|Beautiful Oregano in the Greenhouse!|
We use herbs a lot in our cooking and I am fortunate enough to have greenhouse's and hoop houses to grow in year round. I do realize that not everyone has this luxury so here are some tips on preserving herbs starting right in the spring when many of the perennial ones are popping up right now~ chives, oregano, sage and parsley would be the main ones right now for us living in Michigan and similar climates.
*The easiest way is to simply dry your herbs using a dehydrator; baking on a cookie sheet in a 150 degree oven until dry- length of time depends on herb- don't pile on the pan- just put in a single layer; you can also bunch and tie with rubber bands and hang upside down from drying racks, or rafters in the basement. Direct sunlight should be avoided. Parsley is the only one I don't like to do this type of drying to- although I am not sure why, but it looses it's color! To store, keep in air tight glass jars or plastic containers.
*Freezing is also easy & fast- chives and parsley work best with this method.
*We love Pesto- make your recipe in big batch quantity and freeze in plastic containers, baby food jars or jelly jars. Remember to leave at least an inch head space when freezing!
*You can also pack 2 cups of any fresh culinary herb with 1/2 cup oil~ I would use safflower or canola- olive oil will leave a strong flavor- fill baby food jars, small plastic containers or jelly jars and freeze this way as well. This works great when you want to baste on any meat, saute veggies or meat in, or brush on bread for brushetta, pizza crust or bread sticks.
Here are some grilling tips from Neil:
*If you love garlic like we do, try throwing a few fresh garlic cloves on the hot coals to add extra flavor to your goodies.
*Neil loves to smoke stuff~ if you want to wow your guests, try adding some hickory, apple wood or cherry wood chips or sawdust on the coals for an extra special treat. Make sure you soak the chips in water for about hour before you are ready to put them on the coals; if using sawdust just get wet.
*If you are using charcoal, then keep a spray bottle with water to spray on the coals to keep temperature down so it doesn't get too hot.
*Neil likes to brush the grill with some olive oil before putting the food on, this helps it to not stick.
Yummy Grilled Pizza!
Last summer we fell in love with grilling pizza! The children enjoyed it both in the way of having fun because they created their own masterpieces and it was absolutely delicious. Here is my pizza crust recipe and some of our favorite toppings!
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 tsp. raw organic sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 cups flour, plus some for dusting
fresh Portobella mushrooms
bacon, ham, sausage, ground beef or chicken
pizza sauce, ranch dressing
... these are just some ideas, use your favorite toppings
1. In a large, mixing bowl add yeast to water and stir gently; add sugar, salt and olive oil, stir in gently until dissolved.
2. Add 2 cups of flour, mix in until well blended; add 1 more cup flour, mix in well; and the rest of flour in 1/4 cups at a time until the dough is soft and doesn't stick to hands. Add a bit more flour in until the dough feels right; Knead dough for about 2-3 minutes until all flour is mixed in well. Form into a ball and place in bowl, cover with kitchen towel and leave on the top of stove to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
3. While dough is rising get your toppings prepared. Sauteing the veggies is best and making sure any raw meats are cooked.
4.When dough has risen, punch it down using your hands and knead a bit more into a ball again. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 even sized pieces and roll out to about and 1/2 inch thick. The dough should be thicker so it doesn't fall apart on the grill.
5. Brush the dough with Olive Oil and put on heated grill; grill on one side for about 2-3 minutes, checking to be sure it doesn't burn; when the one side is done, remove from grill onto a cookie sheet, cooked side up; put your toppings on the cooked side; sauce, cheese, meat & veggies and add a bit more cheese; return to the grill to finish grilling- about 2-3 more minutes; put lid on for about the last minute to help melt the cheese.
Remove from grill and have your feast!