365 of Me: 245/121

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Our basil plant

It was so hot outside the past two weeks that our yard really got neglected. We finally got caught up this weekend with the weeding and mowing, which gave us some time to observe the things that were still doing well and those that weren’t. Soon it will be time for cutting back and transplanting. J cut back all the mint today which is over 50% of our herb garden because we really let it get out of hand this year. I loved snipping it and putting it in sun tea though. We also dried quite a bit for the winter.

But cutting it back helped us to see how well the basil was doing! One plant had grown about three feet tall and two feet wide. We grew three types of basil this year: regular basil, lemon basil, and lime basil. The lemon and lime were in a large flower pot. The heat really got to them and they aren’t doing very well now.

But we did a great job of keeping them from going to seed. You do this by clipping off any flowers. Once they flower, they stop growing. That’s probably why the regular basil got so tall. I had put some of the regular basil in strawberry jam a few weeks ago. That’s what I think I like about basil so much. It’s very versatile for sweet or savory dishes.

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Food dehydrator full of basil

Though I’m pretty much ready for the summer to be over, I didn’t want that basil to go to waste. So, I clipped a bunch of it and brought it in to be dried. The food dehydrator we bought last year has really gotten some use! And I filled all four trays with basil leaves and still had some left over. So I decided to make herb vinegars.

Two years ago we bought two dozen glass bottles and whipped together a whole bunch of fancy herb vinegars. We even shipped some to friends. But we found that we much preferred the more simple vinegars that had one single herb in it instead of two or three blended together.

Herb vingers are simple to make. You just need vinegar and fresh herbs. I washed the basil, poked the stems and leaves down into the bottles, and then filled the bottles with white vinegar. You can use apple cider vinegar if you want.  Let the vinegar sit in a cool dark space for a week or two, and then it’s ready to use!

We used our previous herb vinegars mostly on salads or in cool dips. You could splash it on vegetables – cooked or raw.  I think I’m going to use my basil vinegar as flavoring for soups or pastas this winter. The good news is it keeps for a long time. I feel good knowing all that basil didn’t go to waste!  I still have plenty to pick if anyone wants some!

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8 comments on “365 of Me: 245/121

  1. Hi Shannon! I found this page looking for info on the Piano Maker’s Son. I’m a huge gardener (that is, gardening consumes much of my mind and spirit; physically I’m not so huge 😉 ). I’ve found that freezing basil retains more of its flavor. I put it into 1 quart freezer bags, and take out as much of the air as possible before I toss it into the freezer.

    The good thing about freezing basil this way is that one frozen quart bag is the perfect amount to make enough pesto for a pound of pasta. I don’t have much room in my freezer, but I make sure I’ve left a spot for a few quart bags. Fresh-frozen pesto tastes great in the dead of winter. I also mark one as the “cooking bag” and break off a bit of the frozen mass in the winter when I’m making tomato sauce and other basil-y foods.

      • I hope you like the frozen basil. I’m going to try putting basil into strawberry jam, next time I try to make some of that. I never thought of it and it sounds really good. (The most adventurous I’ve gotten with jam is persimmon-habanero because I had too much of both of those fruits.)

        Piano Maker’s Son, though… on Facebook there’s a page devoted to the Sultana Documentary that is being made. Some of the posts on that page are about books, fiction and non-fiction, in which the Sultana plays a role. They mentioned the Piano Maker’s Son today, release date undetermined, and I wanted to find out more about the book. I didn’t find out about that, but we did get to trade garden / kitchen tips so it’s a win, I think! I would like to find out more about the book too, though, sometime.

      • Basil in strawberry jam is amazing! Chop it and put it in at the very end. Give it a quick stir and then can it. The taste is not as strong as you think. Very savory though. We’ve already opened a jar and have been devouring it on toast and pancakes.

        Thanks for telling me about the FB group. I will check it out! The Piano Maker’s Son is a book I started 8 years ago. I have stopped and started it many times, and I even changed the protagonist to a female two years ago.

        The book has two parts – one part follows a famous piano player forced into retirement after a horrible stage accident amputates one of her arms. She becomes a recluse and obsesses over collecting a certain type of piano whose inventor fought in the Civil War and who survived the Sultana tragedy.

        The second part of the story traces the life of the piano inventor, the Sultana, how he became a piano maker, his invention, him falling in love and getting married, and the birth of this son.

      • I’m keeping a spreadsheet of the books the FB page mentions. May I use this description of the book in the spreadsheet? The Sultana team has a pointer to the spreadsheet and, although they haven’t shared that link, they could in the future if they decide they want to.

      • I like your description above, but I’m happy to use a more formal description if you’d like. If you want to send it to me, please feel free to use my email (which I’m assuming you have access to through this comment facility) or send me a message on Facebook.

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