Archive for July, 2011

July 25, 2011

The First Harvest: A lone cucumber

This summer, I planted a few herbs in my apartment’s shared backyard along with a baby cucumber.  The sage, basil, and chives are doing quite well despite the short hours of direct sunlight.  The cucumber plant started out three inches tall with two small leaves and has grown at astronomical rates.  Some days I would even find a tiny tendril in the morning and within just a few hours it had stretched across to the stake and twirled around in tight little spirals.  Our plant is covered in flowers, but many of them are male.

I didn’t know that cucumbers were diclinous plants.  Diclinous plants produce two different types of flowers within the same plant, and in the case of the cucumber, a disproportionate number of males.  For every ten to twenty male flowers the cucumber plant makes, one female flower will grow.  Because our plant is not too large, it only has two female flowers so far.  We’ve got lots of pollen, but few pistils, ovaries, and eggs to turn that pollen into a juicy cucumber.

It’s taken a couple months, but finally one of the female flowers’ ovaries have swollen into a full-grown fruit. Because this is a Bush Pickle variety of cucumber, it’s shape is short and chubby.  I wasn’t sure if it was ready for picking since it was a little wimpy on the end, but I figured it was quite thick on top already.

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July 20, 2011

Street Fairs and Liquiteria

One brisk Saturday afternoon in April, I stumbled out of the apartment to check out the Second Avenue Street Fair.  Unlike many bitter New Yorkers, I still find street fairs entertaining and fun.  Sure they’re all incredibly similar, but it’s still fun to stroll around with a friend while people-watching and soaking up the sun.  Unfortunately, the fairs also offer up sub-par greasy food, which I learned after I wasted $4 on an inedible snack.  Much to my disappointment I discovered that in New York, many food stands fry up a bunch of zeppoles at once and then serve cold, flavorless greaseballs to unsuspecting customers.  I have fond memories of eating piping hot dough sprinkled with powdered sugar at carnivals in my high school days on Long Island.  Either way, I’m better off.  There’s not a nutritionally redeeming quality of fried dough and it’s probably best to avoid it.

While wandering around that sunny Saturday I came upon a bustling storefront.  It appeared to be an organic vegan juice bar and a popular one at that.  I had lost my appetite due to the upsetting zeppole incident (ironic since I still hadn’t eaten), so I took note of the building and planned on going back.

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July 16, 2011

What’s My Blueprint

While munching on a cucumber salad, sauteed string beans, tuscan white beans and baked zucchini, I contemplate my next steps.  I made a big decision just a few weeks ago, prompted by some self reflection.   As I consider my upcoming days, I think about “passion.”  Everyone talks about “following your passion,” but I’ve come to learn most people have more than one.  Books and movies often showcase a character who has an intense dedication to one pursuit, and there are the fortunate few real people I’ve met who have a similarly clear directive.  Somehow I don’t feel that way and I know I’m not alone.

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July 11, 2011

Skinny Summer Squash

Mmm, summer squash.  I love it.  Zucchini, yellow crookneck, pattypan… they’re all so tasty and filling, too.  One raw cup is only 25 calories.  Sauté a small shallot with two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large pan, throw in two cups of the summer squash, and within minutes you have a heaping bowl of deliciousness for just 150 calories.  It also has healthy doses of:

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