Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday's tips from Judy's kitchen...

Though many do not have the time or space to grow a garden these days...we all have the time and space to grow a few herbs.  I have a small raised-bed herb garden which requires next to no attention...and yields a lot of edible greens with wonderful flavours and aromas.The mint is in a 'cage' (pot) on the patio since it would wreak havoc in the herb garden...but is wonderful to have on hand for garnishes.



And most of the year...I have a few pots of herbs sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen.  It is so nice to have fresh basil, parsley, dill and chives at arms length.

As I was making up a tomato basil pizza (page 106 in the first cookbook) the other day...and using fresh basil form the windowsill...I thought I would just pass along a few kitchen tips I employed in the making of that one recipe.



  1. Here's a tip I learned from Lovella at our pizza-making class in February.  Lay out a piece of parchment paper.  Brush on a little olive oil.  Place your pizza dough on top.  Brush a little more olive oil on top.  Cover with a second piece of parchment.  Now use your hands (rather than a rolling pin) to work that pizza dough into the desired shape.  The parchment lifts off nicely...and the dough is easily moved to the pan.  Voila.
  2. Chopping up herbs can be time consuming.  I recently got a pair of herb scissors...which do a fabulous job in next-to-no-time.  They looked rather gimmicky to me...but they work well!
  3. We like to use grape or cherry tomatoes on the basil tomato pizza...and again it takes a while to cut 3 dozen wee tomatoes in half  one at a time.  Did you know that you can lay about a dozen between two plastic lids and then cut through the center of them all with one swoop of the knife?  It works great!  Even my four-year-old granddaughter can safely slice tomatoes with this method. 

That's it for my tips for today.  But maybe you have a herb secret to share with us today...on the comment form.  And if you do...



...you will have entered your name in the draw for a pair of herb scissors I would like to pass along.   I will publish the winner's name right here at the end of this post on Monday, April 15th.

ETA: And the winner of the pair of herb scissors is Dora the Quilter.  Dora, if you would send me your mailing address, I will send the scissors your way.  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!


75 comments:

  1. I too have seen those scissors and thought gimmicky. Glad to know that they do work well. Love your site.
    God Bless!

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  2. I don't have a window sill for my herbs and can't figure out how to keep them growing year round. I saw something on pinterest about freezing herbs in either water or maybe oil?? or wine??? Anyway, freeze them in a small amount of liquid and then when it's winter, you can just pop the whole thinkinto a pot of soup or spaghetti sauce for fresh herbs!! - Jenny K.

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  3. I really like your "cage." Mine, very similar, is a caddy for whisks, but I like your idea even better.

    Like the idea of pressing out pizza dough, like the herb scissors, not sure what you're talking about with the tomatoes. ☺

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    1. Check out the top right hand photo, Vee. Place multiple tomatoes between two plastic lids...hold in place and cut through the center of the tomatoes. It works great...also for cutting grapes.

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  4. It's not an herb tip, but is a spice tip for baking. While preparing citrus fruit for the grandchildren I use a microplane to file off bits of the peel before peeling and sectioning it. The orange/lemon/or lime peels are placed on a piece of parchment paper and folded it up. I freeze them in my citrus peel bag (quart size) in the freezer door. Anytime when baking or cooking and when I'd like a touch of flavor, I just grab a Tablespoon sized parchment paper and it's already done when the fruit was eaten/used. :o)

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  5. I had tried growing basil inside for many years, but it never did very well. A friend of mine showed me that is works best to sprout the seeds in a ziplock with a moist papertowel taped onto a window. After they have sprouted, plant them in a pot and they will have a better survival rate :) it is also helpful to prune the plant to prevent it from becoming too spindly.

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  6. I love my herbs too and keep most going outdoors in the winter other than basil. Please explain the plastic lids with the cherry tomatoes and cutting with one swoop. I guess I didn't quite imagine how it is done. Thank you. Lucy

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    1. Place as many cherry tomatoes as possible in a single layer inside a plastic lid. The size of lid is determi ed by hlw many tomatoes are needed as a full packed lid holds them together well so less movement occurs when slicing. Place on top of tomatoes a lid of the same size. With gentle but firm pressure hold lid on top. USING A SHARP KNIFE place knife horizontally between the two lids and cut through tomatoes from one side to the other. Voila ! Halved cherry tomatoes in a fraction of the time ! I also use this method for grapes. But theres two tricks to it. Your kn ife must be very sharp , and using a fairly deep lid on the bottom that's about half the vertical size of the product being sliced can act as a borizontal guide for your knife. I learned this trick 20 years ago and use it often !

