Friday, February 26, 2010

Summer Beckons

This past weekend, as I was walking through the grocery store, an enticing, overwhelming aroma toyed with my senses. The fragrance of summer stimulated every olfactory gland in my nose while simultaneously filling my brain with thoughts of tomatoes and pasta and French bread. But I couldn't place it - we were smack in the middle of the cruel month of February and this Essence of Sunshine and Warmth was unmistakably out of place. As I searched in a desperate attempt to match the aroma to it's producer, I glanced to my right and discovered rows and rows of fresh, organic basil, root balls still attached. I quickly grabbed a bouquet, burried my nose in it's leaves, and inhaled one of the sweetest scents nature can produce. Without further contemplation, I placed the little treasure in my cart and proceeded home as quickly as possible. For the low price of $2.49, that basil was going to adorn sandwiches and spaghetti and anything else I could imagine. What I really craved, however, was Granny's little tomato, a slice of fresh mozzerella, and heaps of that basil piled on a slice of just-baked french bread. With, perhaps, just a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

But, alas, it just wasn't meant to be. I couldn't bring myself to purchase the tomatoes from the grocery store - I knew they'd only disappoint. They simply weren't worthy of my prized basil.. which, sadly, also ended up disappointing. The basil made it to a few delicious sandwiches, but it faded fast despite the care I took to wrap it in damp paper towels to store in my refrigerator. My spaghetti dream evaporated quickly, and it will be months before my home-grown basil and tomatoes will be ready to harvest.

On the bright side, I have 5 baby basil seedlings that are ready to be transplanted this weekend. I'm beginning to doubt whether or not that will be enough to feed my voracious appetite for this lovely herb. I'll need enough for pesto and sauces, and I'd like to try drying my own this year. Perhaps I'll go ahead and start some more seedlings this weekend - I suppose it's better to have too many than not enough.. Does that phrase get you in trouble as often as it gets me in trouble? ;-)

"Spare" time this weekend will also be used to transplant looseleaf lettuce, more buttercrunch, pak choi, and carrots. I'll also direct sow more of the same, as well as a few more peas. I guess it's about time to start some bell pepper and tomato seeds, so my goal (and I use the term loosely) will be to start a new flat of seeds after I've completing transplanting the current seedlings. I'm also expecting the arrival of a new set of pasta attachments for my Beloved Kitchenaid Mixer today. Hopefully I can postpone the distraction it's certain to provide long enough to complete my garden chores - wish me luck!


Thomas said...

I bought a tomato from the supermarket this past week and was sorrily disappointed (momentary lapse of judgment. You were right in your decision.

I'm hoping to get a super early crop of tomatoes this year by transplanting them undercover. I don't think I could wait until late July!

Erin said...

Thomas, for SHAME! You knew it wouldn't be any good....LOL! I too, am anxiously waiting for my basil seedlings to multiply leaves and grow! My hubby made grilled pizzas the other night and I caught him looking at my seedlings, they only have 3 sets of leaves and I said "You're kidding, right?!!" I feel your pain...

And Sow My Garden Grows said...

I am so ready for all this too - fresh basil and tomatoes from my backyard - we barely purchase tomatoes off season - just never the same. I have never had the best luck with basil in my garden. Hopefully this year will be different because I'm looking forward to it in everything. My husband makes the best orzo pasta salad with our fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, some kalamata olives (not ours) and feta. YUM!

Annie's Granny said...

I cut basil in the summer and put it in a vase of water in my kitchen. It keeps like forever, the aroma fills the kitchen, and it even grows roots after a while.

Doesn't it look pretty with the dill?

My verification word is purchoti....sounds like something that would taste good with basil ;-)

DaBeardedOne said...

Basil!!! Sigh. Where is that seed package? When can I start it? Drat, 4-6 weeks before constant 65F. Hummm, house plant anyone??

Kimberly said...

I love fresh basil and tomato on mozzarella with olive oil! I married a first generation Greek American so we LIVE on basil and olive oil! Basil also adorns most of the Greek churches I've attended. The smell is amazing! Great purchase. Now I'm hungry!!

Caffeinated Mom said...

Sheesh - how many days has it taken me to respond to all your great comments? I am a total slacker.

Thomas - Thanks for reassuring me in my decision. I hope you do get that early crop of tomatoes!! I hope to have some by the beginning of July, and even that seems like an eternity!

Erin - You never cease to crack me up, girl! Now I'm catching myself eyeing my own basil seedlings... I could have new ones in just a couple of weeks.... ;-)

And Sow - You are going to have to share that orzo recipe with me. It contains all so many of my favorite foods and sounds delicious! Best of luck with your basil!

Granny - That bouquet is beautiful! Only one of my dill seeds has germinated.. now I'll definitely have to plant more. I love fresh dill on veggies and fish.. and now I want some for vases, too!

Da Bearded One - Welcome to my craziness - so glad you found me! I don't know if basil would make a decent houseplant or not, so I vote for you to try that out for us and let us know the results, okay? :-D

Kimberly - Hello and welcome!! What a lucky girl you are - I bet you have a ton of outstandingly good recipes that call for basil. I hope you'll share them when (what I hope will be a bumper crop of) basil is ready to harvest!