Winter herbs

When my sister and I were younger, my parents would sit in the hallway between our two bedrooms and read to us before we went to sleep. We could not even think of touching our heads to a pillow before starting this ritual, and the four of us tore through the first few Harry Potter books like green sparks shooting out of a wand.

Before Harry Potter, there was Laura Ingalls Wilder. And thank God for that lady. She taught us so much about growing up in nature, the importance of sharing molasses snow candy with your baby sister, the necessity of choosing easy pet names for your mother and father such as Ma and Pa. She especially informed us about how to prepare (or get through unprepared) for a very long, very hopeless, very cold South Dakota winter.

Last week, I tried to clean up the yard a little. The end-of-summer was a hard one. My landlord’s husband and his construction men spent weeks redoing the upstairs unit in late August into September, and one afternoon I came home to them ripping out my climbing morning glories and tearing up my squash vines. Some passive aggressive door slamming did not make me feel better, so I still harbor bad feelings. Also, devil squirrels chewed up the remaining two butternut squash gourds, so it’s been an emotional goodbye to fall soups and stews using my own squash. It’s very easy to buy, so not a terrible loss. But c’mon guys.

I'm guessing the squirrels are to blame.
Ruined by the same gross rodents that naive tourists take pictures of (have you really never seen a squirrel?). I threw it away.

But so it goes. Gardening in the middle of a city and getting to cook and eat the food we grow gives me a lot of joy. But there are also downsides to trying to maintain life in a place as (dare I say this) self-absorbed as D.C. The people, the squirrels and the weather just don’t understand or appreciate the same things as me.

I did collect a bountiful harvest of fresh herbs while I was pulling the dried up tomato plants and stacking pots under the stairs. Preparing for the winter by hanging them to dry placed me in the mindset of Ma, Pa, Laura, Mary and dear little baby Carrie in their cozy log cabin. Much like us, they didn’t know the danger of the weather to come (global warming might take us all this year).

The tomatoes have dried up, the squash has been eaten by living creatures and there are empty pots of leaves stacked under the front stairs. This must be fall. Here's the last of the herbs.
The tomatoes have dried up, the squash has been eaten by living creatures and there are empty pots of dry leaves stacked under the front stairs. This must be fall. Here’s the last of the herbs. Thyme, basil, chives, oregano and mint.
After cutting all the herbs still growing in the garden, I hung them all over the house to dry. I use them in cooking throughout the winter for soups, hummus, meat seasoning, salad dressing, etc!
After cutting all the herbs still growing in the garden, I hung them all over the house to dry. I use them in cooking throughout the winter to crush into soups, hummus, pizza crust, tomato sauce, salad dressing, and to season steak and chicken. Winter meals, here we come.
My mom did this when we were growing up. It's a great way to not waste fresh things that won't last into the winter outside. All of these herbs mean that I won't have to pay the $5 per jar of Tone's dried herbs at the grocery store. And mine will taste much better knowing they came from my front yard.
My mom did this when we were growing up. It’s a great way to not waste fresh things that won’t last into the winter outside. All of these herbs mean that I won’t have to pay the $5 per jar for Tone’s dried herbs at the grocery store. And mine will taste much better knowing they came from my front yard. Take that, squirrels and stupid landlords.
Also because I have an amazing boyfriend, I can even store my dried herbs for easy access right on my refrigerator.
Also because I have an amazing boyfriend who is creative and sweet, I can even store my dried herbs for easy access right on my refrigerator in these homemade magnetic tins.

Happy fall, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying the pumpkin spice, bright leaves, cool scarf weather and hot apple cider as much as I am.

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