I just started growing a few of my own herbs recently, and it really does make a difference in flavor and saves you the cost. While it’s not the easiest thing in the world for some people (me included, we live in a condo, not much room here for anything!), this article gives you some tips on things that are easy to grown and try. Check it out!
Tag Archives: herbs
It was a nice week spent away with the family and visiting in Charlotte. The weather was great and we had a fun time hanging out with everyone and seeing all the nieces and nephews and how big they have become. I didn’t get a chance to any blogging at all while I was gone since I left my computer at home, but I did help with some cooking, making my spaghetti and meatballs, my corned beef in the oven, and my corned beef hash for breakfast on Easter morning. So now it’s back home and back to the real world of cooking every day. I didn’t have a meal plan for this week already, so I am working on one today and hope to have that tomorrow to post.
I thought for today I would go over some things I am planning to do for the house and the kitchen to make things a little easier for us around here, and maybe give you some ideas too. I have been receiving some requests for ideas and recipes to post, and I really do pay attention to them and hope to post them on here soon. I did have a request for some easy party appetizers and dips, a request on how to make some roast beef with au jus (which I hope to do this weekend) and a few other odds and ends that I’ll be writing about it.
I am planning a few things in the house to hopefully make cooking a little better and also save us some money in the process. I started growing my own herbs at home in the hopes of using more fresh herbs in my cooking. WE don’t have a lot of space since we live in a condo, but we do live on the bottom floor and have a small patch of earth in the back that we can plant in, so I am going to put some herbs there. For now, I have growing in the house some basil, oregano, parsley, mint and thyme. I have used some of the mint and thyme already since I bought them when they were further along as plants and it was great. I have looked into getting a couple of other herb boxes so I can start some things out and move them outside. I just want to get herbs that I use a lot on cooking (although Sean wants me to grow some watermelon :)).
Another thing I am looking into is getting a bread maker. We seem to go through a lot of bread in this house and I think if I had the bread maker I would get good use out of it. I just don’t have the space to work with dough like I would like to since we only have one small counter to use in our kitchen, but I do have the space for a bread maker. I have been doing some research online to see what might be best and so far the one that seems to look good is the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme 2-Pound-Loaf Breadmaker. It seems to be the size I like and would do everything I want it to do and more.
We are also looking into getting a kitchen island cart. We have some room in our dining room for something like this and it would give us some needed storage space and provide us with some extra butcher block cutting room for counter space. We have done a lot of research on this one but haven’t really found one to fit nicely in the space we have.
Lastly, we are looking into making some dietary changes in our lives that will change our menus a little. Everyone is always trying to lose some weight and having foot problems caused by my illness has made exercise difficult, if not impossible, so it has become more important to watch what I eat. I think we need to introduce more fruits and vegetables in our diet, eliminate some carbs and cut back more on the red meat, so you’ll probably see more dinner recipes here that try to do that, along with recipes that I really want to try or really like (I can’t just give up everything!).
Tomorrow I hope to have our menu plan for the rest of the week laid out. I do know that I’ll be making Sloppy Joes for dinner tomorrow as a request of Michelle’s, so look for that in tomorrow’s blog. If anyone has any suggestions for herbs to grow, bread makers to look at, kitchen carts they like or menu suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment and pass them along. Until tomorrow, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!
No, he’s not a jazz musician, but I hope it got your attention. You probably don’t need to have garam masala in your pantry (unless of course you make a lot of Indian or Asian food, in which case you might), but there are lots of other things that I think would go very well in your pantry. I am going to name a few things that I use on a regular basis that help me tremendously in the kitchen. Most of them you probably have around all the time, and if you do, it can help you create a meal on the fly for a quick weeknight dinner when you don’t want to put a lot of effort in, or for when you have unexpected guests drop by and need something quick to throw together. When it comes to items in your pantry, brand is a personal choice. Use what you and your family like best and has the best flavor for you. There are a few brands I will recommend that I really like using, but do what fits your taste and budget the best.
