Make Merry with Rosemary

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The shortest day of the year approaches and `tis the season to bring

boughs of evergreen into the home. In ancient Egypt palm leaves were

brought inside for Winter Solstice as a reminder of life and the sun

god Ra's recovery from illness/darkness. During the same time of year,

the Romans paid homage to Saturn, god of seeds and sowing, with the

fest Saturnalia. Among the usual ancient Roman party themes, green

boughs festooned the 'toriums. The Druids and the Vikings brought the

evergreen Mistletoe inside their homes. Martin Luther dragged

Christmas trees inside and the English decked the halls with Holly so

the fairy folk could hide behind it - forever cinching the red & green

color scheme for the holidays.

As a little nod to a long tradition, there are twigs of rosemary

(Rosmarinus) in your HealthCases this week. Ever-a-green this

wonderful herb has been part of folklore, cuisine, and medicine since

ancient times. This rosemary has been carefully selected and

organically cultivated by the good folks at Coke Farm in San Juan

Bautista, the cool eucalyptus-edged area west of Salinas.

To be an evergreen plant takes fortitude and terpenes, a compound that

creates essential oils. Evergreens like eucalyptus and pine share this

chemical bond with rosemary that gives them strong aromatic qualities.

Originating from the Mediterranean scrublands, rosemary is an herb

that preserves well. A drying wind (or a microwave oven) will

evaporate its water and preserve the potent oils that give rosemary

its flavor and aroma. Dried rosemary should be almost as good a fresh.

Rosemary is a lovely and healthy addition to a number of dishes

especially soups and stews. Add near the end of cooking for peak

flavor. It pairs well with roasted meats and roasted root vegetables.

You can strip the branch of its needles and chop them finely, or

simple stick the branches among the roasting veggies, or inside a lamb

or pork loin. It also makes a refreshing tea: 1 tsp of crushed dried

leaves in 8 oz. of boiling water; steep 10 minutes. As for medicinal

properties, rosemary helps relax the muscles of the digestive tract;

is warming; and deemed to promote good memory. This makes it a natural

to bring into our homes in the cloudy days of winter.

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."

-Shakespeare's Hamlet to Ophelia


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