Friends, I’m writing to you from a very special place. It was a journey to get here, taking nearly 20 years, and 4 separate apartments across 3 cities and 2 states. To be fair, it’s more of a group than a place. As distinctive and special as the other groups that I’ve wanted to join but haven’t had the guts…..“those who have run marathons”, or “those who have jumped out of planes”.
And why? Minimal training is required. Cost is low, value is high. You can do it in your spare time, and if you kill them, others are for sale.
I’m not talking about adopting a family of hamsters. I’m talking about growing your own herbs.
After the early and tragic deaths of one too many sickly Whole Foods basil plants, I finally got my act together and bought a new breed of houseplant. A set of hardier herbs in actual pots that I tend to with regularity. Whole Foods, as much as I love you, those twiggy little basil plants that offer the promise of pesto by the batch, they’ve let me down. They wither the minute I get them home; all the sunlight in the world, a garden to graze and an emerald green thumb wouldn’t keep them alive.
It’s only been a week, but I’m proud to report back that early signs suggest that my real, authentic, farmers’ market herbs are in fact growing. All three! The apple mint, the rosemary, and the forest parsley, which looks like your garden variety curly parsley but with a more intense parsley taste.
I’ve seen graphic images floating around the Internet that compare a brain on cocaine to a brain on sugar. Apparently our body chemistry responds the same way, which isn’t surprising, we all know that sugar is addictive. I may suggest a third category of addiction: brain on herbs. Fresh herbs, not marijuana. That would be the inverse chart. Pure conjecture, but reflecting on my college days, the pot smokers weren’t leaping from the couch, breaking out a Mandoline and thinly slicing radishes. Nor were they following it up immediately by muddling herbs and lime for a sparkling Spring cocktail. That, my friends, is herb addiction.
Herb addiction touches everyone in a family. I’ve had to caution the kids against overwatering because their red toy watering bucket has made the trek across our hardwood floors a few too many times. Not to mention the residual spillage on our couch, which to be honest, knew better days before we owned a dog. But still. It has a few good years left, preferably without mildew and water marks.
Take a trip down memory lane with me. It’s only been a week, but putting down the chef knife was hard with freshly-grown herbs at my fingertips.
Six minute egg with tomato & watermelon radish salad with mint and parsley
Lamb, pickled onion chimichurri with mint and parsley, tomatoes and feta
Chilled zucchini and yogurt soup with mint
I’m sure you’re well aware by now that in my kitchen, herbs aren’t just for food. Here mint plays a starring role with various odds and ends from my fridge.
The kids even got into the action. Lauren is thrilled with her new chef skills, and every day since the herbs arrived, she’s been making a bowl of fruit with a Stonyfield Farms yogurt squeezer and a few snips of mint.
So let’s not hear any excuses – I don’t have enough sunlight (ours is 6 hours indirect, still works), I don’t have the time to take care of them (3-4 waters per week is all they need), I don’t like herbs (shameful, please address this immediately), I don’t have a window (this is the only excuse I’ll accept). So let’s all get over our anxiety, we can do this. Let’s hear it, who’s in?
PS, too many recipes here to include in this post, so if you’d like to see me attach one of the above, let me know your preference. Loudest voice wins.