Using Fresh Herbs in Your Cooking

A great way to add nutrients, but NOT calories, is adding fresh herbs to your meal.  Easy to grow, herbs can be grown in pots or in the ground.

If I could only chose one herb, it would be parsley.  Basil would be my next choice. Of course, I love all herbs and depending on what I’m cooking, will use all of them.

Here is an example of how to incorporate herbs onto your dinner plate.  We will start with a meal recommended by Dr.’s about 30 years ago. Some older folks still eat like this.


A poached 4 oz. chicken breast, summer vegetables, & 1/2 cup rice.  I made the same plate as the magazine. (see- even the vegetables are arranged the same) 38679716_1452536821556783_2737337774779662336_n (1)

First thing I would add, is parsley to the rice. Zero calories!  The parsley (vitamins K & C) gives the rice a fresh flavor. If you would like some zing- add a little lemon zest. 38631871_1452538951556570_4353397959535099904_n

The vegetables were steamed. Poor things.  I added chopped oregano & basil to them.38675514_1452539558223176_6993915145554493440_n

Now for the chicken breast. Lets add a slice of tomato (5 calories) and some basil. 38717316_1452540748223057_2211226030734049280_n

I like fresh spinach, so lets put a few leaves under the chicken to add Vitamins A, B2 & 6, C, E, potassium, magnesium, zinc & fiber.  Plus it looks better on a white plate. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar for some zing!38490812_1452536828223449_2352834611471450112_n (1)

Now which meal would you rather eat?

What a difference fresh herbs make! Zero salt, fats & calories, lots of vitamins and certainly a more colorful and attractive plate!


Since I’m avoiding starches, I’m going to add a chunk of soft fresh mozzarella cheese. (in place of the rice)  And add the rest of the tomato.  This gives a flavorful meal without salt, just a few extra calories from the tomato and if I didn’t have the cheese on there, no added fats.

Herbs can be purchased at your local plant nursery and even Big Box stores. They are easy to grow, available when you need them and will save you money from buying those little pouches from the supermarket that can run $5 a piece.



Belleville’s Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant

There is a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant in Belleville, IL.  It’s called “SAIGON” and the chef there is a master!


The Dear Husband and I love Vietnamese food and travel far and wide to try other places, but we always compare it to our local place, and it just doesn’t get any better then Saigon.   The Pho soup is a favorite and the only place that seems to get it right.

The Lemongrass beef roll-ups, which you do yourself at the table is enough for two. I always order a vermicelli dish of pork, beef & shrimp with lots of vegetables. It’s fresh and satisfying! (#117)


Vietnamese food is not spicy. It’s delicate and flavorful in a subtle way. Texture is important, as well as the sauces used.

Honestly, this place should be the top place in Belleville, it’s that’s good!






Soon the daffodils will start poking their heads out of the ground!


I love the colors, yellow & cream.


And the many different sizes.  You can’t help but smile when you see a daffodil.

I like gathering a few and putting them in a vase to enjoy inside.  I have a watering can that seems to fit right in with my home.


Right on the kitchen table they will go!


The Greater St. Louis Daffodil Society meets a few months out of each year.  They even have a show!  LINK:

Maybe I’ll see you there!


The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis (Shaw Garden)

Dear Husband and I love going to gardens when we travel. Our pleasant surprise however is that the closest garden to our home is also the most impressive. The Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis is amazing. I say this as a Master Gardener and lover of  nature. This place exceeds expectations.


At 79 acres, it opened to the public in 1859.  To help you get around, there is a tram (for a small cost) to take you to the farthest end of the garden. (& back) If you are a member, the tram is free. It stops in 3 locations so you may get off and explore, and catch the next one to the next area. There is also a guide who points out the various trees, statues, and interesting buildings. Becoming a member has other benefits as well. When we travel out of state, many of those gardens allow free entry if you are a member of this garden. This has saved us quite a bit of money!

Many wonderful events happen here. People from around the world are often spotted on the paved trails. Each season brings a new area to explore.  Japan and China each are highlighted with festivals. Other events throughout the year are food tastings, concerts, “glows” and flora shows from orchids to daffodils. There is also continued education for the Master Gardeners with various classes from cooking with herb, to growing mushrooms.

If you live within 100 miles of this place, please visit.  In the spring, the Japanese Garden will dazzle you with blooming dogwoods and cherry trees. In the Fall, the maples  change colors to reds, yellows and orange. The kids will enjoy feeding the coy fish, geese & ducks.

And what would a trip to St Louis be without checking out the food? There is a place one street over, I call the “Square of Gluttony” as they are on the same street, across from each other.  So where do we eat near the St Louis Missouri Botanical Garden?    I recommend:

OLIO:  The building was a former gas station! My favorite savory place. Always a surprise from a menu, something I’ve not had before, or at least prepared differently. Very herb forward, lots of vegetables and just the right amount of spice. The chef behind this food is a Master Mind!  Oh, the Spritzer drinks are great too!


