Blogs for September, 2014
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, leaves, marigolds, boot & sweater weather is a reminder of change after a hot and dry summer in Southern California. And since the season isn’t as gloriously marked here as it is in the northeast, I go online and look at photos of the changing colors of the trees. The shorter days and colder evenings remind me that it is natural to slow down, to hold a cup of hot tea, to allow for things to settle in to a fallow period.
But October is not for the fallow in your garden. In fact, it is a great time to grow your annuals in the soil that is still warm from the summer, from your bulbs that will flower in the spring, to flowers you hope to harvest for a holiday centerpiece.
Marigolds are a fantastic flower to plant this week: they are the birth flower of you October babies, and bloom in oranges and reds, the warm colors of fall, perfect for an autumnal dinner table. Used around the world in honor of various traditions and religious rites, from honoring Mother Mary to those who have passed away on Day of the Dead, some of my favorite images are from the garlands of marigolds used in India to celebrate weddings and mark holy days. High in antioxidants, the Calendula officinalis is not only edible, but has been used medicinally for everything from upset stomach to ointments to treat burns, bruises, and cuts.
Marigolds are easy to grow and maintain, so you really have no excuse. Get out in your garden!
Add bouquets to your fall dinner table, or sprinkle some petals to add a garnish to your favorite autumnal food. What are the ways that you celebrate autumn? Drop us a note in the comment section, or tell us on Twitter @TheCityFarm.
(Photo Credit: WallpaperHDHub.com)
Is it possible to have a spirit flower? You know, like the times a seemingly random animal keeps showing up in your life, those times you keep seeing peacock images or owls or wombats and someone tells you that the universe is trying to tell you something based on what your “spirit animal” portends.
I’m seeing dahlias. The boyfriend and I went to the Getty Center this weekend, taking my friend and colleague who is visiting California from Congo. The grounds and architecture of the Getty are equally if not more a work of art as the fantastic collections the museum curates. The Getty perches atop the Santa Monica mountains directly off the 405, the travertine stone chosen for its look and history: “16,000 tons of travertine are from Bagni di Tivoli, Italy, 15 miles east of Rome. Many of the stones revealed fossilized leaves, feathers, and branches when they were split along their natural grain.”
We walked through the rounds of the circular garden, eying the dahlias that were bright against the grey morning sky, orangey pinks and rich eggplant-purples. The boyfriend noted my love of the blowzy blooms, and picked up a pink bunch to add to my vase of sunflowers, one of my other favorite flowers. And they may just be my spirit flower; researching the dahlia, I learned that they are in the same family as the sunflower.
Named in 1791 by Spanish botanist Antonio José Cavanilles for Anders Dahl (1751-1789), the Swedish botanist who saw the flower in Mexico in 1788. According to dictionary.com, no blue variety had ever been cultivated, thus the term “blue dahlia,” as an expression for “something impossible or unattainable.” Again with the coincidences – I’d JUST opened an article on Mother Nature Network that explains why blue is not a common color in the plant and flower world – “to make blue flowers, or foliage, plants perform a sort of floral trickery with common plant pigments called anthocyaninsj.” And while people have tried to use their chemistry sets to create the unnatural, a blue rose, they’ve only succeeded so far to use delphinidin, the pigment that makes delphiniums and violas blue, to make a purple rose.
I’ll have to pay closer attention to the floral signs in my life, to learn whether my spirit flower is trying to tell me something about the impossible or unobtainable, or to let my perfectionism go and be a bit more blowzy, disheveled, and unkempt in some areas of my life? For now, I’ll just stop to smell, photograph, and drink in the beauty of the dahlia.
Looking to add dahlias to your life?
(Photos: Rebecca Snavely)
My name is Rebecca, and I am a cat addict. To quote the ultimate crazy cat lady, trying to land a man in what is either the best, most man-repelling e-Harmony video EVER or simply her funny audition to be a YouTube sensation: “I love cats. I love every kind of cat. I just want to hug all of them, but I can’t, can’t hug every cat.”
(“I’m sorry, I’m thinking about cats again.”)
If you love your furry feline so much you want to give Fluffy* her very own, organic catnip, you can be the best cat-parent on the block and grow your own. However, according to The Herb Gardener, it might exude an aroma that is a cross between peppermint and skunk. I don’t even know how nature crosses such opposite smells, but if that’s the case, I’d go with their advice, and choose a spot that’s away from your patio or deck or wherever you might be hosting a dinner party.
My neighbor suggests storing your cat’s play toys in a jar of catnip. I suggest you film the results of your cat’s play and post to YouTube.
Even though you may be tempted to try a hit of catnip to see if you get the same buzz as Fluffy does, it won’t work. As much as we like to think we are one with our feline friends, our olfactory systems and brains are built differently. However, according to vox.com, as far back as the 1600s, Europeans were using the herb as a tisane, “brewing tea with its leaves, making juice from them, and even smoking or chewing them. At various times, the plant was believed to cure colic in infants and excessive flatulence, hives, and toothaches in adult.”
Whether those are true or not, catnip does have a medicinal use as a mosquito repellent. PopSugar has a great DIY recipe to make your own “bug off” from your new addition to your herb garden.
