Sunday, May 05, 2013

Fresh is Best

Over the years watching cooking shows, the mantra, “fresh is best,” rang through every show. In all that time I have had a garden and have raised some of my own herbs and have used them from to improve the freshness of my cooking

The older I get, the more important good food is.

This spring, I focused on some of my favorite herbs along with the vegetables I most enjoy. They are doing better than I could have hoped.

Cilantro grows quickly.

I did not expect to use it as the dominant flavor of hummus, but today as I readied to process the garbanzo beans, the most available spice I had on hand was cilantro, Working it with garlic and pepper into the garbanzo beans resulted in one of the best hummus mixes I have created in the last nine years (since I started eating hummus). The flavors exploded in my mouth.

But what could I use to eat it with? Pita bread has been my favorite vehicle for eating hummus, but I did not have any on hand. I made a bread that included rice, wheat (white and whole), and oats. Combined with honey and beer, the flavors dominated the bread.

I decided to make a egg/oil spread with the same ingredients - garlic, salt, cilantro and pepper. I imagined a egg/oil spread to increase the browning of the bread. I ended up with a strongly flavored mayonnaise that spread beautifully across the rolled-out dough for the bread. Dashes of salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper were sprinkled across the mayo just moments before the bread was placed on the heated pizza stone. Within ten minutes, I the bread was cooked and ready to eat.

The sweet flavor of the bread matched with the spice in the baked-on topping led to surprising experiences in the mouth. Flavor came from every direction. There is the flavor on the tongue - and there is the flavor waiting in ambush.

In addition to the cilantro, my basil, rosemary, and oregano plants needed trimming so they would become more bushy and productive.  Because I was not doing any cooking with them, I put them directly in my food dryer for preservation. This morning I woke to a house fragrant with the smell of dried herbs.

Now to figure out what to do with the mint.

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