UNION LOAFERS:  The best sandwiches and pizza! This is a place that has never disappointed us. It is small, so timing is everything here. What we like about this place is the menu is only a few items, but done well. In the evening, pizza is served and  is extremely large.  Herb forward, daily fresh breads, fantastic sandwiches.

INDO:  a little pricey but tasty!  Apparently, it’s the hottest place in St Louis at the moment!

And to finish, we recommend a French dessert at La Patisserie Chouquette.  The Pastry Chef here is the wife to the Head Chef at “The Grill” in the Ritz Carlton Hotel.






Mid Illinois Iris Society

Next month, I take over the Mid Illinois Iris Society as their President.  Although reluctant to do it, I realized it would only be harder for me as time went on. So, I accepted this task and am determined to make this club grow, educate and be fun! I will be a woman on a mission!


I love irises.  It really is a love affair.


The colors and textures. The height. The fragrance, it all pulls me in.


What’s not to love? They keep multiplying!


And soon you find yourself walking the yard everyday as not to miss any.


You can plant them under trees, as long as they get 6 hours of full sun.


Or in a row next to a sidewalk. They are very forgiving.

But back to the Iris Society. I have decided that 2020 will be Iris Boot Camp. An in-depth study of the flower, with hands on activities, rewards (garden gloves), & games. My plan is to have our older established members work one on one with the newer folks who are learning about the flower.  I have even ordered a lab/medical coat that will have “Dr. Iris” embroidered on it.  Each meeting, one of our knowledgeable members will wear the coat and sit at a table with a sign that says: “The Dr. is IN.” for the last 10 minutes of our meeting.  He or she will be there to answer  questions other members may have.   There will also be an Iris YouTube video not more than 10 minutes playing as folks arrive. (so many are available)  I’ve ordered  plastic/artificial iris flowers to use for learning the name of the parts of the flower, coupled with quiz sheets. I don’t want the year to end without our members knowing their flower! And for those who have belonged for years and know their stuff,  I have ordered flash cards of leaves & flowers to keep them busy and learning.  

It’s going to be exciting for our newer members and rewarding for our knowledgeable members.  Here’s the programs for 2020!

Mid Illinois Iris Society – Region 9 

Monthly Meetings

                                                                 IRIS BOOT CAMP 

February 24: 6:30 P.M.:  You’ve bought a rhizome, now we’ll show you what to do with it.

March 23: 6:30 P.M.:  Medals and Awards to WIN!

April 27:  6:30 P.M.:  Grooming Your Iris For Show. What are the judges looking for?

May 16: TBA:  Joint Exhibition with Southern Illinois Iris Society

August 22: 8:00 AM to 12 Noon Public Sale:  Public Iris Sale: Members Potluck at 12:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.  Most irises will be $5. This is well worth coming as you usually pay much more from the catalogs.

September 28:  6:30 P.M.:   Dividing, Storing, & Over Wintering Your Irises.
October 26: 6:30 P.M.:   Let’s Play: Iris Jeopardy
December 5:  11:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.:   Christmas Party, Bingo and Pot Luck


Caseyville Township Hall                                

10001 Bunkum Rd

Fairview Heights, IL.  (Upstairs)

NO meetings during January, June, July & November 2020.


2020 Resolution


Sometimes, things happen that one never expects. An accident, or a negligent health care worker does something they shouldn’t, and you are left, for the rest of your life, trying to recover from it. Sometimes, even recovery isn’t possible. You just have to live with it, as it gives you endless pain and takes away those things you took for granted. As it continues, it will get worse until you are left relying on others for the simplest tasks.  So, as my Dear Husband told me when it was apparent I wouldn’t get better:

“Do what you can for as long as you can.”

That’s the only resolution that matters.

The Roaring 20’s

Our neighbor had a wonderful New Year’s Party! Back to the Roaring 20’s!

I must admit, I loved getting dressed up in a be-dazzled blue dress, putting on my fresh water opera pearls, a giant London blue topaz and peacock feathers in my hair! I really felt like a spoiled woman!


There was the little black sequin handbag I’ve had stuffed in the closet for 30 years. It finally saw the sunshine.  And the best part? When the Dear Husband drew a line down the back of my leg with a permanent marker, as a “pretend seam” in my black nylon hose. It was pretty ticklish when it was happening.  And unless you touched my leg, you wouldn’t have know it was drawn on.

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Of course, look at the Dear Husband with his tilted hat and spats! We look like an American couple with our red, white and blue outfits!!

It was a glorious night! Best party ever to ring in the New Year!