Summer’s Abundance or Hectic Schedule…Um, Both?

Extra green beans, extra apricots, extra garlic and onions and herbs: It was the end of this week’s CSA distribution and there were leftovers and I knew I should pass on them because my schedule this week is crazed. But…free peak season food. I brought home the extras.

And then there were all those elderberries ripening in my garden, in the park. Their season is short, so…

This morning I was out the door early to do a food preservation demo for the New York Botanical Garden at the Dag Hammarskjold Greenmarket in Manhattan. After that I had a meeting. Then I sat down to work on my next book because my deadline is the end of this week. The green beans waited. The elderberries waited.

But not for long–the beans are in the canner as I write this and the berries are in the freezer.

Last weekend I taught two classes at Stone Barns. If you’ve never been there, trust me, you really, really want to go.stone-barns2

stone-barns3

In the classes I talked about how to fit gardening, cooking, foraging, and food preservation into a busy schedule.

“Are you nuts?” a friend asked me on the phone, “You’ve got a deadline in two days. Screw the elderberries!”

Well, no, because the elderberries won’t wait. They are on their own schedule, which has nothing to do with the appointments on my calendar, and one of the things I love about eating local, seasonal foods is that it keeps me in touch with reality. It’s harvest season, that’s the reality.

Besides, the new book is about how to live a locavore’s life in the midst of a hectic urban one, and I wouldn’t be much good on the subject if I wasn’t actually doing it.

This is Summer, the season of abundance. Summer doesn’t care about deadlines and meetings. Summer is dropping food practically into my lap and I’d be an idiot not to make the most of it.

So…just finished the last chapter on the new book. Timer just went off on those beans and they’re ready to come out of the canner. Got to de-stem those elderberries and get the next batch into the freezer.

Cheers, Leda

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Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

Eating Local in the Big Apple

I recently wrote a guest post for NYBG‘s Plant Talk blog about what it’s like to eat a local foods diet in the big city. Here’s a quote from it:

“All of the other locavores I’d read about, including Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan, had advantages over me when it came to eating local. They lived in a mild climate with a longer agricultural season, or had huge gardens or even farms. What I wanted to find out was could it be done by someone living in a tiny apartment on a limited budget, and with a hectic, multi-employer urban lifestyle? And what would I eat in winter?

I discovered that it is completely possible to eat a deliciously varied and healthy local foods diet in NYC without breaking the bank or requiring a 28-hour day.”

You can read the full piece here.

What solutions are you finding to the cost, convenience, lack of space and time issues that confront urban (and even non-urban) locavores? Let’s start a discussion and help each other out!

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Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

A Locavore Returns Back East from Out West

Last week I was in California for my Grandma Nea’s 97th birthday (she was the first one up dancing at her party–I hope it’s genetic). Here’s a pseudo-artsy pic of what I ate almost every day while I was there:

guac

Avocados and citrus are special occasion foods for me usually since they don’t grow in the Northeast where I live. But while I was in California, I think I made guacamole at least three times.Yeah, I’m a little jealous of some of the produce they can grow locally in their climate. On the other hand, although the berries there looked amazing, they didn’t taste nearly as flavorful as the ones I’d been getting back home.

I was a little jealous again when a woman I met up with at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Market quipped, “Of course we can get everything here.”

I thought about that for a second and replied, “Except maple syrup.”

She conceded that was true, and I stood a little taller.

Avocados aside, the Northeast where I live is blessed with an abundance of delicious local produce. There was still one more thing, though, that I found to be jealous of while I was there. This sign was all over the place at the local supermarket:

local-sign

I look forward to seeing the same at my neighborhood Associated Supermarket soon (probably they’ll start advertising what’s local just to get me to stop bugging them).

Meanwhile, back in New York the tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and raspberries are coming in from my garden. And this week’s CSA share included sweet snow peas, blueberries, and an abundance of cucumbers. I turned some of the cukes into Maple Bread-‘n’-Butter Pickles. They are delicious, mostly flavored with local honey but with just a hint of maple flavor that I put in there to celebrate being back east.

I hope your harvests are bountiful and flavorful.

Here is a photo of me and Grandma Nea on her birthday. Note the black and white bag she’s wearing on her shoulder. I crocheted it for her out of plarn, which is yarn made from plastic bags–a nifty way of recycling them.

neas-97th

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Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

Local Foods Classes Update

My Vegetables in Containers class at Brooklyn Botanic Garden this coming Saturday 18th is sold out, but I’ll be teaching the same subject as well as Herb Gardening at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture the following Saturday 25th. If you’ve never been to Stone Barns, it’s a short train ride or drive out of the city and well worth the day trip. The grounds are gorgeous and you can see where they grow and raise most of the food for Blue Hill Restaurant, which is right across the corridor from where I’ll be teaching.

On Sunday 26th I’ll be teaching Eating Local in the Big Apple at the New York Botanical Garden. This is your chance to pick my brains about the ways I’ve discovered to stick to locavorian menus while on a limited budget and with a hectic city work schedule. The class is part of a special exhibition going on now through September 13th called The Edible Garden. In addition to food-related classes there are wonderful exhibition food gardens and cooking and gardening demonstrations to enjoy.

More info on the classes and how to register is here. Hope to see you at one of them!

Cheers,
Leda

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

A Locavore Gets Outta Dodge

I leave tomorrow morning before dawn (hey, the ticket was cheap) to go out to California for my grandmother’s 97th birthday. There’s the usual packing and errands stuff, but also some things particular to being a locavore.

Gotta pick that last heaping pint of red currants. currants-09So far, so good, but no time to stem them. A task for another day and meanwhile shove them into a freezer bag.

There’s still that bunch of CSA dandelion greens. No problem. Dinner tonight with some pasta, home dried tomatoes and local cheese. Go to get the dandelion greens out of the refrigerator. Sh%#! Forgot all about that bunch of collard greens.

No problem. The water I’ve got boiling for pasta will first serve to blanch the collards before they head into the freezer.

Wow. I have a lot more garlic scapes than I can use in tonight’s pasta. No problem. Chop and freeze.

While the pasta is cooking, log on to JetBlue and print out my boarding pass. Good to go.

See ya on the other side…

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith