Tag Archives: oregano

Dried Oregano

Home Grown & Dried Oregano | Oysters & Pearls

I have been cutting back an unruly oregano plant in my herb garden for a year now.  It puts roots down everywhere it touches, and it grows more like a weed than anything else.  It’s beautiful though, and the bees love the flowers, so I can’t be mad.  I just keep cutting it back so it doesn’t take over the patio by way of smothering the entire herb garden.  However, a couple of weeks ago I was cutting it back yet again, and the idea hit me almost as hard as the aroma of fresh oregano: why don’t I dry my own oregano instead of using {insert cheap brand of store-bought oregano here}?  Fun drinking game: take a sip every time I say the word “oregano.” Ready, Go!

On Growing Oregano | Oysters & Pearls

To give you an idea of what I’m working with… This started as a VERY small oregano plant from Native Nurseries in Tallahassee.  It was in a pot with TWO other herbs (rosemary and lemon verbena).  Well, it suffocating the lemon verbena, and I took the rosemary out before the oregano claimed another victim.  That’s a stray zinnia to the back right of the oregano.  We had a monsoon after we planted everything else from seed in the herb garden, so my carefully planted layout got artfully rearranged by the flood.  That’s remnant rainbow chard to the left of the oregano that is still kicking from winter.

Flowering Oregano | Oysters & Pearls

The flowering is pretty intense on this big guy, but I don’t even worry about it, because there’s plenty for the bees, butterflies, and for me.

Tips for Growing Oregano | Oysters & Pearls

In case you wanted a close-up of the leaves, here ya go.  Doesn’t look like the stuff that comes out of the bottle with the red top, does it?

Essentially, I just cut long stalks like this off at the ground, bunched them up, with the cut sides all even, and tied them up with kitchen twine.  I also failed to take a picture of this step.  Helpful, I know.  However, there’s nothing to it.  Just tie them up and hang them in a dry room in your house.  I hung my bunches in the laundry room, where the dryer keeps everything nice and toasty.  After two weeks, everything will be sufficiently dried!

Growing & Drying Oregano | Oysters & Pearls

On the left are the dried stems of oregano.  On the right are the leftovers.  Hold a stem by the cut end with one hand, and loosely pinch your other hand’s fingertips around the stem.  Run your fingers down the stem to strip all the leaves off into a bowl and discard the stems.  I’m storing my oregano in a small mason jar, but whatever blows your skirt up will work.

We had a salad topped with oregano the night I did this, and we have had it on every salad since! It is SO much more flavorful than the store-bought stuff.  If you’re already growing (and probably cutting back) your own oregano, I cannot recommend drying it enough!  Plus, it’s way prettier, and you totes get Martha Stewart-esque street cred.

Snapped this picture of Wallace while I was snapping pics of the oregano outside.  What a cutie!  So glad we brought that kitten home.

Wallace at Six Weeks | Oysters & Pearls

And on a totally unrelated note… we have CUKES!!! Teeny, tiny, adorable cucumbers.  Yay for victory gardens!

Itty Bitty Cucumber | Oysters & Pearls

Hoping this bodes well for the rest of our garden!  We are a little behind since we started from seed, so we were really excited about this major development in the backyard.

Happy Friday, y’all!

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Baked Shrimp n Grits

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know what I’m going to be posting about today.  If so, forget the leftovers you already saw and focus on this.

I love cheese grits.  I love shrimp.  I love anything that is essentially a conduit for hot sauce.  Enter shrimp and grits.

Baked Shrimp 'n Grits, via Oysters & Pearls

This recipe is an easy baked version that takes about 20 minutes of prep and an hour of bake time.  I got the recipe for the baked cheese grits from a coworker back at Christmas time, and I’ve been meaning to try it with shrimp for a while now.  It was a hit!  Easy and quick to assemble, then I get an hour to clean up (which was minimal) and work on whatever hundred other projects I inevitably have going on.

Shrimp N Grits, via Oysters & Pearls

Shrimp N Grits, via Oysters & Pearls 2

Baked Shrimp and Grits Casserole

– 6 cups water

– 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits, dry

– 3/4 stick of salted butter (6 Tablespoons)

– 1 pound block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

– 2 teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

– 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or 5 teaspoons of Crystal, if you’re an addict like me)

– 2 teaspoons salt (only if using unsalted butter)

– 1 teaspoon garlic powder

– 3 large eggs, beaten

Shrimp N Grits, via Oysters & Pearls 3

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking dish.  In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and stir in grits.  Remove from the heat and mix in butter and cheese, stirring until both are melted.  Add Lawry’s, hot sauce, salt (if using unsalted butter), and garlic powder.  Once the mixture has cooled slightly, fold in the eggs very slowly.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Top with fresh or frozen peeled and deveined shrimp.  I “cheated” and used frozen!

Shrimp N Grits, via Oysters & Pearls 5 Shrimp N Grits, via Oysters & Pearls 6

Bake 45 minutes to an hour (it took a full hour for mine), or until the top is lightly browned and the middle of the grits are firm.  Serve with more hot sauce (duh).

Shrimp N Grits Essentials, via Oysters & Pearls

We had ours with a fresh from Harvest Moon salad!

Shrimp n Grits with Salad and Crystal, via Oysters & Pearls

You could also prepare the grits alone, and cook fresh shrimp separately… but I’m a big fan of cooking it all together.  It was just too easy, and the shrimp cooked perfectly.

Shrimp n Grits with Hot Sauce, via Oysters & Pearls

Rivers of Crystal.  Not to be confused with Crystal River, a chain seafood restaurant.

