Finally, Spring Breeze…Wedding plans, Capitol Ideas!

W+M Wedding 260

Calls for wedding ideas, wedding favors, brides who are panicking because they don’t have “just the right place” to welcome family and friends to their couple beginnings…that’s SPRING, and we are gearing up! We offer both one-of-a-kind favors, a farm venue, vintage props and lots of ideas for brides and their families. We have helped a number of brides with wonderful gifts and favors from our line of unique teas and native spice blends!

Floral Naturals from White Hills Farm

This spring, we are featuring our Lavender Calamint Tea, Red Rooibos based for good health, WHF Lavender and GA native Calamint infused for calming luxury and wonderful taste, now packaged in a favor-sized jar for weddings! We have wide smiles as this tea that we developed and blended last year, is a finalist in the “Flavor of Georgia” contest and we will represent it at AG DAY at the Georgia Capitol, this month.

Our Lavender Rooibos

Our Lavender Rooibos

White Hills Farm
Dearing, Georgia 30808
A Fall Line Favorite
Lavender and other Fine Herbs
Weddings and Events
706-595-5081

Elderberry, A Fine Thing for Winter

Here, a simple blurb about a very good thing. Progressive medical research shows that this fine berry syrup could help to halt the replication of some H1N1 beasties. Think of it as the fashionable herbal condiment of choice this winter. Make it, and use it frequently. A single recipe will last you for a while. Our recipe involves low heat, its intent to maintain chemical effectiveness of the elderberry’s constituents. If beset with the flu, immediately start tea made with this syrup three times per day, or take a tablespoon three times per day, as probable immune support.

The basic ingredients

The basic ingredients

White Hills Farm Elderberry Syrup

How do you like yours…..

Relativity. You know, some days you, well, give up. You’ve had it with those opposing internal arguments. You’ve scrapped with them long enough. You throw them in their corners, tell them to stay in their rooms for awhile until they can get along, put them in time out, untidy, niggling internal evaluations.

For example, the head game you play about multiple coffeehouse lattes without a thought vs. same shake of change and two days deliberation over breaking loose with the bucks for a gallon of organic milk. Not that you must choose. Not that there is a “right” thing. Take the independent research that NPR broadcast today about organic whole milk having greater than 60% more active omega three fatty acids than the same non-organic milk. Okay, I turned up the radio. I knew it would find an evidence base, I thought. I slapped the steering wheel. Let the information find a peaceable place within you, I told myself. Don’t go out campaigning with this fantastic new pro-organics evidence or worse generalize the organic milk information without substantiation. Slap-my-own-hand.

After all, we all have to have a little latte splurge, now and then. And, who can drink organic whole milk all the time without piling on the calories?

What? Yes. Oh, yes. Uh, huh. I’ll take a Green Tea Frappucino, with just a little organic whipped cream, please. Spring 025

Fall for Fermentation

Cleaned, chopped and wrapped in linen for one day with no additional moisture added.

Cleaned, chopped and wrapped in linen for one day with no additional moisture added.Blackberry leaves, fresh harvested

Best wild harvest? Let’s say what happens on the roadside, stays on the roadside. There you are, careening down the highway, taking in the roadside floral abundance and you have a wild urge to stop and…

Before the poetry happens, and you stop to pick the bundles of whatever-wildfood-it-is, think about the herbicide that “they” sprayed there in February, in April and again in the blazing heat of summer. Hum. Yes, there is presently a Monet in the burgeoning fall roadside wildflower palette, and a seemingly, redemptive regrowth in frequently plant-annihilated roadside areas…

Enjoy the view, but don’t be misled. Roadside harvest is likely unsafe.

There IS however, a lot to learn about what is blooming and maturing in safer wayside wild harvest spots by eyeing roadside happenings. There is some great news in all this talk of herbicide. Plant bounty is multiplied in warmer climates by extended growth windows and resultant, glorious second blooms. In the garden, the English Lavender is saying a last late, hello!

