Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Too decadent for dinner

Autumn's Gems
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are weeding. (I know this doesn't sound like the beginning of a fantasy but stay with me.) Every few minutes a sweet September breeze drifts by bringing cool relief from the autumn sun.  With it the honeyed scent of something fresh and delicious fills your sense. The aroma is like an outdoor candy store.  Distracted, you venture to find its origin.  There you stand at the foot of an enormous fig tree, overflowing with fruit and buzzing with all the other sweetness seekers: bees, butterflies and the like.  Scanning the garden for a container to collect your treasures,  you're nearly frantic that the pollinators will consume all of nature's sweetness before you find a proper basket.  Finally you choose a discarded plant container (a little potting soil never hurt anyone...)

This is not a dream.  This is Tuesday afternoon.

Incidentally it's the day before I am leaving to travel abroad for a thesis case study.  There isn't much in the fridge to make for dinner and I muse about how to use the figs before they go bad. (Their ONLY negative quality is that they really don't keep.)

Another quick Google search leads me to this a delicious sounding Fig and Almond Crostada. Since technically this does not sound like a dinner food, I think for a moment about a way to disguise this obvious dessert as a hardier acceptable dinner option...
To solve this dilemna, I make the most obvious choice: I add Bacon. I mean, the meal obviously needed a protein source. (If bacon is your fancy, slice it small and sprinkle on top before baking.) The recipe also says to combine the figs with a good amount of fresh lemon juice. Sadly without a lemon in the house, and am forced to use the next best thing: a lovely limoncello liquor...Voila, delicate, decadent, flaky, sweet and savory melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

In my defense I did pair it with green beans from the garden when I called it "dinner."

Try it for breakfast the next morning. It holds up well over night and can even handle a quick morning microwave buzz.   Enjoy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Carrot a day...

Actually other than "What's up Doc?" and something about the improvement of eye sight, I don't think there's an actual saying about carrots.  But for me, today was a carrot kind of day, as I harvested about 15 carrots that have been growing in my garden since late May.

Funny looking little buggers, home grown carrots, but man are they flavorful!  Today I roasted them.  Very simple recipe:

Clean thoroughly (more like scrub)
Cut off the greens (and save!)
Preheat to 450
Put on a cookie sheet
Drizzle with Olive Oil
Sprinkle with salt
Roast for 20 minutes until you see them turn little brown in spots

You can eat these with your fingers (once they've cooled) or be civilized and have them as a side dish with a knife and fork.

I was most curious about how to use the greens. Rumored to be poisonous, (don't believe it)  (Garden Betty Agrees) (Harold McGee Agrees too) they are delicious and useful.  Tart and a little bitter (think mustard greens and dandelion greens), a quick google search will bring you an array of recipe ideas. I chose this pesto and didn't regret it. As a result of a lack of planning I looked in the cabinet to find that I didn't have any pasta.  I did have red quinoa (how trendy). Given the salty tart flavor of this pesto, the combination worked perfectly.

Carrot Green Pesto

1/4 cup Olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 -1 1/2 cups of carrot greens (stems removed, I blanched half of the greens and left the other half raw.)
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
(a few leaves of parsely if you have it)

Put it all in the food processor and process till it has the texture you like!

80 degree temperatures and the early September sun made this day feel heavenly.  After I pulled the carrots, I pulled the spent tomato plants too.  In their place: lettuce, spinach and beet seeds.  'Comm'on Fall!'

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Plants all day, Party all night (LGP and the N. American Experience)

Old Oak @ the Arnold Arboretum
In the second summer of the graduate program, we get the pleasure of going on a week long regional trip in North America.  We don't get to participate in the planning process and are not allowed to campaign for cities or states that interest us.  The Director decides where we should travel and who we will meet.  We are finally able to view our agenda about 1 month prior to take-off.

Contrast at Tower Hill
Throughout the week, we are asked to think about the qualities and leadership styles of the staff we meet.  We are encouraged to discuss the varying operations and discover preferences for future work environments.  We are able to meet with the upper level staff and discuss all manner of operations of the garden or arboretum. From watering techniques to donor cultivation, from education programs to landscape architecture, from budgeting concerns to employee pay, all subjects are open to us and it's fascinating.

This year we traveled to New England, specifically to see 6 different institutions of horticulture in Boston and Maine. One classmate created a motto for the trip, Plants all day, party all night. Our "party" usually ended at 11pm... Although, one highlight did include a quaint hotel in Maine, where we got to sing along with the lounge singer at the piano bar.

On the trip, we each get an opportunity to act as photographer and to act as journalist for the Longwood Graduate Program Blog.  My day to do the reporting was Day 1 when we visited the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University.  My day to do the photography was on Day 3 when we visited Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Worcester, Mass.  

Links are below!

Trip to the Arnold Arboretum

Trip to Tower Hill