It’s Labor Day in the United States, the day when we stop and celebrate the contributions of workers to our political and economic democracy. It’s a day marked by parades and picnics, particularly in the organized labor community, and one of the days when many workers in the United States have the opportunity to stop, rest, and celebrate the work they do.
I recommend that, this year, we all celebrate by whipping up something fabulous to eat, whether we’ve got the day off or not, and even if you’re not in the U.S. Of course, that’s my solution to everything. Day of celebration? Eat something fabulous. Regular weekday? Eat something fabulous. Holiday in another country? Eat something fabulous.
Lucky for all of us, there’s one heck of a list of great dishes from around the world here in this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging. I’ve really enjoyed reading these – it’s been fun to see all the entries ahead of time and know what’s in store for all of you. Enjoy, and take some time to try some of these out – from what I’ve read, even the most complicated of these recipes won’t feel like even a hint of work by the time you take your first bite.
Basil and Watermelon Drink
Washington, DC, USA
This is an update, and a mea culpa. Christa of Calendula and Concrete sent me her WHB entry well in advance of the deadline, and, in the process of putting together the post, I managed to leave her off the round-up. This is particularly unfortunate, because Christa, who blogs from Washington D.C., came up with the most interesting flavors-of-summer beverage I may have seen all season. Her inspiration? The proliferation of sweet basil in her garden. “We still have plenty of sweet basil in the garden and most of the plants are flowering now. I enjoy listening to the hum of the bees as they buzz blissfully from one flower to the next,” Christa writes. “I know that it won’t be long now before this year’s crop of basil fades into nothing but memories, so I’ve been trying to think of different ways to make good use of it while it lasts.” Christa’s Basil and Watermelon Drink sounds like a refreshing way to put it in service, and is an apt drink with which to toast the end of the summer.
Aloo Pudina Baath (Potato Mint Rice)
Hailing from Florida is Jayashree, a first-time participant in Weekend Herb Blogging. Jayashree’s Aloo Pudina Baath (Potato Mint Rice) is a fragrant and delicious Indian dish that sounds quite simple to make. “Mint plays a major role in Indian cuisine,” writes Jayashree. “It is recognised by Ayurveda practitioners to have several health benefits and has been used for ages in treating muscle and joint pains.”
Another first-time Weekend Herb Blogging participant is Kaji’s Mom, from Ohio. She breaks out Barleycorn Beans, a recipe from The Mcdougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss that sounds nutritious, filling and very, very tasty. “In case anyone hasn’t heard of Dr. McDougall, he’s a doctor who (in a very short summary) believes that a very low-fat vegan diet can help control/eliminate many conditions that are prevalent in western culture (type II diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, to name a few),” she writes. “I stumbled across Dr. McDougall when I first transitioned over to vegetarianism. The vegan lifestyle didn’t stick, however vegetarianism did.”
Garlicky Romano Beans
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
St. Louis food writer Alanna Kellogg spotlights Romano Beans from Missouri’s own On the Wind Farm this week in her entry. It’s a variety I’ve never heard of, but Alanna raves about them. “They cook in a flash,” she writes. “And they’re more tender, more green-tasting, more alive-tasting than other beans. If I had a vegetable garden, I’d definitely grow these.” Duly noted!
Chicken Noodle Soup with Fresh Thyme
Springfield, Missouri, USA
Another Missouri blogger, Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food, takes advantage of the unseasonably cool late August we’ve been having in the U.S. Midwest to whip up a tasty, healthy Chicken Noodle Soup with Fresh Thyme that features homemade noodles. “With the air conditioner turned off and the windows open, I’ve actually been chilly in the mornings and evenings,” Glenna says. “This morning, chicken noodle soup seemed the perfect lunch to warm us up while the fresh thyme taste and aroma brought us back into the swing of a warm summer afternoon.”
Nero di Toscana Cabbage
I couldn’t help but group the Missouri bloggers this week, both as a shout-out to the state to the South of me, and as a nod to my friend Tammy, who’s from Springfield, Missouri, herself. The last member of the Party from Missouri is Farmgirl, who features Nero di Toscana Cabbage. Farmgirl suggests Cat Cabbage as an apt replacement name for this interesting green that seems to have nine lives. “I’m telling you, this stuff is resilient,” she writes. “No matter how pitiful it looks after being ravaged, I never, ever pull it up because it always makes a beautiful comeback.” Along with tips on how to prepare Nero di Toscana, she provides some additional tips and items from her inbox, which gardeners will definitely find helpful.
Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce with Fresh Basil
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Weekend Herb Blogging doyenne Kalyn comes through with a recipe that is on my must-try list: Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce with Fresh Basil. Kalyn’s Utah garden is overflowing with fresh tomatoes and basil, but the true secret ingredient that shines in this flexible recipe is fennel. “Please, please, please, don’t skip the fennel,” she writes. “That’s one of the things that makes this sauce over-the-top good.”
Grilled Tomatoes with Garlic and Thyme
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This very same sauce inspired Ruth from Toronto. “I’ve been jealous of Kalyn over at Kalyn’s Kitchen, who’s been talking about her wonderful tomatoes, and then posted this awesome looking marinara sauce,” Ruth says. “So when Laurie, in my Honey’s office, gave him a bag of the sweetest, reddest, most delicious tomatoes EVER, I decided I had to do something with them for Weekend Herb Blogging.” Ruth grilled those babies up with garlic and thyme, and notes they can be used as a side dish on their own or chopped up and stirred into steamed rice.
