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Category Archives: Herbs To Grow In Dallas

Looking for Joy in Summer

Sometimes when the heat sets in,it can get discouraging; energy seems in short supply. Even the most loved of gardens seems,well not as lovely as it did.  Don’t give in to those thoughts or worse yet actions, such as avoiding your gardening chores.  If you grow lemon verbena,  you can have a delicious treat at the end of  weeding.  In fact, this wonderful herb can be a treat every time you walk by it; it smells more like lemon than a lemon.

Lemon Verbena,Dallas Garden Buzz

Just in case you do not have lemon verbena in your garden, a few facts to know before you head out to buy one.  Lemon verbena is a tender perennial that means it will return year after year, provided it doesn’t freeze to death.  It is hardy to about 25 degrees !   In our experience it seems able to tolerate lower temps for brief periods especially if it is carefully mulched in fall.  This herb is pretty,pale to medium green pointed leaves,very tiny flowers, but to be honest it is not a beauty.  In our herb gardens it will be about 3 to 4 feet tall and tends to sprawl a bit. In ideal growing situations (you already guessed ideal isn’t here) it can reach 15 feet.  But lets not let that upset us,it still will be very happy in good well-drained soil and especially if it gets afternoon shade  and a reasonable, not excessive amount of water.

Lemon verbena is a native of Peru and surrounding countries and wasn’t introduced into Europe until the 18th century–so–no interesting medieval recipes  for amazing cures using our herb.  That’s not a worry either you will love lemon verbena leaves in your tea.

Lemon Verbena Tea, Dallas Garden Buzz

It can be used alone as an herbal tea.  This herb has a strong lemon fragrance so it really doesn’t take a great deal to make a delicious difference in your drink.  Do not be afraid to experiment here–no known dangers associated with lemon verbena. I find that a small stem of herb(perhaps 6 leaves) and the stem can be added when brewing a pot of tea using one family sized or about 3 regular tea bags let this steep for about 10 minutes then cool and serve over ice  you can remove the herb–or one lucky person –that would be you–you grew it after all–can have it in the glass.  The same proportions apply to green tea,maybe a bit prettier since the color sets off the color of the herb.

Just a few more points–if you are just planting your lemon verbena–no tea for you yet!!!  You need to allow the plant to grow  a bit before you harvest; but it grows fast.  Never over harvest. The plant naturally needs leaves to make its food.  Be patient soon you will have plenty. You may consider several plants; once you taste your tea I feel sure this will be the case. This herb is grown from cuttings. The seeds are very difficult to get to grow i’m sorry to say but in spring at least you will be able to find it quite readily in nurseries that sell herbs.

As always, never brew tea from herbs that have been sprayed with chemicals.  The best time to gather any herb is in the morning.  Rinse you lemon verbena briefly in cold water if you feel the need and enjoy!!  This herb is one of the best for drying-no special equipment needed- sniping  small bunches of leaves and laying them in an out of the way place (a word to the wise–away from any possible interference from cats)  just leave to dry and when dry; store airtight.  It stays amazingly fragrant so a hot steaming cup of lemony tea will brighten up a cold day which will come one of these days.

If you come to visit us at The Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road, don’t forget to crush a leaf of lemon verbena; you will love it and I hope you also grow your own and put it to good use.   It will add joy summer and winter. No calories, no guilt!

Susan T

Cream of Cilantro Soup

Cream of Cilantro Shooters

½ cup butter

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

1 shallot, chopped

½ cup all-purpose flour

4 (14 ½ ounce) cans chicken broth

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese 


Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat; add ¼ cup chopped cilantro, onion, and next 5 ingredients.  Cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. 

Stir in flour, and cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, 7 minutes or until mixture is golden brown. 

Add chicken broth, stirring rapidly until blended; add bay leaf.  Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. 

Stir in pepper and whipping cream; cook 5 minutes. 

Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding vegetables. 

Add shredded Monterey Jack cheese and remaining ¼ cup chopped cilantro. 

Pour soup into individual serving bowls. 

