Thursday, October 2, 2014

garden herbs

In the early spring I am full of gardening-energy and work hard at planting and tending my herbs. We love them! Freshly snipped parsley and chives are just wonderful tossed onto the salad, soups and veggies, stirred into dips, or sprinkled onto cream cheese. My skinny son is turning into a skinny but hungry teenager and for a snack, he loves to fry himself an egg or too - he will always go outside to grab some herbs for the garnish. I'm so glad he does that. Herbs are healthy for you and their medicinal properties are fascinating.
However, summer comes along with all its activities and then busy back-to-school autumn and I have to admit that our herbs get a bit neglected. Our spiral-shaped garden which I blogged about here often looks nice and neat in the spring but by September, it's quite a jungle. 
I wanted get the most from our herbs before the first really cool fall days come, so last week I dedicated one sunny day to collecting and preparing some of my favorite leaves for winter cooking.
Each plant has such beautiful and unique leaves varying in texture, shape, and shades of green. I felt inspired to to get out my sketchpad and make some drawings. Of course I didn't have time but maybe on a snowy winter day I will look at my photos for sketching ideas. A lovely subject!

You can hang herbs up to dry but this takes a couple of weeks and you need a warm dry airy room for this. This year I tried the more time-efficient variation of using a food dehydrator. In a couple of hours I had perfectly dried sage, thyme and rosemary and the whole kitchen was filled with the most wonderful warm fragrance reminiscent of thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.
I also chopped a ton of parsley and chives and tarragon for the freezer.
The whole time my little furry friend Shadow kept me company in a cozy corner of the kitchen and while I worked we enjoyed some favorite music in the background....
My Italian style herbs shrunk tremendously once I dried and crumbled them and my jar seemed pathetically empty. I remembered reading about adding herbs to course sea salt and that was the perfect solution, especially since my salt grinder just happened to be needing a re-fill anyway!
Another way to preserve herbs is to make an aromatic vinegar. I added some lemon balm and tarragon to a bottle of white wine vinegar and in a few weeks it will be lovely for vinaigrette on a leafy green salad. 
It seemed in order that all this work should be honored with special labels for the jars and freezer containers. I really like the popular chalkboard look right now so I drew up some handwritten labels in white ink on black paper. Loved how they turned out! The lids for the dried herbs from recycled jars did not match did not match at all so I glued on some gingham fabric (what else?!)
One of the easiest ways to use herbs is to make a little bouquet to display in a vase or cup. A sprig of rosemary tied with string also makes a lovely and simple place setting on each plate at the table. There are really no end of ways to incorporate herbs into your daily life!
I hope you're inspired to plant some herbs in your garden or window box or grab some fresh ones at your nearest market! Happy days to you!



greenrabbitdesigns said...

Ah Karen firstly I have to say how lovely you look!!! :)
I love all your photos they look like they have come straight out of a food magazine, you have so many great ideas for your herbs.
V x

Tante Mali said...

Dear Karen,
oh the entire room is full of parfume of your herbs. How wonderful. I love herbs as you do and try to preserve the taste of summer during the cold winter time. Your herbs vinegar sounds delicious!
Have a happy happy time and all my best from and Austrian gardener