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Humble Seed’s Herb Guide To Cooking

July 20th, 2014

 

Caprese Salad

If you’re new to cooking with herbs, adding them to dishes and combining them with other flavors can feel intimidating. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about cooking with herbs – from what meat and produce it compliments, to which flavors it pairs well with, and a few recipe ideas also. We’re wondering: which herbs are your favorite to use? Which dishes with fresh herbs does your family love? 

Superbo Basil This Genovese-type of basil provides thick leaves and wonderful flavor.

Compliments: Chicken, lamb, roast beef, turkey, berries, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese

Pairs well with: Fennel, thyme, and oregano

Recipe ideas: Basil tastes best when uses fresh. Use as a garnish, in pesto sauces, stir fries, marinara sauces, and Italian dishes. 

Purly Chives This chive variety grows leaves that are straight and upright, with pretty globe-shaped blooms that make delicious garnishes. Purly chives offer a mild onion flavor, and it is an easy-to-grow herb, perfect for containers or the garden. 

Compliments: Steak, veal, red meat dishes, tuna, potatoes, eggs, and a variety of vegetables like asparagus and bokchoy. 

Pairs well with: paprika, chopped parsley, tarragon, chives, and marjoram 

Recipe ideas: As garnish, in beef stew, soups, mixed in mashed potatoes, potato salads, baked potatoes, omelets, and salad dressings

Santo Cilantro This quick growing cilantro is a classic herb that is very versatile. For a continuous supply of fresh cilantro leaves, direct seed every three to four weeks. Cilantro leaves provide more flavor before plant flowers. 

Compliments: Chicken, beef, grilled fish, pork, black beans, avocados, corn, and tomatoes 

Pairs well with: Allspice, cumin, cardamom, ginger, lime, chili peppers 

Recipe ideas: As garnish, in salsas, Mexican dishes, sausages, and stuffings – also used in some baking dishes. 

Cumin While this plant grows best in warmer regions, cumin will grow in northern areas if seed is started early. Cumin’s foliage is similar to dill and sometimes confused with caraway, and cumin’s flavor is commonly mistaken for other herbs, and other herbs for it, due to problems in translation from the languages of the lands where its cultivation and use are common. Young leaves add great flavor to salads. For many Indian and Mexican dishes, cumin is a must-have ingredient. 

Compliments: Salmon, pork, chicken, avocados, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, cabbage, and chickpeas 

Pairs well with: ginger, turmeric, chili powder, garlic, coriander

Recipe ideas: Stirred in avocado dips and chili, commonly found in Moroccan dishes, Mexican dishes, Indian dishes

Bouquet Dill Bouquet—the most popular dill variety—produces highly flavorful leaves and seeds. The seeds are great to use as a pickling spice. Dry dill leaves for use later.

Compliments: Chicken, fish, eggs, carrots, cucumber, green beans, potatoes, and yogurt

Pairs well with: garlic, onion

Recipe ideas: Quiche, sprinkled on grilled salmon, mixed in potato and carrot salads, commonly found in Greek dishes and Scandinavian dishes

Bronze and Green Fennel  This non-bulbing type of feathery fennel offers bronze-red and dark green foliage. The sweet flavored leaves make a great addition to salads, soups and stews, and fennel leaves make a pretty garnish. For medicinal purposes, fennel seeds are used in teas and tinctures and also as a digestive aid, expectorant and a spleen, kidney, and reproductive tonic.

Compliments: Pasta, jicama, chicken, pork, potatoes, 

Pairs well with:  citrus, anise, cinnamon, black pepper corns, basil, mint

Recipe ideas: Roasted chicken, pasta dishes, topped on pizza, baked in a potato casserole, topped on pork tenderloin, mixed in a lightly steamed bean salad

Greek Oregano This Greek oregano is more pungent than common oregano, and it is prized by chefs for its aroma, flavor and versatility.This Greek oregano is great for container gardening

Compliments: Marinated vegetables, tomatoes, white meat, beef, fried fish, roast beef

Pairs well with: garlic, olive oil, parsley, chili flakes, bay leaves, marjoram, fennel, basil and thyme

Recipe ideas: Sprinkled on pizza, stirred in tomato sauces, Italian dishes

Titan Parsley Titan parsley grows into upright, compact plants that provide good uniformity and yield. Although this parsley is a biennial, the flavor is best in the first year, thus it is grown as an annual. The flat leaves that this parsley produces makes them great for garnishing dishes

Compliments: Chicken, fish, red meat, potatoes, eggs, a variety of vegetables 

Pairs well with: Basil, chives, and tarragon

Recipe ideas: Sprinkled on casseroles and pasta dishes for color, stirred in soups, minced and added to mixed, sautéed vegetables 

Common Sage Use sage’s flavorful grey-green leaves to season beans, cheese, meats, pork, poultry, sauces, sausages, and more. Sage is also used as a digestive and nerve tonic. Sage plants are good for containers, and they make an excellent border plant for an herb garden. Replant sage every 3 years as it naturally dies off after 5 years.

