How to Grow Cooking Herbs

Grow your own cooking herbs to add fresh zest and flavor to your menus year-round!

Is It a Cooking Herb or a Spice?

The first thing to know in selecting which herbs to grow is the difference between cooking (culinary) herbs and spices. The cinnamon stick you put in your hot chocolate or apple cider is a spice while the parsley on the edge of your plate is an herb.
1.Cooking herbs are usually the fresh or dried leaves of plants while spices are the ground seeds, roots, fruits, flowers, and/or bark.
2.Herbs grow very well in temperate zones, while spices generally come from tropical areas.
3.Herbs add subtle flavor, whereas spices are generally more pungent and add more robust flavor.

Herbs run the gamut of about 70 cultivars, broken into categories of medicinal, ornamental, and aromatic as well as culinary or cooking herbs. To start growing cooking herbs, it’s best first to select where and how you want to grow them.

Site Selection

Most cooking herbs thrive in just about any location that gives them plenty of light, good drainage and nutrition. In addition to outdoor garden spots, culinary herbs can be grown in patio containers, as indoor herb gardens, or in greenhouses using soil-less growing techniques like hydroponics or aquaponics.

Outdoor Cooking Herb Gardens

For easy access, plant your herb garden as close to your kitchen as possible. Herbs grown in full sun have denser foliage, darker color, and higher levels of the essential oils that add flavor to your recipes. Good air circulation and drainage are also important to the success of your cooking herb garden. The size of your cooking herb garden, of course, depends on the space you have available for growing. Generally, an area 20 by 4 feet accommodates a satisfactory variety of cultivars.

Many herbs overlap in category. Border your cooking herb garden with some cultivars that have ornamental or aromatic qualities as well as the culinary. However, remember that the main purpose of this garden is for use in your kitchen.

Place cooking herbs that you use frequently in less conspicuous areas so that you won’t leave big holes in your garden when you harvest them for cooking!

Most culinary herbs thrive under the same growth conditions as the vegetables they enhance and as such are a natural addition to your vegetable garden. Some cooking herbs even have properties that repel common insect pests and garden diseases, which is an added benefit to your vegetables.

The best time to amend soil with nutrient rich compost is when you till your garden plot. Herbs have coarse roots that benefit from chunky organic matter, which helps excess water drain away and also helps provide good air circulation.

After planting your cooking herbs, skirting them with a two to three-inch layer of mulch helps soil retain moisture. In addition, composting and mulching helps you maintain the neutral to slightly alkaline soil that most herbs prefer.

Culinary School Information to Consider

If you have a passion for cooking, culinary school may be the career path for you to take. If you have already chosen to pursue a degree in culinary arts, or are on the fence about it, acquiring the proper culinary school information may better equip you to make the important decisions when it comes to choosing a school or chef career.

Locating helpful and legitimate information on colleges that you are considering can help to eliminate some of the competitors from your list. Let’s first take a look at the top things to consider before choosing a college.

– Location.

This may not be a deal breaker for you, but for some this is a very important factor. When looking for colleges, look in the areas that interest you. If you want to stay around your home town, look up culinary school information for your general area. But, if you don’t mind a move, there are research colleges all over. Remember, room and board must be covered in this transition.

– Classroom size.

If you are good in any classroom setting, this won’t be a problem. However, many people have learning styles that require certain teacher to student ratios. Make sure that the schools you look into have the class room styles that you need to succeed.

– How long is the program?

Depending on what program you choose (certificate, diploma, or degree), there is a variation in length. While some only take a few months, some take up to four years to complete. Make sure you get the proper information to make an informed decision.

– Fees.

Many students rely on financial aid to cover their schools expenses. Check into the financial aid policy for each school you look up information on. This should be included on their website. Also, financial aid will only cover so much of your schooling (depending on the price of tuition). Each college will have a different tuition fee.

-Do they offer what you’re looking for?

