As I write this I think back on the past few days’ efforts to make small daily changes to my eating habits. Believe me, I’m not one to deny myself the things I enjoy; I’m more likely to find something that both satisfies my cravings and that I can feel good about eating. Applying it has actually been much easier than I expected. If I stick to satisfying the senses, I find myself wanting to “make things right” (even if I have to make them from scratch). And this morning, “making things right” means taking the time to share delicious food with others, so brunch with a few friends is the plan.
It’s getting warm and I imagine half of them will be feeling a little groggy—we were out celebrating last night—so I pick a few lemons from the tree near our building and start on the perfect after-party drink:
MEYER LEMON GIN FIZZ
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. London Dry Gin
1 oz. honey simple syrup
2 drops orange flower water
2 oz. heavy cream
1 egg white (free range, organic)
Add lemon juice, gin, simple syrup, orange flower water, cream, and egg white in a shaker and shake for a few minutes to froth. Top off with ice and shake again for 12 minutes. Strain into a highball glass, add soda water, and mix with a spoon.
Last week was incredibly busy, but I managed to gather more materials for our urban garden project. So far I’ve planted heirloom tomatoes in empty plastic cat litter buckets and Italian herbs in terra cotta pots, and managed to build a couple of window boxes out of salvaged wood. I’m still keeping an eye out for other interesting containers I happen across, looking for other ways to make this limited space work. The ultimate goal: to grow our food using a combination of indoor and outdoor areas.
Repurposing found objects, rerouting material headed for the landfill...this always feels right to me, but I’ve a strong desire to build something new these days. And to create a tidy, organized environment around me that doesn’t make our place look like its filled with trash. I love modern industrial design, so I decided to research vertical wall systems this week and was excited to find options for more creative, elegant gardening techniques.
The most likely candidate for our limited space is still the wall pocket. The interesting ones I’ve come across are hanging felt pouches that are made of recycled PET bottles. When overlapped, filled with plants, and covering an entire building, the effect is incredibly beautiful and futuristic, exactly what I had in mind. There are the added benefits as well: they’re supposed to keep a building cool in the summer and act as a giant lung, producing oxygen while filtering the air. Yes, these should do just fine.
The ones I came across looked perfect for growing micro-greens like arugula and mache, small lettuces, and baby spinach, vegetables we buy on a regular basis. Since plants like these don’t need much deep soil and do well in a bit of shade, they’ll grow with minimal care. I can probably recruit a friend to help me make some out of unprocessed wool felt, heavy-duty thread, and a few steel grommets to secure them to the wall. They’re gonna make a pretty stunning visual display.
I can’t wait to get these up and start my vertical landscape design project. I’m imagining a carpet of colors: red lettuces, mustard greens, verdant cascading arugula, tufts of mache. It’ll be a mesclun salad mosaic, modern art for the hungry. From now on, we’ll be picking our salads straight from the wall, and won’t need to buy another package of greens the whole summer...
My buddy Sam comes over with some fresh spinach and rosemary from his own garden. We decide to whip up a quick bite for the brunch while we sip our hair of the dog. Life is good.
SPINACH FETA PIE
1 lb. spinach
1 tbs. organic butter
3 oz. feta cheese
salt, pepper, cayenne
6 strips bacon
Wilt spinach in a big stockpot with butter. Drain and chop, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs, add salt, pepper and cayenne and beat. Cook bacon over medium hear until crisp. Add onion with a pinch of salt and cook until just softened. Add spinach and eggs, mixing well. Turn off heat after a few minutes and sprinkle feta and rosemary over the top.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes more and finish on the broiler for 1 minute to brown a bit. Serve hot or cold.
- David Vega