For years I’ve been saying I wanted to garden. This year I finally did it. I called my friend Karen Hughan at Good Gardens and together we came up with a plan for my very long deck, which I affectionally call the bowling alley. We ordered a couple of sleek thigh-high troughs for herbs and matching oversized pots for creeping flowers and ground cover. Once we got started, there was so much more I wanted–tomatoes and peppers, bay leaves and lavender. So we added a few more pots. And what about the packets of baby lettuces that I bought? I got another couple of troughs.
Because we used such good potting soil and because there was such a good mix of rainy and sunny days, my little garden took off… which meant David and I started sitting outside more. One morning David surprised me with breakfast on the deck, but after only five minutes the sun, which was so good for our plants, was causing us to whither, so I bought a large umbrella, which attached to the house. More on that story–complete with photos–later…
For now my garden is thriving, and I’m looking for ways to feature my rapidly reproducing herbs. There’s only so much pesto you can make, so here’s my latest use for basil. Whole leaves simmered with pureed and strained strawberries and sugar, this syrup is just the way we like it–boldly basil, distinctly strawberry, light on sugar (at least for syrup!).
I served this at a recent brunch, setting out bottles of sparkling wine and sparkling water. Whether guests chose water or wine, the syrup dressed up the drinks.
Enjoy the weekend everyone. Edits on our book are just about done, and we’re close to debuting our blog redesign. We’re excited!
Makes about a pint
2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and halved
2 cups packed basil leaves
1 cup sugar
Juice of one lemon
Process strawberries and basil in a food processor until completely pureed; strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on pulp to release as much juice as possible. Transfer strawberry juice to a medium saucepan; stir in sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer to blend flavors, skimming foam as necessary, about 5 minutes. Strain again and cool to room temperature. (Can be refrigerated in a sealed jar for a couple of weeks.)