I spent a lovely day at the beginning of the week at Hann’s Herbs Cookery School with my Mum and Sister who are both enthusiastic cooks. It was fun to spend a day looking at herbs from a completely different perspective to the medicinal and it gave me some good ideas for spicing (or rather herbing) up lots of my current recipes. Judith Hann is a passionate cook and herb gardener and soon to be president of The Herb Society. The course is held in a beautiful converted barn on her 40 acre farm in the Cotswolds and part of the time is spent looking round her wonderful walled herb gardens.
Many herbs have both medicinal and culinary uses, though the course only looks at the later, so it got me thinking more about a particular interest of mine- incorporating more of our medicines into delicious foods. This can serve as both prevention and cure, something that is considered much more in the Eastern traditions of Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine than it is here in the West. Many of the recipes were heavy on the meat, cheese, butter and cream which, as a long term strict vegetarian, do not feature in my kitchen, but they were simple enough to adapt to herbal hemp creams, nut cheeses and vegan pestos. I’ll post some of my variations as I make them. My Mum and Sis are both baking queens so the ideas for cakes infused with scented Geraniums and Lemon Verbena got them very excited!
Judith spoke a lot about her favourite herb, Lovage, which beyond a simple lentil and Lovage soup, hasn’t played a big part in my meals. I feel quite inspired to be a bit more creative with it now as I have some growing in a large pot on my patio. Medicinally it is an aromatic, so you can eat Lovage or take a pleasant tasting tea to calm the stomach and Mrs Grieve’s states that it can sooth colic and flatulence in children.
Sweet Cicely was another herb I’ve been inspired to experiment with. Having a delicious sweet aniseed flavour it can be used in puddings or savoury dishes and is said to be nice cooked with tart fruits instead of sugar.
I particularly enjoyed looking round the gardens which are abundant and beautifully planned and perfect for attracting a variety of wildlife.
Judith runs three different seasonal cookery courses throughout the year, details of which can be found here, and part of the money for each goes to Leukaemia Research.