Julie Green and Keen: fresh herbs
Showing posts with label fresh herbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fresh herbs. Show all posts
After planting my herb garden last year I have had so much success with growing and harvesting all my herbs.  I don’t know why I didn’t plant one sooner.  With it being the peak of summer I have found myself using more and more herbs in salads, drinks, and as an additive to many summer dishes.

I have encouraged many of my friends to plant an herb garden and they are just as pleased as I am.  One question they always come back to me with, is how to harvest them and dry them for use.  It is not tricky but it is good to know how.

Here is how I harvest my fresh herbs.

How to dry fresh herbs-

Cut the healthy branches you want to dry from your herb plant and remove any dry, diseased, yellowed, or spotted leaves.  Then shake gently to remove any dirt or bus that may still be on them.

Get rid of the lower leaves, about an inch along the bottom of the branch. Make bundles of 4-6 branches and tie together using a string or rubber band.  The bundles will shrink as they dry so it is important to keep an eye on them so you don’t lose any branches.

Use a paper bag and cut multiple small holes and label the bag so you remember what herb you are drying.  Insert the herbs upside down in the paper bag and close the bag with a string and hang the bag upside down in a warm airy room.

Check your herbs weekly to make sure they are progressing along until they are dried and ready to store. And enjoy your freshly dried herbs.

How to freeze fresh herbs-

Cut the healthy branches you want to freeze from your herbs and remove any dry, diseased, yellowed, or spotted leaves.  Wash and chop them or leave them in larger springs and leaves.
Pack the wells of an ice cube tray about 2/3 full of herbs and pour extra virgin olive oil or water over the herbs to fill up the well.  (You can mix herbs to create a unique mixture)  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

After frozen remove the cubes and store in the freezer in containers or small bags.  Enjoy your frozen herbs whenever you please.

Drying and freezing are the two ways I use the most to keep my herbs longer.  Do you use other ways to preserve your herbs or other methods, I am intrigued to know and try new ways.  Just leave a comment below.

Go green and stay keen,


Harvesting Fresh Herbs

by on 8/31/2015
After planting my herb garden last year I have had so much success with growing and harvesting all my herbs.  I don’t know why I didn’t pla...
With spring right around the corner I have been feeling pretty ambitious.  Over the past year my cute little herb garden has turned into somewhat of a little jungle.  When I started growing it last year I had no idea how quickly it would grow or how much it would yield.  I was really surprised how my green thumb has developed, I haven’t killed any herbs and they are growing like crazy. 

My family secretly loves when I cook with our fresh herbs…they usually don’t know but they always have seconds.  J  I decided yesterday because of how much of a hit my garden is, I should expand it and plant some new herbs.  I had no intention of making it larger or planting more when I first started but our family loves it and I like being able to share it with friends.

Yesterday I started planning out how I am going to make it larger and what herbs I want to attempt to grow.  Expanding my outdoor herb garden took more time planning than I thought it would.  I had to figure out if I could transplant and move herbs so they have enough room to grow and to see which way I could expand the garden without hitting any power lines.  I felt like an architect or something like that.

This morning I went to the hardware store to pick up some new garden stones and some healthy black soil for my expansion project.  I was motivated to start moving stones and building up the walls…then I tried moving the ones that have been in the ground for a year; it wasn’t happening.  I decided I needed my husband’s muscles to help. 

In the mean time until he gets home, I have be looking up other herbs to plant in the garden.  I already have a healthy growing amount of mint, chives, parsley, basil, sage, and thyme.  The mint plant is probably one of my favorites; I love mixing it in drinks and when I am cooking vegetables.  I guess I can’t really say it is my favorite, I love all the herbs I have planted. J

I think I want to add some rosemary to use with olive oil and cheeses, tarragon to cook with rice and tofu, and cilantro to add to sandwiches and guacamole.  Adding these three should be enough herbs for me now.  I don’t want to go over board and create an even larger jungle. 
Since planting my herb garden I have used so many more fresh herbs while cooking.  It is so convenient to just walk outside and find an entire garden full of flavors.  I can’t wait until my expansion project is done and I have even more herbs.

Go Green and Stay Keen, 


It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky enough to live in a part of the US where we have fresh produce year-round.

California produces about 80% of all fruits and vegetables in the US; so I like to think that we are setting the seasonal standard for the rest of the country.  :)

Spring brings new and exciting flavors to spice up the cooking.  I love the lightness and freshness that spring produce provides to otherwise “heavy” dishes.  I have made of list of fruits and veggies you should begin looking for at farmers markets to “spring into spring” cooking.

•    Artichokes are seasonally harvested in the spring and again in the early fall.

•    Arugula can be found year-round but I believe the taste is richer in the spring and fall.

