Hmm. A little like humans.

This made me giggle. Maybe the vegetable world isn’t so different from ours.

“Asparagus plants are naturally either male or female. The female plants bear seeds, which take considerable energy from the plant and sprout new seedlings, which cause overcrowding in the bed. Male plants produce thicker, larger spears because they put no energy into seeds and have no weedy seedling problem.”


Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

I just watched the premiere episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and it was brilliant! PLEASE take a few minutes to watch it on! Here is the link and synopsis from the website. It’s fascinating to see Jamie take on the public school lunch system. Those lunch ladies are TOUGH BROADS.

“When we first heard the term “Food Revolution,” we weren’t exactly sure what that meant. Did a lazy Susan suddenly start spinning out of control? Was ketchup attempting a hostile takeover to dethrone salsa as top condiment? But then, with world-renowned chef and best-selling author Jamie Oliver’s name attached, we knew it was going to be all about “good food.” Enough said.

Yes, Jamie Oliver is here to start a revolution. The impassioned chef is taking on obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the USA, where our nation’s children are the first generation NOT expected to live as long as their parents. Now that’s scary!

Jamie is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces with the thought-provoking new series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which has a special sneak preview SUNDAY, MARCH 21 10|9c on ABC, followed by a 2-hour premiere on FRIDAY MARCH 26 8|7c.

In the six-part series, Jamie heads to Huntington, West Virginia. Why? Well, Huntington has been called the unhealthiest city in America. Jamie wants to do something about that. Through his efforts in this one town, he hopes to start a chain reaction of positive change across the country.

Jamie says, “There’s an incredible community in Huntington, and I want this experience to be a celebration of what we can achieve when people come together.” Jamie goes on to say, “Wonderful stories will unfold in Huntington, and hopefully this will inspire the rest of the States.” Sounds like a plan!

Needled by local naysayers, challenged by ingrained unhealthy habits and government bureaucracy, and welcomed by some of the most surprising youngsters, families and local leaders, Jamie shows how, in just a few short months, he tried to transform Huntington as a template for the entire country. The stakes? Simply the health of our country’s citizens and the legacy for its children.

The series is loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s U.K. series, Jamie’s Ministry of Food and Jamie’s School Dinners, which saw his successful grass-roots efforts improve the school lunches in communities there. For the latter show, it resulted in a total overhaul of the school dinner program in the U.K. In America, he’s turning his attention to helping people of all ages eat more balanced meals and cook with fresh ingredients, not only at schools, but also homes, and workplaces.

Jamie’s recent television credits include Oprah’s Big Give for ABC. He is the author of nine popular cookbooks, including “The Naked Chef”, “Cook with Jamie” and “Jamie at Home.” Hyperion published his latest cookbook, “Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals”, in October 2009. Packed with quick, flavorful recipes and step-by-step photos shows beginning and accomplished cooks how to achieve great results with fresh ingredients. You can buy it now!.

We can’t wait to see how Jamie makes out in Huntington. We’re also curious to see if his efforts there catch on in other places. Let the revolution begin!”

Sign the petition here, and join the Food Revolution!

Top Five Fabulous Things of the Month

1. Going to Fort Worth to watch Jamie, Joe and Kristen run the Cowtown Marathon and Half-Marathon. Barry and I saw them off, wandered about the city to cheer them on, and met them at the finish.

2. Adventures with the puppy! I gave Jasper a bath! I’d never bathed an animal before. It was fun! He also ran errands with me the other day, and he did very well in the car.

3. Sarah, her boyfriend, Barry, and I made Chinese dumplings, and if I do say so myself, they were awesome. We made a big plate piled high, and we ate every single one! It was a lovely first double date with the New Boys.

4. Home improvement…I got a chair for my reading nook! I tried SO HARD to get a used/secondhand chair, but I couldn’t find any for under $150. So I gave in and bought one at World Market that was probably made in a third-world country by child labor, using up precious natural resources. Being poor sucks. But my awesome chair does not. I also got a gift from my mother – a pretty wall decoration that I put above my bed.

5. Sarah and I took a trip to Austin. We visited Jessica and her family, and we wandered down South Congress, where several SXSW shows were in progress. We had some life-changing caramel popcorn, the real kind made with sugar and butter in a popcorn maker. We found a venue that used to be a train station, where we listened to some great music. It was a lovely weekend!

