Real Food
Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Recipe from Miss Kim, a Korean Restaurant


When the names of the farmers, local food purveyors and artisan bakers, coffee roasters and dairy are printed on the menu along with the names of the dishes and the ingredients, there’s a great chance that you’ll be happy with what you end up tasting. Who cares if the menu is also in Korean, with English beneath -- as it is at Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an epicenter for foodies.

Chef and managing partner, Ji Hye Kim, started Miss Kim because she wanted her work to mean something, bring joy and involve food. She’s what my wife and I would call an “ecopreneur,” out to make the world a better place, in her case through food. For homesteaders, this mantra of meaning and purpose should ring true, too.

“I wanted to work with food because I enjoy it so much,” says Kim. “I grew up with a mother who cooked everything from scratch.  When I learned about Zingerman's Path to Partnership, the process of becoming a Zingerman's business, I took that opportunity.” The Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are a collection of Zingerman’s businesses in Ann Arbor, each with its own food specialty.

Before becoming a Zingerman’s business, Ji Hye Kim started with a food cart operated half the year for four years, hardly keeping up with the demand for, among other items, her Gau Bau Buns, a fluffy Taiwanese-style bun filled with either slow roasted pork belly or soy sauce and butter seated mushrooms, paired with crunchy cucumbers and savory sauces. I couldn’t decide which I liked better on a recent lunch there. While lunch is casual and offers counter service, their full-service dinner menu focuses on traditional Korean dishes coming out as they’re ready. Sharing is encouraged and entrees come with “banchan,” the small side dishes. Her drinks even blew me away: Flights Delight with soju, five-spice wine, lemon and honey or Soo Jeong Gwa, a chilled, non-alcoholic cinnamon elixir.

“I study the tradition of Korean food,” explains Kim, regarding chosen her culinary path and her talent for adapting recipes for local ingredients. “I don't really try to replicate individual dishes, but I do try to understand the intentions, the stories and the thought behind it.  Rather than importing a specific breed of green onions, for example, I think about the intention.  My grandmother would not have paid extra shipping cost and import vegetables that need several days of transporting after being harvested.  She would have purchased the best local equivalent that she can find, use it in season at its peak availability and flavor. So that's what I do -- think about the flavors and the intentions of the dish and ingredients.  That approach naturally lends itself to using the best local and seasonal ingredients Michigan has to offer.”

“There have been more than a few great ideas for restaurants with Zingerman's,” admits Kim. “It's not that my idea was so much better than the rest. It's more that I was the one who saw it all the way through the process. Being a part of the community has been really wonderful and complex and lovely for me. It works because everyone is in it together. It works because we are all committed to our three bottom lines of great food, service and finance.  And the food is good, so that always helps.” Good food, is an understatement; it’s some of the best Korean food I’ve ever had.

Generally speaking, Korean food is quite healthy. If you’re vegetarian, vegan or need to eat nut free, dairy free, wheat free or soy free, you’d be fortunate to pull up a chair for lunch or dinner here. Every menu includes a reference to dietary needs, putting your mind at ease. Also unique, Miss Kim is a no-tip restaurant, meaning that their staff are paid living wages not dependent on gratuity.

While I’d treasure Miss Kim’s painstakingly perfected steamed Gau Bau Bun recipe, she happily shared her recipe for Vietnamese Roasted Chicken, a close runner-up. Just the right balance of flavor, and perfect with some brown rice and perhaps a small side of bok choi or broccoli lightly sautéed in sesame oil. Or you could try to replicate Miss Kim’s Vietnamese Chicken and Avocado Purple Rice Bowl depicted in the photo, with rice, sliced avocados, cucumber, fried egg and bean sprouts.MissKimChicken_4551 

Miss Kim’s Vietnamese Roasted Chicken

Courtesy of Miss Kim

Yield: 5 servings


¼ cup Asian fish sauce
¼ up. granulated sugar
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp lime juice
3 lbs. chicken, your favorite parts, cut
sprigs, cilantro for garnish
sprigs, mint for garnish


1. Whisk Asian fish sauce, sugar, garlic and lime juice together in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved.