Culinary schools have a large variety of courses offered. Make sure that they offer the courses you desire. Some specialty courses are only offered at certain institutions. Review the college catalog- it should include the information you will need.

How Much Money Does a Chef Make Annually?

Before you choose a degree in culinary arts, make sure that the pay rate is something you are willing to go to school for. How much you will gross will depend on your location and experience. The average chef makes around $40,000 (annually). This figure can rise or decline. By doing an online search, you can obtain a closer estimate.

By finding the necessary culinary school information, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue a career as a chef. If you are left with any questions, contact the colleges that are on your top five lists. By contacting the actual institutes, you can speak with staff and ask any questions that you were concerned about.

I Know How To Cook, Why Do I Need Culinary School?

Is culinary school really necessary? I always thought if you knew how to cook, you knew how to cook. It turns out I was wrong. If you want to go into culinary arts as a career, culinary school is just as necessary for you as law school is for a lawyer. I found that even if you are a great cook, there are simply skills and qualifications you will get from culinary school that you need when it comes time to enter the professional culinary arts world.

You, like many people, may believe that cooking is a talent that you are just born with. That is partially true, but many in the culinary arts industry recognize that it is indeed a talent, but it is also a skill. Though you may have an understanding of how to make food, in culinary school you will learn more about ingredients, foods, and how to combine them. By being well informed and educated, you will be able to take better advantage of your given talents.

You may also not realize that culinary school can prepare you for more than just becoming a “cook.” Most people think of chefs, caterers, and restaurateurs as the only people who attend culinary school, but that simple isn’t true. There are countless jobs available to graduates of culinary school. You can choose to be in restaurant management, work in retail food markets, or even become a food writer to name a few of the options. Culinary school is an education to prepare students for any career in food, not just becoming a cook.

The point is that if you really are serious about a career, any career, in culinary arts, then culinary school is necessary. Yes, like any education, it is expensive, but in the end wont it be worth it to be able to get a good job doing what you want at the restaurant or company with you want to do it? If you were to become a lawyer, you would have to go to law school and if you want to become a doctor, you need to go to medical school. So to have a successful culinary arts career, you have to go to culinary school.

When you go to select the culinary school you want to attend, you should look for one that is accredited and will get you the certificate or degree you need for the career you are after. A good culinary school will train you in the use of quality ingredients, proper presentation, and even balance for meals. The program will help you to understand everything about the food from the purchase of the ingredients to the presentation of the finished meal. With the overall culinary education you will get, you can then make full use of the talents you have.

If you love to cook and see yourself as a chef, restaurant manager, or even a food critic, you should consider culinary school. The knowledge and basic skills you will acquire there will allow you to pursue a long and successful career in the career you want.

Hone Your Cooking Skills in the Texas Hill Country

Thanks to the popularity of channels such as the Food Network, and a plethora of tempting gourmet cooking magazines, more and more adults are taking cooking out of the “chore” area and labeling it a hobby. But between making a meal to suit all those picky eaters at home, and the time crunch between work and dinner, when can a foodie really pursue their culinary passion? Luckily, day camps and extra-curricular lessons are no longer limited to the ones we choose for our children. While you’re booking those computer or wilderness camps for your kids, reserve a spot for yourself at one of the many culinary classes available in the Texas Hill Country.

The Texas Hill Country is ideally suited for day trips or longer vacations revolving around honing your cooking skills. Not only is it simply a beautiful and fun place to enjoy when you’re not in the kitchen, Hill Country cuisine is rich and diverse thanks to a cultural heritage that extends from traditional southern, to German, Mexican, and Cajun influences. Thanks to our many farms and ranches, we also have access to the best quality of locally-grown, wholesome and artisanal ingredients.

Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Farms is one of the best options for Hill Country visitors who wish to experience what the travel industry has termed Culinary Vacations. Located in beautiful Blanco, TX, the farm offers a medley of cooking experiences, spanning everything from classes in Parisian-style baking to Japanese tempura. Another class gets back to the essentials with trips to local farms, wineries and markets, after which students return to the kitchen to create a menu based upon items they acquired that day. Combine your classes with a stay in one of the farm’s beautiful cabins, adding on a massage, yoga class or just a long soak in the sauna to make your learning vacation an indulgent one as well.

The Blair House in Wimberley, TX also offers their Cooking School Vacation Camp. Recent classes offered have included an intensive BBQ camp, a New Orleans Mardi Gras class with Creole and Cajun cuisine, and a tutorial in Herbs 101. Single day or longer classes are available, and are offered in private, group and corporate retreat formats. As the Blair House is also a bed and breakfast, students who stay overnight can enjoy the amenities of the stylish rooms, pool and spa, a delicious gourmet breakfast, and the option to order a romantic picnic lunch to enjoy on the hotel’s beautiful 22-acres of Hill Country Texas land.

On the third Saturday of the month, the Fredericksburg Culinary Arts holds day classes at the Fischer and Wieser’s das Peach Haus in Fredericksburg, TX. Seasonal classes include a Summer Flavor class themed around summer crops like juicy tomatoes, squash, and the region’s famous peaches. Classes are generally observational in nature, with each student receiving a sample of the dishes and recipes to take home.

For the want to-be cheese mongers among us, visit the award-winning Pure Luck Dairy in Dripping Springs, TX to learn the ins-and-outs of making goat-milk cheeses. Participants will start from the source with lessons on the caring and milking of goats, to sanitation, to actual cheese-making processes and packaging. Students will make and take with them cheeses they have made themselves, such as chevre, feta, and Ste. Maure. The workshop lasts from Fri-Sun and costs approximately $395/person. Accommodations are not available at the farm, but there are a variety of wonderful Hill Country accommodations nearby, or a short distance away in Austin.

Italian Cooking School – The Secret Ingredient To Cooking Authentic Italian Food

There are a lot of things that you could learn in an Italian cooking school. When enrolling in a culinary institution, there are different options. You could choose those who offer basic culinary education, the fundamentals and the like or opt to take up specialized classes that deal with specific types of cooking. If you are planning to become a chef, then cooking school is mandatory. But even if you are just a cooking enthusiast, you could still broaden your skills by taking up classes in specific types of cooking like joining an Italian culinary school. You should list down the things that you expect t to learn from these schools before enrolling in one though.

Enrolling in the Right School

Italian cooking, is of course, the main forte of Italian schools. But there are some Italian schools that offer more styles which include Asian and French cuisine. This is because such styles are popular and widely practiced. So it would do well for you to know them too. But fundamentally, you will be trained in Italian Cuisine. Italian is very distinct when it comes to other types of cooking. The classes will involve demonstrations where in you could practice hands-on, practicing techniques that have been passed down traditionally and the story behind them as well. Because, like all styles, Italian cooking is a philosophy as well. In the end, you are going to be cooking genuine Italian meals.

You will also be versed in Italian culture when you enroll in an Italian cooking schools. You will find out thins like how food factors into every day Italian life. These include foods that are used day to day and foods that are only prepared during celebrations and festivities. You will also learn Italian wine culture. Because not only are they used as refreshments, wines are common Italian ingredients as well. You will also learn all of the available Italian ingredients as well as places to best procure them in.

You could also learn other things which would include the Italian language. You are sure to pick up some words that are involved with this cooking style. And of course you will also learn effective food management because, as we know, cooking doesn’t only involve the actual cooking itself. You need to know how to manage food quality afterwards as well. The best thing is that you could also get the chance to learn from famous Italian chefs and apprentice in popular Italian restaurants. When it comes to Italian cuisine, that is first-hand experience!

If you are enticed by all of this then by all means, enroll in an Italian cooking school. You will not only learn how to cook food, but you will also learn how to live and enjoy the Italian lifestyle as well. You will definitely profit greatly from the knowledge that you will earn in these schools.

