Monday, October 28, 2013

In Praise of Parsley!

The Herb Society (England) In Praise of Parsley by Guy Cooper & Gordon Taylor
I have been mulling over topics for the colder months that are coming.  Just a thought that I would keep reviewing herb books from my vast library.  I think I have tried this in the past without much success, but this time with your help, I will do it.  So a couple of times a month, starting next month (November), I will select an herb book and if you have it, you can read along with me and we can discuss it when I do a post on it.  You see 30 plus years ago I was in a bus accident where I was reading and believe it or not, I have trouble reading to this day.  I am able to read.  I just read very short books or magazines.  I can read a mystery on the plane back from London.   So I think if I have a mission and if you don't let me veer far from the path, I will get back to reading and discussing my herb books with you.

Today's selection from the bookshelf is a continuation of my review of four small booklets from England and The Herb Society from 1981.  This one is In Praise of Parsley.  It seems like I never know everything about herbs, I am always learning something new each time I read a book or article in a magazine.  In each of these booklets, there is a Preface by a guest author and known writer in England.  This one is written by Arabella Boxer who talks about parsley as the best known and most neglected of the herbs.  It is always underutilized.  I will always thank my mother for making me eat my parsley garnish when we went out for dinner.  One of the wonderful things about parsley is it has a large content of Vitamin C.  It is usually added to the end of cooking time because it loses its punch if added too early.  I like to add some to the beginning and then some at the end of cooking time.  That seems to work best for me.

In 1981 the curly form of parsley was the preferred parsley in England.  There are three types, curly, French/Italian flat leaved and Hamburg which is grown for its root.  Its taste is a cross between parsley and celeriac.  Cook it like a root vegetable, grate it and eat it raw in salads or use it to flavor soups, stews and casseroles.  I love to see it used as a hedge in an herb garden.  Parsley is a true biennial but I usually grow it as an annual.  It is a tough seed to germinate.  You can soak the seeds for 24 hours in water or urine! or pour boiling water into the holes prior to sowing.  You should also not plant them too deeply.  An eighth of an inch is sufficient.  Even with these tactics, germination takes six weeks and may be as long as eight weeks.  I have just taken to buying plants, because we just don't have the indoor space to start seeds ahead of time.  It is said that the best and most tender leaves are picked during the first summer.  More reasons to grow it as an annual.

Dried parsley is not worth the effort.  Freezing parsley in ice cube trays and then in plastic bags or containers is the way to go.  Here are two of my favorite recipes using parsley.  I'm looking forward to making some of the recipes in this booklet.  I went to an elementary school where lunch was homemade!  I loved the parsley buttered potatoes.  There is a parsley butter recipe and I'll give you my version of it.  There is a cream of parsley soup recipe.  I think you will enjoy the version of parsley dill soup in the link above.  Cheese and parsley biscuits.  It is soup and stew weather.  So I think these would be a great addition.  I'll share these recipes as soon as I try them out.  Remind me if I don't! 

It was a beautiful day here in the 'Burgh.  We did have some frost last night.  The nasturtiums finally came to an end!  We just had a ton of them this season.  Everything else has survived to live another day and we are going to be mild through Halloween.  So I hope you have had a great day.  I'll talk to you later.


Anonymous said...

I think it is because we were always used to seeing parsley as a garnish, that we tend to overlook it and go for the more exotic herbs. I absolutely love it in arrabbiata sauce.

lemonverbenalady said...

That arrabbiata sauce sounds intriguing, Tracey. Will have to Google it! xo

Aisling said...

Timely post! I was just trying to decide what to do with my parsley. We've had one big frost and I want to gather what remains before we have another. I knew drying it wasn't the best plan. I think I will use some in a meal this week and freeze the rest. :)

lemonverbenalady said...

So glad you think so, Aisling! I get so caught up in other things in the garden that I forget to share! xo

Herby Cook said...

Don't forget parsley face masks, skin astringents and the seeds make a lovely hair tonic! Loads you can do with Parsley other than cook with it! Incidentally Arabella Boxer is an English Lady and was once on the council of the Herb Society, she's written several books on herbs and spices in the UK and lots of general cookery books, some of which I have in my collection :) You'd be surprised at some of the people that were once involved with the Herb Society here in the UK, maybe I should write another piece about it? ;)

lemonverbenalady said...

I get so focused on the culinary aspects, that I forget about other ones, HC! I do have a lovely book that was written by Arabella Boxer that I glanced at the other day. Have to pull it out and read more of it. That's what I intend to do over the winter. Read more herb books! And yes, in your spare time(!) you should do another post or two! xo