worries can melt away with herbs, including rosemary.
They are hardy and sturdy plants that can survive a
sometimes-neglectful gardener, and still produce a
here with sunshine and tulips and warm temperatures, and I
am left wondering how I can be so overjoyed with its arrival
and at the same time so overcome with a feeling of dread.
annual dose of garden anxiety has taken hold.
to plant, where to plant it and most importantly, whether to
plant it at all, are the questions I face every year about
I had dinner with a friend who is a retired teacher. Her
garden has expanded into what I’m sure would be classified
by the U.S. Census Bureau as a small farm.
was going on and on about what crops she already has in the
ground and her joy was so obvious, but all I could say to
contribute to the conversation was: "My sage from last
year came back."
I wonder whether I too should wait until retirement before
attempting to garden. I’m never satisfied with my garden
and I have only myself to blame.
summer, after trying to grow only organic heirloom
varieties, I failed so horribly I swore that from then on I
would only plant sturdy hybrids fed with double doses of
Miracle Gro. Bugs and weeds take their toll and despite my
best intentions, by August work and life typically take
priority over the tomato plants.
then, just as hopelessness was about to set in, the garden
fairies conducted one of their magical interventions.
presented with a basket of herb plants as a gift —
parsley, dill, rosemary, basil and oregano. My garden
worries soon melted away and I realized, like I always do,
that herbs are the perfect plants for gardeners like me.
they are essentially weeds, they are hardy and sturdy and
can thrive despite my neglect.
there’s more to it than that. Plenty of good eating will
come from an herb garden.
point was driven home recently as I sat in my kitchen
performing the oh-so-glamorous task of waiting for my oven
cleaner to work its magic. I clicked on the television and
watched the popular food blogger Ree Drummond, the Pioneer
Woman, create an herb-filled ranch salad dressing that had
my mouth watering.
a mental note to make the dressing this summer when my gift
herbs were in the ground flourishing.
buy tomatoes, zucchini and sweet corn at farmers markets,
and cook up the flavors of summer that come from a carefree
new cookbooks only helped to drive home that point.
"Cooking with Herbs" by Lynn Alley ($16.99,
hardcover, Andrews McMeel), and "Flavored Butters"
by Lucy Vaserfirer ($12.95, hardcover, Harvard Common Press)
both have recipes that show just how herbs can bring a world
of fresh flavors to our cooking and turn something as
ordinary as a stick of butter or block of cream cheese into
tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
tbsp. minced fresh tarragon or 2 tbsp. minced fresh chervil
tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
together the butter, tarragon or chervil and salt in a
medium-size bowl. Form into a log and refrigerate until firm
before slicing and serving.
Tarragon has an assertive anise-like flavor. Chervil will
give the butter a more subtle flavor.
from Flavored Butters, Lucy Vaserfirer
oz.) packages cream cheese, or a combination of cream cheese
and goat cheese
cloves garlic, pressed, or more as desired
and freshly ground black pepper
tbsp. chopped fresh chives
tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh parsley
tbsp. chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as tarragon, basil,
chervil or oregano
the cream cheese and garlic in the work bowl of a food
processor and blend well. Add salt and freshly ground pepper
to taste and blend.
the herbs and pulse until the herbs reach your desired
the cheese into a crock or other serving container, cover,
and refrigerate for several hours until the flavors have
about 1 cup.
Use on twice-baked potatoes, as a spread on crackers, or
even as a spread in sandwiches.
from "Cooking with Herbs," Lynn Alley
fresh basil leaves, chopped
Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
tbsp. chopped fresh chives
tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
and ground pepper
the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, basil, parsley,
chives, oregano, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and salt and
pepper to taste in a bowl. Chill for a couple of hours
about 2 cups, approximately 8 servings.
Drummond, the Pioneer Woman,