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  7. I have sometimes found parts of the lower leaves of my basil plant I have planted outside have been munched on by critters overnight. I cut the bottom and most of the top off a gallon plastic milk jug so it will slip over the plant. No more eaten leaves overnight. Have not seen those scissors and would love to have a pair.

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  8. I keep all my spices and herbs in containers that magnet onto the fridge (I found them at Canadian Tire). That way they're nearby and not taking up the limited space on my counter or cupboards!

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  9. For dill, I have diced it up and then whirred it up in a blender with a LITTLE bit of water and then frozen it in an ice cube tray. Easy to pop a cube into a soup, makes great creamy dill salad dressing and have popped a cube or half a cube in when cooking fish. Home grown herbs have so much more flavour than the ones found at the grocery store produce section.

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  10. Tea leaves can be harvested from Garden in season and frozen. Then in winter you can enjoy wonderful fresh garden tea! -Sue

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  11. Love that tomato cutting tip!! Genius!

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  12. great tips! pizza looks so good - will try the tomato-cutting tip, thanks

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  13. I got a idea from "Saving the Seasons" book for preserving parsley in next to fresh form for use through the long winter. For every 1 1/2-2cups of chopped parsley,add oil and blend in food processor or blender, spoon into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen remove the cubes into freezer containers or ziplock bags. I find these so handy...just grab a cube or two to pop into you soup or other dish as it cooks.. like fresh. Ive done it for a few years now and find it a great way to preserve parsley. -Marg

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  14. I can overwinter my rosemary shrub inside, but other herbs don't get enough light. So I freeze them in ziplock bags to use throughout the winter. I personally don't like stems in my dishes, so I strip the leaves off before freezing (it's also less bulky in the freezer). These herbs work well: parsley, rosemary, summer savory (for bean soup...mmmm), dill, thyme, basil (get all the air out or it will blacken). The trick to all of these is to press out all the air - the bag will be quite flat. If possible, I don't even wash the herbs beforehand, or I dry them well before packing, or they will be one ice block & hard to slice off/separate the bit you need.

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  15. We have tough winters here in central Ohio, so can do herbs only in summer. I make pesto with my abundant basil in the summer and freeze in mini containers to use all winter long in a variety of things. Am interested in the herb scissors, have not seen those.

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  16. My mother taught me this tip.. she would chop up green onions, parsley and dill(all from her garden of course) Put them all together in a margarine container (saved all those) and then in the freezer. Whenever you need fresh herbs in the winter - for fried potatoes every Sunday lunch after church! You had them!!!

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  17. I LOVE to garden, and anticipating the herb growing season...I prepare all my own homemade spices, from celery salt, to salt substitute...I dry all my herbs and then grind them to the desire needed in the coffee grinder. I plant them in pots and put them on my deck as a deck garden. The celery and beet greens I do in the garden... I am a lover of gardening and canning...I usually do approximately 400-500 jars of canning each season...it's my "ART" when I see all the jars in my "coma"(cold storage)...anticipating growing season, soon. I would love to know where you can buy those herb scissors. Have a joyful day!
    Gwen

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  18. This will be my first season with an herb garden ~ I'm loving the tips. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  19. I to love fresh herbs. I have mint in my garden, but try to keep rosemary and basil growing inside in the winter.

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  20. Thanks for the tomato cutting tip.
    JB

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  21. Love the tomato cutting idea! The herb scissors look great too.

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  22. Last year we had an abundance of Roma tomatoes. I sliced them into quarter inch pieces and dried them in the dehydrator. These little medallions are so delicious. I have used them to top focaccia bread and put them in salads and omelettes. They are also tasty just as they are for a snack. One of my favourite herbs is mint. I put it in all of my summer flower arrangements for a nice fresh scent. Last year I dried some too. It keeps its fragrance and is lovely in a cup of tea. Happy Saturday to every one !!!