2. Marinate chicken for minimum of 2 hours or overnight for best flavor.

3. When ready to cook, pre-heat oven to 450-degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken on parchment lined sheet tray, then roast for 15 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and edges begin to get caramelized color and internal temperature is 165-degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Serve on a platter with finely chopped cilantro and mint as garnish.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Chemicals in Our Food


They’re back! Or, they never left. A recent article on examines the fact that phthalates are in our cheese products, specifically cheese strings (kids love those, and a lot of adults too), cheese spreads, cheese slices, and most damaging, mac and cheese dinners. Who has not had one of those? Well, most of us at least. The phthalate content in a mac and cheese dinner is 50% higher than the other cheese products apparently. 

So, where have we heard the name phthalate before? These chemicals, which fall into a class known commonly as plasticizers, hit the news waves big fifteen to twenty years ago, when it became known they were in children’s soft plastic toys. Think little yellow rubber ducky, the quintessential bath toy. They showed up in a lot of other toys too, and products. Outrage ensued, and some limits were placed on them, but only insofar as it involved what a child could fit in their mouth. Well, cheese strings and cheese products can fit into a whole host of mouths, not just children, but of course, children are so much more vulnerable to dangerous chemicals. What it comes down to is that we are feeding, in some small way, plastics to humans. Is this really OK? No. Not. Nada. Nein. Nicht. You get the idea. 

Now for the rant: Why are we still here, in this exact place, after all this time? Why are we still seeing these chemicals, not in toys, but now in our food? The answer gets a bit complicated, but it is because it is feasible. Easy to do. And unchecked. By that I mean, how well is any of our food tested, how well do we really know what is in it? Of course, it is very easy to say that all commercially and industrially produced food is suspect, which it is. But that is just too pat an answer. (These chemicals are known endocrine disrupters and are toxic to internal organs; to get a better understanding of what phthalates are and the damage they do, see Wikipedia page below.) 

The fact that this stuff is in our food at all should really come as no surprise, but the reality is, who was looking for it? That is one problem. The secondary problem is, once found, how did it get there? And what can/will be done?  In this case, it seems the phthalates are coming from the processing itself, in terms of the plastic tubing, seals, gaskets, even the gloves workers wear (which makes you wonder about the gloves). The article states that this stuff is in the cheese powders used in mac and cheese dinners, but those same cheese powders are used in a whole huge range of snack products, like cheesies, tortilla chips, to name a couple. I also question all of the plastic wrappings that our food comes in, from fresh veggies to fish, meat, and yes, the aforementioned cheeses. All nicely packaged in plastic so you can see, but not smell, what is in there. Sometimes you have to go through more than one layer of plastic to get to the food! It is like a set of Russian dolls, it is so over-wrapped. 

As bad as this all is, there is a much bigger problem. We have a society, a political system, a government, that thinks this is OK. Profit at any cost to the consumer. It is still the Wild West of consumerism and capitalism. There is absolutely no will on the part of the powers that be to regulate this, as they caved to Big Agriculture and Big Industry decades ago. As we speak, what few protections we have in a number of areas are being busily dismantled, as fast as the executive orders can be signed. 

On the bright side, I happily mentioned our society in the last paragraph, but that is where the most hope lies. In the last decade or so, people have started seriously asking questions like, what is in our food? How is it produced? Where does it come from? The organic food movement has come into its own, producing quality produce at affordable prices for the most part. The public is much more aware that our food systems are not OK. They are designed in spite of us, instead of for us. 


CNN Breaking News. This is CNN’s main website for up to date information on what is going on. Last accessed July 17, 2017.

CNN Breaking News. Last accessed July 17, 2017.

Wikipedia. This entry discusses a broad range of phthalates and their toxicity. Last accessed July 18, 2017.

You can follow the further adventures of Sue or sign up for a class at her website: or email:

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Strawberry- Basil Scones for the Summer


We’re adapting to climate change, and that means taking advantage of our fresh strawberries ripening as quickly as our basil – in Wisconsin!  We also whittle away at our carbon dioxide emissions with, among other things, generating our own power with PV and wind turbine systems, cooking with sun ovens and working from our farmstead (no commutes).

On a recent trip to the food travel hotspot known as Ann Arbor, Michigan, I joined in a hands-on class at Fustini’s School of Cooking where we made some delicious scones from scratch. We’re always learning, right? Why not pick up some pointers for new ways to incorporate more healthy oils and vinegars into our cooking? While we sell high acid foods under our state's cottage food law, very soon we'll be able to sell our baked goods as well, perhaps like these scones, recipe shared below.