In the South, those prolific, hearty blackberry plants put on additional leaf and cane material in the fall. It is a second wild harvest boon time as these “new shoot” blackberry end leaves are prime for fermentation and tea making. Tea, you say? Yes, and a process not unlike the great tea-making processes of Asia. It is fall, and prime time for slow ferment. Blackberry leaf tea. Toasty, tannic, healing. Have your blackberries and drink their leaf tea, too!

A tea making process

A tea making process

Rolled warm towels are opened on day two to reveal further oxidation of leaf material

Rolled warm towels are opened on day two to reveal further oxidation of leaf material

 

Fall Workshop — Foraging for Wild Teas

Sunday, September 22nd, 2:00 p.m. until…..

We are hosting a great, afternoon of wild plant foraging that emphasizes field and forest tea plants with culinary and medicinal uses.  A real-live hiking adventure for the backpacking gourmand.  This is a hiking shoesdahlia prince and backpacks, several miles adventure, beware:)

But of course, we will treat you to our own tea blends and refreshments in White Hills Farm style!!

Email Lisa Kessler for registration information at whitehillsfarm@gmail.com or sign-up through your Augusta Locally Grown account.  Limited to adult participants, 18 and over.

Gone to Flower

Late Summer  Renewal

Late Summer Renewal

There is the bending over the garden bed in the spring, to closely examine the hopeful basil’s opposing leaves in shoot. Then, pulling the grass and weeds to allow the thing to move toward mature leafing, toward perpetuation of its aromatic species, toward that moment when one may steal its lovely leaves. Watch and wait. Ahh, life.

This summer, the basils are, well, GLORIOUS, for lack of a less haughty descriptive! A rather high-strung patroness of our farming establishment REFRAINED from her usual impetuous didactic last week, halted in her tracks and blurted, “I have NEVER seen basil as wonderful as this.” See what I mean? So glorious has been this verdant growth that you forget to be sullen, forget to be jealous because you are lost in wonder, drunk with awe like the heads-buried pollinating bees! You cut leaf after gorgeous leaf…

And so on, and so on.

Then, the heavy breath of dog-days-summer is interrupted by a gust of cool northwest wind and you look up to see what is happening, and the basil has gone to seed when you look down. THE END, in big letters, to lush basil leaves…but wait, there is one last hoorah, one last concentrated dash to harvest…

Snip and steal those flowering seed tops, raise them to that northwest wind and…run inside quickly! Lay them on your table, take pictures with your I-PAD and blog about them, hold onto them…slide your hand down the seed stem to release the flowering pods, chop them and cook with them, concentrated little seed tops that they are!

Yes. Even more wonderful, their flowering essence, than early leaves.

Wild Mushroom Dry Saute

Wild Mushroom Saute

Wild Mushroom Saute

Rain. What a tangle, huh? You love it, you pray for it, you sometimes do an Indian rain dance, hoping to shake it out of the anvils. We have had an amazingly rainy Spring and early Summer! Here we are at the Summer Solstice, the near full moon, and the rain has coaxed-out beautiful, brown boletes. Tricky, in Eastern Georgia. Lots of non-edibles. Lots of bitter boletes, on the average. But there is an occasional beauty, standing in the woods on a leafy bed under a canopy of old-growth oak or hemlock. If everything comes together, this beauty may have a sublime likeness to porcini,may be a butter bolete cousin or a prime suillus.

If you find-the-one, what do you do? Admire. Turn over. Look for bug holes and tracks. Many boletes have been the early delicacy of tiny little insects. The key to no-bugs is early retrieval. There are many good books, guides and online resources on the subject. Nothing beats foraging with an accomplished guide. Many mushrooms, including a number of the boletes are not edible.

What do I do when I find that supreme ONE, that quality beauty? Take it home!

Quickly brush off debris, peel the spongy pore layer away from the underside, ever-so-quickly rinse under the sink sprayer and pat dry. With some edible species, like chanterelles, very, very little water is better. (More on that if we get lucky enough to harvest chanterelles this Summer!)

A dry saute utilizes low, stovetop heat. Boletes are sliced across the cap like ordinary agaric mushrooms from the store. Lay slices flat and separated in a non-stick saute pan. No OIL needed! Watch and turn, watch and turn with your spatula until moisture droplets have dissipated from your slices. This only takes two or three minutes. Then, kill the heat!

