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The Wonderful World Of Herbs
By Jayson Inman
Many people enjoy growing because they are easy to grow and a lot of fun. Using them in you cooking can make even the most humble meals seem like a gourmet treat. Fresh are fantastic in soups, vegetables, breads, and stews. change the flavor of these items in may different and exciting ways. You completely change the taste whenever you add an herb.
When you first start cooking with herbs, experiment a lot. Add a little bit, here and there, see what works for you. Eventually you will get the hang of it and can easily go nuts mixing and matching flavors. Some just seem to go naturally with some foods, tomato with basil, oregano with sauces, rosemary with lamb, chives with butter or sour cream. This is just to get you started. Try all kinds of mixes and matches to see what works. You can infuse vinegar with to make salad dressings, marinades or soups. You can infuse oil with to add extra flavor to your cooking.
You can use fresh as garnishes such as chives on your potato salad or rosemary spigs on lamb chops. The possibilities are limitless and delicious.
In the fridge, fresh will last for several days. After that you have to freeze them. You can freeze them by laying them on a paper towel and putting them in a plastic bag. Oncce they are frozen you can only use them for cooking but not as a garnish.
A good method for preservation is to wash them, put them in an ice cube tray, cover them with water, and then freeze them. When you need them for soup, stew, or a sauce, just drop a cube in.
My favorite to grow are basil, oregano, lemon balm, parsley and mint. Mint is great but be careful, mint can over run your garden. A tip here would be to bury an empty coffee can and plant the mint in it. The can prevents the mint from "creeping" all through your garden.
Herb butters a great thing to make with fresh herbs. Mix together half a cup of softened butter and about 4 tablespoons of a fresh herb. Take a pice of saran wrap or wax paper and put the butter in the middle. Roll up your paper to form a log. Put it in the fridge. Whenever you need some extra oomph for you food cut a pice off the end. This is great on potatoes, bread, steak, noodles, or anything else you would put butter on.
Uses of are not limited to the culinary. You can make a natural face mask from basil, lemon, and avocados (this would also make a great topping or dip). Put a big handful of basil in a blender and run it on high. Once the basil has been pulverized, throw in a half of an avocado and a large teaspoon of lemon juice, mix until smooth. Wash your face, pat it dry and gently rub the avocado mixture on. Leave it on as long as you like, then use warm water to it wash off.
Jayson Inman is a retired postal worker and a lifelong gardener. Check out his blog, Southern Gardening to find out where to buy herb seeds and other great information about what you could be doing in your backyard.