The French Culinary Revolution – Salmon Nouvelle Cuisine

Let’s have a history lesson.

I was always a good student. I was one of those kids that did well in almost every subject (notice I said almost…numbers still elude me).

But numbers aside, history was/is particularly delicious to me.

Cooking has an interesting history of course. You don’t have to go all the way back to medieval times to find a fascinating tale.

In fact I have a fun story for you. In the 1960s & 70s, in this country at least, the foodie-world was abuzz with the suddenly “discovered” truth behind “classical French cuisine”. It was brought to our attention by the commendable talents of Julia Child. Her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking changed the way American home cooks like my mother began to look at gourmet food.

As I have said before. I was raised on this kind of fare. I was a nine year old who liked chicken liver pâté. I knew crêpe was not pronounced crape, and sauces always started with bones.

But things can never stay just as they are, now can they? In fact changes were afoot in the culinary world. Because just as Ms. Child was introducing Americans to classical French cooking; classical French cooking was being challenged or perhaps re-interpreted in of all places- France!

There was (is) a Michelin-three-star restaurant in Roanne, France. It was (is) run by the Troisgros bothers (well sons now). Some may say they are personally responsible for transforming modern French cooking. Until that time the classic Escoiffer school of thought had ruled French cuisine. Period. There were no other contenders.

But these boys changed all that. To change something as ingrained as the classic style of French cooking is an unmentionable feat. Especially in France.

But they did it. Whether they set out to do it or not, I cannot say. But the classic French style of cooking cracked just enough to make room for something that would soon be dubbed “la nouvelle cuisine”.

What I am going to say here and now might not shock my younger readers. But it was shocking nonetheless. Especially to classically minded French cooks such as my mother.

The Troisgros brothers began to serve a style of food that could best be called light and spare. I am not saying they chose to forgo the butter or the cream. They were true chefs after all. But they turned so many rules upside down that I am surprised they were not run out of the country.

The funny thing is they were using all the classically French components in their cooking. But the way they plated and arranged the food, and the emphasis they placed on one ingredient over another changed the way the French saw their national heritage. I am not exaggerating. Food is that important in France. Gosh love them!

In this recipe for salmon in sorrel cream sauce, The Troisgros brothers rocked the house. They chose not to poach the salmon, but to quickly pan-fry it, very thin. Scallopini style. In a dry pan no less!

And if that were not scandalous enough. The sauce was not given top of the plate prominence.

Instead of spooning a lovely cream sauce over the succulent salmon, these guys placed the salmon atop the sauce, dry and unadorned.

I hope you are shocked! Because, it was simply not done that way!

Of course there were stirrings of change before the Troisgros brothers. Chefs like Ferdinand Point (1897-1955) were challenging the rigidity surrounding Escoffier’s haute cuisine recipes with their own ideas.

But I believe, this one dish, Salmon and Sorrel Troisgros. This lovely preparation of flash-cooked salmon with an indescribable blt of sour sorrel and sweet cream, was solely and individually responsible for the change in consciousness that led to a worldwide cooking phenomenon.

Restaurants (in Los Angeles) like Michael’s, L’Orangerie and the uber-famous Spago would not have stood a chance were it not for the groundwork laid by these brothers.

And here is another bit of shocking historical fact. This groundbreaking bit of culinary history- is EASY to make at home!

I am not saying you (or I) could recreate it flawlessly. There is something to be said for being there at just the right moment in history. Plus the fact that American cream will never be the same as French cream.

But I have tried, and cooked, and worked, and researched, and copied, and changed, and re-worked, and further researched this recipe into a perfectly respectable alternative. Or so I humbly believe.

I will continue to call it Salmon and Sorrel Troisgros, but I suppose it will always be Saumon à l’Oseille to those cunning few (of a certain age) who were lucky enough to be there at the beginning. The beginning of a French Culinary Revolution.

