Thursday, May 16, 2019

Lemon Basil: Tips for Using This Delicate Herb

By Michele Koskinen

The Master Gardeners' annual plant sale provides gardeners and cooks with a variety of options for herbs, and vegetables. I am partial to Lemon Basil but, what do you do with it? I have used it in tea, as a basil for tomato salad, sprinkled over fish, in some vegetable dishes and in stir fries at the end. Lemon and bime basil, as well as Thai basil, are used in many Asian recipes. Infusing your favorite summer cocktail is also a pleasing way to use this herb. Let me know how you used this basil in our comment section. 

Happy cooking!

  • Butterfly a chicken, and rub it with crushed garlic, ginger and oil if you'd like. 
  • Cover the bottom of a shallow dish with half of your lemon basil. 
  • Place the chicken over it, and cover the bird with more basil, saving about 1 cup of leaves for the chicken glaze. 
  • Rub the basil into the bird's surface. Lightly cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • To cook, slow roast on the grill or in the oven. 
  • During the last 30 minutes, glaze the chicken by brushing with a pureĆ© of 1 cup basil leaves, 3 tablespoons sugar, a seeded and minced Thai chile, the juice of a lemon and 1/3 cup canola oil.
Check out these other ways you can use lemon and lime basil:

  • Infuse olive oil and drizzle on your salads or anywhere a fresh lemon taste can be used
  • Make a pesto, and use it in a favorite pasta recipe
  • Use the basil as a butter for fish, steak and chicken
  • Freeze the butter and cut it into chunks as needed when you cook
  • Try a little lemon or lime basil in your iced tea or vodka tonic 
  • Chop it up and use it over fruit
  • Use it in Asian soup recipes, curries & stir fry
  • Add this basil last once your dish is taken off heat to preserve its delicate taste
Try it in any recipe that calls for basil. Be adventurous!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A Fruitful Partnership: A Strawberry Community Orchard at Woodford Mansion in East Fairmount Park

By Martha Moffat
An aerial view of a mansion surrounded by trees

In 2008, the Woodford Mansion, the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP), and the East Park Revitalization Alliance (EPRA) began a collaborative project to plant the first fruit modern trees at Woodford Mansion in East Fairmount Park. The orchard is currently maintained by the East Park Revitalization Alliance (EPRA) and includes dozes of fruit and nut trees, a berry garden, a pollinator garden and an herb garden. These gardens serve the residents of the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, providing fresh fruit and educational programming.

(Pictured at top right: an aerial view of Woodford Mansion)

History of Woodford

Woodford Mansion was built in 1756 as a summer home. It is a National Historic Landmark and has been operated by the Naomi Wood Trust as a House Museum since 1928. The Naomi Wood Collection of antiques is displayed at Woodford Mansion.

Historically, there had always been an orchard at Woodford, as mentioned in an advertisement from 1769 for the sale of the property (pictured below). It seemed only natural to bring that back to the area in 2008.

Challenge: How Can Woodford Mansion Help and Engage Our Neighboring Community?

An image of the Woodford Orchard design plansWhen POP received a donation to plant a new orchard to benefit neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood and Woodford Mansion was the logical choice.

Strawberry Mansion is one of the most challenged neighborhoods in the City of Philadelphia. The area is a food desert with high poverty, a high crime rate, and many health issues.

(Pictured above is the plan for Phase 1 of the orchard and pollinator garden.)

Since the orchard was planted, POP, EPRA and Woodford Mansion co-host numerous community events there, including strawberry, apple and peach festivals. 2018 marked the 10th annual Apple Festival! (Pictured bottom right: members of the community pick strawberries in the orchard at Woodford Mansion.)

Children pick strawberries next to a mansionAll members of the community are welcome to visit the orchard. Children from the Mander Recreation Center visit the site during all four seasons. During the winter season, children from the Mander Playground make ornaments for Woodford’s tree and pay a visit to hang them and get a special tour of the orchard.

Plans are also in the works for a Fair-amount Food Forest to be planted under the trees outside the fence for the Strawberry Mansion community. Stay tuned!

Martha Moffat is a Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardener and the Site Manager at Woodford Mansion.