Farmers Daughter Herbs


I was delivering herbs to Landures Produce a few nights back in time when I noticed a small bundle of bones, flesh, hopes, and dreams huddled alongside the wall. Against the cold the woman was wrapped in a tattered blanket with a bedraggled scarf pulled around her head. The sight of this poor homeless creature gave me great cause for thought. Around that time, I had been making mental lists of Christmas gifts for my family, but viewing this person so down on her luck made me wonder just what I could buy that anyone really needed or would increase the happiness of their lives. I am sure that following my original plans, I could easily stack up a thousand dollars worth of plastic money receipts which by the time I was able to pay them off, would have grown considerably with interest. And by this time next year, I am reasonably sure no one would remember what I had given them.

So what does this have to do with herbs? Absolutely nothing! The point I am trying to make is that in talking to many of you chefs, I sense your dissatisfaction with where you are working or what your duties are, or who you have to work with. What I want to tell you is SOME job is better than NO job and perhaps we should try to make the very best of what we have.

Enough lecture - lets talk HERBS. I see an add in the seed catalog for“chocolate mint" plants. Isn’t is amazing what science can do in developing new seeds and plants? There are over four hundred mints with peppermint and spearmint being the most commonly used. Mint is the leading commercially grown herb in the U.S. with over 50,000 acres grown in California, Oregon, and Indiana. Of course Kentucky mint is used for Mint Juleps and Corsican mint is the variety used to produce Creme de Menthe. Although spearmint requires a period of dormancy during the winter, both orange mint and peppermint can be potted for your sunniest windowsill.

Mint leaves can be left whole or chopped to freeze in ice cube trays with just a bit of water. Herb vinegar made with mint goes well with lamb or fruit salads.

Mint can be used from making a dip for apples to sprinkling it over sauteed zucchini. As the ?avor is lost with prolonged cooking, add the chopped leaves just before serving. Mint is used in many dishes of other countries. The Greeks use mint in stuffed grape leaves, the Tha icooks use fresh mint in stir-fry, salads and as a garnish. An interesting combination of Thai ?avors uses chicken, scallions, lemon grass, red chili peppers, fresh mint and cilantro. Although mint is virtually ignored by traditional French cooks, it is used extensively in nouvelle cuisine.

The following recipe for
mint custard
is easy do ahead
and makes an elegant end
to a dinner party.
12 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped mint
3/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
Beat yolks, wine, mint, lemon juice,and sugar, in the top of a doubleboiler over gently simmering water'until thick and light in color, about 15minutes. Pour through a sieve, discarding mint leaves. Pour into stemmed glasses and chill. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.

More next time.
Thanks again and Happy Holidays!
Farmer's Daughter Herbs