How To & DIY
Flavored Butters & Oils
Spice-flavored butters and oils are the magic wands of cookery, instantly turning a simple plate of vegetables or a ho-hum grain entrée into a gourmet dish. You’d think this enchantment would be harder to come by, but delicious butters and oils are very simple to make, keep for weeks in the refrigerator, and can be whipped up with whichever of the following ingredients you happen to have on hand! Recipes You don’t need a recipe to make flavored butters and oils, but here’s a handful for inspiration: Lemony Pasta Butter Place a big dab of this flavorful butter on hot pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan and coarsely ground pepper, and you’ve created a delightful main dish! It’s also terrific on baked potatoes.
Homemade Herbal Sodas
Whether you call it pop, soda or a soft drink, today’s popular sweetened carbonated beverages aren’t what they started out to be. Traditional recipes for drinks like root beer, vanilla cream soda and cherry and ginger ales were made from extracts of flavorful botanicals and were often offered in pharmacies for their reputed health benefits.
Exotic and delicately beautiful, the hibiscus plant is a tall, erect annual cultivated in the tropics and subtropics. There are over 300 species of hibiscus, including Hibiscus abelmoschus (musk-mallow), H.
A hardy, cheery perennial, the dandelion arrives in early spring, thriving in wet or dry, shady or sunny locations (though it basks in the sun). You’ll find it gracing pastures, wastelands, and, of course, lawns.
Summer gardens (and farmers' markets!) deliver delicious fresh produce suitable for the day's grill or canning stint -- but fall's harvest is where we look for vegetables that are "good keepers." Root vegetables like beets, parsnips, turnips, and Jerusalem artichokes; hardy cabbages; and winter squash and pumpkins all, under the right conditions, will store well.
Dyeing Easter Eggs Naturally
If you're decorating eggs in celebration this Easter, engage nature in the process this year and avoid synthetic dyes. Ingredients like herbs and spices offer an endless variety of hues for dyeing eggs -- from the soft purple shades of hibiscus to the rich gold tones of turmeric.
DIY Spice Blends
Gift baskets are popular presents because they are useful and easy to give, but they also can be predictable. You can do much better than putting together the ubiquitous basket of fruit, nuts and preserves or soup, cake and cookie mixes in jars for your food-loving friends.
Cajun & Creole Cuisine
The mosaic of Louisiana culture shimmers with jazz, big band, blues and zydeco; colorful and boisterous Mardi Gras celebrations and quaint cottages with secret gardens; French, Spanish, English, German, Italian, African and native American ancestry; and two of the most exciting cuisines in the world: Creole and Cajun. Creole and Cajun cookery are often thought of in tandem -- and for good reason -- though there are distinct differences.
Homemade Spice Blends
Aromatic, colorful, and rich with melded flavors, spice blends have an air of mystery about them. Despite the intrigue, though, making your own spice blends is pretty straightforward and an easy way to indulge your creativity in the kitchen.
More than eight out of ten households, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, now own an outdoor barbeque grill or smoker. And, while we tend to view the start of summer as the start of the grilling season, the truth is that over half of grill owners now use their grills year-round, and not just at home.