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Dill, a Many-Splendored Herb for Fall, Winter

Herbs are one of nature’s most bountiful gifts, providing scents for our homes and cosmetics, flavors for food and medicinal uses as well.

Dill's feathery leaves impart herbal flavor for everything from pickles to sauces.

Dill, which was reportedly used in the Middle Ages to fend off the spells of witches, adds its own charm to food items such as bread, pickles, salad dressings. It’s a useful  ingredient for making rubs for meats such as veal and chicken.

This herb was cultivated in the Mediterranean regions and southern Russia, “as far back as 3000 BC by the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians,” says Ian Hemphill, in “The Spice and Herb Bible”. He also notes that the word “dill” comes from an old Norse word, “dilla”, which means to soothe or lull. Now, dill is used in many cuisines throughout the world, especially those in Scandinavia, Germany and Russia.

In addition to using the feathery leaves, you can also use dill seed. Add it to the water when cooking potatoes for potato salad, grind it with other herbs and spices for a meat marinade. Or, make a tea with it to help settle your stomach.

• Make dilled cucumbers by snipping dill leaves into a bowl of salted cucumber slices. Let the slices sit until they give off liquid. Drain the liquid, then add a few tablespoonsful of plain yogurt, sour cream or Mexican crema agria to the cucumbers, stirring in carefully. Season with salt and pepper. This is a good salad for serving with fish.

• Add a couple of teaspoonsful of dill seed to a recipe for rye or marbled rye bread.

• Use fresh dill in an herbal mix for an omelet. It will taste good mixed with other green herbs such as parsley and/or cilantro.

• Add dill to cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, soups, vegetable dishes, chicken, fish and veal. It is also good used in tuna or chicken salads.

• Make an herb-infused vinegar using dill weed.

• Use minced dill with capers as a garnish for smoked salmon, whitefish salad or crab cakes.

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