Do you grow herbs? Do you use spices? Do you know which is which? Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen's Janine Washle is teaching us more about both including salt preserving herbs and making your own vanilla. Plus, if you plan on making culinary gifts for Christmas, it is time to get started. I'll share my 'Christmas Spirit' recipe too!
Herbs are defined as the leaves of various annual even some perennial plants like rosemary. Simply put, herbs fall into two classes, culinary and medicinal, with many herbs overlapping these categories. A brief look at these two categories will provide an introduction into this fascinating segment of the plant world.
Herbs are a fragrant addition to your dishes that do more than add a colorful touch. Their properties can prevent gastric distress like flatulence, sweeten the breath, fight colds, and provide a lift when winter's winds are blowing.
Culinary herbs can be purchased fresh or dried. When storing fresh herbs, treat them like a floral bouquet. Cut the stem ends and place in a jar or glass filled with water then put in the refrigerator. If the humidity in the refrigerator isn't high, wrap several damp paper towels over the leaves. Dampen as needed. Fresh herbs last for about a week and a half this way.
Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor than their fresh counterparts. Crushed or ground herbs lose their flavor more quickly than whole herbs. Still yet when dried, it is best to replace the containers every 3-6 months. If the herb's familiar scent isn't immediately distinguished upon opening the jar, toss it. Essentially all that is left is herbal dust and the memory of what it was.
It is important to know that when a recipe calls for 1 tsp of dried oregano, you have to use about 1 TB (3 tsp) to get the same flavor as the recipe is requiring. Conversely, if the recipe calls for a ¼ cup of fresh chopped chives and all you have is a container of dried chives, use 4 teaspoons (1 TB + 1 tsp).
Common culinary herbs are just like the songwriter wrote many years ago, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme along with dill, chives, oregano, thyme, marjoram, mint, and cilantro.
Medicinal herbs provide support for allergy sufferers, restoring vitality, increase the ability of the immune system to fight off sicknesses. Herbs have been used thousands of years to aid the body in promoting wellness. Many culinary herbs are found to support the body even when cooked like onions, marjoram, and rosemary. Common medicinal herbs that you may already use and not even realize they are include chamomile, lavender, any mint, and ginger. One of the prettiest and beneficial medicinals is Echinacea and it's easy to grow too. With a little research, you can make cough drops or liquid to get you through cold season, sleep inducing teas, even little sachets to tuck in your pillow filled with lavender to lull you to la la land.
Whatever your interest in herbs whether for cooking or home remedies, they do not require particularly fertile soil in fact, they thrive in poor soil. However, they require sunlight. Herbs grown in the shade tend to get lanky and weak stemmed. Many of the woody stemmed herbs like rosemary, lavender, oregano, and thyme can easily over winter indoors. The tender herbs like basil, parsley, dill, and cilantro have a harder time inside where air temperatures can be dry and cool. These few are best grown outside then preserved for use during the colder months.
Spices come from the bark, buds, roots, seeds, and stems of various plants and trees. Some herbs yield spices such as cilantro seeds are coriander, and fennel produce the anise flavored fennel seed. Spices have been used for more than flavoring, they have been used in royal ceremonies, burial processes as well as, perfumes and medicines. During the Middle Ages spices actually became commodities. Spices especially peppercorns were used as currency.
Spices may be purchased whole or ground. Either way, they lose their pungency in less than a year. While it is best to buy whole spices and grind them as needed, ground spices that have lost a bit of their punch can be revitalized by toasting them in a hot skillet. If they smell like dust though, they are. Just toss them and start over.
Common spices are cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, paprika, and peppercorns. Besides the single spices, they can be purchased as blends like curry powder, and five spice powder. A light touch is needed when using spices as they are very pungent. Over seasoning with spices will ruin a dish. Remember the old adage, "you can add, but you can't take away."
Spices more than any other seasoning, can evoke memories of holidays nutmeg in eggnog, family gatherings like paprika dusted deviled eggs, and even cultures such as Mexican hot chocolate where cinnamon and vanilla are always paired with chocolate.
No matter when or where you use herbs or spices, you will energize yourself and your dishes with the addition of just a pinch of this and a little bit of that.
Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen also has a special Herbs & Spices Recipe Booklet available by email. To ask for a complimentary copy, just email Janine Washle at firstname.lastname@example.org
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CloverFields Farm & Kitchen
3720 Mt. Olive Rd.
Hardin Springs Area
Big Clifty, KY 42712
Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.
CloverFields Farm is dedicated to the preservation of southern, especially Kentucky, food traditions. The kitchen is commercially-outfitted compliant with Health Department standards. In this kitchen I develop new recipes based on original ideas, inspirations from my culinary research, and most often according to what is in season.
On the farm, they make many gifts and specialty items. She is currently working on her first cookbook, but she also has a long resume developing recipes for several companies. She has also won several contests and cook-offs with her original recipes.