives!

2/17/2014

Papalo, Herb to Know

Recently I've been working on a couple of magazine assignments about the hot new herbs and plants for 2014 for restaurants. My research started with new restaurant trends on-line, then I've been concentrating on interviews with chefs around the country. Not surprisingly, locally sourced produce is even bigger this year than last, new introductions of non-wheat pasta and noodles, sustainable seafood and children's menus in upscale restaurants are a few of the items.

Papalo, growing on mature plant.

One hot new herb that surprised me a bit for this year is papalo (Porophyllum macrocephalum), sometimes commonly dubbed "Buzzard's Breath" (although I'm guessing there won't be any chefs across the U.S. who will use that name; let's see, how might that sound on a menu..... farm-raised pork cemitas with seasonal chilies and buzzard's breath sauce...)

Used like cilantro in Bolivia, where my original seed start came from, as well in some states in Mexico, it's easy to see (or smell) why it got dubbed buzzard's breath. Just getting near the plant you'll get a whiff of something akin to aluminum with lemony overtones with some rue and other smells thrown in. That's on the mature plant, which isn't the stage of the plant normally used. The flavor has been described as something like a combination of arugula, mint and cilantro, although that doesn't quite describe it, either. The flavor is unique to the plant.
Cemitas, a Mexican sandwich.

Papalo is also commonly eaten raw on cemitas - sometimes known as a cemita poblana, which is a Mexican sandwich and street food that originated in the city of Puebla. Papalo is also sometimes found in guacamole and in Mexico it is used fresh in soups and stews. In Bolivia native Quechua people call it Killi and eat it daily just torn up onto foods. (If you use the search button on my blog for papalo, to the right, you can find more that I've written about this interesting herb).

Papalo sold as young, pulled seedlings in Acalpulco markets.

Papalo is showing up in gardens from California to New York City, and in markets with large Hispanic populations. However, a lot of Hispanics from other parts of Mexico or South America may not know the plant at all. I found it in the markets in Acalpulco when I visited there a few years back and admit I didn't understand the plant at all until then. I'd always let mine get to 3 or 4 feet tall and found the flavor of the leaves unpleasant. But in the markets of Acalpulco I discovered it was being grown as seedlings, the whole plant pulled up at about 12 to 15 inches tall, and the flavor of the plant was vastly better than from the mature plant.

Vendor in Mexico selling papalo.
Even though regular cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is used extensively in Mexican cooking, that herb is not native to anywhere in the Americas (it is native to the eastern Mediterranean). But Papalo is native to the Americas and can be found growing wild from Bolivia northward as far as the southern U.S.

Here's a simple recipe to try when you're learning the flavors of this ancient herb. It's a simple green sauce and if you travel in Mexico, you may encounter the sauce used on eggs, sandwiches or other dishes.

8 green tomatillos, diced
1 green onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, whole
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, stem and seeds removed
4 or 5 fresh papalo leaves
1 large or 2 small avocados, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil

In a small skillet, combine the oil, tomatillos, onion, garlic and chile and simmer on medium heat until the tomatillos are soft, about 10 minutes.
Pour the ingredients into a food processor, along with the papalo leaves (I sometimes add juice of 1/2 lime, too) and pulse blend until everything is chunky-smooth.
Pour into a bowl and add the diced avocado. Let stand for about 30 minutes for flavors to blend well. Serve with chips or as a sauce on your favorite morning egg dish.

The following companies offer papalo seed:
Nichols Garden Nursery
Southern Exposure Seeds
Johnny's Selected Seeds

1/14/2014

Order Seed from ReneesGarden Helps Kids

A few of the 500 kids in one of their 3 gardens at school.


Kids gardening is important! When kids learn how to grow plants, learn where their food comes from and how to prepare healthy meals, they learn skills that will stay with them for their entire life. I've written about the amazing kids' garden project at the magnet school in Jonesboro, Arkansas, several times before. (Click here to see an earlier post and more photos). And here for the story about cooking with the kids in their amazing kitchen. But I thought you might like a reminder that this project is always struggling to find enough money for seed, soil and other supplies the kids need.


Learning to weed and identify the edible plants.
For 3 years we've had a button on our website, "Buy Seed, Help Kids." It's a project whereby you can order garden seed from Reneesgarden.com, for your own garden, and Renee Shepherd generously donates 25% of the revenue from your order, back to the school! It's a wonderful project. Unfortunately we only raise about $25 a year for the school. I don't know if people don't find the link, or don't want to order seed, but if you go to our website, LongCreekHerbs.com; here's the button you will see on the left side:


The lower left corner on our home page has the Help Children-Buy Seeds button. When you click on that, you are directed to a page with a code to enter when you place your order at Renee's Garden Seed You can order seed for your spring garden and when you order, it will count toward a donation for the kids' garden project, and you will receive outstanding seed.

Renee Shepherd, owner reneesgarden.com
Renee Shepherd donates to a wide variety of children's garden projects, both in the United States and in other countries. That's why we are so pleased to partner with her in helping this garden in Jonesboro, Arkansas. If you have not visited her website, please do so, her seed selections are outstanding and I grow many in my gardens each season.

To visit Renee's Garden website, go to our website at Long Creek Herbs, and click on the Help Children- Seeds button.  You'll find the link to Renee's Seeds website, look around and see if you aren't tempted by her spring seed offerings. Then when you order, use our code (it's in the instructions you'll see), so that she can make a donation to this wonderful project. Then, you will know that more kids, like this boy, below, can experience for the first time in their life, the taste and smell of a chive blossom and learn how to fix a meal using fresh herbs and vegetables right out of the garden.
I'll be visiting the school again this week with friends from Bear Creek Farm. We'll work with the kids on taking rosemary cuttings and making rosemary cookies and I'll be posting more about that in a few days. I hope you'll consider ordering seed from Renee Shepherd, she has outstanding varieties you won't find anywhere else. And when you order, won't you do it through my website so the kids get credit? Thank you!
It's exciting to see kids learn about herbs and vegetables.