Compliments: Sweet potatoes, pork, white meat, sausage, beef, cheese, apples, winter produce

Pairs well with: lemon

Recipe ideas: Tastes best when cooked with butter, top on baked sweet potatoes, add to stuffing, sausage, roasts, pork tenderloin, cheeseburgers

Ginger Winter Thyme Thyme goes with just about anything, and this is the herb to use if you’re a new cook!

Compliments: Poultry, grilled fish, roast beef, pork, lamb, egg, mushrooms, mixed vegetables

Pairs well with: Bay leaves, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, rosemary

Recipe ideas: French dishes, grilled fish, omelets, quiche, seafood chowder, soups, sprinkled on mixed vegetables

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!!

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you simply don’t have the space? The Tower Garden may be the answer for you!  Passionate about gardening and healthy living, or looking to expand your current health-based business? Consider becoming a Tower Garden distributor! Email info@humbleseed for more information or message us on Facebook.

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From Garden To Glass: 5 Herbs For Your Cocktail Garden + Book Giveaway

March 27th, 2013

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image28648335

Spring is upon us, which means gentle, crisp breezes, sun-kissed flowers, and early evenings on the porch are all just around the corner. A Mint Julep or Cucumber Cooler in hand can only make spring that much sweeter, no? If you’re growing herbs in your garden this season, consider adding cocktail ready herbs and citrus to the mix. Imagine a freshly shaken cocktail ready in minutes, and all within reach of your own backyard.

***Would you like to learn more about the plants behind your favorite boozy beverages? Check out our giveaway details below! Entering is as simple as throwing a lime in your favorite margarita.

Basil – If you enjoy adding fresh Basil leaves to your pizzas and pastas, then perhaps adding these fragrant leaves to your cocktail is a logical next step?  Muddled basil leaves  add a nice Italian twist to a traditional martini,  adds flavor to hard lemonades, and compliments most cocktails with a tomato base.

Growing Tip: Basil loves warm weather. Plant this herb when temperatures remain in the 70’s or warmer, and keep these plants well protected from frost.

Cilantro – If you haven’t added fresh sprigs of cilantro to your martini– run, don’t walk! Even Bond would appreciate the invigorating flavors of cilantro the next time you serve up a martini, shaken, and not stirred. Cilantro also adds a zesty flavor to Cucumber Coolers, or try freezing cilantro in ice for a frozen margarita. Get inspired with these flavorful cilantro cocktails ideas over at Organic Authority.

Growing Tip: Cilantro plants do not transfer well, and should be started from seed whenever possible.

Lavender – Cocktails made with sprigs of lavender is the latest chic trend at dinner parties. The fragrant, purple flowers on lavender are perfect for stirring a martini, or adding an intriguing flavor to lemon drinks – like hard lemonades or Lemon Drops.  Are we the only one’s eager to try this lavender infused simple syrup?

Growing tip: Lavender is extremely drought resistant and grows best in well-drained soil and in full sun.

Lime – these flavor packed green fruit are perfect for margaritas, but also taste wonderful squeezed in Bloody Mary’s, or added to many vodka drinks. Plus, the best Cuban Mojito’s are not only made with mint leaves, sugar, and rum – but also a wedge of lime that gets muddled with the other ingredients. Try any one of these 10 Lime Cocktails at your next dinner party.

Growing Tip: This fruit tree prefers to grow in tropical or semitropical climates – however, this plant will also grow in cooler, drier climates with a little extra work.

Mint – On a warm weekend afternoon, adding a cool touch to your favorite hard lemonade recipe, a fresh mojito or mint julep can be very invigorating. Simply adding it as a fragrant garnish to other cocktails just screams, “Spring is here!”