Everyone has their own list of things they like to keep around in the pantry based on what their family likes best. There are basics like flour, salt, sugar, pepper, butter and milk that most people have around in one variation or another, depending on what you like and what your dietary restrictions may be.These are a few things I always have in the house:
Rice – I always have whole grain rice, sometimes brown rice, but always whole grain. It doesn’t take long to cook and to me tastes better than any quick rice or minute rice.
Eggs – We always have a dozen eggs on head and use them for baking, breakfast, hard boiling to have for lunches or appetizers, or when we have “breakfast for dinner.”
Pasta – While I personally don’t eat it, we always have it in the house, usually in a couple of varieties. If I had the counter space, I would like to make my own, but since our kitchen is the size of a closet, we make do. If you have pasta around, you always have a meal. There are dozens of quick sauces to throw together, or just saute or roast some vegetables to go with it, and you’re done.
Oil – I always have vegetable oil on hand as well as olive oil. I probably use the vegetable oil more, but the olive oil is good for making dressings and sauces. I also keep some cooking spray on hand to use to keep things from sticking.
Vinegar – again, it’s good to have on hand for dressings for salad, and I usually keep white, red wine, balsamic and apple cider vinegar to use with various recipes.
Herbs & Spices – There are hundreds of different herbs and spices you could get (like garam masala), but I have found that I really only use about ten or so regularly. I try to use fresh parsley, thyme and basil, as there is a real taste difference over the dried versions. For dried spices, I use oregano, bay leaves, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, paprika, chili powder and cumin. I have others, but rarely use them. Check you dried spices after about 6 months because they tend to lose their potency by then.
Tomatoes – Sadly, fresh tomatoes available in stores here in New York have been bad, to say the least. Unless you grow your own around here, I have found that the canned tomatoes are better. I buy diced tomatoes often to use for things like chili, and keep a couple of jars of crushed tomatoes around for sauce. I do love fresh tomatoes, and ripe ones give great flavor, we just haven’t had good ones in a while.
Broth – I make my own broths now.It may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t and it is so worth it. Homemade chicken stock tastes 100 times better than anything in a box or can and is very easy to make. The same goes for beef, fish or vegetable broth and you can freeze them to use whenever you need them (I plan to use a day of blogging to talk about stocks). If you don’t have the time to make your own, I have found that Swanson’s seems to taste the best among the chicken and beef broths available.
Beans – We always have some kind of beans on hand, either dried or canned. They are a great source of protein and can be used in a lot of side dishes, soups, stews and chili. I almost always have red kidney beans, white beans or black beans around to use.
Produce- If you are going to have produce around, you should always have carrots, celery and onions. Use those three and you can pretty much make anything. They are a great base for most sauces, soups, and stews or great for roasting with meat or poultry.I also regularly have white potatoes and garlic on hand to use as well. I try to use fresh produce for our vegetables every day, and when I can’t I do buy some frozen items to have on hand. I am not a fan of canned vegetables – they have a metallic taste to me, usually have too much salt in them to preserve them, and don’t seem to taste as good once cooked. I also always have some kind of fresh fruit on hand, depending on the season. Fresh fruit can be a simple and quick dessert anytime, a nice addition to breakfast, or a great afterschool snack.
Beyond that, there are things I buy from week to week, varying on what our meal plan for that week is going to be. I’ll get more into the meal plan itself tomorrow when I start writing about what’s cooking for the week, but the plan itself basically maps out my shopping list for the week so I know what I am going to buy. I try not to stray beyond that list, with the exceptions of items that may be household necessities that week (i.e. toilet paper, garbage bags, paper towels, Sean’s lunch snacks, etc.). It helps me budget our food shopping for the week and keeps me from buying empty calorie foods we don’t need or shouldn’t have.
So tomorrow we get started on the meal plan. I can tell you, tomorrow’s dinner is nothing fancy, it’s pretty straightforward and easy, but I think that works for a lot of weeknight meals. We don’t often have time for an elaborate meal during the week, so I do try to keep things simple. Get your equipment ready and your pantry set, and we’ll hit the kitchen tomorrow!