Grateful Heart

Hi there, friends!  It has been some time since I posted to this blog.  I would say that I lost my steam over the summer, but it would be more accurate to say that the steam was directed elsewhere.  This is a blog about food, but this summer my energy went into making food.  And I don’t just mean cooking it.  Take a look.
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Petunias are not food.  Not that I’m aware of, anyway, but they were beautiful and colorful and they thrive in the heat.  So, while they’re not edible, they are a summer staple.  Side note: I have recently discovered edible flowers at my local grocery store.  Any tips on using them?

Now to the food.  I had a modest but productive balcony garden this summer.  I tried my hand at growing herbs again, with much more success, although it turns out cilantro is a wild and unpredictable beast.  Meals were incredible this summer, full of fresh thyme, rosemary, and basil, basil, basil.  I’m sad to report that after moving inside, my little potted herb garden died, but over the summer it was in full force.  I also grew cucumbers, a project that probably cost less than buying them at the grocery store.  They were not as large, but they were delicious and refreshing.
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Can you imagine how amazed and delighted I was to find this in the garden that I grew myself?  I squealed like a child on Christmas when I discovered the first tiny cucumbers growing and then again, louder, when I found this hidden under its big leaves.
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Not bad for a pack of seeds, some dirt, water, and sunshine. And love.  Lots of love.

Also bees.  (Save the bees – plant a garden.)

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And they were oh so refreshing! Cucumber water is one of my favorite summer beverages, hydrating and more cooling than anything else I’ve tried.
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I used my cucumbers mainly in salads and for fancy water, but the herbs did much more work, small and delicate though they are.  I’ve cooked dishes without salt and pepper because the herbs were that good.  I am partial to basil, especially since it grows like a weed, and two of my favorite uses were on pizzas, both regular and eggplant.
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In addition to planting things, I also learned more about regrowing kitchen scraps, one of my favorite things.  I’ve saved and regrown green onions before – talk about something that grows like a weed!  Below, I give you the results of saving and watering the base of a celery heart.  Yes, celery is inexpensive, but it’s the principle of the thing.  In this small way, my kitchen is self-sustaining.

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None of this was difficult to do.  It was fun, therapeutic, as they say, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to go outside to gather some of your ingredients for dinner.  After nurturing your plants, hoping and praying they make it, and finally bringing them into the kitchen, you can feel nothing but the most profound gratitude.  Toward the end of the summer, a gardener told me you can grow virtually anything in a pot on a balcony.  Look out, summer 2016! 

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