I’m growing herbs! Take that, you pavement haven! Take that, 5-story apartment building! That’s right — I’m gardening.
Granted, it is a window box of herbs that I keep on my friend’s balcony, plus a potted lemon balm plant (see below) and a very sad-looking sage plant. But still! Fresh herbs in the urban jungle! Ha!
So in the window box, I’ve got basil (both Thai and Italian), thyme, marjoram, sorrel (though not for long — it needs more space than it can get there), dill, more sage, and probably a few other things I’m not thinking of. I got the plants as small seedlings from my CSA.
And speaking of the CSA, today was the first pickup! I had a moment of panic thinking I could never use all of those veggies — mezuna, pok choi, kohlrabi, sorrel, garlic scapes… and that’s a small order at the beginning of the growing season! But I already managed to deal handily with some of them. I steamed the pok (bok?) choi ever so slightly so it’s still a little crunchy about the stems. I sauteed the mezuna and other tough salad greens with the garlic scapes, regular garlic, and olive oil. I was going for the feel of Chinese sauteed watercress and I think I got it. Then some of the sorrel went into my simmering black-eyed peas.* Oh, and I got herbs, too. They will serve as good role models for the little ones I’m growing.
*I haven’t done a recipe in a while, so here goes:
Black-eyed pea and sorrel stew
What you need:
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 large or 1 small onion, diced
a few cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dried black-eyed peas, picked over for stones and aliens
Enough water to cover the peas and then some
A few inches of kombu seaweed (optional)
1 handful sorrel leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt, to taste
What to do:
Heat oil in a medium saucepan on med-high. When hot, add onions. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occassionally, then add the garlic and stir again for about 30 seconds. Add the peas, water to cover the beans plus another 1/2-1″, and the kombu.
Cover and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water to keep the water level about 1/2-1″ above the roiling stew. Oh, add the salt somewhere in there, preferably when the beans are getting soft and not before. Check the beans for doneness and cook more if necessary. Adjust salt and add other seasonings if you so desire. Add the sorrel and simmer another 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
Â As far as the kombu goes, when the stew is done, I recommend fishing it out and then either chopping it up and throwing it back in or eating it right then and there. You can also throw it away. At that point, it’s done its job of adding flavor to the beans and making them more digestible, but I think there’s still more life to it.
That’s all, folks! Enjoy this stew over rice or just dig in with a spoon. I predict you’ll feel very Southern.