Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fresh Start

Usually by this point in the growing season I've got a few posts up. I've fallen a behind a bit, though fortunately not in the garden. We've made some changes, and I'm excited to see how it all shakes out.

For one thing, our little veggie plot is no longer a veggie plot. As I've mentioned before, we share a difference of opinion with our neighborhood stray cats. What's a raised planting bed to us is, unfortunately, a litter box for them. We got a little lazy this winter and didn't cover the plot up. No matter how many cubic square feet of fresh dirt we dump in there, for us that little plot will never be food-safe again. So we now have a cutting garden underway. I'm terrible about cutting my flowers. For as much as I love entering a room and admiring the fruits (or flowers) of our labor, I also love seeing blossoms in their natural habitat. And I never feel as if I have enough to satisfy both desires. Well, by dedicating some dirt to the sole purpose of generating flowers for cutting. And by selecting flowers particularly suited to that purpose. I can have my cake and eat it too. Yay!

Of course, we haven't given up on the idea of veggies. How else are we going to ensure that we'll have lots of tasty low-mileage meals this summer? Upon reading about the fab Brick City Urban Farms in nearby Newark, we're full-on Earth Box gardeners now. Last year we invested in two Earth Boxes and were particularly pleased with our lettuce "crops." As luck would have it, my sister and brother-in-law decided to put in raised planting beds in their spacious yard so we were able to take over their old Earth Boxes. We now have 7 up and running with everything from eggplant to herbs.

Photos to come should the sun ever decide to shine again. Of course if it doesn't, there won't be anything worth photographing anyway.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Morning, Glory

Since the Mister and I rented our first apartment together, I've always loved this plant. The apartment was in a rather dumpy location– complete with bus depot and train tracks out back. But along this one wire fence someone, most likely years before, had planted Morning Glory. And I was smitten. Being a morning person myself, I admired a plant that got the major part of its work done in the AM.

It was more than 10 years later before I had my own house and yard. And one of the first things I was determined to do was plant Morning Glory, though many advised against it. It will take over the place, they warned. And it has. It's been two seasons since I've even bothered putting seed down. This year one window box has been completely engulfed by the stuff. But it's the end of the season. Not much else is blooming or looking very pretty so I'm glad I have my Morning Glory.

One Local Summer, Week 13: Crab Cakes

Well this is it, the end of the OLS Challenge. I've enjoyed being a Mid-Atlantic coordinator and am appreciative of Farm to Philly for hosting the event this year. I'd say it was a resounding success. This week's meal consisted of crab cakes, a favorite around here, with CSA swiss chard, squash and potatoes on the side. I also made a salad of our own-grown tomatoes with CSA basil and fresh mozzarella from our local Italian shop.

Reflecting back on the season I am proud of the meals we've made. But there has been a lot more local eating going on here than documented on the blog. Each week I made sure there was always one official meal. And yet because we're committed to keeping our food mileage low, our kitchen has been very well-stocked with local goodness this summer. This has meant Jersey fruit on our cereal. And home-grown tomato sandwiches at lunch. Plus our freezer is stocked with strawberries, green beans and snap peas, spinach, pesto, tomato sauce and watermelon. Summer goodness that will be a welcome taste come winter.

And now that I have a daughter joining us at the table, the stakes are higher and my food choices matter that much more. This summer I watched her taste her first Jersey blueberries, peaches and nectarines– flavors she'll come to look forward to each summer. She gobbled up Jersey potatoes, beets and squash and delighted at discovering the tiny peas hidden inside each string bean pod. She's been slow to warm up to tomatoes, but I can see she's coming around. This is how I want it to be for her. For her to experience food at its very best and appreciate all that it represents. I want her to learn to savor every bite when in the thick of the season so that she also knows the pleasure of waiting, of going without and anticipating the turning of the seasons again. To me that's truly tasting, enjoying and respecting your food.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 12: Steak Frites

This week we were able to create a favorite meal using only local ingredients. With pasture-fed beef from our local meat source and fingerling potatoes from our CSA we were on our way to a bistro classic. The steak was simply grilled then seasoned with salt and pepper. Nothing else was required, and it was divine. I sliced the potatoes, tossed them in some olive oil along with salt, pepper and some of our own rosemary then roasted them in the oven until they crisped up nicely. As good as fries, if not better. Our CSA also supplied some swiss chard which I steamed and some grape tomatoes which I tossed with some olive oil and herbs from our garden.

Though our meal was inspired by France, it didn't seem right to open a bottle of vin rouge. And we didn't have to. Instead we enjoyed a beautiful bottle of Finger Lakes' Merlot which complimented our meal perfectly without adding significantly to its overall mileage.