*Fluffy might be the most unoriginal name out there. (Sorry to all Fluffy-lovers.) What’s the best cat name you’ve ever heard? I’m partial to those with an article, e.g. “The Admiral,” or with a middle initial, like the Bloggess’s Hunter S. Thomcat (who gets extra points for the literary reference). Leave a note here or over on the Twitter to tell us your favorite cat name, and if you’re planning to grow your own catnip for a feline or a bug-repeller: @TheCityFarm & @RebeccaSnavely.
The lemon cyrpess tree stopped me in my tracks as I walked into the store. Mission accomplished, Trader Joes: I *almost* bought one, its color reminding me of the lime popsicles that I bought from the corner store a quick bike ride from my childhood house. And on a day that registered almost 100 in my part of L.A., anything that reminded me of a popsicle was a sure purchase.
But before I counted out those nine dollars and made the little bright green tree my own, I wanted to know more. SF Gate informed me that the lemon cypress is also known as the “’Golden Crest’ or “Goldcrest” cultivar of the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), a tree that has a native range limited to the Monterey bay on the coast of central California.”
So that is why it called to me. I love the central coast of California, winding my way up the coast highway from L.A., the beautiful bridges, the cliffs down to the rocky beaches, the cypress trees that make every golden hour photo gorgeous against the setting sun and the blues of the sea. On a road trip to Monterey with my mother, we took our time on that drive up the 1. We stopped for coffee or hikes as often as we wanted, explored Monterey by bus, went on a guided kayak tour of the bay, during which we were regularly reprimanded as the slow boat, dragging behind the rest of the kayaks while we exclaimed about the otters popping up around us, got lost in the beauty of the day and forgot to paddle, and in general wreaked havoc in the channel as a MUCH BIGGER BOAT made its way out of the bay.
Armed with the info about where the lemon cypress hails from and the golden glow of memory that it invokes, I plan to take one home with me on my next trip to Trader Joes. Though in their native home they can grow as tall as 100 feet and keep their conical shape until they are over 30 feet, they can easily be cultivated as small topiaries, If you want to add one to your front stoop or living room. Snug Harbor Farm notes that they can grow to 12 inches to three feet in containers, and their photos are just BEGGING to be posted on Pinterest with as wee Christmas trees decked out with white lights or handmade ornaments.
Planting your lemon cypress in the wilds of your yard or garden?
Your new addition to your yard is low maintenance, so you can sit back and let it grow in its own way, unless you choose to prune it as a hedge.
Taking your tree inside, or planing in a container for your patio garden?
The lemon cypress is low-maintenance, but if it starts to lose its conical shape, prune it back to where you want it. Snug Harbor notes that pruning may bruise the tips and make them brown, but the plant will quickly heal.
Bonus: It smells like lemons! Do you have a lemon cypress in your garden or house? Tag us in photos of it on twitter: @TheCityFarm.
(Photo Credit: Snug Harbor Farm)
Many times over the years, I’ve asked family members and friends, “Can I get that recipe?” Thanks to their generosity, my collection of recipes is enormous. Some of the recipes have been handed down from great-grandmothers while others are most likely from cookbooks long forgotten. In any event, these are the dishes I was raised on and the ones that I prepared for my children.
All proceeds from the sale of All Time Favorite Recipes will be donated to The Dream Street Foundation, a charity my brother and sister launched over 25 years ago. Dream Street provides nationwide camping programs for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
I’m excited to share some of my all time favorite recipes from my cookbook here on The City Farm COOK blog. I hope you enjoy!
I’ve had crab cakes in many restaurants, but I think these are the best. I have found that this particular combination of ingredients makes the best crab cakes. Adjust the amount of herbs and seasonings to your own taste. Enjoy!
Fresh crab meat
Old Bay seasoning
Salt & pepper
Mix fresh crab meat with minced celery, chives, Old Bay seasoning, fresh marjoram, lemon juice, salt & pepper, mayonnaise, egg white and some bread crumbs.
Shape into patties.
Dip into additional bread crumbs to coat the patty.
Saute in canola oil until brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towels.
(Photo Credit: Pinterest)
You know that fear / recurring nightmare? The one where your boss or boyfriend or way-cooler-than-you-colleague asks to borrow your laptop for a quick search, and you can’t say no but you can’t clear your search history without them seeing you do it? And you know that when they type in the first few letters of their oh-so-normal / oh-so-intelligent and/or artistic Google search that auto-fill is going to give away that you’ve been searching online for photos of …. broccoli.
Okay. So it’s not porn. Unless, like some of us, growing and eating your own grub becomes a kind of obsession of the late-night reading sort. Not to worry. I took the hit and Googled “the history of broccoli” for you. And since Princeton.edu was one of the first results, I now feel no shame, even though it links back to that plebeian Website, Wikipedia.
Carefully cultivated and a favorite in the Roman Empire and then Italy, broccoli made its way to England via Antwerp in the mid-18th century, and then headed to America by way of Italian immigrants. It’s renown as a healthy food that parents everywhere can admonish their kids to finish is backed up by science: A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C. But it’s better to eat raw or steam lightly, as broccoli loses its cancer-fighting super-powers like sulforaphane after mere minutes of boiling: 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes.
If you live in a warm climate and grow a quick-growing broccoli like Calabrese, you could plant today and harvest into November, for food-porn-friendly crudité platters at all your fall parties!
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year – sweaters, boots, indoor parties with a fireplace roaring. If you’re hosting or heading to a party, take your garden-grown broccoli out for a spin: Click here for a little food porn on ways to make your crudité platter look its best. I promise, the site is safe for work / search engine history.
(Photo Credit: Grow It Organically)