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Beef stew with winter herbs

Like a lot of home cooks, I keep a backyard herb garden. It was a gift to me on Mother's Day last year from my husband and my oldest son. I used it a lot through the summer and early fall, and completely enjoyed a sense of satisfaction from cooking with ingredients I didn't pay for (erm, I mean that I grew myself). But when the days grew darker and the Canada geese disappeared from the sky, I just stopped using it. Winter had come and the harvest was over.

Over the weekend, I picked up Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life at my local library. In it, Jamie writes about eating from your garden all through the year. So, as I was preparing a beef stew Sunday afternoon, I decided to grab my kitchen shears, my oldest son and I slipped on our wellies, and we trudged out to the herb garden to see if anything was going on.

Sure enough, there were some perfectly lovely sprigs of lemon thyme and rosemary ready to be chopped and simmered in my stew! I also brought in some very healthy chives for a garnish. Here's the delicious result:

The herb garden isn't visible from the kitchen window like our raised veggie beds are, and I've been staring out at those muddy beds for months. So it never occurred to me that the herb garden still held treasures! No more ignoring the herb garden in winter for me.

Do you keep an herb garden? Tell me about what you grow and where you grow it! What are your favourite herbs to cook with? Are you getting excited for spring as much as I am?