harvesting summer herbs and a trip to Carmel

July 02, 2021

Herb butters are perfect for finishing sauces, making croutons, scrambled eggs--the list is endless. Now is the time to make them to capture maximum flavor and potency. They freeze well and are delightful to pull out in the middle of winter to bring summery goodness to the table any time of the year. Herb butters are easy to make, they are gorgeous and freeze well, so make a few extra to enjoy during the holidays.

Pictured above, clockwise from top, chives and their pretty lavender flowers, common green sage and the princely purple sage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and dill. In the middle are the peppery nasturtium flowers and below the lemon and garlic is thyme.

Here's how to make herb butter: Harvest unsprayed herbs and gently swirl them in a large bowl of cool water to remove dirt and dust. Gently shake off water and place on cotton towels and fully dry in a shaded, indoor location. Stem and finely chop herbs. Mix room temperature butter with chopped herbs. I add approximately 4 tablespoons herbs per 1/4 pound butter. Mix well, refrigerate, and when cold, roll into logs. Optional; press herb sprigs into the finished logs or roll in cracked pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. To freeze, wrap butters three times; first in plastic wrap, then foil, then freezer paper. That may seem like a little bit of overkill, but if well-wrapped they will keep in the freezer for 6 months.  

I made 7 herb butters:
rosemary and garlic
thyme with lemon (juice and zest)
nasturtium flower with cracked pepper
oregano with toasted crushed pine nuts
sage with marjoram (I made three of these to make sure I had enough for Thanksgiving)
chives with chive flowers
dill and garlic

Happy Birthday America! If you live in the USA, I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day weekend. What will you be doing? Going to a bar-be-que I'll bet. We are too! I thought about bringing a few flavored butters as a hostess gift but instead will bring a box of candy and a garden bouquet to be on the safe side. Here are two bouquets I made yesterday.

Coral gladiolus, shasta daisies, red zinnias and dahlias for the living room.

Yellow gladioli, yellow zinnia, and shasta daisies for the kitchen

We just got back from a quick 2-night trip to Cambria and Carmel-by-the-Sea. It was so refreshing to smell sea air! It was our first getaway since pre-pandemic and it was uplifting to be out and about and be with friends. We have been lucky with weather and neither the San Francisco Bay Area where we live, nor the Central California Coast that we visited, was plagued with the hot weather the rest of the west received. It's been mild here and really just lovely. 

While in Cambria I somehow always manage to walk by this treehouse-like structure that's on a small side street, but this was the first time I ventured to climb inside. It's on private property so I don't know what I was thinking. Feeling bold I guess! It was much bigger than I thought it would be and not near as scary. No goblins or spiders inside. It even looked kind of cozy. I took pictures to show my son as he always has a project up his sleeve and has imagined building a treehouse for Carter. You don't even need a tree! It's cool, isn't it?

For dinner that night we ate at Indigo Moon. Highly recommended! After leaving Cambria, and after visiting Ball and Skein and making a yarn purchase of course, we drove south on Highway 1 to Carmel. It has beautiful coastal views all the way, and just after San Simeon but before Big Sur, there is a beach where the elephant seals hang out. If you've never seen an elephant seal, they are the craziest looking animals on earth. My husband and I always get a kick out of stopping to stare. This time we were rewarded and witnessed either a good fight or a mating ritual, we couldn't tell for sure. They are of course protected and you can't go near them, but you really wouldn't want to. The males can weight up to 5,000 pounds and are not very friendly.

Once in Big Sur we tried to stop at Nepenthe for lunch but were totally turned off by the crowds, and it was a weekday, not even a weekend, ugh. You may know that is where Kaffe Fassett grew up and his family still owns the restaurant. We left disappointed but could not ignore our hungry tummies and drove on a little further and found a tiny, uncrowded restaurant for our lovely outdoor lunch. Uncrowded anything is a much better choice than crowds any day of the week. 

Happily, Carmel was not very crowded and we got in some good shopping before our wonderful dinner at Anton and Michel. But before dinner we were invited for drinks by a friend of a friend who has a little cottage in downtown Carmel. I've often walked by the cute story-book houses and wondered what they looked like inside, so it was a super treat to be invited inside one.  It was no disappointment and was not hard for me to imagine living in a fairy tale cottage of my own in the prettiest beach town in California. Sigh.

The first thing we do when we arrive back from a trip, no matter how short, is run out and see how the garden did. Ahh, it's good to be home, but I must rush off. I have a rare mani/pedi appointment and then I'm picking up Carter from nursery school to spend a night or two with us. His request: "Pick me up before nap time"! I got a good chuckle out of that, but will do!

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  1. Glad that you had a delightful 2 day respite. Your garden is always a delight for meet view and as for those flowers bouquets-wow, wow, wow. You have green thumbs ior gardening and knitting. Many thank you for sharing your treasured fun times with us. Carter is too much. My only question is who has a better time- Carter or his adoring grandparents.

    1. Thank you so much. Arranging flowers is such a happy thing to do. As for Carter, I think you are right; it's would be hard to know who enjoys the visits more, but I think maybe Grammy and Papa have the edge!

  2. This is a wonderful blog. The butters not only sound delicious, but look beautiful. The flower arrangements made with the flowers from your garden would make a lovely hostess gift. Happy 4th of July.


  3. I look forward to each post you make...your outlook on life, knitting, garden, recipes, and family are all entertaining and special. So glad you got to enjoy our neck of the woods (Central Coast) and then travel NORTH to Carmel. If you haven't been to Monarch knit shop in Pacific Grove, you will have a reason for a return visit. It's wonderful. Thank you again for making me smile from the inside out with each blog. Please don't stop!

    1. You live in one of my favorite places on earth--the beautiful central coast! Yes, I love Monarch Knitting but PG was not on our agenda this time. I see another roadtrip in my future! Thank you for commmenting!

  4. Happy 4th from north central Wisconsin!

  5. Loved this post Kristen. I felt like I was traveling with you on a familiar part along the beloved coast of CA.

    1. Thank you Sue. We've sure had some fun together on the central coast of CA! xo K

  6. I am by no means a gardener. Just call me the Black Thumb of the East but I love flower arranging and love your photos of that. Have always wanted to visit Carmel but like everyone else the pandemic threw my bucket list way back so thank you so much for those pictures and also the elephant seals. Chloe

    1. Lol! What a title! Carmel, the Central Coast area and their wineries and the Big Sur coastline is a great road trip and I hope you can do it soon. I have one big tip, go off season (the weather is great in spring and fall and even in winter if you don't mind chilly days) and always travel mid week. Weekends are a nightmare. Thanks for commenting. Nice to hear from you!


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