In my long herbal life thus far the question I have been asked most about herbs exposes a deep fresh herb hesitation: “How do I use them all up?” My answer has always sounded as smart-assy as I am, despite the sincerity. “You just do. You just use them up.” Transcend the conservatism. Learn at least a little about the flavor and potencies of the herbs you like, play and take risks. That’s how we grow as cooks and eaters. I have always had my work cut out for me in trying to encourage fresh herb usage in American kitchens. My herbal salts, which are all packed full of fresh herbs, are just one way to increase excitement about herbs.
I have to go back pretty far to recall how my herbal salts first materialized. While surely some form of fresh herbal salt has existed in my culinary repertoire for a long time, I know the first shelf-stable, oven-dried version started in Brooklyn while running Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center: one of the few Brooklyn-based businesses I started in my early 30’s. My herbal salts transformed and matured as I traveled the globe. I became a better, more skillful cook and ingredient finder as I traveled to each new place, my herbal salts reflected this growth and found more creative fuel for my artistry, more passion and more personal happiness in creating. The herb salts just kind of metamorphized, despite the irony to of me being a salt-hesitant cook, into what they are today, as I fed my mind, passion and artistry and I hardly even noticed it was happening. It’s been an incredible journey refining this herbal salt thing inside me, cultivating joy while doing it, all from the unlikely position of southern Missouri. But it is indeed here, in my Blue Eye, MO, kitchen that these herbal salts have culminated.
Something deep inside me lights up in the presence of fresh herbs. I am enraptured by them, as well as those who grow and use them. I hope I can inspire you to use more of them. Fresh herbs have been a symbol of my own artistry and creative spirit since I started growing them in my garden in Eugene, Oregon, in my early 20’s. Not only are they a staple in my cooking, but they have sprung up in every aspect of my life ever since. My Herbal Roots is the creative manifestation of everything herbal I have experienced along the way, and a projection of all to come. It’s a place for me to share my herbal passion indiscriminately, allowing me to document the herbal moments that light my path, providing a home to pause in celebration and appreciation. I have been conscious of my own innate passionate streak from an early age. Like many others, I remember coloring outside the lines as a child. What set me apart was the self-confidence I had that couldn’t be swayed by anyone telling me it was wrong. My inner strength carried me forward from the get-go, fearlessly driving me to where and who I am today. The Summer 2022 – The Fruit Series is a manifestation of my life in Missouri. I hope you enjoy.