I murdered my Parsley.
I didn’t mean to murder my parsley, but the tiny shoots weren’t doing well and they expired, despite my careful attentions; turning brown and shriveling up.
I live in an apartment complex, which means that my access to a growing space is severely limited, and my schedule is difficult enough to juggle without adding a trip to a community garden. I get some time in at my mother’s garden and she’s happy to share her produce with me, but I still like having something growing in my apartment. However, I KNOW that it’s possible to grow pretty much anything you want indoors, thanks to sites like HerbCEO, so I wanted to give it another go.
After the botched attempt at growing parsley and sunflowers in my apartment, I was given a spider plant. They’re very low-maintenance, and I’ve managed to keep it alive. I added an aloe plant (great for treating burns and stings in the home) and some other generic plant that doesn’t require watering or much light. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s green and pretty. And that’s where I was in my horticultural aims when my mother suggested I take home the Basil plant. I recalled my thwarted goal of growing some fresh herbs in my kitchen to use whenever I wanted and said, “Yes!”
Make it Fresh
Dried herbs can improve a meal, but the absolute best way to add that extra something is to use fresh herbs. Unfortunately, they can cost a lot if you buy them in a supermarket, and you don’t always know where they came from. However, you can grow a lot of the most common cooking herbs at home.
Dill, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Sage, Chives and Rosemary all flourish with minimal effort. Picking a few leaves fresh from the plant and rinsing them off (then drying) to add to a dish can make anything taste better. Many of these herbs are also beautiful additions to any garden.
Fresh herbs may also prove crucial now that we’re in the post peak oil era. If food shortages arise, being able to freshly flavor your homegrown food or even, in an emergency, canned staples, may make the difference between so-so and tolerable or even wow!
Consider growing Cilantro if you’ve got a passion for Mexican cuisine.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Cilantro. I like it in small quantities-a little bit in some homemade salsa is okay by me. Growing jalapenos is another great idea for increasing your natural foods intake. Both Cilantro and Jalapenos are key ingredients in many Mexican recipes, and in other creative or international culinary experiments you’d like to try.
The other herb that’s essential? Garlic. Like other herbs, it’s also a crucial peak oil herb as it’s widely considered a natural antibiotic and all around health tonic, not to mention its pungent taste. It’s cousin, Chives, impart bold, peppery flavor and couldn’t be easier to grow.
The richness of summer
Last Sunday, I threw together a variation of Pasta Primavera, although mine went in a slightly different direction. It was absolutely delicious, and the secret ingredient? Fresh herbs.
Pasta Primavera Variation
4 large tomatoes (if they’re smaller, you may want to up the number to five or six)
1 medium yellow squash
2 green peppers
10 cloves of garlic
Fresh Basil (to taste, roughly 15 leaves)
Fresh Oregano (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of red wine (drier is better)
Peel and dice the garlic and set aside. Chop the peppers and squash and set aside. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on low-medium and put in the garlic. Add the peppers and squash. Stir. Once they’re finished, transfer the vegetable mixture to a pot.
You can either dice the tomatoes and add them, or you can use a cheese grater to avoid having tomato skins and maximize the tomato juice input. Either method will work, although using a cheese grater can be messy. Increase the temperature to medium-high.
Slice the fresh basil and oregano into thin strips. Add the herbs and the red wine to the pot and allow the mixture to come to a boil before reducing. Let the mixture simmer approximately twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the flavor and season further if necessary.
Toss with fresh pasta. Serves four.
*For extra protein, consider using some locally grown chicken! Just saute the chicken with the garlic before adding the vegetables.
–Alex Klein for Transition Voice