Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Presidential Chamomile Is Blooming In The Kitchen Garden

The blossoms are made into teas that are served at White House social events, and offered as Presidential diplomatic gifts...
The chamomile in First Lady Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden is a riot of blooms, according to this photo tweeted by Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass.  Part of a series of crop photos posted this month, the photo is the first to spotlight an herb.  The chamomile is used by the White House chefs to make special teas that are served at President Obama and Mrs. Obama's social occasions, and also presented to dignitaries as gifts.  
"Our Chamomile bed in full bloom. Great with WH honey!  With fresh blossoms don't need much to make tea! #teatime," Kass wrote on the @LetsMove account with the photo. 

FLOTUS & The Prince at the Tea
Mrs. Obama hosted two special tea parties in May.  Last week, she welcomed Mrs. Emine Erdoğan, wife of the Turkish Prime Minister, and two of their daughters, for tea in the Yellow Room.  Earlier this month, the First Lady honored military families during a Mother's Day Tea.  "White House Garden" tea was served, described on the menu as a "light, herbal blend featuring chamomile from the Kitchen Garden."  A Royal tea drinker was on hand:  Prince Harry made a surprise visit to pay his respects to the First Lady's guests.

Gift bag: White House Chamomile Tea
The military moms and kids were treated to the same kind of tea the President and Mrs. Obama have presented as diplomatic gifts to important visitors.  Above, a photo of White House chamomile tea (and pickled Kitchen Garden vegetables) that Mrs. Obama included as part of a gift basket that was presented to the spouses of world leaders who were attending the 2010 UN General Assembly with the President.

A jar of White House honey
Honey from the beehive that sits beside the Kitchen Garden was also served to the guests at Mrs. Obama's Mother's Day Tea.  Installed at the First Lady's behest in 2009, the beehive is the first on the grounds of the White House.  Close to 500 pounds have been harvested since 2009.  Like the White House tea, the honey is also presented as gifts to dignitaries and other lucky recipients, including another Royal tea drinker.  Jars of the golden stuff were included in an elaborate Kitchen Garden-themed gift the President and Mrs. Obama presented to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (father of Prince Harry) when the President paid a State Visit to the United Kingdom in June of 2011.   

The White House chefs, led by Executive Chef Cris Comerford and executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, love their house-made tea:  During the 2012 winter holidays, one of the crafts for visiting kids was a Honey Tea Lollipop, sprinkled with candied root vegetables.  CLICK HERE for the recipe.

As for what else is currently growing in the Kitchen Garden: Kass explains the Spring crops in this post, which includes a detailed crop list.  This week, he also tweeted a photo of the first strawberries in the Kitchen Garden.  There's also been a photo of 'Breakfast' radishes, the giant spinach growing in the garden, the first-ever wheat, as well as the first figs and the first pea of the year: "Incredible!" says Kass of the garden.  

CLICK HERE for links to all Kitchen Garden posts, and check out the Let's Move! gardening guide.

*Top photo by @LetsMove; second by Lawrence Jackson/White House; third by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama