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The Herb Series

The Herb Series Pt. 7 – All the Thyme In the World

The Herb Series By August 28, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

So I noticed that it had been awhile since the last Herb Series installment – slap me on the wrist! This time around we’ll look at thyme, and I solemnly vow to keep the “thyme/time” puns to a minimum. With that out of the way, let’s explore this very common little herb that has more interesting uses than being sprinkled on chicken.

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The Herb Series Pt. 6 – Ruminating on Rosemary

The Herb Series By June 5, 2015 Tags: , , No Comments

I have been waiting for awhile now to talk about rosemary. I want to try to maintain an objective position as often as I can, but I cannot deny my fixation; this is absolutely my favorite herb. Even if it didn’t lend a tasty earthiness to recipes, the green pungent fragrance alone would be enough for me to want to be surrounded by it everyday. But enough of my not-so-secret love – let’s look at all the interesting points of this refreshing (and tough) little herb!

Rosmarinus Officialis – that’s the scientific name for this herb that can sometimes resemble a diminutive evergreen tree. Although it is native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia, it is an extremely hardy, drought-resistant plant that will survive in most cool, rocky climates. Rosemary can be planted either straight from seed or from a clipping, and thrives best in an area with full sun and loamy, well-drained soil. Its flowers (which can vary in color) usually bloom in spring and summer, but in the right climate can continue to produce all year around. It grows very well when planted next to sage, beans or cabbage, and should be given plenty of space, as they can grow to an average of four feet in both height and width. It is not utilized only for its culinary contributions; it’s flowers and evergreen color make it an excellent decorative plant as well, even being trimmed and used as decorative topiaries. Once rosemary has grown successfully in an area, it should be pruned regularly and the primary plant divided before the next growing season.
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The Herb Series Pt. 5 – Walking in Tall Grass

The Herb Series By March 27, 2015 Tags: , , No Comments

It’s that time again gang, and with the onset of spring, I thought about featuring an herb that, for whatever reason, I equate with the season: lemongrass. With its subtle, citrusy flavor and bright green color, I can’t help but start thinking of warmer temperatures and more sunshine.

Cymbopogon citratus, or common lemongrass, is also referred to as citronella grass, fever grass and (in the Philippines) tanglad. It is – obviously – in the grass family, and like its many uses, it also has many varieties, and each variety has its own place of origin. The common variety is found in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian maritime countries. The plants can grow to around six feet tall and will last up to three to four years if cared for properly. Once mature, the grass can be harvested every three to five months, and is propagated by separating the bulbs at the base. Lemongrass is an excellent companion plant for such items as tomatoes and broccoli, acting as a natural pesticide for both plants. It should be noted however that physical barriers of some sort are helpful, as the roots of the plant can spread out and take over the field. However, it does store well, keeping about two to three weeks in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer.

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The Herb Series Pt. 2 – Coriander Calling

The Herb Series By September 26, 2014 Tags: , , , , No Comments

So for the second installment of my ongoing series on herbs, I’m bringing out a green with worldwide acclaim. Whether you call it cilantro, coriander, or prefer not to think of it at all (more on that later), this citrusy, zesty little herb has a lot going for it.

Coriander is native to most every region that surrounds the Mediterranean and some parts of southwest Asia. And while it is nearly impossible to determine when it began to show up (either wild or cultivated), there is significant archaeological evidence that shows it was being grown by the ancient Egyptians, as well as the Greeks, who used it not only in their cuisine, but also in perfumes. It was not until around the 1670s that it was brought to North America by British settlers, and became one of the most commonly grown herbs in the colonies. The leafy bright green plants can reach up to 1 – 2 feet in height, and generally require well-drained soil and a consistent warm summer climate to thrive. It has a bright, citrusy flavor that some people liken to oranges, although I have always leaned more toward the lemony-essence school of thought. And fresh cilantro is usually best stored in the refrigerator, either in a sealed plastic bag or wrapped in a damp paper towel, and for best results should be used as soon as possible.

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The Herb Series Pt. 1 – You Don’t Know Oregano

The Herb Series By August 30, 2014 Tags: , , No Comments

For many centuries, herbs and spices have been integral to the development not only of gastronomy, but human civilization as a whole. Some once held a value equal to (or even greater than) gold, and many have long been used not only in cooking, but as tonics, tinctures and teas for the curing of various illnesses.  This week I’m looking into a fairly well-known herb that I have personally used in my own kitchen for a very long time; oregano.

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