Info

to do. to see. to hear. to love

Posts tagged herbs

IMG_6689i have been growing herbs for a few years now, and though i am no expert, i find these tips to be helpful.  living in southern california, i could grow herbs year round and it was luxurious! here in colorado, i have been growing them inside for a few months, but have had a few mishaps with bugs, or simply leaving them by a very cold window for too long.  i recently bought a new batch and am back in business with the little gems. they are currently sitting in the front window and so far so good! when i first moved here, i cringed at buying a $4 box of herbs when it is so easy to grow them yourself. there really is no excuse not too!

there are many books or even tutorials online about your herbs. these are just a few simple helpful hints for flavorful herbs.

1. learn where your species are from in order to mimic their preferred environment. lavender, rosemary, thyme, savory, and sage are Mediterranean herbs and like lots of sun, sandy soil that drains well, keeping fertilizers to the minimum.  all this will help keep the flavor in the leaves. herbs like basil, mint, lemon verbena prefer lots of water and rich soil, maybe some compost. an easy way to distinguish is by the leaves. the softer the leaf, the more water it will want! perhaps, you plant your mediterranean herbs together and your more delicate herbs together so your watering doesn’t get mixed up!

2. harvesting: new leaves tend to have the most flavor vs. the leaves at the bottom. some say harvesting in the morning is also the best time!  when herbs like basil and dill have flowered, that means they have matured…no more leaves. for basil, cut down just above the last branch and new leaves should begin to sprout again!
PicMonkey Collagedfbea

rosemary: year round if you live in a frost free area. dry soil, full sun. companions: beans, broccoli, carrots, hot peppers. keep dry.

sage: grows in brisk dry summer, dry soil, full sun. companions: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, rosemary, broccoli, don’t over water-likes it dry!

cilantro: grows in spring/summer.cool nights, sunny days.rich soil. companions: anise. adequate water.

chive: spring summer. well drained average soil, 4-6 hours of sun. companions: parsley, broccoli, eggplant, mustard, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes. water: once a week. these babies will keep coming back!
IMG_6693

thyme: brisk days of summer. well drained, sunny airy spot. companions: everybody! keep fairly dry, don’t overwater.

dill: grow in summer. plant early spring. average light. companions: cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, onions, beets. lots of water. IMG_6692

basil: grow in summer. plant when soil is warm. full sun. companions: tomatoes and asparagus. adequate moisture.

mint: grow mostly in summer. plant anytime. open airy spot with room to grow. companions: cabbage, tomato, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. needs lots of moisture.IMG_6690

tarragon: winter in some zones. well drained soil and sun in the mornings. if too hot, place in shade in afternoon. companions: anything. pests don’t like tarragon. keep well watered.

oregano: spring/summer. full sun and well drained soil. companions: cabbage, cucumbers, grapes.  moderate watering, but more while young.

now, these tips are simple and again, i am not an expert. i just thought this would be fun post to do to inspire those who may be timid to start a garden. there are so many different great websites out there for growing herbs. not only are they great for cooking, but have been used for centuries in many medicinal purposes. one day, we might just discuss that! we didn’t go over a few great ones either like anise, lavender, chamomile, but you can easily find this info online. check your thrift stores too for garden books! it is one of my favorite places to look!

i can’t wait to get started on my garden outside. i was hoping to dig into it before i left for three weeks, but that might not happen.  another tip, is to check about local growing. different areas will have different species of bugs, critters, or animals that will pester your herbs or garden. for example, the squirrels were a pain in the ass last spring in LA. apparently, growing tomatoes here in colorado is best done next to chervil (i believe, i gotta check that one again!) i also can’t plant any fruits or the bears will eat em up! another fun tip about tomatoes, if your leaves are turning a bit blue green, producing lots of leaves and no fruit…clip back your leaves as the plant is being too taken care of. the fruit grows in order to procreate. it is where the seeds are they will germinate the next batch. i found that to be so exciting! sometimes, you want to make the plant thrive in order to get it to produce. but more to come on the garden beds and veggies! i can’t wait!

