Herbs speak to us. If we learn how to listen, we can understand their language. They tell us how to work with them. I love culinary herbs because it is really easy to hear them, even when one is just beginning to decode the language of plants.
How can we listen to plants? In the kitchen, we use our senses. Today we’ll talk a little about the sense of smell. Close your eyes and go back in time to a moment when you were cooking with fresh herbs. Revisit a day that you were tired after a long day of work. Try to remember how you felt when you started to chop the fresh herbs. Breath deeply. What did you feel in your body? What could you sense about the herbs? Did you smile…. or suddenly relax…. or feel your mood brighten?
You may have noticed that in recent years public interest in essential oils and aromatherapy has skyrocketed. When you prepare or enjoy a meal (or a simple cup of herbal tea) containing aromatic herbs, you experience aromatherapy and healing powers of essential oils! The aromatic, essential oils are released by chopping or applying heat to the herbs. I encourage you to take time to breath deeply while cooking to get to know how each herb makes you feel. Learn to listen to your body and trust it. This is medicine! And don’t forget to take a ritual sniff of your food before digging in. It will not only excite you for the meal you are about to enjoy; it will also stimulate your digestive system and relax tension. When the mind and body are relaxed, prepared to receive nourishment, and focused on enjoying a meal — we digest much better!
Essential oils are strongest in freshly harvested herbs. Some are preserved in dried herbs but it often diminishes quickly. A great way to preserve a surplus of fresh herbs, without losing the essential oils, is to make an herb butter. The herb butter can be stored in the freezer for use later. Once winter rolls around many of the culinary herbs are dormant and there are fewer herbs in the CSA box. Herb butter made today can be enjoyed in holiday cooking!
You will need:
1/2 cup of chopped fresh herbs
2 cloves of garlic
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of melted butter
Chop herbs with salt and garlic. Melt butter. Pour melted butter over chopped herb mix. Make sure butter fully coats the herbs. Pour mixture into ice cube trays. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once the herb butter cubes harden, remove from tray and put into a freezer bag for storage. Voila!