Flavoring Up The Y Life with Thyme Times

In the United States of America, we trace our Thanksgiving holiday back to an Autumn day in 1621, when a harvest feast celebration at the Plymouth (Plimoth) Plantation occurred between the English colonists (commonly known as Pilgrims) and the Wampanoag Native American Indians who had helped the colonists survive their first months in the New World. The feast was held to celebrate in Thanksgiving for the first successful growing season of the new colony; it lasted for three days, and is said to have been attended by about 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.

With Thanksgiving just 48 hours Away, Y’s across the country are not just prepping for T-Day, but some of us may have already started making some of the fix in’s…

So The Y Life thought we would partner up with an online spice garden guru who could help share some tricks of the trade to spicing up your Thanksgiving meal!

Thyme Times is an online blog created by Ashley Berzon, a mom from Texas, to chronicle her journey with her garden and share creative ways to put those spices to tasteful use… she also happens to grow everything she writes about!

Thyme Times began when I got tired of being disorganized and needed a project to force myself to document my herb gardening research, tips and recipes. From season to season, I was losing favorite original recipes and it was driving me crazy!

I also wanted a way to quickly find ideas on ways to use my herbs based on plant name. If I wanted to use Parsley, I wanted to be able to immediately find recipes and growing information on Parsley… Thus, Thyme Times was born.”

It’s actually a whimsical little tool for herb lovers, like myself, because TT can be used as a quick reference to find info on how to grow certain herbs and Ashley even shares ‘How 2 Use Herbs’. Since her family is based in Texas, I wondered how her state influenced the recipes Berzon chooses to share with readers?

“In Texas, we are a very meat and dairy centered state. Being a vegetarian and vegan baker, I love introducing my Texas readers to new ways to bake. You don’t have to have eggs when flax seeds will work just fine. However, many of my readers prefer to use eggs and don’t want to change anything so I always include modifications. Do what’s right for you…just add herbs to it!”

Thyme Times and The Y Life are teaming up for this article, to share our love of herbs and Berzon’s love of gardening with our Millennial readers… we couldn’t be more thrilled and had to ask Ashley if the rumors are true that anyone can start their own garden?

“Anyone can start their own garden and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or a lot of effort. My advice is to start small so you won’t feel overwhelmed. Containers are an easy way to start either indoors or out… Or start with a small 3 x 3 raised garden. As long as it gets sunlight and water you are sure to have some success!

What I love about herb gardening is, it’s a great place to start for beginners because they are less time consuming than vegetables and some herbs such as Rosemary (when you plant them in the soil) thrive on neglect!”

I feel as though folks sometimes fear gardening… Y? They don’t feel their schedule has enough time in it, to devote to having a Green Thumb… Is that a misguided fear?

“Many times people will have one failure and assume it’s them and label themselves a ‘brown thumb’ and quit trying. Many times, there’s a simple solution of why it failed and an easy remedy. For instance, Mint is very hardy and known to be an easy herb to grow. Yet, my first season I killed it.

Here’s what I did wrong: It was planted a container, located in direct sun and I didn’t water it enough. Mint likes a little bit of shade and it’s soil moist (which is harder to maintain in a container because the roots can’t go deeper in search of moister). Next Spring, I gave mint it’s own spot in the ground in my front flower bed near a sprinkler and it flourished.

Another common mistake is not planting an herb in the correct season. For instance, Cilantro hates the heat and Basil hates the cold. If you are trying to grow Cilantro outside in summer Texas Heat you will be disappointed.”

Thyme Times Easy ways to Guarantee a a Successful Herb Garden…
1.) Water every day for 2 weeks when first planting seeds or transplant. After this, your plants get established and will grow without this daily care.
2.) Learn a little bit about your herb. If it likes to be dry (like Lavender) you don’t have to worry about watering and you wouldn’t want to place next to a sprinkler.
3.) Containers will dry out a lot faster than herbs in the soil so pay attention during the warm weather because it’s easy for them to dry out. Or get a self watering container.

One thing we will definitely be using throughout the coming Holiday Season is Dried Herbs, I have always wondered, is it a tough task to do?

“Drying Herbs is very simple. Remember, all you are wanting to do is remove all moisture so it can be stored.

If it’s hot outside, you can place flat in a basket and let it dry in the sun.. You can use a dehydrator or oven placed on a very low temperature. The other simple way is to hang them upside down out of direct sunlight. I like to use ‘wasi- tape’ (paper tape) and tape it to my walls inside my pantry.

It’s very easy no matter which method you use. While guidelines for timing are useful, you HAVE to physically touch your plant to see if it crumbles before you can store.”

It’s very inspirational to be able to use the herbs you grow in your garden, in the meals you prepare for your friends and family. With the holidays approaching, what are some of your favorite harvest herbs and Y?

“My two favorite herbs for holiday cooking is Sage and Parsley. Sage is delicious in stuffing’s.. In fact, some people only use Sage once a year to make stuffing! I also love Parsley for Thanksgiving recipes. It loves the cooler weather so it’s plentiful this time of year and is delicious sprinkled over Mash Potatoes and any roasted vegetables.”

Well, I too am quite the Sage Fan! From using it in Roasted Chicken to Sweet Potatoes, there is such a depth of flavor to Sage, it’s as though it were an old fashioned romantic herb, in all the good ways! Ashley refers to ‘Plant Profiles’ a lot on Thyme Times, it’s an amazing way to learn a little history about different herbs… So I just had to know, if she had a favorite plant profile?

“My favorite plant profile is the Bay Leaf (also known as Bay Laurel), which is typically used in stews and thrown out before eating. It is native to Greece and Turkey where the tree can grow up to 60 feet! The story is that the Greek Sun God Apollo had fallen in love with a nymph named Daphne, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. He wouldn’t leave her alone so she begged to be turned into a tree which of course is the Bay Tree; In Greece, they still call it a ‘Daphne Tree.’”

Other fun facts Berzon shared with us, were that the Oracles at Delphi would eat a Bay Leaf before going into a trance and giving prophecies… Also, I was so pleased to be reminded that in ancient Greek tradition, Olympic Winners STILL wear wreaths made of Bay Laurel!

You have such wonderful recipes on Thyme Times… How do you create such delicious ways to use the herbs in your garden?

“I’m always searching for inspiration on ways to use my herbs. Sometimes, random ideas will come to me such as when I dreamed about Basil Cake and created a new recipe the next day. Other times, I’ll stumble across a great recipe from a blog or old cookbook and think, that would be great with the herbs I am currently growing. How can I make it my own?

With herbs, there are so many uses besides culinary. For instance, I made Lemon Balm Tea as a way to help my daughter recover from a Stomach Bug and settle her cramping. It was easy to make, helped her heal, and used my Lemon Balm! It’s fun feeling like a modern day medicine woman.

My family does love my taste kitchen…especially when it’s dessert. My little ones aren’t quite as excited as Marinated Tomatoes with Parsley as they are about Mint Brownies!”

A BIG Thank You to Ashley Berzon and Thyme Times for joining us on The Y Life and to find more fun facts and herbalicious recipes, Click Here for Thyme Times

Have Fun Planting and Herbing Up Your T-Day Cooking!