Archive | May, 2011

Kitchen Garden – The Beginnings

26 May
Kitchen Garden in May

My Kitchen Garden

Here’s my little back porch kitchen garden this morning, two and a half weeks after planting day. The sun is finally shining after many days of cold and rain, so I wanted to catch a photo just as things start to progress. Actually it has rained just about the entire time since I brought these plants home from the store and planted them in my own pots, including the grass seed in the small pot. The rain began as I crouched in the yard repotting everything, and soaked things beautifully for most of the past two weeks.

We’ve already enjoyed the basil in caprese salad (sliced tomato, mozzarella, basil, good olive oil, salt and pepper) a couple of times, but I fear it may now be suffering the effects of too much water and too little sun. If it continues to wilt, I’ll replace it over the weekend. The cilantro (Wikipedia tells us it is the leaves of the coriander plant) is perfect in your favorite tomato salsa recipe, with or without avocado. Cilantro looks like parsley, but has a bit of a citrusy bite to it.

The rosemary will find its use mainly in chicken and pork dishes on the grill all summer and into the fall, then I plan to over-winter the rosemary plant indoors. I’ve seen that work well for others, provided the plant has adequate sunshine.

I chose two varieties of container tomato plants, one produces slightly smaller fruit, which I don’t expect to harvest until late August. Meanwhile, I’m religiously pinching off the small green shoots that crop up at 45 degrees or so in the elbow between two branches. This will help the plant grow tall and strong.

I planted regular old grass seed in the smallest pot because I saw the idea in a magazine and love how the grass adds a delicate texture to the grouping. No mowing required.

I’ll tend and water, pinch and feed, and talk to my little kitchen garden for the summer and enjoy all the delicious gifts it provides.

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Coffee = A Better Me

25 May
Coffee and mugs

My favorite coffee and mugs

I like me better when I’m drinking coffee.

I generally like myself and function quite efficiently most days. With a cup of coffee by my side, though, I feel more powerful. Perhaps it’s not just the drinking of the coffee that provides that boost, but the time spent contemplating while enjoying the coffee. Thinking my own thoughts.

In my 9 to 5 days (I’m now self-employed) the ritual of coffee provided a break from the routine. My first full-time job out of college was as secretary to the Benefits Manager of the Stop & Shop Corporation. Each day the coffee cart would be wheeled off the fourth floor elevator at exactly 10:15 a.m. and almost everyone would line up for his or her fix. I never drank coffee before this, but learned to savor that time in line with co-workers as a break from the filing and phones, from taking and deciphering shorthand (look it up) correspondence. I enjoyed a cup or two of coffee each morning until lunch or until my hands were shaking from the caffeine, whichever came first. Subsequent jobs in a medical office at a busy teaching hospital, a restaurant famous for its crepes, a storm window manufacturer, and two different ad specialties businesses, provided fewer actual breaks, but having that cup of coffee beside me felt like a little vacation in my mind. I could think my own thoughts while taking a sip, then with renewed vigor, grab that ringing phone or spring up to help the waiting patient or customer.

Just a little boost, a bit more energy and creative thinking. A better me through coffee. Is that wrong?

Planning for Vegetables

23 May
Corn at Farmer's Market

Corn picked hours ago

I’m so pleased with myself. I’ve installed a couple of tomato plants and a few herbs in pots on the back porch. The things have had so much rain, they should grow crazy-like once the sun finally resurfaces from its slumber. Here’s my kitchen garden recipe: tomatoes go with everything, cilantro will liven salsas and salads, basil will lend its minty freshness to sauces, and there’s rosemary for its fragrant evergreen flavor. With a few marigolds around the base of each tomato plant, I now have a lovely kitchen garden at the back door.

The other thing that I’m happy for is having signed up with our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Here’s a good explanation of how CSA works: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ – the group I joined, The Farmer’s Garden of Rehoboth, MA, is here: Farmers Garden.

Last year my friend, Linda, and I split a ten-week Family Share from August through October. Each Saturday for ten weeks, one or the other of us would pick up the prefilled basket from the farmer’s market outside our town hall. All locally grown, picked that day, the shiny eggplants and fragrant tomatoes, crisp dark green lettuce, perfect onions and sweet, sweet corn – we’d split up our vegetable bounty and share new recipes that week, until the next Saturday’s bounty was ready. Neither Linda nor I learned to cook beets that season, but everything else was spectacular and our families benefited from super fresh produce and delicious new additions to our regular dinner fare.

My commitment to the Farmer’s Garden this year is a little different. It’s called the Green Rewards Card, pre-loaded with a specified dollar amount, with the incentive of a 20% bonus for signing up. The card is redeemable at their own farm stand or their Farmer’s Market locations in Rehoboth, Braintree, or Boston, MA. The farmer’s market runs from late June through the end of October, so there is plenty of time for me to spend down my Green Rewards Card. If I were betting, I’d say it’ll be spent by August.

Farmer’s Garden also has a standard Single or Family Share for 10 or 20 weeks, and an Egg Share plan for six or a dozen eggs weekly.

Catching up with a neighbor at our Saturday morning Farmer’s Market while purchasing lavender-scented handmade soap, a basket of fresh-picked apples, or locally grown blueberries is pure, wholesome, small-town goodness.

If you want to do something good for yourself, your family, and your community, get your hands dirty in the garden or support the local farmers who do so for a living and enjoy the goodness!

Sustainable Braintree

The Laughter of Friends

22 May
Friends sharing fun.

Laughter to resume momentarily...

Friendship makes life sweeter. The most valuable friendships provide at least a few of these qualities: trust, honesty, compassion, empathy, wanting the best for the other, sympathy, reciprocity. We recently hosted dinner at our house for two other couples. Three of these people have been great friends of ours for many years and the fourth is someone we know less well, but whose company we enjoy equally. What we sought for our evening was great conversation and many laughs. Our friends came through with both.

The conversation ranged from society’s ills and triumphs to our jobs, films and TV, Red Sox, Bruins, and food. What are the proper proportions of pineapple juice and rum? We discussed how much we appreciate our kids, why dogs are funny, why Seinfeld episodes remain hilarious after 2o viewings (Jerry, hello!). Between the windows of serious conversation we roared with laughter. There’s nothing like laughing with friends to make you feel alive, like there’s nothing you cannot accomplish. Even the challenges looming largest in your life shrink  when illuminated by the glow of shared laughter.

At evening’s end we parted, with hugs and lists of movie recommendations, satisfied that our shared meal and laughter had enlivened our weekend and enriched our lives. I wish the same for you…

Do What Makes You Happy

12 May

This is a short film featuring two of my favorite beings: my brother-in-law and his little dog. We all had fun the day I shot this video on my new Flip camera, but no one had more fun than these two. I watch this whenever I need a chuckle.

Feel free to do the same…

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