IMG_4007

first off, i have to admit that i am listening to Beyonce while typing this, which is pretty much out of character for me. did anybody else watch her documentary on HBO this past weekend? i had to try out one of her albums, which is a first for me, besides her radio hits. i am quite enjoying the change of pace- the girl has got some spunk! and run the world might just be one of the all time best music videos! i kind of think she is whitney houston/madonna/ and hilary clinton in one. i would probably vote for her. i am also obsessed with her choreography, not to mention her costumes. it’s just so good. ok, i am done talking about my girl crush.

moving on to this grapefruit and rosemary almond cake. which, i might say could possibly be one of my favorite things i have ever made. it is moist and light and yummy!!!! i could probably eat a piece every day. since, i can never NOT over do it when it comes to food and entertaining, i decided to make this cake a few weeks ago for my visiting friends just to have around. i told you we would be talking about that weekend for a while. i still have like 3 posts pending on it.

i found a recipe for a lemon/rosemary/creme fraiche cake and it was so pretty i wanted to try and recreate it. i did a spin on it though and changed a few things around with ingredients and flavors. the original recipe called for instant polenta, but i am not always the biggest fan of corn products, so i substituted this for more almond flour, which i am a big fan of. i also forgot to get creme fraiche at the store, kind of a main ingredient…but i had some honey greek gods yogurt and substituted this in the cake and the icing! instead of lemon, i obviously did grapefruit and kept the rosemary in there, which was my favorite part of the flavor. i added in some blood orange for color and just because i had one around. obviously, i took inspiration from the cake i did for the marie antoinette party. i have been wanting to do more fun decorated cakes like this…just another excuse to eat something. i loved this combo so much that i  did a twist on my baked donuts with a grapefruit/rosemary  for the job i did last week and they were a big hit! i will probably put herbs in all my desserts now.

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage1IMG_3902 PicMonkey Collage2 IMG_3940

ingredients

cake

1 stick of melted butter/cooled

1 1/2 c of almond flour

1 1/3 c of flour

1 tbsp of baking powder

1 tbsp of grated grapefruit

1/2 tsp of salt

4 eggs at room temp

1/2 c of sugar

3/4 cup of creme fraiche or yogurt

1-2 tbsp of chopped rosemary

syrup

1/2 c of water

1/2 c sugar

1 tbsp grapefruit juice

glaze

1/2 c of powdered sugar

3 tbsp of creme fraiche or yogurt

1 tbsp of grapefruit juice

combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. beat the room temp and eggs for 10 minutes. add the creme fraiche or yogurt after the ten minutes and then the melted butter, which should be cool. fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in 3 batches. bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

while the cake bakes, make the syrup. combine the water and sugar and simmer until the sugar dissolves. add the grapefruit juice and pour over the cake while the cake is still hot. yum!

combine the ingredients for the glaze. you can add more powdered sugar or juice for required consistency. you can also add a little vanilla for flavor if you like. add the glaze to the cake when it has cooled.

i used a mandolin to slice my grapefruit and blood orange. i then sliced them in half and decorated around the cake. a few springs of rosemary garnish the middle.

IMG_3943 IMG_3952 IMG_3983 IMG_3974PicMonkey Collage45645IMG_4015

it is getting to be that time of year when the garden will slowly start fading away.  even if living in socal gives us year round gardens, the summer garden is the most exciting for me!  i am sad to see her go soon, she gave me such smiles and warmth on a daily basis.  i love watering her soil and discovering the treasured buds her plants would give life to.

