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How to Grow Your Own Herbs for Cooking

The next time a recipe calls for fresh basil, skip the poor substitute of dried basil, forgo the last-minute dash to the supermarket for some overpriced wilted basil, and just pluck a few tender leaves off of the basil plant you have growing in your very own herb garden.  What? You don't have fresh basil growing in your garden? Well consider this your invitation to start. Growing your own herbs is a simple and inexpensive undertaking that pays off big for your taste buds and your budget.  If you can keep a houseplant alive, you can sustain an herb garden.  Here’s how. Decide what you want to grow.  Some popular choices from home cooks are listed here along with their care instructions.  Start with just a few that you know you’ll use regularly, and then branch out from there. Herb Special Care How to Harvest How to Use Basil Pinch off any flowers that appear. This preserves the plant’s flavor, and will also help increase the leaf density of each stem. Harvest the upper leaves first, taking just a few leaves from each stem at a time. Add raw to salads, sandwiches and wraps, cook into soups and sauces, chop and sprinkle on pizza, make pesto. Parsley Parsley has a longer than average germination period of three to four weeks, so extra patience is required. Cut the outermost stalks just above ground level, which will encourage further growth. Both the leaves and stalks can be eaten in salads, soups, and Mediterranean dishes like Tabouli. Chives If you don’t intend on eating the flowers, pinch them off as soon as they begin to appear. Cut the leaves with scissors, starting with the outside leaves first, allowing about 2 inches of the leaves to remain. This entire plant can be eaten from top to bottom— the bulbs taste like mild onions, the leaves can be used in salads and other dishes, and even the flower heads can be tossed into salads. Cilantro Cilantro does not like hot weather. If the soil temperature reaches 75 degrees, the plant will bolt and go to seed, making this a short-lived herb. Aggressive pruning will extend its life, so be ready to use or store it. Save the seeds to use in cooking (the seeds are called coriander) or to plant. There are two methods of harvesting cilantro. When the plant reaches about 6" in height, you can remove the outer leaves with a scissors, leaving the growing point intact for new growth. Or you can wait until the plant is almost completely grown and pull it from the soil by its roots to use the whole bunch at once. Salads, wraps, dips, and many Mexican recipes. Rosemary This plant can be difficult to start from seed, so you may wish to buy a mature plant. And be careful not to overwater—rosemary likes its soil on the dry side. Simply cut off pieces of the stem as you need it. Many culinary and even medicinal uses. Thyme This plant can take awhile to start from seed, so you may wish to buy a mature plant. Drought-tolerant thyme is extremely easy to care for, and prefers drier soils. Simply cut off pieces of the stem as you need it. Often used to flavor meats, soups, and stews. Dill Drought-tolerant dill is extremely easy to care for, and prefers drier soils. Don't start harvesting dill until it's at least 12 inches tall, and never take more than one-third of the leaves at any one time. Great flavoring for fish, lamb, potatoes, and peas. Mint Mint is an invasive plant so stick to container gardening with this one. Pinch off sprigs as you need them. Mint is extremely versatile, and can be used in salads, desserts, drinks, and many other recipes. You can even chew it by itself for a pleasant, refreshing flavor.   Decide where to plant your herbs. Many herbs grow well indoors and outdoors in the ground or in containers.  If you have a little space with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight a day, you may prefer to grow them indoors, as the herbs will be much more accessible for cooking and watering, and not subject to threats of pests, weeds, or variations in temperature. Decide whether you’ll start from seeds or seedlings.  Seedlings are very young plants that you can transplant into your own garden. They are typically only available in the spring and summer from gardening centers and farmers markets.  Seeds cost less, but take more time and resources to grow from scratch (here's how). Gather your materials.  You’ll need a few gardening tools, like a small shovel or spade, some gardening gloves and pots or containers (optional since herbs can also be planted directly into the soil). You’ll also need some fertilized soil.  If you have a compost pile, you can use some fully decomposed compost to fertilize the soil.  Otherwise, you can use a general purpose compost solution, available in any gardening store.   If you’re container gardening, use a packaged potting soil mix, which will be free of pests. Start planting.  If you’re starting from seeds, sow into moist soil and cover with 1/2 inch of soil on top.  The seeds should germinate in about one week.  If you’re using a pot or container for seedlings, follow these steps.

