August 6, 2010

It's About Thyme

So what can you do with the herb thyme?  It is very versatile when preparing food.  It enhances eats, fish, sausage, eggs, and cheese and soups.  It blends well with the flavors of garlic, basil, and lemon.  So use it with the fresh garden vegetables you're getting this summer.  Thyme can even enhance some fruit desserts like applesauce, rhubarb and berry cobblers.  Thyme is simple to grow, too, because it actually does best in relatively poor soil. 
There are over 200 varieties of thyme.  My favorite is lemon thyme, which I currently have planted in my back yard.  It has grown like a bush.  When I mow my yard, I purposely mow a corner of it so the fragrance is released and I can smell that amazing lemon thyme scent!

Since ancient times, thyme has been associated with courage and has been used as a natural antidepressant.

In the Middle Ages, ladies embroidered images of thyme on scarves for their knights to wear in battle, believing it would give them courage.  The Romans put thyme in their bathwater to give themselves courage and strength before battle. They also used thyme to treat depression.

So how did thyme get this reputation?  The scent of thyme is invigorating and pleasant. It  is considered a circulatory system stimulant and is said to raise low blood pressure, which is often a cause of lethargy and depression.
     People once believed that fairies made their homes in thyme patches, so families often planted a patch specifically to encourage fairies to feel at home in their garden!
      When the Greeks said that someone "smelled of thyme" it meant that the person was elegant, refined, and stylish.  Quite a compliment!

      The next time you're feeling depressed or need that extra courage and energy to face the day, try smelling a bit of thyme. Or drink some thyme tea. Let us know how it works!   I'm not sure you'll want to embroider an image of thyme on your clothes like the Middle Ages ladies, but it's something to think about!

      Fresh Tomato Soup (with thyme)
      (Not as easy as opening a soup can, but certainly better tasting!)

      1/2 cup chopped onion
      1/4 cup butter or margarine
      1/4 cup flour
      2 cups water
      6 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
      1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
      1-1/2 teaspoons salt
      1 teaspoon sugar
      1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
      1 bay leaf
      1/4 teaspoon pepper
      Thin lemon slices (optional)

      In a large saucepan, cook onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour to form a smooth paste.  Gradually add water, stirring until thickened.

      Add the tomatoes, parsley, salt, sugar, thyme, bay leaf and pepper; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer until tomatoes are tender (approx 30 minutes).  Remove bay leaf.  Garnish with lemon.

      This recipe makes 4  servings (1-1/4 cups each serving).

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