Peppers Becoming Peppers

IMG_0469 - Version 2Our peppers are ripening slowly but surely, coming into their own fully-peppered selves.

But meanwhile, a complaint. NYC’s scent gets a particularly bum rap for a city that contains upwards of eight million peeps. But come mid-July even I can’t contest that a haze smelling distinctly of diapers, feet, and way-past-its-sell-by-date milk looms in a fog around our fair town, making almost cartoony wafting shapes above piles of trash.

And thus! Evan and I will be merely in and out of the city for the next few weeks, avoiding the Oscar the Grouch smell and seizing the opportunity to take some time off before Evan starts his PhD (whoot!  Go bunny!) and I start my Master’s in Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health (for real, I’ll be legit).

So over the next few weeks we’ll be helping out on my sister-in-law’s farm in Vermont, visiting both sets of our folks in Northwest CT, and even going to a wedding in Curaçao! As such we will be dropping into the city every few days, instead of every-every day. Hopefully our little window bounty will survive the lack of attention – although as things are looking a leetle shabby as is, perhaps not.

But! We do have some fine looking peppers turning appropriate pepper-shades coming along, and some very exciting eggplants, which neither of us are sure when to cave and pick. Suggestions?

IMG_0473 IMG_0472 - Version 2 IMG_0470(Oh, and it’s a metaphor. We’re the peppers. Obviously we’re the peppers, pay attention.)

 

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Lavender-Honey Ice Cream

Lavender-Honey Ice CreamKnowing that my parents and my husband’s parents occasionally read this blog, I have been thoroughly warned against telling this story. But I’m a rebel, and I think they all will live. So I’m going to tell a story about Harry Potter, and then link it to lavender. Ready?

When Evan and I had just started dating he informed me that he had never read any of the Harry Potter books, nor seen any of the movies. Clearly this needed to be rectified – and stat. So in the downtime of our first summer together – which meant when we weren’t holding hands under the table or gazing longingly or fluttering our eyelasshes across crowded rooms (cue eye roll here) – we were reading all the Harry Potter novels. Soup to nuts. And then watching all the movies.

It was an incredibly immersive experience. So much so that I had begun dreaming about Harry and the gang on a nightly basis, wacky adventures ensuing while I rolled around like Voldemort had discovered we were connected via a scar. No good for the sleeping.

One night I dreamed that Dumbledore had blessed me and Evan with Harry and Hermione’s powers. I had been handed my wand and was learning proper wand motion. “You’re doing it wrong,” I could hear Hermione explain, “You’re supposed to point and flick.” Point and flick. Point and flick.

I awoke from this vivid scene with a jolt, clutching Evan’s penis while exercising proper wand flicks, wondering why it wasn’t shooting sparks.

Ouch. Sorry bunny. IMG_0224 Thus: we planted some lavender next to our bed to make for better sleeping.

Yes, the wonders of lavender are spread as far as the Hogwarts’ eye can see. From sleep aid to magical cures to, mmm, lavenderful treats. Like Lavender-Honey Ice Cream. This is not a dessert for the dairy-impaired, or the vegan conscious. But it is absolutely a heavenly flavor – creamy and soothing, thickly sweet with a tangy aftertaste. We got this recipe from The Arrows Cookbook (we crossed their Blueberry Ice Cream recipe with their Lavender-Honey one) and added slices of lemon peel.

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh or 2 tablespoons dried lavender
  • zest of 1 small lemon, removed in strips using a peeler
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup honey

1. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. Have ready a smaller bowl that fits inside the ice bath, and a fine sieve. 2. Stir together the milk, cream, sugar, lemon peel and lavender leaves in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Take the saucepan off the heat, cover, and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes.IMG_0258IMG_0219 3. Whisk together the egg yolks and honey in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, gently whisky to combine. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirringly constantly with a wooden spoon, over medium heat until the mixture reaches a temperature of 180 degrees F or it thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Immediately strain the mixture through the fine sieve into the smaller bowl, pressing on the lavender (and lemon peel) to extract the flavor, and place the bowl in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until completely chilled.IMG_0233 4. Freeze the mixture in the stand mixer with the ice cream attachment you were lucky enough to get as a weddingcommitment ceremonybeing alive gift (or the ice cream machine one might otherwise own). Serve at once or freeze for later.IMG_0241 Enjoy on a steamy July night near the solstice, when bedtime is minutes away and there’s no chance of a noseless Death Eater forcing you to maul your partner.IMG_0351

We Made an Eggplant!

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Despite the serious space limitations of our NYC studio apartment, our eggplants are fruiting!

It’s not done yet. Ees just a little baby now. A thumb-sized baby eggplant… That one day will be dinner.

We lost some eggplant flowers – probably normal given the crowding, but I’m no eggplant-expert – but they’ve made a lovely centerpiece!

Eggplant Flowers

In other news, this week in our share we got:

  • a beautiful head of lettuce
  • zucchini
  • snow peas
  • mesclun
  • sweet salad turnips
  • radishes
  • arugula
  • garlic scapes
  • strawberries
  • blueberries

CSA Share

Nothing quite like being farm-supportin’ cityfolk.

 

The Poor Man’s Vegan Pesto

Vegan Pesto

There’s something about basil that screams summertime. Whether it’s paired with tomato and mozzarella, thrown into a Thai stir-fry, or spread with olive oil and sea salt over grilled goodies, it is the quintessential summery flavor. But nothing solidifies the oncoming summer season so much as pesto.

