Herbs and Spice and Everything Nice

When I look around my kitchen and do a quick inventory, I realize how many herbs and spices I have.  It’s almost embarrassing!  I mean there’s an entire cart (like an Elfa cart) in my pantry with nothing but spices.  And that’s not all, there’s more near my stove.  If the spice trade ever came back “in,”  well, I’d be a wealthy woman.

Obviously, I must like what spices and herbs do for food, but I forget how great they are for us.  They can make our food taste delicious while helping with things like inflammation, infection, high blood pressure, diabetes, stress………  It isn’t just eating them that’s good for you, it’s also the aroma.  Rub your hand along a branch of rosemary and you have a stress reliever.

Who could argue with the amazingly comforting taste a pinch of cinnamon, a grating of nutmeg, and a squeeze of lemon give in chicken broth?  Thyme and sauteed mushrooms are a perfect marriage.  And lots of marjoram and dill on fresh salmon are undeniably good.  Marinate pork with oil, lime juice, cumin, onion, garlic, and lots of cilantro and you’ll be very happy.  Never underestimate what fresh herbs can do for a salad.  And use fresh herbs in a vase, pitcher, or small bucket or can with or without flowers.  They just work.

Most herbs are easy to grow and require little attention.  My herb garden is not a specific place in the yard, but I scatter them around, because I like the way they look.  I always have thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, rosemary, and lavender.  I miss my basils, mint, and lemon balm until it’s summer.  The cilantro, dill, Thai basil, and Italian basil usually reseed themselves every year.  And if you like tarragon (on fish, in dressings, etc.) , a hardier substitute that tastes the same to me, a perennial that has great yellow blooms in the fall, is Mexican Mint Marigold.

For ideas on using herbs and spices, Natural Grocer has a good article, Spice Rack of Health.  On this site, there are combinations that help with different ethnic herb and spice combos in Fun With Spices.