  1. Ensure proper drainage by filling the pot with a shallow layer of course gravel.  
  2. Fill the pot about 1/2 of the way full, and place the plant, still in its original container, into the new pot.  Add dirt around the plant, gently packing it into place, so that the top of the new soil is at the same level as the top of the plant’s original soil.   
  3. Remove the plastic pot, tap it so you can easily slide the plant and all of its soil out, and place the plant and all of its soil into the hole in the soil of the new pot.
Care for your plants. Water at the base of the plant when the soil begins to feel dry, at least once per week.  Pull weeds that appear near the plant, because they will steal the nutrients from the soil.  If growing outdoors, bring them in before the first frost. Harvest the herbs.  Most plants will grow new leaves if you don’t pick the stems bare. You can pick the leaves with your fingers or snip them with kitchen shears. Use or store the herbs.  Many recipes call for fresh herbs, so simply pick your herbs, wash them and pat them dry before using in your favorite recipes. To store, you can preserve your herbs for future use by freezing them or drying them.  In either case, you must first prep them.  First, remove any soil or bugs by rinsing in cold water.  Then, remove flowering stems and flowers and gently remove excess water by patting with a paper towel.  Once your herbs are prepped, you can choose your method of storage:
  • Air drying:  Cut the stems at soil level and hang upside down in bunches (so that the flavorful oil travels into the leaves) to dry for one to two weeks.  Once dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store in a dry, airtight container for up to a year.  
  • Freezing:  The benefit of freezing, as opposed to drying, is that the herbs retain more of their just-picked flavor.  Place clean herbs directly into freezer bags, or try the cube method: Place a few teaspoons of chopped, fresh herbs into each cell of an ice cube tray.  Fill the trays with water, and freeze.  When cooking, just pop out a cube and add it to the pot like you would fresh herbs!
Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1739

Prince George, Princess Charlotte delighted by balloons at children's party

There were plenty of balloons and bubbles to delight two special little guests at a party Thursday for military families that was part of the Royal Tour of Canada.

Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, who at 16 months was seen walking a bit at the party, were delighted by a man making balloon animals.

>> Read more trending stories

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrived in Canada Saturday as part of an eight-day visit to the country. Prince George made headlines upon arrival to the country when he refused to high-five Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

>>Watch: Prince George's reaction to Canada's prime minister goes viral

Student arrested for wearing gorilla mask, flaunting noose at Black Lives Matter protest

An East Tennessee State University student has been charged with civil rights intimidation after heckling Black Lives Matter demonstrators at a peaceful silent protest on the school's campus.

>> Read more trending stories 

Tristan Rettke, an ETSU freshman, arrived at the protest at Borchuck Plaza at the school's campus barefoot in a gorilla mask and denim overalls.

Video footage showed him attempting to hand out "noose-wrapped bananas" from a burlap sack to the demonstrators. The sack had a marijuana leaf and a Confederate flag printed on it.

"He pulled out his burlap sack and then he had the rope and whatnot and then he started offering us bananas," said Jaylen Grimes, one of the demonstrators. "A lot of us didn't take it, but I just took (it) as a sign of peace offering and just to show him that just because he's being disrespectful towards me, I won't be disrespectful towards him."

As part of his counterprotest efforts, Rettke held up a sign that said "Lives Matter."

A video posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:54pm PDT

"He's just trying to get a reaction out of us that we're not going to give him. We're bigger than that," said one protestor who held a sign that read "Black Lives Matter (doesn't mean) all lives don't (matter).

Rettke, 18, was escorted from the protest by public safety officers and was later criminally charged by the Johson City Police Department. 

Rettke told police he went to the event "in (an) attempt to provoke the protesters."

ETSU President Brian Noland held a press conference Wednesday after seeing video of the incident. He discussed the event during a "community dialogue" on campus.

"I was offended, but I was also saddened," Noland said, calling Rettke's actions "incomprehensible, intolerable and impermissible."

Rettke has been placed on interim suspension from the college. 

In a statement, ETSU said Rettke's actions "go against the values" of the school and that the university is a place "where people come first and all are treated with dignity and respect." 

The university applauded the protestors for remaining clam despite Rettke's actions. 

"We are exceptionally proud of the students who were peacefully participating in the event and the manner in which they exercised restraint, thoughtfulness and strength in the face of inappropriate and offensive behavior," Noland said.

"Of course, it's hard to stay calm because they're doing it because they know they can get under your skin," Grimes told The Johnson City Press. "You've just got to have thicker skin and be the bigger person and just show that ignorance is not going to override your ability to be calm. Because being calm is a lot more difficult than reacting the way they want us to react, which is in a violent stereotypical black way. But we're not all like that."

"We hold no ill towards him," another student, Grant Madison said. "I added him on Facebook and want to speak with him about why he did it."

