Home Kitchen

Seasoning hot foods and beverages with herbs and spices will have your taste buds ringing this holiday season

Something about the ever-closer vacation conjures up thoughts of tasty stews straight from the oven and hot drinks with swirling steam coming out of our favorite mug, helping to make rosy cheeks even rosier.

Why not add a new touch of flavor to accompany the steam twists? Adding a dash of fresh or dried herbs from the farmers market to any hot meal or drink can add a richness to your home festivities that pervades all the senses. When all our senses have been nurtured, it delights our soul, don’t you think?

The most popular herbs and spices are sage, rosemary, mint, oregano, basil, dill, parsley, thyme, and cinnamon. Just reading about them brings up the sparkling sights and tinkling sounds of the holidays.

Sage has a unique earthy flavor and uniquely pops poultry and dressing with a hint of spicy flavor. After using rubbed sage for years, I decided to add some not-so-finely diced fresh green sage to our Thanksgiving dressing. OMG what a treat for our taste buds! It has been a Christmas tradition in our house ever since.

Sage is also used by gourmet cooks to flavor soup, specifically vegetable soup. No wonder he is sometimes called “garden sage” or “kitchen sage”. Many family cookbooks are filled with gourmet seasoning mixes of rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, and dill in traditional recipes handed down from grandmother to girlfriend for centuries.

The mint leaves added to a carrot casserole refresh the palate and also refresh the dish in which it is served. When a food pleases the eye, it accomplishes much more than simply scooping it out of a boring serving plate without thinking. Imagine mint-infused cooked carrots glistening on a bright white serving plate with tiny sprigs of mint tucked in, trying to peek out. Add a maraschino cherry cut in half, conveniently set to the side to refresh your eyes.

Cinnamon is very aromatic and when mixed with sage, dried apples and honey, it becomes a warm cinnamon toddy that the whole family can enjoy together. Add boiling water to a few dried apple slices, a sage leaf, and a tablespoon of honey, then stir with a cinnamon stick. The mixture can make you sleep so well that the next morning you’ll wonder if you were sprinkled with fairy dust the night before.

How festive, how fun!

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