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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My lovely Herb Garden

Just wanted to share one of my favorite things:  
My herb garden!

Thank you to my neighbors, Randy & Dianne, who helped me build this last year.
It seems so simple, but it combines my love of cooking and love of gardening.  I love grabbing fresh herbs from the garden for dishes, or cutting a handful of mint for fresh mint tea.
Think you don't need an herb garden because you don't use them in cooking that much?  Think about this - it costs $3-5 to buy a package of fresh herbs.  That's also how much the plant costs.  If you use it JUST ONCE it pays for itself.  Another thing to think about - even if you never use it - it looks GORGEOUS in the garden!  You don't have to have an herb garden - plant them among your flowers as a fragrant green filler plant!

Some herb recipes you may enjoy:

Iced Mint Tea  (Good for digestion)
Put a few springs of mint in a pitcher (still on stem)
Pour boiling water over
Strain, or fish out the mint leaves
Enjoy plain, or sweeten with sugar or honey

Chimichurri (this makes a great gift too)
1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed of thick stem
3-4 garlic cloves
2 Tbsps fresh oregano leaves (can sub 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add as a marinade or a sauce on chicken, fish, beef, veggies (but don't use a marinade that has touched raw meat as a sauce ... I don't want Sony to get sick)

Herbed Pork & Apples in slow cooker
1 teaspoon each of whatever herbs you have on hand
(recipe calls for sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram)
salt and pepper
a couple of chopped garlic cloves (or use a small grater)
1 or 2 small pork loins
1/2 onion, large sliced
1 apple, peeled, seeded, cut in large chunks)
apple juice or hard cider

Trim the pork the best you can of fat.  Mix the herbs, garlic, salt & pepper.  Coat the pork in olive oil, then the herb/garlic mixture.  Wrap in saran wrap.  Stick in fridge overnight or at least several hours.

Put in slow cooker with onions, apples, and a couple of pours of cider (about 1/2 - 1 cup).  Cook on low for 5-8 hours.  Serve with mashed potatoes & green beans.

Chamomile astringent
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
2 tbsp dried chamomile flowers crushed
4 cups water
Combine ingredients in a saucepan, boil 10 mins. Take off the heat and leave 5 mins.Strain into jars and refridgerate . Will keep for 2 weeks.

Mix any mild herbs into a green salad - parsley, mint, oregano, and basil go particularly well

Boil pasta al dante, then add lots of butter, fresh chopped herbs, salt & pepper, and parmesan cheese
Easy peasy!  oh, yeah ... you can add peas if you want

Stir herbs into any fresh OR CANNED soup - it creates a great fresh flavor

Dill and mint look beautiful in flower arrangements
Catnip can be used as a calming tea
Mix any combo of herbs into softened butter - spread on cooked chicken, fish, or fresh bread