Farmers Daughter Herbs

 
 
 
 
bay(Laurus Nobilis)

The past few weeks I have had fun passing out samples of bay leaves. I have heard everything from “It smells like when I was a kid at home,” to “How long does it have to dry before Ican use it?”  With a steady supply coming from San Francisco, I hope to increase the interest and use of bay by you chefs. A Mediterranean native, bay is one of the earliest herbs known to man. Ancient Greeks and Romans used it to flavor food and drinks. To them, bay was a sacred tree—an emblem of glory. Heroes were crowned with bay wreaths and poets garlanded with bay laurel leaves; thus the origin of the title  'poet laureate'.  Leaves, berries, and the bark of the bay tree have all been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates. An infusion of bay leaves will stimulate appetite and soothe aching joints. Do chefs ever have aching joints? To discourage small bugs from your food storage area,simply scatter bay leaves on the shelves.The culinary uses of bay are numerous. It is an essential part of bouquet garni and alone is used for stocks, stews, sauces, and is an absolute necessity for marinades. Try adding a bay leaf to the boiling water of new potatoes, carrots, or artichokes. Infused with milk, bay adds flavor to white sauces and soufles.To be different, use a bay leaf with an edible flower as your plate garnish.Bay can even dress up an ordinary baked potato—With a sharp knife, make a deep slit in the long side of each potato, cutting about three-quarters of the way through. Insert a bay leaf as far as it will go into each slit. Rub skin of potato with butter and bake. Remove bay leaf and serve. A mild bay flavor will be all through the potato.

 
Neither witch nor devil,
thunder or lightening,
will hurt a man
where a bay tree is.
N. Culpeper
 

by Dorothy L Gifford