I love having a garden. For the past few years we’ve been hodge podging a garden wherever we were, growing herbs (and incubating vengeful habanero plants) on windowsills, planting tomatoes in the free space at work, always on the brink of what we really wanted. In a lot of ways we’re still on the brink of the garden we want. What we’re fostering these days is worlds better than our last garden, but still worlds away from our goal- our dream garden.
Our dream garden (a part of our overall dream house) will have rows and rows of garden space. There will space for the plants to breathe, to coexist with like-minded plants. We’ll have fruit trees, all the heirloom varieties you could think of. There will be a place for Dan to grow hops, his own beer garden. We’ll have bees and butterflies and probably a unicorn. Don’t unicorns always live in these idealist scenarios?
But that’s my dream garden. And while we’re definitely working towards it, we’re not there yet. So I’m happy with what I have, and what I have is a thriving and happy garden. A garden that has, despite late planting and the hottest summer on record, managed to produce a quirky array of fruit. And since I don’t have pets or children and my husband is too sweet to complain about much, my tomatoes have given me something definitive to bitch about.
My most recent foray into both garden adventures and preservation techniques included infusing olive oil with herbs. Drizzled over fresh tomatoes, pasta, pizza, salad, or sandwiches, an herb infused oil is a great way to add a punch of flavor to a dish. I opted for three varieties- basil, rosemary, and oregano. I used old whiskey bottles that I sterilized but you could easily pick up any bottle that sealed tightly, preferably with a plastic or cork lid. Easy to make, pretty, and festive you could slap on a handmade label and voila! instant gift. Pair it up with some homemade jam or pickles and you’re a regular Donna Reed. Put those shoes back on!
Basil Infused Olive Oil
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh basil
To sterilize the bottle, submerge it in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
Begin by rinsing your basil and pressing it dry. Combine it in a bowl with the oil. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. In a pot over medium heat, simmer the oil for 1 minute. Pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer to remove basil clumps. Repeat. Use a funnel to pour the oil into the sterilized bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Rosemary or Oregano Infused Olive Oil
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
10 sprigs herb
Wash your herbs and dry. To ensure they are dried completely place them in a low temperature oven for 2 minutes.
Place your oil in a skillet over medium heat. Warm it, but do not let it boil. Place your herbs in the bottle. Pour the oil over them. Cap and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
**As with any preservation process, there are risks. If you notice anything abnormal, discard the oil immediately. Botulism is no fun.**