Named after the stainless steel drums used to store balsamic vinegars and olive oils, Fustini’s offers imported cold-pressed oils and aged balsamic vinegars from small-batch growers and select artisans, many from Italy. While Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars has several stores, tasting rooms and cooking schools only in Michigan, they do ship their products nationally.

If you’ve ever had a scone that dryly crumbled apart or was full of so much sugar you got a buzz, you’re not alone.  But Fustini’s scones are super moist, light on the sugar and big on flavor. And their strawberry basil combo uses two things that now ripen around the same time on our farm, thanks to the changing climate.

The secret? Fustini’s basil infused extra virgin olive oil and Fustini’s strawberry balsamic imported from Madena, Italy. “The base for the basil infused olive oil is made from the Arbequina Olive from Jaen, Spain,” says Jill Gardner-Bakewell, General Manager for Fustini’s. “It is infused in the US.”

“The freshness and nutritional value of Fustini's extra virgin olive oils are what sets us apart,” adds Gardner-Bakewell.  “We change hemispheres at the end of every growing season to ensure freshness. The fresher the extra virgin olive oil, the better the flavor and the nutritional value.”

My wife and I have become quite familiar with the delightful combo of a great balsamic and fresh strawberries – a popular dessert with chefs at many farm-to-table restaurants. Now imagine them in a moist scone, using your own strawberries that you dehydrate in a sun oven or dehydrator and freshly picked basil. Now that’s something to wake up to in the morning.


Strawberry-Basil Scones Recipe

Courtesy Carol Passmore, of Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars

Yield: 8 scones


2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ sticks butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup Fustini’s strawberry balsamic
splash Fustini’s basil infused olive oil
1/3 cup dried strawberries
2 tbsp diced basil


Powdered sugar
Strawberry balsamic


1. Mix with a paddle attachment: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend in cold, cut up butter at the lowest speed until it is pea sized. Don’t overmix.

2. Combine eggs and balsamic vinegar, then add to flour mixture. Lightly blend.

3. Toss in strawberries and basil and mix quickly.

4. Place dough ball mixture on floured surface ad make sure it’s well combined.  Bits of butter should still be seen.

5. Roll out dough into roughly 3/4 –inch to 1-inch thickness.  Make the dough into a rectangle and cut out 8 even triangles. Brush with egg wash.

6. Set on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400-degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Remove from oven and set on cooling rack to cool.  Once cooled, glaze with mixture of powdered sugar and strawberry balsamic.  Sprinkle the top of each glaze with chopped basil while glaze is still wet.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural RenaissanceHomemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer andphotographerIvanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, “9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living”. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Food Storage Basics: How to Store and Protect Your Long-Term Food Items

With all the time and money you have put into having a food pantry, you want to make every effort to protect it. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing your food investment ruined by natural elements or bugs. Knowing what your food’s worst enemies are, understanding how they can infiltrate and ruin your food, and how to prevent their havoc will help you preserve your food investment for the long term.

Enemies such as sunlight, moisture, bugs, oxygen, temperature fluctuations, and time can reap havoc on your food sources. If you are planning on storing long-term foodstuffs such as rice, beans, dry milk, or sugar, you want to consider repackaging these items. Most of the dry goods we purchase at stores are packaged for short-term use. The clear and flimsy plastic packaging will not hold up during long-term storage. As well, the USDA allows certain “defects” in our food sources and mold, insects and insect eggs are on that list of approved defects. Therefore, if you can take certain steps in preserving your long-term food supply to prevent these food enemies from destroying your food, you will have more peace of mind.

On a personal note, in my home, we use a multi-barrier approach in our long-term food pantry. Keep in mind, this food storage method is for dry foods you plan on storing for a year or longer. We seal our food in a Mylar bag and store it in a 5-gallon food grade bucket. In my 10 years of storing food long-term, I have never had an issue with food spoiling or being ruined my bugs using this method. To use this method, you need:

• 5-gallon food grade plastic bucket with lid
• Mylar bag (5 millimeters in thickness)
• Oxygen absorbers
• Method for sealing the Mylar bag (heat clamp, iron or flattening iron)

5-Gallon Buckets

Food-grade plastic containers are an excellent choice for many and will not transfer or leach any non-food chemicals into the food, nor are there any chemicals within the container that are hazardous to humans. Typically, a food grade container has a #2 by the recycle symbol or the acronym “HDPE” stamp on the bottom (HPDE stands for “high density polyethylene”). Before any food source is to be stored, clean the containers with soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. 5-gallon plastic containers are the most popular amongst those who store bulk quantities of food.

