Herbs have been part of our culinary history for decades. We all have used dried herbs for convenience in our cooking but when we grow herbs in the garden, on the windowsill, or buy them fresh at the store, the taste is amazing. The flavour comes from the essential oils in herbs, which is important for our immune system.
When cooking with herbs to get the best flavour, add fresh herbs to a hot dish at the end of the cooking but when cooking with dried herbs, add them at the beginning of the cooking so the herbs can release their essential oils
An herb plot does not need to be large and is best in less fertile soil but in full sunlight and requires no fertilizers. The key to the garden is to have it close to the kitchen door for the convenience. The photo showing the herb garden is from my home. I have so loved having it and enjoyed preserving them for the winter. The best time to harvest herbs is in the early morning after the dew has evaporated and just before the heat dispenses the fragrance. Dry the herbs by hanging the cut stalk upside down, tied in bunches. When the leaves begin to shrivel put a brown paper bag around them to catch falling leaves.
Here are a few recommended perennial herbs:
Lavender added to vanilla ice cream
Tarragon has great flavour for fish, chicken or eggs
Oregano adds flavour to salads and soups
Thyme has a strong flavour so does well in salads and stews
Mint has a distinct peppermint flavour does well in tea, carrots and desserts – grow mint in a separate plot as the roots invade the garden
Rosemary needs to be brought indoors for the winter
Sage is a native plant that does well in soups, stuffing and salad
These three herbs are not perennials
Cilantro reseeds each spring
Dill reseeds – seedlings can easily be moved to best location
Basil seeds or potted seedlings need to be planted each year
Omelette with Fresh Herbs
It is such a treat to go out to the herb garden and pick fresh herbs for the breakfast omelette. The secret for the best tasting omelette is buying local free-range or roam-free eggs – this means the chickens are allow roaming in the barn and are not kept in small cages. The choice is yours for the herbs, which can range from tarragon, parsley, and coriander to rosemary
3 free-range eggs, whisk just until yolks and whites combined
1 – 2 tsp (5 -10 ml) butter
2 tsp (10 ml) chopped fresh herbs
Optional: 2 – 3 tbsp (25 – 45ml) grated cheddar or goat cheese
1. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a table fork just until the yolks and whites are combined. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat omelette pan over medium heat with the butter. When butter melts, swirl the pan so butter covers the bottom of the pan then pour in the eggs. Return pan to heat and use a fork to constantly move the eggs from the bottom of the pan (this is when you have made soft, light scrambled eggs). For the omelette, stop moving the eggs when the bottom begins to set and leave the eggs until the bottom brown slightly and the top is still slightly moist. Sprinkle on the herbs.
3. To form omelette, use a rubber spatula to free the eggs around the sides. Lift one side of the omelette and gently fold it over. Lift the pan over serving plate and turn the pan over so the omelette falls onto the serving plate. If desired, sprinkle the cheese over the top.
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Photos: © Gay Cook 2012