Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Don’t Know Nothin’ ’Bout Lemon Verbena

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Went to the farmers’ market first thing this morning.  The list was pretty long today because Farmer MacGregor wants a special Fathers’ Day meal.  Things aren’t mature enough in the garden to fulfill his wishes.  Eggs, beets, cherries, green beans, onions, zucchini, red potatoes, and a small pot of herbs – Lemon Verbena.  The Lemon Verbena was one of those items that really isn’t needed; but, dang it, I wanted it.  They didn’t have any horehound that I need to use as a repellent to grasshoppers.  I was won over by the Lemon Verbena.

I’ve never grown this herb before and figure it grows like most all herbs – full sun, well drained soil, more dry than wet conditions – perfect for my garden.  If I’m wrong, please let me know.  There are all kinds of uses for the clean, sharp lemon scented leaves.  My plan is to add the dried leaves to dried lavender buds to make potpourris.  However, I’ve noticed some interesting recipes using this herb.  Both of my garden gnomes LOVE lemon curd and I think they might enjoy this lemon custard recipe:

Lemon Custard with Lemon Verbena

14 2- to 2 1/2-inch-long fresh or dried lemon verbena leaves (optional)
10 2 x 1/2-inch strips lemon peel (yellow part only)
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine first 3 ingredients in medium saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 4 minutes. Add sugar; simmer until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Stir in cream. Whisk yolks to blend in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture. Whisk in lemon juice.  Strain custard through sieve into 4-cup measuring cup. Divide among six 2-cup ramekins or soufflĂ© dishes. Cover ramekins with foil. Place ramekins in 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.  Bake custards until just set, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let custards cool in water in pan. Transfer ramekins to refrigerator. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve chilled.

Serves 6

Did you know that In Gone with the Wind, lemon verbena is mentioned as Scarlet O'Hara's mother's favorite plant?  Feeling smart?  Do you know the name of Scarlet O’Hara’s mother?

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There entered with her the faint fragrance of lemon verbena sachet, which seemed always to creep from the folds of her dresses, a fragrance that was always linked in Scarlett’s mind with her mother. – Margaret Mitchell 

Danged good writing, Ms. Mitchell.

3 comments:

dorothy said...

I have had lemon verbena growing for four years. I started it from a cutting, and it has spread but not so much as to be invasive. It's not much to look at, but I love passing by and crushing the leaves. Mine is planted in dry shade and seems happy there. I also have lemon balm, which is a member of the mint family, but it has to be contained. Sorry, but I don't know Miss Scarlet's Mama's name! (And thanks for the recipe. Might have to try it!)

SixBalloons said...

I love lemon verbena and first discovered it about four years ago. If you have it in a small planter, watch for woody stems!

Aunt Snow said...

I love lemon verbena! You'll enjoy growing it.

Scarlett's mother's name was Ellen, I believe. When I started writing this comment, I was blanking but then it popped into my head.