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You will notice that most of the recipes featured at HHH have fresh herbs and ingredients listed. Using fresh ingredients can take a meal from being meh... to mmm-mmm marvelous! You may have seen the bulbs of garlic, the ginger roots, or fresh herbs at the grocery store and passed them by. Let me cheer you on and encourage you to try them! The burst of flavor in your meal will be the greatest reward. In all honesty it may add an extra minute to your cooking time but overall the investment is worth it.
Below are some simple ways that I cook with these ingredients.
- Storing -
- Garlic: in the cupboard in a small bowl. I grab a clove when I need and return the bulb as it has a long shelf life.
- Herbs: wrapped in slightly wet paper towels in a plastic gallon bag and placed in my refrigerator's crisper. You can read other ways of storing herbs here. I know some can place them in glasses filled with water (like flowers!) in their kitchen window and they last quite long that way too. You can also grow your own in the window sill and cut as needed.
- Ginger: in a small plastic bag in the freezer. The flavor is retained and the root does not dry out. Other methods of storing can be found here.
- Prepping -
- Peeling Garlic and Ginger: To peel garlic I simply remove a single clove and cut off the dried blunt edge. Then I pinch the garlic from top to bottom between my thumb and pointer finger to open the rest of the garlic skins - ta da! this is lovely to me! lol! With ginger I break off the size that I need (typically 1 inch), slice off the ginger skin, place the original ginger back in the freezer, and then I'm ready to cut!
- Cutting Garlic or Ginger: The smaller you cut the ingredients the stronger the flavor will be in your dish. Some recipes require slicing, chopping, or mincing. I like to use my cheese grater to shred garlic and ginger - very convenient and easy to clean. Watch your knuckles! (ps - I like to grate my carrots too!)
- Cutting Herbs: I don't waste time pulling small leaves off of herb sprigs or chopping them with a large knife. Instead I love to use my kitchen scissors. I hold several sprigs in hand and snip! snip! snip! the fresh herbs fall into the bowl. Quick and easy! I use my scissors for spinach a lot too.
I hope you have the confidence to give fresh ingredients a try. Spend some time at the grocery store looking at herbs and other produce that you have never cooked before - challenge yourself to try something new! Leeks, beets, or rutabagas... there are plenty of recipe websites that you can enter one ingredient and you receive recipes to cook that new adventurous ingredient.
Now that you have some recipes picked out for the week you should write a grocery list to make sure you don't miss any ingredients that you need. Last week Becky shared how she has spent the last several years perfecting her meal planning and shared free meal planners to print. I have them below too. Click on the one that best suits your organizational style!
What are some tips that you'd like to share with us that you use while cooking? Do you agree with "freshest is bestest" or do you prefer cooking with jarred garlic and dried herb shakers?