Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Keeping an Herb Notebook

One of my first herb books was Phyllis Shaudys The Pleasure of Herbs: A Month-by-Month Guide to Growing, Using and Enjoying Herbs (Storey Communications, 1986).

On page 20 just at the beginning of the book, she suggested keeping an herbal notebook, in which you put your herb wish list and things to try and other information gleaned from books and seed catalogs.  I took her notebook advice and wrote down herb lists, growth information and then sketched in my garden and what I want to plant here and there.  This started me on quest for information about herbs that has only multiplied over time.  I began with one notebook that exploded into another and another and a garden journal and then another and soon I had hundreds maybe thousands of pages of information.

After 20 years I can’t use just ONE notebook anymore.  I have multiple books I carry around with me to jot down ideas, plants to try, books to read and uses for herbs that books, people, blogs, and other places suggest.  These notebooks sit on the shelves my grandfather made (with a few cookbooks).  When they started to number into the hundreds I realized they were impossible to sort through to find what I wanted so I had to take them apart and place them in folders.  This information expanded into file folders of ideas, plant and gardening lists and craft ideas.  Those folders now fill two filing cabinets.

The reason I share this is to let you know that no matter how you begin saving or collecting information about herbs it’s perfect!  Organization can always come later!

I now collect notebooks with herby and garden themes so I love pulling them out and writing things in them.  My new favorite is the wire bound book with the elastic band and the period plant sketches on the cover which I picked up at Target!

While I was taking all these pictures I found an herb chart from Clark’s Greenouse of San Juan, Illinois (which unfortunately closed back in 2007) that gave some great information on the cooking uses of 9 basic herbs.  Here is the information I discovered:

       Herb                   Soups               Meats/ Poultry     Cheese/eggs/fish      Vegetables

Vegetables, tomato (seafood dips)
Beef, pork, veal, lamb, meatloaf, liver, stews
All egg rice and cheese dishes, all fish and shellfish
Tomatoes, salads, squash, beans, carrots, beets, peas
Tomato, pea beef soup, borsch
Lamb, corned beef, creamed chicken
Any cheese dip, egg and cheese, tartar sauce
Potatoes, Peas, Cauliflower, sour cream dressing
Clam chowder, minestrone, onion soup
Beef , veal, stews, chicken, pork, sausage, stuffings
Cheese and egg dishes, creamed fish, gravies
All vegetables, tossed green salads

Bean or tomato soups
Pizza, spaghetti, meatloaf, all game
Fish sauce, poached eggs or omelets
Seafood salads, all mushroom dishes, onions
Rea, chicken or turtle soup
Stews, veal, lamb, chicken, pot roast
Baked or fried fish, omelets, scrambled eggs
Cabbage, broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts
Chowders and soup stock
Dressings, stews, pork sausage
Egg dishes, and baked fish, cheese
Beans, tomatoes and onions
Chowders, bean, onion or lentil soup
Pork, veal, lamb, chicken dressings, stews
Egg sauces, cream cheese
String beans, lentils, vegetable or potato salad
Vegetable, tomato and any chowder
Chicken, chops or steaks, beef or ham, beef or lamb stew
All egg dishes, fish or lobster, tartar sauce
Peas, beans, asparagus, tomato seafood salad
Onion soup, fish or clam chowder
Beef stew, lamb, veal, game, pot roast, meatloaf
Cheese dishes or sandwiches, fish, scrambled eggs, lobster or shrimp
Salads, peas, tomatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage slaw

If you like the idea of cooking with herbs, but are not sure, even with a chart like this how to begin, we have made it easier.  Just use one of the herb seasoning blends created by the Backyard Patch.  We have a blend ofr poultry, one for meat and seafood, as well as blends for salads, soups and more.  See them all here:

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