Home Grown Herbs

While vegetables are the most popular container plants and flowers the prettiest (although not as useful), herb gardens can be both beautiful and delicious.

When deciding which plants you’d like in your herb garden, look first at the herbs you know and use the most (perhaps the most empty jar in your spice rack), but don’t limit yourself to that. You can look up herbs online (try Annette’s Herb Garden) and see which are most commonly used or simply go to your local nursery and pick out the ones that smell the best.

Here five of the most popular uses and some gardening tips (in order of my favorite to least favorite):

Rosemary – First, it’s delicious. It also dried wonderfully and can be used indoors. If you plant this herb, consider harvesting an entire stem at one time, freezing it, and using it as a skewer later.

Basil – Also, delicious. There are many varieties of basil so it is very customizable, but make sure to break off a leaf and smell it before you buy it. This herb likes a lot of water, but be careful because it can mildew.

Mint – My parents’ favorite use for mint is in a mojito, but we use it in several other things as well (probably because of, again, the bush). Be careful about controlling your mint. You can also pinch the buds off to keep it from cross-pollinating.

Thyme – This herb is great because it requires minimal watering and can grow little, purple flowers. However, it tends to get “woody” and may have to be replaced every couple of years.

Sage – Also needs to be replaced (usually every three years), but dries easily. It does, however require a lot of maintenance to keep it from getting “woody” too soon.

Of this list, thyme tends to be the least used (such a shame considering the wealth of puns it opens itself up to, of which I am resisting). If you’re thinking about planting thyme or even have thyme in your garden, but lack ideas, check out Home Cooking.

Lastly, here are just a few tips to maintaining a happy, healthy, herb garden:

Herbs need full sun, but don’t like to be cooked. Use good quality soil so the plants can drain properly. Go easy on the fertilizer or don’t bother with it at all. And finally, don’t be afraid to harvest a lot at once. The herbs are truly happier this way and you deserve to reap what you sow!

 

The Greatest Sandwich Ever

What is not to love about a grilled cheese?

Bread + butter + cheese = culinary genius. Not only is it more delicious than I can describe in words, but it’s easy. Whether it’s for an afternoon snack when your child gets home from school or second dinner at the college dorm, a grilled cheese can be made with practically no prep work, very little clean up, and with the most minimal amount of kitchen appliances.

Everyone has her own perfect combination of bread and cheese. For me, it’s sourdough and sharp cheddar – my mouth is watering already! For years I went through life believing my own humble cheese creation was the most delectable sandwich in existence. Then I was introduced to the gourmet grilled cheese.

My first gourmet grilled cheese experience was at Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. I just wanted a plain, boring grilled cheese, but this is one of those places that write their prices without the dollar sign so you know it’s expensive before you even start looking. I’m telling you I ordered a twelve-dollar grilled cheese and mixed salad (that had edible flowers in it, I might add).

I ordered the aged cheddar grilled cheese, not knowing what to expect. All the description said was bacon jam / fresh tomato (yes, this place is too fancy to use the word “and”). I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about the bacon jam, but oh my word was it delicious. The bread was crunchy, the cheese perfectly melted and hinted with bacon, and the tomatoes sliced so thin they didn’t fall out when you bit into them.

My other favorite gourmet grilled cheese restaurant, however, costs almost half as much and isn’t nearly as, well, pretentious as my beloved Extraordinary Desserts. And it’s here in Roanoke! Don’t get confused by the name because Pop’s Ice Cream and Soda Bar makes some mean gourmet grilled cheeses. And instead of a flower salad, they are served with popcorn! Also, the butter on these sandwiches is divine.

Now, I am not the only grilled cheese fanatic in search of the greatest sandwich ever. April 28th will mark the tenth annual Grilled Cheese Invitational in Pasadena, CA. There are four categories ranging from traditional American to dessert grilled cheese. Advertised as “the best thing to happen to sliced cheese since bread,” this even has officially been added to my bucket list.

In my journey to grilled cheese greatness, I’ve discovered that whether I’m at home with my sourdough and sharp cheddar with a cup of tomato soup or biting into some heavenly concoction at a five-star restaurant, grilled cheese is great, period.

All About Scarves

Vibrant, glamorous, and chic are just a few of the adjectives that describe anyone’s new favorite spring accessory: scarves!

These versatile pieces are available in every color, pattern, and shape under the sun and glam up any outfit from tanks and jeans to shorts and tees.  Scarves are no longer limited by winter and fall and easily flutter into the spring and summer months.  An airy cotton scarf is ideal for warm spring days and easily transitions into cooler nights.  It’s true – scarves are a spring staple to any girl’s closet.

Pair any vivid floral scarf with a t-shirt top and jeans and bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!  You’re instantly ready for a movie date (no fairy godmother needed).  Scarves speak for themselves and, if you play your colors right, they can bring out your eyes or add color to your cheeks!  Coral and aqua hues will compliment your new tan or give you some color during the pale to tan transition.  Scarves are an easy way to add a splash of color to any ensemble.

These accessories aren’t just for your neck; scarves can also double as head scarves, sarongs, and belts.  Depending on the width of your scarf, you can fold the scarf length-wise and wear it as a headband.  Simply tie it at the nape of your neck and let the loose ends fall down your back.  To transform your scarf into a sarong, use a large scarf and open it wide.  Place it around your hips and tie the ends together on one side.  A sheer scarf works well to create a cute and casual look for warm days at the beach or pool.  This style can easily be adjusted to make a belt, too.  Instead of opening the scarf wide, fold the scarf length-wise until you have the appropriate width.  Place the scarf around your hips or waist and tie the ends for a fresh, colorful statement.  Skinnier scarves can be pulled through belt loops and the ends can be tied into a bow.  Try this look with a pair of shorts and a vibrant tucked blouse for a chic, feminine look.

Scarves are limitless!  Check out the scarves.net for more creative ways to wear your favorite spring statement.

 

The regional magazine for women