As many of you know, we are preparing our home in the Sacramento Valley to sell, so we can eventually move up to our future homestead. One chore for dear hubby last weekend was to trim the bushes in our backyard to make it look more tidy, which included the huge rosemary bush that was threatening to completely engulf our pool deck and take a plunge!
Every year at Christmastime I enjoy decorating with rosemary. It is a beautiful evergreen bush that smells absolutely devine. In fact, all I usually do is take a few sprigs (about the same amount in the picture above) and tie a beautiful red ribbon around the top! Simple, beautiful, elegant. I also enjoy cooking with rosemary, so instead of throwing all the beautiful herb into the compost pile, I decided to dehydrate some to keep on hand.
The first thing to do with the rosemary is to strip the leaves off it’s woody stem. If you plan to barbecue, save the stems to use as shish kabob sticks! They add a wonderful flavor to meats (excellent on lamb and chicken) and most vegetables. If you are using them right away, you are good to go. Otherwise soak them for an hour or two before using them, so they don’t burn.
Next, thoroughly rinse the leaves in cold water. Then rinse again. It’s amazing how much dirt the rosemary will give up when washed! I think it holds onto dirt because of the amount of oils held in the leaves. Anyway, I washed mine four times before I didn’t see dirty/cloudy water anymore!
Next, spread the leaves out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, or put into your dehydrator. That’s it. Seriously! They dry nicely in a day or two on the parchment paper, or in just a few hours in a dehydrator. I put mine into a spice bottle, but you can just as easily store yours in a mason jar with a lid.
One of my favorite recipes to use rosemary is in focaccia bread. The recipe below uses both rosemary, parmesan cheese and sea salt. It is so good as is, but would also make an excellent pizza crust. You can cut the bread into strips for dipping into a marinara sauce or perhaps the iconic balsamic vinegar/olive oil mixture. Or, just eat it plain out of the oven. If you roll it pretty flat before baking, you can also use the focaccia as a sandwich bread. So good!
ROSEMARY and PARMESAN CHEESE FOCACCIA BREAD
1 tsp raw white sugar 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 packet active dry yeast 2 tbsps olive oil
1/3 cup warm water 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp parmesan/ shred 1 tbsp rosemary, roughly chopped
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let it stand about 10 minutes until it is frothy. In a large bowl, combine the flour and yeast mixture, adding water 1 tbsp at a time to make a soft dough. knead briefly on a lightly floured surface. Place into a lightly oiled large bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until approximately doubled, which takes about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times. On a lightly oiled cookie sheet, roll or pat the dough out to an approximately 12″ circle. Brush with 1-2 tbsps of olive oil, sprinkle salt over, then rosemary, then parmesan. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until crust is golden.
Dearest hubby also found that some of the rosemary had rooted itself, so we pulled these up and put into a bucket of water. The next time we go up to the future homestead, this rosemary will be planted on a downward slope that is right next to our fruit and nut orchard. Not only will this be a great start of rosemary on the future homestead for eventual cooking, but deer do not like the scent of Rosemary, and doing this will deter them from the orchard.
Do you cook with rosemary? An old friend of mine makes cookies with rosemary – I must remember to get her recipe!
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