Growing Tip: Grow this herb in a container to keep it from taking over your garden, as this herb is notorious for spreading very quickly.

And if you’re growing sage in your cocktail garden… we love this cocktail  recipe using muddled fresh sage leaves, bourbon, and Benedictine (an herbal liquor). Benedictine and bourbon bring out the flavor of muddled sage, while verjus (a tart unfermented grape juice) adds a bit of acidity.

Sage Advice 

(From Drinks.SeriousEats.com)

7 sage leaves, plus one for garnish
½ oz verjus
dash simple syrup
2 ounces Jim Beam bourbon
½ oz Benedictine
dash bitters
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 7 sage leaves with verjus and simple syrup. Fill with ice, then add Jim Beam, Benedictine, and bitters. Shake well, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with additional sage leaf.

Giveaway details: The Drunken Botanist, written by Amy Stewart explores the extraordinary, lesser known, and sometimes bizarre plants behind your favorite boozy drinks. This book will not only make you the most interesting guest at the next cocktail party – it’s also packed full of recipes using fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

To enter this giveaway: Eager to win this book for free? Leave a comment below, and tell us your favorite fruit, vegetable, and/or herb you enjoy in your cocktails. We will select a winner at random in one week from today (4/3/2013). Good luck!

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

 

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Crockpot Cooking Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

February 6th, 2013

Looking for more ways to use your garden fresh vegetables and herbs this winter? The crockpot is one of the greatest time-saving appliances in your kitchen. While one of the best features of a crockpot is its simplicity (just flip a switch!), getting vegetables and herbs perfectly tender and flavorful in a one-pot wonder can be tricky. Read our tips to ensure your next crockpot meal shows off your garden’s bountiful harvest.

Crockpot Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

*Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat. Therefore, place all vegetables at the bottom of the crockpot, which is nearest to the heat.

*Fill the crockpot halfway to 2/3 the way full. Overfilling the crockpot will not allow the contents to cook entirely, while not filling the crockpot enough will cook the contents too quickly.

*Adding plenty of liquid to the crockpot (ie: vegetable broth, water, juice) will allow vegetables to become tender and moist.

*Avoid the urge to lift the lid to stir or to “check on” your meal (we know it’s tough!). Lifting the lid, even only for a moment will only force heat to escape, which may affect the cooking time anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

*Add tender vegetables that cook quickly at the end of the cooking period (we suggest the last 45 minutes to an hour). Vegetables that cook very quickly are tomatoes, squash varieties, and mushrooms.

*Try sautéing vegetables in olive oil, salt, and seasonings directly in the crockpot before you add the remaining ingredients. This will add more POW to your meal.

*Many dry herbs can be thrown in at any time, yet many fresh herbs should be added only at the end of the cooking period. Herbs like basil, cilantro, and parsley taste their best when stirred in last minute, just before serving. You can also try using half the herbs in the beginning of cooking, and using the remaining herbs at the end of cooking.

Ready to test these crockpot tips out? We offer many of the vegetables and herbs in this recipe in our Veggin’ Out and Uncle Herb’s Favorites seed kits. This slow cooker stew recipe is simply a cinch to make, and has many of the bright flavors associated with Mediterranean cooking.  Feel free to layer it on pasta, ravioli, rice or quinoa – or serve it as a rich stew all on its own. Is it me, or is it hard not to puff up your chest a bit when making a fabulous meal using a slow cooker?

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Stew

Serves 4-5

2 cups eggplant, diced with peel

1 yellow squash, diced with peel

1 small yellow onion, diced

¼  cup black olives, sliced

¼  cup golden raisons

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup vegetable broth

8-ounce can tomato sauce

½ teaspoon chopped cumin

¼  teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

olive oil for drizzling

Method: In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the parsley and olive oil and stir until well mixed.  Cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender. The last 30 minutes, add chopped parsley. Serve over pasta, ravioli, quinoa or rice.  Drizzle each plate with olive oil before serving.

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Mediterranean Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

November 13th, 2012

Looking for a fabulous way to use the Tuffy Acorn Squash and fresh herbs from your garden this season? This mediterranean inspired recipe is sure to hit the mark. When roasted, acorn squash naturally becomes tender and subtly sweet, while the brushed on butter and brown sugar adds a warm, hearty flavor, perfect for chilly temps. While the acorn squash roasts, prepare the savory and sweet mediterranean stuffing. The fresh herbs picked directly from your garden brings this stuffing over the top, and tastes delicious hot as it does cold.

