When my sister went to Ecuador a few years ago, she came home with some recipes that work beautifully with an herb that my family likes to grow. In Ecuador, they use this particular herb, not just for seasoning, but also for medicinal purposes. In Ecuador, as I recall, they use it in chicken soup with lemon added in to help with colds, and upset stomach.
That herb is Oregano. Now, I know that reading about an herb may not sound all that terribly exciting unless you are into gardening. I wasn’t overly interested in it myself until just recently because my line of expertise lies more in the livestock than in the garden. My dad is more the gardener. However, I do use it in cooking and I decided that aside from mentioning the plant and the fact that it is used both as seasoning and medicinally in Ecuador, I ought to look it up and see what the history on this plant is.
As it turns out, Oregano has a long and very interesting history. Did you know that Oregano was first as I understand it, found in Greece? As a matter of fact, it has a place in the ancient Greek lore. The ancient Greeks believed that the goddess Aphrodite created the plant as a source of joy for her garden. Oregano comes from the two Greek words Oros which means mountain and Ganos which means joy. So, this plant is not only a culinary delight but is also a Mountain Joy.
Another interesting fact to me historically, is that the ancient Greeks used it as an antidote for narcotics poisoning. The ancient Egyptians also used it as an antidote, and as a preservative.
Apparently, and this was a fact of interest to me as a homesteader who keeps milk goats, dairy farmers also used to feed it to their dairy animals to help sweeten their milk.
I used this culinary delight in a stew recently. I call this type of stew the Watchagot Stew.
Basically, it’s whatever you have on hand. I made a huge pot of the stuff and it was fantastic! The ingredients I used were:
Barley: 2-3 cups
Lentils: 2-3 cups
Smoked turkey: approximately 3-4 cups
1 1/2 cups of mushrooms
1 lime squeezed
fresh Cilantro to taste
fresh Oregano to taste
A pinch of rosemary
A pinch of basil
Chicken bullion to taste
The white strips in the stew are home made noodles. The recipe for those is:
1 pinch of salt
3 cups of flour
Knead that until it is no longer sticky.
Then cut it into strips and drop it into boiling soup.
I put all of that in a large pot, and boiled it for about 2 hours. It was one of the best stews I have made in a while!
There was really so much information out there on the medicinal uses and the folk lore behind this herb, that I felt that I couldn’t do it justice in this blog post without it taking many more hours than it already has to look up information aside from how we use it for cooking, and the fact that we do grow it. I knew how to grow it, but I had no idea how much there really was to know about this herb. If you are interested in reading further on it, the websites where I was reading up on Oregano are as follows: