Get down and dirty in the garden
Patsy Bell Hobson is blogging at Oh Grow Up! When not in the garden or on the road, find her in southern Missouri USA. Read more travel stories at Striped Pot. Find more garden, travel and random rants on her Facebook.
There is no substitute for fresh culinary herbs if you have them on hand. In the fall, just before that first fatal frost to your herbs, gather a bouquet of fresh herbs. I like to keep them in jars of water on the counter where I see them and am more likely to use them.
Gather as many fresh herbs as possible before the first frost.
Doing this will extend your fresh herbs by a week or two. Basils and mints may take root and grow even longer. Before the season of slow simmered foods like soups and stews is upon us, it's time to freshen up the herb shelves.
If you are new to cooking with herbs, start with these three must-have herbs: thyme, rosemary and oregano. Then expand to a few more—I would choose tarragon, sage or dill—or choose an herb you've never tried. Be adventurous—that's how you become an herbal wizard in the kitchen. (If you want to become an herbal wizard in the garden, grow something new every year.)
With these six herbs—thyme, rosemary, oregano, tarragon, sage and dill—you can brighten up the flavor of many food, even it you just happen to be the "Queen Of Carry Out." For example, rub a pinch of dried dill in the palm of your hand and then sprinkle it on deli potato salad.
Here are some additional tips:
• Any canned soup flavor will perk up with the addition of a bit of thyme.
• Try oregano on frozen or carryout pizza.
• Make it your own by adding a bit of tarragon or tarragon vinegar on frozen green beans or deli bean salad.
• Rubbed sage on rotisserie chicken could become your signature dish. Sprinkle oven fries or veggies with rosemary.
Collect your garden herbs, like this variegated sage, for extra flavor.
Photos by Patsy Bell Hobson
The key is to wake up the dried herb flavor with the steam or heat of hot foods and the moisture in cold dishes such a deli salads. Stir the herbs into the dish and give them some time to infuse their flavor.