Get down and dirty in the garden
Ramona Werst has a love for growing, caring for, and cooking with basil. There are over 30 different varieties of basil in her current collection, and she is adding to her collection all the time. She creates recipes to use with different basils and will teach you how to Love Your Basil! Visit her blog, www.ramonasbasilgarden.com, to download her free e-book, Love Your Basil.
My love for basil started by wanting to enhance my culinary skills, but once I started collecting this amazing herb and cooking with it I wanted to share with everyone how to grow, care for, and cook with basil.
There are hundreds of different varieties of basil. I have come to love the common sweet basil we all know as well as the exotic and incredibly usefull Lang basil only grown in the Lang area in Vietnam. Basil can be used for culinary purposes, medicinal purposes, as a pest repellant, and as a garden plant companion. Others basils are known for their beautiful flowers and the different colors of their leaves.
Cinnamon basil is beautiful and aromatic
with its red stem, bright green leaves and purple flowers.
Photo by David Werst
One of my favorite basils is cinnamon basil. Let’s talk about the amazing cinnamon basil just a moment:
• Did you know that gardeners plant cinnamon basil close to their tomato plants in the garden to discourage bugs from damaging the tomato plants? It’s true that cinnamon basil, when planted near tomatoes, not only enhances the flavor of the tomato but also repels mosquitos and white flies. It also will enhance the growth of asparagus and roses while protecting these plants from some insects. What else can it do? Rub its leaves on your skin or grow it in containers on your patio to help repel mosquitos. You can also place fresh sprigs on top of food containers to keep flies from landing at picnics.
• Did you know that cinnamon basil seeds have gone to space? When Park Seed Company turned 115 years old they put cinnamon basil seeds on a space shuttle to see if traveling in space would have any effect on the seeds. Park Seed Company and NASA have been collaborating to learn how seeds respond to outer space conditions since 1983 with a program titled "SEEDS in Space"; they are giving students around the world an opportunity to perform hands-on science experiments with space-exposed seeds.
Photo by Strata Chalup/Courtesy Flickr
• Cinnamon basil is one the easiest basils to grow. When planted from seed it takes approximately 5 to 7 days to sprout depending on how warm the soil is. It can be started indoors and transplanted into gardens or container pots. Cinnamon basil can grow up to 3 feet tall and, if you pinch back the leaves, it can bush out to 3 feet. When I harvest my cinnamon basil, I wash it, pinch the leaves from the stems, chop, place in labeled zip lock bags and freeze it. Anytime I want to use fresh cinnamon basil, all I have to do is reach in my freezer and I can cook with it all year round.
• When dried, cinnamon basil is wonderful in potpourri and can be used in herb/dried flower wreaths.
• I love the mild cinnamon flavor when cooking with cinnamon basil. I have made several recipes from cinnamon basil including Cinnamon Basil Pumpkin Pie, Cinnamon Basil Lime Icebox Cookies (recipe below), and Cinnamon Basil Chicken over Bowtie Pasta. I’ve also enjoyed adding cinnamon basil leaves to my tea. It can also be used in jellies, honeys, vinegars and baked goods.
You’ve just got to try my cinnamon basil cookie recipe. It will be a big hit in your family cookie jar and it’s a good way to introduce cooking with basil to the family. This is one of the recipes you will receive when Ramona's Basil Garden Membership launches on my website. Get a sneak preview:
Cinnamon Basil & Lime Icebox Cookies
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1/4 cup flax seed, ground
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/3 cups butter, softened
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
• 2 tablespoon grated lime zest
• 6 tablespoons fresh cinnamon basil leaves, chopped
• 2 cups pecans, chopped
• Parchment or wax paper for wrapping dough
1. Pinch some cinnamon basil leaves from your herb; wash it, chop it and put in a small bowl.
2. Add flours, flax seed, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix and set the mixture aside.
3. Add butter and beat until fluffy. Add sugar and eggs; beat the mixture until it becomes light and fluffy. Add vanilla, nutmeg, lime zest and cinnamon basil; blend. Take a measuring cup, scoop a cup from the flour mixture at a time and add it to the butter and blend. Add the nuts and gently stir.
4. Once the dough is mixed, remove from the bowl onto a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with flour. Shape the dough into a log shape and then wrap it completely with the parchment paper. Put it in a refrigerator overnight until the mixture gets hardened so that you can slice the dough. Take the dough that was refrigerated overnight, user a serrated and cut the dough about 1/4-inches to 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the cookies on a cookie sheet.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes until the cookies become golden brown. Once the pieces are baked, put on a rack to cool.
Recipe Tip: You can bake some of the cookies and freeze, then just microwave to thaw. Or wrap the dough log and put in ziplock bag, and freeze. When you are ready to use, thaw almost completely, but still stiff to slice into 1/4" to 1/2" slices and bake.
The good news? You can do all this too!
You, too, can enjoy the many benefits of learning to grow, care for, and cook with basil. The Herb Companion is a treasure of news and tips in learning all about the fascinating basil and other healthy herbs.
Ramona Werst grows and cares for her basil garden year round
and uses her favorite basils in many of herrecipes.
Photo by David Werst
I’m Ramona Werst, teaching you to Love Your Basil.