Herb bouquet: Plan now to season food year-round
Updated: April 16, 2012 10:36AM
Rather than carry a traditional wedding bouquet made up of roses or lilies, I carried an armload of culinary herbs down the aisle with me.
No, I wasn’t worried that the chicken at our reception would need a little last-minute herbal addition.
I was simply delighted by the symbolic meanings behind fresh herbs.
My bouquet contained yarrow, lavender, sage and thyme; these common garden herbs signify a love to last, luck, wisdom and courage.
I armed myself with a garden metaphor on my wedding day and today I line the front steps of my bungalow with colorful pots filled with many of the same kitchen friendly and meaningful herbs.
Since green herbs rarely flower, I opt to let my kids and their friends paint the terracotta pots I plant them in. In the end, my front porch herb display is just as colorful as a collection of traditional flower pots, but is far more useful to me on a daily basis.
So before you make plans to pick up that flat of pansies from the local garden center next month, consider tapping into your savory side and planting herbs in prominent places this year.
Your favorite recipes will be better for it all summer long!
Melissa Elsmo is an Oak Park mom, wife and chef/foodie. Check out her food blog at www.outofmelskitchen.blogspot.com.
Mel’s Front Porch Herb
I don’t have a green thumb, but a high-quality potting soil and frequent watering ensures my pots full of herbs are productive throughout the summer.
Basil: represents “love” and should be used with fresh garden tomatoes in Caprese salads and as a flavor boost for pasta sauces. Try frying the leaves for a shatteringly crisp garnish for pizzas.
Rosemary: stands for “remembrance” and pairs well with chicken. It can also be added to bread dough or used in place of skewers for shrimp bound for the grill.
Thyme: represents “courage” and is a kitchen main stay. Thyme is a welcomed addition to soups, stews and sauces. Lamb and thyme get along especially well, and French vegetable dishes like Ratatouille would be lost with out it.
Lavender: stands for “luck” and is prized for its scent and can be used to infuse cake batters, glazes and oils. Lavender is an ingredient in Herbs de Provence and pairs well with chicken. Do not overuse lavender unless you’d like your dinner to taste like soap.
Tarragon: represents “sharing” and is commonly used to flavor pickles, vinegar and mustard. Keep a bunch of this pungent anise flavored herb on hand to use with eggs and fish.
Dill: stands for “preservation” and is commonly used as flavoring for fish and potato salad. Try sprinkling a little over cucumbers or cottage cheese for a quick summer side dish. Fresh dill even makes a fine last minute addition to chicken soup.
Chives: represent “usefulness” and are prized for their onion flavor. Add them into eggs, stir fry, and salad dressings. Chives are prolific growers; they are best planted in pots to minimize the chance they will overtake your garden.
Summer Savory: stands for “agreeableness” and its peppery notes pair best with goat cheese, tomato, and green bean dishes. Be sure to purchase delicate summer savory and avoid the prickly winter variety.
Sage: represents “wisdom” and pairs wonderfully with pork and turkey. Try tossing a teaspoon or two into your next batch of scones. Unlike most of the other herbs listed here, sage is best used at the beginning of the cooking process and in sparse quantities.