The Gardener's Kitchen: Bay
Herbs and spices are essential for the cook who wishes to
enhance the dining experience. There is a wide range of herbs and spices to
choose from and it all depends upon what you are preparing and what you enjoy.
There are a few that are musts in my kitchen, onion, garlic,
basil, thyme, oregano, balck pepper and last but not least, bay leaves.
Bay leaves flavour stews, soups and tomato sauces.
The bay (Laurus nobilis) tree is an evergreen that is native to Southern Europe but has since traveled around the world.
The Romans were fond of this plant and its family name Lauraceae derives from the Latin word laurus which means praise; nobilis means famous or renowned.>
The bay wreath overtime became a symbol of excellence and glory and the Latin word laureate means crown with laurels, laurel being another word for bay and the plant is often referred to as the bay laurel which is how I first came to know it.
For the Greeks, the bay tree was scared to Apollo, the god of prophecy, poetry and healing. The priestesses of Apollo ate bay leaves before presenting Apollo’s words (oracles) at Delphi. It is possible, because bay leaves in large doses have a narcotic effect; the priestesses were under its influence.
The roof of the temple of Apollo is said to have been made entirely of bay leaves possibly as a protection against disease.
The Greeks dedicated the bay to Apollo’s son Aesculapius who was the Greek God of Medicine.
Bay can be grown in a container and I had one a few years back that reached four feet high in my living room window. It provided a steady supply of fresh bay leaves for my cooking.
Bay likes the sun but be sure not to over water it. Allow the soil to dry out especially during the winter months.
Bay is an evergreen and will produce leaves all year round. This makes it a good kitchen window plant as long as you keep harvesting the leaves when you need them and trim the tree.
Quick Tomato Sauce:
1 medium onion sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
½ green pepper diced
5 sliced fresh mushrooms
1 bay leaf
Dash basil, oregano and thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper, sea salt and crushed chilies to taste
1 795 ml can crushed tomatoes.
1- add olive oil to sauce pot
2- put heat on high
3- add garlic, onion, green pepper, mushroom
4- heat 3 minutes, stir
5- add tomatoes
7- add bay leaf, stir
8- cook 15 minutes stir now and then. add herbs
black pepper, sea salt and serve. Over pasta, or potatoes (baked) or broccoli
or brussel sprouts.
This is a quick and tasty meal.
Bay leaves flavour stews, soups and tomato sauces. Bay also goes well with salmon and some lemon.
- Growing Bay Leaves - Herb Expert (UK)
An article about growing bay trees and how to care for them.