Additionally, make sure the lid you purchase for your container is airtight and spill proof. Lids with gaskets and gamma lids are great lids as they do not require a lid opener. They are typically a little more expensive compared to the traditional bucket lid. However, they are easier to open and close, and are worth every penny!

Mylar Aluminum Bags

Mylar food liners are another option for storing your dry goods long-term. Research has shown that over time, slow amounts of oxygen seep through the walls of plastic containers. Consequently, over time natural elements, and even insects can find a way inside the container. To add additional protection, adding a food liner, such as Mylar bags, will ensure that there are multiple barriers for the food to be protected in. Investing in the thickest grade (5 mill. or more) of Mylar is a worthwhile investment for your food storage endeavors. The added benefit of using Mylar bags is they can last up to 20 years, if properly cared for! Additionally, the thicker grade Mylar makes a notable difference in the taste of food. The greatest part of investing in these food liners is that because they are so durable they can be reused over again.

Oxygen Absorbers

Using oxygen absorbers greatly prolongs the shelf life of stored food. Because it absorbs the oxygen from the container, it inhibits the growth of aerobic pathogens and molds. Oxygen absorbers begin working the moment they are exposed to oxygen. Therefore, it is best to work as efficiently as possible. Oxygen absorbers come in assorted sizes, so pay attention to the size needed for the container. See this chart for more information. Typically, 2,000 ccs of oxygen absorbers should be added in one 5-gallon bucket. Oxygen absorbers are not edible, not toxic and does not affect the smell and taste of the product.

Desiccant Packets

Desiccant packets moderate the moisture level when placed in a food container. They do not absorb the moisture. Please note that desiccant is not edible. If the packet somehow breaks open and spills onto the stored food, the entire contents of the container must be thrown away. There are certain food items that desiccant should not be added to - specifically, flour, sugar, and salt. These items need a certain amount of moisture to stay activated, and if desiccant is added to it, they will turn into a hard brick.

Diatomaceous Earth

A more natural approach to food storage is to use food-grade diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth are the fossilized remains of diatoms. They are organic and are safe to use on food. Use 1 cup to each 25 pounds of food.

How to Properly Seal Your Food Using a Multi-Barrier Process

The following video gives you a step-by-step process on how to use seal Mylar bags in a 5-gallon bucket. Again, this is the method that my family uses and our long-term food stores have been as fresh as the day we sealed it.

Food is an investment into your future and your family’s livelihood. Therefore, you must do all that you can to protect that investment for the long-term. Using a multi-barrier system will ensure that the food is stored in optimal conditions and that the contents inside are protected for the long term.

Tess Pennington started Ready Nutrition as a way to help her family live more economically. She is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster, and the highly-rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. Subscribe to Tess’ newsletter, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Turkish Beet Yogurt Salad: Appetizer from Ayse's Turkish Café


As I described in more detail in my first post, I’ll be the first to say that you don’t need to leave Ann Arbor, Michigan, or nearby Ypsilanti to travel the world, at least by way of your taste buds.

With more than 363 restaurants within a twenty-mile radius of Ann Arbor, plus the draw of the so-called “Ivy of the Midwest” – the University of Michigan – educated and traveled residents and visitors alike have created a perfect storm for gastronomic delight. Added to this, is the widespread appreciation among chefs, restaurateurs and food artisans in the area who appreciate the quality that comes with savoring foods seasonally, locally, made-from-scratch and in small batches. Many are on a first name basis with their farmer-suppliers.

This sense of real food and quality comes as no surprise to us homesteaders and back-to-the-landers who my wife and I have long come to revere, respect and celebrate. We’re amazed by the abundance that comes from their organic backyard growing fields, urban vertical growing walls and bustling kitchens turning out crocks of sauerkraut and stew simmered in slow cookers or sun ovens.

Among the many restaurants I had a chance to try on a recent visit to Ann Arbor, Ayse’s Turkish Café was perhaps the closest to feeling like a home-cooked meal. Many were just like meals served on my farm. Simple, but packed with flavor. While the photos of the dishes might not trend highest on Instagram (as if this really matters when it comes to nutrition, flavor or taste), they're homemade delicious.


