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Remember my mini garden setting its roots into the breaker box outside of our apartment building? Out of the blue, Mister Dill has shot out into the skies like there’s no tomorrow, however with not many branches to spare for me. Which is OK. I will collects its seeds, plant some more and have a new generation of my own ORGANIC² herbs.
Just look at this tall, handsome gentleman. A bit too skinny for my liking. Don’t get distracted by its size though, as we all know size is just not that important. Pay close attention, as there’s more going on in this picture. Somebody wants to get frisky! I think it’s time we have the birds and the bees talk with my voluptuous young Lady Basil here. She’s clearly getting ready for her prom night!
Now, how will I ever find her the right Mister Bee in that deserted driveway behind our building, away from the jungle we live in, who knows how to drive a limousine? Maybe Mister Dill will jump in, the gentleman that he is, and offer his services as a chauffeur for the evening…?
My Marjoram decided to never grow up, my sweet Peter Pan Marjoram. I look at that miniature sad bush and wonder whether it’s real any more… I keep watering all Three Musketeers. The mother in me still hopes there’s still heartbeat in there, no matter how faint.
My baby Dill and Basil have been growing stubbornly and turning into teenagers with an attitude almost over night. Each day they stretch their limbs higher to the sun and grow in strength like sumo wrestlers in training.
The Marjoram, on the other hand, is as pathetic as it’s been. I may need to reach out to You Grow Girl for a professional advice on how to grow herbs in urban conditions. Or maybe, just maybe, the fact that my Marjoram is so dormant is directly related to the fact that I keep my “garden” on our building’s breaker box cabinet?
I can’t be blamed for being creative. Stop throwing mud balls at me! What else was I supposed to do, knowing all well that these guys live off of the sun and water for the most part, aside from loving to hang out in a pool of nutritious and funky moist dirt?
We live in a jungle, an urban jungle, and I mean it quite literally. Our building is planted in the middle of a tropical garden with hummingbirds gossiping all mornings, nutty squirrels fighting over nuts, and monkeys hanging out on the palm trees’ branches. We have coyotes, polar bears and sharks in there, too! You have no idea how much work Cosmo puts into keeping the madness under control. He may not look that, but he’s a lion at heart.
One thing we’re lacking the most is the sun. It just can’t break through the network of greenery above our heads. These are not the conditions to raise my herbs in. Hence, the breaker box on the southern wall by our garage, which is exposed to the sun for the better part of the day.
Gayla Trail, I need you, girl.
I haven’t so much as peeped about it as I was a nervous wreck when approaching the project. But I can no longer stay mute for there’s life sprouting right outside my window, and I am the reason for it. I wish I could say that it was my own seed that I planted, but somehow it resonates a bit odd. The seed, a whole bunch of them actually, were mine by act of monetary exchange, and no other. Should I go on? Oh, sure, I’ll get to the point then. I’ll cut to the chase and stomp firmly on the bottom line.
I have a garden. My very first and 102% my own.
It’s a mere planter of a garden really, but one must begin somewhere. And with me, it’s been a long time coming. Truth be told, for many months since the idea first sprouted in my head, there seemed to be sprouting other things right along. Those are called OBSTACLES (on my way to becoming a gardener) that I have actually planted myself, turned out. And I only realized that when I found Gaila Trail’s book “GROW GREAT GRUB” and was instantly enlightened. When I first stumbled upon this crazy wonderful book, that nota bene sounds like it’s been written by my lost twin sister (that no one in my family knows of), I got all so excited about the possibility of growing my own herbs (and later hopefully veggies of all sorts as well) that right then and there I grabbed Jason by the crew-neck of his T-shirt and to the store I dragged him. There, we scooped around, found what we needed and left the place carrying a giant bag of dirt, a rectangular planter, a sachet of organic fertilizer, and seeds.
About a month or so later here we are. My children are pushing through the ground, and up to the sky they reach out their fledgling arms. My baby DILL, frolicking in the dirt, so strong, so green…
And if you look closely through its skinny branches, there is my other child also raising its head up, standing hight on its tip-toes, and opening its hungry and insatiate mouth for more sun… My fresh and already alluringly fragrant BASIL. Ah!
Joy fills my every cell and I’m bloated with pride when I glance at these two.
