Sunday, May 11, 2008

Herbaceous Thoughts by Barbara Quinn

It’s time for planting my herb garden here in New York. This weekend I hit the garden store. What a delight it was to roam up and down looking at the beautiful flowers and drawing in the wonderful scents. In my neighborhood, the purple lilacs are already out in full bloom. The fruit and vegetable stand has dozens of branches of lilac displayed in the front of the store. And last week when I was in NYC the corner flower stands had cherry blossom boughs propped in cans to take home. What a wonderful idea. When we ate at a Moroccan restaurant the place was filled with the cherry blossom boughs. The downside is the wretched pollen that makes my eyes water and nose run, but that’s a small price to pay for the beautiful sights of the blooms. On the way to the garden center, I noticed that the ground was covered in the spent blossoms. The petals swirled through the air, nature’s confetti thrown in honor of spring.

My tarragon and sage have already come back without any help, poking out of the ground with the first warmth of the season. The sage has taken over far too much of the garden already. So has the mint, which I try to keep off in a different spot since it is the most territorial of herbs.

At the garden center, I picked up a couple of large pots of basil. You can never have too much basil in an Italian household. One of them went to my Mom who is 87 and still cooking for herself each day. I’m grateful for all her lessons, in cooking and in the garden. It’s her voice in my head that guided me in my search for my herbs. “Look at the bottom of the stem and be sure it’s not yellowed or black. Check beneath the leaves for critters. Is the plant happy looking?” After the basil, I selected Italian flat leaf parsley. “We use the flat not the curly," Mom said. Then thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Some of each went to Mom, a Mother’s Day gift she’ll enjoy, almost as much as the pizza well-done that we downed at Roma's on Saturday, accompanied by a pitcher of beer. Yep. She still loves her beer and wine.

Thanks for all the lessons, Mom, not only in the garden but in life. Who else was going to teach me how to save my Parmesan rinds to flavor soup and then serve them up for a tasty treat? Or how to roast peppers over the gas flame of my stove and then put them in a paper bag to steam before preparing?

I’m looking forward to muddling some of that mint for us for a spring Mojito!


Kathryn Magendie said...

What a lovely post! And, if I hadn't just eaten a BIG ARSE waffle with strawberries and powdered sugar and toasted pecans, I'd be hungry for Italian food....mmmmmmmmm!

And, Here's to Mom's! happy mother's day

Angie Ledbetter said...

Yummm. What grand traditions. Made me drool!

Nannette Croce said...

Barb and I posting on the same topic was purely coincidence guys.

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