April made this tree in a mere three days!
And Day 3:
It’s been a long, cold winter, completely void of writing as our CSA has been inexistent. But after a treacherous and interminable winter, SPRING appears to have arrived. The city is lighting up – both literally and figuratively – New York’s farmin’ cityfolk are back, and ahh, the season has sprung…
In memorandum of the painful winter we’ve endured, I’ve put together a small list of things that will no doubt go remembered (or more likely forgotten) from Winter 2014:
No doubt spring will bring its own series of less than notable events. But that is all for now.
Rumor has it that this year’s apple crop is going to be the biggest in years. So it may have been a little shortsighted of us to go apple picking. Surely our CSA will be throwing more apples our way than we could possibly know what to do with in mere weeks time, but oh well: a-picking we shall go.
New York state puts us in a stellar place to take advantage of apple season. NY is second to Washington state in apple production, and we have literally hundreds of variations to choose from. So we, tra-la-la, took the Metro-North upwards a bit, met a loved one, and made a day of it.
Evan will tell you that no trip to an apple orchard is complete without (at least) one apple cider donut.
Back home, we contemplated what to do with our big ol’ bag of apples. A few years back we wrote Appletopia with a few good ideas, but this year, what with the apple palooza ahead, we might have to get creative.
If you caught our recent post on canning, this might not seem like such a shocker, but we decided to kick off the apple season by making and canning apple butter. We cut up all the apples (at least the ones that didn’t get snarfed down with crunchy peanut butter) and put them in a dutch oven.
Ok, so here’s where apple butter gets really tricky. Put the apples in a pot, walk away, and leave them on low heat for several hours.
No, seriously, that’s how you make apple butter. A chimp could do it.
Disclaimer: No offense to chimps intended. They’re actually very intelligent animals. Like the majestic platypus.
Lest we should ever forget Annette Bening’s famous Kids Are All Right rant about heirloom tomatoes: “I just can’t. With fucking hemp milk and the organic farming and if I hear one more person say they love heirloom tomatoes, I’m going to fucking kill myself, okay? And did you know that we’re composting now? Oh yeah. Oh no, don’t throw that in the trash. You have to put it in the composting bin where all of the beautiful worms will turn it into this organic mulch and then we’ll all feel good about ourselves.”
Well, sorry Annette. I flipping love heirloom tomatoes. (And you.)
It is officially tomato season! And what better way to start the celebration off then by visiting the farmer’s market and surveying the lumpy, bumpy, freaky-deakies and bringing them on a picnic with us for lunch?
Paired with Humboldt Fog cheese, a scrumptious rye, and some mesclun with balsamic, tomato has never shone so bright.
And in related news, our own window garden granted us our very first ripe cherry tomato this week! It’s of the less-bumpy variety, but just as juicy and just as quirky. Next year, we’ll give heirlooms a try.
(You’ll live, Annette.)
We’ve made some mentions lately of goodies from our garden being thrown in our meals, like scallions in our peanut noodles and chives in our eggs, et cetera, but it’s been a while since we’ve given a progress report on our window garden’s goings-ons.
Our cherry tomato plants we were so dubious about are actual tomatoes… or tomatoes of the not-red-yet variety. They’re cramped and could definitely be happier – drought not helping – but they’re fruiting, so I, for one, have big plans for their future.
We have added zucchini to our plot, knowing that it tends to grow copiously. And copious it has been! The zucchini greenery has spread like mad, and we now have little zuchi flowers a-bloomin’!
I’ve heard rumors you can cook with the flowers, but haven’t heard of any appealing recipes. Would be delighted by contributions.
And a certain someone demanded we have a lemon tree. I have no clue on earth how a lemon tree will survive in our apartment come winter, but I assume we’ll find out. And it must be going well enough as little buzzy bees have been visiting our windowsill!
In less good news, our spinach totally kicked the bucket. It was a comic failure. As were our mustard greens. And our mint has on days and off days. But I’m taking the optimistic view that for our first window garden ever, things are going in our favor.
We’ve gotten blueberries three weeks in a row from our share, which can only mean a clear blinking roadside sign that says “MAKE MUFFINS”. Which we did. And are glad about it.
Blueberry muffins are the happiest way to celebrate the summer, and an even happier way to celebrate our independence. And brilliantly, our farm had a muffin recipe up on their website. We skipped their lemon-sugar topping, but used their ingredients as inspiration and were granted a spirited flag to top ’em off.
Our Share’s Muffins:
• 2 cups fresh blueberries (from the farm!)
• 1 1/8 cups sugar plus 1 teaspoon
• 2 1/2 cups of flour
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon table salt
• 2 large eggs
• 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter , melted and cooled
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup of yogurt)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Num num num…
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Serve with sparklers and a side of fireworks.
Who says cucumber sandwiches have to be an upper class treat? Notorious for their place next to afternoon tea, cuke sandwiches have a nasty reputation for gracing the tables of the elite. But, as cucumbers came in this week’s share, along with this dazzling pile of delicious –
– we have decided to prove that afternoon tea comes in many forms. I’ve long since ditched the crustless, white bread, triangle-shaped cucumber sandwiches, and adopted a simple rendition of cucumber slices on buttered toast doused in salt and pepper, which in the painful 99° weather this week, was heavenly. Paired with a glass of water with extra cuke slices in it, we managed to fend off the heat for at least the extent of lunchtime.
Tea on another day perhaps. A day significantly cooler.
Our effort is to increase farming and gardening in the city by planting our own window garden and supporting rooftop gardens, urban farms and farmers markets. But sometimes we can’t help but escape to where the farming and gardening already is. Especially in the summer, the two of us find ourselves sneaking away to help family members with their gardening projects, and spending oodles of time hidden in the country jumping in lakes.
It’s likely that we’ll be posting a handful of things that look decidedly un-New York this summer. But we will continue to bring farms to city folk. For our first un-NY offering is a “foot by foot” garden project that we lent a hand to and think can offer ideas to apartment dwellers on how to grow a reasonable amount of food in a small amount of space – like a window.
My mum started a garden this year where she diligently divided her planter up with rope to section off 12″ by 12″ spaces and plant within each square.
Our CSA is finally here! And there was a lot of spastic celebratory dancing on West End Avenue this Wednesday evening as a result.
Rather than collect our share bi-weekly or go through the process of pairing with an anonymous CSA member, we decided to rope our friends Tyler and Brittany into splitting a share this year. I think they’ll agree it was a good decision.
We uncontrollably nibbled the minute we were inundated with farm food, but managed to control ourself enough to try some concoctions. Like! Wrapping strawberries in the surprisingly peppery arugula for a gnarly Ratatouille-like explosion (think cartoon rat, not tomato and zucchini). Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
Below is our complicated exchange of vegetables on the street corner – less highly recommended. Soon to find a better solution.
**It should be noted that right after this photo was taken a wide-eyed little boy walked by us, gawking at the 6-foot-4 Tyler, while the kid’s mother whispered to him, “Go ahead, honey, say hi! Say hi to him!”
We all think you’re Superman, Tyty. Each and every one of us.
And so, the season begins!