Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

And patchouli, lemon-grass and key lime ... all of which grow in my San Antonoio back yard, or in pots hanging from trees along the side garden by the front door. Or all but the parsley, both pots of which has died back to the roots and beyond. I once had a volunteer parsley plant which came up in a sunny spot along the side of the house, and thrived for several years, on a thick stem the size of a parsnip. There is nothing like the taste of fresh herbs, and nothing like the convenience of being able to duck out of the kitchen and snip a couple of teaspoons of parsley, or rosemary, or pull a fresh bay leaf from the tree, or a handful of basil ... especially basil, which is peerless when fresh and green, but when dry tastes of nothing in particular.

Oh, we are fortunate gardeners in Texas, for having two growing seasons in the year, and not just the traditional northern hemisphere cycle of plant in spring as soon as winter ends, grow over the summer and harvest quick-before-winter-descents. In South Texas, it's more like a pair of short cycles, spring and fall, wedged in between a short winter, and a brutally hot summer. The recent rains kicked up new growth and a spurt of blooming in my garden, and got this fall growing season off with a bang; and just in time for the San Antonio Herb Market, which is put on every year, in mid-autumn. This year's Herb Market is set for Saturday, October 17 - not at Aggie Park, where it was always before, but now at the old Pearl Brewery, at 200 Grayson Street.

I've always loved the Herb Market primarily for the plants, because many of the vendors there were the first to sell exotic herbs; not just the usual stuff that you could find at any nursery, but the exotica - hanging pepper vines, lemon-grass and kefir limes, for example, and just about every kind of scented geranium around. Increasingly, there were more and more local and boutique vendors in recent years with stuff made from herbs: soaps and room scents, and perfume, teas and baked items and the like. All of this made the indoor venue dizzyingly aromatic, and the perfect place to pick up Christmas gifts, or even just a few items to pamper yourself with.

One of the sponsors of the Herb Market is the San Antonio Herb Society. A couple of years ago, I picked up a copy of their cookbook: one of our favorite cookie recipes is this simple one, for lemon verbena cookies.

See you at the Pearl Brewery, next weekend. I'll be the one buying more parsley plants.

Recipe for lemon verbena cookies

Cream together ½ cup butter and 2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar.

Add ¼ teaspoon lemon extract

Stir in 1-2 Tablespoons finely chopped lemon verbena leaves and 1 cup sifted flour

Roll dough into small balls, and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in water, or your fingers. Bake for 10 minutes at 350.