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Garden Update 11/25

26 Nov

I hope everyone had a good thanksgiving yesterday! I went to the garden yesterday and it looked in pretty good shape after our harvesting/clean up efforts on Tuesday. The soil was fairly damp, so I watered lightly. The tomato plants we tied up and cleared of dead material, looked healthy and the pumpkin, which “showed signs of life”, according to Professor also looked to be in good condition. The other plants, radishes, mustard greens, etc are much less abundant after we harvested a lot of them on Tuesday, but in the next week or so, I think what is left should be ready to eat. The garden looks good overall, and I’m really impressed with what we were able to do with our plot of land in just one semester!

Garden Update 11/23

24 Nov

The garden looked good today, the soil was fairly damp from the moisture in the air because of the cold. I lightly watered the garden, but didn’t soak the soil because the class was meeting soon after to harvest. The plants look really ready to harvest. The mustard greens seem to be the most abundant plant along with the radishes. There is also a yellow, full-size, pumpkin ready to harvest. I noticed a bale of hay sitting near the garden and assume that we will be laying down more hay in the garden today in class. Overall the garden looks in good shape and we should have a lot of work to do today in class in terms of harvesting!

The Peculiar Method of Cooking

11 Nov

As the official guardian of this household I work tirelessly to protect my master and his family. If you haven’t guessed, I am a dog, and live in the comforts of my master’s suburban house. These human beings have unconventional behaviors, many of which I fail to understand. The strangest thing is the way they prepare their food. As every other animal in nature does, I prefer my meat raw and obviously this is the ideal way to eat as you can really taste all the bold flavors and juices the meat has to offer. My master’s wife insists on ruining the flavor of all food by placing the meat over a fire, which appears to start out of nowhere with a simple turn of her wrist, and scorching the meat till all the natural flavors have been lost.

One day my master’s wife was making something she calls pesto pasta with chicken. She again started the magic fire without any wood and began to heat water. Once it had begun to bubble uncontrollably, the master’s wife threw in dried strips, which she called pasta, and they began to come to life as soon as they dropped into the water. She next cut the chicken into pieces and heated it until it was dry and tasteless. Finally, the master’s wife seemed to add some sort of green substance from a jar onto both the pasta and the chicken. After she was finished mutilating the flavor of the chicken she seemed content and called the entire family for dinner. Although my master gave me some to try, I long for rich, raw meat as the flavor of the human’s creation still lingers in my mouth. I think I will go eat some grass.

Garden Instructions from 10/26

28 Oct

When we met in the garden today we had a number of things in mind to accomplish. The goals for today were:

– to clean up the debris in the garden

– harvest the vegetables that were ready

– to clear out the pumpkin plant to make room for other plants

What we actually ended up doing in the garden on Tuesday was pretty similar to what we had outlined and we were able to accomplish all the goals. We began by first watering the garden to moisten the dirt and make it easier to harvest and pull weeds. We first learned how to harvest the different types of vegetables; for example, to harvest bok choy, you have to leave the root in the ground and simply take off the leaf and stem. The same procedure is used for the mustard green leaves. The radishes should be harvested if they are red and large, sticking above the ground.

The pumpkin plant was tied to the the fence so that it wouldn’t take up space in the dirt. I went around asking the class how they were deciding whether to harvest their vegetables. Anuja pulled out a radish that looked ripe and when I tasted it, it tasted really good, just like a real radish. The group that just spread seeds throughout their plot in the “guerrilla gardening” had many radishes growing and a lot of them were harvested.

David attempted to harvest the daikon, but when it was pulled out it wasn’t ripe enough, so he decided to put it back in the ground and re harvest it later. People were also weeding their plots to make sure that the weeds don’t steal nutrients from the plants.

Finally, the last step was to lay down the hay to create walkways in the garden. Also, the hay kills weed by stopping the sun from getting to them and smothering them. The goals from today were pretty much met, and hopefully the notes from today will help people in the future when they harvest!

Parallel notes from Saarah:

Today, we accomplished quite a few things with the garden. We began, as usual, by watering the garden, making sure to moisten the dirt (providing an easier setting for harvesting). Then, we pulled out the weeds. Although the straw did help with weed prevention, there were still a lot of weeds throughout the garden that needed to be pulled. We also had to re-tie the tomato plant, making sure it was held straight.

After we took care of preliminary care, we began harvesting. When harvesting, we had to make sure we only harvested plants that were READY. If we harvest a premature plant, or pull it out the wrong way, we could kill it. Thus, we have to be really careful. We were taught a few simple things about harvesting different plants:

1.      Bok choy: you do not harvest the root, only the leaves

2.      Radishes: should be emerging from the soil, round and juicy- color may vary because of the various types of radishes planted

3.      Mustard green: do not harvest the root, only the leaves

4.      Tomatoes: if they look round and the color looks right, harvest them

5.      Pumpkin: must be the right size and color

6.      Daikon: must be ripe enough, pull out from ground carefully

We harvested what we could, and left the rest to grow. Overall, we ended up with a good amount of harvest that some people took home to make dishes out of.

