Herb of the Year for 2020: Blackberries, raspberries, and their cousins (Rubus ssp.) Named by the International Herb Association
Flower of the Month for March: Daffodil
March is National Women’s History Month
March Feature: A Wafel Frolic!
March 6: On this day in 1899, aspirin was patented by Felix Hoffman of the German company, Bayer.
March 7: The birthday of American horticulturist Luther Burbank, born 1849. He developed many new varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. A Burbank favorite: the Shasta daisy.
March 14: National Potato Chip Day.
March 15: Ides of March (beware!)
March 16: On this day in 1915, absinthe (a liqueur made from the herb wormwood) was banned in France
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day. The luck o’ the Irish to you!
March 19: The Vernal Equinox occurs at 11:50 p.m. EDT, when we welcome the official arrival of spring.
March 23: Today is the birthday (1857) of Fannie Farmer, who wrote the Fannie Farmer Cook Book.
March 25: Waffles of the world, frolic! Today is International Waffle Day!
March 30: National Hot Dog Day. Pass the mustard, please.
The waffle is descended from the oublie, a flat cake cooked between two hot metal plates and stamped with a crucifix, used in the celebration of the Eucharist. Sometime in the thirteenth century, a craftsman forged the plates in a honeycomb pattern. In Holland, the resulting cake was called a wafel. The word seems to have first appeared in America in 1744, when a guest at a party featuring elaborate waffles remarked: “I was not a little grieved that so luxurious a feast should have come under the name of a wafel frolic.”
There are a great different kinds of waffles, based on the shape of the iron that is used to bake them. Waffles are enjoyed around the world, but particularly in Europe and the United States. You can read more mouth-watering waffle history here.
Of course, nobody loves a naked waffle. Perhaps you prefer dressing yours up with strawberries, chocolate, bananas, sugar, honey, syrups, or even ice cream.
And there’s no law that says that waffles are just for breakfast. Why not plan a waffle frolic for brunch, lunch, or supper? Herbed waffles with creamed chicken or Southwestern waffles with sausage and salsa are bound to get rave reviews from anybody lucky enough to enjoy a plateful. If you’re short on ideas, here are two frolicsome recipes.
Waffles with Savory Herbs
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
5 ounces unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Heat butter and milk until butter is melted. Cool slightly. Whisk eggs into butter/milk mixture. Stir in fresh herbs. Sift dry ingredients together and add to liquid ingredients, stirring just to mix. Bake waffles according to waffle iron instructions, greasing iron well. Excellent with creamed chicken. Serves 4.
Waffles with a Southwestern Flavor
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chile powder (mild or hot)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 2/3 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped green chiles
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro (please omit if you’re inviting China Bayles)
Preheat the waffle iron. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, chili powder, cumin, and cheese. Beat milk and eggs together; add oil. Stir in the chiles and cilantro. Add to the dry ingredients, mixing only until moistened. Mixture will have a few lumps. Bake in preheated waffle maker, following manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with salsa, sour cream, more grated cheese. Makes 5 large waffles
Celebrate National Women’s History Month by finding out who Fannie Farmer was and why she is important. Hint: How would you like to follow a recipe that calls for “a piece of butter the size of a duck’s egg”?
Learn about the history of aspirin. Then read about willow bark as an herbal pain reliever. If the subject really fascinates you, you can dig deeper with Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug.
On the Ides of March, find out what all the fuss is about. Here are some traditional ways to defend yourself.
- Hang a bunch of dill over a child’s bed to protect against evil fairies.
- If you’re concerned about dishonesty, plots, or secrets, place borage leaves or blossoms nearby and listen in. (Borage is said to encourage people to tell the truth. Maybe we should adopt it as our national herb?)
- Wear angelica to protect yourself against evil spirits (but be aware that it may also keep you from seeing potential opportunities). Brew a tea it and sprinkle a few drops in the corners of your house.
Take a virtual tour of Luther Burbank’s home and gardens in Santa Rosa CA, and find out what Burbank did to create the Shasta daisy. (You knew, of course, that the daisy is an herb—didn’t you?) For more on Burbank and his plant breeding business, read Jane Smith’s interesting, informative biography, The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants.
Cook up some zippy horseradish mustard to go with that hot dog on National Hot Dog Day.
Listen to one of Susan’s podcasts about the lore and magic of herbs. Each one is fun—and you’ll learn something you didn’t know about your favorite herb!
Find out what Susan is up to these days by visiting her blog, Lifescapes. There’s always something interesting going on in the Texas Hill Country. On her “other” blog, BookScapes, she posts book reviews, bookish thoughts, and notes on the fast-changing world of books