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Old 01-20-2015, 09:56 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
I actually dug up and potted some to bring inside, along with some thyme. They look kind of scraggly, but I've made good use of them, and it's nice to have fresh!
Mine actually overwinter most years, so I just leave them out there. I'm glad you're able to keep yours going

The bay tree I thought I lost last year came back from the roots! I couldn't believe it. I did lose my rosemary, though. But it was a big shrub, so it wouldn't have survived inside anyway.

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Old 01-20-2015, 10:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Mine actually overwinter most years, so I just leave them out there. I'm glad you're able to keep yours going

The bay tree I thought I lost last year came back from the roots! I couldn't believe it. I did lose my rosemary, though. But it was a big shrub, so it wouldn't have survived inside anyway.

My chives overwinter outside too, hardy little beasties, but it's nice to have some inside, and they're not brown and covered with snow. Lord knows, I have plenty, they're all over the front garden.

Hooray for your bay! I've had mixed success bringing in rosemary. We're too cold here to leave them out, but when I've dug them up and brought them in, they usually don't like it. I've replanted a couple that have survived, but mostly they drop their needles and dry themselves.

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Old 01-21-2015, 04:38 AM   #13
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IMO you don't need fresh or even dried herbs to be an excellent cook. I grew up surrounded by salt and pepper cooks that turned out fantastic meals.

I enjoy fresh herbs when I can get them at a reasonable price, normally in season at the local farmers market. I have also had good luck freezing some fresh herbs or drying them myself to maximize the value. With parsley I just rinse it, shake off the water and pop it into a plastic bag. Fresh basil gets chopped covered in oil and popped into the freezer. Celery leaves are a good place to start with drying herbs, just lay them out on a paper towel and let them air dry or pop them into a cool oven, oh how I miss those pilot lights!

The one thing I would say about dried herbs is to use "fresh" dried herbs. Toss those 5-10 year old bottles in the back of the cupboard and update the inventory. I have had good luck with inexpensive Badia herbs and spices, many of them are available in plastic pouches for .99 cents.

When you encounter fresh herbs in a friends yard, at the local farmers market or in the produce section of your grocery store ask if you can pinch off a leaf or two and give them a taste, see what you think.
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Old 01-21-2015, 05:57 AM   #14
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There are certain recipes ( Like Tabbouleh) where fresh herbs are a must. Aside from the taste, but the consistency as well.

If using for cooking purposes, some herbs freeze well too ( like dill and parsley), so if you buy them and only have to use a few Tbs for a recipe, toss the remaining in a ziplock, place in the freezer and can use them again in the future ( until they get freezer burned)

I also got one of those Aerogardens going. I have fresh basil all year round ( sometimes i grow other things in it too, like parsley, chives, dill, cilantro, mints...) But this wont solve the cost factor, as the machine itself costs about $150, and Im not sure I've grown $150 worth of herbs yet to pay for itself, but I dont care , it keeps me gardening through the winter
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Old 01-21-2015, 07:53 AM   #15
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This is an interesting topic. If we are just talking about herbs, some of them can be costly and to me some are just plain easier to work with dry, certain recipes I use fresh garlic some I use powder or gran, just depends on the recipe...

I like fresh basil, but grow it myself. I have 4 pots of it right now, lol... It smells good and when I need it I walk over to the window and pull off what I need, simple and I don't think you can do it cheaper than that lol... I grow a bunch of herbs indoors, my wife tends them so its no trouble, although all you have to do is water them, you do the trimming when you take what you need for cooking...

Now if you are talking quality meat, I have done all the tricks to make "cheap" meats tender and tasty. But I do like a nice quality strip, I buy the entire sirloin {say 20lbs at $6 a lb untrimmed and boneless} normally around $115, BUT you get a lot of meat, I then cut it into steaks, make a roast, I mix a lot of the trimmed fat with my ground chuck as well as all the other trimmings.

So if you can do the work you can get nice expensive ingredients for less money, I grind my own hamburg, I make my own sausage, I cut, trim, and tie my own steaks and roasts.
A friend of my wifes came over a few months back for dinner and I made a strip roast with bacon potato, {I cure my own bacon, so simple its not funny, for bacon potato I hollow out the potato skin, wrap the potatoes center in bacon, re-install it and bake it, amazing...} and her husband was thanking us after the meal, told me it was hands down the best steak and potato he ever ate in his life, lol. He asked what something like that would cost for him to do himself, I told him the bread was probably 30 cents, the beef was about $6 a pound, the bacon cost me about $2 a lb, and the potatoes were from my fathers trash can, lol...

