Foodies Need Herbs and Spices

As we move into the winter season here in NoVA, and the season of giving thanks, I want to trumpet my thanks to the Man of the House who loves his herb gardens.  As any foodie knows, herbs and spices can cost a pretty penny at the store or market, but they are central components to any meal.  Given the Man’s passion for herbs, and belief that grass really has no purpose, large areas of our front yard are full of herbs.  And while I have been known to register some concern at the rapid decrease in the amount of grass upon which the children can play, I have come over to his side on this matter.  The herb garden is beautiful in all seasons, and practical as well.  In fact, when he asked me to assist him in an inventory of the gardens last spring –I the scribe, he the identifier — we recorded more than 50 different varieties of herbs growing – both evergreen and annual.  Even he was surprised at the count.  Rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage are perennial favorites.  Basil, cilantro, and mint are regulars in the summer garden. 

And now as frost is on the horizon, it is remarkable to note just how many of these herbs are hardy and keep on producing.  Just this week, he harvested a second crop of orange mint, currently being dried, that will be regularly used throughout the winter. 

Orange mint has a unique and wonderful smell and flavor that we use in soups, and stews, and omelets, and really anything else that we think might benefit from a little bit of extra “oomph.”  A whiff of the mint as you open the jar makes you smile.

The one indoor herb that we have kept is a bay tree, that although it suffered a setback when we were on vacation two summers ago, it quickly revived and is now thriving.  Fresh bay leaves add an entirely different level of flavor than dried to all those slow-cooking tummy-filling winter meals.

And in the garden today, we have sage leaves for the sausage-sage stuffing that will be prepared the week after next,

and rosemary for the turkey,

and thyme and oregano for the turkey soup are hiding under the fallen leaves,

and cilantro and mustard leaves continue to grow – we’re hoping no hard frost for at least another two weeks or so!

The garden continues to be bountiful, and there is nothing like the scent of rosemary to greet you as you brush past it as you walk up the front steps. 

So if you are considering putting in a hardy herb garden, and you live in a climate that will support it, give it a shot.  It will make you smile in every season, and you can watch as neighbors, both young and old, walk by and wonder.

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