Sowing New Seeds

Usually, POD feels a twinge of sadness this time of year. Okay, more than a twinge. Yes, the deck is prospering and yes, the farmers’ markets are flowing, and yes, the kitchen is humming with fresh produce, but the end is near. And it hurts.

What makes POD happy? Seeds. So this year, instead of resigning myself to the end of an era, POD’s expanding. Who knows how it’ll turn out, but it seems worth a shot. Unlike the rest of the produce on the 2009 little blue deck, this is new uncharted territory.

Thanks to the now-dead Django restaurant, a Philly favorite until the chef/owners relocated to the ‘burbs and left a pale imitation in their wake, POD and her lovely husband discovered that Brussels sprouts don’t totally suck. Add some butter and bacon and you’re good to go.

These seeds (selected because they’re Franklin Hybrids — and POD is a Philly garden, after all) from Territorial Seed Company, are enjoying some rich, firmly packed organic soil and plenty of indoor sunlight and stable temps. They should germinate in a couple of weeks or so. Check back for progress reports. These sprouts are also apparently quick to mature — a big considerations this time of year.

There’s even enough to share with a certain Philadelphia City Paper Editor.

Here’s hoping for a mild winter and a bonus crop.

brussels sprout seeds
brussels sprout seeds

Parsley, Rescued

Christmas brought a nice little package from the Mother-In-Law. In it was a lovely December pick-me-up: parsley in a bag. Although that particular mid-winter experiment failed miserably (um, POD forgot about it during the week-long dark germination phase), POD had the foresight not to use all the seeds and planted the remainder on deck in late May.parsley

To great success! After soaking the remaining seeds (about 8-12, if memory serves) in warm water overnight, then planting them in a shady area, and moving them (after germination) into the part-sun portion of the deck extension, they’ve been thriving. Most recently they were the star of this particular pantry meal:

Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Almonds
Serves 4-6

2 cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
2-3 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, grated or very finely minced
14 oz plum tomatoes, (canned are fine) drained and chopped
1/8-1/4 tsp. sugar
generous pinch of saffron (40 threads or so)
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
1/3 c. toasted almonds OR, even better, marcona almonds
1/4-1/2 c. flatleaf parsley, chopped
2 c. chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced

1) Drain and rinse the chick peas
2) Heat olive oil over medium and saute the onion until it’s soft and nicely golden. About 30 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar, simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat
3) In a mortar, combine the garlic and salt and mix until a smooth garlic paste has formed. Add the saffron, almonds, and parsley to the garlic paste and grind to a thick paste.
4) Add the parsley mixture and chicken (or vegetable stock) to the onions and tomatoes. Return the mixture to a biol over medium-high and simmer until it has reduced to a thick sauce. About 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.