Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

August 24, 2012

The Cooking Has Begun


I spent the first half of the week planning the execution of my menu for Julia Child’s 100th birthday celebration.  I went to the farmer’s market where I procured this bounty of local produce.  I’m already realizing I probably need to buy more garlic.  Yes, three heads is not enough.

I will report back with more details of the process when it’s over, including the menu and a few recipes should you want to host your own celebration. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some non-cooking thoughts.  While I’ve been busy in the kitchen this week, I’ve been listening to a lot of radio podcasts.  There is a clip, from This American Life, that struck me as one of the most creative, beautiful, funny, and painfully sad pieces I have heard in a long time.  It was written and performed by David Rakoff, who died August 9th from cancer.  Aired only a few weeks before Rakoff’s death, it is a tangent to the story of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the cockroach who reaches out over the Atlantic to a doctor (who speaks only in rhyme) is a beautiful piece of art that everyone – no matter if you’re a German Studies major or not – should listen to. If you can call a radio play written in response to a short story published almost a hundred years earlier “fan fiction,” then this would be the best fan fiction I’ve encountered.

Click here for the story “Oh the Places You Won’t Go”

Note: click on the arrow just below the picture to start the clip. The player starts in the middle of the show, right before Ira Glass introduces the piece.  It’s about 13 minutes long.  If you have the time, the one-hour special on Rakoff’s professional, and personal, life that aired on this week’s This American Life show is a beautiful tribute.

August 18, 2012

Garden Gnomes: Zucchini Blossoms Wilting on the Vine

I’m starting a series on my vegetable gardening experiences here, since I’ve only been gardening for a few years.  I think blogs should be beautiful, but they shouldn’t only portray the best sides. Here I’ll definitely be sharing my stumbles and mistakes.  I might also share some triumphs if there are any.  It’s called Garden Gnomes because, well, those mythical creatures are blamed for pretty much anything that goes wrong in a garden, often when it’s not their fault at all.

Just after arriving in Oregon, I planted a zucchini plant in the side vegetable garden.  I’ve never grown zucchini myself before, and I was nervous.  It was a spindly little romanesco seedling.  I haven’t had romanesco zucchini in a long, long time and I’m looking forward to eating zucchini of a different texture, with its ridged edges.

I planted, and hoped. A couple weeks ago, I saw the first bloom.  By nightfall, it had shriveled and died. The blooms have coincided with a heat wave here in Oregon. Were my blooms shriveling in the heat? Were they suffering from some sort of rot or wilt?

Luckily, doing a little bit of research, I found out that this is really quite normal.  Zucchini plants produce male flowers first, then female flowers a week or so later.  The male flowers grow, are used by bees to pollinate the female flowers, and then die off. Side note: as the plant matures and has more female flowers, you can harvest some of the male flowers to stuff and eat.  Since the male flowers grow first, you often get a lag time between the first blooms and the first fruits.

You can also visually tell the difference between male and female flowers.  Male flowers have long stems, like the one you see above.  Female flowers have what looks like a mini zucchini growing below the flower (in fact, that’s what turns into the zucchini fruit).  I don’t have a photo of that, since my plant hasn’t produced any female flowers yet, but I’m crossing my fingers that all is well in the vegetable garden and we can proceed as usual!