Hello, My Pretties

POD began with visions of gorgeous flowers, cascading from well-designed containers. And, for the first few years, visitors to the little blue deck were greeted by a riot of color.

Then, almost surreptitiously, a basil plant slipped in, then a jalapeno and Mr. Stripey…Now, the little blue deck sports almost entirely vegetables. There are enough flowers to encourage pollination, but great gobs of satisfaction — culinary, environmental and yes, aesthetic satisfaction — can be derived from growing vegetables in containers.

The red lettuce surrounding these spacemaster cucumbers and Minnesota Midget melons provide a nice splash of red against a small sea of soon-to-be towering green.
The red lettuce surrounding these spacemaster cucumbers and Minnesota Midget melons provide a nice splash of red against a small sea of soon-to-be towering green.
This lone glazed terra cotta pot stars tarragon, thyme and lavender. Contrasting greens, varied heights and textures combine to present a pretty striking container.
This lone glazed terra cotta pot stars tarragon, thyme and lavender. Contrasting greens, varied heights and textures combine to present a pretty striking container. (Sorry the picture isn't so hot!)

Penne With Vodka

With the basil still recovering from the grilled pizza adventure, tarragon stepped in to give this pasta a surprising bite.

Tarragon
Tarragon

Penne With Vodka

3 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. tomatoes, lightly drained and chopped
1/4 c. vodka
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste
1/2 c. heavy cream
tarragon (or basil) to taste
1 lb penne (cooked until al dente)

1) Get the pasta started.
1b) Grab the vodka and make a martini.

2) Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add onions and stir until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes.

3) Add garlic, stir for about a minute.

4) Toss in tomatoes, vodka, and red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Simmer 10 minutes

5) Pour in cream, heat through.

6) Add tarragon or basil, mix with pasta.

7) Thank the chef. Make happy noises. Enjoy.

Basil Fueled Pizza

Nothing says signs-of-summer like fresh basil (which is nothing at all like those sad little anemic hydroponic cones that get us through the winter) atop homemade grilled pizza. This one has flecks of fresh rosemary and minced garlic hiding in the crust. (Thanks, Digable Pizza — if you’re ever in Asheville, NC, check them out.)

Grilled Pizza with Basil, Chevre, and Grilled Onions
Grilled Pizza with Basil, Chevre, and Grilled Onions

Herbes de Provence

Tarragon, Thyme, and LavenderAs much as POD enjoys the vegetables produced from its little containers, no meal would be complete without a good herbal uplift.

Herbs have proven to be easy to grow, resilient, flexible, and disease-resistant. In other words, if you’re new to this whole gardening thing, grow them.

Then dry them and make yourself some herbes de Provence. Chow has a great recipe for the classic French mixture.