Voracious this year is celebrating our local farmers markets with a series of poems extolling what's newly ripe and ready for sale. Each week during market season, we'll run a poem from a local poet who's found inspiration in the region's bounty. And should you find yourself feeling similarly inspired after reading their odes to romaine lettuce, nectarines, pea vines and gooseberries, the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance has provided us with recipes featuring each of the edible muses.
Our Producing Poetry series ends on a sweet note, with poet Kate Lebo's tribute to lemon verbena.
Lemon verbena is good for eating: An enterprising blogger has collected recipes for lemon verbena pork chops, lemon verbena ice cream, lemon verbena pesto and lemon verbena salad dressing. And if you prefer your lemon verbena swankier, you'll find a recipe on this post's final page that calls for peaches and sparkling wine.
But Little House on the Prairie fans know lemon verbena is equally good for smelling. In the second episode of the show based on the book, schoolteacher Miss Beadle tells Laura Ingalls that lemon verbena is her beauty secret. The scent wasn't a well-kept secret in Walnut Grove: In later episodes, Charles Ingalls gives a bottle of lemon verbena perfume to Carolina Ingalls; Mr. Edwards gives a bottle to Laura and whenever anyone needs a bath, it's because they aren't smelling like lemon verbena.
If you're hunting for lemon verbena to dab behind your ears, you might find it at the Columbia City Farmer's Market. Our Producing Poetry contributors will be there this afternoon from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 pm. for a reading. Hope to see you there.
10 (3-inch) whole lemon verbena leaves, plus ½ tsp minced leaves
1 bottle Cava or other sparkling wine
½ c sugar
6 cups sliced peaches (about 2 lbs, no need to remove skins)
Combine whole verbena leaves and sparkling wine in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 15 minutes). Remove and discard the whole leaves. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add sliced peaches; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and chill. Stir in minced verbena leaves just before serving.