Tag Archives: cooking

Basil Variety Exists

On the grocery store herb rack there is one variety of basil. This might lead a person to think only one basil variety exists.

basil variety Sweet or Mammoth
This is the variety of basil I usually grow. Mammoth or sweet basil lives up to its name. The plant can be three feet tall with large crinkled leaves. It is not very compact. This variety tastes much like the market dried variety.

The herb pages in seed catalogs might disillusion the prospective gardener, if that one looks at these pages. I rarely do.

A friend gave me a purple opal basil plant one year. It was interesting to grow.

basil variety Purple Opal
I’m not sure what gives this variety of basil the deepest color. Purple Opal is a smaller plant and bushy. The flavor is mildly spicy.

The local market has a greenhouse set up for another local company to display transplants in every spring. I browse the shelves simply because I like to see what is available.

basil variety Genovese
Genovese basil is said to be the best for pesto. The plant is large and a vigorous grower. The flavor is intense and spicy enough to make it hard to keep a half leaf in the mouth very long.

I raise my own seedlings or try to every spring. They get a late start due to temperature and light challenges so are never as big as those transplants. However I get to raise the varieties I want to grow instead of the standard ones available.

basil variety Cinnamon
The leaves on Cinnamon basil are not the crinkly ones of other basils. They are also a bit smaller. When I tried chewing on half a leaf, I discarded it before I really tasted it as my mouth heated up like with a spicy hot pepper or a wild spearmint leaf.

By the end of May most people in my area have put in their gardens. The past few years they’ve done this twice due to late frosts. My seedlings get a chance to catch up in the house safe from such weather vagaries.

basil variety Lemon
I expected a basil flavor from the leaf of Lemon basil I tried. It was there behind a tangy lemon flavor. The plant has a yellow tinge to it. It is larger than Siam, but not big like Genovese and is tightly bushy.

Some transplants are left behind and put on drastic sale. This year those leftovers included six varieties of basil. I succumbed to temptation.

basil variety Siam
Siam basil is a compact, decorative plant. It does have a nice basil flavor, but not as intense as the other varieties I grew this year. It is a pretty plant with green leaves and dark red stem tips.

My tomatoes are now accompanied by six varieties of basil: Mammoth or sweet basil; Purple Opal basil; Siam Basil; Cinnamon basil; Genovese basil; and Lemon basil. What I will do with such a basil variety in my kitchen, I’m not sure.

In the meantime the plants are big and healthy. They are blooming. (I know I should harvest the leaves before the plants bloom, but everything is behind this year. I will pinch them back and get them to branch out again.)

All of the varieties have a typical leaf shape, although the size varies. Their coloring varies.

Now I need six paper bags. Why? Each basil variety will go in a labeled bag, closed and put in the refrigerator to dry. This method works very well.

Cooking is important to Hazel Whitmore in Broken Promises, Old Promises and Mistaken Promises. Recipes are included in the books.

Hazel’s Cooking Challenges

“Mistaken Promises” is written. Now I’m finishing all the fact checking. Then there is Hazel’s cooking.

Broken Promises

Back in “Broken Promises” Hazel learned to cook. Then it was a way to cope with her grief and anger. She discovered she liked to cook.

Old Promises

In “Old Promises” Hazel chooses a 4-H Cooking Project. Her cooking becomes more adventurous. The recipe sections at the back of each book get bigger. This continues in this third book in the series.

I grew up in a time when fast food was getting going. People cooked at home. Cookbooks were kept on a kitchen shelf for easy access. My shelf has about twenty different cookbooks.

pepper for Hazel's cooking

Recipes usually call for green peppers. My problem is the bitterness of these. Instead I’ve discovered colored bell peppers with an array of flavors and no bitterness. This gold bell pepper has a mildly spicy taste.

Hazel’s recipes are based on recipes in my cookbooks. This is when Hazel’s cooking and my cooking clash.

My milk comes from the goat barn. some of my milk becomes cheese. My eggs come from the hen house. My tomato sauce with its garlic, onions and bell peppers comes from my garden.

milk for Hazel's cooking

Refer to milk and Americans think of cow’s milk. I raise Nubian dairy goats and have goat milk in my refrigerator. It is unpasteurized. Goat’s milk and cow’s milk cooks much the same. The real difference is between using raw milk and pasteurized milk. Raw milk must be scalded (heated to 150 degrees and cooled) for many recipes such as breads and custards. Otherwise the milk will sour during cooking and sour the food.

Hazel gets milk, eggs, cheese, tomato sauce and other vegetables from the market.

I use lots of whole wheat flour, carob, little sugar, little salt and no black pepper in my cooking. Hazel uses white flour, sugar, salt and pepper in her cooking.

tomatoes for Hazel's cooking

Comparing store and garden tomatoes leaves the store variety in the chicken yard. chickens have no taste buds. Garden tomatoes come in hundreds of varieties suited to a cook’s purposes. These are paste or plum tomatoes with thick flesh and small seed cavities inside for making sauces.

Some of Hazel’s cooking is entered in the county fair in “Mistaken Promises.” One recipe is for a frosted chocolate cake.

I am in trouble.

I do bake cake. I do have an excellent recipe for chocolate cake. Except I cut the sugar in half and substitute carob for chocolate. I haven’t frosted a cake or made frosting in a very long time.

Meat loaf, cornbread, beef stew, zucchini bread and crepes don’t concern me very much. I do variations on the recipes, true. But my variations don’t change the recipes enough to be

eggs for Hazel's cooking

Chickens are great homestead livestock. The brown one is a salmon Favorelle. The white one is a white rock. There are so many breeds and colors. Fresh eggs are different too. People think about having brown or white eggs. The shell color is not as important (unless you eat them) as what is inside. Fresh eggs from my chickens have rich orange yolks from all the greens the chickens eat. This makes them a disaster in white cake (the cake becomes yellow cake). The whites are thick. The size varies, not all extra large or jumbo or whatever. Two small eggs are roughly a jumbo egg.

worrisome.

That frosted chocolate cake scares me.

Hazel’s cooking is an important part of her books. It’s not part of the plot, but it is her way of coping with stress. It is part of what makes her Hazel.

And preparing the recipes as they appear in Hazel’s cooking section in the books is important.

Where are those chocolate cake and frosting recipes?