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Saturday, January 28, 2017

An Herb with a "Kick"!

~photo by Suzanne * January 27, 2017

Here we are, rushing to the end of January, as the New Year pushes on!  I hope you all are now well-adjusted to writing 2017 with your dates instead of that "other one"!  We've had some pretty cool temperatures here in Fort Worth...I mean down in the 20's and 30's.  But, that's okay, I sure have enjoyed wrapping up in a blanket in front of the TV for a good Saturday nite movie!

The International Herb Association previously made its announcement that the "Herb of The Year" for 2017, is Coriander/Cilantro! dog!  They just happened to pick one of my favorites, and I can smell the fragrance of this herb as I type!

Cilantro, aka "Chinese Parsley" is a versatile plant, found to be used in cuisines all over the world.  The leaves, and Coriander seeds, which are the seeds of the plant are added for flavor to Chinese/Asian, Indian, Spanish and Tex-Mex dishes. 

~ Mexican Red Pozole * prepared by son, Rusty
photo by Suzanne February 2016

~ My Indian "Chicken Curry" * Prepared with Coriander Seed
However, Garam Masala spice can be used, which already has Coriander in it.
~photo by Suzanne

Cilantro is said to have a long history, dating back thousands of years.  It is native to regions around Southern Europe, Northern Africa, to Southern Asia.  It was brought to the British colonies of North America in 1670, being one of the first spices cultivated by the early settlers.  I also read that Coriander seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs-as food for the departed.

I am sure you will all agree that the fresh cilantro leaves are tastier than the dried.  You can even freeze it, then make flavored oil or vinegar to enjoy during fall and winter.  I like to tear them up a little bit to sprinkle on my salads, and, we all know that cilantro is an important ingredient for guacamole...yum!  On another of my home cooked dishes, I sprinkle cilantro leaves on top for that added "kick" before baking.

~ King Ranch Chicken (before baking)

All done!

~ photos by Suzanne * March 16, 2016

Other uses of cilantro include drying the leaves to use on greeting cards, or as botanical art.  Also, fresh cuttings are sometimes used in floral bouquets!
* These are great ideas!  Perhaps we should suggest the greeting card idea to the KardKornerKrib lady!  She could probably make some very nice cards.

~ Cilantro Watercolor

So, how about growing some of this "to die for", pungent, herb?  Well, they say it is reasonably easy to grow, yet a bit sensitive to certain weather conditions.  According to the Vegetable Gardener, cilantro does not abide hot weather!  This herb grows well in early Spring in Texas.  However, as the weather warms up to, let's say 75°, cilantro quickly begins to bloom, the term actually used is "Bolt"!  Before that happens, you can harvest the leaves, by removing the outer leaves first, and leaving the leaves inside to grow a bit more.  You can even put the leaves in water in your refrigerator.   

~Cilantro in bloom

I have raised Cilantro more than once.  Actually, I have planted it almost every year for many years, but gave up for a while because of the "bolting" events.  It grows fast, and is beautiful, but as they say, here come the blooms, and the plant shoots ups awkwardly!  I planted it in the ground one year, and did get to harvest some leaves, but when the blooms came, I was lost.  I read that you should cut the blooms off and the plant will continue to grow and produce the leaves.  Well...the plant died on me when I did that, go figure!  The following Spring, here comes my cilantro plant poking through the ground.  It grew and grew, like Jack's Beanstalk!

And, the leaves, though large and green, didn't project the fresh, pungent aroma that was present with the previous year's plant.  The stems were thick and tough.  The blooms came, but didn't stick around long enough to go to seed.  I tried to pull the plant up, because it was of no use to me that way.  It was so tough, I had to enlist the help of my son to dig and pull it out of the ground.  This past Spring, I planted Cilantro seed in a medium pot outside.  The plant did well, but as the weather warmed up, it did "bolt".  We did get to harvest some of the wonderful leaves before the blooms came, then, alas...the plant cratered!  😭

Here's what we will do this year:

1.  Cilantro should be grown in early Spring or Fall when the weather is cool.
2.  The plant requires mostly full sun, with some shade, in well-drained soil.
                 3.  Grow Cilantro in the ground with plenty of mulch on top of the roots.  This will keep the plants cooler when the weather warms up.
4. Plant them closer together, they will serve as shade for each other.
                 5.  As soon as the Coriander seeds from flowering turn brown, shake the seed heads over a paper bag, allow to dry, then store in airtight jars.

* I'm hoping to have better luck with each attempt at growing this fine herb!  Maybe some of you have grown it, and can give me some better tips.  I do, at least get some great enjoyment out of my cilantro before it "BOLTS"!

~My pot of Cilantro is the large gray one in front.  The other pots have, oh...Oregano, Parsley, Thyme and Mint in them.  Photo by Suzanne * April 2, 2016

Well, my gracious's time to 'sashay' on out of here for tonight!  I appreciate you coming by my blog, and hope you got a little "kick" out of my program!  Please stop in if you get the chance, and say hello...I would love to see you!

***  Hi Mom! ***

*** please note-images not taken by me, are courtesy of Yahoo Images ***

Thank You
Yahoo Images

According to Oscar Wilde, "A flower blossoms for its own joy."

~ photo by Suzanne * Be safe * See you next time!