Herbing for the Holidays!
Written by Anne Valgoi
With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, most people are thinking about their holiday menus. As many of you know, I adore entertaining friends and family. This year, my grown children and their families will be joining my husband and I for the traditional Thanksgiving feast at our home in Atlanta.
I have already asked my family members what their favorite dishes are, and I will try to incorporate as many as possible into our Thanksgiving celebration. A few prized recipes that were requested range from a tasty homemade herbal stuffing, a Southern-living delectable beet dish, a savory lemon-dill vinaigrette served over carrots, the famous green bean casserole and of course, sweet potato pie. These dishes pair well with a succulent turkey and my secret to success is to utilize fresh HERBS such as rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, chives, and dill.
Outside my kitchen, I have an ideal area for a lovely herb garden. I not only use the herbs for cooking but also for a nice addition of texture or aroma to a hand-picked floral bouquet from my garden! Even if you are shy on garden space in your yard, you can essentially plant your herbs in containers either inside or outside depending on the climate of the area where you live.
Basil is my favorite herb and one of the easiest to grow (especially indoors since you can control the temperature and light). Basil replenishes it’s leaves quickly; however, you need to make sure your container or planting area has good drainage.
Parsley, especially the curly species, is often planted around the edges of the herb garden to provide a beautiful look. Parsley is utilized in many dishes including my cheese and fresh herb quiche, heirloom tomato, and zucchini salad, as well as lemon-garlic mushrooms (just to mention a few).
Additionally, Sage comes in a couple of varieties such as the golden or tri-color variegated leaf species and can provide focal accents to your herb garden. Sage, unlike most herbs, has a stronger flavor from the fresh plant than the dried product. If needed, fertilize with a good all-natural product that can be mixed in with your potting mix before you plant.
Thyme is also a popular herb in gardens. The thyme leaf is tiny and has a wide range of food that it complements such as poultry, meats, vegetables, and pasta.
Moreover, I often surround my herbs in the garden with flowering plants to provide some color interest. Remember to label your herbs and it is important to have enough irrigation as well as light. Another key tip for your “indoor” herb container garden is that these herbs like the same temperature as you do and try to keep your (indoor) compost moist but never soggy.
Herb gardening is fun, not difficult to sustain and can eloquently elevate your cooking into something very special. So, try adding some fresh rosemary and thyme to your Thanksgiving stuffing, some fresh dill to your succulent carrots as well as some chives to your Grandmother’s famous deviled egg recipe. Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with family, friends, and herbs from your very own garden!