•    Asparagus is absolutely wonderful in the spring.  The light flavor it brings to dishes is perfect for the season.

•    Fava Beans are sweet and “spring-y” for the season.  They come in soft green pods and are delicious in salads.

•    Green Garlic and Garlic Scapes are harvested and taste best in the spring.  They add a delicate garlicky flavor to spring and early summer dishes.

•    One of my favorite fruits, Grapefruit is juicy and I believe it is the best in the spring.

•    Green Onions and Scallions are perfect now.  I love combining green onions and garlic into salads in the spring.  It provides the perfect flavor for a light tasting dish.

•    Lettuce is sold year round, but spring brings the best flavor and hearty heads.

•    Mushrooms, especially Morel, are at their peak in the spring.  You know I love mushrooms if you read my post about mushroom month.  http://juliegreenandkeen.blogspot.com/2014/09/national-mushroom-month.html

•    New potatoes are freshly harvested young, small potatoes that are excellent in the spring.  They are easy to peel and are very crisp inside.

•    Peas and Pea Pods are harvested in the spring and early summer.  I love pea soup, I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh peas.

•    Radishes are also seasonal.  They are the best spring through fall.

•    Rhubarb has so many recipe possibilities and it is at its prime in the spring.  I love making rhubarb deserts and adding it to just about everything.

•    Who doesn’t love snap peas?  They are the perfect snacks and are seasonally the best now.

•    STRAWBERRIES ARE BACK!! Strawberries taste delicious in anything and they are in season.  I add them to smoothies, salads, and just eat them plain.

I have been anxious to begin spicing up my cooking with new spring flavors.  I think that cooking seasonally with fresh produce from farmers market is a great way to keep cooking exciting and fresh.  I can’t wait to go crazy at the farmers market and come up with some new recipes!  Have fun eating seasonally.

Go Green and Staying Keen,


Seasonally Spring Foods

by on 3/22/2015
It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky eno...
Happy National Mushroom Month! It is the best time of the year, mushrooms are so abundant and it is my excuse to use them this month as much as I can!  Mushrooms have such a unique taste and distinctive texture that makes them wonderful to cook with. 

Some people are mushroom “haters” and refuse to give them a try, I say put your hate aside and try some of my favorite recipes that showcase September’s featured veggie, MUSHROOMS! :)

Portobello Red Pepper and Pesto Pizza- very easy!
Serves 6
•    Your choice of pizza dough, either homemade or premade
•    2-3 Portobello mushrooms with the stems removed
•    5 canned roasted red peppers, sliced
•    ¾ cup of parmesan mozzarella blend
•    ¼ cup pesto, your choice either homemade or store bought
•    Prepare the dough according to its specific directions, then place in a pizza pan.
•    Chop the Portobello mushrooms into long thin slices.
•    Spread the pesto on the pizza dough, top with Portobello slices and roasted red peppers then sprinkle the parmesan mozzarella blend on the top.
•    Bake at 425 for about 10-15 minutes; the time will depend on the dough and your personal crispy taste.

Easy Mushroom Stroganoff
Serves 2
•    1 tbsp. of oil
•    1 medium onion, diced
•    4 cloves of garlic, minced
•    17 oz. mushrooms, sliced or diced
•    3 tbsp. vegetable stock
•    1 tsp. paprika
•    Black pepper, to taste
•    3 tbsp. sour cream
•    4 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
•    Heat oil in a large frying pan, cook the onion, garlic, and mushrooms over medium heat for 5-10 mins until slightly softened.
•    Add vegetable stock and paprika and season to taste with black pepper.
•    Before serving, stir in the sour cream and half the parsley.  Once heated through, serve topped with remaining parsley.

Portobello “Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich”
Serves 4
•    2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
•    1 medium onion, sliced
•    4 large Portobello mushrooms, steams and gills removed, sliced
•    2 tsp. dried oregano
•    ½ tsp. ground pepper
•    1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
•    ¼ cup vegetable broth
•    1 tbsp. soy sauce
•    3 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese
•    4 buns, split and toasted
•    (Optional) ½ medium green pepper, sliced
•    Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms, green pepper, oregano, onion and pepper. Stir often and cook until vegetables are soft and wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
•    Reduce heat, sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat.  Add broth and soy sauce and bring to simmer.
•    Remove from heat lay cheese slices on top of vegetables, cover and let stand until melted.
•    Divide mixture into 4 portions in each toasted bun, and serve.

There are so many ways to prepare mushrooms and add them to your favorite recipes, you could spend the entire month finding different ways to savor the taste of mushrooms.

