Nestled between quaint downtown Friendsville and Fort Loudon Lake, Rocky Park Farm, family-owned and operated by Jim and Phyllis Kirksey, grows a vast array of seasonally relevant produce.
Leaves are still falling, but Fall will soon be leaving. This means the Holiday season is closing in. It is a season for eating – the season for seasoning.
This time of year, Rocky Park Farm is teeming with herbs more than suitable for spicing up dozens of dishes. One might be surprised just how much a few herbs can improve the Thanksgiving and Christmas spreads.
To name a few, Rocky Park Farm produces basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, dill, sage, and mint. There’s a lot these seasonings’ can do:
Let’s start basic. Let’s start BASIL. Basil is quite renowned in the herb world, used in countless dishes and cultural cuisines. It’s hard to envision a southern Thanksgiving celebration without the inclusion of at least a few casseroles. Basil is essential to flavoring vegetables that often serve as the base for these dishes. If squash or green bean casserole are part of the menu, consider basil a staple.
It’s that THYME of year. Like basil, thyme is key to flavoring vegetable-related recipes. Instead of casseroles, however, thyme tends to do much better with roasted veggies. Take some carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, or any other vegetable that can be roasted up, and then take and add some thyme. As you might can imagine, thyme is big-time this time of year.
‘Tis the season to be joyful and ROSEMARY. Rosemary is one of the most aromatic of herbs, used to intensify and flavor many main courses. When flavoring meats this holiday season, rosemary is a must. Start with an old-fashioned herb rub – a blend of rosemary and thyme and any other herbs of one’s choosing – and rub the mixture over turkey, pork, chicken, or even lamb. Also, consider rosemary bread as a seasonal supplement to your holiday meal.
Bring good vibes with CHIVES. Of the onion family, chives are often ideal for breakfast dishes. Dishes that jive with chives include quiches, scrambled eggs, and potatoes. Chives also do well sides like salads and baked potatoes.
DILL is a big deal. An edible addition to your holiday smorgasbord is none other than herb butter. While herb butter can be formed with any of a plethora of herbs, perhaps one of the most delicious is dill. Simply soften your mutter, mix in the dill, spoon the concoction into butter molds, and then re-harden. This dill-ectable herb butter can be served with bread, veggies, and any number of other side dishes, including a seasonal favorite: deviled eggs.
Time for SAGE to take the stage. Sage is a key ingredient to one of the most renowned of Thanksgiving dishes. Some call it dressing. Others call it stuffing. Almost all call it appetizing. Make sure to include sage this time around when stuffing the turkey and baking the dressing.
MINT is meant to be. While basil, thyme, rosemary, and sage are all members of the mint family, pure mint itself can be quite pertinent to many a food. Mint goes well with some meats, particularly improving the already rich flavor of lamb. One can even add a sprig of mint to hot tea or ice water for a refreshing swig.
Let’s put these herbs all together. The French call it a Bouquet Garni. In Appalachia, it might just be called a wad of flavor. Take ALL of the herbs mentioned above, place them in the center of a square of cheese cloth, gather up the corners, tying them with a string long enough to grab, dip the cloth into a soup or stew like one would with a teabag, and allow the bag of herbs to float during the cook. When the stew is complete, remove the bag. The debris is free. Now, savor the flavor.