A Dinner Of Herbs
In an article published in American Agriculturist, Dora M. Morrell
says: "There is an inference that a dinner of herbs is rather a poor
thing, one not to be chosen as a pleasure. Perhaps it might be if it
came daily, but, for once in a while, try this which I am going to tell
"To prepare a dinner of herbs in its best estate you should have a bed
of seasonings such as our grandmothers had in their gar
ens, rows of
sage, of spicy mint, sweet marjoram, summer savory, fragrant thyme,
tarragon, chives and parsley. To these we may add, if we take herbs in
the Scriptural sense, nasturtium, and that toothsome esculent, the
onion, as well as lettuce. If you wish a dinner of herbs and have not
the fresh, the dried will serve, but parsley and mint you can get at
most times in the markets, or in country gardens, where they often grow
"Do you know, my sister housewife, that if you were to have a barrel
sawed in half, filled with good soil, some holes made in the side and
then placed the prepared half barrel in the sun, you could have an herb
garden of your own the year through, even if you live in a city flat? In
the holes at the sides you can plant parsley, and it will grow to cover
the barrel, so that you have a bank of green to look upon. On the top of
the half barrel plant your mint, sage, thyme and tarragon. Thyme is so
pleasing a plant in appearance and fragrance that you may acceptably
give it a place among those you have in your window for ornament.
"The Belgians make a parsley soup that might begin your dinner, or
rather your luncheon. For the soup, thicken flour and butter together as
for drawn butter sauce, and when properly cooked thin to soup
consistency with milk. Flavor with onion juice, salt and pepper. Just
before serving add enough parsley cut in tiny bits to color the soup
green. Serve croutons with this.
"For the next course choose an omelette with fine herbs. Any cookbook
will give the directions for making the omelette, and all that will be
necessary more than the book directs is to have added to it minced
thyme, tarragon and chives before folding, or they may be stirred into
the omelette before cooking.
"Instead of an omelette you may have eggs stuffed with fine herbs and
served in cream sauce. Cut hard-boiled eggs in half the long way and
remove the yolks. Mash and season these, adding the herbs, as finely
minced as possible. Shape again like yolks and return to the whites.
Cover with a hot cream sauce and serve before it cools. Both of these
dishes may be garnished with shredded parsley over the top.
"With this serve a dish of potatoes scalloped with onion. Prepare by
placing in alternate layers the two vegetables; season well with salt,
pepper and butter, and then add milk even with the top layer. This dish
is quite hearty and makes a good supper dish of itself.
"Of course you will not have a meal of this kind without salad. For this
try a mixture of nasturtium leaves and blossoms, tarragon, chives, mint,
thyme and the small leaves of the lettuce, adding any other green leaves
of the spicy kind which you find to taste good. Then dress these with a
simple oil and vinegar dressing, omitting sugar, mustard or any such
flavoring, for there is spice enough in the leaves themselves.
"Pass with these, if you will, sandwiches made with lettuce or
nasturtium dressed with mayonnaise. You may make quite a different thing
of them by adding minced chives or tarragon, or thyme, to the
mayonnaise. The French are very partial to this manner of compounding
new sauces from the base of the old one. After you do it a few times you
also will find it worth while.
"When it comes to a dessert I am afraid you will have to go outside of
herbs. You can take a cream cheese and work into it with a silver knife
any of these herbs, or any two of them that agree with it well, and
serve it with toasted crackers, or you can toast your crackers with
common cheese, grating above it sage and thyme."
Whether this "dinner of herbs" appeals to the reader or not, I venture
to say that no housewife who has ever stuffed a Thanksgiving turkey, a
Christmas goose or ducks or chickens with home-grown, home-prepared
herbs, either fresh or dried, will ever after be willing to buy the
paper packages or tin cans of semi-inodorous, prehistoric dust which
masquerades equally well as "fresh" sage, summer savory, thyme or
something else, the only apparent difference being the label.
To learn to value herbs at their true worth one should grow them. Then
every visitor to the garden will be reminded of some quotation from the
Bible, or Shakespeare or some other repository of interesting thoughts;
for since herbs have been loved as long as the race has lived on the
earth, literature is full of references to facts and fancies concerning
them. Thus the herb garden will become the nucleus around which cluster
hoary legends, gems of verse and lilts of song, and where one almost
stoops to remove his shoes, for
"The wisdom of the ages
Blooms anew among the sages."