If you are a lover like I am, I suggest following @MushroomChannel on twitter or the Mushroom Channel on Facebook.  They post great recipes and interesting facts about one of the best veggies.  Join me in hashtaging all your wonderful mushroom creations this month, #MushroomMonth, for the Mushroom Council :) As the mushroom council says, “Let your friendly fungi flag fly.”

Go Green and Stay Keen,


National Mushroom Month

by on 9/04/2014
Happy National Mushroom Month! It is the best time of the year, mushrooms are so abundant and it is my excuse to use them this month as much...

Ready for another great post on farmers markets?  It is hard not to write about it every time I make a visit.  This morning while mingling amongst a few of my farmer friends, I noticed a couple that appeared to be new to the farmer’s market “scene.”  I went over and introduced myself, it turns out this was their first market.  I shared with them about how much I love buying locally and how farmers markets are the best to do so.  After talking with them, they seemed much more at ease and ready start shopping.

After my encounter with new market goers, I thought it would be great to share a few tips on how to shop at farmers markets if you are new to it and how to experience all that makes it what it is.  So here you go!

•    Go early- I always like to be at the market right after it opens.  There is a large selection and you don’t have to worry about your coveted favorite veggies to be sold out.

•    Bring a few reusable bags to carry your yummy purchases in.  Farmers usually don’t supply their own bags.

•    Bring small amounts of cash.  A lot of famers don’t have change for large bills.  Some larger markets have ATM’s nearby and with technology some farmers even have their own credit card readers.

•    Try new things.  Sometimes the most odd looking vegetable or fruit is the best tasting.  Try new weirdly shaped, unfamiliar or interesting veggies and fruits, your taste buds will thank you!  Every once in a while I find strawberries, like this one, in quite unique shapes.  I sometimes feel bad eating them because they are just so neat.

•    Talk to your farmers!  It is not every day that you get to talk to the person who grew your big juicy tomato. The farmers are often keen to talk with you about their harvests and tell you about the land.  And if you’re lucky, they might even share some of their recipes on how to cook it!  After talking, it is easy to make good food choices and personalize exactly what is on your plate.

•    Ask questions and create a community environment.  Get to know those around you, chat about your best finds, and enjoy the experience.

I’m sure you know from all my posts I really love farmers markets, eating seasonally, and buying locally.  I believe that they are a great place to find fresh, affordable, and delicious fruits, and veggies!

Farmers markets are for everyone!  Don’t be discouraged if you are intimidated on your first visit, trust me, I was too.  I encourage everyone to try to get the most out of local farmers markets and learn to love them as much as I do!

Go Green and Staying Keen,


To be or not to be…To grow to not to grow, that is the question; I may not be Shakespeare but I am contemplating a very important question.  Should I plant an herb garden at home?  My fabulous chef at the restaurant was kind enough to bring me some of his fresh basil and cilantro from his garden and got my herb garden bug acting up again.  There is just something different when you use fresh herbs from the garden or ones from the store.
I always try using fresh ingredients and herbs whenever I can.  I have tried growing herbs at home before but most of them have never really turned out to much.  I would love to say I have a green thumb…but I don’t…not yet at least!   Last year, I bought a couple different types of herb seeds from the store and put some effort into planting them.  Four little sprouts came up and the other seeds must have disappeared into the soil. I really want to try it my herb garden again soon!

I notice a much more distinct and potent taste from fresh herbs.  When I use herbs from a garden in my food, it just tastes better…simple as that!  You are eating a natural product that you created from a simple seed. I love buying local and I know I could go to the farmers market to get my herb fix, but having your own garden at your cooking disposal is so much nicer.
There are so many pros of growing your own herb garden, it’s hard not start growing one.  I have to be doing something wrong when planting the seeds or I just have a brown thumb…the opposite of a green thumb.  I really want to try growing one again, so I did a little research and on almost every site I visited it said how easy it is to grow one.  Maybe if I think positive thoughts and sprinkle a little veggie love on them when I plant them, they will grow.
When I decide to grow my herb garden, what herbs should I plant? And how can I help each one of them grow?  Basil, chives, dill, mint, oregano…? Sunlight, shade, water, little water, inside or outside…?   There are so many options for growing it makes it even harder to decide.  I know that having my own herb garden would be so convenient and make my food even more delicious, I just need to get them to grow.
I clearly have a lot of questions about growing an herb garden.  This is something that I will probably end up doing, so I just want to make sure I understand it all so I don’t get disappointed again.

Advice about herb gardens are more than welcome!  I will keep you updated on any good advice I receive, so maybe you can have a successful garden too!

Go Green and Help Me Stay Keen,


To Grow, or Not to Grow

by on 7/08/2014
To be or not to be…To grow to not to grow, that is the question; I may not be Shakespeare but I am contemplating a very important question. ...