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Herbs are fun to grow and easy to use. Herbs can be a frugal cook's best friend because they can enhance even the simplest fare making it seem grand! Herbs are easy to grow--you can even grow them on your kitchen windowsill.
The addition of herbs can change completely the flavor of foods-from homemade breads to soups, stews and vegetables. And they can add variety and excitement to your diet.
A beginner should use herbs with care, adding a little at a time and adjusting to your own taste. Each herb has its own individual flavor and certain herbs also have well-known associations with particular foods. Basil is often paired with tomatoes, rosemary with lamb, chives with cream cheese and cottage cheese.
Fresh herbs are wonderful as garnishes. Herb vinegars can be used in salad dressings, soups and marinades. You can also add fresh herbs to mayonnaise or butter for a different flavor.
Fresh herbs will keep in the refrigerator for several days. A good way to freeze herbs such as basil, oregano, and dill is to chop, place in ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze. Then just add to stews and sauces when needed.
Some easy herbs to grow are lemon balm, rosemary, oregano, dill, basil, parsley, peppermint, lavender, sage. Of course, you can buy herbs to cook with at the supermarket, also.
Here are some simple recipes to get you started using herbs in your cooking.
Lemon Chive Dressing
1 clove garlic dash of salt Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated and the juice 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard 4 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons chopped chives
Put the garlic and salt in a bowl and crush together. Add lemon rind, juice and mustard, stirring until smooth. Slowly whisk in the oil. Fold in chives and season with black pepper, if desired.
This is a good dressing to pour over warm, cooked new potatoes. Add finely chopped green onions.
Mint Iced Tea
Wash 8 sprigs of fresh mint, 12 inches long (any mint, spearmint, peppermint, apple mint will do). Place in blender with 4 cups water and liquefy. Let it set for about 1/2 hour and strain.
1/2 cup butter 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or 2 teaspoons of dried herbs
Soften the butter to room temperature. Finely chop the fresh herbs. Blend herbs and butter well. Store in fridge.
Use to season vegetables, as a spread on bread, biscuits or baked potatoes. Anywhere you normally use butter.
Here's something different: not really cooking, but a recipe that you might find fun! Basil-Lemon Facial Mask
Pulverize a handful of fresh basil leaves. Peel 1/2 of an avocado and mash. Add avocado to basil in blender, along with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon honey. Mix until smooth.
Apply to clean face and leave as long as desired. Rinse off with lukewarm water.
In short, you don't have to be an herb specialist to learn to enjoy using herbs.
by Jasavar Singh