Yield: 2 quarts


Picture by Starla

April Dallas County Master Gardener Meeting

 Nothing short of a tornado should keep you from the April 25 Master Gardener meeting at the Earth-Kind Water Wise Demonstration Garden, 2311 Joe Field Rd. , Dallas. 

Blue Iris and Earth Kind Roses at the Demonstration Garden

Not only is the Garden in full, best of April, boisterous bloom.  But Linda  tested Mexican recipes for months to perfect a lunch menu using our home grown cilantro that will leave you weak in the knees: Cream of Cilantro Soup; Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas with Cilantro Cream Sauce; Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado and Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette; Spicy Salsa; and Mexican Chocolate Cake with Praline Frosting. 

Cilantro Growing In Raised Bed At The Demonstration Garden

What would lunch be without a Plant Sale? Master Jardineros will sell 4-inch, quart, and gallon plants for rock bottom prices.  Plants include: lyre leaf sage, artemesia, Victoria blue salvia, stick verbena, Indigo Spires salvia, Star sedum, fall asters, blackberries, Blue Gamma grass, tall pink “Chi Chi” Ruelia, white and purple Hyacinth bean, and compost.  Check or cash only, please. 

Note: Please bring your own folding chair.  The meeting begins at 11:30.  Gina Woods a fellow Master Gardener will be presenting a program on Tillandsias and Bermulaids .  She will be bringing plants to show and sell.


The Case for Cilantro

Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) says she despises it.  Others say the taste reminds them of dirty dishwater.  Some claim a soapy taste when they chew on it.  How could it be, then, that guacamole wouldn’t make it to a true “TexMex” table without a hefty amount of cilantro mixed in?  And salsa without cilantro?  Not in TEXAS! While there are clearly two sides, the “lovers” and the “haters”, consider these facts before arriving at your own verdict.


Cilantro, Coriandrum sativum, a member of the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family has been cultivated as a medicinal and culinary herb for more than three thousand years.  Mentioned first in Egyptian papyri and the Bible, Spanish conquistadors introduced cilantro to Mexico and South America where it quickly became associated with that cuisine.  Also known as Chinese parsley, the herb has a long history in Chinese medicine and cuisine.  One of the ancient uses was as an aphrodisiac.

Cilantro Growing in Raised Bed, Demonstration Garden Joe Field Rd, Dallas

Growing It

Cilantro likes loose, rich, well-draining soil.  Sow seeds in the fall ½” deep, thin seedlings to 1 foot apart.  Plant seeds again in February to give your cilantro time to grow before it gets too hot. If you can find it,  choose variety “Long Standing” for its excellent flavor, improved leafiness and, as the name infers, its slow-to-bolt quality. 

Cilantro  needs full sun and occasional watering if the weather is dry.  Transplants can be put in the ground anytime throughout the fall and winter.  A succession of crops will help your cilantro last longer.  To harvest cilantro, cut the stems down to the ground, a small section at a time.  When cilantro gets ready to flower, it sends up leaves that are lacier and smaller.  The seeds of the cilantro plant are known as coriander.   An aromatic spice, try using coriander in sweets, cakes, breads, and to flavor liqueurs.

Cooking With Cilantro

Every part of the plant is edible.  Cilantro’s  flat and gently serrated dark green leaves, resembling Italian parsley, are best used when the plant is about 6 inches high, and they must always be used fresh.  Toss them into almost any salad.  You can use cilantro anytime you would use parsley.  Make a pesto out of it just as would basil and freeze it for future use.  Store a bunch of cilantro for about a week in the refrigerator in a jar of water loosely covered with a plastic bag.  (Remember to change the water every few days.) 

Enjoy It 

The flowers make an attractive bouquet or addition to other garden flowers for cut arrangements.   Use it to settle the stomach and encourage good digestion.  Or do as the Chinese, use it in a “love potion” which they believed led to a long life.   While true, its unique aroma and pungence often demand an acquired taste, once you acquire the taste for it cilantro can be addicting!  Finally, just be thankful that when summer tomatoes and peppers are beginning to ripen  and cilantro may no longer be found in the garden, a quick trip to the grocery always keeps it within reach.   Case solved!


