Sunday, January 8, 2012

Love, Eat, Garden!

The first weekend of the new year was quite a treat as I spent it with close friends and family.

One of the highlights of last summer was watching my high school friend, Carol, get married and this weekend was the first time I had seen her since their wedding.

She invited me to their new home as she prepared for a hot pot dinner, which I couldn't attend because I had dinner plans with family (potential blog post, but there wasn't much plant/veggies involved and I was too lazy to take pictures). With her younger sister, we helped prepare for the evening meal and as a token of her appreciation, she prepared a light breakfast and lunch that was so simple, yet so comfy and delicious.

Carol utilized a green that I've just started to become fond of last year when I had so much of it when I was in England. There, it's known as rocket, but in the US, we call it arugula. As a uber plant geek, it's Eruca sativa.A native of the Mediterranean regions where it kind of grows as a weedy annual, the peppery foliage is often used in salads and lightly cooked as a vegetable.

Here, Carol lightly sautes the arugula with a bit of bacon jam she was given as a gift and in the same pan, she lightly toasts a half of an English muffin that's topped with the greens and finished off with a seasoned fried egg, sunny-side up!

In the garden, it's an easy plant to raise as even young seedlings can be sheared and used as needed and it flushes out new foliage each time it's cut. You can also plant the seeds in succession so you have a regular harvest throughout the spring and summer. Provide a full sun location and water regularly. It is a type of plant that can be very quick to bolt (produce flowers instead of the desired leaves) so they like it fairly cool, but the flowers can also be eaten and the seeds saved for future sowings.

After a second helping of this simple, but scrumptious dish, we helped Carol prepare for her hot pot dinner. Slicing assorted vegetables, fungi, and other ingredients, Carol arrange a forest of greens and enoki mushrooms for an easy and effective presentation.

Greens consisted of sliced banana petioles (Musa sp.), napa cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis), baby bok choi (Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis), choi sum (Brassica rapa var. parachinensis) (chrysanthemum greens (Chrysanthemum coronarium), and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), which she used for our lunch!

Lunch time rolled around and her husband came home to join us for another meal! This time it was a bowl of noodles in a broth of left over turkey drippings splashed with fish sauce, a few fish balls, sliced giant oyster mushrooms and a bundle of garlic chives left over from the hot pot veggie arrangements.

We reminisced about high school, the summer, the holidays, and the upcoming year and Carol suddenly remembered that she had orchids that were given as wedding/house-warming gifts and wanted to inquire about their care. On top of inviting her to attend my talk at Molbak's (that I just posted), we discussed their care and she seemed genuinely interested in caring for them even though I've admitted that orchids these days have become as disposable as Poinsettias after Christmas.

Next generation gardener? You betcha! As her friend, you bet I'm going to encourage her to pick my brain and introduce her and her husband to some garden basics as they settle in and feel more compelled to enhance their living spaces.

First, I need to convince them to talk to their landlord about taking out a hideous "boxed" Photinia up against their window. hehe

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