Friday, July 31, 2009

School Garden-apalooza

Our school's garden made amazing progress this year -- basically went from concrete slabs to a little jungle of peas, lettuce, squash, tomatoes of every color, broom corn, bamboo, basil, mint, and more.

Unfortunately, it was so blazingly hot and humid when I visited today that I neglected to get a full picture of the Jurassic park situation that has erupted in this concrete alley.

We'll have to make do with these pictures of ecstatically-picked micro carrots (the next trend?) and my kids' efforts to climb over the enthusiastic squash vines.

The best part was, as my guide Mirem explained to me, that the teachers and the principal are involved. "Pre-K did this section... this is a three-sisters box [squash, corn, beans-- a native american symbiotic gardening concept -- to be used in the 4th grade Native American curriculum]... the afterschool program did the peas...." It was incredible, and only the first year.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grilled Cheese Croutons....

... on a poached egg salad... This is an all around good thing.

A highly sustainable, ecologically minded meal, as well, since I cut the crusts -- which probably would have gone to waste but are delicious to me -- off my daughter's grilled cheese and used those.

I will indeed make this for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bittman Again

I thought I was over my Bittman phase, but he's written one of his grand round-ups, and, get out the scissors, it's a clipper. 101 Simple Salads in today's dining section may blow your mind, or at least may relegate your current favorite standards to the back shelf in the fridge.

Here are a few, randomly considered:

#29 Cherries gently steeped in in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then tossed with chopped radicchio or endive and toasted hazelnuts.

#48 Chopped dandelion greens with chopped preserved lemons, chickpeas, feta and olive oil. (I'm having that one tonight.)

# 82 Crisp pancetta and carmelized onions tossed with chopped bitter greens, toasted pine nuts and halved cherry tomatoes.

#76 Sliced fresh figs with crumbled bacon, balasamic vinegar and crumbled blue cheese. (If my fig tree produces this year, which it looks like it might, we'll be having this every night)

He even has a hot dog salad: #78 Sliced grilled dog with tomato wedges, chopped pickles hot peppers and shredded lettuce, dressed with a mustard vinaigrette.

I'm not so sure about the hot dog one, but #44 suggests making a grilled cheese, letting it cool and cutting it into croutons for use on any salad. "This," he says, "you will do forever." I believe him, and I have a grim vision of the rejected grilled cheeses I've let go to waste in recent months as my kids have alternately toyed with their appreciation for the grilled cheese.

There are countless salads in here that will find as they say in the dog world, forever homes with all of us. Good girls, come to mama. Thank you, Mark Bittman.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grass Heads

This is a fun garden project, which my friend Mirem helped us with.

Take a sock. You can put it in a cut off soda bottle or jar, and fold the top over the edge.

Drop grass seeds into the bottom.

Fill with potting soil or shredded hemp.

Tie a knot at the top. Turn over and place in the cup or jar.

Use pins and buttons to decorate.

Keep wet, until the grass starts to appear. You can give them hair cuts or just let it grow.

Not sure how to prevent the leprosy that develops over time, but my kid seem okay with it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Return of the Grilled Cheese

Okay, so it's been about six weeks since my last post, an all time record. Grad school + the end of the school year + general inertia all conspired to keep from feeling motivated to post.

Plus, more importantly my kids aren't that picky any more!! This is an incredible development. Tonight we had a Middle Eastern kind of grilled chicken with grilled homemade pita and condiments like tzatziki and baba ghanoush. The baba ghanoush wasn't a hit, but they both ate pitas with yogurt-dill-cuke spread all over it, chicken, and salad. It's enough that now I don't care, I don't want to hear about it. Either eat it or don't eat it. Let's move past the drama, yeah?

It helps that it's summer and I'm not a prisoner to the whims of a picky child who will go 8 hours before I see her again and I have this tiny window to get her to eat SOMETHING. This makes me reckless and dismissive. There is no more salami in our house. Okay, there is a piece of bacon here and there. What do you want, I'm human, aren't I? But I've stopped buying salami and yogurt squeezies and nocciotella (organic Nutella). Unbelievably, my daughter has so far failed to starve.

Rather, she's opened her palate. Grilled cheese is now on her radar. "Oh my GOD, these are so good. They're like those, what are those called again, Mom? Those kaysa--- kaysey-- you know?"


"Yeah! They taste just like those!"

Grilled cheese is something I intentionally gave up many years ago, after temporarily quitting dairy... But they're cheap, they're quick, they're meatless, and I make them with whole wheat bread. And oh my god they're so good. What is better than grilled chedder on whole wheat with tomato?

She's requesting scrambled eggs, too. I deeply, truly believe that nuts are right around the corner. Get them hungry enough, and they'll eat anything, right? That's my strategy, and it's working.

Anyway, hope you're all having a great summer.

Here's a shot of our general summer vibe:
("Chickens? What chickens?")