This time of year, you’ll see me with my stack of seed catalogs, but not far away is my stack of cookbooks and magazines for inspiration.
The reason I planted an herb garden a few years ago is that for years I had seen so many recipes in cookbooks and magazines that called for fresh herbs. And I wanted to make them! But fresh herbs cost a mint (pun intended) at the grocery store, and truth be told they really aren’t “fresh” inside those little plastic clamshell boxes anyway.
Grocery store herbs are reminiscent of fresh herbs, but lack the intense smell and flavor of freshly harvested herbs.
Because I love food–and because I love the people for whom I cook food–I had to grow my own herbs. I couldn’t go wasting money on mediocre (at best) grocery store herbs and I HAD to make those great recipes I was reading and collecting.
Now I like to go back and page through my cookbooks or magazines and think about what we’d like to try in the coming year. I see a great looking beet salad and I make a mental note to choose beet seeds that will be perfect for that. Eggplant recipes have inspired me to grow a few different varieties. When thinking about what to plant, it helps to think about what I will cook.
Last year I added tarragon to my herb bed. How have I lived without tarragon my whole life? I was inspired by recipes to add this and now I cannot imagine summer grilling without it.
So I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes this growing season and in preparation I’m going to be ordering the needed seeds. I think of it as planning for dinner six months in advance. Might seem a bit extreme to some, but to me it’s much less extreme than my herbs and veggies traveling thousands of miles to end up on my dinner plate.