I love salad. And arugula is still at the top of the leaf list, for me, peppery and very nutritious (vitamin A, and loads of K - good for bones).
It seems that one of the best things about Chez Mosquito is that I might be able to grow as much salad as I can eat. Which is a lot.
The arugula and red mustard are being eaten now, and I sowed the rest of their seeds a few days ago, along with mesclun and radishes. The mâche germinated very poorly (1%, maybe) and after a lot more reading I have realized that the soil needs to be much cooler for successful germination. I have sown another batch and ordered more seed, so we shall see.
Today's lunch was a happy one: toasted sourdough from the loaves I baked earlier in the week, just-picked arugula and red mustard, and Vinaigrette Germaine (very garlicky, as my mother-in-law makes it).
I forgot to ask Vince to feed the sourdough starter when I left for Cape Town (it is usually fed weekly). By the time we both returned it had been starved for four weeks. But it frothed right up (above) after a snack of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and a little drink of nice Brooklyn tap water.
I made bread. So much more fun in September than in the humidity of summer. The dough is different, and the hot oven not so much like hell.
Our new kitchen is small but actually has more work surface than the one in Harlem - allowing me to leave the loaves to rise on the counter.
I baked them after the crisp-skinned roast chicken had been take from the oven.
One we eat now, one we slice, bag and freeze. Excellent toast.
When we returned from Cape Town I found a package wrapped in ribbon waiting for me. In it was a book from a friend, Leon van Eck. Yesterday I opened it and began to read (yes, I did wipe the cover after I removed my drink).
Tomorrow's Table is written by Pamela Ronald, a geneticist, and Raoul Adamchuck, an organic grower. They are married.
Leon - who is also a geneticist - and I have had digital scraps in the past about GMO's. When I hear the acronym, I (and thousands like me) think dark Monsanto thoughts. And we recoil.
There is so much more to the story, and while I am only a couple of dozen pages in, I am hooked.
If you read labels, if you care about how your food is grown, if you are a grower of edible plants, this book is for you. It is essential and easy reading for people who consider themselves responsible and informed eaters.
I have two autumn gardening pieces on Gardenista this week.
One is about fall-beautiful perennials, to inspire a small move away from mum monoculture. Above, Vernonia photographed on the High Line. Read the story here: Fall Flowers
The second is one of my favorite topics - cool-season edible plants, especially pertinent right now as I prepare the neglected and uber-weedy in-ground beds I have inherited here on 1st Place.
Above - rainbow chard grown on the rooftop of the original 66 Square Feet. And yesterday I sowed more salads: mesclun, mustard, arugula and radishes.
It is rewarding always to include images from my edible gardening experiments - the picture of the arugula shows our first crop, here in Carroll Gardens, above (we ate this bunch last night, wilted in a warm potato salad).
Unconsciously inspired (I figured it out afterwards) by plates of French snacks that my friends Stacey and Laura have been posting from Provence and Paris, I put together a Brooklyn collection to tide us over till dinner, last night. Also, I had skipped lunch.
New York Concord grapes, sausage from Los Paisanos, mutt olives, and Emmenthaler. As cosmopolitan as Carrol Gardens, minus the strollers. This is a neighborhood of young children and their parents, and old Italians. We like our new neighborhood very much, but find it, after Harlem and South Africa, very white. I miss the mix.
But we will always miss something about somewhere.
We sleep very well at night - as in, the whole night through. No thumps and bumps and crashes from below.
I am still getting used to the character of the outside space. A lot of windows look at us, from the houses opposite, whose backyards adjoin ours, so it is not a very private space. There is Rosa next door, who seems to watch every move. We'll see how that unfolds.
I'll write soon about garden things; there is a lot to tell.
First piece of gardening news. Not quite what I was expecting to report:
91-year-old Rosa, who lives alone in her multi-storey townhouse next door, asked me, through her son Henry (who was sweeping her yard), to not grow vines on her fence. My cardinal vine had just begun to bloom on top of it.
But vines are messy.
The fence in question is black and rusty and is what separates us from Rosa's bare concrete and astroturf yard. Not messy. Some day I'll show you a picture of her front garden.
So I have snipped my flowering cardinal vine down.
Yesterday, I thought that perhaps the birch pole screen I erected some weeks ago on our side of her iron fence had been a mistake. Now, I think not. Henry says that yes, we may grow whatever we like on our fence. He was apologetic, he said, and speaking for Rosa, not himself. Rosa waved from a window - one of the ones from which she feeds flocks of city pigeons every morning. You know, neat, toilet-trained city pigeons.
I waved back.
I exchanged telephone numbers with Henry, in case Rosa ever needs anything. I would be happy oblige, unless it is with a request to napalm the rest of my garden.