Moro East and the garden

salmorejo with shrimp, tomato and avocado

salmorejo with shrimp, tomato and avocado

Here are just a few updates. Above is a lovely appetizer — salmorejo with shrimp, tomato and avocado — from Moro East that I turned into a main course. Salmorejo is a summer gazpacho with ripe tomatoes, garlic, white bread, red wine vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.

salmorejo

salmorejo

Here is my latest soup from Moro East: Hassan’s celery and white bean soup with tomato and caraway.

Hassan's celery and white bean soup with tomato and caraway

Hassan’s celery and white bean soup with tomato and caraway

— served with Moro East‘s very own flatbread:

flatbread

flatbread

This makes 25 completed recipes from Moro East. Percentage complete: 15.63%

And, finally, some garden progress: I have been eating many arugula, radish, and herb salads this past month, but I think the garden is about to produce much more. The buds are so pretty, I think.

herb salad with nasturtium flowers

herb salad with nasturtium flowers

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the allotment

I feel as though I have some updates: 1) I tried my hand at meditating at a Buddhist temple with a friend — a fairly interesting experience, one that I definitely will do again. I do need practice, though — my mind wanders a bit more than necessary, I think!  2) I have an allotment! Very exciting. I must admit that I was taken aback when I first saw the plot. It would need, I realized, a lot of work before I might begin gardening. This first photo is from the second day of clearing.

Day 2This second photo was taken near the end of Day 2:

Day 2I planted the garden on Day 4 (31 May 2013). After seven hours of planting (and one severely burnt back), I came up with this:

2013-05-31 17.09.14And “this” includes: arugula, dill, cilantro, chives, basil, Swiss chard, and nappa cabbage (bordering the whole thing); tomatoes (brandywine, cherry, marglobe, and roma), purple bush beans, sweet peppers, eggplants, pole beans, pole peas, cucumbers, acorn squash, and butternut squash (near main bed); and radishes, green onions, beets, leeks, and fava beans (far main bed).

Day 4We will see what comes of it! Since May 31, I’ve planted two edible (I think!) flowers: nasturtium and marigolds.

And here are a few updates from the container garden on my deck. These were taken on May 27th, 2013. The peas and radishes have grown substantially larger since then — more pictures to come soon!

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peas

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beans

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flat-leaf parsley

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thyme

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the mints — ginger, orange, and chocolate

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radishes and beets

On growing things

It is getting to be that time of year: gardening season. And after going through a few new books (!) on gardening, I feel that I am very much behind.

Near the beginning of last April, I brought home the first green things of the year: parsley, basil, thyme, and a variety of mints — chocolate, orange, ginger, and peppermint. Then, near the very end of April, I brought home five more: sage, chives, oregano, chamomile, and curry leaf. I have grown neither chamomile nor curry leaf before — so I feel I am in for a grand adventure. Here is their progress, so far:

parsley. 6 April 2013

parsley.
6 April 2013

Basil 6 April 2013

basil
6 April 2013

thyme 6 April 2013

thyme
6 April 2013

chocolate mint 6 April 2013

chocolate mint
6 April 2013

orange mint 6 April 2013

orange mint
6 April 2013

ginger mint  6 April 2013

ginger mint
6 April 2013

peppermint 6 April 2013

peppermint
6 April 2013

parsley 18 April 2013

parsley
18 April 2013

basil 18 April 2013

basil
18 April 2013

thyme 18 April 2013

thyme
18 April 2013

the mints 18 April 2013

the three mints
18 April 2013

peppermint 18 April 2013

peppermint
18 April 2013

parsley 24 April 2013

parsley
24 April 2013

basil 24 April 2013

basil
24 April 2013

chamomile, sage, oregano, chives, curry leaf 29 April 2013

chamomile, sage, oregano, chives, curry leaf
29 April 2013

This will be my first attempt at growing so many things in containers — on a deck that gets mostly morning sun. We will see what happens!

Moving

I moved into my own apartment about a week ago. After driving across seven states with my parents, I finally had arrived at my third floor apartment in an old New England home last Monday. My parents returned home a few days ago. And I am settling in nicely, ready for life to begin.

But before I set my mind too much on the present and future, I will recap just a few of our pre-journey preparations. Before heading out on the open road, my mom and I canned a few tomatoes . . .

. . . oven-dried a few red peppers . . .

. . . and transplanted a few herbs. All herbs survived the trip. Currently, they are happily sunning themselves in their new pots on my deck (pictures to come).

The first food I prepared (well, chopped and ate) in my new apartment: tomatoes and mangoes. In the background of the following two photos is the cutting board my dad designed and built for me before we left. I think it is beautiful.

Until we meet again, Wisconsin. This next photo is for you.

green beans and red potatoes with pesto

Any evening that includes basil is a good evening. When that basil is made into a fragrant pesto sauce, that evening just got better. Serving pasta with pesto, green beans, and potatoes is classic in northern parts of Italy. Yet, I know only a handful of people who take advantage of this rustic, earthy combination. For this dish, I often leave out the pasta entirely and throw in a few chickpeas for good measure. 

To make the pesto, chop lots of basil (at least 2-3 cups, packed), toasted pine nuts, and fresh garlic in a food processor. Slowly add enough extra virgin olive oil (about 2/3 cup) to make a smooth, but still thick sauce. Pour the mixture into a bowl, and season with lots of black pepper and a bit of salt. I usually add a generous pinch of crushed red pepper at this point. Stir in freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (a good 1/2 cup). After ensuring that it tastes like your idea of paradise, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

Did I mention that we’ve just begun harvesting our green beans and red potatoes? Perfect timing.

Roast quartered red potatoes in the oven until tender, about 40-45 minutes. Meanwhile, steam trimmed green beans for two minutes (two minutes!) before transferring them to an ice bath.

Now, simply bring everything together. In a large skillet, add the roasted potatoes, blanched green beans, and pesto sauce. To make a full meal, throw in a generous amount of chickpeas. (You know, those in the fridge, those that already have been soaked and cooked, those that are ready for throwing into things. Yes, those chickpeas.)

Gently stir until the dish is heated throughout. Adjust seasoning. Broil some bread. Take a deep breath. Eat a spoonful of the left-over pesto. Set a table. Pour a glass of wine. And enjoy.