How to Grow Your Own Herbs for Cooking

Published: Saturday, March 25, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

The next time a recipe calls for fresh basil, skip the poor substitute of dried basil, forgo the last-minute dash to the supermarket for some overpriced wilted basil, and just pluck a few tender leaves off of the basil plant you have growing in your very own herb garden.  What? You don't have fresh basil growing in your garden? Well consider this your invitation to start.

Growing your own herbs is a simple and inexpensive undertaking that pays off big for your taste buds and your budget.  If you can keep a houseplant alive, you can sustain an herb garden.  Here’s how.

Decide what you want to grow.  Some popular choices from home cooks are listed here along with their care instructions.  Start with just a few that you know you’ll use regularly, and then branch out from there.



























































Herb

Special Care

How to Harvest

How to Use

Basil

Pinch off any flowers that appear. This preserves the plant’s flavor, and will also help increase the leaf density of each stem.

Harvest the upper leaves first, taking just a few leaves from each stem at a time.

Add raw to salads, sandwiches and wraps, cook into soups and sauces, chop and sprinkle on pizza, make pesto.

Parsley

Parsley has a longer than average germination period of three to four weeks, so extra patience is required.

Cut the outermost stalks just above ground level, which will encourage further growth.

Both the leaves and stalks can be eaten in salads, soups, and Mediterranean dishes like Tabouli.

Chives

If you don’t intend on eating the flowers, pinch them off as soon as they begin to appear.

Cut the leaves with scissors, starting with the outside leaves first, allowing about 2 inches of the leaves to remain.

This entire plant can be eaten from top to bottom— the bulbs taste like mild onions, the leaves can be used in salads and other dishes, and even the flower heads can be tossed into salads.

Cilantro

Cilantro does not like hot weather. If the soil temperature reaches 75 degrees, the plant will bolt and go to seed, making this a short-lived herb. Aggressive pruning will extend its life, so be ready to use or store it. Save the seeds to use in cooking (the seeds are called coriander) or to plant.

There are two methods of harvesting cilantro. When the plant reaches about 6" in height, you can remove the outer leaves with a scissors, leaving the growing point intact for new growth. Or you can wait until the plant is almost completely grown and pull it from the soil by its roots to use the whole bunch at once.

Salads, wraps, dips, and many Mexican recipes.

Rosemary

This plant can be difficult to start from seed, so you may wish to buy a mature plant. And be careful not to overwater—rosemary likes its soil on the dry side.

Simply cut off pieces of the stem as you need it.

Many culinary and even medicinal uses.

Thyme

This plant can take awhile to start from seed, so you may wish to buy a mature plant. Drought-tolerant thyme is extremely easy to care for, and prefers drier soils.

Simply cut off pieces of the stem as you need it.

Often used to flavor meats, soups, and stews.

Dill

Drought-tolerant dill is extremely easy to care for, and prefers drier soils.

Don't start harvesting dill until it's at least 12 inches tall, and never take more than one-third of the leaves at any one time.

Great flavoring for fish, lamb, potatoes, and peas.

Mint

Mint is an invasive plant so stick to container gardening with this one.

Pinch off sprigs as you need them.

Mint is extremely versatile, and can be used in salads, desserts, drinks, and many other recipes. You can even chew it by itself for a pleasant, refreshing flavor.

 

Decide where to plant your herbs. Many herbs grow well indoors and outdoors in the ground or in containers.  If you have a little space with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight a day, you may prefer to grow them indoors, as the herbs will be much more accessible for cooking and watering, and not subject to threats of pests, weeds, or variations in temperature.

Decide whether you’ll start from seeds or seedlings.  Seedlings are very young plants that you can transplant into your own garden. They are typically only available in the spring and summer from gardening centers and farmers markets.  Seeds cost less, but take more time and resources to grow from scratch (here's how).

Gather your materials.  You’ll need a few gardening tools, like a small shovel or spade, some gardening gloves and pots or containers (optional since herbs can also be planted directly into the soil). You’ll also need some fertilized soil.  If you have a compost pile, you can use some fully decomposed compost to fertilize the soil.  Otherwise, you can use a general purpose compost solution, available in any gardening store.   If you’re container gardening, use a packaged potting soil mix, which will be free of pests.

Start planting.  If you’re starting from seeds, sow into moist soil and cover with 1/2 inch of soil on top.  The seeds should germinate in about one week.  If you’re using a pot or container for seedlings, follow these steps.


  1. Ensure proper drainage by filling the pot with a shallow layer of course gravel.
     


  2. Fill the pot about 1/2 of the way full, and place the plant, still in its original container, into the new pot.  Add dirt around the plant, gently packing it into place, so that the top of the new soil is at the same level as the top of the plant’s original soil. 
     


