Growing and cooking with Herbs

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Part II

By Cheryl Case

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDD), Americans on average get over 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, with the majority coming from packaged, processed, store bought and restaurant foods. Sodium intake recommendations, released in January 2011, say that adequate intake levels for nine to 50 year olds is only 1,500 mg per day. What to do? Try adding herbs and spices to your foods. Not only do they help foods retain flavor but they also allow us to cut back on sodium/salt.
The Harrison County Extension Office will host a program on Growing and Cooking with Herbs. This program will feature how to grow an herb garden, how to make herbal vinegars, hints for using herbs and taste testing. Join us Tuesday, March 27 at 1 p.m. at the Harrison County Extension Office. Jennifer Howard, Clark County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Science will be the program presenter. There is no registration or cost.
Whether people use them for health reasons or want to have their average meal taste a little special, herbs are increasing in popularity.
Herbs are generally easy to grow, and as a group, they have few pest or disease problems. Many can be harvested and stored for use during the winter, and some may even tolerate the reduced light intensity indoors to provide a fresh source of flavor during the winter.    Many herbs are annuals and complete their life cycle during one growing season. Some are biennials and require two seasons of growth to mature. Depending on what part of the plant is desired, many biennial herbs can be useful for two years. Others are tender perennials and must be brought indoors when cold weather approaches. Perennial herbs are not only desirable for the culinary uses but can often be attractive additions to the landscape.

For pasta, rice, fish and vegetables or in soup.
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 Tbs. pine nuts or walnuts
3 Tbs. Parmesan Cheese
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
Puree in a food processor, adding enough olive oil to make a smoother paste. Store in closed containers in the refrigerator or freeze.

Herb Cheese
2- 8oz. packages of cream cheese
1 pound cottage cheese
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. fresh herbs, chopped (use dill, chives, parsley; or basil and chives; or thyme, Chives and parsley – according to taste).
Salt and pepper
Fresh crushed peppercorns
Bread and cracker    
Combine cream cheese and cottage cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Blend in cream. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth. Pour in cheese mixture. Place in plate underneath and allow to drain for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator or other cool place. Mix in remaining ingredients and enjoy.