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Earlier today during a student-led Black Lives Matter event at Borchuck Plaza, our campus community was outraged by the...Posted by East Tennessee State University on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

 

Read more at the East Tennessean

During a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Borchuck Plaza, a man in a gorilla mask confronted protestors and dangled...Posted by East Tennessean on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jessi Kneeland Recaps the First Season of GreatistYou

Welcome to GreatistYou, a new social experiment where we see what happens when five people decide to change their health—and broadcast their journeys for everyone to see. Four goals, five contestants, and six weeks to crush said goals for the promise of a better life (oh, and $1,000!). The first season of GreatistYou is officially over, meaning you've got six weeks of running, sweating, punching, and dancing to catch up on. We invited Jessi Kneeland to Greatist HQ to discuss everything that happened over the past month and a half—and give some final advice to our contestants.

Best Things to Buy in October

Most stores follow a similar pattern when it comes to marking down merchandise, so there is a best time of the year to buy some products. The best things to buy in October are the current year’s models of items stores are looking to sell to make way for next year’s models and seasonal items…

Man wins $1 million lottery jackpot after letting rude customer cut in line

A New Zealand man who purchased a lottery ticket worth $1 million at a store said his reaction to letting a customer cut in line in front of him made all the difference.

The winner, who declined to be identified, told the New Zealand Herald that he was waiting in line at a Lotto shop when a customer cut in line in front of him. Instead of getting mad or calling the person out, the man let the rude customer go ahead, since he wasn’t in a hurry.

>> Read more trending stories

The man didn’t realize until a couple of days later that he had won a $1 million jackpot. He said he will likely use the money to purchase a home for his family.

>>Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

While the man credited his win to karma, Lotto New Zealand said it would have made no difference which order the customers had purchased their tickets, because the numbers are generated at random.

Pit bull ban passes in Montreal

Montreal, Quebec, is officially banning pit bulls.

Officials voted 37-23 in favor of the controversial law on Tuesday.

>> Read more trending stories  

Under the bylaw, pit bulls cannot enter any of the 19 Montreal boroughs, and those that are already in the city must be muzzled in public, sterilized and microchipped. Owners will have to be screened for a criminal record and acquire a special permit, The Huffington Post reported. Those who don't adhere to the rules risk having their dogs euthanized.

"We're balanced enough to say that those who already have a dog will be able to keep them under conditions," Mayor Denis Coderre said about the law.

The law comes after a 55-year-old woman was killed in her backyard by a pit bull in June.

Coderre said the law was drafted with safety in mind.

"My duty as mayor of Montreal is making sure I am working for all Montrealers," Coderre said. "And I am there to make sure they feel safe and that they are safe."

The Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals previously said it would stop providing dog services to the city if the ban was approved, and opponents to the law have said they will fight it.

"If the city of Montreal truly wanted to ensure public safety, it would not have forced a rushed adoption of controversial legislation, which is unfair, unenforceable, and, most importantly, ineffective," the animal protection agency said.

Councilman Guillaume Lavoie called the legislation "problematic."

"We have an administration that's moving away from evidence-based policy-making and entering the fray of politics-led evidence-making," Lavoie said.

Under the law, a pit bull is defined as Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers. American Staffordshire terriers, any dog with a mix of the three breeds and any dog that presents characteristics of one of those breeds, CBC News reported.

An amendment to the bylaw made Tuesday morning clarified that a pit bull's license can be transferred to another person living with an owner if the owner dies. A direct family member or a spouse can also assume responsibility of the dog in the case of its owner's death. The amendment addressed concerns that in the event of a pit bull's owner's death, the pit bull would be euthanized. 

Read more at CBC News.

Firefighters rescue dog stuck at bottom of well

A yellow Labrador Retriever stepped into some big trouble Monday afternoon in Henry County, Georgia.

The dog fell forty feet into a well.

The 10-year old lab is named Bama.

"One of the neighbors, when they pulled him up and saw it was Bama---came right over here to tell me. So I didn't even know it until they had already gotten him out,” his owner James House said.

>> Read more trending stories  

House says his dog sometimes strolls along Antioch Road to visit the neighbors, but one of those neighbors was working on his well and had the cap off.

House says Bama is nearly blind, and never saw the hole.  

Henry County Animal Control and the fire department worked for three hours to get him out. 

>>Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

They first got a rope around the dog, then pumped in oxygen, then sent a firefighter down the hole.

"We have special monitors that read oxygen levels.  Of course, any time before we introduce a rescuer into that situation we make sure we circulate that air to create a better, oxygen-rich environment,” Captain Michael Black said.

Rescuers got Bama out, and he’s just fine.  "I know it must have been scary for him.  Brought him home and hugged him---mud and all,” James House said.

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