It's nearly time to plant my herb garden, and this year I decided to actually plan ahead. While Simon and Garfunkel sing beautifully about parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, I actually rarely use any of those herbs in my cooking. I am planning to do basil, mint, cilantro, and chives, which also happily fit the syllabic structure of the song, so I can go around humming the chorus in anticipation. Last year was my first successful herb garden, and it changed the way I ate (and drank) immensely. Suddenly, easy pasta sauces tasted gourmet. I was blending pesto regularly. I dropped fresh mint in iced teas and, later, mojitos. It wasn't hard to grow any of the herbs, and beyond the couple-dollar start-up cost, it seemed brilliantly free to accessorize my dishes and drinks all summer.
This year I also have goals: I want to freeze basil, have enough mint juleps to talk in a suh-thern accent again, make fresh pico de gallo, and blend up some tasty pesto once more. I also just discovered the basil gimlet (with vodka or gin) that might have to make its debut this summer. Next week: The Obamas planted their Victory Garden, to much fanfare. We'll talk about what us normal folks are planting in our more modest plots, and share some gardening tips.