I know people who make literal tubs of pesto and freeze it for the impending potlucks. When I was little I requested it so often over the summer months that my mother, tired of making and remaking pesto on a daily basis, froze pesto in ice cube trays. Not a bad idea for the sake of speed and convenience.

I too love bringing a good pesto (on greens, on tofu, slathered on veggies, or, of course, on pasta) to potlucks.  But I’ve found three main problems over the last few years. One: parmesan is not only not vegan, it’s not even vegetarian due to the unfortunate use of animal rennet. (Say it isn’t so!) Two: pine nuts in 2014 cost you your first born in currency. Which led me to three: I have a slight allergy to walnuts in which my tongue tickles, but not to pecans – isn’t that strange?

And so – behold! – The Poor Man’s Vegan Pesto

  • 2 cups basil, preferably from your garden (!!)
  • 1/2 cup shelled pecans
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, depending on who you’re planning on standing near later
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • And sea salt, copious amounts

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Okay, and this is where the recipe gets really complicated. Put them in a blender, and press “Blend.”

No really, in case you didn’t know already, that is how you make pesto.

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I was really surprised to find that the pesto genuinely doesn’t need parmesan. Cheese lovers no doubt will argue – and I empathize – but for anyone avoiding dairy, pesto doesn’t need to be a sacrifice. It was delicious and we put it on everything and no doubt will stack up our freezer for the oncoming months.

Also, try playing with pestos! I recently made a dandelion green pesto, which was lovely, a kale pesto, and a parsley one. I’d love to try mint! Experiment with herbs and with nuts – and if you can afford pine nuts, more power to ya.

Presto pesto!

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Swinger’s Sage Gin

U.S. is Voted Dry
Sage and GinIt’s hard to fantasize about the Roaring Twenties without conjuring images of femme fatals, exposed backs, Lucky Luciano, strings and strings of pearls, and Daisy Buchanan. But more than anything, we remember Prohibition, with a comic retrospective irony that such an experiment was obviously a bad idea.

But there is always romance in times of repression. And so even in better times, we tend to look back at the ’20s as being full of moments of change and creation, and get dreamy-eyed in the process. I get dreamy-eyed when I indulge in gin (and possibly bleary-eyed too) and can’t help feeling like I’m stowing away in a Speakeasy rebelling against authority.Swingers Gin

Last night Evan made me a Swinger’s Drink worth doing the Charleston for. Made with Apple & Lingonberry sparkling juice (Prohibition-approved), gin (less approved), and garden sage, it was sweet and tart and nostalgic.

Our very own Victory Garden provided us with yet another divine concoction combined to Damn the Man with. Talk about being “This Side of Paradise.”Prohibition Dancers

Confiscating Barrels of Wine

Oh. My. Goddess.

You're a Goddess ("And you're a slayer") DressingSo you know the best thing ever? Friends who casually send you stuff they found in their garage that they’re no longer using.

Take, for example, our Vitamix – yes, a freaking Vitamix – courtesy of one spectacular pal, Grace. (A million thanks for that one, it seriously comes in handy.)

What will I ever do with this Vitamix? Wait… a bagillion things. Not to sound like a 4am infomercial, but I can now: make my own almond milk, blend soups, go raw for a week, give my poor juicer a break, or make some dazzling vegan dressings for my homegirl who just re-gave up dairy. (She’s whoopin’ my tuches on the vegan front.)

I found this recipe from the Oh She Glows blog – and she does!

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  • 1 garlic clovephoto
  • 1 cup packed avocado flesh (2 small)
  • 7-8 tbsp water
  • 5 tbsp apple cider vinegar*
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsleyphoto 2
  • 1/2 cup packed green onion (dark green part only, not white)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • Touch of honey and/or agave

As per usual, I futzed around with it. I used whatever basil and parsley we had in our window garden (pictures coming soon!) – which didn’t quite add up to a cup’s worth of each. Used a regular onion because I was strangely out of scallions, replaced cayenne for black pepper, and faked it with little of this/little of that-ing.

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All in all it came out delicious and springy and ready to smother on everything.You're a Goddess Dressing

tumblr_ljv16g4Qph1qa1vu6P.S. Evan’s contribution to said experiment: “Way to nerd out on salad duty.”

Tomato Season!

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?

Tomato Picnic Lunch

Paired with Humboldt Fog cheese, a scrumptious rye, and some mesclun with balsamic, tomato has never shone so bright.

Heirloom Tomato Insides

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.)

Windowsill Growings-Ons

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.

Cherry Tomato Plant

Cherry Tomato Plant

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’!

Zucchini Flowers

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!

Lemon Tree BeesAnd as our last addition, we grew some berries! They’ve quickly gotten squiggly with the heatwave we’ve been suffering, but when we get to them in time they’ve been a stupendous treat.

Strawberry Plant

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.

Farm Friends

Sometimes new friends come in your CSA!

Don’t be startled, they come with the territory.  And if you let them, they’ll tickle your thumb.

Above is Albert. As we have a window garden there’s a convenient place for Albert to live when he accidentally arrives in our tote bag. Albert’s made several friends since: Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein, Buttersworth, and Swarthy. They all live happily in the soil and throw bug parties and watch passers-by.

I suggest you burrow through your goodies from your share and make sure you don’t have any new pals nibbling on your vegetables. We had the alarming experience of almost cooking Buttersworth on Tuesday, and have since been more thorough in our searches.

Anyone have a suggestion on where to put farm friends when you don’t have a window garden? (Flushing not an option.)