The fruits of my labor…

thornless blackberry in the frontgarden border…never taste as good to me as the fruits of someone else’s labor. I think there’s something sort of perverse about that. I have dutifully eaten a couple of my own tomatoes in the last week but am much more excited about the tomatoes we chose from the growers’ market. I also have an abundant crop of blackberries in the frontyard garden but remember the wild ones we picked at the cemetery last year tasting sweeter. Perhaps in the case of the blackberries, the wild ones in a dry year really were sweeter than my cultivated thornless variety in a wet year but with the tomatoes I think it has something to do with respect and pride. I have very little of either when it comes to the edibles under my jurisdiction and I’m working on figuring out why.

Everyone on the planet it seems is taking great pride in knowing exactly where their food comes from and is growing their own. According to the experts, nothing tastes better than something you’ve grown yourself. I suspect one of my issues might be that I know for certain that all I did was plunk a little something in the ground and move onto the next thing. Even the vegetables we grow at work are more appealing than my own because I at least witness the effort and love that goes into maintaining those plants. And professional local growers’ vegetables seem somehow miraculous and perfect too. My own seem like afterthoughts, wannabes and lucky guesses at best.

Rosa mutabilisThe professionals have obviously taken some trouble with their tomatoes to grow them (particularly this year), harvest them and bring them to market. I don’t take any trouble at all. It takes me all of 20 seconds to walk out the door and pluck a ripe tom from my surviving plant. I respect the market growers’ efforts but have no reason whatsoever to respect mine. On the other hand I take tremendous and overblown pride in some of my ornamental plants. These roses that I rescued from the compost heap at work haven’t ceased to amaze me and just like my tomatoes, I didn’t do anything more than plant them either. Ironically some of the ornamental plants I’m proud of are, in fact, vegetables…

Last night we ate Z’s mother’s soaked tomato salad (fresh tomato(es) cut into rounds and laid in a single layer in a shallow dish and drizzled with with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped raw garlic, basil – fresh or dried, oregano and Adobo seasoning and allowed to steep for a bit) and I was halfway through loving it as usual when Z mentioned that the tomato was from our garden. He seemed to take some pride in that and ate his share with gusto. I always think that food tastes better when it’s prepared with thought, love and care – by someone else – and I enjoyed the salad because Z made it. But maybe that’s just it with growing food too. I’ve always been willing and able to create something to look at (hell, I even have a degree or two in that) and take great pride in my successful efforts in visual loveliness even if I’m the only one that ever sees it. But food for me was never Art – and never particularly tasty – unless someone else made it. hmmmmmm… Food for thought! With my very own delicious blackberries for dessert.

blackberry perfection

Are you proud of the food you’ve grown? Is it the very tastiest? Or, like me, would you rather just look at it?

This little piggy went to market

me buying cheez, yoThe farmers market is one of the best ways to get fresh veg and support local farmers, stimulate the local economy and basically save the world with a radish and a zucchini. So where in SamHell am I supposta get tasty greens in the winter? I could go to the box chain supper-market and get some nice GMO’s shipped thousands of miles, yeah – or not, so it’s off to the winter farmers market.  local vegOn a balmy winter Saturday, I think it topped out at 30° in the sun, really nice – no seriously, it was a beautiful day – K and I headed out to Providence (Pawtucket actually, but let’s not split hairs) for some nice indoor farm fresh. The place was packed, how cool was that? – all kinds of vendors, fish, cheese, veg, live music, and yes, pigs…in the form of tasty sausage. And so many people shopping:  Old hippies with gray hair, young punk rockers in red doc martens, hipsters in tight jeans, art students in paint splatters, yuppies with babies in fancy strollers – all saving the world, or more importantly helping to ensure that I can get fresh food locally. So back at home, with week’s worth of veg, a martini in my paw and creme brule cooling on the counter, and snow predicted to start any second now, it’s been a very good day.  -Quick note, crème brûlée impresses the hell out of company and is wicked easy to make.

ring it up, sonyuppies and hippies and hipsters - oh my!

Z’s crème brulée

4 egg yokes

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

(all organic ingredients if possible, obviously.)

Wisk yokes and sugar until smooth (pale).  Add vanilla and wisk in cream.  Strain into 4 4oz ramekins.  Bake at 300°for 45 minutues in a water bath (ramekins in a glass dish filled half full of boiling water) or until jello-like in center.  Cool to room temp. then refridgerate for at least an hour.  Before serving, dust a thin coat of sugar on top and get out the blow torch.  Bon appetit!  Z-