i attempted a winter garden last year, but somehow forgot to tend to her. i have started research on what to grow this fall, but if i book it out of LA soon, i won’t have the ability to garden. i will have to forfeit until next summer. that is one of the many beauties of southern california, the lack of harsh winters and distinct seasonal changes, allowing for year round gardens. it can still get pretty chilly and rainy here, and i have gotten use to the mediterranean climate.  i keep thinking about the winter i might be about to embark on, and wonder if i will frolic in the snow, or have a minor breakdown? i have always been nostalgic for winter ( i grew up in northern indiana where there is plenty of it) and believe the seasons have a great purpose and lesson for rebirth.   i will have to let go of her until next year when i can give her life again. drying the herbs might just be a way of holding on to the luxury of being able to grow such wonderful specimens…and not letting her bountiful beauty go to waste.

this year i am growing two kinds of basil, oregano, two types of thyme, mint, rose geranium, and parsley. a bay tree already grows tall in the yard sharing many, many leaves for use. my dad took home a bag full on his last visit. everyone might just be getting jars of bay leaves for christmas this year!

harvest your herbs before they flower.  this will need to be done throughout any growing period. once annual herbs flower, they have gone to seed and will produce no more leaves.  cutting back allows you to grow more! lots more! cut back basil to above bottom two sets of leaves. thyme, at about 1/2 to 1/3. you can use what you cut back to cook with or this is when you start drying or freezing.

smaller leaves, like thyme, oregano, and even the bay leaves can be dried on baskets or even screens(window screens, perhaps purchased from the thrift store?).  if you need to wash off dirt, do so and pat dry before spreading them out on the basket/screen. store out of sunlight with good air circulation until dry, possibly up to 7 days.

some leaves with a lot of moisture content, like basil, mint, and tarragon, can not be laid on top of each other to dry (sometimes oregano too, but mine worked out fine. if you live in a humid environment i would try this method for any tender herb) instead, you can make a bundle of stems (3-5) tied together with gardeners string to hang upside down.

if the leaves are not quite dry, like sage, you can pop them in the oven at the lowest possible temp for 5 minutes.  you do not want to store any herbs in a jar with moisture, as this will cause mold.  if you have a dehydrator, you can also use this. check out the website at the end of the post for more info on using the dehydrator.

to test if the herbs are dry and ready for storage…check the crumble and the crackle.  if the leaves have turned brown they are not good for culinary purpose. you can find other purposes for these brown herbs on the web.

store the leaves whole, away from light and heat. crumble  at time of use to release the essential oils, giving a more intense flavor.

this is a great website for gardening tips!

i am off to colorado today. wylie and i are doing the drive in two days. i am really looking forward to jamming out to some tunes and the scenery along I-70.  gonna be a good trip…i can feel it!

so, many fun things happened this past week. went to see a nutritionist whom kicked my butt with some reality. my dear friends stacy and allan were married this past saturday. we spent the week doing lots of wedding things: a lingerie shower. a trip to glen ivy hot springs and spa where we covered ourselves in mudd and had lotion painted on with a paint brush to then only hang out in a fragile rock cave. helped with flowers and decorations for the wedding. went to the wedding and cried my eyes out watching these two amazing people share their love.  and now i am off to take a trip to inspire something…i am not sure how or what yet, kind of banking that it will just come to me!

for now, i will leave you with this salad.

mixed greens

bacon

hard boiled egg

avacado

radish

lemon juice and zest

dill

mint

olive oil

s+p

mix all ingredients together! enjoy!

the other day i had somehow eaten chocolate and basil at the same time and it tasted pretty yummy! so, i thought what about putting basil in chocolate chip cookies? of course, when i went to actually make the cookies, my basil plant was looking a bit weak and i didn’t have enough basil for the recipe…so, i added mint!! these were pretty tasty! and my taste test neighbors liked them too! well, at least the mint part, but i liked the basil part. so, you can add the two herbs together or try them separately.

