This week I will be one of the featured chefs at a local Fair. This is a great honor and will be my fourth year in a row cooking during one of these coveted spots. I really enjoy the spontaneity of public appearances!
Last year, I was demonstrating my recipe for Pasta with Brown Butter. The pot of water would not and I mean, would not, come to a boil... I asked the audience for help. I said, 'Get up! Everyone! Come on!" The audience got up. Then I said, 'Okay. Lets do a "voodoo" dance to help this crazy pot boil.' They did! We all laughed at the silliness of it all and had fun too. Later, during that same demonstration, I invited an audience member up on stage with me to smell the butter and help out. She was adorable and could not have been more than nine or ten. Her daddy said she loved cooking and had seen me on local television. She said it smelled delicious and she couldn't wait to try the recipe at home. Then she said, 'You're a genius Mary Grube!' without any prompting from me! No really, no prompting from me, whatsoever! Well, maybe a little prompting...
This week, I will be talking more than cooking. I thought it would be fun to help attendees learn about ways to use both fresh herbs and different salts. There are so many varieties of each and it can be a little overwhelming to say the least. I will discuss how to grow, dry and cook with herbs. I will talk about ways to make different types of herb salts and I will explain the differences between the many different salts available in the market. (I get asked a lot about salts since I have been an avid "collector" for over 20 years!)
When our children were young, they did not like many herbs or spices in their food. I got a little bored in the kitchen, so to season things up, I turned to different types of salts. I began experimenting and studying and such. Then I began to collect salts when I traveled and to ask friends to bring me salts from their travels. My collection is extensive and varied. Changing up the type of salt I use really changes a dish! This way I got to play in my kitchen and our girls still ate the food I made. Win-Win!
Above is a photograph of the herbs and I will bring and use at the Fair. One topic I will discuss is drying herbs. One of my recommendations is drying herbs in bundles to use throughout the cooler months. I make what I call an Herbs de Provence Bundle. I collect what I have growing in the yard; lavender, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme and bay. I gather one or two sprigs of each, tie them together with kitchen twine and let them air dry. Once the bundles are dry, I pack them away in an airtight container or bag, label it (a VERY important step) and then, when I need them, they are ready. Different combinations of herbs are useful and fun too so make up a combination you and your family enjoy. These herb bundles work well in most anything, especially soups and sauces. Try it and see if you feel a little bit herby.
Share your ideas for using herbs and what herb bundles might be helpful to other readers in the comments section and we can all help each other!
Avid home cook and passionate instructor