He was shocked, I explained I didn't pick them from my fathers trash, my dad uses 4 trash cans to grow root vegetables and he gives me all I need...

So if you are on a budget and appreciate good food, do the work and feel good about it, it will taste really good no matter what, but when you grow and make your own stuff from scratch you get something more than just a good meal from it. I can afford to buy my own breads, pastas, meats, ice cream, etc etc etc... But there is something extra you get when you do it yourself.

Anyway, kind of sent sideways on that one, to answer the question, I like fresh herbs, I like nice cuts and well graded meats, etc. You get what you pay for when it comes to cooking, A friend of mine buys ground meat in a tube {yes its like a giant jimmy dean sausage tube with the metal ties on the ends} from a place called price rite, he brags that is costs him $2 a lb. Well I never worked up the courage to tast it myself, but when he comes to my house for cookouts, he always comments on how good the burgers taste and how perfect my burgers come and I have heard comments at his bbq's like "this meat tastes funny" and judging by what his burgers look like {crumbly and fast burning}, I can only imagine it has more to do with the quality of the meat than the chef, Although I would love to think I was a good cook, the truth of the matter is I use good quality ingredients and it shows...
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Old 01-21-2015, 09:34 AM   #16
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Fresh chives freeze well too, as does thyme (at least short term, never lasts long).
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Old 01-21-2015, 01:18 PM   #17
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Not sure if it's the same everywhere, but where I live, a package of fresh basil or a bunch of fresh cilantro (as 2 examples that I use often) will cost you $2-$3. Then, you bring it home and use 10%-20% of it for dinner that night.

Fresh herbs are great to work with, but they do have a rather cruddy "bang for your buck" factor unless you are able to use them up before they wilt, or at least freeze the parts you don't use. I find that freezing offers a lot of the flavor of fresh and is thus preferable (for me) to dry, but it does lose a lot in the appearance department.
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Old 01-21-2015, 01:58 PM   #18
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I got cilantro the other day for .50/bunch at the little roadside farmstand here in town. The last time I checked the Asian market, it was $1/bunch, if I recall correctly. I store fresh herbs in a mason jar filled with water in the fridge and they stay fresh a good week or more, depending on the herb.

I usually grow basil, chives, and parsley, but I skipped last year for some reason. Getting ready to plant some again, I think we've already had our last freeze for the year. Maybe.

When I buy a bunch of herbs, I try to make sure I have the ingredients for several dishes that will use them. For example, I love fresh thyme with chicken, so if I buy a bunch of thyme, it's never just for one dish - I'll roast a chicken, make chicken salad, soups or a stew....oh, and potato salad. Usually there is some herb waste, but I do try to use as much of it as I can. With cilantro, I make sure I have tomatoes and jalapenos so I can make pico de gallo, along with other southwestern style dishes like enchiladas, tacos, tostadas, etc. I've tried freezing herbs, but I usually forget they're there.

I bought dried cilantro once, and thought it tasted like hay, so never again. Same with dried basil. This was before I started buying at Penzey's online, I imagine their dried herbs are better quality than what I got at the grocery store.
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Old 01-21-2015, 03:08 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by medtran49 View Post
Fresh chives freeze well too, as does thyme (at least short term, never lasts long).

One way that I find fresh herbs are more expensive is the waste. I keep some herbs in my garden but not many.
When I buy herbs they come in a small pack but it is nearly always far more than I need for most recipes.

Has anyone tried this 'ice cube of herbs' thing where you freeze a spoonful of left over herb in each square of an ice cube tray?

I hate waste but I also think I have a slight OCD thing going where I don't like to substitute one herb for another and if I don't have the exact ingredients I will abandon plans to cook a recipe so I often have leftover herbs which end up on the compost heap..
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Old 01-21-2015, 06:23 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Stock Pot View Post
Personally, I pride myself on being able to turn an inexpensive cut of meat into something delicious and to substitute the dry spices I always have on hand for all the "fresh this" and "fresh that" items in most recipes today. Herbs can be very expensive. Are they always (or even usually) worth it? I think not.
Why not grow your own? They can be grown in pots on the window sill inside or patio outside, in window boxes outside or in beds in the garden. To ha,ve them in winter you can dry or freeze themn summer.

I find mint, parsley, rosemary, chives, chives, sage and thyme are the most useful for my purposes. I'd like to grow coriander (cilantro) and basil but have not been successful with them.

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