Drying Fresh Herbs

Drying fresh herbs yourself is easy, saves money, and gives the best flavor. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Almost everything I cook has a fresh or dried herb in it—and even if you barely cook, I’d bet you have at least a couple of jars of dried herbs in your kitchen. But as I explain this week in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, drying fresh herbs yourself, whether homegrown or store-bought, is an easy DIY project that will result in far better flavor and cost far less than commercially packed jars of dried leaves.

The column focuses on tips that will help you successfully dry a range of fresh herbs, but the first step may be to grow your own. Many herbs grow well in pots on a windowsill or deck. If you have more space, you can plant many types of perennial herbs now and see them pop up on their own year after year. Some can even grow until they produce seeds that you can save to cook with or to replant, such as fresh cilantro and its seed, coriander. And like sourdough starter, herbs love to be used: the more you cut them to use fresh or to dry, the more they grow and produce.
Learn about drying and using herbs

Grilled Asparagus

Grilling is my favorite way to cook asparagus, especially while evenings are still cool. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Finally, the asparagus has decided to wake up and poke its tips through the soil in the garden. We’re expecting one more frost tomorrow night, but the subsequent forecast makes it clear I will soon be harvesting an asparagus crop.

You may think I’d wait for even warmer weather to make the grilled asparagus recipe I share this week in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon. But we have no fear of firing up our battered, hand-me-down Weber before the heart of the summer grilling season. Grilling is my favorite way to cook asparagus, and a hot grill is far more comfortable to stand over while the evenings are still cool. It won’t be long before the spears will be sharing grill space with a range of homegrown produce, including corn, eggplant, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos.
Learn to make Grilled Asparagus

Cooking Wild Mushrooms

Mushrooms have so much water that they’re ideal for the grill or a dry sauté. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Northwest Montana has a reputation as morel country—one that’s unfortunately being increased by extended wildfire “seasons.” But as I learned by talking with local forager Dale Johnson for my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, morel mushrooms also tend to crop up in areas thick with cottonwoods. So we’ve been looking closer to home for these flavorful fungi over the last couple of weeks. No luck yet—I’m suspicious that they’ll be in hiding from the near-freezing nights as long as my asparagus—but we’re keeping our eyes peeled.

Dale shared more than just tips on foraging for morels. He also offered up some of his favorite cooking techniques, many of which apply to all sorts of wild mushrooms. He emphasized how there’s so much water in mushrooms like morels that they will have the best flavor and texture if they’re cooked first and then hit with butter, soy sauce, cream, or other favored ingredients. I’ll be following Dale’s advice and grilling or dry sautéing our morel harvest.
Learn to cook with wild mushrooms

Spring Vegetable Quiche

I soon expect to gather enough asparagus and baby spinach for my first spring quiche. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
If you’ve been reading my latest Twice as Tasty columns for the Flathead Beacon and some of my other recent work, you know that spring has been oh-so-slowly arriving in Montana, with days of sun, snow, rain, frost—and sometimes all four in a single morning. The garden is beginning to wake up, with the greens we let go to seed last fall sprouting in freshly weeded beds and my first round of cold frame seeds showing signs of life. Walking onions and chives have been available for harvesting in small quantities, and rhubarb and mint will soon be big enough for the first crisp and mojitos.

However, the asparagus is still stubbornly in hiding from freezing overnight temperatures. As soon as we consistently get nights just a couple of degrees warmer, I expect to gather enough of it and baby spinach for my first spring quiche.
Learn to make Spring Vegetable Quiche