Eat Your Vegetables
It's officially salad season, my friends! Sure, we've been getting greens for weeks, but we're really rolling now. And, if you've been following this space for a few years, you know I couldn't be happier.
So you've been warned: We'll have a lot of salad posts in the coming weeks.
But now to this week. At our last CSA pickup, we received: Asparagus, spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.
As you can imagine, we had steamed asparagus and lots of salad with our box of goodies. We saved the whole-wheat flour for more pizza. Meanwhile, I’m sad to say that we still haven’t used the mustard greens. They’re still healthy-looking, I just haven’t found a home for them as of this writing.
One of the best things we did with the salad mix was combine it with a local Mediterranean treat: Lebanese beans.
A mix of garbanzos, fava beans, herbs and spices, it’s a nice salad topper and pita filler. Mixed with CSA salad mix, avocado, olives and a little something sweet, it makes for a fantastic salad.
Mediterranean Flair Salad
2 large handfuls local salad mix
Half an avocado, cubed
10 to 15 kalamata and/or garlic-filled green olives, cut in half
1/2 cup Lebanese Flower Lebanese beans or other mixed beans
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
Divide salad mix among two salad bowls. Add 1/4 avocado to each bowl. Divide the olives, beans and cranberries. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
This week we received: Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.
It is FINALLY 80 degrees. And mid-May. And sunny.
And all those things mean summer is right around the corner — as underlined by the fact that I bought a dozen or so herb starters this weekend for my container garden. Including three kinds of basil, aka summer in a leaf.
But before the basil and those delightful tomatoes that go with it, we're in the thick of greens season. Both at the CSA and the Lawrence Farmers' Market.
In last week's CSA bag, we received red lettuce, green onions, garlic chives, carrots, spinach and pesto. A very good, very green mix.
At this point in the local growing season, my hubby begins dreaming of anything that isn't green (the carrots made him so happy), so we have to get a bit creative in how we use our veggies.
So, I made some green juice using some of our spinach.
Admittedly that isn't very creative when we're talking about my wheelhouse. To that end, I also made a salad that I totally forgot to document (food writer fail).
But we used most of our veggies and several of our Farmers' Market veggies in a chef's choice egg version of the Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble featured in week 2.
The hubby and head chef mixed four eggs with several handfuls of veggies, including CSA spinach, carrots, garlic chives and green onions and then added in store-bought extras like red pepper. Then he topped it off with CSA pesto or salsa and some cheese.
What'd we get this week? Asparagus(!), spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.
Last week in our CSA, we received whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.
You might look at that list and think it looks like one giant salad after another. And you might be right. We did use the salad greens for its intended purpose, while the spinach and pea greens went into smoothies.
But when I saw our pickup choices, one of the first things I thought was, “pizza.”
The local heritage winter wheat is just perfect for cutting with some regular old white/bread flour to make a heartier pizza crust. Add in the benefit of throwing leftover CSA goodies willy-nilly on top (green onions, spinach and chives were perfect for this) and you’ve got yourself a really useful medium for polishing off some of your CSA ingredients.
Later in the summer, pizza dough is even more helpful when we’re up to our ears in peppers, eggplant, zucchini and basil. If you think it’ll go well together, you can put it on top of your pizza. The whole dinner is super easy, especially if you make your dough ahead of time, freeze it and actually remember to pull out the frozen dough before you leave for work in the morning. (Sometimes I forget, and it makes me crazy sad.)
If you’ve never made homemade pizza before, you’re really missing out. It’s totally customizable, delicious, easy and incredibly cheap.
We have two favorite pizza crust recipes. Both are fabulous and have turned out well for us. So, pick whichever one you like and go for it!
And, if like us you get your hands on some local wheat through your CSA or the Farmers’ Market, try cutting it in. You don’t want to make a whole pie out of it (that would be a bit too dense) but try cutting it with half regular flour or two-thirds regular flour.
Note: You can use the first recipe with a pizza stone or a cookie sheet, while the second one, we only used with a cookie sheet.
Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from www.markbittman.com)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube.
Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, one to two hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you’re in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours.) Proceed to Step 4 or wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or a zipper bag and freeze for up to a month. (Defrost in the bag or a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature; bring to room temperature before shaping.)
When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and divide it into two or more pieces if you like; roll each piece into a round ball. Put each ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.
