Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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Athens- Part 3 from Dynes Media on Vimeo.
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Special thanks to Room Eleven Media for producing this video.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
The crisp shapes and forms of the lovely aromatic leaves bound in ice is the perfect accouterment to sparkling mineral water. Whenever I travel outside the country, I love being asked by the servers if I’d like water “with gas” or “no gas” and this drink reminds me of those travels.
As the ice melts in the sparkling water, the herb leaves release their essence and the scents , bouquets, and flavors meld with the fizz for beverage of pure delight and refreshment. Flavor with a syrup or citrus but trust me, this clean tasting drink is fine on its own.
Fill an ice cube tray with a leaf or two of your favorite herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, basil, and mint, and then cover with water. Place in the freezer until frozen and use for sparkling water or any drink for that matter.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Gathering a few herbs from the garden and arranging them in a jelly jar or simple container makes the kitchen prettier and smell good as well. Since my stems of rosemary, thyme, and basil are literally at hand, all I have to do is snip or pluck or pick the leaves I need and my dishes become infused with the essence of the garden.
Since I know my palette and the flavors I like to use, I keep bundles of said flavors close by for convenience and aesthetics as well. When making a stew or boiling water for pasta, having access to these bundles of herbs makes my kitchen prep time a breeze. I love the savory smell, taste, and flavor of rosemary, thyme, and oregano in my pasta and beef dishes as well; so when I know I’m going to cook one of these meals, I like to have the bouquet garni on call and ready for action. A bundle of sage and bay will wake up a chicken dish or soup in an instant, layering the dish with richness and freshness. What better place to collect these herbs than from your own garden and kitchen counter! Besides, the stems will root after a few days in water, so transplant your new herb plants back to the garden or share with friends…a bouquet garni makes a lovely hostess gift or housewarming token.
Often, a bouquet garni is tied with some kitchen twine and immersed into the stock or stew and fished out once the dish is ready for serving. The bouquet may also be bound, simply bagged into cheesecloth or a tea strainer and removed before consumption. Vegetable shavings or julienned pieces of veggies are often placed within a bouquet garni, such as leeks and carrots, to flavor a chicken stock. One of my favorite bouquets consist of thyme, parsley, and lemon peel – this combo fares well with poultry, pasta, and pizza and is a staple in this Farmer’s garden and kitchen.
In mentioning one of my favorite bouquets, note that there is no true recipe for a bouquet garni…the cook’s palette is the way to determine the bouquet’s constitution. Parsley, thyme, and bay leaves are traditionally used in bouquet garni and rightly so, for these flavors blend very well and create a wonderful base layer of flavor to expand upon. Next time you are making a pasta dish or chicken stock, throw in some of these herbs and liven up your dish and awaken your palette. You can even toss some thyme leaves into pizza dough or on toasted bread to coordinate the flavors throughout the meal.
Of course, this Farmer has to have his Southern twist on gardening and cooking and a bouquet garni is of no exception. I like to keep a bouquet of mint close by to flavor and garnish tea… sprigs of ‘Kentucky Colonel’ or ‘Spearmint’ just waiting in a julep cup like pretty maids in a row! This is my kind of bouquet garni… Southern style for Southern style!
Sometimes I’ll throw a bundle of mint into the boiling water or infuse the simple syrup with the leaves. Garnishing a glass of tea with mint is perfectly elegant, but this dose of the garden is not only aesthetically pleasing, but aromatic as well. And since so much of our taste is derived from the olfactory sense, the smell of the mint as you are sipping your tea is just a part of the whole experience. We eat, and drink, with our eyes first so why not drink from a pretty glass of tea?
Take it from this Farmer, a bouquet garni is a welcomed addition to the kitchen counter as well as your dishes’ flavor. Discover you flavor palette, plant your herbs accordingly, and keep a bouquet garni on hand for a dose of garden living. From this Farmer’s garden and kitchen…enjoy!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I love herbs. I grow them, I cook with them, I eat them and sometimes just smell them for instant links to memories and tastes. Growing up in Hawkinsville as a child, our farm provided space a plenty for me to dabble in herb cultivation. It was there, on our farm, that I first learned what organic gardening was, though I did not know my “organic gardening” was “organic gardening.” I knew our cows ate our grass, drank our spring water, and breathed our surrounding air. So, I knew, somewhat instinctively, that their manure was just good… basic, natural fertilizer – the byproduct of the cows’ natural digestion. What better fertilizer, compost amendment, and soil conditioner could there be?
But what truly struck me was the saying, “you are what you eat.” Since my cows were eating our natural grass, I knew their manure was safe. Same theory went for their meat and milk. Of course, I composted the manure and thoroughly washed the produced, but that simple, basic cycle of good things in, good things out stuck with me and I still believe it today. Those tomatoes, melons, herbs, squash, cucumbers, peppers, and corn were just amazing, and nothing beats a farm fresh produce basket!
As with my Herban Gardening today, I firmly believe in “you are what you eat” moxie. Whether I’m planting herbs grown by a grower I know or starting from seed, I know what is on and in my herbs, thus I know what will be on and in my kitchen, plate, and tummy! So with this in mind, let’s discuss a few of the gardening basics when it comes to growing herbs.
- Light and water…lots of light but not too much water. Herbs prefer a well-drained soil, which means not a soggy, soupy, mushy growing medium. Water thoroughly and often, but be sure your herbs have enough time to soak up the water you give them each time, developing healthy, deep roots. In the heat of the summer, water in the morning and again if your basil begins to look peaked. Wider leafed herbs such as basil, mint, salvias, and sage will show wilting more so than little leaf thyme and rosemary.
- Pinching and pruning…the green new growth is definitely the freshest, so pinch off new shoots for cooking and arranging. The woody stems of rosemary and thyme can be used for BBQ skewers, stew flavorings, and bouquet garni. The flavor, essence, and oils are in the leaves, so use them for your culinary creations. Basil and oregano make lovely bolts of flowers that I love to use in arrangements. Allowing your herbs to bloom does make them focus their energy on flower and seed production, rather than foliage…pinch off flowers for arrangements and allow new shoots of leaves to sprout.
- Companion plantings…thyme, rosemary, and the like, can take hot, dry weather better than the others, thus they make good companions in the garden or container. Mint is very aggressive, so keep it in a pot or let it have its own plot in the garden. It will take over. By grouping herbs that need the same or similar water and light requirements, you will be able to provide your herbs with a more uniform care regimen.
- Plan for your palette…I grow the herbs I like to eat. I like some better than others, thus more of those. Think also on the different varieties of herbs that abound i.e. Chocolate Mint, Orange Mint, Margarita Mint, Kentucky Colonel Mint – each one a mint, but distinctively different flavors nonetheless. If you cook with a more savory palette, have a heavier garden plot of savory herbs. Plan and plant for your palette, and you’ll be more than thrilled to incorporate your specific herbs into your menu.
I hope you discover your favorite herbs and combos of flavor to bring in from the garden. A lifestyle of garden living is an enriched way of life – complete with the fruits of your labor and tastes of your very own garden. Stay tuned for specifics on several herbs in particular coming soon, from this Farmer’s garden to yours!