I wish i had a garden. My parents have a lovely garden, and they eat out of it for most of the year. They spend hours tending it each day, and then enjoy reaping the bountiful benefits. And because my mother is such a careful planner, she preserves much of their annual crop so that in the blistery winter months, she still has fresh products to cook with. Nothing tasted much better than the tomato braised beef I made last winter with the most gorgeous quart of crushed tomatoes from her root cellar.
All this and more makes me wish I had a garden. But I don’t. My apartment has a tiny yard (if you can even call it that – it’s a four by four plot of overgrown grass surrounded by a busted up chain link fence). And since I am but a lowly renter, my landlord generally frowns upon me making so-called “improvements” to my space.
But I’m a big fan of loopholes. So with the help of my mama, I’ve grown herbs in large pots for the last few years. I take this charge very seriously – I refuse to be limited to just a few varieties, and I tend all of my herbage with as much care as i can muster. And I preserve the little things with all my might so that I can have fresh, homegrown herbs all year round.
But since herbs cannot satisfy all my culinary needs, I make sure to frequent the many farmer’s markets in my area. It turns out that this little outing is on of my favorite parts of my whole week. This week, money was a little tight – but I couldn’t stand not getting my weekly market fix, so I took $15 out of my bank account, and headed to the market.
Determined to stretch my money as far as it could possibly go, I did a preliminary lap of the market. I immediately spotted some early summer goodies that I wanted the most: spring onions ($2.50/bunch), purple carrots ($2/bunch) , some gorgeous kale ($2 for the largest bunch i’ve ever seen), and golden beets($2/bunch). That’s right – a week’s worth of veggies (for one) for less than $10. best of all, three of the four have edible by-products (spicy beet greens, crisp tops of spring onions, and tasty carrot fronds).
When I get back from the market, i immediately wash everything and put it away. This includes trimming away all the yucky tops of my vegetables and plunging any greens in several batches of cool water. Then it’s ready for whatever comes next. In this case, that meant roasted beet salad with garlicky beet greens, carrot frond pesto with toasted walnuts, and a simple warm salad with slow-cooked carrots and sweet onions. The moral of the story? don’t let the lack of your own garden stop you from enjoying what’s coming out of other people’s gardens! The farmer’s market is your friend, and don’t forget all those yummy and edible by-products…they’ll stretch each veggie further!