Home Grown and Dried Oregano on Salad, via Oysters & Pearls

The salad was fresh organic Harvest Moon lettuce, HM banana pepper, and HM cukes, topped with my new home grown and  dried oregano!  More on that tomorrow.  Not really a Friday Find, but whatev.

 This was a great weeknight supper because it was easy, but it makes a lot (next time I’ll halve the recipe for just the two of us), so it would be a great weekend dinner with friends!  The grits would also make an excellent side dish for a fish fry, which is also a fun weekend activity… can you tell I’m ready for the weekend?

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Raised Vegetable Beds, Part One

As I mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend the Husband and I embarked on a pretty big project. This post is the first of many related to it, I’m sure. We have been planning to build raised beds for vegetable gardening for a while now, plotting how to go about it in down time for the past few months, but that pesky bar exam studying always got in the way. Well, our first free weekend, and we knocked two of them out!

Please excuse the lack of detail oriented pictures. And a warning: this will not be a photo-heavy post. To be honest, we were so busy working that we didn’t take very many… and I actually forgot to take any before pictures! Such a bummer. Anyway, if you’re interested in attempting this yourself, I’ll attempt to recreate the details for you here.

First off, after looking at various family members’ raised beds over the past year or so, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to build ours with railroad cross ties. We knew that there is some concern regarding the creosote that railroad ties are treated with before they are used in the railroads (see the above link to wikipedia if you need further explanation) and using them for vegetable gardening before we started. However, after some research, it seems most of the concern is regarding the use of new railroad ties. The ties we purchased (from Stone’s, a local hardware store) are old ties, and we felt comfortable using them to build our gardens. In addition, the ties are extremely durable (why they are used as railroad ties, obvi), thick, fairly uniform in size, and readily available. It was a bit pricier than building them out of new wood and metal brackets (about $10 per tie), but we tend to lean toward the more substantial, permanent nature of the ties. So, that’s that.

We had Stone’s deliver the ties (24 in all) to our front yard. We (naively) thought that the two of us could lift the ties one by one and carry them into the backyard to build the beds. Oh MY GOSH were we wrong! When it came time to attempt to lift the ties… I could. not. budge. them. Not one little bit! I have since googled around for back up, and found this that stated that used RR ties weigh upwards of 200 pounds a piece!! Luckily, Wheat is much stronger than me, and the two of us together managed to get them, one at a time into the back of his truck. We then drove them around to the backyard, four at a time, and somehow managed to get them in place on the ground. Now, you can have pictures.

DSCN2153I apologize that this is the first picture I took. Let me summarize. After we got them to the backyard, to start, Wheat would unload one tie, line it up where we wanted the back of the bed to be, and I dug out a trench of sorts along the side of the tie. We wanted to do this because 1) our ground is no where close to level here, 2) we thought it just looked neater when the ties were embedded a little into the ground, and 3) we thought it might help with erosion down the slight incline when it rains. As designated digger, I dug the trenches and eyeballed level, then we rolled the tie into the trench, and checked it with a level. Probably far more painstaking than necessary, but I’m OCD about things like that. And besides, if you’re going to put this much effort into it, you might as well make it as perfect as possible. We did two “inside” and two “outside,” and repeated the trench digging until we had a square, as you can see above. Or below.

DSCN2154You may be wondering what’s with all the beer case boxes… Well, during other veggie garden research, I read that putting cardboard down in the beds before you fill with dirt (more on that in another post) will kill the grass/weeds/whatever underneath and will naturally biodegrade after a while. So, we saved everybody’s beer boxes from Saturday… and Wheat went ahead and put them down. Don’t judge.

The next step is much easier, but still hard, because those ties are so ridiculously heavy. Just loaded four more back up, brought them around, and stacked them on top of the first four. Attempted to make sure they were all level and met snugly at all four corners. The first one was a rousing success!

DSCN2156Here is a close up of the corner, just so you can see how the bottom layer is sort of dug in and how the top layer fits on there.

DSCN2157I may have made the job of designated digger sound easy, but let me assure you, it was not. You may have noticed the loppers laying around in the pictures. We just recently cleared this area of the yard, as it was previously wooded. There are TONS of roots that I would run into in every trench. Some of them I could just pull up by hand, but many of them had to be cut. It was a time consuming and exhausting process. My neck, arms, and back still hate me.

DSCN2159I found it easiest to lay the tie just past where we wanted it, then dig right along side it. The width of a square shovel is almost exactly the same as the wide side of the railroad ties, so that worked out well.

DSCN2161We finished up the second one the same way as the first. After it was said and done, I attempted to even out the ground on the inside of the beds, which is what I’m doing above. We think that they are fantastic! But we are partial. We still have eight ties and one raised bed left to be done, so our work this coming weekend is cut out for us!

I hope that this is the first of many, many more gardening related posts on O&P, and in that vein, I thought I’d share a couple of the items I’ve currently got growing in the herb garden next to the house… which will be reserved for herbs only from here on out, now that we have designated vegetable beds!

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Oregano and rosemary, with some scraggly lemon verbena in the background. Oregano THRIVES in South Georgia, apparently. I had been growing it in a pot at my apartment in Tallahassee, but it is taking ovah here in Bainbridge. It’s so pretty, and is also delicious, so I don’t mind. Another fun fact: it can take the frost. Three cheers for fresh oregano year round!

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Rainbow chard: because it’s pretty, it tastes good, it makes your salads pretty, and it is so good for you! This rainbow chard also apparently comes with a dusting of pollen. In the very beginning of MARCH. Gotta love the South.

All of this manual labor had us all extremely exhausted, including Harold, who was busy following us around the yard, sunbathing, and barking at the neighbor’s horses all day. It’s a rough life.

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