Herbs & Oatmeal

If that title sounds unappetizing… I agree. And this post is not about some experimental herbal breakfast but about two different experiences. 

Fresh Herbs

On Saturday I had a brief visit with my friends Steph and Ross, who have an herb garden I envy. So while there, I asked for some basil since I was planning to make a fresh tomato sauce for my zucchini-spaghetti. A few minutes later, I had a big bag of basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, chives, parsley and a bunch of freshly picked cherry tomatoes. I was thrilled. I love fresh herbs but hate buying the fresh cut herbs at the grocery store since I shell out $4-5 for a pack, use some as quickly as possible, and then the rest go bad very quickly. I’ve also tried buying the small pot of fresh basil and, while it does last longer, it inevitably dies prematurely. 

A few weeks ago, I started to think about how I would love to have an herb garden. I even took out a few books from the public library about apartment gardening. I live in a condo townhouse, which limits actual gardening. There is a front “patio”, but it’s basically a 10′ x 12′ rectangular slab of concrete with unattractive plastic fencing closing it in. The space spends much of the day in shadow because of it’s placement, and we never spend any time out there except when it’s time to swap out the winter tires or to BBQ food, which is then promptly brought indoors. So despite my interest in an urban garden, I was hesitant to actually take the steps to get started. 

After talking to Ross, he made me feel more confident about trying to keep a small herb garden. I did the math and the costs were fairly reasonable. So on Sunday I bought a pot, soil, and six fresh potted herbs: basil, flat-leaf parsley, curly-leaf parsley, dill, mint, and cilantro. I’m very excited to have fresh herbs, and I’m hopeful that I can keep them alive. 

HerbGarden

Oatmeal

Last week I had a vision of maple-glazed nectarines and wondered if I could make it happen. If that sounds like a strange comment to you, you should understand I am still learning to cook properly. I once followed a pork recipe that involved some maple syrup, so I had some sense of how it reacts in a frying pan, but I felt it would be worth consulting someone who would know. So when I was in the presence of Ross, I inquired whether I could make this vision come to life – and how. 

He suggested I sauté the nectarine slices in a little butter first then add approximately 1 tbsp of maple syrup. Sounds simple enough. Now, before I describe my attempt, I feel the need to address the butter question. 

Is butter okay? I’ve been asked this a few times, and I’ve even asked myself. I believe butter is in-line with my challenge, but the question is less about whether it’s permissible and more about whether I can digest it given my lactose-intolerance. Since learning of my intolerance 4.5 years ago, I’ve found that I can usually get away with a little butter without much discomfort. Apparently butter has ~0.51% lactose, which is lower than ice cream at 6% and milk at 5%. So, I’ve decided to permit small amounts of butter but will watch how I feel afterwards. 

Back to the nectarines. 

On Saturday evening I was hungry when I got back from work around 10pm. I decided to make oatmeal and the maple-glazed nectarines. Oatmeal was simple enough: oats, cinnamon, water. Then I followed Ross’s instructions, and within minutes, I had a bowl of oatmeal covered with hot, sweet, savory nectarines. The residual maple syrup soaked into the oatmeal perfectly, and every bite was incredible.  

In the end, it was really quite simple to make and is a great way to enjoy fruit in season. It was so easy and delicious that I made it again on Sunday (I have a few more nectarines to go through…). 

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