The Lost Book of Remedies

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Herbs in the Kitchen

Herbs have more than flavor

So far we have looked mainly at healing herbs and spices but many are dual purpose and these are the ones we want to grow in our herb garden. It is always good to be able to step outside and select natural herbs and spices either for medicinal or culinary purposes.

Herbs of all kinds have been used in many cultures for many years.  The herbs and spices used are the indentifying component of the dish and many of the dried herbs you can buy are already combined to be used in the style of cooking. For instance lemon grass, ginger and coriander are most at home in Thai cooking whereas oregano, basil, garlic enhance and flavour Italian dishes.

If you plan to use dried herbs in a dish they need to go in early in the cooking process however fresh herbs are best added at the end and before serving.  Remember that 1 teaspoon of dry herbs will need at least a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs .

Drying your own herbs  and spices

If you plan to grow and dry your own you need to pick them when they are mature and then wash them, tie them in bundles and hang them to dry in a light and airy position. Once dry take down, remove stalks and place the crumbled leafy part in labeled jars with dates . Once dried and bottled they will last several years. You will  feel so proud having  grown and dried your own herbs and it is wonderful to be able to reach for them in your own pantry.  While you are at it you can make up your own bouquet garni.  Bouquet garni is excellent added to most soups and casseroles.  Use Fresh parsley stalks, a couple of celery sticks with the leaves still on, some sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. Just tie them all together and  let them simmer with the soup or casserole then pull out before serving and toss in the compost. The flavors will be slowly released as the stock simmers.

Aromas in the kitchen

One of the added benefits of cooking with your favorite herbs is the aroma rising from the stove top and filling the kitchen, then tantalizing our taste buds, preparing us psychologically for the meal to be served.  I just the smell of coriander and ginger, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  Perhaps a Thai green curry with fish will be on the menu this evening.

          

 

Mix n match your herbs.

Soups, casseroles, pizza       ………………….     thyme, oregano, rosemary, savory

Chicken, fish   ………………………….dill coriander and parsley

salads, potato and egg dishes…………………….parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon

Sauces, salads and pasta  ……………………..basil, parsley and tarragon

Pork or fish  …………………………… coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, sage and thyme.

Tomato  based dishes       ……………………..   basil, bay leaf, marjoram oregano and parsley

Lamb and pizza    ……………………………….   thyme, oregano, rosemary and savory.

One of my favorite herbs is one that is so easy to grow and very versatile. It is the common mint, probably best grown in a pot unless you have a large area because it spreads out quickly.  As an accompaniment to any meal you can’t beat new, smallish chats cooked with mint and then chopped mint , chives and butter tossed over before serving. Hmm hmm.

How you mix n match and the quantities you use are all a matter for your personal taste. Experiment and enjoy

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