Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where The Green Things Grow

Last year BFF Olga grew a small and charming garden on her kitchen porch. This summer the garden spread from the porch to the backyard. A few weeks ago I spent the day with her from sun up to sun down in the garden and kitchen.

We started early in the morning going through each plant checking to see what was ready for picking. Picking the food you will eat and cook is a pleasant way to begin your day. There was such anticipation as we went from plant to plant. You wonder if the eggplant be ready today, or if the beets have begun to loosen from the soil.

Olga moves around her garden giving me updates and little anecdotes on each plant. Her carrots have been growing into funny shapes, sprouting into multiple forks, but they are still delicious and unlike anything you'll ever taste from the store. We pull one out of the soil; I can't get over- it forks three times and reminds me of the mandrake root.

Along the way I meet Paulie, a recent addition to the garden. She likes to supervise.

We move from the carrots to the beets. We are digging for orbs of rubies in black gold. The soil Olga grows her vegetables in is so dark and rich and smells so heady with earth I want to bury my nose in it.  The soil, along with a generous amount of dedciation and patience has been yielding a sizable summer bounty that becomes more evident as we move from plant to plant. She has been composting every organic scrap from her kitchen, giving the soil back everything it gives. 

By 8 am (it was an early morning) we have made our selection. Including zuchinni...

 Eggplant. I just have to say that the eggplant is such a majestic vegetable. I love their shape and color--plump, richly colored, with a curling capped vine. When they are ripe, their heaviness weighs them down and they sit on the soil waiting to picked. Such whimsical royalty.

A bouquet of lettuce greens for a salad. They were nearly too pretty to eat and too fresh not to.

The highlight of my morning had to be the discovery of squash blossoms.  
You know how it feels to waiting for something you've longed for. Well when you find it, it's a graceful satisfaction. That's how finding these blossoms felt. 

Next it was upstairs to the porch herb garden.

We feasted that day.

And even had time to pickle the carrot and beet shoots.

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Concrete Magnolia is the evolving anthology of my life; which almost always finds its way back to food.