Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Mom Blog

A recent retiree and close friend of Veggie Trader (ok, one of our moms) shared with us this week her story of growing her own food for the first time. A self-described city girl, she detailed for us her gardening successes and failures. Among the failures were corn that didn’t produce enough (and was stolen by someone or something--furry bandits? aliens?) and Swiss chard which succumbed to the relentless attack of leaf miners (insects). But her successes included abundant zucchini, huge heirloom tomatoes, sweet acorn squash, and small but delicious cantaloupe. All told, she grew a good amount of her food in a very small yard. It was a learning experience, and she's already planning her winter garden. Her biggest revelation? Growing pumpkins is fun but they take up a lot of space.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Fall

September 22nd officially marks the Autumnal Equinox, which begins at 21:18 UTC this year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Or, if you're like most of us, today is simply the first day of Fall. Happy harvesting!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Flavor of your Neighbors

The photo is of some super tasty grapes and tomatoes we picked up today on the way to the park. The woman we got them from had the cutest backyard produce stand and gave us a tour of her amazing garden. We're inspired to write about her grapes. They're like nothing we've tasted before, sweet but with a savory, almost herb-like flavor. Which got me thinking how fun it is to sample the flavors of the micro growing regions around us: our neighborhoods...

When I was growing up, oranges in my backyard were “just oranges.” Just as the now fancy Meyer lemons were just lemons. But we have a world of wee micro-tastes to enjoy that seem to change from town to town, and it’s remarkable how flavors so specific to an area can be so connecting. I was eating one of these delicious “just an oranges” one day when one of my favorite coworkers asked me where I got it. Through the smell and the look of it, we discovered she and I grew up in neighboring towns eating the very same kind of orange as kids.

There’s a certain region in the Bay that seems to grow a particularly tart/sweet and flavorful navel. Maybe it’s the 30+ year age of the trees or it’s an older variety. It could be the mild winters and blue skies, but they’ve got a strong punch and powerful aroma. Picked at their peak, they spill an unusual amount of juice. We talked about how spoiled we were by these thick-skinned winter treats, especially after tasting one a friend had shared from her tree. This friend lived across the water, about 20 miles away from our towns, and while juicy and tasty, the flavor was completely different.

Fast-forward to now and the basil we’re growing at home this summer tastes sweeter than other places we’ve lived. To me, the locally grown cucumbers have a strong mineral-rich taste. Part of what makes sharing your backyard bounty fun is really getting to discover the uniqueness your hometown lends to the food you grow.