Tag Archives: Cooking with Herbs

Leading by a nose…..

Herbal Inspirations.

This is the time of year that the garden is just bursting….

and it’s cool enough to want to eat it all!

cuke3

cool as a cucumber – they don’t even realize that their days are numbered

 

Thyme, ready to hang up and dry

Thyme, ready to hang up and dry

oregano

oregano

Basil

Basil

This time of year just plain smells good!

Herbs in the Kitchen was one of the earliest herbal reference book I bought.Herbs in the Kitchen I’m pretty sure I got it from the Paperback Booksmith in Hanover Mall, in either ‘75 or ‘76. It was one of the standards.  I still love it, and get inspired every time I read it.

My modern herbal library- not to be confused with my early modern herbal library – has grown since then.

Helen Morganthau Fox, gardening with herbsMrs Grieve, modern herbal

Eleanour Sinclair Rohde  ESR a garden of herbs I’ve read them and studied and collected all.

AGSAdelma Grenier Simmons inspired trips to Caprilands in Connetitcuct and I was able to attend several of her lectures and workshops, as well as collect her books;

Jeanne Rose’s Herbs and Things, herbsthingsnew_smallwhich nicely bridges the centuries of herbal lore;

Susan Wittag Albert and the China Bayles series. China Bayles even has her own book of herbal days, China Bayles Book of Days. China Bayles Book of DaysYes, a fictional herb guru has her own book!

Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger have written together and separately….

This is a together one

This is a together one

But it’s only recently that herbs and other things you eat that come from the garden can be equal (ish) partners between the covers.

Vegetable Literacy Deborah Madison has her chapters based on plant families…..it’s very different kind of organizing and makes a whole lot of sense. This is from her blog

‘Vegetable Literacy’ is centered on 12 plant families and how they meet in the kitchen. It’s also a cookbook (some 300 recipe). Mostly it’s about connecting the dots between botany and the garden and the cook. People ask me what inspired this exploration and I have to say that I don’t recall a single moment in which that intention suddenly leaped to the fore. It was more like the idea of botanical families and the relationship between them and the kitchen had been there for a long time. Maybe it’s in my genes—my father was a botanist and gardener and farmer among other things. And even though it didn’t occur to me plant anything until I was in my mid-thirties, something must have rubbed off.  And it rubbed off from my botanist brother, Michael, my many farmer friends and the gardeners I have known. Most of all, though, it was starting to garden that made plants and their families come into view with increasing clarity. Once I started to grow vegetables, I saw them in different ways: how much space they need, how large and many their leaves, how similar the blossoms within a family, the possibilities of eating more of them then what we see in the store or even the farmers market—hence the many little pointers about eating the whole plant—and more. The garden reveals the big and sometimes gnarly world that lies behind the pretty vegetable.’

Deborah Madison with allium

Deborah Madison with allium

So, stop and smell the mint,mint close upand the fennel

fennel flowering

fennel flowering

and the borage….

borage

borage

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Summer

Beet it!

It’s a great time of year for beets, and by beets I mean red beetroot.

Central Italian School, 17th century

Central Italian School, 17th century. On closer inspection these ‘beets’ look more like turnips, but the little pan with the eggs….and that great big beautiful ham…and the cabbage, Oh, the cabbage..and the lovely little smoked mozzarella.

‘Turnip the Beet’ would be a great name for a rock band…..seems it’s not my most original thought today

 

 

Mint_2014-06-01_00-53

Mint – great time to pot some up to take indoors for the winter

But it’s also a great time for mint….actually it’s a great time for gardens in general. Warm days, cool nights, everything ready for the Harvest Moon on the 10th.harvest moon

Back to mint – so you have a few handfuls of mint, either because it’s chosen to grow everywhere you didn’t plant it or it’s doing just fine where you did plant it (you put it in a pot, didn’t you?) or they had really big bunches at the Farmer’s Market and they were practically giving it away? In any case, dry some for the winter (wash, shake, hang upside down out of direct sunlight but where there is good air circulation and when it’s dry, take it down and put it in a jar, either still on the stem or take the leaves off and use it all winter, because when the snow melts and the weather warms up, there will be more fresh.

Or you can make some mint vinegar.

Yes, you can.

Yes, YOU can.

Easy Peasey.

Mint Vinegar

1 pint wine vinegar, heated (save the bottle for the finished product)

1 pint clean fresh mint leaves

2 cloves

1 clove garlic, peeled

Crush the leaves slightly in your hands. Add clove and garlic and pour over the heated vinegar. Cover and let stand.

After 24 hours, remove the garlic clove.

Let stand 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks, strain and press though a cloth through a cloth. Discard the plant material. Bottle the vinegar and cover tightly. I use the same bottle the vinegar came in, and add a big MINT label to it. You can use other herbs the same way. Tarragon, for instance.

Irma Goodrich Mazza. Herbs in the Kitchen. Third edition, revised. Little Brown and Company.1939, 1947, 1975.

Herbs in the KitchenEven easier? Wash and dry the mint (say a cup, pack it in, it needs to be a little crushed, leaves no stems)  Put it in the bottom of a large clean jar. Top with vinegar, up to a quart. LABEL and set in the sun. After 2 week, if it smells good enough, strain through a coffee filter lined strainer and re bottle to use.

Minty Fresh Beet Salad

8 medium sized beets (2 inches diameter)
2 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (or any other fruit vinegar or apple cider vinegar or mint vinegar)
3 tablespoons oil, whatever you like on your salads
3 small very well mushed and minced garlic cloves (I love my garlic press)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ (packed) cup fresh coarsely chopped mint leaves
Optionals – this is the and/or list to make the salad:
½ cup crumbled feta cheese or ½ cup crumbled blue cheese or ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese….you see the pattern
½ cup or more plain Greek yoghurt
Leafy greens – lettuce, spinach, any sort of salad mix…..
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
2 cups cold cooked white beans (more or less)
2 cups cold cooked macaroni (more or less)
1. Cook the beets. (If it’s not fresh beet season and you have a can, drain and rinse and proceed). Boil them or bake them until tender. Rub the skins off in cold running water.

2. Dry your now tender naked beets with a paper towel. Slice them in half the long way and cut them into very thin half moons. Put them in a bowl or a jar with a cover.
3. Mix together the dressing: the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and mint. Pour over the beets and mix well.
4. Cover and let marinate for at least 12 hours. This will keep for up to a week….I usually manage 3 or 4 days…..
5. Salad time options:
a. Add cheese and serve.
b. Add Greek yoghurt and serve.
c. Serve over leafy greens, with or without dairy.
d. Top with quartered hard boiled eggs, with or without leafy greens
e. Add cooked white beans while marinating and serve with or without dairy, topped or not with hard boiled eggs over leafy greens or not…..
f. Mix with cold macaroni and Greek yoghurt over leafy greens and if there’s anything left, beat a couple of eggs, stir it all together and have a frittata, topped with whatever cheese you have on hand…
g. And pears – this goes really well with pears, especially pears and blue cheese….
Adapted and inspired from ‘Marinated Beets with Mint’ if Mollie Katan, Still Life with Menu 1988 Ten Speed Press. p. 57.

Still life with Menu

 

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