Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

Herb Butter

Fresh herbs for making herb butter.

Herb butter is a handy condiment to have on hand. It adds a taste of summer to steak, baked or roasted potatoes, pasta, sautéed vegetables, fresh crusty bread…

I make a batch once the herbs in my garden are established and starting to get big. All it takes is a handful of fresh herbs – whatever combination you have or prefer – and half a pound of softened butter.

My food processor doesn’t do well with herbs. I chop them finely first, then put them in the food processor with the butter and several pinches of salt. Blend until well combined. Herb butter keeps well, so I put half the batch in the fridge and the other half in the freezer.

Freshly made herb butter.

Freshly made herb butter.

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Winter Gardening

It’s January. My garden is covered in snow. It seemed strange to me to launch a blog that would also be about gardening in the middle of winter. It doesn’t look like there’s much life out there. And since the City of Ottawa started its green bin composting program, I don’t need to wander out to my compost heap at the back of the garden either. The backyard landscape is only occasionally punctuated by rabbit or squirrel tracks (and David’s Weber barbecue which he’ll fire up regardless of the outside temperature).

Winter garden

Backyard under the snow, with animal tracks

Leave it to the rabbit to find some life though! It dug down to the celery we didn’t pull out at the end of fall, stripped the outer layer of bark off of a young Italian prune tree, and chewed through some honeysuckle vines. Concerned about the tree since I’ve heard of friends losing theirs to rabbit-inflicted damage, I was forced out of the house and into the snow to, hopefully, rescue the tree and the vine by wrapping them in burlap and creating a chicken wire fence around them. I’ll find out in spring if this little bit of TLC made a difference.

So, aside from protecting plants from the urban wildlife, what’s there to do in winter with a snow-covered garden?

I recently got a seed catalogue from William Dam Seeds, where I’d bought some black salsify, golden beet and mache (also known as corn or lambs lettuce) seeds last spring. Browsing the catalogue got me thinking about last year – what grew well (Swiss chard, pole beans, arugula) and what didn’t (fava beans, fennel, kohlrabi) – and what I want to plant in spring. It’s pretty impressive to see the variety of plants I could grow – how about edible soybeans (edamame)?! – and, when I think back to last summer, amazing how much even just a small garden can yield. These days, we’re eating food we preserved and froze when the grass was green and the earth warm.

One of my favourite things to have on hand is frozen herbs. I cut off a huge bunch of flat leaf parsley, wash it, dry it and chop it. Stored in plastic containers, it freezes perfectly and I can take as much as I need to add colour, flavour and vitamins to my cooking in the winter. I also make a mix of chopped oregano, marjoram, thyme and parsley. And basil? I just freeze the whole leaves in a bag and crush them once they’re frozen. Meanwhile, I discovered the thyme is naturally freeze-dried. Just the other day I dug up a couple of sprigs from under the snow next to the house for flavouring a split pea soup. So not only the rabbit gets something out of the garden in the winter!

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