Let’s Talk About Herbs

Let’s Talk About Mint

Let’s Talk About Mint 995 995 windermere


Also known as mentha, it is estimated that there are 13-18 different varieties of mint. All very fragrant whether shiny or fuzzy, smooth or crinkled, bright green, dark green or variegated you can always tell a member of the mint family by its square stem. Rolling the stem between your fingers you will notice a pungent scent that will make you think of sweet teas, peppermint patties, candy canes or mojitos.

Mint is known to have originated in the Mediterranean region and Asia it has been known throughout history for its many benefits such as;

• The Greeks used mint to clean their banqueting tables and they would also add it to their baths.
• Romains used it as a mouth freshener and to aid in digestion
• Medieval Monks used it for medicinal and culinary purposes.
• Mint symbolized hospitality in many cultures as it was offered as a sign of friendship and was given to welcome guests
• The name mint was derived from the Ancient Greek mythical character Minthe.
• It is said Hades, the god of the underworld, fell in love with Minthe. When Hades wife Persephone found out, she turned Minthe into a plant. Unable to undo the spell Hades gave Minthe a wonderful aroma so that when she was walked on he would smell her

The oil derived from mint is used for flavoring in toothpaste, teas, chewing gum and liquor. It was and still is often used to aid in indigestion or heartburn, colds, cramps, headaches, stress, anxiety, nausea and diarrhea. It is an ingredient used in many different aromatherapy options and is used in some perfumes and in many cosmetics. Mint oil can also be found in many environmentally friendly insecticide and pesticide options that to help detour mice, ants, spiders or flies and has been used to kill pests like wasps, hornets and cockroaches.

This perennial herb with purple flowers is as pretty to look at as it is functional. It will grow up to over three feet tall and thrives in moist but well drained places, which is why it is often found on the banks water sources. It prefers a part shaded area and requires minimal care. It will spread year after year and in some cases is deemed invasive. It is supposed to be a good companion plant, when planted in your veggie gardens or patio gardens it will repel pesky insects and attract beneficial insects. Harvesting mint leaves can be done anytime, it is best to use fresh leaves immediately or store in plastic bags in the fridge for a few days. Another option would be to freeze or dry mint leaves to use at a later date.

Recipes using Mint


Mint Jelly


– 2 cups water

– 1 cup white vinegar

– 1 cup fresh mint leaves, lightly packed

– 6 drops green food colouring

– 6½ cups sugar

– 1 bottle (6oz.) pectin or 2 pouches


Combine all the ingredients except the pectin in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then add the pectin. Heat to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove the mint leaves and pour liquid into jars. Seal immediately. Makes 7 cups


This recipe is from a recipe book called “Barefoot in the Kitchen” that was put together by the Windermere Women’s Institute and can be purchased at both our locations for $20.00


More Recipes

Here are some links to a few more yummy recipes we have found using Mint.  We would like to know what your favorite recipes using fresh herbs are, find us on Facebook and share your recipes with us.


Hearty Chicken Gyros



Chocolate Mint Brownies 



Mojito Slushy



Happy Cooking!


Lets Talk About Parsley

Lets Talk About Parsley 450 450 windermere


Native to the Central and Southern Mediterranean regions and a member of the Dill Family, parsley has been cultivated for more than 2000 years. Being used medicinally for many years before it was used as a culinary ingredient. There are two main types of parsley, curly leaf and flat-leaf Italian. Both have similar tastes and are both however the flat leaf is a bit stronger in flavor and is found to be easier to grow. The curly-leaf is often preferred for its pretty decorative appearance. The third type, hamburg root parsley is used more in the middle east and not seen much in the U.S. and Canada.

When planting parsley it is best if they are started indoors about six weeks before they can go into the garden. When transplanting into your garden, put them into a sunny spot and keep the soil damp during the season.

Although parsley was known to have a multitude of positive health benefits with many magical and unusual uses, throughout its history it was also known to have a dark side and was connected with death and the devil. Here are a few legends and myths I found about parsley that I thought were interesting.

