“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”—William Shakespeare
Rosemary’s long time association with weddings and funerals probably stems from this complex herb’s ability to aid in mental activity—thus rosemary for remembrance. Students in Rome wore wreaths of rosemary to improve their test scores—indeed modern studies seem to support this belief. Studies have indicated that this pungent herb may help in the delay or prevention of Alzhetimer’s or age related memory loss. It is a digestive aid as well. It improves mood, respiratory function and circulation and boosts the immune system. It has anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. Rosemary was burned as an incense to protect against the plague and later in France during WWII in hospitals to protect against infectious diseases. The herb is an excellent source of iron, and contains about 83 percent RDA per 100 grams of fresh leaves.
Folk stories abound around this herb. It is associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who is said to have worn a drapery of rosemary when she ascended from the sea. The Virgin Mary is said to have spread her cloak over a rosemary bush as she rested and the flowers, once white, took on the blue of the cloak. Thus the bush received its name, “Rose of Mary.”
Rosemary actually gets its name from the Latin Rosmarinus, dew of the sea.
One 16th century belief states that in homes and gardens where rosemary grows in abundance, the woman rules the household. This caused a bit of consternation among the men, who began ripping out rosemary bushes to prove that they, not their wives, ruled the roost. Sorting fact from fiction can be a bit tricky at times, as in the belief that rosemary placed under one’s pillow will prevent nightmares. This indeed may be true as the herb’s scent improves mood. Whatever your beliefs, consider adding fresh rosemary to your supply of culinary herbs. Its unique flavor will surprise and delight you. And tuck a sprig into your lapel as well. It just may keep the thieves—and the witches—away.
Cautionary note: Women who are pregnant are advised against using rosemary in large quantities. Check with your doctor.
Rosemary Pecan Onion Bread
2 cups milk
2 pkg. dry yeast
¾ cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp. salt
½ cup butter
5-6 cups flour
2 T. honey
¾ cup toasted pecan pieces
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2-4 fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
In small saucepan, combine milk, onion, butter, honey and salt. Cook over medium heat until butter melts. Cool mixture to about 100 degrees (warm to touch, but not hot) Dissolve yeast in warm mixture.
In a large bowl, combine 5 cups flour and yeast mixture. Stir to form a soft dough.Turn onto floured surface—using additional flour as needed, knead dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Add pecans and rosemary, kneading to incorporate.
Place dough in a large bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray—turn once to coat dough. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide into thirds, shaping each into a round loaf. Place on lightly greased baking sheets—cover and allow to rise in a warm place 20-25 minutes.
Score tops of bread with a sharp knife to form an x. Lightly brush tops with water—bake in pre-heated 375◦ oven about 25 minutes until golden. Serve warm or cool completely on a wire rack.
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