Monday, 4 March 2013 | 76 comments
At night, we bundle up and go down to the cellar. We decided to get hardcore about seed-starting this year and bought grow-lights. In the past, I’ve started seeds on windowsills, which works, sure, but the seedlings end up a bit leggy, and real estate is limited. Now, improbably, our windowless, 52-degree cellar is the home of seed-starting operations, spread across a big table with lights that shine 16 hours a day. We put on music, drink steaming tea, and get lost in the rhythm of poking holes, dropping in seeds, covering them up, watering them. All at 9 or 10 PM. It’s a little counterintuitive, and lends a certain drama to the work, like we’re growing something illicit in our basement.
It’s that silly time of year where we’re all pretty done with winter, but there’s still an interminable stretch until it’s honest-to-goodness spring. Even winter itself seems wan and ready to be put to bed, allowing some warming sun to poke through. On one or two afternoons, we’ve been able to move the garden prep outside for a few hours. But the nights still get very, very cold. The dirt still has a hard, frozen crust on its surface. I am still eating pantry-staple legumes. It is definitely not yet spring. » Click to read more
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 | 31 comments
i. It is garden-planning season around here. We went a little crazy poring over seed catalogues and, in the recent thaw we had, are doing some initial digging around to make new beds. This year, I will have a bed just for my lettuces and leafy greens, which are some of my favorite things to grow. This is because they’re easy, except where slugs are involved, and because I get to have that kindergarten-wonder moment almost every day when I go out to the garden or Ben brings in lettuce for a salad. Our friend Connie likes to say that this part of the year is best for gardeners: no drought, no pests, no weeds, no deer. And in your mind, the garden is always beautiful and successful. (I believe the subtext there is, “So enjoy it while you can.”) » Click to read more
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 | 104 comments
When I wrote this post awhile back, trying to celebrate home cooks, it resonated with some of you, rubbed some of you the wrong way, but all in all, generated some nice dialogue. Outside of the public comments, some readers emailed me with big questions. Questions about work-life balance, questions about how one manages a full-time non-blog, non-food job and a life of home cooking. Some of you even had questions about my schedule and shopping habits, which were simultaneously flattering in their sincere (and mistaken) belief that I cook every single meal and grow a huge proportion of my diet, and embarrassing in the humble truth of my responses.
My recent college grad sister (congratulations!) related an anecdote to me. She’s at the receiving end of all those post-college let’s-talk-about-real-life speeches, and was recently given one that she found a bit belittling. “The problem with your generation,” the speaker said, “is that they don’t know the value of a day’s hard work. The young people who work for me do their 40 hours and no more. You all want to have a lifestyle.”
Friday, 8 June 2012 | 20 comments
I’ve decided I’m going to start calling Tuscan kale by its Italian name, “cavolo nero.” Despite the fact that I eat it quite a bit, somehow whenever I talk about kale I end up swallowing my words. What can you say about kale? The brassica once unknown to this country is now the epitome of “health food”; liquefied into green juices and chopped into raw salads. Also: kale chips. I am tired of hearing about your kale chips, no offense, guys. On top of everything, I feel a little sad for all the other equally wonderful leafy greens, talking about collards more than a person has a right to do. » Click to read more
Sunday, 25 March 2012 | 58 comments
A few of you asked me about the little green seedlings growing, packed together, in a photo a few posts ago—they’re pea shoots. I’ve been growing them on my windowsill through the later part of this winter. I thought I’d share the process with you a bit. They are silly-easy to grow, whether you’re a city slicker or country kid, and quite pretty. It’s satisfying to have some sweet, tender greens right at your kitchen window to clip and toss into a salad or sandwich for some texture. » Click to read more