Most home cooks use dry herbs, some old enough to be in those small metal tins! If that sounds familiar (and you know who you are) then this tip is for you!

It's time to move past the quick and easy and try some fresh herbs. This is one thing that can separate you from good cooking.

Start simple, trying a different bunch of fresh herbs every other trip to the market. Start with some rosemary. Find a recipe you like that uses rosemary and give it a go. Learn what you can do with rosemary... what dishes that might benefit from good fresh rosemary. Don't know any? OK... I've got one for you!

Make rosemary roasted potatoes:

• Get some red potatoes. You don't even need to peel them. Just wash off any dirt and dry them.

• Quarter the potatoes with a knife.

• Put the pieces in a plastic bag, drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil, puff in some air to inflate the bag, and give them a good shake to coat the pieces evenly.

• Spill the coated pieces into a roasting pan lined with foil to make cleanup easy.

• Now, chop a few sprigs of rosemary. Just "pull backwards against the grain" to remove the leaves from the stalk. Chop them as you would anything else with a rocking chef's knife.

• Sprinkle the spuds with chopped rosemary and kosher salt.

• Roast the spuds with other vegetables in a 400~450˚F oven until done, about 45~55 minutes.

Next time try some thyme. Find a recipe that uses thyme and give it a try.

Third time try tarragon. You get the idea!

• As soon as possible when Spring arrives, plant some herbs in your garden. You can even grow them in pots. Either way, it's great to be able to fetch a snip or two when you want to add some flavor to a dish. If you're not a gardener, try asking your spouse to grow them for you; that's what I did!

Cooking Tips

>Cook with Wine
Use wine and spirits to boost flavor!

>Fresh Herbs
Many home cooks use dry herbs, some old enough to be in small metal tins! It's time to move past the quick and easy and try some fresh herbs.

>Grill Smoke
Use this clever trick to add smoke flavor to grilled food.

>Hang your Pots and Pans
Make every pot and pan easy to get... covers too!

>Home-made Stock
Next time you want chicken, buy the whole bird. Then make chicken stock using my simple recipe. You'll never buy that canned stuff again!

>Lapsang Souchong Tea
In A New Way to Cook, Sally Schneider extolls the virtues of lapsang souchong tea to make smokey tea essence.

>Measure by Hand
Learn what a TSP and TBS look like in your hand to speed up cooking.

They've been said to be like a cross between an onion and garlic, but they're really their own thing. Just get some, and cook with them. You'll never look back!

>Sharp Knives
If you have a sharpener, this tip doesn't even cost you a cent... unless, of course, you cut yourself in the process and end up at the emergency room! If you don't have a sharpener, it's time to invest in one.

>Spice Rack
Maybe it is time to organize your herbs and spices. You can weed out ove-the-hill spices while you're at it.

>Squeeze Bottles
Yea, kind of flashy, almost celebratory, but you can use them like the pros to make things look nice too.

>Steel Cut Oats
What to do with this miserable product if you get caught with a tub.

>True Citrus
Real citrus in crystallized form, available in lemon, lime, and orange. Substitute for zest or extract.

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