Herbal Essence

Poor HIF’s Table has been sadly neglected for way too long. With Thankgsiving and all the holiday cooking fast on the horizon though, be watching for more posts.

The great thing about an herb garden is that, for the most part, you can almost neglect it. I don’t have good luck with fussy flowers, but even someone with a black thumb like me can grow herbs. The herb garden I have today is not nearly as nice as the one at my other house, but I do have good supply of  the quartet of herbs Simon and Garfunkle made famous–parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

If you’ve never tried cooking with fresh herbs, please give it a try. They are readily available in almost every grocery store now are a far superior to the dusty, dried versions in jars.Thanksgiving is a medley of savory, traditional flavors and everything you make (except dessert) will be better with fresh herbs.

rosemaryThis is rosemary. It’s probably the easiest herb to grow. My two bushes are prolific and only get bigger year after year. Rosemary and poultry are natural companions. Try this: carefully insert your fingers between the skin and breast of your turkey. Slowly work your fingers to loosen the skin, going back as far as you can. Now insert a few tender sprigs of rosemary under loosened skin. Not only is it pretty, it infuses the meat with a wonderful flavor.


This is thyme. Thyme doesn’t flourish in my present garden like it did in my old one. You’ll see this wonderful ancient herb spilling out of beds and around rock walls all over Europe. Hold the stem and just scrape the tiny leaves off with your fingers. Stir it into your gravy or throw some into the cavity of your turkey along with a couple of lemon quarters.


Sage is a flavor that many of you may associate with sausage. For me, that’s what makes it a perfect addition to dressing, because I use sausage in my dressing as well. Sage has a great earthy flavor. When you’re using sage, start with a little and taste as you go. It can get overpowering.


The last herb in the quartet is parsely. If you just think of parsely as a tasteless garnish, I hope you’ll give it another chance. This Italian flat leaf parsely adds a bright flavor to any of your savory dishes. You can use it in almost any of your Thanksgiving favorites.

I know that the little packets of fresh herbs in the grocery are expensive and don’t last long. But try splurging a little for the holidays. Or find a friend with an herb garden. If they have as much as I do, they’ll be happy to share.



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3 responses to “Herbal Essence

  1. We have a little fresh herb garden and rosemary is the one we use by far the most.

    I love sweet potatoes, tossed in olive oil and roasted with garlic and rosemary…yum!

  2. My favourite herb of all time is lovage. It tastes a bit like celery, but is more intense and savoury. It’s absolutely delicious in casseroles and one pot dishes. My plant comes from a bit of root given me by a neighbour, from her plant originally planted by her grandmother, but it can lso be grown easily from seed. It’s a tough old plant – mine has survived two house moves with me, not including it’s original searation from the main root.

  3. I love Thyme. My Thanksgiving stuffing would not be the same without it!

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