Note:  Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of our favorite “cilantro” recipes with you.

Homegrown, Veggies, Fruits and Herbs

I have a visual image of Master Gardener and nutritionist Barbara Gollman at Kroger: Red hair flying, trim figure running behind a cart, zipping down the frozen food isle flinging packs of frozen veggies into the cart for one of her wonderful soups. 

Barbara, Dallas County Master Gardener Teaches Value of Vegetables

Barbara intrigued a large group of Master Gardeners Tuesday with her talk on the nutritional benefit of vegetables, fruits, and herbs.  Turns out that Mom was correct when she urged us to eat our vegetables.  Carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables are full of phytochemicals, substances in plants that have the potential to slow aging, boost immunity, prevent disease, and strengthen our hearts and circulation. 

Cabbage, Broccoli Field Road, Dallas, Texas

Barbara suggests that we eat watermelon and tomatoes, plants that are packed with lycopene, a nutrient which helps prevent macular degeneration.  Pinto beans are rich in fiber, which can prevent cancer and heart disease, and flavonoids, which can curb the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and prevent blood clotting.  Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage are high in calcium.  Nuts are filled with Vitamin E, one of the most potent fat-soluble antioxidants. Berries, greens, winter squash—-well, you get the idea.  

Barbara said that new research has shown the health benefits of herbs. Who knew? Turns out that 1 teaspoon of oregano = ¾ cup of brussel sprouts in antioxidants.  

Barbara dries her herbs in the microwave after her husband’s reaction to using his closet as an herb drying rack. Remove the leaves from the stems of the herbs and spread on paper towels.  Put two paper towels on top of the herbs.  Pop in the microwave and zap for one minute.  (If the leaves are charred, try again and use a shorter amount of time. If the leaves aren’t crisp, microwave longer in 15-second increments.)  Remove from the microwave and air dry on the kitchen counter for a few days.  Store in a labeled glass jar.  

Are home grown vegetables better for you than those found in the grocery? Barbara says some research showed up to a 15 percent increase in nutrients in homegrown and organic vegetables.  Some other studies didn’t find an increase in nutrients. 

Many thanks go to Barbara for her research and common sense approach to healthy eating.  Let’s just put it this way: on the way home I stopped at Whole Foods and bought spinach, broccoli, and almonds for dinner.   


Recipes served in the class will follow.

Arugula-Pear-Blue Cheese Salad

Arugula, Pears, Pecans, Blue Cheese For Salad

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp peach or pear preserves

1/2 cup Champagne vinegar

1 shallot, sliced

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper 

1/2 cup olive oil 

8 cups loosely packed arugula

2 Bartlett pears, cut into 6 wedges each

4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans 

Process 1/4 cup preserves and next 5 ingredients in a food processor 30 seconds to 1 minute or until smooth.  With processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow steady stream, processing until smooth.  Transfer to a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl, and stir in remaining 2 Tbsp peach preserves. 

Place arugula in a large serving bowl.  Top with pears, blue cheese, and pecans.  Drizzle with vinaigrette. 

Elizabeth  From Southern Living Magazine 

Apple-Sage Tarte Tatin

A rustic and comforting dessert.

6 Granny Smith’s apples, peeled, cored, sliced into 8 wedges

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons minced sage leaves

 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Dough

Garnish:  fresh sage leaves; lightly sweetened whipped cream optional

Apple-Sage Tart Cooking In Iron Skillet

Preheat oven to 425°.

Put apples, lemon juice, and brown sugar in a large bowl and toss to mix; set aside.  Melt butter in a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet or other heavy, oven-safe skillet and stir in granulated sugar.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring, until mixture turns * pale golden.  Add apple mixture and cook, tossing occasionally to coat apples, for 5 minutes.  Add sage leaves and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  Set aside while you roll out the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 10 inch circle for a 9 inch skillet or an 11 inch circle for a 10 inch skillet, lifting dough and turning to prevent sticking to the surface.  Fold the dough in half or quarters and place it over the apples in the skillet.  Unfold the dough, tuck the overhang under the edge of the dough into the skillet and cut 4 slits in a circle at the center of the dough.  Bake 20 minutes until the crust is deep golden.

