July 10, 2014

A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn

This summer I have the most delightful weirdo garden growing on my roof in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. It's been a really fun project with a healthy dose of trial and error (tomato plants blowing over in the wind, rainbow chard flu) not to mention the combined effort of many (thanks PS and HD!) to simply get the planting supplies to the apartment! It's funny how difficult starting a garden can be, especially here in our car-less, stair-filled, brownstone universe. I'm happy to report that many of the plants are doing well despite my amateur status and that we recently enjoyed the first tiny strawberries (pictured above). They were sweet and bright, delightfully unlike the store bought varieties. 

A few of the herbs were planted from seed, but many of the plants are from my favorite neighborhood store, Natty Garden on Dean Street. Check them out! Lots of organic soils, bat guano, and the funkiest succulents in town. A few of the tomato plants are from the Park Slope Food Coop, starters from Hepworth Farms upstate.

In this corner we've got two tomatoes chasing the bright sun (out of the frame!), lemon verbena, chives, basil, dill, alyssum, and dusty miller. Along the other side of the porch are poblano peppers, bell peppers, more tomatoes, rainbow chard, collard greens, strawberries, mint, sage, and coxcomb. I've been shuffling things around throughout the month as the sun moves, and painting the pots with affirmations (plants need a little positive encouragement too, right?).

Please pass along any advice you have for container gardening! I'm just learning as I go and would love to hear your tips on watering throughout the day and resupplying nutrients after the plants drain the soil. Remember when Ron Finley told us that growing your own food is like printing your own money? Well, it is. I'd love to see more guerrilla gardens in New York and am thankful for organizations like 596 Acres who are making them happen in abandoned lots!

Breaking in the dog days with whatever chill can be harnessed,

July 8, 2014

Lemon Coconut Cake

This is my favorite summer cake recipe from the beloved Veganomicon by Isa Chandra and Terry Hope, dressed up in a thin drizzle of icing, rosemary sprigs, and curls of sour lemon. To make the lemon glaze, simply whisk freshly-squeezed lemon juice into confectioners sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. Pour over the cooled cake and top with some fancy shredded coconut or birthday candles, depending on the occasion!

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups canola oil
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a bundt or circular springform cake pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, milks, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla until combined. Add in dry ingredients, folding the coconut in after all ingredients are combined. Pour into pan and bake for one hour (or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean). Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes or so before flipping over to release. Once cooled, top with icing or simply dust with a bit of powdered sugar.