Archive for April, 2009

Last weekend at the farmers’ market I bit the bullet and bought some oh-so-tasty but oh-so-expensive morels, along with asparagus and a bunch of ramps. I had thought about making Barbara Kingsolver’s asparagus and morel bread pudding, but the boyfriend preferred pasta, which is really a better mid-week option anyway. Oddly enough, we came up with the pasta idea just before The Kitchn came out with this similar recipe that uses dried morels (and lacks asparagus). Once we started cooking, however, it was clear that I had not brought quite enough vegetable matter, so I added in some cremini mushrooms and a bunch of arugula that my boyfriend had on hand.


Another simple recipe, really. Sautee chopped ramp stems in butter and olive oil, add sliced morels and/or other mushrooms, add chopped asparagus, salt, pepper, and then at the last minute add the ramp leaves and arugula for a quick wilt. Then toss with pasta fresh out of the pot. Heavenly.


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The official heat wave of the last several days is over, and now it’s drizzly and 65.  There was a heat wave in my apartment, too.  When the air conditioning is off during the day, my boxy little Federal-style rowhouse apartment heats up like a brick oven.  A few weeks ago I stuck some zucchini, crookneck squash, tromboncino, and watermelon seeds into peat pots, but they failed to germinate quickly.  I had given up on them, but the heat in my apartment was apparently the wake-up call these cucurbits needed.  They’ve started sending up these thick stems with huge, alien-like cotyledons.


They’re growing incredibly quickly now.  For context, the spindly little shoots on the left are tomatillo seedlings that germinated two weeks ago.  The cucurbits have only been up for a couple of days.  They kind of remind me of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.  If they ask me to feed them blood, I’ll get nervous.

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lucerne2When I was in grad school, I wrote  a paper about the potential connection between community gardens and crime prevention, with specific attention to the city of Boston.   I do not claim that I found conclusive evidence that urban gardens actually help reduce crime.  If anything, my experience this year has shown that community gardens often (though definitely not always) pop up in neighborhoods with relatively low crime rates to begin with.

Still, on balance I stand by my previous hypotheses.  Two major theories of crime prevention – broken windows theory and collective efficacy theory – predict that urban gardens could contribute in some incremental way to preventing crime in the surrounding neighborhood.  By physically removing a vacant lot and requiring citizens to come together for a common purpose, community gardening fosters improvements to the urban landscape and enrichment of social capital, both of which are indicators of crime prevention.

A year and a half later, I’m still rather proud of this paper.  If you’d like to read the whole thing, click here.

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First Salad

On Friday I harvested some arugula that I had grown from seed, and also some red leaf lettuce from a seedling I’d bought at the market.  Inspired by Fat of the Land, I also threw a few foraged dandelion greens into the mix.  Topped off with some pea tendrils, sprigs of dill, cilantro, and parsley, it was a lovely first salad of the year from my garden:


I also thinned out the radishes some more and brought them to a viewing party for what would turn out to be the first of three awesome Red Sox victories over the Yankees. Between the baseball, fresh produce, and 90-degree heat, it definitely feels like summer.

radish_partyRadishes: Sox Fan-Approved

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Wow, what an exhausting weekend.  I turned two beds, planted dozens of seedlings and onion starts, watered everything, and walked around the community garden looking for adoptive parents for my extra seedlings.  All in nearly 90-degree heat.  Phew!  I’ll write more about it when I have more energy.  For now, here is a photo of a Janie Harmony marigold in my potato patch, helping ward off pests.


Hmm, looks like I need to do some weeding.

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Last weekend at my community garden plot I noticed that the turnip I had planted was starting to bolt, so it was time to harvest the turnip greens. Along with a couple of tiny radishes, it was my first harvest! I had never cooked with turnip greens, but my midwest-derived friend Teya said she knew what to do with them. I went over to her house with the greens, where she devised a fantastic pasta dish with sauteed onions, prosciutto, and turnip greens. The recipe is simple: chop and caramelize an onion with olive oil and a little wine, toss in the chopped turnip greens and some shreds of proscuitto, add some freshly boiled pasta, season with salt and pepper, et voila:


It was delicious. The sweetness of the caramelized onions and the saltiness of the prosciutto worked so well with the slightly bitter, spicy turnip greens. And on top of all this, the two tiny radishes served as a perfect amuse bouche for our meal.


Photos are all by Teya, a far better photographer than I, with a far better camera!

UPDATE: This recipe has been added to the Grow Your Own Roundup for April. Neat!

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