Friday, April 15, 2011

A Word or Two about Herbs and Spices

Fresh Herbs
I don't have a green thumb. My mom gave me a beautiful, thriving rosemary plant, and I managed to kill it in a week and a half. And I love rosemary. I hear that basil is easy to grow, but I haven't tried, yet. I've resided in urban spaces for a lot of years, now, and though it isn't a good excuse, it's mine. If you aren't growing your own herbs, then you can buy them at a grocery store or farmer's market. They are lovely and subtle, and they can be the most important ingredient in many a beautiful dish. When you have them, use them! All other times, dried herbs are great.

Dried Herbs and Spices
I stock a few dried herbs and spices, and since most of my cooking tends toward Mediterranean food, you'll see a theme: bay leaves, basil, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, dill, tarragon. I've recently added anise, cinnamon and cloves (needed to make pho). I find that I can achieve a lot with these. You can usually find cheap herbs and spices in the bulk section of your grocery store. With the above, you can season various pasta sauces, rice and bean dishes, soups, and meat, fish and poultry. In other words, just about anything you may want for dinner. Many recipes will call for others, but I wanted to begin by sharing my basic seasoning inventory. 

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