If you’re expecting vegetarian friends at your Thanksgiving this year, they will undoubtedly love this hearty main dish. This Mediterranean Stuffed Acorn Squash also tastes wonderful when paired with a favorite soup.

Mediterranean Stuffed Acorn Squash

(Serves 4)

2 medium acorn squash, halved and insides scooped out

2-4 tbsp melted butter

1-2 tsp brown sugar

sea salt and pepper

1 cup whole wheat couscous, or other whole grain

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, chopped

1 can garbanzo beans

1/2 cup raisons

1 lemon

2 teaspoons fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, sage, cilantro, or a combination)

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Method: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and place the acorn squash on a lined baking sheet. Brush the insides with the melted butter, brown sugar, sea salt and pepper. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until tender and caramelized. Meanwhile, prepare the couscous by following the package instructions, and lightly saute the celery, garlic, tomato and a pinch of sea salt in a large skillet. Stir in the garbanzo beans, raisons, and fresh herbs, and remove from the heat when warm.

Combine the couscous with the vegetable mixture, and add the lemon juice, additional salt and pepper to taste, and a light drizzle of olive oil. When the acorn squash is roasted, brush additional melted butter and brown sugar inside the flesh (if desired). Stuff each half with the warm couscous stuffing, and serve immediately.

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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How To Freeze Fresh Herbs And Pesto

September 18th, 2012

Many gardeners enjoy the early fall ritual of freezing annual herbs; especially basil, cilantro, chives, dill, parsley, as well as homemade pesto. This easy process requires minimal time and effort, and can make chilly weather soups, stews and sauces full of garden fresh flavor.

While freezing herbs can be done in bulk, the key to freezing pesto is to create serving size portions – perfect for drizzling over pasta or a homemade pizza. Pesto does not preserve well when it is re-heated and re-frozen. Therefore, creating individual portions allows the pesto to taste fresh with each use.

Ready to try?

How To Freeze Fresh Herbs

(Baking Sheet Method)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and carefully spread out the washed and dried herbs. Not allowing them to touch will prevent the herbs from freezing in a large mound. When frozen solid, place the herbs in lidded glass container back in the freezer. Once already frozen, the leaves will not clump together.

(Ice Tray Method)

After washing the herbs, place 2-3 individual leaves, or a spoonful of chopped herbs into ice cube trays. Fill the tray half full of water, gently ensuring that the leaves stay down. If a few leaves give you trouble, the next step should alleviate the problem.

Once frozen or mostly frozen, fill the remaining cubes with water, and freeze once more. When completely frozen, place the individual blocks of ice into a zip blog baggie, or a lidded glass container. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and drop the entire ice cube into soups, stews or sauces.

How To Freeze Fresh Pesto

Make your favorite pesto sauce (our favorite recipe is below), and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon out ¼ cup mounds of pesto onto the baking sheet and place it in the freezer. When they are frozen solid, wrap each portion with plastic wrap, and store them in a lidded glass container in the freezer.

 Fresh Basil-Chive Pesto

Recipe from The Happy Go Lucky Vegan

¼ cup pine nuts (almonds or walnuts will also work)

1-cup basil

2 tbsp chives, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ lemon, squeezed

½ cup olive oil

½ cup water

Sea salt and pepper

Method: Add all ingredients except for the water into a blender or food processor. Slowly add the water to thin out as desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.

**Fellow gardeners: what is your favorite way to use frozen pesto and herbs?

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A Heart-y Holiday Menu

November 23rd, 2011

Looking for a non-traditional entrée or a side dish that will wow your guests over the holiday? Try these delicious yet heart healthy dishes that will certainly break up the monotony at your dinner table! The winter holidays arrive only once a year; making it unlikely that one or two high calorie meals will tip the scale.  But healthy eating as a lifestyle is really about the big picture of what you choose to put in your body.  Replacing heavy creams and fatty meats with fresh vegetables, herbs, nuts and lentils are just a few ways to transition a holiday meal while still making it taste flavorful and satisfying. For more pictures, information, and recipe ideas go to Happygoluckyvegan.blogspot.com.

