Sunday, August 21, 2016

A community of gardeners

So it's August. It's hot as heck. And there's not much going on in my home garden. What can I say, the veg plants are the only things in town that seem to dislike the shaded plot out back this summer.

Aside from the ever-robust compost bin, it's pretty sad back there. But that doesn't mean the plants aren't lush in other parts of my life. Check out the growlab residents, all started from seed in my living room last month:

Those little lettuces, beets, and flowers were just transplanted to their new home in my newest FoodPrints garden during this weekend's School Beautification Day. Oooh, the kids are going to be so thrilled to see the thriving plants when they return to school tomorrow. I bet they'll be especially excited to see the 3 Sisters Garden plot, with heirloom popcorn grown taller than the parents who came to help me with garden cleanup on Saturday:

Many thanks to my former intern Jessica for plantsitting while I was visiting friends in Vermont and Connecticut for a couple of weeks, to the volunteers who have helped to water the garden daily through these hot summer months, and to the parents and community volunteers who came to help me dig up the grass between the raised beds, mulch paths, weed, water, and transplant this weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Happy farmers market week!

Did you know this week is National Farmers Market Week? It may not have a Hallmark card section yet, but it's something to celebrate. Hug a farmer! Show up at a friend's house with a local watermelon! Try a new seasonal recipe!

You might imagine my elation when a colleague of mine asked me to do a chef demo at the market earlier today. I was especially honored as the market was to be visited by the undersecretary of the USDA. (That is quite a celebrity in my line of work.) He even stopped by for a bite of my raw zucchini noodle salad -- a brief visit as he was learning all about the Foggy Bottom market's awesome farmers and food benefits initiatives in action.

Here I am, all packed up after a successful demo. Note the trendy "I heart farmers markets" temporary tattoo. (It may be hard to see quite how overloaded Ollie was after the first market visit in two weeks -- my kitchen was quite bare when I returned from Connecticut on Monday night. That situation has been fixed.)

See, mom, I occasionally have a picture of myself on here.... in motion, as usual.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Goodness, I believe I haven't been to Burlington for a summertime visit since biking through on the Bikeable Feast in 2009. Now, this wasn't just an excuse to escape DC's heat and humidity -- I was heading up north to Vermont to visit friends, and then just a bit further south to Connecticut for my dear friend Felicity's wedding -- but fleeing DC summer weather for a week and a half was not a tough sell.

I love this place. Not even an hour after collecting me and my little rolling suitcase at the Burlington airport on Thursday afternoon, my old teaching pal Mark whisked me off to the Intervale, where we picked up a double farm share -- he knew I was coming, so wanted to be fully prepared with ample produce. After harvesting armloads of string beans and basil, cutting floral bouquets, and shuttling piles of fresh corn and tomatoes and greens into and out of the minivan, it was time for a dip in the lake followed by an outdoor concert and picnic (featuring seasonal fruit, local cheese, and the classic wine in a water bottle). Friday was a cooking extravaganza, with Mark and I sampling local beers and ciders while whipping up at least a half dozen dishes for an evening barbecue with friends. If I didn't know better, I would think Mark and Susan were trying to lure me into moving to Vermont. Hmm.

Saturday afternoon, I met up with my best friend Becky. She and her family had driven down from Montreal to hang out at Burlington's annual Festival of Fools. There was some good eating along the way, before her family let her come spend a few days of much-needed quality girl time with me. After a stop by one of my favorite co-ops in the country -- City Market -- to pick up dinner and some snacks for the next day's anticipated long hike, we were off to Waterbury.  It took us 5 hours on Sunday to make the rather steep hike up to the summit of Camel's Hump and back, and Becky and I were a bit ravenous afterwards. Oh, we had hiking snacks, sure, but did I mention it was a challenging, 5-hour hike? There was no choice but to head directly to the Ben & Jerry's factory. Forget the tour, we dove directly into a Vermonster:

Okay, technically it was a Mini Vermonster. That's Becky proudly showing off the sundae as big as her head. Don't shake your head at me, we split the four enormous scoops of ice cream, 2 bananas, and a brownie slathered with hot fudge, whipped cream, and nuts. Good thing it was a few more hours before dinner. It was amazing. I wonder if Becky is also trying to lure me north. Hmm. It is awfully good ice cream....