Monday, July 30, 2007

Summer's bounty continues...

We returned from a weekend trip to Washington D.C. to find a tomato explosion in the garden. Tomatoes, tomatoes everywhere! Well, not quite. But from the number of green grape tomatoes lurking about, those words may ring true soon enough. You'll see four red heirlooms in front, with a quite large summer squash and a bowl full of shy little grape tomatoes. Not bad for one day's harvest!

I utilized one of these red, jaunty heirloom tomatoes in a hummus, cheddar cheese and basil sandwich for dinner. It was so tasty that I made two more for lunch tomorrow - one for me and one for M. With my new job keeping me travelling from classroom to classroom during the day, I've lost my access to a fridge and microwave. My busy schedule this summer has made it harder for me to plan around these challenges, and so I've resorted to purchasing food out and about. But, I'm determined to return to my brown bag roots... so hummus tomato sandwich it will be tomorrow!

Do excuse the less then perfect picture ... I was too hungry for more sophisticated food styling tonight! :) You'll see the sandwich at the top, with broccoli also picked from our garden, homemade pickles and the above described tomatoes. Summer's bounty on a plate, if I may say so myself.

One of the charms of having a garden (or a jungle as ours is now resembling) is encountering the random plantlife that develops. If you look to the back of the chair in the produce picture above, you'll notice the "friendly" little weed grabbing hold of the Adirondack chair. Here he is again working his way into our Japanese Maple tree. He continues to demonstrate more then a friendly affection for our Japanese Maple tree despite numerous cutbacks. The weed is a wild grape of sorts (deduced from the presence of a similar one bearing grapes on an opposite wall) and I had wanted it to climb the fence in an orderly fashion. But I fear his days are numbered now....

Friday, July 20, 2007

Where to begin?

This summer I read a book. A stupendous achievement, I know. But seriously, I read an excellent book. A book that inspires one to really look at the food we eat. A book that inspired me to think consiciously about the food choices I make not in terms of vegetarian versus non-vegetarian, but in terms of locality. Where is the food coming from? Is it really fresh and local? Or is it fresh and local from Wisconsin or California, having travelled many miles creating exhaust to come to New York City?

The book I'm referring to is titled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I highly recommend it to anyone even vaguely interested in any of the above topics I mentioned. But be warned, reading it will cause you to re-evaluate even the quickest of trips to the grocery store. You'll find yourself visiting farmer's markets several times a week (if available). You'll find yourself lugging heavy bags of produce with you as you go about your day, despite the inconvenience and weight. But, you'll feel better for it.

These items were the result of a Saturday at the Farmers Market in Union Square. It's still my favorite market, not only for the number of farmers and sellers who attend but for the fact it is there 4 days a week. 4 days! I cannot pass through it without stopping to browse, and buy. Especially at this time of the year when the stalls are bursting with beautiful produce, fresh fruits and veggies abound along with eggs, meats and cheeses made from the vendors who sell them. It truly is a food lover's paradise.

Still, reading Kingsolver's book not only inspired us to shop from farmers but to become better farmers ourselves. Our garden is booming - look at a few of the wonderful vegetables we've harvested, or will be harvesting soon!

Green peppers, still on the vine.

Butternut squash, growing happily.


A shy, little eggplant.

Mr. Stripey, an heirloom variety green tomato.

M. and I are certainly not going to live off our tiny garden patch for a year, as Barbara Kingsolver and her family do in her book, but we have made a conscious shift towards more localized and healthy foods obtained at farmers markets not at grocery stores of late. It is an imperfect process, and I do obtain items that I need which cannot be found locally as they are required. And I will continue to do so, but for every imported package of pine nuts I purchase, I feel better about the local purchases that support not only local farmers but taste better as well.

Now, if I could only remember to take more pictures of the dishes I make with these foods, life would simply be perfect. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Changes afoot...

I love having a blog. But sometimes life gets in the way! Sometimes there isn't enough time to cook, bake, photograph and type up the way I'd like to. And then weeks go by, and the catching up seems to become a bigger and bigger task, and it's just easier to keep putting it off.

And here we are almost a month after my last post.

School ended. M. and I went to England for a week, and I've started a new job. Three great reasons for being busy, and they are all true. But the kitchen has been working overtime lately, but that will be its own post. Hopefully tomorrow.

But I'm here... cooking away, if not always photographing and posting away, and enjoying a blisteringly hot NYC day. It's been so hot that I'm almost starting to miss those rainy England days (see picture). Almost. :)