"Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest, is surely home, and home sweet home for there the heart can rest." -Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ways with Herbs!

Fresh Rosemary, Basil, and Garlic Vinegar

I love herbs, wait no...I'm passionate about herbs! I grow many in my small garden and running out of space. The scent is therapeutic and I use them abundantly for cooking and garnishing. Lately I've been making salad dressing because lettuce is thriving in the garden. Herbal vinegar is simple to put together and can be used for marinades or dressing. You can infuse vinegar with any herbs you enjoy and even add spices. I prepared vinegar with a little black pepper for marinating poultry. If I mix the vinegar with Olive oil, we can have salad dressing in no time! Here's my quick recipe below but feel free to add ingredients you prefer.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar (choose your favorite such as red wine or apple cider vinegar)   
  • 3/4 cup distilled vinegar 5% acidity 
  • 2-3 springs fresh Rosemary
  • 1/3 cup fresh Spicy Basil         
  • 2-3 Garlic cloves
  • Dash of fresh ground Black Pepper
Directions: Add vinegar, herbs, and remaining ingredients in a bottle mixing thoroughly. Close the lid and store in a dark, cool place in the pantry or cupboard for 2-3 weeks to cure until the flavors blend well together. To make light vinaigrette dressing, add extra virgin Olive oil to taste and mix any fresh citrus juice for extra flavor (optional). Perhaps add Dijon mustard if you're in the mood for french salad dressing.

How to dry and store herbs

It's fun to preserve herbs and use them for cooking. You can save cash if you create your own seasoning! I gathered fresh herbs from my garden at the peak of their flavor and tied them with raffia like a small bouquet. Here we have Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Basil, and Oregano. There are other ways to dry herbs but I used the bunch method which can take a few days to a week. Check out www.wikihow.com/Preserve-Herbs

I tied the herbs upside down away from excessive heat with good ventilation above our kitchen sink where I normally hang towels. Herbs will be dry and ready in a week or so. Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh so you'll need less for cooking.

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This is Italian Seasoning: I dried Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Sage, Oregano, and Parsley. You can separate individual herbs or make a special blend. After herbs have been dried, chop and mince with a knife or cut with kitchen shears in a container. Place herbs in a jar, close lid well, label, and keep in a cool dark place away from heat. Dried herbs can be stored for up to one year but eventually loses the quality of flavor so use often! 

Dried herb seasoning makes a great gift. I wrapped the Italian Blend with 100% cotton dish cloth which only cost $1 and they get to use it in the kitchen! Tie with ribbons or natural raffia and decorate with fresh herbs before giving away, you can even make a personal gift tag and attach it too. Herbs are also delightful centerpieces and party favors

I quickly designed this label in Photoshop and Illustrator 

   Chives and Thyme Butter

Herb butter makes a yummy gift for any occasion! Use cookie cutters to shape butter into a cute heart, flower, or any shape you like. Alternatively, keep it simple by molding butter in a small (freezer safe) bowl. Freeze for 30 minutes to an hour then release with the help of a butter knife.

Herb butter wrapped in unbleached parchment paper tied with raffia, crafty affordable way to package! For Christmas, red or green cellophane wrappers are pretty with shiny ribbons. Maybe include homemade bread or muffins for a special edible gift from the heart! ♥

You can get creative by making your own gift tag using computer, rubber stamps, ribbons, special paper, or even scrapbook paper. 

For butter recipe: Add your favorite herbs but I used fresh Chives and Thyme from my garden. Start with 1 stick (1 cup) sweet cream organic butter, softened. Place butter in a small (freezer safe) bowl. Mix 1-2 tbsp fresh herbs, about 1/4 tsp onion and garlic powder, then dash of salt to taste. Freeze for half an hour or so until firm, release butter and shape if you want, store in the freezer until ready to use. Thaw butter in the fridge or room temperature and serve with warm crusty bread! Butter can stay in the freezer for a few months. Another idea is making sweet honey butter, just add organic honey to taste with about 1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon and a dash of Nutmeg.  

My Chives and Thyme butter on toasted sourdough English muffins, spreading that butter into the nooks and crannies!

Sun Brewed Peach and Ginger Mint Herbal Iced Tea 

What a perfect refreshing summer drink on a warm day! You can prepare it easily by letting the sun naturally brew the tea. Be sure to cover the glass pitcher or jar to prevent bacteria and don't steep for more than 4 hours. For more info on safety check out tipnut.com/making-sun-tea I kept mine brewing near the veggie garden where we get full sun. Black and green tea makes a good base then you can add your own herbs and flavors. For my recipe I used organic Oolong tea which is somewhere between green and black tea, mild flavor with golden color. I made about 8 glasses of 8 ounce servings.

Ingredients: 
  • 7 Organic Oolong (Wu Long) tea bags (depends how strong you want the tea)
  • A pitcher of cold water
  • 2 Cups frozen chopped Peaches
  • 2 tbsp organic Honey (You can use Sugar, Stevia, or Agave Nectar)
  • 2 Cups peach Nectar juice ( I used 100% bottled juice or use a can of juice from Cling Peaches) 
  • About 2-3 tbsp Fresh Ginger Mint to taste  
  • Fresh Peach slices for garnishing (optional)
Directions: Fill pitcher or jar with cold water, add tea bags and use tea strainer to hold the bags down if necessary. Cover well and let steep in the sun for about 3 hours but check periodically for flavor intensity. When done brewing add Peach Nectar Juice, honey, frozen chopped Peaches, fresh Ginger Mint, and stir. Chill in the fridge and allow flavors to blend. Add ice cubes to a glass before pouring tea then serve. Enjoy! My hubby had 3 glasses in a row!

  
Ginger Mint from my garden

Take time to smell the herbs. Have a fantastic weekend everyone!
       

9 comments:

  1. Cool recipes Priscilla! Love your ideas and instructions on how to store the herbs!! Awesome!

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  2. Hi Prescilla,
    These all sound so good. I like to make herb butters too.

    I don't know about the blog roll. I am still figuring out a lot about blogging as I go along. I started my blog to keep a journal of my gardens, but have so enjoyed it that I am posting a lot of recipes now. I will do some checking on that and see if I can figure out what happened.
    Carla

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  3. Oh, I also wanted to say I love the label you created for the gifts. And your garden flowers look lovely.

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  4. Thank you for the wonderful comment Melissa, herbs are so much fun and yummy! @ Carla, thanks for stopping by and trying to help. I think Blogger is working now. I love reading recipes so I'll be following your posts! :)

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  5. Hi Priscilla, That's a very lovely packaging idea; dish cloth with ribbon and fresh herbs. Nice.

    I plant herbs too but still do not know how to enjoy them like you do. Something I need to learn.

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  6. I like this idea for the vinegar. I haven't ever made my own but you made it look pretty easy.
    Like that label as well.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog,
    Have a great day, Priscilla!

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  7. Priscilla these are wonderful ideas - you are so creative and I love the way you package the little gifts too.

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  8. I love the iced tea baby! I could drink a gallon a day!!!

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  9. Great pictures and recipes - very inspiring!

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I'm glad you stopped by. I love reading your comments and thank you for taking the time. Have a wonderful day! :-)

♥ Priscilla