Holiday Lentil Walnut Loaf

An exceptionally delicious entrée for vegetarians, and for those wanting to serve a unique dish on the holidays. Use fresh herbs and vegetables. This recipe can be made gluten-free.
(6-8 servings)

1 cup dry green lentils
3 tablespoons ground flax seed
½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced finely or grated
1 celery stick, diced finely
1 small apple, grated
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
½ cup whole wheat flour (or oat flour to make this gluten-free)
¾ cup leftover stuffing (or breadcrumbs)

Method: In a medium- sized pot, add 1 cup of dry green lentils to 3 cups of water.  Allow lentils to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender.  Strain lentils, and process 75% of the lentils in a food processor or blender. Add the processed lentils to the whole lentils in a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Combine onions, garlic and a pinch of salt, and allow the onions to sweat.  Add carrots, another pinch of salt, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the celery and the apple, and mix in your fresh and dry herbs. Allow flavors to combine for 2-3 minutes.  Let it to cool slightly, and combine the onion mixture with the lentils.

Make flax egg by combining the ground flax seed and warm water in a small bowl. Allow mixture to thicken for 5 minutes. Combine the flax egg, walnuts, flour, and leftover stuffing with the lentil mixture.  Knead the loaf with hands until it is moist and all ingredients are mixed well together.  Form into a large loaf and place into a well-greased loaf pan or casserole dish. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Use your favorite barbecue or tomato sauce to glaze the loaf.

 

Cauliflower with Curry Butter

This non-traditional cauliflower dish is incredibly flavorful, and full of spices rich with anti-inflammatory properties.  Although, your guests will not be concentrating on the latter as they go back for seconds! Use fresh cauliflower:

(6-8 servings)

3 pounds cauliflower
4 tablespoons Earth Balance, or other vegan butter
½ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt

Method: Using a paring knife, cut cauliflower into small florets. This should yield 8 cups of cauliflower. Heat a large pot of salted purified water to high. In batches, stir in cauliflower once the water reaches boil. Allow the cauliflower to simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and combine turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, drizzle the butter sauce onto the cauliflower while mixing.  Stir in cilantro and lime juice.  Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve warm.

Homemade Herbed Stuffing

A vegetarian-stuffing full of flavorful herbs, this recipe can be made gluten-free.
(6-8 servings)

1 loaf of bread (brown rice, whole wheat, multi-grain), torn into small pieces
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
½ cup parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper
2-3 cups vegetable stock

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast bread cubes in the oven or toaster until golden brown.  In a large saucepan, combine olive oil, garlic, onions, and a pinch of salt and sauté until onions have sweat.  Add the celery, another pinch of salt, and cook until celery is tender (about 4-5 minutes).  Allow the celery mixture to cool, then using a rubber spatula, add the celery mixture to the bread crumbs. Add the fresh herbs and additional salt and pepper to taste to the bowl.

Slowly pour the vegetable stock in, as some bread absorb better than others. The bread should be evenly coated, moist and clumping together.  It should not be soggy or drowning in stock.  Pour bread mixture into a large casserole dish, and drizzle a little olive oil on top.  Cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the tin foil after 25 minutes, and bake an additional 10 minutes for a crispier top.  Serve warm and with vegetarian gravy.

Savory Green Beans and Roasted Tomatoes

A simple yet satisfying dish with heart healthy green beans and cherry tomatoes.

(6-8 servings)

2 pounds of green beans, ends trimmed

1 carton of cherry tomatoes (about 10 tomatoes)

1/2-teaspoon cumin

1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4-teaspoon ground cloves

Salt

Pepper

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly greased cookie sheet, place tomatoes on sheet and lightly salt and pepper them. Bake tomatoes for about 50 minutes, or until no longer firm   Boil 1 inch of water in a deep skillet.  Add green beans and allow water to boil again.  Place cover on beans, and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Simmer until beans are tender, but still a little crisp.

Remove beans and add seasonings. Toss green beans evenly, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Place roasted tomatoes on top.

 

What’s your favorite holiday dish?

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Dreaming of Dirt (And Pizza): How to Create A Small Herb Garden

September 27th, 2011

 

Pondering the old college days always bring back a good deal of memories. One of which, like most, was practically inhaling copious slices of pizza on a weekly basis. But unlike the typical college student who slathered on ranch dressing to top, or was content with a dash of stale red pepper flakes; I was used to eating some rockin’ pizza. For two years while I lived on Edison Street, my neighbor would allow us to freely use his vast herb garden, and my pizza had freshly cut basil, parsley and oregano to top each slice. Was I lucky or what? Ever since, I have enjoyed the advantages of herb gardening. All the while, maintaining a full time job and going on short vacations without having to worry about my little herby pots. If you’re looking to zest up salads, burgers, dressings, sauces and marinades, dips and sandwiches without having to drive to the store, and pay the ridiculous amount for a small package of herbs; herb gardening is a great way to unleash your green thumb without the commitment. I’d
like to share a few easy tips on how to grow a successful herb garden. You’ll find that with a little insight, you can get started right away!

