Posts tagged herbs

Pineapple sage and my mother’s garden

Borage, or starflower

“I was so excited when I found borage at the nursery,” gushed my mom recently. Borage, or starflowers are edible, beautiful and just happened to be a regular sight on our dessert plates growing up. (My mom would also freeze starflowers in ice molds to suspend in punch bowls during parties; I loved it.) Frequent visitors to MKES might wonder where I got my hankering for trying new flavors. Maybe from frequent trips to my mother’s garden to trim edible flowers, like borage, or pansies, to dress up dishes. Now, I have none of my mother’s gardening skills, but I do love experimenting with spices, ingredients and techniques in the kitchen.

Pineapple sage

And herbs? We had mint, chocolate mint, parsley, sage, rosemary, and oregano thyme. Just the other day I asked my mom what kind of basil she had in her garden. “Sweet, cinnamon, Thai…” I have no pictures of my own gardening efforts to pass along, I’ll just have to rely on hers for now. Update: I have kept my indoor basil plant alive for a week now. It’s looking good although the cilantro plant didn’t even make it 3 days.

a peek at my mother's herb garden

Your turn–what culinary skill did you learn from your mom? And hey, if it’s how to read the back of a box of brownies, that counts!

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Why bad gardening is good for your kids

My basil grower

It’s no secret that I’m a lousy gardener. I really want to be able to grow more veggies. Hey, I’d even settle for a decent herb garden (yes, I’ve heard over and over again–they’re sooo easy). But it seems the only thing I can turn out from seeds are little tiny stalks that die within a week, same goes for plants that I buy and try to keep going. What am I doing wrong?

Well my kids have noticed my lack of skills. And commented.

This year I’ve been a bit determined not to grow a garden. My kids have

Decorating the pot--an important part of planting

decided otherwise. They’ve convinced me yet again to try growing herbs–but this time the only help I’m supposed to give is opening the blinds in the morning–and taking pictures. That’s it. My two youngest daughters have already informed me that they’ll be the ones watering the plants and looking after them (if only this worked with the laundry too!).

While I truly wish that I could grow something, anything really, my inabilities might just turn out a couple of real gardeners. After all, my kids know they can’t rely on my help if they want to see some green. Well the

Looking good so far...

coming weeks will tell if our indoor planted seeds continue to grow. I’m hoping that the seeds do turn into full-grown plants we can put outside or even replant in a larger pot. I have noticed that my youngest is a bit too generous with watering, but hey, what do I know?

I was happy to see while flipping through Motherboard‘s Easy Ways to Go Green, wouldn’t you know #9 is planting a garden with your kids. If all goes well I might even try their suggestion of growing from cucumber seeds or I’ve always wanted to grow my own chile peppers (I heart serranos!).


Your turn–have your lack of skills ever worked out in your favor? Or do you have any gardening tips to share with this wannabe green queen?

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Buttery Crescents with/without Fresh Herbs

Basil roll

I wish I could have gotten a better photo--but check out the buttery basil roll

These rolls come together quickly and turn out a soft, dense dough. While these rolls are usually foolproof, I have had a few mishaps (they still tasted good, but they weren’t quite as presentable). On the second rising, the rolls should only go for 30 minutes—no more or the rolls get too airy. You should bake these until they’re just golden brown. The bottoms can burn if you let them go too long.

Ingredients

Prep time: 45 minutes + 1.5 hours rising/baking

Yield: 16 rolls

½ cup milk

1 stick butter or margarine

1/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 package yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons)

½ cup warm water

1 egg

31/2-4 cups flour

Fresh basil or parsley (optional)

Butter crescent rolls

Pretty cresecent rolls, but how to tweak?

Directions

  • Place the warm water in a measuring cup and whisk in the yeast. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes and check that some bubbles appear on the surface (meaning the yeast is active).
  • Over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. As soon as bubbles appear, move the pan off of the heat and add the butter, salt, and sugar. Whisk until smooth and melted in. Cool to room temperature.
  • Add the yeast mixture to the buttered milk in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer to combine the ingredients, add the flour in 1 cup increments. The dough should start holding together after 3 cups. Stir in ½ to 1 cup more until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl.
  • Sprinkle flour on a cutting board and place the dough ball onto the board. With floured hands, knead the dough until it becomes a smooth ball.
  • Clean out the mixing bowl using warm water, then coat with cooking spray. Place the dough into the bowl and cover loosely with a lightly dampened cloth.
  • Place in a warm place for 1 hour to rise. The dough won’t rise significantly.
  • Divide the dough in two.
  • On a floured work surface, knead one dough ball until smooth. Roll out to a 8 to 9-inch circle.
  • Using a pizza cutter, slash into 8 equal pieces as you would a pizza.
  • Place a washed and dried basil or parsley leaf on each slice.
  • Starting from the long end, roll the dough towards the small end. Tuck the sides toward the middle to form the crescent shape.
  • Place the formed dough onto a baking pan lightly coated with spray. Cover the roll with the slightly moist kitchen cloth.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining dough slices and then with the other dough ball.
  • Let the formed dough rise again for 30 minutes. DO NOT allow the dough to go over that time.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until just browned. You can also whisk an egg, add 1 teaspoon water, and then coat each roll with the glaze before baking to give each roll a shiny appearance.
  • You can make these ahead—but doubling the recipe, that’s a no-go. I just make one batch and then another if I need extras. To make these rolls ahead of time bake them until they’re just firm and then let them cool on the pan (you can then freeze them and put them right on the pan when you’re ready for the final baking). Once you’re ready to reheat them, preheat the oven and then brush them with melted butter (for a richer flavor) or with an egg that has been whisked with a teaspoon of water (for a shiny roll).
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