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  23. Thank you so much for the herb garden hint and the tomato slicing tip. I will definitely try them.

    LL

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  24. Great tips, Judy. The tomato one is especially unique.
    My tip is making herb butter. Chop various herbs - chives, parsley and oregano is a good combination, then mix them into soft butter. Place the butter on a sheet of waxed paper and form a roll. Seal the butter roll in a ziploc bag, then freeze it. It's easy to break/slice of a hunk of butter when needed - good in sauces, over fish, or for making an omelette or scrambled eggs.

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  25. I often cut up my leftover herbs (parsley, dill chives and basil) separately and put them into a labelled ice cube tray and fill each cube with 1-2 tsp of olive oil and then freeze. This makes for a beautiful scent when cooking (either for a stir fry or for browning your meat! LOVE those scissors.

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  26. Brilliant cherry tomato cutting technique. I'm definitely going to try this.

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  27. Sarah Buller FentonApril 13, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    I didn't know there was such a thing as herb scissors. And here I've been using my chef's knife all this time!

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  28. I don't have an area for a garden, but I am going to plant some herbs in pots and look forward to using them.....thanks for all the tips and information!!

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  29. I love to use fresh herbs! Anyone know if cilantro is best grown in a pot or right in the ground? I haven't had luck with it in the ground. And I love to use it!!! I had a nice surprise when my rosemary overwintered outdoors! I used to try and bring it in but could never keep it!

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  30. I enjoy your site. Always like to hear about tips to keep herbs. I enjoy growing rosemary, chives and basil. Linda at rgranch@pioneer.net

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  31. I have a brown thumb when it comes to gardening, but I was able to keep 3 pots of grodery store basil alive all summer one year!
    rsmanyblessings@hotmail.com

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    1. Thanks for the chance to win a pair of herb scissors. As several other readers have said; I like to freeze my herbs in ice cube trays with some water for future use. I will definitely try the tip for slicing cherry tomatoes. Sharon

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  32. I have never seen herb scissors before so thank you for the heads up. My tip is for basil. We can't keep herbs in the house all winter as we simply don't get enough light in the winter. In March, I go out and buy a nice healthy basil plant from our local grocery store and I cut it up. Basil is very easy to propagate. You cut the stems just below a leaf and take the leaves off then put in a pot of water and it will start to grow roots. I cut off about a 4 inch stem at a time. My one plant this year got me 10 other plants rooting. I change the water every few days and keep them in a sunny spot. We have enough sun in March to do this so it's a good time for where I live to start. I let it sit in the water until it has good long roots then I plant it. If your climate is nice enough to plant outside, then you can but ours is still way too cold for that so I plant them in individual pots and let them grow indoors until it's time to put them outside. I use a lot of fresh basil and would need to buy a lot of plants, which could get costly so doing it this way, I get all these lovely basil plants for the price of just one.

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  33. When I need to buy dried herbs at the natural grocers (because they aren't in season at my house), I find I can bag in the bulk section. More than I need, so the rest can be placed in a small jar (from some condiment, commercial jam or jelly, whatever) and makes a welcome little gift for a friend.
    Lovely herb scissors!

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  34. I like to take fresh herbs and stuff them under the skin of a turkey or chicken prior to roasting. The flavor infuses nicely into the meat! My fresh herb "must-have" plants in my garden are cilantro, basil, rosemary and sage.

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  35. Hi. Thanks for the tomato tip. My 5 yr old would have cherry/grape tomato salad in his school lunch every day if he could. With 6 lunches to make every day and 5 kids to get out the door before I'm off to work any timesaving tips are appreciated. My herb tip is do NOT leave the catnip leaves to dry in your house if you have cats. I left the picked leaves on a dehydrator tray to dry to use for teas and the transplanted plant in my laundry room for the day. I got home from work to find 2 "drunk" cats and dirt everywhere from the knocked over plants. They didn't manage to break dehydrator but did knock the trays over. Lesson learned for me. Hope you pick my name for scissors. Rose Molzan

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  36. Hello Judy
    Laura came home with a large pot of herbs in her grade 12 class, last year...Isn't it awesome to have fresh herbs ANYTIME? I just cut it all back and gave it some natural fertilizer. Thyme is a must for us too:) I am curious about this thing called a "herb scissor" though... Nel Lindhout

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  37. I've never heard of herb scissors before - what a great way to chop fresh herbs - would love to win this and bless my daughter with these - she is always cooking fresh herbs

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  38. I too have those scissors and although I use them occasionally, I like to use a small cutting board with a circular hollow in it and a curved chopper. Not sure How to describe it but I found it at Ikea and it is made for chopping herbs. You rock the curved double blade back and forth over the herbs in the hollow of the cutting board.

