July 29, 2010

Summer's Simple Pleasures

Do you have a herb garden?

The thing I like about my herb garden is that even when the cucumber plants have not begun to blossom and all those stupid squash plants are blossoming everyday, but I still only see one squash, and the carrots and beets have all been rooted out by a neighborhood cat, so that there is no hope of a harvest any time soon... my little pots of herbs are growing steadily and I can walk out to the garden and pluck a handful of parsley or a sprig of rosemary and add a wonderful freshness to all sorts of dishes.

Every year I tend to buy at least one 'different' herb, something I haven't used much in the past. This year it was lemongrass.  I bought mine for $4.50 in a pint size container at the farmers market. I repotted it in a 12" pot and trimmed it back to about 5 inches tall.  Since then it has sprouted another stalk (which I've read that I could remove and plant elsewhere) and both stalks just keep growing.  I trim it every so often and use the  green clippings to season fried rice and soup.  Lemongrass has a pleasant lemony flavor without being acidic.  It almost reminds me of Trix cereal. Lemongrass has a very stringy texture so it should be minced and well-cooked before serving.

Lemongrass Simple Syrup
Use to sweeten a tall glass of iced tea or make your own natural soda by mixing with club soda.
Active Prep Time: 5 minutes.  Steep: 1 hour.  Store in refrigerator up to one week.

About a half a cup loosely packed lemongrass
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (I use organic)

Roughly chop lemongrass and crush with a flat-bottomed metal measuring cup.  Combine in small saucepan with water and sugar.  Heat to dissolve sugar.  Let simmer a minute or so.  Turn off heat and cover.  Let sit 1 hour.  Strain out lemongrass pieces and store in the refrigerator.

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