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The age-old kitchen quandary: To buy parsley or not to buy parsley…
Story & Photos by Anneka Miller
A cool fall Friday begged for something hearty and warm for dinner. I wanted to try a simple Saveur recipe for French green lentils that my bachelor uncle had given me. So I hit Market of Choice for my ingredients, but there was one thing I couldn’t bring myself to buy: parsley.
I just can’t buy a bunch of herbs that I’m going to use one tablespoon of in one recipe and let the rest rot in the back of my fridge. First of all, it stinks. Second, it’s wasteful. So many recipes call for fresh herbs, like parsley or cilantro, that I was avoiding making them or deciding to substitute with dried herbs. It was time for a solution.
Saturday Market provided the answer. While perusing the stalls of the Farmers Market, I stumbled on Lee Miller from Earth’s Rising Co-op Farm and his herb starts. It dawned on me: an herb box.
According to The Oxford Companion to the Garden, herb gardens have always served medicinal and culinary purposes. Monks are thought to have perfected the herb garden in the medieval ages and some of the original herbs included coriander, fennel, rue, rosemary, and sage.
A university student probably doesn’t have much use for a medicinal herb garden, unless it includes a certain “medicinal” herb, but a few choice kitchen herbs might help the budding college culinarian with his next recipe.
Everybody is going to have specific herbs they prefer. Some basics include basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Pick your favorites or the ones you use most often.
Herb starts cost between $2 and $3 depending on the nursery and lightweight plastic pots can be found at most hardware stores. If you want to really be green, consider large individual plastic sour cream or cottage cheese containers. Get a group of friends together to split the cost of a bag of potting soil and you’re on your way.
With winter frost coming on, it’s better to keep your herbs in a sunny window than outside. If you keep your herbs in small pots, it’s easy to move them outside when the weather warms up.
Add a little green to your living space, enjoy fresh herbs whenever you want them, and save a little money in the process.
Check out the Herb Society of America for more specific information about herb cultivation and varieties.