Garden, March: Planting Asparagus and Potatoes

I’m 100% certain that the asparagus crowns (year-old root systems that look like a mop) I just planted were not done so correctly. But they were also sprouting inside the plastic bag, so they needed to get into the ground ASAP. You’re supposed to dig a full-on trench so that the soil that’s put back in is loosened and amended with compost and fertilizer and the shoots have soft ground to move through, but I just don’t have the energy for that at this particular moment, so I just loosened the soil a bit and then dug holes for each crown.

I don’t know if these will take. Asparagus apparently doesn’t like competitors, and there’s a small tree fairly nearby whose roots are running all through the soil. I pulled up as many as I could, but they may get strangled or crowded or whatever happens under there to make a plant fail. I chose the spot anyway because it’s off to the side and gets a lot of sun. We’ll see!

The broccoli plants are growing, and the tiny heads are starting to form and get a little bigger every day.

The spinach sprouts are getting bigger…

The radish sprouts are turning pink at the bottom…

And the carrots finally sprouted! The second photo is the accidental carrot explosion!

I’m trying potatoes in a barrel again this year. The problem last year was that there wasn’t enough real dirt mixed in with the bagged soil, compost, and fertilizer. The only place the potatoes grew was down at the very bottom, where the added soil mixture met the ground. So, here, I used mostly real dirt with some earthworm castings mixed in. I’ll add more compost and fertilizer along with more bagged and existing soil as the plants grow, slowly building up the height of the barrel, about 3 inches at a time. Hopefully that will leave me with potatoes all along the way up. No sprouts yet.

By the way, if you buy a roll of chicken wire, unroll it with someone else’s help. I attempted it alone, and it scratched the heck out of me. I felt like I’d been attacked by a pack of cats. So…potatoes and asparagus. Stay tuned.

Spring Garden Miscellany

A few interesting things occurring in my garden…

1. We’ve had some over-70-degree days this week, which means my red-leaf lettuce is bolting! That means the growing stalks up the middle are going to shoot up some flowers and therefore seeds. In this picture the red-leaf are the two reddish ones to the right of the onions – you can see on the top one that it’s getting taller. I’m going to try my hand at harvesting and saving some of those seeds to plant next time. I’ve never done this before, but people have been doing it since the beginning of agriculture – so I think I can figure it out. Hopefully.

2. I have spinach sprouts! The radish sprouts came up last week, but the spinach just broke the surface in the last couple of days. I feel so much better. The suspense was killing me! The carrots still haven’t appeared. Wondering if the seeds were too old or something.

3. The more Swiss chard I pick, the more new growth suddenly appears. I was trying to conserve because the plants weren’t producing much, but I decided I should just go for it before it gets too much warmer, and lo and behold, they are looking better, bigger, and brighter every day. So interesting! The same has been happening with my other lettuces – arugula (far bottom left) and the mesclun mix (bottom middle and second photo). They are the very definition of sustainability, and I’m so thankful to be able to walk out my back door, grab a handful, wash it off, and have a salad or drop some chard into a sautee pan or a pot of soup. I have long since blown past the $2 each plant cost me in savings at the grocery store.

Here’s some AWESOME logic for you.

I’ve been reading a little about the Colorado Catholic school that refused enrollment to the 5-year-old daughter of a lesbian couple. I found this quote in regard to the issue on the website of the priest who made that decision.

“Would that I could wave a magic wand and make all of the present struggle disappear.  I hate the fact that I had to make a choice between being loving and protecting the teachings of the church. As I look around Boulder I recognize that there is ample love all around; but there is a scarcity of discipleship.  I chose to be on the side of what was lacking.  I chose to protect the faith over doing what would have looked like the loving thing to do.”

I’m just fascinated that he makes the distinction between the church’s teaching and a loving action. The funny thing is, I don’t think he even realizes the massive irony in what he’s saying. I’m just trying to imagine the train of thought that could leave someone with such a disconnect between their life’s work as a professional Jesus-follower and “being loving”  in any given situation. At least people like Pat Robertson follow a “logical” train of thought, however flawed (in my opinion) – “God does not accept you, therefore I do not accept you.” This priest, however, clearly knew and identified that the loving thing to do in this situation would be to accept this baby girl into his school – he, instead, chose to uphold the teaching of the Catholic church. He goes on and on in two separate posts about why he made the decision and backs it up quite thoroughly. It all shows he knows exactly why he made the decision, and I’m not going to condemn him for making that choice – this is a free country, and he leads a private institution. I just find it interesting that he also knows full well his actions are not loving, and that he’s perfectly fine with that. Thoughts?

A little poetic advice to start this Monday off right

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

-Max Erhmann, “Desiderata”