My garden has been confused. This spring brought luxurious weather followed by a late cold snap.The buds and the new growth of some of my flower and herb plantings had been carefully peering out from mother earth, as if unsure of their surroundings. Now, with this flush of warm weather, I find them shamelessly and delightfully exposed for all to see! Top offenders seem to be in my herb bed.
As I traipse through the gardens, they are lush with fresh growth. The basil, an annual, is still in my greenhouse. I start them each year early (February). I make a point to brush against them often…anticipating their sweet, spicy aromas.
I use my herbs daily as a way to add flavor, color and interest to my food. Research is now showing they do so much more than add flavor. Culinary herbs are a rich source of antioxidants (nutritional powerhouses that prevent or slow damage to cells). To think that herbs and spices may be suggested as a way to promote better health makes me giddy! Perhaps, we are on the verge of re-discovering a bit of ancient wisdom for our modern world from Hippocrates:
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food." Hippocrates
In addition to flavor, I now think of my herbs as botanical tinctures of health. No "spoonful of sugar" needed here to help the medicine go down!
As an herbal celebration of spring, today my herbs will become Boursin. I make mine from a soft cheese such as cream cheese, then dress it up with garlic, herbs and a few other spices. My Boursin is different every time since I vary the herbs according to supply. I basically use a handful of parsley then 4 other herbs…what ever is ready for picking. Today, I will use thyme, Greek oregano, garlic chives and basil. My basil's (annuals) are still small but they need their top growth pinched to encourage a well-branched, stockier plant …so the timing perfect! .
This week’s recipe comes from Marge Clarke’s cookbook called It’s About Thyme: An Herb Manual and Cookbook of Herb and Non-Herb Recipes. I got this book as a novice herb gardener. If you love herbs…cooking with them and growing them (or you want to cook with them and aren’t quite sure how to start) you will love this book. I still remember perusing it the first time, curled up with it in my favorite cozy chair with my favorite hot tea…I could not put it down. My copy is still an important part of my kitchen, kept out on the counter with other books I reference often.
This is Marge’s recipe… the real thing. My variations are in parenthesis. As a purist, she will tell you, one can’t make Boursin with dried herbs, only fresh will do. After trying this, I think you’ll agree!
8 ounces Cream Cheese ( I use the low fat) 1 Tbsp fresh lemon ( I usually just add the juice of a whole lemon) 1 minced clove garlic (I use at least 2) ½ tsp Worcestershire and ½ tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp each of finely chopped fresh parsley and fresh chives
4 Tbsp minced fresh herbs* (I double this)
*Marge says to at least use 4 of the following herbs ---the more, the better. Rosemary, thyme, dill, Greek oregano, marjoram, summer savory, basil and sage.
Combine all ingredients but so not beat. Just mix gently and thoroughly. (Beating them will make the herbs smeary as they are fresh. The flavor will be fine, just the presentation ruined)
Cover tightly and refrigerate. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature. Makes about 1 cup. (I like to shape into a roundish- ball and garnish with springs of fresh herbs.) Serve as a spread with crackers, as a dip or as a sandwich spread. Enjoy!
In Good Health,