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A Vegetable Grows in Long Island City
The Brooklyn Grange is planting a 40,000 square foot vegetable farm on a rooftop in Queens.

[vodpod id=Video.3671422&w=425&h=350&fv=]

I heard about this project initially when taking a pizza class a couple of months back with guys from Roberta's and Pulino's.  They mentioned that seedlings were planted, and the Brooklyn Grange team was close to securing a rooftop.  The plan is to raise an acre of organic vegetables, create a green space smack in the middle of the city, have a neighborhood farm stand, and supply area restaurants with the most local food they could imagine (delivering on bikes whenever possible!).

The group is in the final week of their Kickstarter fund raising campaign.  They have just under 25% of their goal left to raise.  If you are not familiar with Kickstarter--it is a site where you can donate as little as $1 to a project of your choice, but unless the goal is met by the deadline, the group won't get any of the money pledged.  Take a peek, if anything just to learn a lot more about this important, innovative, and delicious project.


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17
Bonus round!


Last fall was complete chaos in our home.  I was in the final weeks of getting my culinary degree, worrying more about my impending final exam than I had about anything else in my life to date, and was growing very weary of my year-long commute to the city, away from home and husband, for 5 nights a week.  Every other detail seemed to go out with the compost.

So it didn't surprise us much when a few months later, after a few good snowfalls, we both looked at each other and realized we had never harvested our second planting of our famed and favorite heirloom beets.  While not a huge amount, there was about a bed and a half of beets still in the garden, now frozen solid to the ground.  We treasure them, and were disappointed, and felt stupid and wasteful.

Fast forward to yesterday's magnificent first kiss of spring weather.  All I wanted to do was be outside, digging in something.  I walked through one of our gardens, with the ground now visible for the first time in many months---and low and behold, there were tiny sprouts of beet greens peeking up from a variety of leafy debris.  Further investigation, and a few dirty fingernails later, I discovered beets!  A lot of beets!



Our small second crop of golden, bull's blood, detroit dark red, and chioggia beets had successfully overwintered.  Protected enough somehow by the mulch on top of the beds, and apparently benefiting from some very extended root systems, these beauties made it though, and managed to do so well enough that they now had the energy to start sprouting leaves again.  Remarkable.  And fresh beets for dinner in March.



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Spring’s ahead.
Upstate New York, March 14, 2010.

[caption id="attachment_255" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Oregano returns."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_256" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="First chives of the season."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_257" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Thawed sheep pen.  (We're definitely not in Brooklyn anymore.)"][/caption]


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ebruary
21
The Leanest Month
Beginning a few years ago, my husband and I have made almost every effort to cook and eat as seasonally and locally as possible. We are continually making changes to our lifestyle, but don't feel like we are really making any huge culinary sacrifices. Each season we do dig up more and more of our backyard to add to our vegetable and herb gardens (currently at about 2,200 sq feet). We blanch, freeze, can, dry and preserve as much as we physically have time for, both from our own plants and all the area farmers markets. All with hopes of having a little bit of those glorious, most prolific, summer produce months available to us in colder times.

However, this time of year it gets tough. We are down to about five of the treasured quart jars of plum tomatoes we bought in flats from our farmer Seth Heller at the local market in August and canned over a weekend (all 45 of our heirloom tomato plants died in this year's blight, described here by Dan Barber http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09barber.html?scp=1&sq=tomato%20blight%20barber&st=cse). We've mostly used up our squash, garlic, shallots, and beets that were in cold storage, and are growing a little weary of produce, though frozen minutes from when picked, plucked from our freezer.

Thankfully, there are farmers markets still operating this time of year!

I visited the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC this past Friday (I split my time nearly 50/50 between the city and the very rural NY Catskills--more on this later). Though smaller than in warmer months, there is still a strong number of booths, offering a big variety of produce, meat, cheeses, and local foodstuffs to the urban locavore.

I did some grocery shopping, and came home with a heavy bag of fresh food. Parsnips, carrots, celeriac, crimini and king oyster mushrooms, kale and Mutzu apples. Combined with the chickens and eggs we get from the local farm Quails-r-Us each week, February is not looking so much like a culinary wasteland in upstate New York. Recipes from this week's bounty to follow shortly, as well as every week hereafter.



[gallery]


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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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