Did you know many of our Texas native plants — including roses — are also herbs? So why not use them to add a little zing to your holiday cooking?
Herbs are used not only for culinary purposes, but also for medicinal, cosmetic and craft purposes. The wide range of foliage, colors, textures and flowers contribute to their appeal.
Herbs need a sunny, well drained location in your landscape. They can be used in flower beds, borders, rock gardens or containers. Herbs generally like hot, dry weather and are most fragrant if plants receive six to eight hours of sun per day.
Herb seeds such as dill, anise, caraway or coriander can be used for flavorings. The leaves of many herbs such as parsley and chives can be harvested for fresh seasonings. Don’t remove all the foliage from the plant at one time. Only take the leaves as you need them. For rosemary and thyme, harvest the tops when the plants are in full bloom. Basil, fennel, mint, sage, summer savory, sweet marjoram, tarragon and winter savory are harvested just before the plant starts to bloom. After harvesting, hang the herbs in loosely tied bundles in a well-ventilated room.
Herbal teas have been used for many years for health purposes. To make herbal tea, start with one tablespoon of fresh herbs (or one teaspoon of dried herbs). Using a non-metallic teapot, steep the tea in hot water for five to 10 minutes, strain and enjoy!
One of my favorite recipes using rosemary is:
ROASTED POTATOES WITH ROSEMARY
1 ½ pounds small new potatoes, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil and/or butter
4 cloves freshly chopped garlic
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Pierce potatoes with a fork. Heat the oil/butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook potatoes until almost tender, about 25 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and rosemary. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking until very tender and brown, about 10 minutes. Instead of cooking this on top of the stove, it can be baked in the oven.