2016-11-17 / From The Garden

Herbs for the Holidays

By Cynthia Gibson

Thanksgiving is a perfect holiday for using garden herbs that have been dried. Fresh herbs work just as well, though they are tamer in flavor than dried herbs, which are far more pungent.

What is a good Thanksgiving stuffing without herbs? The alltime favorite is sage. Here’s a bit of Thanksgiving nomenclature: When discussing stuffing, it means the bread pudding cooked inside the bird. When prepared outside of the turkey, it is dressing.

Sage is a perennial with a woody stem that grows very well in Rhode Island. The leaves are soft and grayish- green and shaped like rabbit’s ears. When touched, an essential oil is emitted and its strong, heavenly scent is in the air. Use in moderation, as a little sage goes a long way.

For an extra flavorful bird, place three small bunches of fresh sage stems with leaves under the skin of each side of the turkey breast, along with a tablespoon of unsalted butter. The sage will permeate to the topmost part of the turkey only; the fragrance will not bother any other part of the bird. Also place a handful of fresh sage leaves in the cavity.

The other perfect herb for Thanksgiving is thyme. Again, dried thyme is far stronger than fresh. When used in a recipe, the rule of thumb is one teaspoon of dried thyme leaves versus two teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves.

If you are making the cornbread pudding featured as this week's recipe, thyme is an excellent addition to the batter.

Thyme is native to the Mediterranean, but grows here easily, too. Ancient Greeks burned it as incense for the home. It is such an excellent herb; if I could only grow one, it would be thyme.

You can place

small twigs of fresh thyme under the skin of your turkey breast and in the cavity for extra flavor, since sage will undoubtedly be in the dressing. Do not be fooled by the tiny size of thyme leaves. They pack quite a punch!

Sage and thyme help to make Thanksgiving Day oh, so fragrant. The scent will always make you think of home, family and friends.

Cornbread Pudding

8.5 oz. package cornbread mix
1 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
15 oz. can cream style corn
15 oz. can of corn
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 3500

Puree both cans of corn in a food processor. Place the pureed corn into a very large bowl, add all the remaining ingredients together, and mix well.

Butter a 9x9-inch baking dish. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife placed in the center of the pudding comes out clean.

Serves six, but can easily be doubled.

This moist and delicious cake pudding is a great addition to your Thanksgiving dinner or luncheon.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport.

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