Roll out, top and bake at 500 degrees until cooked through. We usually make two pies plus a little one for the kiddo with this recipe, baking each pizza for about 10 minutes. Note: To make pizza dough by hand or with a standing mixer, follow the directions, but use a bowl and a heavy wooden spoon or the mixer’s bowl and the paddle attachment instead of the food processor. When the dough becomes too heavy to stir, use your hands or exchange the mixer’s paddle for the dough hook and proceed with the recipe.
Chloe Coscarelli’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from www.chefchloe.com)
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour), plus extra for rolling
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until bubbles form, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine flour, oil, salt, sugar and the yeast mixture. Using lightly floured hands or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix until a stiff dough has formed. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle extra flour 1 teaspoon at a time as needed. Place the dough in a large, well-oiled bowl and rotate the ball of dough so it is completely covered with the oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and place in a warm part of the kitchen until it has doubled in volume (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, shape into a disc, and knead for five minutes. Use dough immediately or cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for a later use. Thaw to room temperature before using.
When ready to use: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet (approximately 9-by-13 inches) with oil.
Stretch pizza dough into a rectangle and fit it into the prepared baking sheet. Spread sauce and toppings on oiled dough. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating midway, until the crust is slightly browned or golden.
Note: If crust is thick, you may need to leave it in for 30 minutes or more.
What’d we get at our CSA pickup this week? Red lettuce, spinach, pesto, garlic chives, green onions and carrots.
I've written a lot of smoothies over the years to this space. A LOT. And the majority of them have had some green element to them. They might not have actually been green, like the smoothie I wrote about last week, but they are green on the inside, even if another ingredient like blueberries or cocoa powder is covering up the evidence.
If this sounds disgusting to you, I'm sorry. If it doesn't, there's a chance you've already joined the green smoothie movement, which has been going on for years (I think I've been making them for at least five years). And if you haven't ever made one? I have news for you: now is the perfect time to start.
Here's the deal: Even if you don't have access to your CSA yet, or haven't joined one, you have an abundance of local greens available to you right now. The farmers markets and many of Lawrence's grocery stores are overflowing with local greens. From spinach, to kale to arugula to chard — you have a ton of greens to choose from. They're inexpensive, they're local and they're plentiful because they're in season.
So, if you haven't joined the green smoothie train, or did awhile back and eased off, I urge you to give it a go. It's a fabulous way to get your greens without being a total salad freak (like me) and if you are part of a CSA, it'll help you get through the giant bag of spinach you may acquire.
Now, you don't need a specific recipe to create a tasty green smoothie. Mine are probably different every morning, which is a good thing. To get as many nutrients as possible, it's great to alter your smoothies slightly, based on what you have on hand. This week, I had pea greens and spinach, and I used both in smoothies. I'm guessing there aren't that many smoothie recipes with pea greens out there, and that's exactly where you adapt.
The basic recipe I use is very simple. Take what you will from it, add in the extras if you like, and give it a try. Believe me, if I can get my kid to drink these (and he started at about 15 months), you can get anyone to drink them.
Basic Green Smoothie
2 large handfuls greens — spinach (great for beginners), tatsoi, de-stemmed kale, etc.
2 bananas or 1 mango
1 cup berries — strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. (optional)
1-2 scoops protein powder (I use vanilla or chocolate by Sun Warrior)
1.5 to 2 cups water
Additions: 1-3 tablespoons of hemp, chia or flaxseed; local bee pollen; maca; 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder; pinch tumeric; pinch apple pie or pumpkin pie spice; splash of vanilla or almond extracts; one frozen packet acai juice
All you do is blend it up. That amount usually makes two servings (one large one for me, one smaller one for the kiddo), and is a great start to the day.
Now, what'd we get this week in our CSA? Whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.
Last week, in our very first CSA pickup of the year from Rolling Prairie, we received spinach, green onions, salad mix, dried mushrooms and tofu (Central Soy's local tofu). It was a great and versatile mix of items we could’ve used in a number of ways.
Because it’s a total habit, I used most of the spinach and all of the salad mix in green smoothies during the week, though one turned out a bit brown (cocoa powder was a must that morning).
But the majority of our CSA went into an epic scramble that fed us for days. We had it both over spinach, wrapped in a tortilla and just plain.
And what’s great about this recipe, besides the major leftovers, is the fact that you can pretty much throw anything into it and be set. We used a bunch of half bags of leftover frozen vegetables, plus a bunch of our CSA goodies, including the spinach that didn’t make it into a smoothie. It really was the perfect way to clean out our fridge without even really trying. Plus, it tasted good.
Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble
1 package Central Soy tofu
2 cups of spinach, separated
1/2 cup chickpeas (or other beans)
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables
1/2 cup dried mushrooms (not reconstituted)
Green onions, sliced thinly, to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Avocado and salsa for serving
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and vegetables. Add spices — tumeric, cumin and salt — and mix it up for 15 seconds or so. Add 1/4 cup water and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get all the garlic and spices.
Crumble in tofu and mix well, but leave it chunky. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much. Lower the heat a bit if you find that it is sticking. Add 1 cup of the spinach and the garbanzo beans and mix. Add nutritional yeast and mix it up. If it seems too dry add splashes of water. The moistness really depends on how much water the tofu was retaining before you added it.
Serve over a bed of spinach with salsa and slices of avocado. Serves 4-6.
This week, we got another great mix of items: parsley, green onions, pea greens, spinach and pesto.
Two blessed food events occurred within the past few days.
One: The Lawrence Farmers’ Market opened on Saturday.
Two: My first CSA pickup of the year was Monday.
Yes, local food is upon us. All winter I look forward to this week. To me, it means the start of many things: great local produce, warmer weather, sunshine and homegrown garden greens.
For those of you who are new to my blog, know that during the CSA season, the format changes slightly.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is basically a subscription service to a farm or a collective of farms. For the price of your subscription, you will get a weekly share (bag) of farm-produced foods. My particular CSA, Rolling Prairie, provides some choice in items (for example, picking between turnips and radishes), though not every CSA does this and because of availability, even the ones that do might not have a lot to choose from weekly.
I’ve written many stories about CSAs in Lawrence, including this one, which is somewhat of a who’s who of the major CSAs in and around Lawrence. If you’re interested in signing up, please visit the websites of the CSAs on that list and they’ll let you know if they’re still open to subscribers this season. Most don’t start deliveries until May (I’m participating in the “early bag” of my CSA), but you’ll need to sign up soon to get a spot.
Each week, I’ll tell you exactly what I made with my CSA bounty and then show you what I got in my bag and plan to use for the week ahead.
I do this because I’ve heard from several readers (and from personal experience) that finishing all the produce received in a weekly CSA can be difficult. The reasons for this are all over the map. Some of the more popular ones include: unfamiliarity with certain vegetables (kohlrabi, purslane), dislike of certain foods (turnips, radishes, mushrooms, certain greens), difficulty planning meals, not able to cook every night or new to cooking, feeling like you’ve got too much in your share, etc.
I’m hoping that in this space you’ll find ideas and inspiration so that you never have to throw out or compost a single item you pick up at your CSA this year, or at the farmers market (hey, we all overbuy sometimes). If you’d like to see what kind of posts you’ll get over the next 26 to 28 weeks, check out the end-of-season round-up I did of last year’s CSA action.
So, without further ado, here’s what I got in my first bag this week. If your CSA starts later, or you aren’t signed up for one, this is pretty good example of what you’d find at the Farmers' Market right now with one exception: spinach, green onions, salad mix, dried mushrooms and tofu (Central Soy's local tofu).
Now, for those of you who don’t care about all this CSA stuff and just want to know what that delicious-looking stuff next to the steamed asparagus is at the top of the page, I’ve got the recipe below. It’s a very simple and healthy recipe that uses lentils, onion and bell pepper to re-create the sloppy Joes of your youth (adulthood?). You’ll find it satisfying and easy and yummy on a roll if that’s what you like. I had some Wheatfield ciabatta on the side (not pictured).
Snobby Joes (from www.theppk.com)
1 cup uncooked green lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small (we used red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounce-can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (optional — for serving)
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through. Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about why I garden. Basically, the takeaway is this: I do it because it's important to be connected to our food.
And though the last two growing seasons have been horrible for farmers and home gardeners alike, I still believe it's crucial to try if you can.
This weekend, I put my time and effort where my mouth is and worked in the garden with the kiddo to plant for the first time this season. We'd readied our three garden beds the week before, giving me the perfect canvas to plant my two garden workhorses: potatoes and onions.
Last year, I didn't get a chance to do potatoes or onions because of some scheduling issues with my time and Mother Nature, and we really felt it. Because of the heat, almost all of our other crops barely yielded a thing and because of timing, we didn't have either of our high producers to fall back on. Not cool at all.
This year I wanted to have a potato crop, even if I was going to be out of town on St. Patrick's Day. Though old farmers' tales say you should plant potatoes on St. Paddy's, I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. But I really do believe you can be late with potatoes and be perfectly fine. I've had two great potato crops — one planted right around St. Paddy's and one planted late, and they've both been terrific.