11 1/2 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1 cup(s) butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup(s) sugar

3/4 cup(s) brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoon(s) vanilla

2 1/4 cup(s) unsifted flour

1 teaspoon(s) baking soda

1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

(if using one or the other double the portion)

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in herbs and chocolate chips. Drop on cookie sheet ( I used an ice cream scoop to get the cookies nice and round). Bake until golden brown.

and definitely drink with some milk!

ps. this is kind of a little tribute to my blogger friend over at baker bettie whom gave me some good blogging tips! she makes some very lovely cookies and i thought of her blog and advice a lot while making these!! thank you kristin!

baked cheese!!! as the barefoot contessa would say ” how easy is that?” seriously. how easy is this? it’s pretty damn easy. i mean, how come i never thought of this before?

i love that i post about melted cheese on a monday morning, just in time to highjack the healthy grocery shopping list i made last night. i will try and save the brick of fontina that currently resides in my fridge for company!

but that is exactly what this dish is perfect for. got a brick of cheese on hand? pop it in a cast iron skillet with herbs and salt and pepper and you will be named martha of the year by your guests!

i used jarslberg for this one, but i think fontina would be great or any other good melting cheese like gruyere, emmentaler, cheddar, asiago, gouda, or blue. the jarlsberg got a bit tough once it cooled, but it was still yummy!

chop up your cheese into cubes. you can shred it as well if you are looking for a small arm workout .

roughly chop up 2-3 cloves of garlic and throw in the skillet with the cheese.

sprinkle on lots of fresh chopped herbs. i used basil, mint, rosemary, dill and dried oregano. honestly, any combo could be good here! i was worried about the mix of the herbs, but it was really good. the mint was actually great! thyme, of course, should be in there, but i didn’t have it on hand.

drizzle with lots of olive oil.

sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 350 until melted!

serve with bread.

reap the rewards!

my travel italia post was featured on freshly pressed today! what an honor! and what an amazing adventure this day has been reading all of the lovely comments and nice words. to inspire people through my own desires or my own eye (that of the iPhone camera at the time) is quite a glorious feeling. i will try and go through to respond to most of your comments. too bad there isn’t a “like” button on each comment like good old Facebook. just to let each and every person know i read, heard, and appreciate their comment. and thanks to all the new followers. i hope you enjoy each post as much as the italy post!

i had a few different options for posting today. i try to do as much original content as possible. i have been inspired by all the little green things popping up around my yard. living in southern california there is always some new kind of plant or flower i have never seen before or noticed. i also finally replanted my herbs yesterday.  looking forward to starting the garden sometime soon.

I have a large affection for my backyard. Outside my front door are the bright lights (and an amazing view) of downtown LA. Outside the backdoor is a little garden of eden nestled in the concrete perimeters of Echo Park.  Recently, my neighbor and I made some farm boxes.  It started with an herb garden that I planted last  summer in this small nook.

Unfortunately, after a month long journey to other countries, the herbs did not survive.  So, this time with the help of my neighbor the herbs got moved into pots where we planted lots more!!!

Everytime I walk into my backyard to get herbs I get so happy! It really is the simple things.  We have basil, mint, thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram, dill, and chives. The next step was a farm box.  There was some old wood lying around that was aged just so lovely. ( I wanted to make a table out of it for my front hallway, but the project was a bust. Boo. )We cut it up and it became the first little farm box.

The box became to small so we decided to make a bigger one! This time heading to Home Depot to get 2  1×12. Cutting them into 4 feet each making a 4×4 box.  So easy, if you have a saw, drill,and some screws. We transferred the tomatoes into the bigger box…one didn’t do so well with that transfer, poor guy.  We added in some pepper plants and a cherry tomato plant.  The small box became filled with romaine, strawberries, and sugar baby watermelon.  I also have some marionberries growing in a pot, although those won’t blossom until next summer. I know summer is coming to an end in most of the country, but I feel like it hasn’t even started in LA yet.  Perhaps this is a project for next summer! I love the little garden. Even if we only get 8 tomatoes!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,720 other followers