Since none of us is likely to be going anywhere for awhile and in anticipation of possible disruptions to the food supply, I’ve decided to expand my gardening from pollinator-friendly flowers to fruits and vegetables. Part of this is practical and part is nostalgic.

The practical part ought to be obvious: We’ve all got to eat, right? I’ve swapped beer for seeds that a friend and co-author who is about to move and won’t be able to put his old stock to use where he’s going (tough to grow things in the desert, right?), ordered seeds from the amazing Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and ordered raised bed kits by Gronomics.  To work out what I’ll plant where, Mother Earth News has a great in-depth companion planting guide.

The nostalgic part relates to memories of my childhood. My family was cash-poor but land-rich. That land was deep, loamy Kansas hilltop earth, rich with nutrients deposited by the glaciers that reached as far south as northeastern Kansas. That land was charged with carbon by the aquatic life that once swam in the vast inland sea that covered that part of the country thousands of years ago. The meals we grazed on straight out of the garden while listening to Kansas City Royals baseball on the radio as the sun set were delights: English peas, green onions, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce. That was all wonderful, nutritious, raw food, washed and chopped and served with blue cheese dressing alongside burgers, with the strawberries topping ice cream for dessert. It makes me hungry just to type this.

The deeper nostalgia has to do with my grandparents’ garden next to the garage on their farmstead south of Wichita near Clearwater. Grandma made miraculous things with the produce she raised on that plot, which was modeled on the Victory Gardens that sustained civilians on the home front during World War II. I’ve never had fresher, more delicious food than the feasts we enjoyed in their home every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. This may be my best opportunity to recapture that flavor and revive those memories.

Here are the veggie seeds (plus tomatoes) that I’ve ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds:

  • Wood’s Famous Brimmer Tomato
  • Brandywine Tomato
  • Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato
  • Pantano Romanesco Tomato
  • Ground Cherry (Strawberry Husk Tomato)
  • Laxton’s Progress No. 9 Garden Pea
  • Thai Purpoe Ribbed Eggplant
  • Rosita Eggplant

To satisfy my sweet tooth (and give me something to put up that may resemble Grandma’s preserves), I ordered:

  • Tresca Strawberry
  • Honeydew Orangeflesh Melon
  • Sakata’s Sweet Melon

For flavor and to keep the bees happy:

  • Sirius Blue Sage
  • Rosemary (Rosy)
  • Lavender (Munstead Strain)
  • Anise
  • Wild Bergamot Bee Balm
  • Red Milkweed
  • Butterfly Weed

Looking at those lists, which don’t include the piles of seed envelopes full of more conventional varieties like beefsteak tomatoes, chard, kale, and Little Marvel peas that I got in the swap (some nearly 10 years old, so I’m not sure what the chances are that they’ll germinate), I’m reminded of something Mom always said: “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, Miguelito.”

They weren’t all my first choices, because the run on seeds that the pandemic-related uncertainty has triggered in homebound workers meant that most of my first choices were out of stock. But that might actually be a good thing. If I had bought what I knew from Kansas, I might not have thought so much about which seeds would work best in the cooler, wetter Michigan summer.

I’ll be back from time to time to share what I’ve learned. I hope you’ll come back for more. Happy gardening, let’s move onward to victory over the coronavirus, and let’s all stay home and stay safe.

 

 

IMG_20180203_135415.jpg

This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour‘s Easy Amaranth Pancake recipe. Spelt is a high-protein, low-glycemic index primitive grain. Amaranth is a perennial grain high in protein and iron; it’s also a low-glycemic food. I was trying for something close to the Wild Roots Ancient Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix that I haven’t been able to find anymore after getting hooked on it and finishing off the massive bag I bought at Costco. Mine isn’t better; it’s just different. I will say, however, that this recipe is lighter than the Wild Roots version. The picture has pancakes with blueberries stirred into the batter, but blueberries or sliced bananas would be pretty great, too.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (or non-dairy milk)*
    • Add more milk for thinner pancakes, less for thicker cakes
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon Stevia in the Raw
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Beat the eggs and milk until light and foamy. Stir in the butter or vegetable oil.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together to evenly distribute the salt, baking powder, and sugar.
  3. Gently and quickly mix into the egg and milk mixture. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes, while the griddle is heating; it’ll thicken slightly.
  4. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat, or set an electric griddle to 375°F. Lightly grease frying pan or griddle. The pan or griddle is ready if a drop of water will skitter across the surface, evaporating immediately.
  5. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the lightly greased griddle. Bake on one side until bubbles begin to form and break, about 2 minutes; then turn the pancakes and cook the other side until brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn over only once.
  6. Serve immediately. Note: These pancakes keep well in the fridge for a few days.

To my #COM3100 and #com3210news students and all my grad student friends, you need to nourish your body for your mind to work during finals. This recipe, improvised during tonight’s snowstorm, will fortify you for all those tests and final papers you’re wrapping up. The result is a tummy-warming soup that’s mild, nourishing, and filling. It’s easily customizable to vegan by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock. It’s my gift to you as a former food page editor. Oh, and I want to give a shout out to The Desert Sun in Palm Springs and Holly Ocasio Rizzo for giving me the chance to learn all about food and cooking and actually be paid to do it.

It’s not that hard, and it’s entirely improvised. You can make up your own recipes, too, if you try.

Ingredients
Butter, whatever seems right to sautee chopped veggies
1 Vidalia onion, chopped into chunks
1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
4-5 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup water
1 can (14 oz.) red kidney beans, drained
1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained
1 can (14 oz.) pinto beans, drained
1 carton chicken stock (I like the Costco stuff, whatever size that may be)
Parsley flakes, whatever seems right
Adobo w/cumin seasoning, a couple of generous shakes
Cracked black pepper, whatevs (yeah, I know “whatevs” is not AP style; I’m indy, so I get to make up my own style)
Sea salt, whatevs
1 package lemon-flavored Papardelle noodles (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)

Sautee chopped veggies in butter over low-medium heat until just south of firm.
Dump in water. Crank heat to high. Allow to simmer down, about 5 minutes.
Dump in drained beans.
Dump in chicken stock.
Dump in parsley flakes.
Dump in Adobo con cumin.
Crack that pepper and shake that salt into the pot.
Turn heat down to low. Simmer for 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Dump in Papardelle noodles. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve. Eat. Feel warmed and loved. Then go nail those final exams and projects. I believe in you. Go do it!

Story pitch forms are a useful tool for reporters who are developing a story. Use this form to guide your thinking about what your article will be about and whom you will contact to interview for your story. Remember the requirements of our stories:

— Each story will be 500-750 words in length.
— Each story will have no fewer than THREE SEPARATE HUMAN SOURCES whom you have interviewed.
— If you’re covering a speech story, you must include lots of quotes from the speech or lecture; comment about the speech from a member of the audience; and comment from one other type of source, which might be another audience member, an event organizer, a protester, or someone else who provides an opposing viewpoint about the ideas presented by the person who gave the lecture or speech. 

Topic Beat Story Pitch Form

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  1. These are among the people in the community (aka stakeholders) who are affected by this topic or issue:

 

  1. My leader source will be:

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  1. My expert source will be:

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            This source can answer the following questions I have about this story:

 

  1. These are the names of the three people with whom I am setting up interviews for this story:

 

Source 1:

Person’s name:

Email:

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Source 3:

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