Herb of the Month – Oregano
By Sacha Begg
Oregano is a beautiful perennial herb with a dark purple flowers that the bees really love. It seems to attract them from miles around. In late summer when it flowers, it is literally alive with bees! It grows about 14 inches high and its leaves are used in cooking all sorts of savory and Italian style dishes. The Greek variety of oregano has a beautifully robust flavor, and wild oregano (also known as wild marjoram) is a great medicinal herb. For sore throats, steep as a tea with a bit of honey, or use it as a gargle for sore throats. It is an expectorant as well as a digestive aid.
How to brew a nice pot of tea:
You can make a nice tea with oregano by steeping fresh or dried stems and leaves in a pot of very hot water for about 10 minutes. Be sure to leave the lid on the pot to help keep the volatile oils from evaporating and keep all of your herbal magic in the pot. You could also add a bit of sage, yarrow, and chamomile to the mix if you feel a cold coming on, or are in the midst of one.
One of my favorite ways to use oregano is in a classic tomato sauce. It really gives it that authentic homemade flavor. A good amount of basil will only improve your sauce as well. Be sure to put it in near the end of your cooking time, or you’ll lose its fresh flavorful zing!
Sage, Salvia officinalis
Herb of the month by Sacha Begg
A woody perennial shrub that survives well in a four season climate (like ours in Nova Scotia). It grows to about knee high, and has beautiful blue/purple blossoms that arrive late spring/early summer. Some varieties also have white or pink blossoms. It has bumpy textured leaves which have a distinct and engaging aroma.
Medicinally, it is my go to plant for healing any mouth sores, especially cankers. At bedtime, lightly crush a leaf and place it in your mouth in contact with the canker and leave it there over night. Alternatively, brew a tea with fresh or dried leaves, let it steep for at least 10 minutes (the longer it steeps the stronger the tea, but also the more bitter the flavour). Either swish it around your mouth, or sip and drink it slowly, letting the natural oils and flavours roll around your mouth and the affected area. Add a bit of honey to your sage tea, and use it to help soothe a sore throat.
Traditionally, sage is burned (or rather smoldered) for its cleansing and purifying smoke, and is used to clear out negative energy. I have read that sage’s smoke actually de-ionizes particles in the air by attaching to them and weighing them down so that they sink to the ground. (So maybe you should vacuum after you smudge with sage!)
As much as it is possible, I believe in using the herbs and plants that grow right outside my door. Salvia officinalis is the variety that grows well in the climate of my garden in Nova Scotia, so it is my go to variety for health, healing, and enjoyment.
Bill Board #5 1/2
Jimmy and Sacha were in town at the Farmer’s Market when their old friends Abram and Jess from Nouveau Hampshire showed up. These two up-start/fancy hippies are trying to show me up with with their Jim-Dandy of a caravan… a meticulously built, half Roma wagon, half caboose. (Mr. Sutton would have cried had he seen this.) And they have the gall to set up camp right in the front yard!
No one was around, so I knew it was up to me to straighten them out. I marched over and said to Abe as he disembarked “nice tiny home”.
Abe grumbled something to the effect that it wasn’t a tiny home and I continued “Listen here pal, I gatta good thing going here, and I can foresee you cramping my style”.
And the fella just carries on setting up camp and not saying a word to me. So I continue “One of those stoic types I see. Now you pick up camp and find your own place to park it, this here site is mine”!
Then out of no where, Jess starts sprinkling essential oils on me, telling me they will bring peace to this experience. And you know, surprisingly, it did. I took another look at my worst friends and best enemies and realized at once that these two were kindred spirits. Then I started tripping over myself trying to help them set up camp.
Once Jess’s Santeria wore off, I realized that it might be nice to have a little vacation and move in with them for a while. So I asked my new friend Abe if he wouldn’t mind me staying with him and Jess. He looked at me strangely for a second, and tried to explain that he believed it would be too small for three people.
“Nonsense” says me, “Once I have my posters up and my good luck trinkets everywhere, you’ll feel right at home. “
Then you wouldn’t believe this, but Abe tells me that Jimmy had warned him about me…..Me…..Your humble William Board. Imagine being warned about me, the most inoffensive guy to roam this multiverse.
