What are you up to these days? I know many of you have headed south for either short or long spells. I’m jealous! It seems the older I get the more I notice what a bummer it is physically and mentally to put up with short days, grey skies and cold temperatures. The end is in sight at least!
With the new additions to the family I have been more domesticated than I ever have been – and while I’m not much use with babies, the household has been treated to a deep dive into “what makes it good?”. I have to chuckle at my own ignorance (it’s a deep well to draw from) but something that’s sort of crystalized in my mind this winter has been the use of herbs in the kitchen. Of course, this dawns on me when I have no herbs of my own!
Over the years, I had often been surprised by the emotion displayed by our customers regarding fresh herbs. Many of you have gone out of your way to stop me, look me in the eye and sincerely thank me for carrying fresh herbs. I was always slightly perplexed – not that I’d refuse the praise… I’ve also seen customers roll their eyes, become visibly disappointed – even get flustered and leave – because I failed to bring any herbs that day. “Wow they took that pretty hard – weird,” I’d think, and consider it no further.
I had no idea what you guys were on about! Being a rather austere cook, and spoiled with good ingredients that generally taste pleasant on their own, herbs were something I’d very rarely bother with. Outside of obvious things, like throwing a bit of cilantro into salsa, dilling up a potato salad or adding basil to pasta, I am embarrassed to say that I have largely ignored these interesting and timeless ingredients. It turns out people have been cultivating them for thousands of years for a reason – who knew?
Far from being extraneous additions, I’ve learned that herbs – applied wisely – can take dishes to the next level: making a good meal great, and serving to highlight and bring out the best in otherwise humble ingredients. Not only being a cook’s secret weapon, I’m quite sold that all these herbs have digestive, nutritional, and even medicinal qualities that are probably proportional to the culinary value they add to our meals.
All this being said, I am more enthused to be growing herbs than I ever have before. We’ve generally just produced basil, rosemary, parsley, dill and cilantro for sale. What are other herbs would you purchase on a regular basis? It’s doubtful we will be able to meet every request, but I’d really like to know what you’re looking for. We’ll also be making wooden planters with various herbs, so if you don’t find it in our cooler, you may find it in them.
I find it very very funny, that I’ve spent the better part of my life growing and pondering food.. but you chain me to the stove for a winter and all of a sudden I’m like, “Wow! Mushrooms! Wow! Culinary herbs! HEY HAVE YOU GUYS HEARD OF THIS STUFF? Wow, big revelation this week guys… WINE! You can even drink it!” I feel like a child. I wonder what I’ll find out about next? Time is ticking… maple is around the corner and the fields will own me shortly after that.