For centuries, garlic has had a multitude of uses in religious rituals, gastronomy and folk medicine. It has been used to treat everything from ear aches, poison ivy and insomnia to fainting and convulsions.

If you are in good health, but a professed garlic lover, there are many other uses, all made easier by having homemade garlic oil available. GARLIC OIL (Makes 2 cups)

10 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 cups olive oil

Smash garlic cloves lightly with the wide part of a French knife to permit more garlic flavor to penetrate the oil. Place cloves in the bottom of a pint jar and pour oil over top. Seal jar, shake occasionally and let stand at room temperature for three days before using.

Taste oil and remove garlic. For a stronger garlic flavor, let garlic stand an additional day or two. Reserve garlic and refrigerate tightly covered. Use as you would fresh garlic.

Store garlic oil in a cool dark place. Refrigerate if not using within three weeks. Suggested Uses

*Make great home fries. Boil or microwave potatoes with the skin on and cool slightly before cutting into large chunks. Heat a good quantity of garlic oil and bacon drippings on medium high heat in a wide shallow pan. Saute' potatoes until crisp and golden, shaking pan and turning frequently. Do not crowd potatoes or they will not become crisp.

*Soak dried chilies or fresh jalapenos in, or add hot pepper sauce to, garlic oil for a spicy base.

*Grill fresh clams or mussels and brush with garlic oil when they open.

*Team garlic oil with melted butter and fresh lemon juice to use as a dipping sauce for fresh seafood.

*Drizzle garlic oil onto thick juicy tomato slices along with freshly ground black pepper, salt and fresh basil.

*Brush garlic oil onto thick slices of french bread and grill until warm and toasty.

*Broil or grill veal kidneys for a mixed grill and brush with garlic oil.

*Toss fresh pasta with garlic oil, melted butter, toasted pine nuts and lots of chopped fresh parsley.

*Brush the entire crust of homemade pizza or the edges and top of a white pizza generously with garlic oil before baking.

*Use garlic oil as a base for a hearty vinaigrette for pasta salads. Cook any pasta until al dente and cool under running water until completely cold. Drain very well. Dry pasta in thin layers on tea towels or paper towels for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pasta and toss gently with enough garlic oil to just coat the noodles and prevent sticking. Cover and refrigerate overnight if desired. Before assembling the salad, toss pasta and lightly cooked vegetables separately with a garlic oil-herb vinaigrette. terminate composition The dressing needs to be highly seasoned since both the pasta and vegetables dilute any dressing.

*Serve an oriental-style pasta salad, using bean thread noodles or Japanese somen tossed with garlic oil, and teamed with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and minced scallions.

*Combine garlic oil, red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice to marinate black or green olives, artichokes or baby corn.

*Make jumbo parmesan croutons. Cut baguettes into 3/4-inch cubes, saute' in garlic oil until golden and crisp, then toss with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

*Drizzle garlic oil over a medley of roasted green, red and yellow peppers, sprinkled generously with shredded fresh basil, coarse salt and coarsely ground black pepper.

*Grill thick eggplant slices with the skin on and brush with garlic oil and fresh lemon juice while cooking.

*Team garlic oil with chili oil or hot pepper sauce to saute' fresh spinach or kale.

*Make a wonderful lemon zucchini risotto using garlic oil to first saute' the rice. When the risotto is cooked and creamy, stir in finely julienned zucchini that has been lightly cooked in a bit of garlic oil, fresh lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, fresh parmesan cheese and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

*Saute' chunks of onion quickly in garlic oil to use in chili, in dressing for poultry or pork chops, or with fennel to stuff a whole fish.

*Saute' lots of very thinly sliced onions for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and crisp to serve with fresh-caught pickerel or bluefish.

*Use garlic oil for any stir-fry.

*Combine garlic oil with butter and spread on fresh corn on the cob.

*Add fresh dill to garlic oil and brush onto grilled potato slices.

*Boil or microwave whole potatoes until almost cooked. Dry well, brush skin with garlic oil and grill on medium heat until crisp on the outside. Baste several times with garlic oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Add a little garlic oil to walnut oil and whisk into raspberry vinegar plus dijon mustard for a quick summer salad dressing.

*Team garlic oil with melted butter, lemon juice and fresh rosemary as a basting sauce for fish and seafood.

*Last but not least, garlic oil is great on thick juicy grilled steaks or hamburgers. Baste often while grilling and sprinkle with lots of freshly ground black pepper.