Saturday, February 28, 2015

HOMEGROWN HERB GARDEN. A book review

You have a new recipe to try. It calls for several herbs; basil, chives and oregano. You go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for the recipe and when you look at the price of the herbs you have second thoughts. Do you really want to pay $2.99 for each bunch of herbs. You will only use a few sprigs of one of them. Plus those chives look a little wilted.
Maybe it is time to think about growing your own herbs. With herbs just a snip away from your kitchen you can enliven all your recipes with the fresh taste of the garden.
But where and how are you going to grow them? Which ones should you grow? From seed or from transplants? How much sun, water? So many questions. You need to find a book to help you get started. Here is a book that will certainly help you select the easiest and most commonly used herbs


Homegrown Herb Garden, is a collaboration of gardener Ann McCormick and cook Lisa Baker Morgan. Step with Ann into the garden and learn how to grow your favorite herbs then take them into the kitchen where Lisa will teach you how to use those herbs to enhance the flavor of meats, seafoods and desserts.
For the first section of the book, Into the Garden, Ann has chosen 15 of the more commonly used herbs and with each one she covers planting, caring for and harvesting. Most of these herbs can be grown in the ground or in pots. Some, like rosemary and mint might have to be pruned more frequently to restrict their growth. Ann accounts for the differences in climate which are to be found in the USA and how this affects their growing conditions. Some herbs which grow in the winter months in the south would be summer producers in the north. Where herbs are not cold hardy they can be potted up and overwintered in the house. There is an interesting Did you know? section with each herb. Here is one I really like. 'Tradition says that parsley grows best in a garden where the woman of the house is the boss'. Harvesting and preparing your herbs for use is covered at the end of the individual herb chapters.


The larger part of the book is given to the preparation and use of herbs, to bring out the fulness of those essential oils which infuse your cooking with their amazing flavor. This section, Into the Kitchen, has 15 original recipes using 15 of the named herbs. Lisa was trained at the Cordon Bleu Institute of America  in Los Angeles and her recipes are original. Some are everyday recipes and some, which use lobster, duck and smoked salmon, might be used for that special occasion meal. Either way the photography couldn't be more enticing and the recipes more mouth watering; Venetian seafood en papilotte, Lamb chops roasted on thyme or Roasted pork tenderloin with rosemary and fruit-sage stuffing. My mouth is watering!


And you may have to go no further than the grocery store to find your herbs. Basil, rosemary and thyme are often sold in small containers. What do you have to lose in taking a pot home, snipping a few herbs for tonight's recipe and then plant out in the garden for continued enjoyment.

I am a herb gardener myself and cannot imagine not being able to go out into the garden to snip a few for dinner. Its an almost daily occurrence. I would like to encourage others to start their own herb garden.

About the authors.
Ann McCormick has spent her life gardening. She writes for a variety of gardening magazines, is a frequent speaker and media guest. She shares her love of herbs on her blog www.herbncowgirl.com

Lis Baker Morgan is new to the field of cooking having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles. She is a former Civil trial attorney who now shares her passion for cooking as a private chef, cooking classes and her blog " a table"

The book is published by Quarry Books who sent me a copy of the book to review.



4 comments:

  1. The book looks beautiful and full of useful information. Snipping a few herbs as needed was an early motivation for me to begin gardening. Having fresh herbs on hand quickly became a habit beyond just stretching the budget and if I do need to purchase I try to find the ones in pots for less waste.

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  2. It sounds like a very useful book. I like the fact that it covers the differences in climate zones. I also like the idea of bringing herbs into the house and having my husband cook with them but, unfortunately, that happens only occasionally.

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  3. Aha! So the lovely parsley clumps out back (two of them!) are indicators of who is charge around here! I can't wait to clue in The Hub...

    I'm with you - encouraging folks to cook with fresh herbs is wonderful - it is a lovely habit to cultivate (pun not intended). I feel so very "cheffy" whenever I go out with snips to get a sprig of this or that for a dish. I've given up trying to grow certain vegetables because of all the water they require, but herbs as a rule are very tolerant of our dry hot summers. In fact, the oregano and marjoram that started out in small pots as kitchen sources are now welcomed xeric plantings in my beds year 'round. And I can't imagine where we'd be without large stands of rosemary...

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  4. Like you, I can't imagine not having my own herbs, which I grow in old ceramic butler's sinks outside the kitchen door. My favourite advice for growing herbs concerns basil - apparently, the Romans believed you had to swear at it to get it to grow. Personally, I find that adding sharp sand to the compost mix helps, but I love the idea of guys in togas going round cursing small green plants.

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