By: Missy Sorg
It’s that time of year when things are changing. The sun is setting earlier. The cold winds are blowing. The trees are changing.
This time of year, however, also means the farmers’ markets are closing, and fresh fruits and vegetables will be shipped in from warmer climates. For me, I enjoy baking and cooking with fresh ingredients whenever I can. That’s much easier to do during the summer months when you can literally pick fresh ingredients from a backyard garden (or grab them from the farmers’ market a couple blocks away, in my case). Nothing beats cilantro, onions, and tomatoes fresh out of the garden for a quick and easy salsa during the summer. That’s what makes this time of year a little bittersweet – especially since this is the time of year I do more cooking. (Probably because as it gets colder outside, it’s easier to warm the house while I’m cooking and/or baking.)
If you’re like me, this is the perfect time of year to break out those family soup/stew recipes. My favorite? Chili. (As my tummy grumbles a little – reminiscing about Grandma Stone’s chili.) Chili aside, there’s nothing like using fresh ingredients in a recipe. When I’m making something like wedding soup, which calls for parsley and garlic – it makes me sad to think about having to run to the grocery store to grab fresh parsley. And, it makes me sadder to think about using dried parsley flakes and garlic powder.
In an effort to find some “fresh” winter herb options, I did some internet research. (Okay, so I was on Facebook for a little bit before I did some internet research. But, whatevs.) I am happy to report that I have some options! If you are green-thumb-inclined (which I am most definitely not) you can try your hand at an indoor herb garden (like the one outlined over here: https://bonnieplants.com/library/how-to-grow-herbs-indoors/). Or, you can get the same “fresh” feel by freezing your herbs. Now, don’t think of freezing them the same way you think about frozen mystery whatever-it-is that’s been sitting at the back of your freezer for decades. Instead, cut the fresh herbs and place them in an ice cube tray. Fill the tray to ¾ full with cooking oil, and freeze the herbs into little ice cubes. When you’re ready to use them, unthaw and add your “fresh” herbs. Of course, I feel this works best with cooked items – such as my fall/winter soups and stews. I’m not so sure oil-frozen cilantro will work as well in making salsa in the winter. Looks as though I’ll still be making a trip to the grocery store for that one.