  3. Remove the plastic pot, tap it so you can easily slide the plant and all of its soil out, and place the plant and all of its soil into the hole in the soil of the new pot.


Care for your plants. Water at the base of the plant when the soil begins to feel dry, at least once per week.  Pull weeds that appear near the plant, because they will steal the nutrients from the soil.  If growing outdoors, bring them in before the first frost.

Harvest the herbs.  Most plants will grow new leaves if you don’t pick the stems bare. You can pick the leaves with your fingers or snip them with kitchen shears.

Use or store the herbs.  Many recipes call for fresh herbs, so simply pick your herbs, wash them and pat them dry before using in your favorite recipes. To store, you can preserve your herbs for future use by freezing them or drying them.  In either case, you must first prep them.  First, remove any soil or bugs by rinsing in cold water.  Then, remove flowering stems and flowers and gently remove excess water by patting with a paper towel.  Once your herbs are prepped, you can choose your method of storage:


  • Air drying:  Cut the stems at soil level and hang upside down in bunches (so that the flavorful oil travels into the leaves) to dry for one to two weeks.  Once dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store in a dry, airtight container for up to a year.
     


  • Freezing:  The benefit of freezing, as opposed to drying, is that the herbs retain more of their just-picked flavor.  Place clean herbs directly into freezer bags, or try the cube method: Place a few teaspoons of chopped, fresh herbs into each cell of an ice cube tray.  Fill the trays with water, and freeze.  When cooking, just pop out a cube and add it to the pot like you would fresh herbs!



Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1739

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Don't try this at home: Top home repairs that aren't DIY

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 11:38 AM

These are six times you should never skimp on home repairs Anything with electrical work A leaky roof Defective water-based plumbing appliances Standing water A dirty chimney Clogged gutters

Everyone wants to feel self-sufficient, and even those with deep pockets find it's a good idea to stick to some kind of home maintenance budget. If you chuckled at the thought of having "deep pockets," you're probably even more concerned with controlling costs on the home front.

»RELATED: 6 common first-time homebuyer mistakes that could cost you big time

But frugal isn't always better, even if you have monster DIY skills. "When it comes to doing your own home repairs, there's a thin line between being fearless and foolish," noted Joseph Truini of Popular Mechanics.

Sometimes you have to go all in with the home repair budget, whether it's to avoid bigger, more costly disasters, to assure home safety or to protect your investment. These are six times you should never skimp on home repairs, even if you must hire a pro to get the desired results:

Involved electrical work. Feel free to install dimmer switches or replace an old ceiling light with a new ceiling fan, Truini advised. "Upgrading existing devices and fixtures is relatively easy and safe, as long as you remember to first turn off the electricity." But anything more complicated than that and it's time to call the pros (and heave a sigh as you get out your wallet). "When it comes to extending existing electrical circuits or adding new ones, call in an experienced, licensed electrician," he said. "When homeowners start messing around with electrical circuits and running new cables, there are two likely outcomes and both are potentially lethal: electrical shock and fire."

The floor of a second story classroom shows water damage from a leaky roof. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

A leaky roof. Those drip-drips on the floor, even if it's only the attic floor, can indicate big problems for a homeowner who ignores them. They include possible structural damage, mold or loss of personal property, according to The Balance. "It's nothing to mess with. Address roof leaks as soon as you discover them, and you'll save yourself a ton of cash," it added.

Roof problems can be caused by weather, which can decay roof materials, or a simple lack of maintenance, which most commonly makes a flat or low-sloped roof uneven, so it accumulates water that can destroy roofing material. While a few adjustments can be made by an amateur, the most important roof area to inspect is the flashing, which is supposed to provide a watertight seal between your roof's sections and other parts of the building, according to The Balance. If you try to install, adjust or replace the flashing yourself, you're risking a disaster. "Incorrect installation procedure or attachment, and improper sealing of the flashing will allow the water to enter between the roofing systems and the roof structure."

If the problem is the roof's design, including the slope, drainage or incompatible materials, you should also get an expert roofer involved before the leaks start impressive levels of destruction. While design adjustments are expensive to correct and have to happen while another roofing material is happening, ignoring them will cost many more do-overs and potential roof failures.

Defective water-based plumbing appliances. Being a homeowner requires a little bit of DIY plumbing for the occasional leaky faucet, clogged drain or stopped-up toilet, according to the Louisville, Kentucky-based Tom Sondergeld Plumbing. "These basic projects can be finished in a couple of hours and don't require any specialized skill," the owner admitted.

But there are larger plumbing issues that can't be ignored, or tackled by a homeowner who's handy with the wrench. One time not to skimp is when a water heater, sump pump or other water-based appliance stops functioning properly. "When these appliances need maintenance or replacement, it can be an extensive process," TSP advised. "A licensed plumber can either repair or replace the appliance properly."

