Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Backyard Herbs

I used to set my potted herbs directly on the top step out the back door. But Ranger loves an easy target, so we built this bench to get the edibles up out of his range, if you get my drift.

I've got great news. Summer can officially start now. Because I finally got my herb garden whipped into shape. 

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm way behind in tackling this annual project. Let's blame it on the Asian flu.

As I pass in and out of my back door somewhere around ten thousand times per sunny day, I often pause right here to admire the happy green faces of my herb dudes. 

But let's be honest. If these fresh green leaves growing from the terra cotta pots nestled together on my green wooden bench look familiar, there's a good reason for that.

I do this every year.

Thyme has sweet purple blooms and I love it for that reason alone. 

However, this season, I have a major twist to this familiar plot.

 I plan to actually use these babes in my kitchen.

Quite a few years back, I acquired a rosemary plant entwined around this wire heart. Thus a tradition was born. 

Oh sure. I tell myself that every year. My head swims with visions of me snipping here and there, tucking tiny fragrant sprigs of greenery into the pockets of my flowing apron, then breezing into the kitchen where I whip up fabulous homemade pastas and hand-turned pizzas bursting with the flavors of my backyard herbs.

To be honest, that never happens.

Clockwise: chive, mint, thyme.

This time around, I've scaled back my fantasies considerably. 

Clockwise: cilantro, oregano, rosemary.

For the past couple weeks, as I'm tossing together the evening meal, I challenge myself to use one of my herbs - just one - in whatever I'm preparing.

Skip the flowing apron.
Forget the dainty sprigs.
And sigh,
Let go of the rustic Italian menu.

A few years back, my fourth-born created name tags for all the herbs. She's amazing. 

Though my new approach may be less romantic, it takes me no time at all to toss a handful of mint leaves into an ordinary fruit salad,

And only a few extra steps to fetch some fresh oregano for my everyday spaghetti sauce, instead of hauling the dried version out of the pantry,

Not to mention the easy snap and sizzle that a handful of chopped chive adds to the top of my tried-and-true potato salad.

And if those are not reasons enough to encourage me to make that five-step trip out to the herb bench, here is one more incentive:

Cedric the Protector guards the herbs.

My three cats love to nap in the cool shade underneath, and almost always greet me with a special hello when I come to harvest some backyard herbs.

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More stories about my food gardens, farm-to-table dining, and those lovely home-grown tomatoes:

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