Posts Tagged ‘spices’
I am under the impression that EVERYONE should have an herb garden, as it is a great source of flavor for your dishes, can teach your kids lots of things about growing, planting, caring for plants, hard work, character, etc, and just looks nice. If you have an OUTDOOR herb garden,make sure you are well after the danger of a frost. If you have an INDOOR herb garden, make sure that you can regulate the amount of sunlight that hits your garden, preferably near a south or west facing window, and make sure it stays away from drafts, doors, and protect it from the younger kids, and the cat. Cats will nibble on your indoor herb garden. Fair warning.
There are only a few spices that I can think of that are absolutely necessary in every kitchen, and thankfully they are all easy to tend to, are fragrant throughout the seasons, and some can even be dried and stored for later use. They are as follows:
Basil: My favorite spice. Basil is a plant that starts out as one stem with several large leaves on it, and eventually can reach the size of a small shrub. It grows quickly, taking about 8 weeks from seedling to harvest time, and is used in dishes based in Italy and the plant itself originated in India. Basil compliments the flavors of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and other squashes, and is grown outdoors in the summer, in 1/2 sun.
Dill: Originated in Egypt. It is most often used in brine recipes for pickling any number of items, from cucmbers to pigs feet. It has a sharp tangy flavor that compliments potatoes, especially the little red ones, root vegetables, eggs, mayonnaise, and cottage cheese. It grows best in full sun, spreads very quickly, and grows perennially, so you won’t have to replant every year.
Marjoram: Comes from North Africa, has been used in recipes since ancient times. Marjoram compliments a lot of fried foods, and has a spicy sweet flavor that is great with pork and fish. Plant your marjoram in May, and if you harvest it before the first flowers start to appear you can hang it in bunches to dry without losing any flavor.
Oregano: Closely related to marjoram, oregano is a more bitter spicier plant. It is found all over Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It compliments a lot of the same recipes as basil, and gets the same planting, harvesting and drying treatment as Marjoram.
Parsley: Parsley is used in dishes all over the world, especially in French cuisine. It has a refreshing spicy sweet flavor that compliments almost anything you make with it, and it also makes a delightful garnish. Originally parsley was added to a diner’s plate to be chomped on to cleanse the palate between meal courses. It grows throughout the summer and early fall if outdoors, but dies every year, as it is only an annual.
Rosemary: Rosemary has been regarded for centuries for is mysterious medicinal and magical purposes. It is used the most in Europe and the Mediterranean regions, and compliments root veggies, pork, chicken, fish, and squash dishes. Plant your rosemary well after the last frost and keep it from freezing, as it is very temperature sensitive.
Chives: The chive originated in central Asia, and is related to the onion. It looks very much like a tiny shallot with a long green stem and a white root base. It’s flavor is not as intense as the onion or shallot, but it lends a nice flavor to egg dishes and is great chopped fresh over a sour cream and buttered baked potato. Plant your chives in April, wait til June to harvest, and they will SPREAD.
Thyme: Grows wild on the rocky areas of the Meditteranean coast, with the same growing condidtions as basil or oregano. It loves the sun, so put this pot right in the window, but make sure its away from any drafts or windy areas.
Mint: This sweet and refreshing herb grows anywhere you put it, as long as it is not in full sun. Mint compliments any number of dishes, and is best used fresh as it does not dry well. My dad’s mint garden grew so quickly that a large part of our lawn is now mint. It makes a very nice scent that wafts through the neighborhood when you mow it in the hot summer months.
Catnip: It’s technically an herb, but it has no value to human cuisine. It makes cats act FUNNY. They love it. Grow it and see what happens to your cat. Its quite amusing. It grows much like basil.
Here’s a quick lesson in starting a basic herb garden from HowCast.