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