Family Fun Campfire Cooking

As summer arrives, many families will be looking forward to a fun time of camping in the woods where they can enjoy the bountiful treasures of nature. It’s an excellent way for the family to bond as the young and older ones enjoy various activities like hiking, fishing, canoeing, bird watching, swimming, and so on. When night falls, it’s time to enter a more relaxed mode as family members gather around the campfire, recounting the day’s adventures, singing songs, telling stories or just kicking back, looking at the vastness of the universe as the flames flicker away. Of course, you can make it even more memorable by having a campfire cooking session or two! Here are some ideas for family fun campfire cooking.

Do you remember seeing those cowboys cooking fish on a stick over a campfire in the movies? Well, you can easily do that with your family. If you have a good fishing trip, you can certainly make a good meal with your catch over the campfire. Just marinade the fish with your favorite seasonings and pierce them with sticks or skewers. The fun thing about cooking with sticks over a campfire is that you can see as the meal is being cooked and you have complete control about how long it should be cooked. Other than fish, you can actually use a plethora of other foods such as sausages, marshmallow, sweet corn, chicken wings, beef cubes, and more. Making kebabs is easy and fun so your family may explore that option as well.

Beyond the skewers and sticks, you can also cook a variety of campfire meals with aluminum foil or your trusted cast iron pot. Feeling too lazy to do any cutting or chopping? Simply wrap a potato with aluminum foil and leave it in the coals. Once it’s cooked, spread some butter on the steaming potato and it is ready! When it comes to campfire cooking with aluminum foil, it all depends on your imagination. If you want to make a delicious desert, you can split a banana, and put some marshmallow and chocolate bits in the center, then, wrap it up with aluminum foil. Again, leave it in the coals, and when it’s cooked, you can dig in and enjoy a most fabulous delicacy. If you want to savor some comfort food, you can make some campfire beans or campfire stew with your cast iron pot. Try different ingredients to make your own signature stew or beans. When you are cooking in the wild, be wild with your imagination!

Family campfire cooking is definitely fun but you should take the necessary steps to ensure that everybody is eating safely. Food borne diseases can wreck your camping trip so it’s best that you make sure that the foods are cooked to the recommended temperature. People who handle food should always ensure that their hands are clean before they begin. Perishables should always be stored in a cooler and you should only take out the foods which are to be cooked immediately.

Easy Gourmet Cooking

So you want to turn out something fabulous for your next dinner party or sit-down family meal, but you’re without the highest culinary skills and the time to perfect them. Are there any cooking options besides frozen dinners, macaroni and cheese, or grilled cheese sandwiches? Is it possible to delight your family and guests with something that appears gourmet and effort-filled but that really requires little of your skills and time?

There is, in fact, something known as easy gourmet cooking. This concept is taking traditionally difficult, time-consuming recipes and culinary skills and adapting them to normal lifestyles. You can produce food that is both elegant and delicious in a shorter amount of time using cheaper ingredients and more common kitchen skills.

Take for example a traditional gourmet cheesecake. These types of recipes typically call for an inordinate amount of cream cheese and sour cream, a home-made crust, a special cheesecake pan, and plenty of time on your behalf to prepare such a delectable dessert. However, an easy gourmet version of this might call for less cream cheese and sour cream which saves you money. Secondarily, the cheesecake is poured into a store-bought graham crust which keeps you from having to make your own or purchase a cheesecake pan. Overall, the dessert is cheaper and easier to make but turns out beautifully and tastes nearly as good as a typical cheesecake.

The art of easy gourmet cooking involves finding those fancy recipes that aren’t so fancy at all. You’ve got to discover recipes that look as though a professional chef prepared it while in reality you got it together quite speedily. And not only do you want these easy gourmet dishes to look classy and high-end, but you also want them to taste so. You might be of the opinion that without the most expensive, high-quality ingredients you’ll never be able to achieve that gourmet taste. However, the truth of the matter is that with a good recipe and some every-day ingredients, you can make foods that taste just as delicious but are a lot simpler.

