Herbs for the Eating

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Fresh herbs and edible flowers also have special meanings and can play an important role in dishes made in your summer kitchen.  I may include recipes at the end, so don’t stop reading…

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Basil, a member of the mint family, means “kingly.”  It can be used for pesto, infused oil, salad, and appetizers.  I recommend Giada de Laurentiis’s Tomato, Mozarella and Basil Bruschetta from the Food Network’s website.

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A tangle of thyme – “courage and strength.”  Thyme is often combined with parsley and rosemary on pork and in Cajun cookery.

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Parsley is “festive.”  It has the redeeming qualities of garnishing plates and freshening breath.  Fresh parsley on buttered potato chunks is a quick way to make them, well – festive!

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Rosemary is for “remembrance.”  It is popular in marinades for meat and poultry.  Also, this herb is an antioxidant, fighting bacteria and preventing meat from spoiling.

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Dill = “powerful against evil.”  Where would pickle lovers be without it?  Dill can add a quick punch to sour cream, cream cheese, dips, and potato salad.  To dry it for future use, I suggest using the regular oven at 200 degrees for an hour and a half (I once had an unfortunate fireworks-like experience trying to dehydrate dill in the microwave).

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 Orange nasturtium stands for “creativity.”  Nasturtium leaves will add Vitamin C to any salad, and its seeds can be used in place of capers.  The leaves are peppery, though, so you’ll want plenty of other greens along with them.

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“Devotion” is written in the calming sight and smell of lavender.  Lavender is widely used for soap, lotion, and sachets.  It’s also a fun addition to an iced drink.

(All photos by the author, who has the mosquito bites to prove it.)

Dill Bread

1 pkg. yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup cottage cheese

2 T sugar

1 T minced onion

2 1/4 cups flour

1 T butter

1 T fresh dill

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 egg

Heat cottage cheese to lukewarm.  Soften yeast in warm water.  Mix all ingredients but flour.  Mix in flour.  Let rise one hour.  Place in buttered, round 2 qt. casserole dish.  Let rise 40 minutes.  Bake 350 degrees 45 minutes.  Brush top with melted butter.  (www.allrecipes.com)

Stuffed Nasturtiums

12 nasturtium flowers

1 pkg. cream cheese

1 garlic clove, minced fine

1/2 tsp. fresh chives

1 T. chopped fresh lemon verbena, lemon basil, or lemon thyme

Pick flowers the same day as serving.  Clean and dry; store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Mix cream cheese with herbs.  Place 1-2 tsp. in center of flower.  Pul petals upward and press lightly into cheese.  4 serverings.  (www.food.com)

Carla Hall’s Lavender Berry Slab Pie

2 pkg. refrigerated pie crust

2 pints blackberries

2 pints blueberries

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. cornstarch

1 tsp. cinnamon

zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 T heavy cream

Lemon-Lavender Sugar:

zest of 1 lemon, dried overnight

1/4 c. sugar

1 T dried lavender

Line bottom of oven with sheet of foil.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 18×13 in. sheet pan.

Combine all dough and roll into 24×19 in. rectangle on lightly floured surface.  Cut in half crosswise.  Line bottom of sheet pan with 1 piece of dough.

Gently toss berries, sugar, cornstarch, zest and juice of 2 lemons in large mixing bowl.  Pour filling into sheet pan.

Cut remaining dough crosswise into 5 12 x 1/2 in. strips.  Arrange strips in lattice pattern.

Whisk together egg and cream.  Lightly brush egg wash over top of lattice crust.  Combine lemon-lavender sugar ingredients and sprinkle over top of pie.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.  Cut in squares and serve with individual wraps of waxed paper.  Serves 8-10.

'Berry Dessert!'

Carla says you can save some of the pie filling and puree it for a base for lemonade or sweet tea. (Parade Magazine)  When I tried it, I put everything into the dessert.  Delicious!

Do you have a favorite herb to cook with?

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