The Ancient Legend Of Rosemary

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - May 12, 2005
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Harriet Takahashi enjoys her position as a sales associate at Macy’s Ala Moana and tries her best to give outstanding service. She has been employed at that store for 11 years in the Men’s Polo Department.

A Waikiki resident, Harriet was born and raised in Hawaii, enjoys a close relationship with her sister Florence, a Manoa resident. For relaxation they enjoy going out for lunch and shopping. Harriet likes cooking, reading and watching television in her spare time, and Florence makes patchwork quilts. This recipe is dedicated to these two active sisters.

Rosemary has been used since ancient times. In ancient Greece it was believed that rosemary could improve memory, and students wore wreaths of rosemary around their heads to stimulate their memories during exams. The Romans made offerings of rosemary to the household gods. It was also thought to ward off evil spirits, and in the Middle Ages people slept with rosemary branches under their pillows to keep them safe from demons and nightmares.

There are many differing stories of how rosemary got its name, one being that as the Virgin Mary was fleeing to Egypt with the baby Jesus she tossed her blue cloak onto a bush. The next day, flowers that had been white were blue, and the herb became known as “rose of Mary.” The plant’s Latin name means “foam of the sea” and refers to the fact that it grows best near the seashore. Down through the ages a common association with rosemary is remembrance, and some countries continue to place a sprig of rosemary in the hands of the deceased before burial.

A spiky evergreen bush, rosemary is a member of the mint family, and its pungent taste lends itself easily to meats, potatoes and breads, soups and stews. To use sprigs of fresh rosemary in cooking, strip the leaves from the main branch by holding the tip and pulling down on the leaves in the opposite direction they are growing. Chop the leaves before adding to a recipe. Dried rosemary is available in whole leaf or ground form at most supermarkets.

Rosemary tea is said to stimulate blood circulation to the head, improve memory, increase the power of concentration and relieve headaches, migraines and vertigo.

To make rosemary tea: Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves to a cup of water and boil for about 3 minutes. Let steep for 15 minutes.


• 8 large Russet potatoes, cut into bite-size wedges

• 4 medium carrots, cut into 1⁄4-inch slices

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

• 4 cloves crushed fresh garlic

• 2 teaspoons paprika

• 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Place the potatoes and carrots in gallon-size plastic bag. Add oil and move around the potatoes and carrots in the bag until coated with the oil. Add rosemary, garlic, paprika, pepper and salt and move around until vegetables are coated. Place potatoes and carrots into the pan evenly. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, stirring them occasionally to ensure even cooking. Uncover, coat lightly with cooking spray, and continue to bake until lightly browned.

Makes eight servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 320

Fat: 5.2 grams

Sodium: 153 milligrams (based on about 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt)

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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