Monday, June 1, 2009

Simplicity and Necessities

I'm going to be in New Jersey for three weeks, away from my garden. I'm already feeling withdrawal. Not that I hover, because I don't, but I like to look out the kitchen window at it, or wander back if I have a few minutes and pull a weed or prop a plant or just putz around. There is always something more you can do to a garden. This I have learned from years of flower gardens, but vegetable gardens aren't any different. My garden will be in great hands: Keja's mother will be staying here, and from all I hear, she is a marvelous gardener. It actually will be under better care than with me. It must be like sending your child to college, knowing they need to move on, as you've taught them all you can. But it doesn't make it easy.

I think my lettuce fell prey to the squirrel. Only a few small leaves are coming up. My potatoes are amazing, by far my most successful thing to date, growing inches a day. The tomatoes in the bed are doing okay, but the container tomatoes, like always, are struggling. Why? The peppers are getting faded on the leaves. Too much sun?

I was grilling the other day and had some asparagus I needed to use. I wrapped it in foil, after drizzling with oil, salt, and pepper. It sat off to the side while the chicken was cooking. 20 minutes later, it was tender and perfect.

I am trying to figure out what to bring to NJ. We'll be staying with my uncle, who is not a cook. The cookware is from the 50s and 60s, maybe 70s, and does not meet my snobby standards. I've considered not bringing anything, and dealing with what is there; I've imagined bringing everything I could possibly need with us, in our small car. I think what I'll do is bring my favorite pan - the All Clad 10-incher, and deal with the rest. It's a good exercise to think about though: what is a necessity (I use this word loosely) and what is a luxury.

My final thought is about what New Jersey has to offer: amazingly lovely produce. It's not called the Garden State for nothing. Whatever ideas you may have about New Jersey, its beaches and its tomatoes, blueberries, and peaches are among the best I have ever experienced. At home, dessert to me means something that requires preparation, like a cake or homemade ice cream or a pie. But summering on the Jersey Shore as a child, blueberries or peaches in a bowl of milk was perfectly satisfying. I look forward to the simplicity of that, and hope my children will, too.