7 Things to Consider When Choosing Culinary Schools

Culinary education aids in molding the future of restaurateurs and chefs. It is seen as an ideal option for those interested in pursuing a career in the same path. Whether you want to manage or own a business in this industry, you need to enroll in the best culinary schools. However, since there is an upsurge of these institutions there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind in order to ensure you enroll in the best and these are as highlighted below.

1. Programs
You have to determine the type of programs that interest you and the capacity you would love to work in upon completion of the training. This is important as it ensures you select an institution that offers programs that meet these needs.

2. Accreditation
Culinary schools are able to get accreditation from varying groups if they offer quality education that meets the standards set in the industry. For this reason, make sure that you get one that has several accreditations to its name because it ensures that you make the appropriate choice.

3. Facilities
The facilities available are also important because they ensure that students also get hands on experience during training. Keep in mind that the skills and awareness you acquire during training is what determines whether you have a cutting edge and as such, nothing should be left to chance.

4. Professors and teachers proficiency level
When you start off on this career path, you can only be as good as your mentor. For this reason, it is imperative to choose institutions that are known to have the best teachers and professors in the industry. They should be proficient in every sense of the word. To establish that this is the case, it is advisable to look at the faculty list of the school and look at their website as well. This is important because it ensures that you get into one on the sole basis of their ability to meet your needs.

5. Successful graduates
Culinary schools that have produced excellent graduates are the true hallmark of great quality education. For this reason, you should research on the alumni and see whether they are currently enjoying a successful career in the field or not. This will increase your chance of making an informed decision.

6. Years of operation
Settle for an institution that has been in operation for a long duration. This is because with age, it becomes more trustworthy and credible. However, keep in mind what while some of the oldest schools are ranked among the best, there are instances when it is possible to come across an exception.

7. Tuition cost
Before settling down to enroll in any of the culinary schools, it is advisable to ensure you know the tuition cost in order to determine whether you can afford it or not.

Culinary School Options

The world of culinary arts is a fun one and a very profitable one indeed. They are usually a variety of programs in design, culinary arts, media arts, and fashion while at a culinary arts school. There are more than 400 culinary school association colleges in the United States presently today. This is not even counting the ones that are online or not accredited by any division in the United States. The point of attending these art school is to learn how to cook. This is very important to know if the student is going to make it in the very competitive world of culinary arts.

Culinary schools usually last one or two years, although there are some schools that require three to four years of schooling, yet these are usually for the executive chief. Culinary school can start of in the United States and end up in any country of the world for finishing school; such as France. There is usually a good school in the general area anywhere in the United States. This is most important since culinary school is the first step in chiefs long educational and food minded career.

Culinary is sometimes referred to as food management. What they are talking about is the professional in the restaurant, sport complexes, prison kitchens, or any other establishment which deals in cooking and preparing food. There is a need for a food service manager to oversee the sue chiefs and the servers in these culinary atmospheres. Today, management careers in the food service sector start off as a good education from a great culinary school. In a great level of experience that can come from the educational pursuits while attending culinary arts school in America and in the world for that matter.

Once a student graduates from a culinary arts school it is time to utilize those talents and start doing some really good cooking! Culinary school can be relatively expensive experience but with the FAFSA grants and loans under the President Obama’s administration, there is no excuse if you want to cook.

Financial aid is readily available for those who intend on being in the food world and the best school option is totally up to the student. There are countless options of matriculation for the culinary school student in which to explore. The United States and Canada offer some of the best cooking schools in the world and have thousands of active traditional school settings available.

It cannot be seen in any other light but maniacally affectionate for food. Most of the graduates of the culinary schools will locate work as soon as they hit the gate and some will have the resources to wait a little longer. This all depends upon the student’s financial situation and as we all know that can be an s different as peas and pork. Montreal is considered a nice place to attend culinary school as the French influence is great there.