From Rosemary to Mind Mapping: An Awakening of The Senses

May 30, 2019

Photographs by Chef Christine Moss

Endless possibilities abound to awaken the sense in our lives and in our kitchens. Musings from a chef will have you rethinking allergies and to-do lists.


I can’t help it. Life inspires me. Food, nature and art awaken my senses and always have me getting excited about discovering new ways to expand in my kitchen and in my world.

As summer fast approaches I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready to shake off the cold of the winter, the damp of the spring…and especially the pollen that has recently blanketed us. It’s been a little hard to focus and think creatively with my head congested from allergies (which I feel are lasting longer than usual) and having to repeatedly wipe everything down. Pollen season in the country can be brutal. Thank God the initial onslaught only lasts a short time.

One way I’ve found to alleviate allergy symptoms is with rosemary.

It is a very fragrant and pungent herb — and a little goes a long way. While it lasts a long time in the fridge, have you ever considered having a small plant on your windowsill? It’s a great time to pot one of these hardy plants. You’ll be surprised how long it will last.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) traditionally grows in the Mediterranean, but can grow here as well in full sun conditions. Amazingly, the Latin name translates to mean the Dew of the Sea. I am so ready for some full sun and ocean time and rosemary is a perfect reminder that summer is on its way…and days by the sea are not far off. Aaaah.

And rosemary can be used for clarity and focus when brewed into tea. Coarsely chop up a teaspoon full and place it into your tea cup. Pour boiled water over the top and cover with a saucer to keep in the volatile oils. Let it steep for about ten minutes and then add a sweetener of your choice. There is something both ceremonial and grounding in creating your own remedies.

While sipping, give yourself a little mind time too. A great mental exercise I learned from the book How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb is to create a ‘Mind Map’, which is basically a process that marries logic and imagination — and allows to you balance the formation and organization of ideas. Best said, it’s a new take on list-making for creatives.

Start by drawing a doodle of your head in the center of a piece of paper. Then draw lines radiating out like sunbeams for each thing on your mind. Label that line with whatever is on your mind — to-do’s and want-to’s — and see what comes up.

No matter what’s going on for your right now, just remember to take time to breathe, look around and nurture yourself.

Eating your herbs is a great way to reap their medicinal benefits. I love using rosemary to infuse olive oil that I can then drizzle over a salad or dip bread into. It can be tossed over roasted potatoes, or into the final stages of a pot of soup — or you can simply admire its beauty on your windowsill. Oh the possibilities!

Do you have any favorite rosemary rituals? I love to crush its fragrant needles between my fingers as I work with it. It reminds me of trees and I feel uplifted when I inhale its resinous, pine-like citrusy fragrance. I encourage you to experiment and enjoy this wonderful herb as well.

~Chef Christine Moss, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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