Archive | May, 2009

Like Herding Ducks

29 May

I fried some tomatoes last weekend.

Unfortunately, not in a culinary sense.  There was a frost warning Sunday and Monday nights, so my mom told me to put up-turned terra cotta pots over the two tomatoes I had planted.

But what turned out to be even worse than the frost was the two days of 90°+ heat on Wednesday and Thursday.  My poor helpless tomatoes fried in their own little pizza ovens.  By the time we woke up on Saturday morning they were shriveled and dead, dead, dead.

And then there were the beans.  Also dead (not sure if the frost or the heat got them), except for the ones that survived and are infested with aphids.  Where are all those ladybugs that lived in our house with us all winter long when I need them?

It’s kind of a relief though.  I knew something had to go wrong in the garden eventually, so I guess I’m hoping that this will be the extent of it.  For all my cranky, curmudgeonly complaints, I’m still a wide eyed optimist.

Want to see a really pretty picture of a tiny rooster? Head below the jump.

Ink, Pixel, Dirt

21 May

I’ve been keeping a garden diary in a little black and red notebook.

I find it amusing that the notebook is from Poland, and that its calendar is going to run out after this year.  I also think it’s funny that I find it easiest to keep this record in pen-and-paper form.  I spend my entire day in front of a computer.  I share my life with the world via a computer.  And yet, every week on Sunday night, I sit in the passenger’s seat of our car and scribble away as we head south, back to the city.

And that might be the reason I like it so much; it’s the antithesis of the 50-odd hours I spend chained to my desk at work each week.  Anytime I stay there past 7pm, which is everyday, I have to sign-out in a log book.  I’m often shocked at how hard I find writing after a long day of typing and conference calls.  I grab the pen and my brain pauses.  My hand feels weird curved around the pen.  And then it all comes back and the letters flow with the ink, in a halting, inelegant script.

Things are really speeding up in the garden, and the last two weeks have required two or more pages each to record all the developments.  By the end of those two measly pages, my hand is always cramped up and sore.  I can remember back in my high school days being able to write and write and write for hours on end.   I filled up notebook after notebook with my musings and stories and poems and rants.

For tomato talk and a twilight walk, head below the jump.

Ramped Up

7 May

There is no surer sign that Spring has returned than the reappearance of ramps.

In years past, I was a part of the ravening hoard of ramp “hunters” at the Union Square greenmarket, marching from booth to booth until a waft of earthy, oniony air would hit my nose and stop me in my tracks.  But for some reason, this year, I had lost all enthusiasm for them.  They just didn’t seem special anymore.

Then on Saturday when I called my mom to make plans for our dinner at Local 111, she asked “Do you think they’ll have ramps?”  I said I thought they would. And they did; in a spring onion soup, alongside low-poached swordfish, and accompanying a local steak.

The soup was delicious, light and pleasant in a way that’s hard to do.  It wasn’t too “green”, as if it had been overloaded with spinach, nor was it too bitter, as can happen when you add too many raw alliums.  It was perfect topped by lumps of sweet, briny crab.  The encapsulation of Spring in a bowl.

And then there was the side of pickled ramps my mom ordered.  Tinted ever so slightly daffodil-yellow by turmeric, they were piquant in the most pleasant way.  Ramp-mania had indeed returned!

Want to find out where we went foraging for ramps? Find out after the jump.

May Flowers

1 May

Someone who owned our house in the past had a jonquil-colored thumb.

The front garden is simply vibrating with the pastel-hued, frilly-edged universe of daffodils.  There are peachy ones, and sulphuric ones, and burnished silk colored ones and ones that look like fireworks and ones that look like they have faces and ones that are so frilly and perfectly white that they look like they should be in a bride’s bouquet.

I wish I could take credit for their exuberant beauty, but alas, the ones I planted all came up stunted.  Still pretty, but nowhere near the majestic, naturalized beauties that some other hand lovingly dug into the earth.  I’m hoping I have better luck with the vegetables.

Because, for sure, Isaac and I are expending a lot of blood, sweat, and not-yet-but-almost tears on the vegetable garden.  And it’s starting to pay off.  There are tiny, nascent peas and lettuces and radishes and kales and chards.  It’s all very exciting.

Check out my shiny new toy below the fold.