What would a dish without spices? I am sure that the answer is ... too plain a.k.a boring......... !! And it's true that spices enrich our food and our lives, too. That's why I include assorted spices below, just to make sure that your life is not too plain or too bored to live.............

Monday, March 31, 2008



Family: Mustard (Brassicaceae)
Origin: Originally watercress came from Europe, but now you can find it in every temperate area. It usually grows around water and is sometimes called water or brook nasturtium. The Romans used it when preparing salads and seasoning foods. You can find it under the name "rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum"
Cuisine: You can use watercress together with other greens. It also tastes good in sandwiches or in herbal cottage cheese. It add zing to soups, as well.
Health effects: this herb stimulates the gall bladder, kidneys, and liver. It stimulates digestion and purifies the blood, and in spring you can use it for dieting. It helps with rheumatism and gout.
Cosmetics: Watercress juice contains an antibiotic essential oil that clears and purifies the skin. Use a swab to apply it to irritated places. You can also lighten summer freckles by applying the crushed herb to your skin at night.
Decorative uses: Watercress is grown on the banks of garden ponds or brooks and covers them with its white flowers.
Features: This water and marsh plant grows up to 30 inches tall with dense leaves. Thick roots hold the plant firmly in place and the leaves hang above and under the water. In the summer, the white flowers contrast nicely with the dark green shoots. The leaves contain a bitter essential oil (mustard oil glucoside), vitamins, mineral substances, tannins and alkaloids.
Similar species: Small-leafed watercress (Nasturtium microphyllum) is known for its frost resistance.
Location for growth: Watercress is a salad herb that can grow in colder places in partial or full shade. It prefers rich clay soil, which must always be damp.
Cultivation: The plants need your attention while growing because they need water that is 3 feet deep. You can find such conditions in marshy areas around small lakes.
Harvest: The best parts to eat are the new leaves and shoots, which should be harvested before the flowers come. Store them in a glass of water in a shaded area to keep them fresh. It is very important to wash them before use.

useful link: watercress

When gathering watercress in the wild, be aware in which the plant is growing, otherwise you may be at risk from water-borne diseases and parasites. You can irritate your kidneys by overdosing on watercress, so eat no more than an ounce per day.




Family: Carrot (Apiaceae)
Cuisine: Parsley is used to season soups, sauces, and egg dishes, potatoes, vegetable dishes and salads. Herb-enriched cottage cheese and parsley butter are also tasty. Add the parsley just before serving, because it loses its vitamins when cooked. The roots can be added to soups and stews.
Health effects: Parsley is rich in vitamin C. It purifies your blood and supports blood cell production.
Origin: This herb originated in southern Europe, and was used medicinally by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was forgotten for a long time, but returned to the kitchen in the 15th century.
Features: Parsley is biennial herb. In the first year, roots and leaf rosettes form, and then the next summer it produces yellowish-green flowers and reaches a height of 25 inches. Once the seeds develop only a few leaves continue to grow. The roots and leaves contain large amounts of vitamin C, as well as important minerals such as calcium and iron and essential oils. The seeds are especially rich in parsley camphor.
Similar species: Root parsley (petroselinum crispum varianttuberosum) has richly-flavored roots as well as green herbal leaves.
Location for growth: This plant needs full sun to partial shade. The soil should be rich, deep and moist for the plant to grow well.
Cultivation: You can plant leaf parsley seeds starting in the middle of March, spaced 6-8 inches apart. If you sow new seeds regularly, you can harvest leaves from the plant throughout its growing season. If you are planting root parsley about 4 weeks until the ground is warmer. The seeds will germinate and grow more quickly if you mix them with radish seeds, so you can watch your parsley progress! Seeds and plants need to be in damp soil, though not excessively wet. Late-sown parsley stays green in the winter if well covered. You can also cultivate parsley in pots on windowsills.
Harvest: You can harvest fresh leaves, and they can be preserved by freezing. The roots should be dug up in late fall and put in sand for storage in a cool cellar. Alternatively you can freeze or dry the roots.
Cosmetics: Parsley oil is used in perfumes. A fresh mash of parsley soothes inflammations and cleanses the skin.
Decorative uses: Curly-leafed parsley looks especially great on balconies and terraces when planted in pots.

Parsley has lush, flat leaves, and the leaves at the tips have a stronger flavor. Famous curly-leaved types include "Green Pearl" and "Emerald". Green River has sturdy, curly leaves and is very hardy. The renowned "Gigante d'Italia" has flat leaves and a very fine flavor.

Parsley oil can cause kidney and liver problems. It can cause abortion; so pregnant women should not use it. There is only a small amount of parsley oil in the leaves and roots.