Thursday, May 28, 2009

The limits of kindness

We have more lettuce that anyone could possibly eat and all the radishes have gone woody. The radishes are my fault--I didn’t have the heart to thin or pick. And it's not just radishes I can barely bring myself to harvest. We spent so much time planting and watering and weeding and waiting that when I go to the garden to pick lettuce for a salad and everything looks so lovely and lush, I find myself picking one leaf at a time, looking for the plants that seem most able to survive the trauma; it takes forever. Radishes were especially difficult because they were the first green leaves to pop up at the start of spring... I got attached. And you don’t quite know what they look like under the soil. It’s so sad to pull up a radish and find yourself with a tiny little root that needed more time. Of course, if I had thinned them as I should have, they would have grown much larger and I wouldn’t have had to worry. In the end they were so woody that handfuls of them had to be pulled and tossed on the compost heap.

Our peas are blooming and green pods are beginning to dangle from the vines.
They have only made it a third of the way up our overly ambitious trellis, but the plants look great twining around the strings, their bottom leaves going brown as they direct all their energy into flowers and seeds. I’ve been checking our cabbages for worms every day. They are hard to spot--lovely little green things, perfectly matching the leaves and nothing moving but their jaws as they nibble. They are soft and often still chewing when I picked them off the cabbages and put them in the bird feeder.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The neighbors wonder...

We coo and photograph the garden like new parents.

I have fallen in love with an ant colony that lives in the pea patch, in the evenings I give them the crumbs from my after work snack and ignore Brad when he wonders it they are nibbling the roots of our plants. They are red and vicious looking, the bullies of this bit of ground, busy piling crumbs of earth on the low leaves of my peas.

I squat with my chin on my knees, watching and drifting, pulling the occasional weed. I always thought it would be lovely to be tiny and live in the garden, making my home under a mushroom.

This past weekend our garden partners came over and we put top soil on the half of the garden that the plumbers had turned to clay. Then we planted the rest of our seeds and some plants from the farmers' market. Now all we have to do is wait...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I haven’t written in weeks but I have a very good excuse. I’ve been busy making pizza. Many pizzas, and I've stopped using my Dad's dough… Mom is the Italian one but it has always been Dad who is the pizza maker. Growing up he made lovely, square, thick crusted pies that I eventually learned were what other people call Sicilian style. I should point out that my mother’s family isn’t Sicilian, I know next to nothing about where they came from in Italy, but my grandmother has made sure that I know that we aren’t Sicilian. When I was in college he started using a pizza stone to make smaller round pizzas, same dough recipe but rolled out thinner to make a crispier crust. I’ve used my dad’s recipe for years; it’s a good dough, but has to be made the same day as the pizza and it needs to rise, and rest, and rise again. This means that dinner can be very, very late. Recently I saw this recipe from the New York Times.They also have a great video (I want her job!). This dough must be made at least a day before you bake the pizzas, but it can wait in your refrigerator for a week, and even then it bakes up perfectly--chewy and yeasty and far, far better that my old crust. I press out the dough on parchment paper because it makes it so much easier to slide them into the oven.
My new favorite version is something that my Dad’s family in France makes: Cut bacon into bits, cook till just beginning to brown, add sliced onions to the pan and sauté until the onions and bacon are brown. Mix equal parts sour cream and cottage cheese and spread on the pizza dough, sprinkle on onions and bacon. Slide onto a heated pizza stone to bake.
If you are very lucky my dad will make this for you on a day that he has foraged morels from the woods behind the house and he will top the pizza with them…