A toasty brown finish is achieved this way. Oil should be added later, if desired in a specific dish. This procedure nets a concentration of earthy flavor and a non-sticky mushroom slice to add to your favorite mushroom concoctions. Your mushrooms may be stored in a glass jar, carefully sealed, in the freezer for up to 6 months.

What can I say? My beautiful daughters and I have on more than one occasion been identified as, The Mushroom Ladies. There is a slight tendency to, well, GO WILD!

Lavender is not just for aromatherapy! Culinary leanings

English Lavender, Culinary

English Lavender, Culinary

Let’s face it. It is hard to find a gentleman who is amazed by lavender. A chef-friend and her guy pal came out for dinner a week or two ago. I took him to the lavender, you know, to show him what it looked like, to stick some under his nose and to make me feel good about tending it all through the winter, spring, summer, fall, winter, spring…you get the picture. And I quote the guy pal, here, who said in amazement, “That smells really good. There’s more than one kind? I didn’t know there was more than one kind of lavender!” I gave a short discourse, talk of bees ensued and the amazement was brief but very gratifying, and yes, there are hundreds of types of lavenders.

Academic lavender confusion is so great that mystical musings and new cultivars constantly cloud the academic texts. What I mean to say is that lavender loves to morph on its own and folks love, well, morphing it, so there are always new breeds. One breed is better because it has long spikes, one because it has precious esters, and so on.

Sometimes an ugly ducking, but always a winner in my culinary garden, is English Lavender. It is, officially, the sweetest cooking lavender. I grow several English cultivars, and not unlike wine grapes, each brings its own bouquet to cooking.

We sell it, when we find someone knowledgeable enough to know the difference in our hand grown and the two-year-old stuff you can order in bags, online. I have nothing against the two-year-old European stuff (as a throwaway at weddings). But, seriously, no REAL culinary venture with lavender is as satisfying as including newly dried, just popped off the stem, lusciously purple Angustifolia bursting buds in your scones!

It can surely be said, scouts honor, there is nothing like it. Yes, you can. Yes, you should. Cook with newly harvested English buds. Lavender sugar, peaches, strawberries, jams! Stay tuned. Recipes coming this week.

Our culinary lavender is now for sale.

Find us online at Augusta Locally Grown or email us at whitehillsfarm@gmail.com to purchase new culinary lavender!

Lavender Newsflash!

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English Lavender Making Its Debut

English Lavender Making Its Debut

We are very happy to be recently placed onsite with “Everything Lavender” under US Farms to See, National Listing!! Come out and smell the lavender….

The lavenders currently blooming for us are:

Stoechas types: The aromatherapy “Butterflies”
Dentata types: Elegant single wands, interesting dentate leaves
Angustafolia types: Dainty, brilliantly colored and sweet — the English, culinary “best” varieties
Heterophylla: Strong, waving, single wands — Glamorous

Glowing starts!

Glowing starts!

Using Wild Garlic

lemon lavender 001

SOMEONE who grows cultivated garlic recently challenged me with his sulfite content. Okay, I admit, his garlic IS bigger. HOWEVER, in reliable studies, wild garlic has been shown to have nearly five times the beneficial sulphurous compounds that cultivated garlic habits. Wild garlic takes on the attributes of the environment in which it is raised. Terroir. It is all that the land, climate and weather naturally bring to the art and science of growing things. In Georgia, we have the base elements for perfect onion “terroir”. Just look at those gorgeous Vidalias. People hankering after them by the bag! I’m just saying….

Perhaps the greatest challenge is what to do with so much wild garlic! As the locavores would suggest, when in season, use it.

A great “wild and green” chef shared a secret recipe, suggesting that the key to wild garlic is slicing it whole, like an onion, in thin little slices. For dressing or marinade, place 3-6 sliced wild garlic cloves in 2 T. of cider or White Hills Farm Herb Vinegar and allow to “marry” for 5 minutes. Then, whisk in 3 T. of good olive oil and, Voila! Dress salads, vegetables and marinate meats with a healthful, seasonal punch. Go wild!

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