One last thing -- herbed salt

If you had an herb patch this year, no matter how small, why not harvest what's left and make some herbed salt? It's not difficult. And it's a way of moving your seasonigs garden into your kitchen cupboard in order for you to create those gourmet accents for your winter's cooking and eating.

As you've already guessed, the base is salt. Buy a coarser kind, such as that used in kosher cookery. Its granules seem to absorb the herb flavors better. A few herb fanciers buy sea salt, available at some specialty food shops. Never use iodized salt, however.

Simply spread a layer of salt about a half-inch deep in a rimmed cookie sheet. Then take your fresh-picked herbs, gathered on a dry day, and lay them out loosely on top. You may have as much as two inches of the greenery. Allow it to dry in a warm oven -- about 200 degrees F. -- until the leaves and stems are brittle, but still green. Allow to cool.

Pluck off all of the leaves and put through a wire sieve by rubbing with a china pestle or a heavy wooden spoon. Pick out all sharp stems from the salt and rub the salt through the same sieve. Mix well. Store the mix in a closely sealed jar in a dry cupboard away from the light.

The color, a lovely mixture of earth-green and white, will last.

The flavor, a tasty combination of piquant smells and tastes, holds very well and can enhance many foods. It is appetizing on fresh vegetables. It adds to soups and stews. It makes a conversation-inspiring herb toast.

Now, what can go into this mixture? Cooking herbs, of course. Those in the onion family are great, such as chives, garlic chives, and stems from the top onion. For bulk use parsley and lots of it. This means stems from plain parsley, curly parsley, and Hamburg parsley. The green from the dill plant, often called dill weed, harmonizes well. A bit of green basil goes well, as does a bit of that peppery winter savory. You can also use a few thyme leaves, if you want, as well as chervil and marjoram.

What not to use: any fruity herb, such as lemon balm and lemon verbena. And no mints, obviously. They have their definite place. Also, do not use any perfumery herbs such as lavender, or rosemary with its piny scent.

I consider sage too potent for a place in this salt. It overwhelms. Tarragon is also too independent. Bay is a picking and preserving additive, so save it for that purpose or for certain meat dishes. And red (or opal) basil, charming as it is, has no place here because of its color.

Imagination can lead you into splendid combinations, using the herbs you have on hand.

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