Herbes de Provence
Packaged in tiny French canning jars, hand-mixed herbes de Provence make a wonderful gift for the home cook. This recipe will fill one 4-oz container; multiply it by as many jars as you wish to give out. Andr¿ Baranowski

You can find the dried herb blend known as herbes de Provence at the supermarket, but the flavor is bolder if you dry the herbs yourself. We set out to find the best way to do just that and landed on two reliable methods. The first is air-drying, which took about three days from start to finish: we hung some herb bunches by their stems from a coat hanger and others in small paper bags cinched with string at the top. Both groups yielded great-tasting dried herbs, but the bags supplied the extra benefit of catching leaves that fell off their stems while drying. It was the second method, using a microwave oven, that impressed us the most: after cooking the herbs on high on a paper towel for three minutes, we were able to strip them right off the stems and crush them between our fingers.