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Some Kinda Good with Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser: Practical ways to cook with fresh herbs
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser

    In the month of May, National Herb Week is observed, which makes this the perfect time to tell you about my first herb garden and how I’ve been putting it to good use.

    One Saturday afternoon recently while cleaning out the shed, my husband and I came across several terra cotta clay pots left behind by the previous dwellers of our new Savannah home. I’ve never been one to plant or garden, but I knew if I used the pots for anything, I would want to plant something I could cook with; something that would enhance the flavor of food. Buying individual packages of fresh herbs in the grocery store can be costly, and when compared with the cost of growing them yourself, the decision is a no-brainer. A visit to my local home and garden store revealed fresh herbs on sale and a weekend project was born.

    When I returned home that afternoon, I set about filling each pot with a mixture of equal parts moisture control potting mix and composted cow manure, a tip I received from a nice lady at checkout with a buggy full of fresh herbs. Then, I followed package directions and planted each herb carefully.

    My new herb “garden” includes basil (a must), thyme, mint, flat leaf parsley, Italian oregano and cilantro. I chose these six herbs because I cook with them the most often. Basil is delicious on paninis (grilled sandwiches) and pizza; thyme when combined with melted butter makes a great splash for finishing seared steaks; mint is a must-have in a tall, cold glass of freshly-brewed sweet iced tea; parsley makes any casserole, seafood dish or sauce brighter with its pop of green color; oregano makes a fantastic pesto or flavor booster for roast chicken; and finally, cilantro is perfect for tacos, guacamole and Mexican casseroles.

    Though I’m not an experienced green thumb, I have been cooking with fresh herbs for some time. Let’s talk about a few inspired ways to use them and how they can take meals from simple to Some Kinda Good. Here are my top three practical applications for using fresh herbs in the kitchen:

    1. Compound Butters — Fresh herbs are great for making flavorful compound butters, both sweet and savory. A compound butter is simply an ingredient added to softened butter that acts as an instant sauce for meats, vegetables and fish, or as a sweet topping on breads, pancakes or baked goods. Have you ever been to a restaurant where they served a variety of softened butters to slather on top of warm, freshly baked bread? Whipped honey butter with cinnamon or savory options, like garlic-herb butter are my favorites.

    2. Sachet d’Epices or Bouquet Garni — You may remember one of my columns in the Herald earlier this year titled, “4 Techniques for Boosting Flavor in Stocks, Sauces.” There I discuss the classical French techniques I learned in culinary school for Sachet d’Epices (Bag of Spices) and a Bouquet Garni (Garnished Bouquet) — aromatic preparations called for again and again in recipes. Using cheesecloth or simple kitchen twine, bundles of herbs, along with fresh garlic cloves and peppercorns are tied together to float in simmering liquid.           Meant to enhance and support the flavors of a dish, they add subtle undertones of earthiness to stocks, sauces and soups by gently infusing the liquid with their aroma. Fresh herbs, such as thyme and parsley stems, are a key ingredient!

    3. Garnish — Whether it be for a cocktail or a meal, a proper garnish is like the perfect accessory to an outfit. One of the most popular and practical uses for fresh herbs is garnishing gravies, sauces, desserts or casseroles. For example, adding minced parsley to brown onion gravy makes it that much more appealing, or topping off a slice of decadent cheesecake with a sprig of green mint gives it just the flair it needs to be ready to serve. Just as a great belt or the right necklace can take an outfit from basic to brilliant, fresh herbs help to finish a plate. After all, we eat with our eyes first!

    For more recipe ideas or to see photos of my herb garden, be sure to visit Good food and good company, that’s what it’s all about!



            Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a food enthusiast, writer and the cooking show host of SKG-TV on YouTube. The personality behind the blog,, she is a public relations graduate of Georgia Southern University and attended Savannah Technical College’s Culinary Institute of Savannah.  Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good or tweet her @SKGFoodBlog.

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