A Sign of Spring

March 28, 2013

This time last year I was fantasizing about all of the awesomeness that was going to be planted on my little North-West facing balcony, come spring. I was starting to plant seeds indoors, to be absolutely sure that there were going to be some promising seedlings by May. I deliberately overlooked the fact that a North-West facing balcony is not a happy balcony, and was convinced that with enough water and love, my plants would grow anyway. I also overlooked the fact that I’m terribly unreliable when it comes to watering plants, so all they really had was love. Love, shade, and sporadic drinks were unfortunately not enough for a garden, so aside from a few herb snippets, chives, and sorrel, it was more of a home for flies and leaf miners. I still haven’t cleaned up the mess I made with all the dirt.

About a month ago, I decided to plant some citrus seeds (maybe with enough love?). Bringing in some soil, I noticed a dried up little rosemary sprig sticking out of one of the frosted pots. I moved him to a jar of water indoors, along with the pot of soil. I grew mold instead of a kumquat tree, and the dried up rosemary sprig remained dry. Badly craving spring, my not-so-green thumbs were itching to grow SOMETHING, and remembering about how mint grows like a weed in my parent’s back yard, I decided to give store bought mint in a jar of water another try, hoping for some roots. It wilted as usual.

I didn’t have the heart to throw it out so soon, so I left it there for a couple of days. The top leaves browned, but I noticed some perky green inner leaves coming in, as well as a few green buds down the stem. LIFE! Guess what? My rosemary sprig shot out a few roots as well, and I noticed a little bit of new leaf growth. It was all starting to come together. Now get this…that big pot of dirt that I dragged indoors last month and shoved under a shelf, it surprised me with some green life of its own. It hasn’t been watered since last fall, but the chives were determined to make a comeback. Last weekend, I filled the pot with more dirt and properly planted all the new life that has started to grow in our North-West facing apartment, along with some sprouting mini-onions and garlic cloves. I’ll take this new-found plant luck as a sign of spring. It’s the only one we’ve got.

Change of topic…Mast-o-Khiar (NO idea now to pronounce that) is a Persian yogurt dish that I fell in love with as a kid, eating at a friend’s house. I have long forgotten how it tasted back then, but I remember really liking the yogurt, mint (did I mention that I am now growing mint?), grated cucumber, and walnuts all swirled together. It was probably served on the side of something else, but I liked it by itself. I’ve since adapted those ingredients into various things, one of them being this minty chickpea and yogurt parfait. As a working lady now, I am totally loving the savory breakfast in a jar thing, especially when it can be made in advance. I’m not trying to recommend eating in your car or scaring off your new co-workers with strange breakfasts they’ve never seen before, but what can I say…it happens.

P.S. for another unusual take on Mast-o-Khiar, Heidi’s version looks really interesting.

Minty Yogurt Parfaits
 
Before you begin: you’ll need 4 1-cup jars or containers to layer the parfaits as pictured.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups grated cucumber
  • 2 cups sheep’s milk, full fat, or Greek yogurt (the low-fat stuff won’t do here)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • lightly toasted walnuts and more mint, for garnish
Instructions
  1. It’s really important to draw most of the juice out of the cucumbers, otherwise the end result will be swimming in cucumber juice. Once the cukes are grated, collect them in a paper towel or cheese cloth and use your hands to squeeze out as much juice as you can. Drink it, it’s really refreshing!
  2. Set aside in a strainer to let any remaining liquid drain.
  3. Combine the yogurt and chopped mint and season well with salt and pepper. Stir it all together.
  4. Starting with the raisins, followed by chickpeas, cucumbers, and yogurt, layer each of the ingredients, divided between jars. Top with chopped walnuts and a few mint leaves.
  5. Alternatively, if you’re not into the layering thing, you can just mix it all together and store accordingly.

Love to experiment with herbs in the kitchen?

Join my new group board on Pinterest and share your ideas on how to grow, cook, and heal with amazing herbs! Please email me for an invite.

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