Before I delve into the meat of today’s post, I have to give a big ol’ thank you to each and every single one of you. I’ve got some brand spankin’ new (you, bad boy) blog followers and comments are popping up from new names and faces, and I love it. Absolutely love it. I’m hoping you newbies are here to stay because I’m not much for one night stands. I’m more of a long-term kinda gal. Plus, I’m assuming it means I was enticing enough or my brand of snark was clever enough to keep you coming back for more. Whatever the reason, thank you. I love hearing from you guys; your comments literally make my day. So, “go ahead, make my day.”
I want to talk herbs today.
Not those kind of herbs. Those days are long gone or perhaps never were. I plead the fifth on that topic. I’ve seen my share of bad television shows, so I know all about the fifth. Just try me, and I’ll go fifth on your ass. I’ll clam up faster than a…well, a clam.
Today, I’m talking about locally grown (still not that kind) cooking herbs because it gives me a chance to participate in Kristy’s localism link up, where we celebrate and ever so gently push on you (do it, do it now) all things local. Since my CSA is currently dead in the water, local is hard to come by, but not as hard as one might think.
You see, in the spring when locally grown, organic herbs start popping up at the grocery stores, I buy them, and when possible, I buy them in bulk. I bring them home, and I repot them in large plastic containers, which I keep outdoors and then enjoy all summer and fall long. I also bring a couple of chosen ones, think heartier and longer lasting, indoors and repot them into small, but pretty containers (it’s all about the presentation). Repotting the herbs, because I’m sure they are intuitive enough to know, gives them a sense of permanency and having a pretty new home, well who wouldn’t want that? Call me crazy; hell I’ve been called much worse before, but my kitchen window sill herb garden is still going. I’d like to say it’s going strong, but since I do live in Ohio, where it’s cold and dark for months on end, calling them strong would be a stretch. They are dwindling down to practically nothing, but they are still kicking it, and they are definitely edible, even after all these months.
They may not look like much, but these are little pots of joy for me. I’ve still got basil, sage and parsley growing indoors, and my outdoor rosemary plant is a fighter because that broad is still hanging on. She’s covered in snow right now, but her beautiful stalks of rosemary are peeking through the white powder and definitely still usable.
Herbs are fickle little things. You have to water them often (think every other day), although not as often in the winter (twice a week or so), and you have to trim them on occasion. Yep, in order to make your plants sprout new growth, you have to take away some of the old stuff. Trim them up and eat them. Believe me, they will love you for it, and since I have fresh herbs still growing in February, in Ohio, from last spring, you should listen to me on this one.
Also, using fresh herbs in your cooking makes a world of difference (I shit you not) and having them home-grown in their little bundles of soil means you don’t have to hurry up and use them before they go bad. Plus, it saves you oodles of money in the long run. Those grocery store packets ain’t cheap. As a general rule of thumb:
One Teaspoon of Dried Herbs = One Tablespoon of Fresh Herbs
If you don’t have fresh herbs growing right now and are forced to buy those expensive grocery store numbers, treat them like you would flowers. Trim the stems and pop them in a glass of water to extend their shelf life.
One final tip: if you suddenly find your fresh herbs being overtaken by fruit flies, do not freak out and pitch them all. Ok, you can freak out because bugs are icky, I totally agree, but don’t pitch them because it will happen. Here’s the thing, when you buy organic herbs, they haven’t been hosed down with pesticides so they might appear attractive to some other creatures. In order to rid your herbs and your house of these gross little flies, put a glass of apple cider vinegar with a squeeze of dish soap next to your herbs. It’s like the pied piper for bugs. They will flock to your vinegar and inevitable drown. I didn’t say it was humane, but this technique is incredible effective.
Since I like to show you how I actually use all of my goodies, here’s what’s been happening with my herbs.
I soaked the basil in olive oil with some garlic for hours on end, which later became the base for my pizzette. Who needs tomato sauce; it’s completely overrated.
Fresh rosemary got added to my Drop Biscuits along with cheddar cheese and some hot sauce because I was all out of jalapeno. The rosemary literally changed the flavor profile of these bad boys. For the better, I might add.
The parsley always makes his way into bowls of pasta or fresh soup. This is an old picture, but I’ve made this same spaghetti a bazillion times since then. No exaggeration either. Alright, maybe a slight exaggeration.
The lovely and sassy sage has worked its way into ravioli, ravioli sauces and most recently this pear and blue cheese pizza.
Look at that. Pizza twice in one post. Damn, I’m a lucky girl. Now that I’ve shared all my knowledge with you, go whip up something herb-a-licious.
Do you grow fresh herbs? Any tips on sustaining their life? What are your favorites herbs to cook with?