Young Cultivator Merit Badge: All Dried Up, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,200 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,226 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/All Dried Up Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I invited Nora to take a peek at my spice cabinet.

She seemed a little suspicious, but she agreed. This badge was all about those yummy, fragrant, delicious bits of greenery: herbs.

photo by JoJan via Wikimedia Commons

Helpful hint from me to you: when dealing with smallfries, be sure to call the plants and such ‘herbs’, not ‘spices’. Call them ‘spices’ and you will watch your children’s legs turn into the Road Runner’s as they hightail it outta there. Or at least, such was the case with Nora.

She was pretty certain I was trying to trick her into eating spicy foods. I reminded her that spice just meant flavor and when she got a little bigger (and grew into her taste buds) she might not mind a little kick now and then. She was skeptical, but at least she came back into the pantry.

The Beginner Level badge was all about learning and tasting (does it get any better than that?) and smelling and touching. If you want to up the ante with your rugrats, do a blind taste/smell taste. But if you’re like I used to be before I was bitten by the farmgirl bug, your spice cabinet might need a real overhaul.

I mean I may or may not have had a jar of marjoram that expired in 1994.


I digress.

Don’t be like me.

Nora was delighted to discover some scents she really dug. Sage, bay leaves, oregano, basil, vanilla bean, cardamom, clove, cinnamon sticks, ginger, mint leaves, celery seeds … okay, you got me, not all of those are herbs per se, but once we got to opening jars and sniffing and tasting, we were hooked. She was not overly fond of ground mustard and she discovered that yes, inhaling pepper will indeed make you sneeze (she thought that was an urban myth).

photo by Casey Fleser via Wikimedia Commons

“But how do you know what goes well in what?” she asked, sneezing again. “Pass me the cumin, would you?”

“Trial and error, my girl,” said I. “Here, what do you think of smoked paprika?”

“Yum. Oooh, lavender! Give it here!”

We spent some odiferous time together and we emerged with slightly singed nostrils and a well-organized pantry. Not all were a big hit with Nora, but I assured her they taste differently when used in recipes, or if you had fresh as opposed to dried.

“Put your money where your mouth is, Aunty,” she replied.

“Absobloominlutely,” I answered, pulling down a cookbook from the shelf. “What should we start with? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks? Desserts? Brunch?”

“Yes,” she said.

Leave a comment 4 Comments

  1. Krista says:

    I like the sound of this Merit Badge! It would be way fun to sit down, smell, and taste all the herbs. This badge could be used over and over again to help all Farmgirls learn or refresh what their herbs smell and taste like as well as what to cook them with!

  2. Nielsen,Winifred T. says:

    I love growing my own spices when the Florida climate cooperates. Many do well for awhile before the hoards of bugs attack and devour them down to a stub. Thankfully, Basil usually thrives for a few months before the problems attack.

  3. Karlyne says:

    How appropriate! Last night, grandgirl #3 (age just turned 10), made her famous sour cream dip with the usual herbs and then added one extra one, and had the family guess what it was. We had to write our guesses down, and then she declared the winner at dinner. I won, but only because I had sage on my fingertips from putting it into the gravy I was making, and so that’s all I could think of… She has a nice, light touch!

  4. m says:

    I have a herb garden I have been working on for a few years . It is mostly a scent garden .Bur this year I hope to add more culinary herbs. this post reminded of that.

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