However, like in any family, there’s always one kid that goes against the protocol. The black sheep of the family, it’s ugly duckling, that really simply calls for attention and love. That’s what comes to mind when I look at my MARJORAM, still in a fetal position despite the fact its brother and sister are about to graduate kindergarten.
Am I a bad mother??? What have I done wrong? I water you every other day and keep you out in the sun, just like I was told you’d enjoy. I come and visit as often as possible, talk to you gently and read out loud at night. How else can I assist you, my sweet crippled child? Maybe it’s time for your own bedroom, with a twin bed and a small CD player on the corner shelf?
That’s what I think will happen this weekend. All my darlings will get replanted into their own little pots, with fresh dirt and another dose of the organic fertilizer. Say your prayers, everybody, for I am not giving up on my MARJORAM.
I’ll keep you posted!
During our three-week vacation in Europe, we flew three times, made six separate trips by train, drove several cars, took a ride on a tram, subway and in a shuttle bus. We slept in countless beds and each one left a different imprint on our bodies. It turned out that sleeping around really is exciting and affects one’s libido (provided your bedroom is NOT adjacent to the one your conservative uncle sleeps in). The best part is that you can DO IT very successfully with the same partner throughout the journey! (That’s for those of you who duck when such words as FIDELITY and COMMITMENT are thrown at you.)
Since we were on the go for the most of the past twenty-one days, the little time we spent under a roof, any roof, we used up for hanging out with my family and friends, then here and there some tequila or pierogi-spiced hanky-panky , and most importantly–beauty sleep. The Internet got pushed back in time till the days I was about 14, meaning it didn’t exist. There was simply no time left for rants and scribbles. Hence, I have a whole lot of catching up to do here, and with no further ado I’ll bring up the foods we consumed while at the far eastern land.
I could summarize it pretty much with one word: MEAT. I’ll give you an example of our daily diet in Poland. On an average day we had cold cuts for breakfast, schabowe (tenderized, breaded and pan-fried pork chops) with cooked together carrots and potatoes (as seen below) for lunch…
…and pierogi (Polish dumplings) with meat for dinner.
There are hundreds of things one can fill their pierogi with. My mom is an exceptional cook and she spoiled us rotten with the meals she prepared. Not only she made three different kinds of pierogi for us (with meat, with blueberries, and so called Russian ones, filled with a mixture of mashed potatoes and country cheese, served with a dollop of sour cream and freshly ground pepper), but also she cooked various meats, and soups Jason has never tasted before like Botwinka. In a sense, it is red chard soup made on the base of a home-made chicken broth, later thickened with flour and finished with heavy cream.
I say, in a sense, as for us Polaks this is a soup made of very young beets, when their bulbs are not quite developed yet, and the leaves get to play the role of the guest of honor in the pot. The beet root, however, belongs to the same family and the same species as the red chard does. If you’re wondering if the soup is any good, let me tell you that that damn Botwinka had put my relationship with Jason in serious jeopardy for a moment. After the few spoonfuls of the dish Jason was on the verge of proposing to my mother, who thank goodness is off the market.
When we got out of my mother’s kitchen, and off we went to bother the rest of my family scattered across Poland, we were welcomed at their tables heavy with foods of all kinds. While certain elements varied from a house to a house, two were constant: sausage and vodka. Jason was tested heavily by various men from my tribe. He passed, but I’ll bet the very lace on my chest he’ll stay away from the Fire Water for many years to come.
Kielbasa, or a Polish sausage as you may know it, is omnipresent across my country. Even when we went to the countryside with Kinga, we were invited to a picnic with campfire and the whole nine yards. There was beer, bread, and sausage (duh!) baked on a stick over raw and bursting flames.
Due to the obvious meat overdose, upon our return to Los Angeles we decided to stay on a vegetarian diet for about a month just to keep things balanced in nature. I will miss though the bread we had for breakfast each morning, whether it was in my mama’s kitchen, or at the boutique hotel in Krakow. I tell ya, what we get here, in the US, has very little to do with the real stuff. Sniff, sniff… I won’t even mention the pastries we devoured in Paris! How is that even legal? How is that legal that bread can taste like homecoming and poetry at the same time? And then, how is that legal that such crap, also labeled as BREAD, is produced and sold across the United States of America, the place once called the most powerful country in the world?