Using heavy oven mitts, remove skillet from oven and shake lightly to dislodge any stuck apples.  Place a a serving platter over the pan and, gripping the pan and plate lightly together, flip the tart over onto the platter.  Let stand a few minutes before serving or serve at room temperature.  do not refrigerate.  Garnish with a few fresh sage leaves, and serve plain or with whipped cream.

Apple-Sage Tarte Tatin With Sweeetened Whip Cream and Sage Garnish

8 servings.

 *Be sure to only let the mixture get a “pale golden color”.  You really have to watch closely to keep it from getting too brown.

Recipe and Pictures from Linda, adapted from DESSERTS FROM AN HERB GARDEN

Poached Pears With Sage-Honey Glaze

Finish a heavy meal with a lighter touch.

Poached Pear Dessert With Sage-Honey Glaze

6 cups water

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 pears, preferably bosc or d’Anjou

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons chopped sage leaves

Garnish: sage leaves, heavy cream optional

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, stir together water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a a simmer.

Meanwhile, peel pears and halve them, leaving the stem intact on one half. Working from the bottom, insert an apple corer or melon baller to remove cores.

Gently place pears in sugar syrup and cook, uncovered, at a steady simmer.  Cooking time may be anywhere from 8 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the pears’ ripeness; pears are done when they are tender and a paring knife can be inserted easily.

Meanwhile combine honey and sage leaves in a small saucepan an bring them just to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Remove from heat and let stand until pears are done.

When pears are done, remove them with a slotted spoon, draining them well, to a large plate, flat sides down.  Reheat sage honey if needed to make it liquid enough to brush onto pears;strain out sage leaves.  Brush honey over each pear (don’t brush the flat sides).  Arrange on serving plates with the stem half of each pear propped on the other half.

Serve pears garnished with sage leaves; drizzle with a little cream if desired.

Recipe and photo by Linda, adapted from DESSERTS FROM AN HERB GARDEN

Cheddar Cheese and Sage Biscuits

Throw a log on the fire and enjoy these “cheesy” biscuits with your favorite bowl of soup.  Makes about 16.

Sage From Linda's Garden

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 cups grated cheddar cheese (9 ounces)

2/3 cup finely sliced fresh sage leaves

2 cups buttermilk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375° F. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and paprika.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in cheese and sage. Add buttermilk, stir with a fork until mixture just comes together to form a sticky dough. On a lightly floured work surface, with floured hands, pat dough into a 1-inch thick round.

Using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out biscuits as close together as possible, dipping cutter into flour each time to prevent sticking. transfer biscuits to a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, stir together egg and cream.  Lightly brush the top of each biscuit with egg wash. Bake until golden brown rotating baking sheet halfway through, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe and photo by Linda, adapted from  NEW ENGLAND OPEN HOUSE.

Sage-Feta Cornbread

 Remember a few weeks ago we promised sage recipes for your Thanksgiving menus.  Over the next few days we will be giving dessert, bread, and vegetable recipes using sage.

Dazzle your guests with this artistic display of garden sage. 

Sage-Feta Cornbread

Sage leaves, arranged in the buttered pan before the batter is poured in, form a beautiful pattern on the crust of this bread and distinctly flavor it throughout.  Crumbled feta contributes moistness and a salty bite.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened for the pan

18-24 large sage leaves

3/4 cup stone ground cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup olive oil

4 ounces (1 cup) crumbled Greek feta

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Smear the butter on the inside of a 9 inch glass pie plate.  Press the sage leaves into the butter in a circular daisy pattern, saving about 6 to press into the side of the pie plate horizontally.

Stir the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together with a wire whisk in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and olive oil in a second bowl.  Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until the lumps smooth out.  Stir in the cheese.

Pour the batter into the pie plate over the sage leaves. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the bread springs back in the middle when you press on it.  Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan.  Loosen the sides with a paring knife, then flip the cornbread out onto a plate or board with the sage leaves on top, and serve while still warm.

Recipe and Photo by Linda adapted from HERB GARDEN

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