Friday, April 15, 2005

herbs for the cooking

yesterday, the hippie's mother asked me to write her a little list of the fresh herbs i use--i had no idea i actually used so many until i started writing. and in the end, i came up with a list i thought might be worth sharing. mind you, i don't know a ton about growing these bad boys, and in fact, killed a lot of them off last summer, but here are the herbs i regularly use in the kitchen, in order of how often i use them, with notes:
  • thyme: english thyme is my favorite. i use this with everything from stews to eggs to herb stuffing for poultry to rubs for roasts to lima beans.
  • rosemary: italian or tuscan blue are my favorite varieties. get the bushy kind, not the creepy kind. i use this much like thyme. it's also great with lamb and on baked salmon.
  • basil: LOVES the sun! the more you clip it, the more it will leaf out. excellent on sandwiches as well as in anything italian of course. indispensible in thai food, too.
  • garlic: grows well alongside roses, believe it or not. it will keep aphids off the roses and the rose roots give off gasses that benefit it.
  • mint: spreads like wildfire and can't be killed. excellent for mint juleps, the hippie's favorite summer afternoon libation. also good in lemonade and tea. i sometimes use it to garnish desserts, too.
  • oregano: obvious italian/greek food uses, but also good to make herbed mayo for sandwiches and for dipping artichoke leaves into. greek oregano is better than italian in my opinion.
  • cilantro: a must-have for salsa and for black beans and many mexican and southwestern dishes.
  • sage: EASY to kill! silver tastes better than purple. great in sweet soups like butternut squash and carrot.
  • marjoram: somewhat delicate, but great with steamed or glazed carrots.
  • chives: great with potatoes, cheesey things (like mac & cheese), and mixed into butter and spread onto fresh bread. YUM!
  • sorrell: good in light summer soups and with eggs. very delicate flavor.
  • dill: sour cream and dill potato salad is fabulous. many uses, but a little goes a long way.
  • parsley: use this in just about anything for color and a mild flavoring. i like it in potato salads and in soups and in spaghetti sauce.
  • fennel: IF you like licorice, which i do NOT, but this is a big, cool looking plant that will come back on its own every year. people like to eat the whole bulb, sliced longways and pan seared or grilled.
  • lavender: i have not cooked with this yet, but i have plans; i have a recipe for a beautiful chocolate and lavender cake I want to try. and even if you don't cook with it, you can dry it for yummy smelling sachets.
this makes me want to try another potted herb garden this year, but maybe this time i will read up a bit more first.

one good tip i got last summer--for fresh tasting herbs int he winter, take what you have left at the end of summer, chop it up, and then put them into ice cube trays. put a little water on them and freeze them into ice cubes. when you are making stew or spaghetti sauce in decempber, just throw in a few cubes, and voilá.

if you guys have any suggestions for stuff to do with herbs, please pass them along.


Meredith said...

The freezing herbs into ice is always a good plan. Also looks pretty neat to put them in iced tea and lemonade during the summer. (Basil works well for this, believe it or not! Also mint, of course.) For the record, if you are inclined to make your own fresh pesto with your copious amounts of basil, the pesto can also be frozen in little ice cube trays! Fill the trays with pesto, freeze, remove from trays, and store in the freezer in a plastic bag. Instant, personal sized portions of homemade pesto all winter long!! :)

Anonymous said...

Fresh thyme on french fries...mmmm...

jo said...

Wow, Jackie. I kill house plants... My cooking has benn lacking something, and now I know what that is!