April has certainly played with us as far as feeling like spring has arrived. We had some warm sunshine mid-month and even had a day that flirted with 80 degrees. But this week, which ironically was spring break for public school kids, had us digging out warm jackets again and long-sleeve thermal shirts to wear under baseball uniforms for the Friday night game.
Yet the flowering trees and riot of blooms from daffodils and colorful tulips is a reminder that we are headed in the right direction. Perennial herbs are bursting forth to get us thinking of ways to use them in recipes that will be enjoyed outside on the patio this season.
The potted indoor herbs help us during the stretch of time from when the leaves drop from the trees to when they begin to produce white and bubble-gum pink flowers and sprout green leaves once again.
The chives are back and are being chopped and sprinkled over weekend eggs for breakfast and added to mayonnaise for fresh flavor to spread on crunchy baguette slices for the kind of lunch that the guys enjoy. It also adds an herbal note to salad dressing.
An easy go-to dinner during the warmer months is grilling a flank steak and grabbing a handful of herbs to mix with extra-virgin olive oil. The herb and olive oil mixture is poured over warm slices of steak from the grill and there is usually just about nothing left after hungry guys are served after a day of summer activities.
Rosemary is not a plant that can remain outside through the cold months in our planting zone. It gets dug up and planted in a pot to join some other herbs inside to allow our kitchen to make dishes with fresh herb taste during the winter season.
Rosemary sprigs are tossed in hearty stews and soups and the leaves just fall off into whatever is cooking in the pot. It lends a woodsy background flavor and the stems can simply be removed after cooking time.
Rosemary mixed with olive oil, a bit of honey, and Dijon mustard is a favorite with slices of pork tenderloin.
That pot of rosemary is heading outside next weekend since Mother’s Day is the safe-from-frost date in our planting zone. We also picked up some basil for the season to get started making warm-weather dishes.
So we begin to spend more time cooking and dining outside. A hot grill and an icy-cold Mike’s Hard lemonade and all is well for al fresco dining and conversation.
We are ready!