Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea.
What a gift we have been given to have salt, herbs and spices to enhance our food. Without them soup would be bland, pasta rather tasteless, meats unappetizing and popcorn would stay in the bowl.
Learning to use these gifts the world has to offer makes your cooking rise to the level of artistic expression--even more so when you have grown the herbs in your own garden. These days, you can seek out some wonderful crystals of sea salt that are so popular now - Himalayan Pink, Black Lava, white crystals that shine like diamonds or even Bolivian which is orange. We have come a long way from Morton's "When It Rains, It Pours" table salt.
If you are looking to add some excitement to your dishes, check into some of those different salts. But also, grow some herbs right outside your kitchen window. There is absolutely nothing fresher or more enjoyable than stepping outside with a pair of scissors and snipping what you need. You can have all those wonderful flavors in your cooking pot within only a couple of minutes.
Fresh herbs really cannot compare to the tins you probably have in your cupboard right now. Fess up, some of those have been in there are very long time haven't they? Throw them away. They have lost their usefulness.
In my garden, I grow basil, rosemary, sage, chives, dill, mint, cilantro, parsley, marjoram, savory, oregano and thyme for cooking. At the end of the season, you can dry them yourself to use all winter or better yet, start some plants to grow indoors too.
There are many recipes on the internet to create your own herb or spice blends and I hope you get out there and do that both for the satisfaction of doing it yourself but also because they make wonderful gifts. Here are two of my very favorites:
Gather equal parts of fresh herbs and chop together on your cutting board or combine if herbs are already dried.
I use these:
Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Marjoram, Parsley and Thyme
If using fresh herbs and you want to dry to use later, place the herbs on a cookie sheet in as thin a layer as possible and leave in an area where air will circulate but not in direct sunlight. It usually takes a couple of days in my kitchen. When herbs crumble easily, you can package in a pretty jar and give as a gift if you like.
This recipe below is my very favorite blend of all time. I hope you make it yourself and see what a difference it makes in pretty much anything you cook - except maybe not desserts. ;)
Rosemary Garlic Salt
1/2 cup kosher salt
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup of fresh rosemary leaves - no stems
zest from one lemon
Mound all the ingredients together on your cutting board. With your knife, chop and blend until the mixture is fairly fine - like coarse sand. Spread the mixture thinly on a cookie sheet and leave on the counter where air will circulate but not in direct sunlight. This mixture usually takes a couple of days to dry thoroughly. When completely dry, store in a pretty jar and use liberally in everything from chicken to potatoes to even your popcorn. I so hope you like it.
That's all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed your visit. Tomorrow, I'll post on useful essential oils to help you through the cold and flu season which sounds like is going to be a rough one. Certainly, the sub-zero temperatures in my part of the country are keeping people indoors and exposed to more contagions. So, keep up the handwashing! I hope to see you tomorrow.
Peace be with you,
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