The Café’s unpretentious owner Ayse Uras doesn’t have a menu board, per se, because she keeps changing it based on what’s in season. When I asked for a recipe, I learned many are not written down. The recipes are just in her head. Sound familiar? I can whip up our pesto recipe my memory (but written down, too, in Farmstead Chef). Stuffed grape leaves, spinach borek, rice pilaf, pepper lamb dolma and sultan’s delight with chicken are just a few of her more popular items.

“My dishes are mostly inspired from my childhood,” explains Uras. “Growing up in a small town in Anatolia we only had access to limited seasonal vegetables. Being a farm town, we always had to rely on staples like chick peas, wheats and beans. Now, I try to use local vegetables when available and make my recipes based around those.”

“There are few items that we almost always have daily,” adds Uras. “Others are based on the ingredients available in season. We try to have a beef, chicken, vegetarian dish available every day. Our menu changes continuously. During the [growing] season, we get our vegetables from the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard and beets come from several local farms.”

So, after numerous conversations and some back and forth via email, I finally nailed her down on her Beet Yogurt Salad which can also be served as an appetizer dip with some pita bread triangles or chips for dipping, This recipe comes just in time for our first beets ripening in my family’s growing fields. In Turkish, the beet yogurt salad is called pancar salata (pronounced "pahn-jar").


Beet Yogurt Salad / Appetizer

Courtesy of Ayse’s Turkish Cafe

Yield: 5 servings


12 medium size red beets
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
5 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tsp salt or more to taste


1. Remove tops and bottoms of beets, then briefly cook them in boiling water until easily pricked with fork, but not mushy. 

2. Shred the beets with a medium, hand-held shredder. Put in strainer for a few hours to drain as much moisture as possible from the shredded beets.

3. Mix shredded beets, yogurt, garlic, olive oil and salt in a large bowl.  The yogurt will take on the red beet color.

4. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 5 hours.

5. For serving, place beet yogurt salad on a serving plate, garnish with a slice of cooked beets on top and have some pita wedges or pita chips for dipping.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Beyond Basil: Experimenting with Arugula and Garlic Scape Pesto


While traditional basil pesto is always delicious, I was delighted years ago to sample an “everything but the kitchen sink” pesto at my local farmers’ market that opened my eyes to the possibilities for this condiment.  Virtually anything green and leafy can serve as a base for pesto – from kale to spinach and everything in between; and you’ll even find recipes for pesto made from peppers and other delicious garden treats.  Just start with a basic pesto recipe (like this one from Ball) to get your proportions and experiment from there!

This year I had a bumper crop of arugula right around the time that our garlic scapes were ready to be harvested, so I pulled together this pesto variation and was more than pleased with the results. 

Note: One trick I also picked up lately is blanching the greens before putting all of the ingredients into the food processor.  While the tip is usually given as a trick to keeping your pesto brighter in color, blanching basil can decrease the flavor a bit too much (see this discussion on Kitchen).  In this recipe, I like blanching the arugula because it can take a little bit of the bitterness out of the leaves, especially if they are overgrown (mellowing the flavor is a good thing in this case).  Thus, my compromise is blanching the arugula leaves, but not the basil.

Recipe: Arugula and Garlic Scape Pesto


4 cups packed arugula
4-5 garlic scapes, chopped
15-20 basil leaves
¼ c lemon juice
¾ c grated parmesan cheese
½ c toasted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste



Step 1: Blanch the arugula.  Bring 3-4 quarts water to a boil in a large stock pot.  Add the arugula leaves and immediately stir to immerse them all.  Leave in for about 15 seconds then remove them and transfer them immediately to a bowl of ice water.  Once they have cooled down (30 seconds or so) remove them from the bowl and squeeze out the water.  You’ll end up with about a ball of greens a little bigger than your fist.


Step 2: Process.  Put the arugula, chopped garlic scapes, basil leaves, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and toasted sunflower seeds in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until well blended/chopped.  Then, with the food processor still running, gradually add the oil through the access tube.  Finish off with a few pinches of salt and a dash of pepper.

Step 3: Use or Store.  Use immediately as a pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or sandwich spread.  Can be stored in the fridge for a few days, or frozen in ice cube trays or canning jars (be sure to leave space for expansion).