Finding a Location: Discovering the perfect location is paramount when starting an herb garden. Most herbs prefer filtered sunlight and slightly moist soil. If your kitchen window provides this; build a smaller garden and use small strawberry pots to build your garden in. You will find the kitchen provides easy access to your lush array of herbs! Perhaps your back patio or balcony is the perfect location? If the backyard works best, but you find it is very sunny; plant some large flowers or plants nearby to provide some filtered shade. Sunflowers work very well for this purpose.

Choosing The Right Herbs: Select herbs that have similar needs if you’re placing your plants in the same location. The following herbs can be found in Uncle Herb’s Favorites, and are excellent choices to grow together, especially if you’re combining herbs in large pots.

*Bouquet Dill, Greek Oregano, and Titan Parsley

*Bronze and Green Fennel and Bouquet Dill

*German Winter Thyme and Greek Oregano

*Common Sage and Santo Cilantro, which grows well next to most herbs

Preparing The Soil: Quality soil is generally 50% solids, like small rock materials, and 50% porous soil to allow room for water, air and roots. For larger herb gardens, including organic matter like your own compost pile can greatly enhance your garden. It is also an excellent way to save money and recycle the ends of corn, onions, tomatoes, fruit peels, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and other organic matter. Be sure to exclude any diseased or pest-laden materials, as these will only hinder the garden.

Harvesting: A general rule when harvesting is remembering herbs are most fragrant and taste best right before the leaves are about to bloom. Harvesting is also best done throughout the growing season. Perennials like thyme, sage and rosemary require their active growing branches snipped at 4-6 inch lengths. Whereas it is acceptable to collect a few branches and leaves as needed with basil and other annuals. Freezing or hand drying herbs that you would like to save for later use is a great way to preserve your herbs if they are little blooming idiots. You’ll find that the herbs stay flavorful even if preserved for weeks.

Go Techno! Gardening has never been easier thanks to some fantastic websites that allow you to virtually plan out your garden before you roll up your sleeves. I use Smart Gardener to plan out the design of my garden, view how my location could effect the growing of the herbs, and receive a customized to-do list on what needs to be done. It’s free to join and you get a chance to see some really drool worthy gardens to aspire to.

My own Garden: Currently, I am growing and just planted a variety of herbs from Uncle Herbs Favorites and Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles. This includes basil, sage, parsley, cayenne and red peppers.

Happy gardening!!

About the Author:

Jesse Silver-Nattamai lives and gardens in Tucson, Arizona with her herb loving husband and adorable dog. She taught middle school history for five years, and currently runs her own food blog at Happy Go Lucky Vegan. On the side, Jesse enjoys leading tours and workshops at Tucson Botanical Gardens, and writing short stories and articles.

 

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Spanish Seafood Dish

June 17th, 2011

Our guest chef has done it again! Check out Katheryne’s spanish shellfish recipe. Fresh mussles and clams come together with tomatoes, fresh herbs and white wine to create this great dish.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:
1 lb of cleaned de-bearded mussels
1 1/2 lbs cleaned little neck clams
2 cups white wine (a white table wine will work perfect)
1 cup of organic canned crushed tomatoes
1 small onion finely diced
4 cloves of garlic finely diced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried oregano leaves
the juice of one large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
handful of roughly chopped or torn cilantro leaves to garnish

Directions:
First heat either the oil or the butter on med-low heat in a big deep soup pot with a lid or dutch oven.  Once the oil/butter is hot add the finely diced onion.  Sweat the onions for about five minutes.  Once the onions have turned translucent, add the minced garlic and continue to cook for another two minutes.  Now add the crushed tomatoes, white wine, smokey paprika, cumin, thyme, and oregano to the pot to make a broth.  Turn the heat up to medium or until the broth begins to simmer. Let the alcohol in the wine cook off for about twelve minutes.  Add the mussels, clams, and the lemon juice and cover the pot with the lid.  Cook covered for about three to four minutes or until all of the shell fish have opened (that’s how you know they are ready).  Serve in a big bowl with crusty bread and garnished with cilantro from the Humble Seed.  The bright cilantro really awakens this hearty seafood dish.

