My studio and home is located in what most would call the “country.” Consequently, I get the pleasure of walking Cooper, our beloved Anatolian Shepherd rescue off-leash most mornings. And the summer is full of treasures for anyone who walks and hikes. For example, always near the 4th of July, the wild blackberries ripen. This means that I enjoy a sweet, fresh breakfast of blackberries as I walk. Cooper rambles through the brush and forest while I am busy picking and eating blackberries, my hands stained from their juice and my legs attacked by the mosquitoes. Often I am so immersed in eating blackberries, Cooper has already made several loops and he ends up patiently waiting on me to finish.
Another simple summer pleasure is what I have termed “Basil Toast” or “Dill Toast.” Along with a cup of tea, it is a perfect way to start my day. What is Basil Toast or Dill Toast you ask? Well, let me tell you. The first requisite is growing your own pot of basil or dill. Personally, I pot-up some basil plants first thing in spring when it’s available at my local garden center. I usually combine basil and parsley into a couple of large terra cotta pots. (As an aside, who doesn’t love old or vintage terra cotta pots? I make a point of purchasing them when I find them at rummage sales or thrift stores.) As for dill, it is so easy to grow; I sow some seeds into pots also. The great thing about dill is that you can stagger your seed sowing over a couple of weeks and have fresh dill throughout the summer. My mother in law got me hooked on dill. It has so many uses. Her dill comes up on its own, here and there in her garden. It reseeds itself. For my herbs, I have my pots mingled among my flowers and perennials. A perfect combination and the pots can easily be moved to fill in empty spaces in the garden to add color and texture.
So, back to the toast. Ingredients: bread, spread of your choice (butter, margarine, etc.) and freshly picked leaves of basil or dill. For basil, any variety works such as the traditional “Italian”, Thai or Holy Basil. The same for your choice of dill such as Dukat, Fernleaf or Mammoth Long Island. Choose the variety you prefer. While the bread toasts, cut your basil or dill into small pieces. I generally use kitchen scissors to do this. When your toast is ready, butter it and then sprinkle the fresh herbs over the top of the toast. Add a sprinkle of salt (if preferred). My choice of salt is usually sea, kosher or Himalia. The salt adds something extra to the toast and herbs.
Then when this is completed, I grab my cup of tea, my basil toast and sit down to enjoy the morning. I’m not sure if it’s the ritual, the time spent in the garden picking the leaves or the incredible taste of fresh herbs but it really adds such richness to my morning. A truly simple pleasure.