Baby Bumblebee

I’m bringin’ home my baby bumblebee,
won’t my Mama be so proud of me?

I’m bringin’ home my baby bumble bee,
Ouch! It stung me.

BumbleBeeThe Hurricane, loves, loves, loves, the bumblebee song. If you aren’t familiar with the masterpiece,  count your blessing. It’s an earworm. She also spent the better part of a year as a Bumblebee at school. Which means she’s kinda’ fascinated (AKA obsessed) by them.

You know, like other gardeners in POD-land. It was a relief to see this fuzzy guy, as bees have been a little scarce this summer and hand pollination can be a drag. While there are only a couple female blossoms on the poor cucumber, at least they’ll get some attention.

 

Say it Ain’t So

A recent diagnosis involving the words “lactose” and “intolerance” struck fear into the hearts of the eaters and cookers here at POD.

And the gardeners.

veganpestobasilSee all this lovely basil? Ordinarily it would get chopped into a luscious Parmesan-rich pesto. But Parmesan-rich isn’t the greatest thing right now, even with its relatively modest lactose count. (And we’re trying to save those handy pills for things like, you know, ice cream. And cheese dinners.) ‘Cause ya’ know what? It’s kinda’ nice not to be tooty and stuff all time. Seriously.

Before traipsing too far down that unpleasant path, let’s get back to the basil in question. Thanks to an enterprising and totally amazing Endurer, vegan pesto has entered the world of POD.yeast

Never thought the day would come.

And while something so appetizingly named “nutritional yeast” hammered that fear in good and deep, this recipe, adapted from Food 52, actually worked pretty well. Yeah, you’ll notice that it’s dairy free, despite the recipe’s promise, but you’ll still enjoy it. POD promises.

Vegan Pesto
Makes 1 generous cup

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (you’ll need more of both than your instincts would have you add)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  1. Use a mezzaluna to coarsely chop the basil, garlic, and pine nuts.
  2. Put the chopped basil, garlic, pine nuts, and the remaining ingredients into a bowl and use an immersion blender until you’ve achieved your desired consistency. (Nope, it’s not a terribly traditional recipe, but whatevs, it works.)

Uncoiled: The Geeky Life of a Gardener

cucumber tendril, plants on deckC’mon, admit it, you’ve spent collective hours staring at cucumber tendrils too, right? Coiling and uncoiling them? Trying to unkink that weird reverse loop that appears in the middle of each tendril? Spring/sproinging them gently between your fingers, mouth hung open in slack-jawed amazement? Staring, unblinkingly, because you’re sure if you watch hard enough you’ll be able to see the sucker move? Or, more likely, apologizing to the ambitious cucurbit when, in your clumsy haste to redirect the tenacious tendrils, you snap the surprisingly strong springs in two?

cucumber tendril, plants on deckAnyhoo, if any of the aforementioned scenarios strike a chord, then this delightful clip (seriously, follow the link, it’s worth it — POD’s too cheap to spring for the video upgrade and too pressed for time to muck around with it any longer) from Science Friday should make you bounce in your seat and clap your hands in geeky joy, too. If that’s not enough, there’s always Harvard research dollars at work…

First Yield

swiss chardEven with several consecutive days boasting a heat index of 100+, POD finds it hard to hate summer.

It helps that the first real container-grown harvests are coming in. A handful of bright green leaves (and orange- and red-stems) added an extra shot of color and a bit of something in one of the Endurer’s already perfect veggie meals.

Catalan Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Almonds

Serves: 4-6

Source: adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox and The Essential Mediterranean by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

2 (14oz/400g) cans chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and grated or finely minced
1 can (28oz/800g) plum tomatoes in juice, preferably Italian, drained and chopped
pinch sugar
generous pinch saffron threads
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (50g) lightly toasted almonds
small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 bunch (6-8 oz) Swiss Chard, sliced into slender ribbons
2 cups (350ml) chicken or vegetable stock
salt

juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste 

In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil over medium/medium-high heat and sauté the onion until it is golden brown and very soft, about 25 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar, letting them fry until they melt into the onions and form a paste, about another 10-15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.

In a large mortar, combine the saffron, garlic, almonds and parsley and pound to a thick paste (add a little water if necessary to keep things moving). Add the paste to the onion mixture along with the stock and the chickpeas, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce, about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature; you’ll find that this dish keeps developing in flavor the longer it sits.

Cuked!

cukeattackLike kudzu, this cucumber decided the Mystery Tomato’s and the Early Girl’s cages looked more welcoming. After spending about a half an hour unwinding tendrils in 90+ degree heat and carefully applying water to the soil, everyone seems happy. Except the Endurer, who’s actually doing something useful, like cleaning, entertaining a newly-minted 3-year-old, cooking, and shopping.