Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Herbalist

Several weeks ago, in a desire to preserve some of this year's flourishing herbs, I had carefully snipped my way through the garden and filled a large colander full of insanely aromatic sprigs.

I ended up tying three bundles with string, covering them with paper bags to keep off the dust, and hanging them in a cool, dry room upstairs.

  • catnip - for the kitties, of course
  • culinary mix - oregano, rosemary, thyme
  • potpourri mix - bergamot, lavender, hyssop, yarrow, eucalyptus

Today I checked in on the herbs and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had dried nicely. I de-stemmed the dried leaves, gave them a gentle crush, and bottled and bagged them up. The catnip went into a tightly-sealed baggie and has been placed OUT OF THE CATS' REACH; the culinary herbs went straight to the pantry for future dishes; and I divided the potpourri mix between two small muslin bags, perfect for throwing in a closet or room to keep things smelling herby and fresh. I wish you could have smelled the house while I was crushing those leaves...

It worked out perfectly that the herbs were ready, as I needed some dried oregano, rosemary, and thyme for a Sunday night soup I was whipping up. In a fit of CSA-inspired hunger, I created what I am affectionately going to call "Deep Woods Soup", due to the very earthy and hearty ingredients used: Field Roast Apple Sage sausages (cut into coins), leeks, cremini mushrooms, wild rice, kidney beans, garlic, and fresh tatsoi (a delightful Asian green, similar to bok choy).

The base for the soup included a pint of canned tomato juice and a pint of whole tomatoes, as well as the aforementioned herbs and dashes of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. I must say, this was a definite winner, great for cold fall evenings. Serve it up steaming hot with a few slices of my Aunt Bonnie's oatmeal bread, and ladies and gentlemen, you're in business. Bring on the week!

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