Carrie Williams Howe is the Executive Director of an educational nonprofit by day, and parent and aspiring homesteader by night and on weekends. She lives in Williston, Vermont, with her husband, two young children, and a rambunctious border collie. Carrie has a PhD in educational leadership and is passionate about being an authentic, participatory leader in various settings. She is a contributing editor at Parent Co Magazine. Connect with Carrie on The Happy Hive Facebook page.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

3 Common Herbs, 3 Uncommon and Tasty Uses (with Black Bean and Corn Salad Recipe)

We cooks tend to get into ruts and don’t even realize brilliant new culinary tricks hiding under our noses. Over the years, I’ve occasionally learned new ways to use some of my favorite herbs with delicious results.

Rosemary for Grill Seasoning

Take, for example, rosemary: This fragrant herb grows in most North American planting zones. In some cases, the plant resembles a bush more than a mere splotch of green in the garden. Some of the best ways to deal with an overabundance of rosemary is to dry it and store for use in the kitchen. However, one of the biggest flavor punches is obtained by burning up the excess sprigs.

rosemary bush

Rosemary bush gone wild

Start by cutting a few branches and then let them dry for a couple of weeks, or speed up the process by laying the sprigs out in the sun. Next time you fire up the barbecue, either gas or charcoal, get ready to produce a fragrant cloud of rosemary smoke. I throw a couple of 12-14 inch sprigs of dried rosemary on the coals about ten minutes before chicken, lamb, pork, salmon, or beef are finished cooking.

The flavor reminds of sunny days on Santorini Island eating some of the best lamb in the world scented with rosemary. Best thing is the rosemary doesn’t even have to be fully dry for this application. Sometimes I’ll even spray the sprigs with water so they don’t burn up too fast.

If you live in planting Zone 7 or higher, you probably have rosemary that threatens to take over your garden every year. Clip the abundant branches and dry them. Once dried, they stay usable a year or more if properly stored in a dark, cool, dry, place.

dried rosemary

Rosemary springs dried for grill flavoring

Thyme as Salad Topping

Thyme is one of my favorite herbs. Here again, if you live in Zone 7 or higher chances, are you have thyme come back year after year. Every spring for a month or so one variety or another seems to burst into pretty little flowers. These tangy little buds are great for garnishing salads, grilled meats, or sautéed chicken breasts. My favorite way to eat them is tossed with a salad, or used as a salad topper. The flowers add lots of flavor to salads dressed in vinaigrette-type dressings.

Thyme flowers

Thyme flowers are suitable for salad toppings

Coriander: Cilantro's Seed

Another common herb is cilantro. Known for bolting and being useless just days after becoming harvestable in size and flavor, many gardeners just shake their heads and pull the bolting herb. But wait, let that baby grow into the gorgeous little bush it wants to be and enjoy the flowers on salads. You can also let cilantro go to seed.

Wait until it has developed seeds, then use in one of two ways. I like to take the green seeds and toss them in stir-fry dishes or soups. The other method is waiting until the bush has gone brown and dry.

cilantro in bloom

Cilantro plant gone to seed

Then after a week or so in its brown stage, harvest the seeds. I spread out newspapers on a table indoors and rub the seeds free of the branches. Then I roll the seeds into a brownie pan or sheet pan and collect them for use as coriander. Why buy coriander if you can easily grow your own? Use in any number of Indian dishes like coriander rice, chicken tikka masala, or tandoori spice mix.

green cilantro seeds

Cilantro seeds-coriander

You might find even more ways than I have to use excess herbs from your garden. Experimenting with herbs like these beats being in a cooking rut.

Black Bean and Corn Salad with Fresh Green Coriander Seeds


• 3/4 cup cooked black beans
• 3/4 cup cooked corn
• 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
• 1/4 cup diced fresh tomato, optional
• 2 Tbsp minced jalapeno, optionals
• 1 Tbsp fresh green coriander seeds
• 1-2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 Tbsp minced chives or green onion
• 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon
• 1/2 avocado, optional


In a bowl, mix all ingredients except avocado and chill for 30-60 minutes, if desired. Gently stir in avocado pieces and serve.

Note: Fresh oregano makes a lovely addition to this salad. Chop abut one tablespoon or so and mix well.

Kurt Jacobson has been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blog. For tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blog, Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.