And by "terrific," I mean not only in the sense that you get a lot for very little time and effort. You also are growing one of the most no-nonsense plants available and if you have kids, they will love digging for the final product.
If you're up for it, I'll share my method for growing them. It will take you about two hours the whole week and you'll be good until late summer.
First, I grow mine in a raised 4x8 bed, under straw. I believe this method works if you're tilling straight into the ground, but you might want to check around to make sure there's not a better method for you.
What you'll need are some seed potatoes (available at pretty much any farm or garden store, plus some grocery stores). Look for ones that have several eyes. Take them home and cut them into smaller chunks, 1 to 2 inches across. Each chunk needs to have a couple of good-looking eyes.
Next, let them "cure" by placing them on cookie cooling racks for a day or two (up to a week).
When you're ready to plant, buy a bail of hay/straw, get out your gloves and trowel and get to work. I like to keep my potatoes in a single bed because it's easiest. You will want to dig holes at least six inches deep, and about a foot apart. Place the potatoes, eyes up, in each hole.
If you think you have more potato chunks than holes, just get picky about which ones you put in first. Ones with eyes that are already sprouting are the best, so they should get top priority.
Next, cover the potatoes with dirt, and then cover with as much hay as you can mound on. You're going to want to go for eight to 12 inches, on top.
Then, water them a bit (not too much!) and let them be. The only thing I do is add a bit more straw once it starts to get matted down, because you want to make sure your potatoes are completely hidden from the sun at all times.
Other than the straw, your only job is to watch the vines poke up. They'll grow, get tall and flowery and then they'll start to wilt and die. When the vines are dead, you can start digging for treasure right around the base of each dead vine. You should have a bunch of potatoes of varying sizes with each vine.
It really is that easy.
I'm not a garden expert by any means, but this is what works for me. You might Google around and find people who do something similar, or people who don't do it this way at all.
No matter how you do it, it's worth a shot. High yield for low investment. Plus you grew it.
Well, spring is almost here. Maybe. After such a wonderful weekend, I feel like there’s a light at the end of this cold snap. Again, maybe.
I’m still not going to be convinced until possibly May, but this sort of looks promising. So promising, in fact, that I went a little hog wild and bought fresh strawberries.
Crazy, I know.
But I don’t regret a thing. Because the ones I could steal away from our resident strawberry monster/child, I made into a post-workout smoothie that was mine, all mine.
And it tasted like Neapolitan-ice-cream summery goodness.
Sure, I could’ve used frozen strawberries, but there was something really nice about using fresh strawberries (that were much more tasty than those expensive/anemic winter ones), especially on a day that would hover near 70 degrees.
We’re getting there, folks. So, just get out your blender, whip up this smoothie and then sit tight and wait for Mother Nature to bring the warmer temps for good.
Strawberry-Chocolate Power Smoothie
1 cup strawberries
2 large handfuls baby spinach
2 servings protein powder (I use Sun Warrior chocolate)
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (or chia or ground flax seeds)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch turmeric (optional but good for post-workout inflammation)
1-1/2 to 2 cups water
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes one large serving or two smaller servings.
I thought I was done with winter. You know, get out the gardening supplies, put the sweaters and boots away.
But, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s “forecast,” snow is on the ground, a chill is still in the air and that whole “out like a lamb” thing belongs in the same shaming hole as that groundhog.
Not really, but what else can we do but throw the calendar out the window, grab a sweater and make soup? That’s exactly what we did this weekend, and, for a change, we made soup with dried beans.
Normally, we’re a tad too impatient to do the soaking routine, even though we know it’s better for us and cheaper, too. But, in an effort to spice things up, we decided to give it a go (we normally only manage to soak garbanzos), choosing a recipe we’d never made before that starts with dried beans so they’re a blank canvas.
And you know what? Soup made this way really did taste different than all the other soups we make with canned black beans. And by taste, I don’t mean “salt level” (I buy salt-free canned beans). The texture was different — sturdier, almost.
Now, I know this recipe looks long, but it really isn’t much of a hassle. Also of note: Make sure to include one or two of garnishes at the bottom, they really kick this soup up a notch or two.
