Let’s talk herbs!

April 2nd, 2015

So Many Ways to Freeze Herbs
…okay, 5
Did you know you can freeze herbs in oil, butter, water, chopped with no liquid? Yes you can! Everyone’s heard of the tried and true method of freezing herbs in water in an ice cube tray, but in oil? Fantastic. Here are several methods for you to try and enjoy – some are best used within 2 months for best flavor, and other 3 to 12 months and just so you are prepared, the colors will darken when you freeze herbs.

  • Mix with butter and freeze: wash, dry, chop herbs, and mix with butter to make herb butter – use any of your favorite herbs! Roll the butter in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard, then remove butter from plastic wrap and wrap in foil in whatever portion size you prefer, place in freezer container and freeze. Use within 12 months.
  • Ice Cube Method: put 1-2 teaspoons washed, dried, and chopped fresh herb leaves (avoid tough stems) in an ice cube tray, top with water and freeze. Either pat dry/blot your herbs or use a handy dandy salad spinner. When you’re ready to use, defrost cubes, add to salad dressings, tea, or even freeze less in each cube and use to flavor your iced beverages.
    (Note: texture could become mushy so this is a great method for stew, soup, anything where texture is less important, use within 2 months for best flavor)
  • Olive Oil Method: wash, completely dry herbs, and combine herbs with oil in a food processor to make a pureed paste. You will need about 1 cup of fresh herbs to each 1/4 cup of your favorite oil. Fill ice cube tray with mixture and freeze. Do not add water. Remove when frozen into freezer bags and use within 3 months for best flavor.
  • Chop and freeze: Wash and dry, then chop. Freeze in freezer bags without water, try to remove as much air as possible when sealing.
    (Note: these should not be mushy, use within 2 months for best flavor.)
  • Freezing stems/springs/ large leaves: Wash, dry, place on parchment paper on tray in single layer in freezer, and when frozen, remove and put in freezer containers or bags. The best herbs for this are rosemary, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. (Use within 2 months for best flavor.)

And now for some recipes –

Chimichurri Sauce with Cool Mint Cucumber Water or Icy Mint Green Tea
The Argentinians do it with parsley, other Latin American countries do it with cilantro – your biggest question about this crowd-pleasing Chimichurri Sauce might be which herb to try first… fresh parsley, a combo of parsley with mint, add oregano or cilantro? Or kick it up a notch with extra lemon juice, more garlic, or a smidgeon of red pepper flakes? Serve on grilled steak, chicken, fish, lobster, shrimp, scrambled or on top of eggs, as a marinade, even as part of an open-faced grilled provolone cheese baguette! The combinations are endless – let us know your favorites.
With summer’s abundant fresh tomato and cucumber crops only months away, I plan on mixing it in lightly to make a veggie salad. Don’t even start me dreaming about a just-picked zucchini supply … hello sunshine and zippy spiralized zucchini noodles ala chimichurri!
Chimichurri Sauce
1 cup chopped parsley (or parsley/mint, cilantro)
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or cilantro or mint leaves (optional)
2 tablespoons shallot or onion, minced
3/4 cup favorite oil (or olive oil)
3-4 tablespoons red or sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice (or add more to taste)
Two methods – hand whisk to combine OR put all ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse until well chopped, semi-smooth but not pureed. Mix in foods, toss on veggies, spoon on meats, top cheese sandwiches, no limit to the great combinations of flavors. Please cover and chill for 3-6 hours or overnight.

Be Cool with Mint Cucumber Water
Sip some Mint Cucumber Water all day long, you will love this light flavor. Mix it up and try some other herbs, or throw in lemon slices, or a slice of fresh ginger for variety, sweeten if desired. Put it in your filtered water pitcher and flavor a big batch or add just to your glass. Eat the herbs or strain them out, any which way you make this combination, you will love it! Combine ingredients, let rest 15 minutes, serve and enjoy.
Fun of this recipe is that you can vary amount of mint from lighter taste to stronger one. Add juice of half a lemon or lime for some added zip.
1/3 cups fresh mint leaves (rough chopped, or mashed, for a lighter mint flavor use 5 mint leaves)
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
1 to 2 quarts to 1 gallon of water (depending on strength desired)

Icy Mint Green Tea
Serve this hot or iced, or kick it up a notch with some added Sake if you want to sit on your home porch and enjoy the evening, no driving allowed!
3 green tea bags, or 3 bags green jasmine tea (or 2 tsp loose tea for each 8 ounces)
1 quart boiling water
1/4 cup sugar, or 2 tablespoons honey, or stevia to taste
1 bunch fresh mint leaves, washed (about 1/2)
2 cups cold water
1/2 lemon (sliced)

Make the tea first by mixing boiling water and tea, let steep 10 minutes. Combine tea with rest of ingredients except cold water in a pitcher mixing well until sweetener is dissolved, then add in cold water and mix again. Refrigerate and enjoy. If you want to try cold water method, try combining and letting steep in refrigerator for 3 to 8 hours.

Responsible Adult-Alcoholic version: Substitute some Sake for some of the cold water. Best enjoyed on a porch watching sunset, but not if you plan on driving!

Bite into a healthy lifestyle with Gazy Brothers Farm CSA!

March 18th, 2015

Did you know March is National Nutrition Month®?

Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month is a time to emphasize the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. With healthier habits, we can achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health.

As we head into spring, what better way to make informed food choices than to connect with your local farm? Whether through the CSA or the local farmers’ markets, buying fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the farm means you’re automatically making healthier choices and focusing on the right foods.

Plus, I can say from experience: getting a weekly CSA is fun! If you’re looking for more inspiration to cook healthy meals, you’ve just found it…

Stay tuned for photos and updates on the CSA, nutrition tips, and healthy recipes to help you make the most of your seasonal produce!

-Brianna Farrand

Brianna Farrand is a Master’s candidate in Nutrition and Education at Teachers College Columbia. Currently a Columbia dietetic intern, she plans to graduate in May 2015 and become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

Week 1 CSA share, featuring: Empire apples, purple carrots, red onions, parsley, and mizuna

Week 2 CSA share, featuring: red onions, mint, Japanese mixed greens, carrots, and Empire apples

Week 3 CSA share, featuring: Empire apples, purple and orange carrots, purple onions, arugula, parsley