Standing water. All jokes about hourly rates and attire malfunctions aside, sometimes a plumber's efforts can prevent out and out disasters. One of these instances is when you spot standing water in the house, according to TSP. (Mysterious standing water, that is, not the result of a recent large dog being bathed or a spill you recognize.) The standing water can be close to a water heater, toilet or sink, but the damage may be far more extensive. "A plumber can see if there is more than meets the eye," TSP said. "Typically, standing water is a sign of a much larger problem. Before you start digging into the issue, call a professional and let them use their expertise to diagnose and treat the issue before your home becomes a splash park."

A dirty chimney. Due to the potential for fires and dangerous fumes, sweeping the chimney annually is not optional, according to the Balance. "Hire a professional chimney sweep once a year to make sure your chimney is free of creosote, bird nests and other flammables," the site recommended.

Hiring a pro to clean gutters can prevent drainage problems throughout the house.(Contributed by windows2clean.com/For the AJC)

Clogged gutters. It may not seem like something worth paying someone to climb up on the roof for, but clogged gutters, downspouts that don't direct away from the house and improper grading can all lead to drainage problems. "All of them put your home's foundation at risk and invite water indoors," noted The Balance. "Now, not later, is the time to tackle those rainwater woes."

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Sneaky ways to save money on your next road trip

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 12:34 PM

The following seven tips will help you save money and avoid facing debt when you get back from your trip Look for a price-drop guarantee Sites like Groupon and CityPASS can help cut the price of popular attractions if you're visiting a major city When you book a hotel, Consumer Reports recommends bargaining for better rates The cheapest travel day is Wednesday, and you'll also save by avoiding weekend travel Sites like Priceline let you name a price you're willing to pay The cost of meals can add up quick

You hop in the car with a few friends or the family and a mere 1,000 miles later you're down $400 when you only intended to spend $150. What happened?

Probably just a few overruns on the road trip budget.

With a little effort, you'll find it's just as simple and sometimes even more pleasant to take a road trip that will save you hundreds.

»RELATED: 7 last-minute ways to save money on your next vacation

Credit Donkey shared the secret to saving money on road trips. "A big dose of planning," the consumer website said. "Okay, that might not be much of a secret, but everything from those junk food indulgences to the stomach-churning cash spent at the pump can be managed, and often minimized, with a little advance planning."

Add a few apps and some tried-and-true strategies for coping with unexpected hitches in the plan and you've got yourself a less expensive road trip. Here are some tips from Credit Donkey and other frugal travel experts:

Before you leave, these steps will save you money on your road trip.

Pick the right car: Sure, an SUV is going to offer more leg room. But it's also going to cost.

"On a 1,000-mile road trip, taking the car that gets 25 mpg instead of the one with 30 mpg will result in 20 percent savings on fuel," noted Credit Donkey. The Department of Energy provides a calculator to compare the fuel economy of any car you're considering taking. 

Prep the vehicle: Be sure to look for cracks or looseness in engine belts, since broken belts are a major cause of roadside breakdowns, according to AAA. Also check the owner's manual and make sure all tires are at the recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires, which is particularly nasty on longer trips. 

Plan your route: Don't leave all the trip planning to the GPS along the way. If you map out your route in advance, you can settle on where you'll buy gas, eat a reasonably priced lunch, possibly using a Groupo, and when you'll stop to stretch your legs. Travel and Leisure recommends the customizable AAA TripTik road-trip routers, that come with gas station locations and date-stamped fuel prices along the route.

Plan your gas buys: When you're taking a trip that runs through more than one state, you can save as much as $1 per gallon just by filling up at the right time. If you buy while you're still in Ohio instead of driving into Pennsylvania, for example, you'll save about 30 cents per gallon. Track average national gas prices and state-by-state estimations at the AAA website.

And once you hit the, here’s how to save money on the road:

Conserve fuel: There are numerous ways to save money on gas. First up, if it's the season, use the air conditioning, recommended AAA. Today's air conditioners create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open. Tips from Travel & Leisure include using cruise control, driving when it's cooler outside and watching when you fill your tank.                                                                                       "If you overfill the tank, gas can slosh around and escape." You can also save money by buying discounted gift cards for gas stations at sites such as Cardpool, CardCash and Gift Card Granny, according to Kiplinger

Drive slower: Driving near the speed limit will always help with your fuel economy. It can also help you avoid speeding tickets, which are a major drag on a road trip budget. Although the cost varies by state, the average speeding ticket is $150, according to Esurance, and violations might end up increasing your insurance rates.

Use two GPS devices: This tip from Travel & Leisure is based on the idea of avoiding the traffic that can drive up fuel costs (and test tempers). Two GPS devices can vary wildly on the routes they suggest. Having two can help you avoid any snags that arise. 

