Author Intro - Herbs Are More Than Just Flavoring

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Author Intro - Herbs Are More Than Just Flavoring

I was first introduced to herbs one Christmas morning in the kitchen, when I was given two bundles of dried herbs to chop. One was mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) traditionally used as stuffing for the Christmas goose. The other was winter savory or bean weed (Satureja Montana), which is added to green beans during cooking.

While I loved the smell of the savory, and happily stuffed handfuls of chopped leaves into the pot of green beans, I didn't at all take to the mugwort. The leaves looked pretty, but they smelled slightly off-putting, like mothballs, and had a bitter taste when chewed. I was concerned they would spoil the goose, but was told that goose was always cooked with mugwort inside, because the herb helped with the digestion of rich meats. I also later learnt later that the powdered leaf really did end up in my grandmother's wardrobe, protecting the contents from moths.

What stayed with me from that Christmas morning was the revelation that herbs were not just beautiful to look at or good for flavoring food, but that a single herb could have many different uses.

Most of us are familiar with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme as culinary herbs, but maybe it's time we remembered that parsley can also freshen the breath and thicken thinning hair, that sage makes an efficient gargle for a sore throat, that thyme mixed with honey can help a cough and that rosemary can relieve the aches and pains that come with a cold, give brown hair a beautiful shine and turn into a very efficient household disinfectant.

To say that all of the tips in this book are my own invention or discovery would be ludicrous. Most of them are 'old hat' - herb lore and recipes passed from mouth to mouth for many years. Some I heard from my grandmother, others from friends. Some I have only recently found in old and new cookery and gardening books - these are attributed to the books they were found in.

The important fact to remember is that herbs and their uses are ancient. And many of these uses are being re-discovered and found to be as good, if not better, than anything modern science and technology can devise.

So please explore and experiment with growing, cooking, brewing and mixing. The herbs won't disappoint you!

   

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Susan Sayour
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