I’ll go to my room now and cry in silence for a moment. Just give me a second to compose myself to continue with my food report.
When we got to Krakow, a Georgian restaurant was highly recommended to us, and guess what we ate there. More meat, you got it, served with a bouquet of fresh salads and a traditional Georgian sauce that tasted surprisingly close to the mixture of mayo and ketchup. Jason, like a total girl, chose chicken. I went all the way:
GIVE ME SOME STEAK, WOMAN! I roared across the room and banged on the table with my iron fist, still holding a silver fork. Then I gulped down a chalice full of red wine unmoved by its trails dripping down my fat and matted beard.
Heavy and balky, filled with at least three full animals in our stomachs, we meandered the streets of the Old Town in Krakow, visiting Wawel (The Royal Castle), and the magnificent Church of Saint Mary. And then a miracle happened. Following the Polish guide Jason had armed himself with before the trip, we discovered a food gem, an oasis of green in the midst of that Sahara of meat, a true heaven for any veg junkie in the vicinity–we found a SALAD BAR!
The place was magical, and became our stable for the remaining days in the Old Capitol of Poland. The same things that were served on our plates also decorated the walls of the venue.
Tears crawl back into the corners of my eyes when I look at this. It’s a true Love Manifesto on a plate. Delicious. Crunchy. Raw. Versatile. Colorful. Meatless…ahh.
We have seen so many places, peaked into so many corners of Poland, tried every Polish snack and experienced every Polish stereotype (from vodka and sausage through the cold and grey, to the world famous hospitality, to the ubiquitous green and primal forests). However, not once have we stumbled upon a white bear strolling down the street.
Then we flew to Paris, but that’s a whole new story.
Last night I made a pot of lentil soup and added so much dill in the end that I pushed my lentils over the edge into a full on identity crisis. WHAT ARE WE? A LENTIL SOUP OR A DILL SOUP, DAMMIT! Jason loved it despite the boycott in the bowl. The rebel however continued within his intestines and made itself heard throughout the evening.
I wasn’t spared either. The anger of the lentils caught up with me this morning, and let me just say I’m glad the Earth shook in Baja two days ago, and not today. Otherwise I would have to take the responsibility. The only one I had to give personal apologies to this morning was Cosmo, who at some point lifted himself from his third nap today, gave me—let’s call it—a disappointed look, and rushed to the other room to pack his bags. I’M OUTTA HERE!
I think I’ll stick to the simple greens today.
My passion for edible weeds makes even more sense when you look into my family history. My mother back in her teenage days was a fearless daredevil. Let’s see. For a bar of chocolate she:
- climbed a 3-storey building up its lightening-rod only to be later rescued by fire marshals as she was too terrified to repel;
- walked across a cemetery at midnight, while her guy friends (“Those idiots!”) hid behind the graves only to appear in their ghostly, white bed sheets in front of my chocolate-driven teenage mother;
- wrote 24 different essays for her classmates thus fulfilling their home work; (The teacher was no fool—she got an F for cheating and an A for creativity and hard work.)
- played goats with her friend where they roamed a green meadow on all fours while grazing and chewing on juicy grass and wild flowers.
Come to think of it, all this could explain way more then merely my ecological sentiments. However, one thing must be clarified. My dear mother was growing up in post-war Poland (in the 50’s and 60’s). Hence, her chocolate bar then was your safe Toyota today, just as hard to come about.
Anyways, my battered insides are fully functional again and asking for a fresh, non-lentil food supply. Come and check out my refrigerator to see what we’re having for lunch:
- Mixed greens (duh)
- Shredded white cabbage
- Micro greens
- Fresh dill
- Fresh basil
- Half of an avocado
- Green Apple
- Walnuts (toasted)
Brilliant. Let’s quickly whisk simple vinaigrette: extra virgin olive oil (3 parts), apple cider vinegar (1 part), Dijon mustard (1 tsp), honey (1 tbsp), and a reasonable amount of sea salt and pepper. Taste, approve, and pour over all the GREEN MEADOW of your bowl. Please, make sure you chop the stuff before tossing into the dish, OK? We are making a GREEN APPLE SALAD after all.
Happy grazing everybody. I have lunch plans with my fellow goat. BBBLLEEEAAATT!