Learning about urban gardening at Rooting D.C.

Freshly dug garden plot
Rooting D.C. 2 began at 10 a.m. last Saturday with the invocation of a Chinese proverb: “If you want to be happy for three hours, get a bottle of wine. If you want to be happy for three months, fall in love. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.” After that introduction and a few more words from one of the organizers, we were free to move on to our workshop sessions.

At first, all I could do was mill around the front hall of the gorgeous Carnegie Library building in Mount Vernon Square in a daze. Who was this crowd of people of all ages and backgrounds who all wanted to garden, or were already raising produce out of concrete? How had we all stumbled into this forum where we could learn about everything from herbs to compost to harvesting rainwater, all for free? What karmic forces had conspired to let me and the dozens of other walk-ins actually get a spot? Continue reading

What a difference a week makes

scallion pancake

Sunny brunch spread

Last Sunday, the scallion pancake above was my “brunch” before an 11 a.m. Chinatown bus to D.C. The dim sum offerings of NYC’s Chinatown are wonderful, but there was something sad and unfulfilling about that pancake. Yes, it was delectibly oil-soaked, with just the right amount of scallion flavor. Even the crappy soy sauce from the little packet worked with it. But the context left something to desired… something that’s hard to pinpoint.

Maybe it was the rush of buying it, or the single-serving Styrofoam container. Or the fact that I ate it in a tiny bus station just before one of the bus company staff members jumped up, ordered us into a line, and marched us to the waiting coaches, all the while threatening that they were going to leave. Continue reading

Bowl of guac


Okay, I’m going to stop obsessing about the inauguration and Obama-related food news (but what DID they serve at Wednesday’s revival of the White House cocktail hour??) and try to focus on the next big event: Super Bowl XLIII.

Sometimes the tiniest little waves of a major flotilla are the most exciting. Sure, 95 percent of the country will be glued to the TV by Sunday evening, millions will cheer on Arizona, Pittsburgh, and/or The Boss, thousands will buzz over the new commercials  for Coke and Cars.com. But how many will know that Americans are consuming more than 46 million pounds of Hass avocados on Game Day? And how many will realize they can create an edible football field with just a batch of guacamole, sour cream, and a Ziplock? Continue reading

Edible inauguration

Bluegrass BallMONDAY 

The Kentucky Bluegrass Ball: I was there as a so-called photographer. My pictures may yet appear in a Lexington, KY weekly paper. [Update: they did!] But don’t ask me who I took pictures of. Better to ask about the selections on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. I rarely have a chance to try multiple upscale liquors right next to one another. I only tried three out of the seven or so different offerings, but learned quite a bit. I found that Four Roses’ Single Barrel was the sharpest and spiciest, while Maker’s Mark struck me as sweeter and smooth. Bullet Bourbon was the smoothest, I think, but I’m probably just saying that because that’s what the guy serving said. I only had a chance to take one sip before the governor was ready for his close-up.

Photo credit goes to Media Czech of Barefoot and Progressive, a fellow press pass bearer (See mine hanging with the satin cord? Very shwank)

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Travelogue Part I: Mass Movement

Last weekend, I was in Massachusetts for the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s annual conference.

What did I see? Well, first we made a stop at Ellen’s parents’ farm. The conference springs forth pretty much entirely from an office just above the basement greenhouse where the seedlings come to life each year. Outside the control room, family photos, country wall paper, and the smell of the wood stove that cooks the food and heats the water…


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Bike Fuel

Last Friday morning, a reporter stood in Freedom Plaza holding a microphone in one hand as he steadied a road bike with the other. “I never considered riding a bike to work, but with gas approaching four dollars a gallon, it’s getting more appealing these days,” I think I caught him saying.

It was Bike to Work Day 2008, at a rally that was rain-soaked but surprisingly packed. The news folks had to keep doing new takes as streams of cyclists constantly wandered between the camera and the reporter. Continue reading

What Makes Mama Happy, part I

Big Mama’s been happy this past week or so. Food adventures abounded, from the ground to the table, and most importantly to my mouth.

Yes, this is the closest I come to a Mothers Day post. I could talk about the breakfast in bed we used to make my mom, garnished with the pink crab apple blossoms that always popped open at the right moment, but, well, I decided radio personalities and wild ingredients are more exciting–and, perhaps most importantly, mush-free.

Here’s what’s been doing:

Gardening at the community garden! And finding a tiny garlic bulb no bigger than the tip of my index finger just hanging in there in the tilled soil. Continue reading

VOICES tells a beautiful dinnertime story

The VOICES event thrown by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington was memorable for many reasons. Partly it was the Jewish/Deaf/Woman power, which I did write about. Partly it was the wonder at so many people shelling out $218 for a dinner party, albeit for a good cause. But oh so much it was the food!

We arrived to wine and hors d’oeurves–elevated every day eats like teensily-crafted tortilla chips individually topped with dollops of south-of-the-border-inspired concoctions, mini veggie eggrolls, something with thin strips of roast beef. Then when the dining room opened to accept the seething crowd of almost 900 decked-out Jewish women into the dining room, we met with a truly delightful sight. Continue reading

Films you’ll want to lick

PopcornBefore we even stepped into the Letelier Theater’s cozy lobby, the smell of apple cider had met our noses. We entered, picked up our tickets, accepted our free copies of Real Food, and headed to the bar for a free drink. Patrons chose between the sweet-smelling cider and wine (my friend and I went for the latter–it had been a long, cold day), and then the owners of Dolcezza Gelato asked if we wanted a hearty scoop-sized sample of a citrusy avocado sorbet or mascarpone-berry gelato. I knew we were entitled to a drink and organic popcorn, but the frozen desserts were a surprise. I decided I wasn’t all THAT cold and took the mascarpone.

This event, FRESHFARM Markets’ recent movie night, fed all of the senses. It gave a smell, taste, and vision to local food ideals, and it motivated viewers at any level of involvement to take eating local into their own hands. Continue reading

The Hazon Food Conference

The Jew and the Carrot blog is all over this. While I was still marveling at folks who are equally passionate about food and Judaism and delighting in the view of dozens of Chanukah menorahs ablaze at the same time, the Hazon food bloggers were already serving up the events with tang and flare, not to mention thought and care.

Yes, I watched three goats become ex-goats through Kosher slaughter and learned about the intricacies of the Farm Bill and the ins and outs of feeding inmates and school kids in New York City. I ate greens picked just a mile away and seitan marsala and Kosher kimchi. And yes, I got to see that one of my photos — Shallots in a Hurry — was part of the fundraising photo exhibit. But I haven’t been able to sit down and write much about it.

Take a read. I’m still chewing.