Then he followed up by saying “Jimmy said if I gave you a couple of steaks, you’d leave me alone for a while”.
“Steaks says you? What kind of steaks are we talking here?”I asked.
“A couple from a cow Jess and I raised last year” he answered.
“Well that might sound interesting there ole Abe, ole buddy. Pass ’em over!”
So Abe and Jess came through for me and gave me these beautiful steaks. And I knew just what to do. I scooted of to Mr. Sutton to put my grub on. First thing I did was borrow some chives from Sacha’s garden. Once back, I cut up four cloves of black-garlic (I won’t say where I got it), cut up the chives, and mixed it all into a half a stick of soft butter. Then I added a little salt. Finally, I and rolled it up in some wax paper and shaped it into a cylindrical form about twice the size of a toonie. That’s my black garlic butter. Set that in the fridge.
So everyone has their own way of cooking steak, so do what you gatta do see, just don’t salt it until after it is cooked. When your steak is cooked, set it on a plate and generously butter it with your black-garlic-butter. Then, before you cover it and let it rest 5 minutes, that’s when you salt it.
Now if you have never cooked a steak before, here’s how I do it… sprinkle about 1/4 tsp. of ground black pepper on either side of the steak. Then put a cast-iron pan in the oven set to 500 F. Once the oven and the pan reach 500 F, carefully take the pan out of the oven, oil the pan with a tiny bit of vegetable oil, put the steak into the pan, put the pan back into the oven.
For an inch thick steak, it takes about 2.5 minutes per side, so after 2.5 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, flip the steak, and put it back into the oven for another 2.5 minutes. Then follow with the aforementioned black-garlic butter and cover the steak and let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve with fries or mashed potatoes… and eat some vegetables for crying out loud!
Take care every one,
Bill Board over and out.
By William Board #4
I knew I had to dig something really nice up in order to get back in the good graces of Ol’Jim-beau. He’s a hard doobbie to please, and what do you get the guy that has everything?
I’ve seen Sacha hard at work building the BullyGoth web-site. They reckon they’re going to sell BullyGoth gear all over the world through this here site. Imagine, people buying stuff on line? It’s like they’re out of touch or something.
Good thing I’m here! I’ve got connections. Or, not so much connections, as the ability to connect. I’ve got a way with people, a silver tongue as it were. Then it struck me directly how to help out my two naïve friends. I figured the people with the biggest and most powerful server would be the best people to borrow something from, because that is exactly what Jimsy and Sach need… a whole fleet of internet hacks. Whaabam! www.BullyGoth.com is on everyone’s home page, all over the world in one fell swoop.
I was excited! I wanted to start right away. Sacha and Jim where in town so I used the hidden key they don’t know I know about, and went in the house to use the internet. I googled the CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada), then I gave them a call. It went something like this… being on hold for a long while and then someone spoke.
“Yes this is the CSEC, how can we help you”. Of course I know not to talk to the first stooge they put you on to, so I demanded to speak to their supervisor.
” Sure” they said condescendingly “What can I tell them this is about”?
I needed these guys to take me seriously so I said, ”Tell them it’s about national security”.
“Oh really”, patronizingly,” okay, I’ll get somebody” they said.
Then all of a sudden there is some really serious breathy dude on the phone saying “Listen pal, this is the Canadian Secret Service. We don’t have time for this kind of thing, call your local RCMP if you have a domestic problem.”
Then that’s when I went in to my rap about needing to borrow the CSEC server so I could do my friend a solid and he could get his website out there good and proper. I explained I’d need all the pass-codes and a couple of his best hackers. Then the guy laughed in my ear right over the phone, just like that. So I knew I had to get a little rough with this fella and said “You listen here buddy, my name is James Joseph Condon…” (understand I couldn’t give them MY name, and I wanted Jimmy to be surprised with the present I was borrowing for him) “…and if you don’t give me what I ask for there will be hell to pay!”
There was silence on the other end. So I got exited and yelled a bit, and I said some nasty bits and pieces. In the end I hung up, crestfallen at my failed attempt to borrow something nice for my pal Jamesy. He and Sacha arrived back home about five minutes later. Two minutes after that the RCMP arrived and arrested Jim. As they were cuffing and stuffing pour ole’ Jim I yelled to him ”Don’t worry kid, I know a good Lawyer!”