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  39. Last summer I had a beautiful basil plant. Nowhere to keep it in the house over winter so I sripped all the leaves and packed them as tight as I could in small lock-top containers and put them in the freezer. They were perfect for making small amounts of pesto all winter.

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  40. Way to go Judy...Great Tips...You know that I want that scissors!

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  41. Since we are still in mid winter in Sask .. the herb tips looks great ,, our sunshine this winter has been few and far between .. I picked up a tip may be old to you but it is about lemons ,, due to the many cold and flu bugs we have ,,
    when I buy a lot freeze whole lemons ,, use the grater and grate lemon (peel and all )on almost all dishes I make from salad,s to soups and everything in-between ,,
    gives all a refreshing taste along with being good for you ..and pop the lemon back into freezer until the next meal sorry I got off the herb garden ,,

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  42. herb scissors...great idea...looking forward to getting some chives before long...

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  43. Thankyou for the great tips today! I am definately going to use all of them. I would really like to have a pair of those herb scissors. Where did you buy them? I generally freeze my herbs in ice cubes trays filled with a little water. When the trays are frozen I out the cubes iin zip-loc freezer bags. When I am making a recipe I just take out a cube and pop it in! Its so nice to have "fresh" tasting herbs on hand all the time.

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  44. What a thoughtful gesture. I'd love to participate in the contest.

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  45. I use my kitchen scissors for many things in the kitchen. Thanks for the chance to win.

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  46. I have never seen the herb scissors. I do use my kitchen shears to cut herbs in a jar or measuring cup but these look like the real deal!

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  47. I have seen those scissors often. Never knew what they were for.

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  48. In the fall once the snow is nearing, I cut my herbs and dehydrate some, so have plenty of my homegrown herbs to use the whole year through. :)

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  49. Neat scissors! When I chop my herbs, the larger leafs anyway, I roll them all up together and then slice. Keeps it neat and works well especially on basil when you want the ribbons a bit longer :)

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  50. For those of us who can't grow herbs over the winter, basil, parsley and cilantro can be stored just like fresh flowers. Just snip the ends, put them in a glass of room temperature water, and store on the kitchen counter. The herbs should last about a week this way.

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  51. I would love to have those scissors, I have never seen any before.
    I take my herbs, rinse well, dry on a paper plate on the counter until totally dry.
    I rotate them on the plate to insure they are dry.
    Then package them up in squares of brown paper I cut from brown paper bags or a mailing roll,
    I use a staple to seal, then store the envelopes in a dark dry cupboard.
    They keep the flavor well, for months.


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  52. Great tips, Judy. I dry basil, oregano, and sometimes chives, and store them together in a jar labelled Italian, to use in sauces, pizza, etc. Dairymary

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  53. Love your post,Judy. I love the tomato/grape plastic lid tip. I will certainly use that one! And the herb scissors is neat too!

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  54. I like to take any excess herbs from my garden and dry them so that I can use them over the winter.

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  55. Use a pizza cutter to cut up your herbs!

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  56. LOVE your tip for using the two plastic lids to slice cherry/grape tomatoes, but I think you forgot to mention that a serrated blade is also a life-saver? (I believe your photo shows a serrated blade) If I use anything to cut any tomatoes but my thin-bladed serrated knife that I got in a Mennonite kitchenwares shop at a farmer's market in VA, I squish them without even trying! This is a knife specifically for slicing tomatoes, but I use it for all manner of things in the kitchen. It's one of my favorite cooking tools. The same company also makes many other special-use knives - but they really are multi-purpose. The handles are a dull metallic grey, the blades are stainless steel, of course. I don't know the brand anymore, but I've seen them sold in other places as well - including in the gift shop of a retirement home in PA! They are excellent knives that I would put right alongside your herb scissors (as soon as I can get one!)

