So, it’s been a busy time for me. After almost 20 years, I sold my wine bar last week and have retired from the late-night grind of the restaurant biz. I will still be cooking, teaching and writing about culinaria, flora and fauna. Maybe my cookbook will finally get finished.
I’m headed to Europe in a few days and will be celebrating Easter in Paris. Whoa! I can’t wait to see all those beautiful patisseries’ and chocolatiers’ windows full of delicious lovelies. I’m surely going to have mad culinary inspiration on this trip and you should look forward to upcoming posts on the amazing Indian food I’ll explore in London, all things French and great recipes for Italian nosh.
As I transition to a “morning person,” I’m looking forward to my best-ever garden and making plans to overhaul my herb bed. It’s a bit too early to plant in my area, so I’ll share my plans and some thoughts about growing and cooking with herbs.
The use of herbs can be historically documented to the ancient civilizations of Sumeria, Greece and Rome. Herbs were used (and still are) for their medicinal properties. Chinese medicine as well as the Ayurveda in India are based on herbal remedies. So arguably, herbs can be used for health, or as spices to season and enliven your food.
Anyone who cooks or enjoys fine food has likely experienced the pungent perfume of fresh basil and tomatoes or the clean flavors of cilantro in Mexican cuisine. Below, find the herbs that I use most often and a little about how to grow and use them. I challenge you to create an herb garden for yourself this year. Either outside or in your sunniest windowsill.
As a bonus, pollinators love herbs and pests are often deterred by them which makes them an even more attractive addition to any landscape.
Basil (Ocicum basilicum) a tender plant that will expire when the weather turns cold. It comes in many beautiful varieties ranging from chartreuse with tiny leaves to large purple, ruffled plants. Basil is strongly scented with a sweet, pungent flavor. It is most often used fresh or added to recipes toward the end of cooking. Nothing beats summer tomatoes with salt and fresh basil. My current fave is “Mammoth” basil, a strong anise flavor and enormous leaves. I’ve got a pot in my kitchen window.
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.