Friday, June 14, 2013

Garden Fresh Herbs

My herbs have gone nuts the past week or so. (and just as a random side note, I like to purposefully mispronounce herbs with a hard h, not a silent one)

I do container gardening for my herbs. I have two big stainless steel tubs, and two lime green tubs, that I fill with my favorites. It is ascetically pleasing to the eyes, and it gives me more garden space.

I can't use too much of my yard for a garden plot, as the kids also need room to play. Herb gardening was always a dream of mine, and the past few years I have been able to dabble in it a bit. It is so much fun to walk out to your herbs and cut some fresh leaves for use in your recipes-right then and there.

As a side note, ascetically, I think container gardening packs the most punch for your_____. Look at those containers lined up! Don't they look beautiful! And filled with gorgeous and succulent herbs. Oh yes! I feel a rhapsody coming on....Happiness in a pot. (not in pot. that is another subject entirely.)

Growing up it seemed like we used a lot of combinations of herbs. Dump it all in for maximum effect. Nowadays, most of my recipes showcase one particular herb. Except for my marinara sauce. That has a bit of everything.

Herbs fall into one or two families, with a couple lone rangers:

Mint Family includes basil, oregano, marjoram, sage, thyme, and savory. All of these herbs pair very nicely with chicken.

Parsley Family includes parsley, fennel, dill, and chervil.  All of these pari nicely with eggs and potatoes.

Rosemary is the leaf of an evergreen shrub. It has the appearance of a curved pine needle and has a slightly pine taste. Rosemary highlights potatoes and lamb very well.

Bay Leaf is the leaf from the laurel tree. It is used to flavor sauces and soups, but you don't want to eat it. Yuck! Discard after use.

Tarragon stands on its own also, with a pungent flavor resembling licorice. I have found it to go well with chicken and tomatoes.

I have learned that you have to use herbs, or you lose them. Within the next few days I am going to cut back all my plants. Here are some recipes I may use my fresh herbs in.

Tarragon (champagne chicken)
Basil (chicken marengo or pesto)
Oregano (charro beans)
Thyme (scarpariello)
Cilantro (chicken tacos)
Parsley (sage sausage stuffing)
Chives (anything egg or potato)

Do you grow any of your own herbs? What are your favorites-to grow and to use? How can you use some fresh herbs this weekend?