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Handy Hints and useful tips for around the home - Spices and Herbs

The Parsley Revival - rejuvenating potted parsley

parsley plant

  Parsley plants seem to last longer in pots than in the ground; however, they all eventually go to seed. Usually that's the time to bin them, but there is life in the old plant yet. While the leaves are still green, cut the main stem about an inch above the soil with secateurs, then continue to water as before. In a few days, small shoots will spring from the old wood, and soon enough you'll have a revived parsley plant that should last as long as its former self did.

Spice up with Cinnamon
  Cinnamon is often associated with buns and cakes, but did you know that it has many health properties?
  Researchers have found that this aromatic spice can improve brain function, help reduce triglycerides (fats in the blood) and increase antioxident levels. It is also said to lower the risk of heart disease. Although further claims that it cures most illnesses may be pie in the sky, we can verify that taking it daily has made discomfort from indigestion a rarity.
  Obviously there are many uses for this versatile spice in cooking, but a sprinkle of cinnamon in coffee, or a quarter teaspoon in the coffee grounds before percolating adds an exciting new dimension to an old favourite. For a bit of variety, try a few drops of vanilla essence as well. That's what we do after our evening meal. Now, even when we've made absolute pigs of ourselves, we still get a good night's sleep minus the reflux.

Herb Flowers for More Flavour
  Whether fresh or dried, herbs add flavour to food; but in most cases, the leaf is the part that is used. Freshly chopped, the taste is obvious and can be quite strong; when dried, however, many like parsley and basil lose their flavour; and after a period of storage even in airtight containers, most can end up bland and smelling like tea.
  The flowers of the plant can change this, but always check to make sure that they are edible. They can still be used straight from the plant and will add a new dimension to any dish. The new buds which haven't yet opened are especially fragrant. To dry, simply cut the flower stalks complete with buds, then lay them in a shallow container, cover with paper towel and put this out of the way somewhere. Depending on the water-content of the herb and ambient temperatures, drying may take 2 or 3 weeks. After this, strip everything from the stalk by stroking down from the tip with the fingers. Now chop or grind (we use a coffee grinder), put in a small glass jar with an airtight lid, then you have a better-than-average herb for use whenever you need it. We've tried oregano, basil and rosemary and all seem to work well.

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