Sunday, June 1, 2008

An Herb Garden Grows in Manhattan

Dear Boo,

In case you were needing further proof that I'm a food nerd and slightly obsessed, I offer you this:

1) Out of hundreds of colors at the nail salon, I unknowlingly selected a lovely shade of orangey red called.... Cajun Shrimp. I kid you not.
2) I had a dream last night in which I ate a cupcake covered sky-high in bright royal blue frosting and when I woke up I said to the Boyfriend, "I'm so glad I ate the whole thing. I've had too many dreams where I turn down pastry because it's too fattening and then kick myself in the morning."
3) I actually teared up this afternoon when I discovered two little parsley shoots emerging from the pot on my windowsill.

See? Aren't they precious?

Allow me to back up...

I'm reading a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and I came across this quote that blew me away: "If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week." Damn! right?

Now, I've always wanted a garden, myself, despite the fact that I'm a) kind of lazy, and b) have a bit of a shriveled, blackened thumb. My general approach to fostering plant life has been more reactionary than nurturing, aka, if it looks like it's wilting, it's time to water it. But nonetheless, I fantasize about a home with sprawling gardens I can wander through to snip some chives and pluck some tomatoes just before serving them to my guests, still warm from the sun. Of course, in this fantasy I'm also 5'10" with long golden-brown legs and look fabulous in hats, but never you mind that.

I was recently given some seedlings by our lovely family friend who has a gorgeous garden on her roofdeck and encouraged me to try nurturing some of my own in my apartment. My dark, dark apartment. So, as you know, my home is lovely and spacious and I am very lucky. However, it is sandwiched between two tall buildings that block out all direct and even most indirect sun. If it weren't for the lone tree out my window in the courtyard below, I would have no idea what season it was, let alone the weather or time of day. Suffice it to say it's a bit of a challenge to grow anything under these conditions. But after reading that quote, I am determined to do my part to eat locally. Very, very locally, in this case. I know I won't ever produce enough basil or tomatoes or peppers (my three babies) to feed myself an entire meal, but it's the spirit of the thing. And in that spirit, and in solidarity with you as you embark on this journey of brown rice and salmon, I have vowed to eat one meal a week composed of entirely locally grown elements. With the farmers market mere blocks away and fresh direct's "local" section delivered right to my door, I have no excuse. Also, it's practically summer which means we should all be eating more fresh fruits and veggies. Here is my first attempt at a local lunch...

Asparagus from the farmers market sauteed with spring garlic (ditto) and olive oil (not local, but come on...)and
Red Potato Salad with Yogurt-Herb Dressing:
Boil 1 lb small red potatoes (local) until tender. Cool in the fridge. In the meantime, whisk together 1 cup yogurt (local), 1/4 C sauteed spring garlic (same--you get the pattern here), 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. When potatoes are cool, pour dressing over them and toss. Add one bunch chopped fresh dill and one small bunch chopped fresh cilantro. Mix together and reseason if need be.
Plate up the asparagus and potatoes salad and add a couple slices of local cheese like coach farms goat cheese, or a soft-boiled locally raised egg with salt and pepper, and you've done your part to reduce our dependence on oil. The earth and your belly thank you.


Hungry For More?
Go here to read a NY Times article about research of the health benefits of eating locally.


pdxblogmommy said...

I believe, if I am correct, that I once lived in that building where you live. And if that's true and I am correct, I once grew BEEFSTEAK TOMATOES on the fire escape.

Ask me how big they got.

Maha Chehlaoui said...

hmmm to go local in the spirit of saving oil but then having it delivered to your door by a truck... LOL!
I am loving this blog thank you!

The Mouse said...

You won't believe me when i say this but I was JUST going to follow this post up with the realization that Fresh Direct is totally anti-environmentally conscious since most of us in the city walk to the grocery store! however, if you live in the suburbs, better to have one truck delivering your goods than many many cars going to and fro the store. thank you for pointing out the inconsistency that didn't until very recently occur to me! i'm learning... :)