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Native Cooking: How Does Your Windowsill Garden Grow?

Things like parsley, basil, chive, rosemary, sages, and mints are all happy kitchen growers.
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We already know that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for us. It’s certainly easier to eat more of them if they are just steps away from your kitchen, or in it, am I right or am I right?

There is a ritual that must be performed every spring—planting the windowsill herbs. I’ve kept this going because it works, there is good sun in that window, and it is easy to water. This is important because I tend to be a little “out of sight, out of mind.” If you do this, start with something simple that you know about like parsley or basil, or some mints. Avocados, grapefruit, carrots, and many lettuces are easy to start in the kitchen.

I like peat pots for starting things; food tins and bottles work well if you want to grow more of anything. You can use a variety of containers, it all depends on how much room you have on your windowsill. Parsley, basil, chive, rosemary, sages, and mints are all happy kitchen growers. There are many others that are also adaptable to a kitchen window, and this is where planning comes into play. Flowering mints add color as well as fragrance. If you live in a city apartment and can just reach for a sprig of something to put in whatever you’re cooking that is happy time.

You can easily grow larger vegetables than herbs. We were gifted a Meyer lemon tree several years ago that has rewarded us by staying alive and producing a couple of fruit per year. The scent of the blossoms fills a room. Cherry or grape tomatoes are fun as well. The whole idea of a windowsill garden is fun. To interest kids, cut an avocado in half and remove the pit, stick three toothpicks in the pit around its middle to balance it upright in a glass of water. It should sprout in about a week.

Cherry Tomatoes with Small Penne

3 cups cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

2 shakes of red pepper flakes

1 15 oz. can white great northern beans

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

8 oz. package small penne pasta

Cook penne in salted water according to box instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the tomatoes, beans and garlic, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and toss in parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add to penne and toss to blend. Sprinkle with feta and serve.

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.