Wednesday, June 6, 2007
A little simpler and a whole lot better
When we first moved into our apartment we went hog wild planting and tending the garden out back. Then we had kids and it seemed like such a hassel to pull weeds when there were mouths to feed, diapers to change, laundry to wash, bodies to bathe and babies to tuck in.

This year it's different. I've become enamored with Mark Bittman, the Minimalist food writer for the NY Times and the man responsible for the Festival of Granola at chez Murphy this spring. I've been reading food blogs--Cleaner Plate Club and ice cream is not for breakfast-and I am inspired to eat better. I am reading Eat, Pray, Love and the first third of the book centers around eating in Italy with characters named, of all things, Luca Spaghetti.

The result of all this reading is that I've been inspired to garden again. I don't know how granola led to gardening but it did. I started out putting some flowers in window boxes (squirrel: you are grating on my last nerve!) and planting impatiens in a shady bed under the ancient grape vines the original owners of our building planted. Just when the last of the dirt had washed out from under my fingernails, I started looking around in the garden. My chives are back, thick, healthy and ready to flower. The sage has grown and the leaves are velvety and fragrant. Across the lawn was a bed overgrown with weeds, crabgrass and dandelions. These were all cleared over the weekend and three beefsteak tomato plants have taken their place, already surrounded by wire cages to support them as they grow. I planted more mixed herbs in a big clay pot near the stairs and this morning I decided to dedicate the last three empty large pots on the patio to cherry and grape tomato plants which will go in this weekend. I also planted some lavender from seed. It will take up to four weeks to sprout but I am patient and can wait. (Note to squirrel: touch that pot and you will die.)

What do I hope to gain from this? Better eating and more flavorful meals. I'm tired of my usual repertoire and plan on elevating the basics to something better. Doesn't a grilled breast of chicken with fresh rosemary sound so much more appealing than Lawry's Terriyaki 30 minute marinade? Wouldn't you rather eat store-bought ravioli in a brown-butter and sage sauce than just plain marinara? Wouldn't a salad of fresh mozzarella with homegrown tomatoes and basil be better than bagged romaine salad kit? How about green goddess dressing over fresh vegetables from a farmer's market? And if I am flush with grape and cherry tomatoes, I plan on slow roasting them with olive oil, sea salt and thyme in a 200 degree for several hours.

This may all sound difficult to make. The descriptions are all flowery and sound more Union Square Cafe-ish than throw-together-after-work-easy but trust me, the the only thing I'll need to plan in advance are the roasted tomatoes. Go on, check the recipe links. You don't need much more than some pantry staples. You don't even need a garden. You can buy everything at the grocer's. Get inspired. Eat something, just a little simpler and a whole lot better.


2 Comments:

Blogger Andie said...

oh how I wish we lived near each other so we could plant together....

Anonymous MOM said...

I wish i had your inspiration and energy, actually i wish i had all the things i admire about you!!!

Love, Mom

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