The last time I had any success at growing basil was…….. Golly 1997 or so. For some reason the combination of the funky ass planter that my then boss had made, the plain ol’ grocery store type potting soil, the heat on our side porch, and the freebie packet of basil seeds that I got off of a Costco package of TicTacs combined in the perfect chemistry to absolutely overrun us in basil that year.
I have had on and off years for basil ever since. Sometimes a little better, getting enough to at least have some dried over the winter, sometimes a little worse with all the plants succumbing to rot, drought, or slugs.
I managed to hit a perfect chemistry year again this year. Nice sturdy plants purchased at the Master Gardener’s sale in May, self watering planters, a spot right up against the house (and coincidentally right up against the dryer vent) and a nice combination of garden soil and worm poo…. Whatever I did, damn do we have basil.
We blew the first harvest making pesto for a specific dinner that is long eaten and I brewed some lemon basil simple syrup. I had visions of making basil lemonade over the summer, but since that never materialized I’m thinking about lemon basil mojitos (and probably lemon basil lemonade too, quite honestly, but the vision of an icy, sweating glass pitcher on a hot back porch with bright sunshine is absolutely gone for this year).
The second harvest was dried. I set up a drying line in the spare bedroom where the cats can’t chew at my herbs and let them take their own sweet time (heh, thyme). I’ve got dried purple basil, dried lemon basil, and dried genovese basil all of which knock the socks off of anything you can get at the supermarket.
The third harvest, and a little late at that, was today.
When we were at the Gatwick airport in London in 2006 waiting to see whether or not we’d be able to get a flight to Jersey, Andrew and I ran across what has to have been the best airport food EVER and what has become one of our hands down favorite sandwiches.
Nice chewy baguette. Brie. Basil. That’s it. Even mass produced and wrapped in plastic wrap scarfed down in a panic about cross-channel flights, it was a sandwich to beat all sandwiches.
We’ve created some variations on the theme. A slice of capicola or other cured pork, sundried tomatoes with the brie, some really remarkable variations on the basic brie theme, and to make said sandwich with pesto instead of leaf basil (spreads better doncha know).
And since we were in the mood to go to Big John’s Pacific Food Importers, one of the best remaining pseudo-unknown eclectic food shopping experiences in the Seattle area, we decided that what we really wanted for dinner tonight was the basil/brie sandwich.
So we went to Big John’s, we came home, and I harvested basil.
I spent the last 2 1/2 hours or so making pesto. I made two quarts of various types of pesto and IT FUCKING ROCKS! (if I have to say so myself) We have purple pesto, we have purple lemon pesto, we have lemon pesto, and we have straight pesto.
I’m seriously jazzed about being able to make something that we both love so well with STUFF THAT I MADE ALL ON MY OWN!
And it means that one of these days over the winter we’re really going to have to trot out the pasta squishing machine that’s been lurking in the back of our kitchen cabinets for the last 10 years and make fresh pasta too.
I wonder how I’d go about growing wheat in this climate?