Stop stopping all the time: Every time you stop, you risk expensive treat and souvenir buying. You also end up wrecking your plans for gas buying, inexpensive meals and even making it to an affordable hotel. Instead, buy all your snacks and drinks ahead of time and keep them in a cooler. Stick to your planned restaurant and gas purchase stops. And since you can't plan when someone will need to use the bathroom, use a clean bathroom finder app like Charmin's Sit or Squat.

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This actress (and Dayton native) crawled around Ellen’s stage blindfolded

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Dayton native Sherri Saum played blindfolded musical chair on Ellen against other cast members of The Fosters. Source: Ellen

A Fairmont High School grad got quite the workout on Monday’s episode of “Ellen.”

Sherri Saum, an actress and Dayton native raised in Kettering, appeared on the show with other cast members from Freeform’s “The Fosters.” 

>> 6 things you should know about Dayton actress Sherri Saum

She bumped, gyrated and crawled around on the stage during a blindfolded game of musical chairs. 

Sherri's mom Lois Saum worked for years as a clerk and editorial assistant for the Dayton Daily News.

She was not the only person with local ties on Ellen Monday. 

Model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen, the wife of Springfield native John Legend was also on the show. 

>> Chrissy Tiegen is not a “creepy stalker,” fails Ellen’s John Legend test

Sherri Saum stars as Lena, a lesbian mom in an interracial relationship on ABC Family's "The Fosters." 

>> RELATED: Actress from Dayton delivers twins

Along with her partner Stef (played by Teri Polo), Lena is mother to a blend of biological, adopted and foster children.

>> Radiohead is making a concert stop in our region -- here’s how to get tickets

Cast members recently finished recording the last episodes of their fifth and final season. 

The last episodes will air over three nights this summer.  

Saum and her castmates appears on Ellen following a massive Twitter campaign. 

They didn’t leave the show empty handed. DeGeneres gave them a seven-person sweater. 

Ellen’s show appears 4 p.m. weekdays on WHIO Channel 7.

>> A Sunday Chat With Sherri Saum

(Entertainment Weekly)

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Have you tried the Whole Foods sandwich that went viral?

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 12:02 PM

Amazon to Start Whole Foods Deliveries in Four Cities The tech giant will offer free, two hour delivery from the supermarket to Prime members in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach. The new deal will go into effect on Thursday. Prime members will be able to place their order via the Amazon website or the Prime Now app. Amazon bought the Whole Foods market chain in June for $13.7 billion.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Anyone can get their hands on the latest buzzy food craze: You just walk up to the deli at a Whole Foods, tell them you want “that TTLA sandwich” and pay $8 at the cash register.

That is, unless the deli is out of the ingredients, particularly the vegan tempeh “bacon” strips that are stuffed into the sandwich. Between a viral video (vegan actress Tabitha Brown singing and having an apparent religious experience) and the Twitter/Instagram/Facebook-friendly #TTLA hash tag, the nation is apparently experiencing shortages of tempeh bacon.

The whole thing started in January after Brown ordered the sandwich at a Whole Foods in California. It took off, helped along by people posting about the #TTLA Challenge.

» Amazon to deliver groceries to Prime Now customers in selected cities

At my local Whole Foods, there’s been such a run on the Smoky TTLA Sandwich that it took me more than a week to actually find it in stock.

“People come in all day long,” one clerk said. “We ran out of tempeh bacon.”

Kristina Morris of Charlotte was in line behind me at the deli counter, waiting to pick up two sandwiches. She was taking one to her stepfather, who is trying to go vegan at the age of 56. She saw the sandwich on Facebook.

“I’m going to try it too,” she said.

After all the fuss, what’s the sandwich like? Mine didn’t have all the dark leafy greens (or the pickle) that Tabitha Brown got. But it did have a generous stack of seven slices of tempeh bacon (that may explain why it runs out so fast), a pile of shredded lettuce, a generous slathering of roasted garlic Vegenaise (that ghostly white vegetarian mayonnaise), two slices of tomato, six or seven thin slices of avocado and a salt/pepper mix on ciabatta bread.

» Kroger looking to partner with Overstock.com: report

About that tempeh bacon: Let’s be generous and call it “bacon-ish.” To a non-vegan, it tastes like what bacon would taste like if pigs were made of cardboard. So the sandwich misses that essential soft-tomato/crispy bacon fat-and-salt hit of a real BLT.

Still, there’s enough gushiness from the avocado and the Vegenaise (note to self: get the roasted garlic flavor) to give the whole thing plenty of flavor, especially with the crusty ciabatta adding some crunch to offset the weirdly mushy tempeh slices.

Verdict: Roasted Garlic Vegennaise, avocado, tomato and lettuce makes a really good sandwich. But hold the fake bacon.

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