Cooking with Herbs

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I bought this beautiful, coffee table cookbook in 1989.  After reading this inspirational book, you will want to go out and plant a garden, or at least put a pot of herbs on a sunny windowsill.  Since it is such a large cookbook, you can only imagine the incredible photographs that grace every page.  The authors traveled across the country and around the globe to discover new recipes and other ways to use fresh herbs.  Just the sheer pleasure of the taste of  herbs is reason enough to incorporate them into your daily dishes.  Fresh herbs can make a world of difference in everything from beverages to desserts.   With the increased awareness of healthy eating and buying local produce, fresh herbs are the perfect way to start taking your cooking to new, exciting levels.

The recipes will please the novice and seasoned cook alike.  There are easy recipes as simple as an herbed chicken or chive biscuits, to more elaborate fare such as elderflower fritters with a gooseberry sauce, or a lamb en croute with mint pesto.  Can’t you almost taste something called peach-raspberry cobbler with cinnamon-geranium leaves, or a citrus terrine with lemon verbena syrup?   How about hot mulled wine with lemon thyme or grilled salmon with lavender butter sauce?   The recipes will transport your senses to outer space.

When I bought the book, one of the first things I looked up was heather.  I have been obsessed with the thought of heather ever since reading Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights in sophomore year of high school.  Heather is considered an herb of immortality.  It brings to mind blankets of the lavender-colored moors in the classic story with the ghost of Heathcliff longing for his Cathy.  Alas, there were no heather recipes to be found.  Maybe the heather in Wuthering Heights is more a plant than an herb, but my hopeless romantic side wished there would have been something, because I would have made it and re-read the book once again.

Just know that if you love herbs, you will love this book.  You will find hundreds of recipes from which to choose, and give your traditional preparations delightful new twists.  A few years ago, my daughter Kristina entered a Better Homes and Gardens recipe contest incorporating fresh rosemary into lemon cookies and won $5,000 for her efforts.  The cookies are beyond amazing!  Rosemary and lemon are a natural combination.  Rosemary was one of the first herbs Kristina ever knew growing up, because it was one of the first ones I ever planted in my backyard garden.  Now I grow all kinds of herbs, but my husband still gets them mixed up.  If I am cooking and ask him to go out and please pick me some rosemary, he asks – is it the one that looks like a little pine tree?  And he still can’t tell the difference between flat leaf parsley and cilantro, but he knows varieties of tomatoes, and knows more kinds of apples than I do, so I guess we’re even.  Click here for the recipe for Kristina’s delectable prize-winning cookies, seen below, from the contest.  Enjoy!

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