I’m all for convenience. But I’m also a bit of a DIY-snob. Whatever I can make at home is probably going to taste way better than anything I can buy in the store. All it takes is a quick scan of the store-version’s excessive ingredients list, and I end up vowing to never buy it again. If you’re anything like me, you also get excited when summer comes, when not only can you prepare your own foods, but grow your own ingredients, too.
I’m not talking about digging up the backyard and growing my own vegetables here. As fantastic as that may sound, the realities of sunlight and son-likes (my boys “need” that sunny patch of grass for pitching practice and lacrosse tosses) have forced me to think outside the box…and into the container, as it were…as in container gardens of home-grown herbs.
You too can grow your own. Just buy a few “babies”, transplant them into your own organic soil-filled pots at home, and watch them grow. In just weeks, you’ll have enough to invite your friends over for an impressive (but easy…shhh) dinner that you not only made yourself, but also grew yourself. Be prepared to earn a reputation as am impressively elegant DIY-er.
What you’ll need to make a Mint Julep:
Fresh mint sprigs
Organic cane sugar
In a saucepan, heat one cup of sugar with one cup of water to boiling. Boil for a five minutes, no stirring. Remove from heat, muddle in a handful of mint leaves, then allow to cool and strain into a pitcher. Add 16 ounces of bourbon, a cup of water and a cup of ice, preferably crushed. Stir, pour, and garnish with mint.
Hearty rosemary is a great plant for container gardening year-round. Bonus, rosemary has been shown to help reduce the harmful effects of grilling. Grab your kitchen shears and whip up this Rosemary Rub to flavor your protein of choice.
What you’ll need to make a Rosemary Rub:
1/4 cup of fresh rosemary
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mince the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper to make a paste (a mortar and pestle comes in handy and looks very impressive here). Massage into your choice of protein and allow flavors to marry at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before roasting or grilling your meat or fish.
Basil grows big – and fast! Toss into a tomato salad, or make this Basil Pesto as a condiment.
What you’ll need to make Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed, remove stems)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts and/or 1/4 cup organic Parmesan cheese (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Food processor or blender
Throw all ingredients into your blender or food processor and blend it up! The cheese and pine nuts are optional, but both provide softness to counter the garlic. Serve the pesto as a condiment for the protein (and/or grilled vegetables and/or crusty bread).