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In Good Health: Herbal Seasoning 101: When in Doubt…Use Thyme


I have often been told I can make just about anything grow. THAT, I take as a compliment. I must confess it really isn’t a particular skill. I have quite a stubborn streak, and don’t always follow directions well. I just figure out what works best for me. I even like to boast that I can grow “time”… culinary  thyme.  This year after a serious revamping of our herb garden, my thyme has flourished. I simply cannot waste it.

Thyme is considered by many as the “nearly perfect” herb. Most of us think of thyme as a culinary staple for seasoning our foods. In fact, it ranks as one of the finest herbs in French cuisine. As a general rule when using herbs in cooking – When in doubt, use thyme.  It has a sweet, yet mildly penetrating flavor, and is wonderfully aromatic but not overly-competitive in the kitchen. 

Thyme is an herb that has woven a unique tapestry throughout human history. Ancient Greeks believed thyme gave courage while others claim it‘s use was to “fumigate.” Thyme was burned as incense during burial ceremonies to eliminate foul odors and ward off evil spirits. With such a history it is no wonder why it was a while before thyme was used to flavor food. In the days of chivalry, ladies would give a symbolic sprig of thyme in their scarves, as “favors” to the bravest knights. It was even used as an antiseptic.

Using Your Thyme

My recommendation is to expand your culinary outlook with thyme. Thyme is a well-balanced, savory herb. When a dish needs a little something, thyme tends to round off the flavors perfectly. The sweet and earthy aroma pairs well with grains, rice and pasta, and complements all meats, poultry, and even most veggies… mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes, are my favorites to “thyme-up”. I think legumes (kidney, pinto and black beans) taste exceptionally good when seasoned with thyme.

 I prefer to use fresh thyme, but I also dry all that I can each summer and fall. I even tie off a few bundles of Bouquet Garni to freeze and use during winter which I guess may be against the rules. They do lose some of their fragrance and sweetness in the freezing process, but it gives a lovely flavor balance to soups and marinades. Remember, thyme not only gives food a flavor boost, as a plant, it is an excellent source of iron, manganese, and vitamin K. It is even a good source of antioxidants. Another bonus of seasoning your foods with fresh herbs is that you do not need to use as much salt or fat which makes your cooking even healthier.

Thyme Recipes

Thyme still stands for courage, but you don’t have to be brave to try these recipes! Hopefully , after indulging in these thyme-laden dishes, you will receive an ancient Greek compliment… being told you smell like thyme! 

Vera’s Roast Turkey Breast with Garlic and Thyme  Try it with Lemon Thyme. It pairs so well with the Dijon.  Have a little fun and add a bit of fresh rosemary, too.  I say the sauce is too good to just limit its use to turkey.

Roasted Tomato Thyme Soup – I came across this recipe last fall on a chilly, damp day. Most of the ingredients came from my garden. The picture alone of the soup with the toasted cheese bread floating on top was enough to win me over. With this method of making soup you really do not heat up your kitchen!  If you want to read more about thyme, go to this link.

It is now August, and time is a premium.  (If only I could grow more “real” time).  I fantasize just what I would do with it…more time with my kids, more time to play, more time for sleep, and fool myself into thinking I would exercise more.  I even wish for more time during my lunch break, which happens to be the fastest hour of the day! I am committing now to make better use of my time and my thyme. I know exactly where I will be spending this weekend. Any guesses?                                    

 In Good Health,
  Barbara Burns

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