Black Bean-Vegetable Soup (Recipe from “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, soaked for 6 to 8 hours or overnight
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
Pinch of baking soda
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-size onions, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced finely (we used 1 cup of a frozen mix of red, yellow and green peppers)
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 carrot, peeled and diced finely
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups vegetable stock
Garnishes for serving:
Minced fresh cilantro
Prepare the beans: Drain the soaked beans, rinse again, and place the beans in a large stockpot. Pour in the 6 cups of water and add the bay leaves and baking soda. Cover and bring to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender and their skins are soft. Remove the bay leaves.
During the last 30 minutes of the beans’ cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle, stir for 30 seconds and add the onions and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions and peppers are soft, then add the jalapeño, celery and carrot. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot has begun to soften, then remove from the heat.
When the beans are completely tender, stir in the sauteed vegetables and any remaining oil, plus the cumin, oregano, thyme and vegetable stock. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the carrot and celery are tender.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool 10 minutes, add the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Like most soups, this soup will be richer and more flavorful the next day.
Garnish each serving of soup with chopped cilantro and chopped avocado. Serve with lime wedges.
I might not get to celebrate spring break, you know, being old and all, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited about it.
Not only does it mean the unofficial start of warm weather (hear that, snow!?) and March Madness but also means that spring is here. Or almost here. Or close enough that we can all start thinking about gardening.
For months, I’ve been talking with a part-time farmer friend who is growing several types of kale this year. With each little update on this process (picking seeds, ordering seeds, starting seeds indoors), I’ve gotten more excited about the coming growing season. I’ve had a garden for three years — three raised beds plus a pretty good-sized container garden on my deck — and it’s been fun, though not necessarily highly productive.
If I’m being honest, the last two summers have been a kick in the teeth as a gardener. Plants bolted. The bugs hit. Blossom end rot did in many tomatoes. Poor planning left some plants gasping for nutrients. My blueberries and raspberries were crushed by the heat, as were many of my container herbs — I’ve been able to kill three “unkillable” mint plants every single year (yes, the body count is at nine). Melons have never, ever thrived for me. Oh, and it turns out I hate weeding.
That entire paragraph probably makes you wonder if I have a black thumb or why I’d ever want a garden in the first place, especially since I apparently suck at it.
But here’s the thing: I don’t think I suck at it (the weather had a lot to do with my kill rate) and I actually do find it fun.
There’s something downright enjoyable about being able to go out and harvest what you put into the ground/raised bed/pot. And 100-degree temps, a hatred of weeding and bad luck aren’t going to change that.
Because, here’s the thing: I think it’s incredibly important to get reconnected with where our food comes from.
Growing up, we had a garden, but I only really remember harvesting tomatoes. And at the time, I don’t think I totally “got” how good a fresh tomato was. It was just a tomato that appeared in our backyard after way too frickin’ long.
In fact, not only do I think I didn’t get it but I also think I didn’t really appreciate that homegrown food at all. It was a novelty, and the big, smooth vegetables sans imperfections from the grocery store seemed more like “actual” food to me.
It’s silly to think about now, but I don’t know how I could’ve been so disconnected. And I don’t want my son to ever feel that out of touch with what he puts in his mouth.
It’s not that my parents didn’t try to interest me in our family garden, it’s more that the food culture was very different back then. We were in the middle of a shift from agricultural awareness to total blindness and back again — at least in my opinion and experience as a child of the ’80s.
Today, we have the advantage of a resurgence in restoring some awareness of our food chain, not only where we buy it from, but where food comes from in general.
And I want to keep that earth-to-table connection as plain as possible in my own kitchen, for my benefit and my family’s.
My son knows more about how foods grow and come to be than I ever did at his age, and I’d like to make sure that knowledge stays with him. Because he helps in the garden, he tends to try new things just because he helped pick them. He doesn’t like everything, but there’s a better chance he’ll try something if he gets to harvest it himself than if he helps me pick it out at the store.
So, I’m planning my three-season garden for a fourth straight year. I’ve learned I grow some foods rather well (potatoes, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes) and some plants rather poorly (see my litany of murdered plants above), but I grow them, and that’s what matters.
My planned plants for spring, summer and fall are as follows. As for which will survive, your guess is as good as mine.
Potatoes (several types)
Onion sets (white, yellow, red)
Bush and pole beans
Strawberries (on their third year)
Blackberries (to replace my murdered berries)
Kale (black and curly)
Tomatoes (black krim, Cherokee purple, sungold and sun sugar)
Peppers (Italian and various bell)
Herbs: basil (various), mint (various), sage (various), rosemary (various), thyme, parsley, marjoram, dill, garlic chives, cilantro (which I hate, but comes in handy)
And anything else that ends up looking intriguing (which always happens)