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thai basil

Up to yesterday
I have tons of basil, now what? Most of these are volunteers. They sprouted from seeds left to mature and then fall on the ground last season. They seem to be a cross of Lemon and Thai basils, which I grew side by side. They have a slight tinge of purple on the flower spikes, not the deep purple of the Thai and definitely not the white of the Lemon, and a mixture of lemon and anise scents from the crushed leaves. Obviously, it’s a new kind of basil worthy of a patent. Anybody knows how to contact Burpee?

For all practical purposes, though, they are Thai basil. Thai basil – attractive and aromatic. But what else to do with it besides adding it to Thai beef stir fry? And I did cook that earlier this week and it was wonderful. Maybe next week I’ll repeat the recipe but for now, I’m scratching my head looking at all the basil.

thai basil

I also know, by the way, that you can put it in pho noodle soup, but seriously, don’t you just put a couple of leaves in? It seems a crime to load up too much herb in that wonderful beef broth that tastes so clean yet flavorful. And how many times do you really endeavor to make pho in your own kitchen?

So, every year this basil grows in my garden, lush and bushy with the beautiful purple flower spikes, but only once or twice graces the dinner table. One time, for a baby shower I hosted, the flower spikes were used in a flower arrangement. That, I thought, concluded its third and final use. 

I’ve been harvesting it a few times a week, however, since you’re not supposed to let basil go to flower. It’ll cause the plants to shut down  leaf production.

thai basil

I’d bring all these leaves in and carefully wash them in the sink, so there wouldn’t be a single speck of dirt. Then, I’d put them in Ziploc bags and store them away in the fridge. And then … in a few days, I’d toss them out! 

Because they’ve turned black, so quickly. Sure I could have dried or frozen them, but I still have dried and frozen basil left over from last year. I guess I don’t use dried or frozen herbs that much. Somehow when they’re not growing in the garden, I forget to use them.

Yesterday (Sunday)
I was going to publish the complaint post above as is, but it sounded too depressing and negative, and would seem ungrateful to Mother Nature for bestowing such an abundant, wonderful gift of a perfectly good ingredient to work with in the kitchen, so today I’m changing my tune.

After perusing cookbooks, blogs, and websites to find recipes that utilize Thai or Lemon basil, I’ve come up with a pretty good list. The plan is to make lettuce cups (appetizer), seafood curry (entrée), and sangria (libation) for dinner today.

Today (Monday)
I did make the planned dinner last night. Was in a food coma after eating, and was unable to function for a while. The post had to wait until today.

Dinner is served.

Everything was delicious. All the food and the drink went together like love and marriage or is it horse and carriage? Why am I quoting Al Bundy? I think I prefer Oreo and milk, more apt since we’re talking food and drink.

I’ll post the recipes separately, so this one won’t be too long. As always, recipes are hard for me to write. I want to be precise but when you’re in the kitchen, you tend to add a little of this and a little of that, and who has time to measure? But I’d like my blog to be helpful to my readers and possibly someday to my kids, if they ever want to recreate all the wonderful meals Mom’s cooked for them :-). So make a record I must, even if that takes up the most of my blogging time.

In other harvest news, I’ve been getting a handful of blackberries and pineapple tomatillos every day (more pies predicted), a cucumber here and there, as well as the first slicers, oh yeah! Those are Cherokee Purple, one picked a bit green, since it was starting to split.

harvest tray

Most of the other green tomatoes came from the dead Roma. The whole plant suddenly just wilted for no apparent reason. Never had this happened to me before, actually. I think I need to practice crop rotation in the future. I’ve noticed my tomatoes are getting worse each year. Maybe the soil harbors tomato diseases. So, next year, they’ll go to a different spot.

And I also harvested these sumac berries. I hope I’ll have the chance to talk about these sumac plants before I cut them all down this Fall.

sumac berries

They’re very decorative and they are edible but please don’t make the same rookie mistake I did. If you see one little sprout growing, don’t save it and transfer it near your vegetable garden, thinking it’ll give it that tropical look, because why, just look at it … from afar the leaves look almost like palm fronds. Big, huge mistake! It’s highly invasive, not at all like palms!

But, the berries make pretty pink lemonade and when dried and ground, great for sprinkling on Chelo Kebab or salads. I’ll show you next time.

I hope everybody had a great harvest week!