All in all, it was a pretty successful day at the garden 🙂

The Mythical Burgers

19 Oct

In the movie Harold and Kumar the White Castle hamburger represents the liberation of both Harold and Kumar from their respective oppressive lives. Kumar’s destiny is set by his father to become a doctor, while Harold works in a boring 9 – 5 job where his co-workers exploit him to do extra work on the weekends. Both being frustrated with their lives, decide one Friday night to go out and get White Castle burgers. As they embark on their night – long adventure in their quest of the burgers the entire time the burger represents their freedom. Both Harold and Kumar must go through a series of challenges as they try and reach their ultimate goal. The entire movie, the White Castle is characterized as being like this mythical place to which they may or may not ever reach. Their journey parallels those of mythical heroes in all cultures, for example Ram in the Ramayana, an Indian legend.

When Harold and Kumar finally reach White Castle in the morning they have both achieved more than they ever have in their lives. They have faced near-death scenarios in reaching their final destinations. The representation of the burger in Harold and Kumar differs from the mythical food in Momotaro’s legend in that; in the Japanese legend the millet dumplings are what enable Momotaro and the animals to conquer the ogres. In the movie, the burger represents the end of the journey, rather than the catalyst to it.


Garden Updates for 10/1

5 Oct

The garden looked pretty good today, despite the intense heat we have been having all week. Although it was pretty hot today, when I went to water the garden, it was one of the rare partly cloudy moments of the day, and I think as a result the soil wasn’t parched. The plants seem to be crowded and we definitely need to transplant on Tuesday. The tomato plant and pumpkins seem to be thriving, and we probably should harvest those soon and use the space for our transplanting.

When Food Takes Over Your Senses

28 Sep

In “The Gourmet Club” Tanizaki describes the experience of eating food so succulent and “magical” that it is literally felt by all of your senses. You not only taste this food, you smell the rich aromas, feel the texture as you chew, see the assortment of colors and shapes, and even possibly hear the sizzle of the frying pan as your dish is being prepared. While these are just some general descriptions, Tanizaki tells the tale of a food so magical that it literally tickles all your senses at once.

In Tanizaki’s tale, his protagonist Count G, on his quest to find a food that will engage his senses in the way described lands upon Chinese food. He and the Gourmet Club having exhausted their passion for all Japanese food are on the prowl for some new food to enjoy. They decide that the one cuisine that still remains relatively unexplored is Chinese food, and it is in this type of food that Count G finds the magic he proceeds to describe.

One experience I have had with a “magical” food is in a small Malaysian/Singaporean restaurant called Banyan Tree. They serve an appetizer called roti cannai, which is a piece of paper-thin bread, or roti, which itself has a slight sweet tang to it. The dish comes with a special sauce, almost like a curry, a mixture of traditional Malaysian spices with a rich orange color in which you dip the roti and eat. The flavor of the slightly sweet roti dipped in the succulent sauce makes me wanting more after every bite. Although magical food supposedly does not exist, this dish is the closest thing to it.

Fukuoka and the Foodie Dilemma

16 Sep

Fukuoka, a scientist by education, came to the realization that the application of science to nature, and more specifically agriculture was not correct. Through his enlightenment he developed the idea of “do-nothing” farming. He reasoned that if plants and vegetables had grown naturally without any intervention for centuries, what was the need now to add fertilizer and till the soil to help the plants to grow? Fukuoka would not approve of the modern day foodie.

Today a foodie is someone who has a keen taste for food and loves to critique and try different combinations and flavors of food. Fukuoka would deem this behavior as unnatural and would not endorse it. Foodies were important in the Meiji era because they were the ones who really pushed for the meat, and specifically beef eating craze in Japan. Up until this time Japan had essentially been practicing isolationism and rejected Western ideas. The fashion of eating meet was purely a Western concept and thus Fukuoka would deem incorporating meat into the Japanese diet as being unnatural. It can also be argued that the foodies of the Meiji period are a large reason why Japan opened its doors to the Western world.

Although Fukuoka was correct in his analysis that nature is able to take care of its plants on its own, human intervention, and more importantly human invention in the kitchen pushed the limits of Japan in the Meiji era and opened their country up to the world. Today, the foodie culture is pushing our cuisine to new limits and is an integral part of our evolution as a human race.

You Never Have the Ingredients You Need

15 Sep

I was cooking an Indian vegetable dish last night, and the recipe called for peas, tomatoes, whole milk cheese, and an array of spices. I made the decision, perhaps unwise, to not shop for the ingredients, I knew I had peas at home, and just use whatever I could find in my kitchen.

Once I had cut everything and began to cook I realized that there was no ginger in my fridge, an essential part of the spices. Instead I found a can of ready-made curry sauce, which contained ginger, and decided to add that over the top at the end. The next problem arose when I realized there also wasn’t any whole milk cheese available, so I decided to use tofu instead, because it has almost the same consistency. Soon after, the next hurdle arose because I remembered that tomatoes release water when cooked, and while this would be fine if I cooked according to the recipe, I wasn’t. I was adding curry sauce at the end, and the water from the tomatoes would make the dish too watery.

Finally after the peas had cooked and I had added the sauce, there still just wasn’t something right. The dish wasn’t as rich and creamy as it was supposed to be. I had no cream to add, so I added a little milk instead and let it cook on low heat for a while. All in all, the dish turned out to be a success and my improvisation had worked.