Tomato Dill Soup
Southwestern Virginia, USA
Tomatoes inspired Sue, who blogs from Southwestern Virginia, to whip up a batch of Tomato Dill Soup. She notes that this soup “goes well with crostini and salad for a light lunch, or as a first course to your favorite light baked fish.” This is another terrific way to use those late season tomatoes that are all ripening at the same time!
Caramelised Blackberry Compote
“It’s getting autumn in Europe; everywhere you’ll find brambles now,” writes Ulrike, who blogs from Germany on her blog, Küchenlatein. “Bramble fruit is the fruit of any plant of the Genus Rubus, such as the blackberry or the raspberry. The word comes from Germanic ‘bram-bezi,’ whence also German Brombeere.” Ulrike presents us with a Caramelised Blackberry Compote that looks simple and elegant.
Fideos (Mexican Dry Soup)
Davis, California, USA
I learned about Fideos, or Mexican dry soup, this week from Sher of What Did You Eat? “Fideos is somewhat like risotto in preparation. You add stock to pasta and cook until the pasta absorbs all the liquid,” she writes. However, you don’t need to constantly stir this like you would with risotto, and it cooks much faster. But, like risotto, the pasta is infused with the liquid it cooks in, giving it a luscious, almost creamy taste.” Sher, who blogs from Davis, California, uses bay leaf, thyme and cilantro in this comfort food recipe.
Pork, Ruby Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Chive Vinaigrette
Although we’re growing chives in our garden, I learned more about them this week than I ever thought I would from Anna in Australia. She uses this versatile herb in a fantastic-looking Pork, Ruby Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Chive Vinaigrette. “Let it be said that I love chives,” Anna writes. “They taste like herbs and onions rolled into one. Full of punch but verdant and healthy.”
Figs (You’re Darn Tootin’)
The Triangle, North Carolina, United States
I’m a huge fan of fresh figs, ever since my friend Rebecca encouraged me to try them. I still can’t believe I got to my late 20s before learning the secret of fresh over dried. Peggy of Swank Catering reviews the figs grown on big trees on her farm, including some that don’t require pollination by the fig wasp to bear fruit. “Nature is so kind to us *sometimes* and a plant that will set fruit reliably without the need of pollination and fertilization is a real gift, especially since the fig wasp doesn’t thrive in North Carolina,” she writes.
Home-made Basil Pasta with Carbonara
New Jersey, USA
“Okay, I know it’s decadence,” writes Gattina. “Just because I love my pasta dish loaded with herbs, this time I went overboard… adding basil into pasta dough.” Does the experiment work? Does this recipe make it to the hall of fame? Folks, you’re just going to have to click through to read about Gattina’s insights into herbaceous pasta…it’s worth the read. For those of you who are brave enough to make fresh pasta (I, unfortunately, am not yet among your number…I’m still a wuss…), Gattina offers some fascinating insights into the process, and the add-ins.
Columbia River Valley, Oregon, USA
“Many people have used vanilla sugar, and more than a few have some in the pantry (jar+vanilla bean+sugar+time=magic), but few have lavender sugar,” writes Kitchen Mage. “Indeed, most folk I say “lavender sugar” to look at me blankly. This is too bad and something I think should be remedied immediately.” If you’re interested in the remedy, Kitchen Mage offers it in her entry for the week. Check it out, and don’t miss the gorgeous photo she offers up for our enjoyment.
Balsamic Pickled Onions
Haalo brought home a bag of small brown onions from the farmer’s market, and made magic out of them with the addition of just three ingredients. Her Balsamic Pickled Onions would make a wonderful antipasto dish or a fabulous side to grilled meats. “Now, the only real problem with onions is the chore of peeling and cutting them,” Haalo writes. “There are many tricks to avoid the tears…” Learn Haalo’s tricks and discover this tasty recipe treat in her entry for this week’s edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.
Greenwich Village, New York, USA
The Chocolate Lady turns in a most intriguing variation on a favorite summer soup this week. “I think this cool peach soup is commonly known as meli-melo, but I have been calling it gaspeacho,” she writes. I love the name, and the recipe sounds quite delicious and refreshing. Summer’s last gasp is at hand in the Northern Hemisphere, so now’s the time to try this recipe before the days shorten any further.
Striped Bass in Hoja Santa with Salsa Verde
Southern California, USA
Surfindave rides the Hoja Santa wave this week, featuring a leaf that took him from doldrums to delight in just one visit to the local farmer’s market. Sounds like my kind of mood swing. “Like a 100K volt jolt through the temples, everything was instantly reset. Tired demeanor gone. Heavy spirits lifted. Circumspect and cautious attitude evaporated into the usual carefree and adventurous one,” Dave writes. “All this accomplished in a flash by the sight of giant deep green leaves.” His entry features the recipe, as well as a thorough description of the leaves and their uses.
Fried Squash Blossoms
Iowa City, Iowa, USA
My entry for Weekend Herb Blogging this week is Fried Squash Blossoms, a recipe that, once I dispatched the earwigs, came out even better than I’d hoped. I would quote my own post here, but I think I’ve said enough for one weekend.
And with that, I tip my hat to all the great bloggers who participate in this event from week to week. Thanks for sharing such amazing recipes, tips, lore and information with the rest of us, and thanks, as always, to Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, without whom we’d have no event to enjoy from week to week. Weekend Herb Blogging returns home to Kalyn’s corner of the web next week, so if you missed the deadline this week, please make sure to get your posts to her by 3 p.m. Sunday, Utah time. Send your entries to kalynskitchen AT comcast DOT net by 3:00 Sunday afternoon, Utah time, and she’ll include you. Don’t forget to link to Kalyn’s Kitchen with the words Weekend Herb Blogging somewhere in the post. Here are the rules for Weekend Herb Blogging for more information.