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  57. We had a small potted oregano plant last summer. I didn't have a windowsill big enough to hold it, so I planted it in the flowerbed. Left it there, forgot about it. It froze and died with the onset of frost and snow, of course. But - oh my goodness! Last week, while checking out our blooming daffodils, there was a little round patch of oregano popping up tiny heads along with the daffodils! Whenever I watch the miracle of spring, I want to sing an alleluia and am sure the flowers are singing as well!

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  58. I just love basil....and I think for sure I will grow some this year, in a pot that is! I wonder if there is a perfume out there with some basil scent! The scissors would be a handy gadget in my drawer.

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  59. When my herbs are at their optimum quality in my garden I chop them finely (the herb scissors would come in very handy for this task) and pack them into small screw top containers - empty plastic baking powder jars work well - and store them in the freeze for the winter. Small amounts can be removed easily as needed.
    Ruth from Manitoba

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  60. I have been learning how beneficial herbs are to add through out the vegetable garden and will be incorporating more from the herb patch that's near the kitchen door into all my flower and veggie beds.

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  61. I too have herbs growing just off my deck and mint and oregano (both hot n spicy, stevia sits in a pot as well.
    Whenever I have excess dill, I chop it fine, put it on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it up. Put in the freezer so when you need dill just break off a piece.
    Pam

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  62. I love the herb scissors, Judy! I have been growing herbs in my container garden for a long while now, but I have always just used a knife or regular scissors.

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  63. Thanks for the tip on cutting those tiny tomatoes.... Wow, great tip.... That pizza looks yummy....

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  64. Herb scissors are new to me! Great idea!! My favorite way of growing parsley and chives is in a tall strawberry pot. I use the individual openings for regular & garlic chives, flat & curly leaf parsley and then on the top I put my rosemary plant. I can take this indoors to my sun room in the winter and keep using them. It works great! My other tip is my freezer pesto. We make up pesto fresh in the summer and then freeze it in ice cube trays. We can pull out a cube or two to make Turkey Pesto Sandwiches or a bunch for Chicken Pesto Linguine. It tastes like summer! Blessings, Trisha E.

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  65. I love growing herbs, especially the perennial ones like mint, sage, chives, thyme and sorrel. The sorrel isn't as well known but has a nice light lemony flavor. It can be used in soups and such, but I also like it in salad or used in sandwiches instead of lettuce. Mint I plant separate from the garden in my raised flower bed in front of the house. This keeps it contained. I'm also currently growing lemon balm in a large container, since it can be bad about spreading out. I also grow parsley and usually basil; I haven't had good luck with dill, but am planning to try again. I dry sage leaves spread out on a paper towel lined shallow box, then save the dry leaves in a jar to use when cooking things like pot roast, or chicken for noodles. I'm really fond of sage, but found out the hard way that you need to prune them back every year or the plants get really big and bushy. I wound up replacing one with a new start last year.

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  66. I've never grown my own herbs-but if I would be lucky enough to win the scissors-
    I might try growing some !
    Marilyn lmshetler@embarqmail.com

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  67. Herb scissors? Sound like a great way to start a pesto. Speaking of which, I enjoy different herb pestos used fresh as a dipping sauce for grilled vegetables. Delicious!

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  68. Shannon HildebrandtApril 14, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    I have never grown my own herbs, but in Saskatchewan, that's one of the few edible things we can grow during winter and it would sure brighten up the kitchen. I love fresh herbs in roasted turkey. It makes such a difference to use fresh thyme, rosemary and sage vs. the dried stuff--you just have to be careful with your measurements. I've heard fresh herbs make a nice infused oil, as well. Yum!

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  69. I am going to plant some herbs for the first time since moving from the midwest to southern California. I have seen these scissors but have not added them to my kitchen gadget collection yet. Thank you for the tip on how useful they can be.

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  70. I like fresh parsley on almost anything, but can't always use up the whole (store-bought) bunch. So I chop up some of it and just freeze it (loose--no water). That way, it's ready to sprinkle onto cooked veggies, omelettes, soup or on top of a salad.

    shepherds_lamb2002@yahoo.com

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