November 2015
The Herb Farm

Entertainment for November

Marigolds keep blooming right up until the first killing frost.  

Over the years I have seen seasonal traditions change. Family moves away, some die off. Some of the holidays we held dear are no longer important while retailers try to get your attention for that one holiday that happens next month.

Last month, I walked into a Home Depot store and was nearly choked to death by the smell of fake cinnamon. Yep. They had their Christmas decorations out already and some sort of nasty cinnamon air freshener that went into my nose and throat and triggered a coughing, sneezing fit that was the spectacle on aisle one.

When I walk into a hardware store or home center, I want to smell lumber!

Thanksgiving is still a staple for mainstream November holidays. Grocers look forward to that day of food.

Other celebrated days that bear mentioning are Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead on November 2 and Small Business Saturday on the day after Black Friday.

Day of the Dead is a fun holiday to celebrate. Also known as All Souls Day, it’s a good time to celebrate the memories of family, friends and pets. It’s also the official day of the marigold. Millions of marigolds are grown for the celebration.

It is believed that the spirits of the deceased visit the living and the vibrant colors and scent of the marigolds aid the spirits in finding their altars. African marigold (Tagetes erecta) is the most common marigold used. Cempasúchil or flower of the dead can mean any flowers, but most nurseries grow the T. erecta or T. patula (French marigold) for this event. I grow both of these here on the farm, in addition to the Mexican marigold (Tagetes lucida) aka Texas tarragon.

Some celebrations are just bound for stardom, like the one my neighbor down the road started a few years back. On the second Sunday in November, he and his wife host a Godfather party. Costumes are optional, but I have been known to show up in a pin-striped suit, depending on how hot the weather is. It starts around noon and goes until about 9 p.m. Everybody brings an Italian dish, so it’s definitely a pot luck event. This year I’ll be making pizzas again. They’re always a big hit and I cook them in cast iron skillets.

All of the food is set up in their dining room, drinks in the kitchen and it is not a formal, sit-down dinner. It is a grazing fiesta!

The point of the party is to celebrate the good food and watch all three of the "Godfather" movies that are shown on a huge inflatable projection screen in their darkened barn. Between films, they show Animaniacs cartoons, some of which pay tribute to the Mario Puzo films.

Party goers are encouraged to sound off with familiar lines in the movie such as singing along with James Taylor at his concert.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Then there’s the big turkey day. I must admit. I love turkey. I love the flavor; I love the aroma it makes while roasting in the oven; and I love all of the flavorful byproducts it makes.

Even if I share Thanksgiving with friends on that day, there will still be a bird roasted that evening at my house.

Let’s have some recipe therapy!

  Pizzas cook best in seasoned cast iron cookware.

Simple pizza crust

½ ounce active dry yeast

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

16 ounces warm water

5 cups sifted bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

4 Tablespoons olive oil

In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Allow the yeast to bloom (10 minutes). Stir in flour, salt and oil. Let rest at least 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°. Oil your cast iron skillets (recipe is for a double batch). Press pizza dough into skillets making sure to keep it as level as possible with edges up the sides to form a dough dish. Dock the dough with a fork and prebake for 5 minutes. Add toppings and bake until golden brown.

Toppings: Pesto, Italian tomato sauce, salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño chilis, roasted garlic, onions, olives, mushrooms and cheeses. If you don’t precook your Italian sausage, then be sure to place it on top of the pie to insure food safety.

Place cut lemons under breast skin. All buttered up and almost ready for roasting.  

Fun with turkeys!

Cut a lemon in half. Place cut side down under the skin on the breasts. Rub breasts, legs and thighs with butter. Roast according to size and weight chart, and tent with foil to prevent skin from burning. The lemony flavor imparted into the breasts is wonderful!

Enjoy your holidays!

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

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As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.