The Only Shortcut To Becoming a Great Home Cook
I've published this article a couple times in the past - and continue to share it annually, since this is truly the singular best advice I can give anyone who has an even passing interest in cooking. .
There is only one shortcut to good cooking. It's fast. It's easy. It's inexpensive. Anyone can use this shortcut, even a child.
Use Fresh Herbs
You may say to yourself, "Of course that's true. I use fresh herbs whenever I cook nice or fancy." Or this might be news to you. You could also argue that fresh herbs are expensive and don't last long. Usually you only need a few sprigs and the rest goes to waste. So it's really just a way of buying your way to being a better cook.
In some sense this is right. A bag like this one costs $2.79 at my local store.
Yet, a plant like this costs $2.49 at a garden center and will last months, even if you just leave it in the original pot and water it once in a while. If you plant it in a garden, it may last for years. My main thyme plant is ten years old now.
And finally, an herb garden like this can support your kitchen for a decade, with only occassional replanting of perennials, and inexpensive plantings of annuals.
Here's what you need to know about fresh herbs:
I promised you a shortcut, and now it sounds like you have to plant a garden. Not really. You can simply grab a package of fresh herbs from the store, or pick up a simple plant and use it tonight in the kitchen.
One of the best ways to use fresh herbs is on pasta. A mix of two or three finely chopped herbs, along with some olive oil, good Parmesan and salt and fresh ground pepper make a surprisingly sophisticated dish, with lots of flavor. Last night I used thyme, tarragon and mint. It was delicious.
|2012 Herb Garden |
Now includes sorrel (far left)
and Mexican tarragon (brownish at 1:00 position)
There's a whole lotta fresh oregano behind the rosemary plant,
back in the raised brick garden