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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

Herbs add flavor to summer foods, offer alternative to sodium

When it comes to early summer, I’m so impatient for vine-ripe tomatoes still warm from the late June sun and juicy watermelons on hot July days that I often overlook the joys of the present moment. This summer, I’m determined to celebrate what can be harvested today. My determination has led me to a new culinary obsession: herbs.

Fresh herbs are fantastic for enhancing the flavor of a dish without adding more sodium. Many store-bought marinades are high in sodium and usually not gluten free. Instead of buying those, I’ve started making finishing sauces with olive oil, lemon, chili powder and lots of fresh oregano and parsley to drizzle over chicken thighs, strip steaks or pork chops after I pull them off of the grill. The herbs add a fresh flavor that’s healthy, light and ridiculously delicious. Not only are many herbs tasty, but also they have strong medicinal qualities. Consider tarragon. According to Jekka McVicar in “Jekka’s Herb Cookbook,” “Tarragon is a very good digestive, antioxidant, diuretic and sedative. It also contains vitamins A, B and C, calcium, magnesium and potassium, so it is beneficial for the liver, as well as for easing heartburn and gastric upsets.”

McVicar, in her must-own cookbook, gives plenty of facts, growing tips and fantastic recipes for tarragon and more than 40 other herbs, but my favorite way to use tarragon has been on Lake Erie walleye and perch. My husband seasons the fish with salt and pepper, a pad of butter and chopped kalmata olives. Then he wraps the filets in foil packets and grills the packets over medium coals for about 10 minutes and sprinkles tarragon on them after they are done cooking. The sweet anise flavor of early-season tarragon works perfectly well with the briny olives, especially with the sweetness of the fish.

Even better, herbs are so easy to grow. Many thrive in containers on the patio or a kitchen window sill. If you grow them yourself, you can cut or pluck what you need fresh from the plant on a moment’s notice. Why waste your time with prepackaged herbs from the grocery store, when you can pick up a few plants at Calico, Sage, and Thyme or from a local gardener at the downtown Farmers’ Market that will last all season (or year, if you grow them inside)?

Fresh mint, muddled with lemon or lime slices, creates a perfect drink for unwinding, be it for a cocktail or an evening cup of tea. And to boot, there are so many mints to choose from (spearmint, apple mint, lemon mint, etc.) it’s easy to find a flavor that tantalizes your taste buds.

Learning about and cooking with fresh herbs here in the early season of local produce makes waiting for those heirloom tomatoes of late summer just a bit more bearable.

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