Jimmy said “Don’t do anything Bill.” Sacha was just staring at me with daggers.
If you know Jim, you know that a Manhattan is his favorite drink, and that fussy cuss is particular about how he makes’em. And after a day like today my friends, this would be a good time to have one.
For one Manhattan you take a tumbler full of ice, add three droplets of dry vermouth, three droplets of sweet vermouth, one dash of nice quality bitters, and three to four ounces of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Set a rinsed off maraschino cherry in a high-ball (some people prefer a martini glass) and strain your drink over the cherry. Sit down, kick back, and enjoy.
This is Billy Board saying check out BullyGoth Farm’s website www.BullyGoth.com. There is a blog (supplied by moi), a bunch of workshops to take, and shop on it where you can order wonderful herb and mushroom concoctions, spice blends, mushroom soup mixes and the” infamous” BullyGoth Super Sampler box.
Over and out.
By William Board #3
I had to lay low for a couple weeks after my failed attempt at a shared egg economy, I call it an eggonomy. Jimmy was angry at first. He said he thought his hens where sick because he reckoned they weren’t laying. Then he complained that he’s got a fridge full of pickled eggs of questionable origin. I calmed him down with half a finger of shine (which he doesn’t know where I hide). I reproached him for denigrating my picked egg recipe. Then, after he tried a few, he solemnly swore they were in fact the best pickled eggs he’d had. Still, I gotta lay low, they look like hippies but they just don’t get me.
So I figured with my time away in the woods I’d meditate some on what my eggonomy looks like. Jim pointed out (though I disagree) that when you have no eggs to share your eggonomy crumbles. I studied on disproving Jim and his pessimism. And I sat, and I thought, and I experienced some pretty deep stuff. In the end I knew what I had to do; borrow something nice from someone and lend it to Jim. It’s a satisfying thing drawing difficult conclusions, and I was satisfied right down to the ground.
I will now feast tonight. I’ll make my favorite Mr. Sutton medley, shrimp and grits. Like most of my recipes it’s not so much a recipe as a philosophy. You gotta make due with what you have so to speak. And I’ve come up flush with some shrimp, but I imagine you could use scallop or haddock.
Clarify 4 tbsp. of butter. Chop up two medium onions, add a bay leaf or two. Fry up your onion until it is translucent. Add 2-3 tbsp of flour (the more flour you use, the thicker your gravy will be. If it’s too lumpy add some olive oil until the flour dissolves.
Immediately add your spices. This is where I encourage you take a little artistic license. For me, I use ½ tsp. of cayenne pepper, a pinch of marjoram, a pinch of thyme, and a ½ tsp. ground mustard seed. Use a couple of tbsp. of fresh parsley when the gravy is done. If you don’t have fresh parsley add ½ tbsp dried parsley now. Add a tbsp. dried chives, then add 1 tbsp. of BullyGoth Herb and Mushroom Blend (Sacha and Jim like me to plug them so I suppose you could use any herb and mushroom blend, but you may as well get it from them).
After a minute or so, when your spices are activated, add a chopped tomato. You should probably add a mess of mushrooms while your at it. I like to use a cup of dried oyster or shiitake mushrooms, but fresh will work too. Cook that a bit, and then add three cloves of chopped garlic. Cook that one minute more. Things are moving fast at this point, so add 2 cups of chicken broth, 3 splashes of Worcestershire sauce, 3 dashes of Tabasco (or another of your favorite hot sauces). Add salt and pepper to taste, you may not need much salt depending on the power of your chicken broth. Cook that down for 10-20 minutes.
Add your shrimp. They don’t need long, 8 minutes or so in your simmering gravy, then at the very end when you are just a few minutes away from serving this master piece add two different colors of thinly sliced (the long way) bell peppers. Serve this with cheesy grits, rice , rice pasta, couscous, or egg noodles. Hope you enjoy that.
I’ll let you know next time how I make out with Jim and Sacha after I borrow something real nice for them. I’m sure everything will be on the up and up. For now this is your bud Bill, over and out.