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Garden Lifestyle

Herb Harvest Fall Festival

Reporting here from a recent event at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas.

  • Herbs and spices from the souq. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Sherri McCalla
  • Dukkah is a delightful Egyptian-style condiment made from ground nuts, spices and salt; first the bread is dipped in olive oil and then dipped in the dukkah.
  • A tagine is the name of the cone-shaped cooking vessel as well as the stew which is prepared in it. There are many spice blends used to flavor tagines. This aromatic stew is served over couscous.
  • Rose petals and lavender flowers are fragrant ingredients of the famous herb and spice blend ras el hanout.
  • Moroccan Mint Tea is a traditional everyday occurrence, also enjoyed in Algeria and Tunisia. It is prepared with green tea, spearmint and a lot of sugar and served in these lovely little tea glasses.
  • Setting the North African table. Handmade tagine by potters Judi Munn and John Perry at the OFC Craft Village.
  • Gardener and herbalist Tina Marie Wilcox giving her program on 'Weeds in the Herb Garden--Fighting to Win'.
  • Jeanette Larson and Susan Belsinger teamed up for 'Preserving'.
  • Holly Shimizu revealing the fine points of 'Great Plants and Gardens of North Africa'.
  • Susan Belsinger demonstrating 'Aromatic Condiments, Herb & Spice Blends of the Souq' with assistant Tina Wilcox.

For the past five years or so, the Herb Harvest Fall Festival has featured countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, where many of our herbs originated. This fall we finished the circuitous journey around the Mediterranean region by highlighting North Africa and Egypt. Next year we will head south to study South Africa, land of aloes and scented geraniums.

Before dinner, there was a reception in the gardens prepared by members of the local HSA unit, not to mention bellydancing and drumming, followed by a full house at the Skillet Restaurant, where we served a Sumptuous Herbal Supper. The menu was as follows:

Menu for Herb Harvest Fall Festival 2012
featuring the countries of North Africa

Sweet Potato and Winter Squash Soup with Chickpeas
seasoned with spices of the Kasbah

Homemade Whole-Wheat Pitas
and Serenity Farm Sourdough Wheat Bread
served with Olive Oil and Dukkah
(ground peanuts & hazelnuts, sesame, cumin, coriander seed, garlic)

Chicken Bisteeya or Vegetarian Bisteeya
(Traditional Moroccan Pie filled with chicken, onions, eggs, almonds, rice and Ras-el-Hanout spice;
vegetarian option will have the same ingredients with fresh wilted greens added instead of chicken)

Trio of Vegetable Salads
(served family style on table)

Beets with Onion, Garlic, Olive Oil and Mint, Egyptian-Style

Sweet Carrots with Cinnamon, Orange and Fragrant Flower Waters, Moroccan-Style

Cabbage with Tabil and Preserved Lemon, Tunisian-Style

Orange Almond Cake with Apricot Coulis

Moroccan Mint Tea
(green tea with spearmint and sugar)
or Coffee

I am linking the trio of salads above–just click on them and it will take you to the recipes for these tasty seasonal salads with a hint of the flavors of North Africa.

The evening kicked off two days of herbal programs. Friday’s emphasis was about gardening-related topics. The special speaker was Holly Shimizu, Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden and she spoke on ‘Fragrance in the Garden’. Herbalist and head gardener at the OFC, Tina Marie Wilcox, gave an inspiring program ‘Weeds in the Garden–Fighting to Win’. Suzanne Runsick, member of the Ozark Unit of the HSA showed the renovation of the Folk Kids’ Mountain Garden. And I teamed up with Jeanette Larson, crafts director, shepherdess and amazing creative woman to teach about ‘Preserving’ demonstrating applesauce, hot sauce and sauerkraut. Her recipe for “Not-Your-Mother’s Sauerkraut” inspired me to try and make kraut again–if it turns out–I will post the recipe.

Saturday featured a colorful tour of ‘Great Plants and Gardens of North Africa’ by Holly Shimizu and I demonstrated cooking a tagine and couscous the Moroccan way and we got to taste these recipes for lunch at the Skillet Restaurant. For ‘Aromatic Condiments, Herb and Spice Blends from the Souq’, I prepared preserved lemons, harissa, smen and the spice blends ras el hanout, dukkah and tabil, which we sampled at a parting tea.

I wanted to share a few of these recipes–I think you will truly enjoy them. Thanks to Sherri McCalla for sharing her photos for this event.



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