*NOTE always check your shell fish prior to cooking to make sure they are all alive.  To do this look to see if all of the shells are closed.  If the shell is open, tap it on the counter, if it does not close, its dead, throw it away.

 About Katheryne:

Sustainability is very important to me because I believe that we should take care of the planet that gives us so much. Love the earth and it will love you back. Know where your food comes from; be informed about what you are consuming. By choosing to eat organically grown produce the impact that you are making on the environment and your own health is a positive one.  Living sustainably to me, is not about  what you are giving up, it’s about all that you get! You can check out my website and please be sure to “like” my Facebook page!

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Seed Spotlight: Santo Cilantro

March 10th, 2011

 

Who loves cilantro!? Raise your hand! This quick growing, versatile herb is one of our absolute favorites. Also known as Chinese parsley, cilantro is the leaves of the coriander plant. The unique, pungent aroma of cilantro makes this herb stand out, and it is used in many parts of the world. In Asian, Caribbean, Indian, and Mexican cuisines, just to name a few, you’ll find cilantro enhancing a variety of delicious dishes, from burritos to chutneys to salsas and more.

For thousands of years, cilantro was cultivated in China, Egypt and India, and in areas of the Near East and southern Europe coriander grows wild. Its uses have ranged from being an appetite stimulant to the relief of anxiety and insomnia to being used in love potions, believing it offered immortality.

Humble Seed’s Santo Cilantro is an easy to grow herb and perfect for container gardening if you do not have yard space. It’s fast growing, reaching 12-24 inches tall, and can be planted in 3-4 week intervals for a continuous harvest. Seeds can be started outside in the spring, after the average last day of frost.

Here’s a tasty Cilantro-Lime Dressing recipe for you to try:

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

1 Conchos jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and coarsely chopped

¾ teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

1 garlic clove

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup lime juice

½ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

¼ cup packed cilantro leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place jalapeno, ginger and garlic into a blender; pulse until finely chopped. Add balsamic vinegar, honey, lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt and cilantro leaves; pulse, to blend. Turn on blender then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until blended into the dressing; season with salt if desired.

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Planning a Spring Vegetable Garden: Things to Consider

February 10th, 2011

 

Cold weather may be upon us yet but it’s never too early to plan a spring garden, because when you plan properly, you’ll find that your garden is more productive and rewarding. And when you plan ahead you will have saved yourself the time and effort it takes to keep your garden growing as best as possible due to important factors.

If you’re ready to grow your own foods for the first time, you will want to keep a couple of things in mind when planning your garden:

1. Location. A garden spot with loose, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight is necessary. You will also want to consider the proximity to your water source.

2. Garden plan. Will you be growing a lot of your family’s favorite herbs and vegetables? If so, you’ll want to make sure your garden is big enough to accommodate your plants according to spacing and size. If you’ll be working with a smaller garden, you’ll want to consider planting vegetables that offer higher yields, such as bell peppers, bush snap beans and tomatoes. If you would like a continuous supply of vegetables, don’t plant too many of one type of vegetable at once. Instead, plant seeds at intervals so that you have a steady supply of herbs and vegetables for harvesting. Draw out your garden plan. Include each of the following on your plan: location in your yard according to sunlight, location of each type of herb and vegetable, length of the rows for each vegetable, spacing between plants in rows and the rows themselves, planting dates, and which plants that will follow harvested vegetables.

3. Not sure what to sow? If you’re a first-time gardener, consider an herb garden. Herbs, such as basil, cilantro, oregano, and more are easy to grow. And there’s nothing better than using fresh herbs straight from the garden for meals of incomparable flavor. There are even some gardeners who grow herbs solely for their aromatic foliage and appearance. A small 4 x 6 foot area is plenty of space to grow all the herbs a small family needs.

This is bare bones glimpse into planning a simple garden, but the idea is that with just a little bit of time and effort you can grow a garden that will supply you and your family with fresh, healthy herbs and vegetables to get you through the growing season. It’s fun; it’s a great activity for the whole family; and it’s a money-saving venture. So get out your paper and colored pencils, plan out your garden then hang it on your bulletin board. You’ll have a great reminder of what’s in store for spring. It’s just around the corner!

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