• Parsley takes a long time to germinate, it used to be said that the reason for this is because it had to visit the devil nine times before the seeds sprouted.
• It was served with meat in order to calm the spirit of the animal
• It apparently grows best in the garden of where the female is more powerful than the male
• In Ancient Greece it was the herb which most symbolized death, it was thrown on graves of the dead
• According to old wives tales only the wicked can grow it

Over the years parsley became more and more appreciated for its medicinal values. It has Several B vitamins, Vitamin A & K, beta-carotene and contains more vitamin C then most citrus fruits. It is also full of magnesium, copper, iodine, iron, calcium and potassium. Parsley has enzymes that are antifungal and antibacterial and has been known to help boost the immune system. Here is a list of ailments it is known to help.

– Balances Hormones – Eye Health
– Treats Bad Breath – Eases Joint Pain
– Colds – Pain Relief
– Heart Health – Boosts Metabolism

This is just a small list of all the medicinal benefits parsley can be used for. So I guess we should be paying more attention to that green sprig that is placed on your plate as a pretty garnish.

Recipes using Parsley

Chinese Salad

Salad Ingredients

• 1 cup mushrooms, finely sliced
• 1 cup of bean sprouts
• Juice form ½ a lemon
• 3 stalks of celery, diced
• 2 cups of cooked rice (cooled)
• 1 green bell pepper, diced
• 1/3 cup of raisins (optional)
• 2 tbsp. of parsley, chopped
• ¼ green onions
• 1 cup of cashews

Dressing Ingredients

• ¼ cup of soy sauce
• ½ cup of oil
• 1 cup garlic clove, finely crushed


Salad – Sprinkle mushrooms with lemon juice and place in a large salad bowl. Add other ingredients and set aside.
Salad Dressing – combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix together.

Pour dressing over salad, toss and let marinate for one hour before serving.

This recipe is from a recipe book called “Barefoot in the Kitchen” that was put together by the Windermere Women’s Institute and can be purchased at both our locations for $20.00


More Recipes

Here are some links to a few more yummy recipes we have found using parsley.  We would like to know what your favorite recipes with fresh herbs are, find us on Facebook and share your recipes with us.


Pomegranate-Parsley Tabbouleh




Green Goddess Mac & Cheese



Parsley Potatoes


                 Happy Cooking!

Let’s Talk About: Basil

Let’s Talk About: Basil 374 243 windermeregardencentre6721


A member of the mint family, basil is one of the earliest known herbs and has been cultivated for over 5000 years. With over 60 different varieties, it is one of the most used herbs in cooking around the world. Basil originated in India and Thailand where it was also used medicinally as well as for cooking.

Throughout history Basil was thought to almost have magical powers and was used in many different ways by many different cultures. Here a few we thought were interesting.

• Early romans thought it caused insanity
• European lovers exchanged sprigs of basil as a symbol of faithfulness it was also placed in hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey
• Jewish folklore suggest it adds strength while fasting
• It was used for an antidote for snake bites
• In Medieval Times some believed that basil was for good and helped to cheer the spirit and clearing of the brain where as others thought basil was poisonous
• Ancient Egyptians used basil in mummies during the embalming process
• Ancient Greeks believed that to have a successful basil crop you had to shout and swear at the seeds while planting

Basil is full of iron, vitamin K and beta carotene and is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant agents. It has been used medicinally as a remedy for common health issues. Here are few of the many maladies it is said to help.

• the common cold – anxiety and depression
• gas, nausea and indigestion – memory loss
• headaches – managing arthritis
• improved brain function and memory – fights bacterial infections

When planted it does best in a well-drained, full sun spot, it is sensitive to cold so be sure to plant after the risk of frost is over, it likes rich moist soil but will grow practically anywhere. It is said to enhance the growth of tomatoes and peppers and protect them from insects.

Don’t forget to shout and swear at your seeds when you are planting them

Recipes using Basil

Basil Pesto

It can be used in Italian recipes, tomato sauces, on pizza, chicken or fish. It also freezes well.


– 2 cups of packed fresh basil – 2/3 cup olive oil
– 1 clove of garlic – dash of salt
– ¼ cup pine nuts – ½ cup parmesan cheese
– 2 tbsp. lemon juice


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, place into a dish and enjoy!

This recipe is from a recipe book called “Barefoot in the Kitchen” that was put together by the Windermere Women’s Institute and can be purchased at both our locations for $20.00


Here are some links to a few more yummy recipes we have found using Basil.  We would like to know what your favorite recipes using fresh herbs are, find us on Facebook and share your recipes with us.


Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad



Thai Chicken with Basil



Strawberry-Basil Agua Fresca



           Happy Cooking!