Greens in the Window

Free Projects, Homestead, Kitchen, Plants

For a bit of greenery indoors and a future meal from out windowsill, we have been growing pea greens. They are simple to grow, take about 10 days until harvest, and when it’s time to harvest, my kids snip them with scissors. Then we let them regrow for a second harvest!

I use Dwarf Gray Peas from Johnny’s Seeds, in a pinch you could use the pea seeds from the garden center (you won’t find Dwarf Gray, but it would still work), but I usually grow 1 cup of peas at a time so I buy them in large quantities. Pea seeds don’t need any soil, but they do need something that will retain moisture – I have used soil and fallen leaves and unbleached paper towels as a growing medium. I often use an old Pyrex pan, but plastic take-out containers and their lids both make great growing containers.

Day 1: Soak 1 cup of pea seeds in 2 cups of water — they will double in size over the next 12 hours.

Day 2: Find a wide, shallow pan – I use a 9x13inch Pyrex pan. Sprinkle some soil on the bottom, or use two layers of paper towels. Drain the peas and spread them in the pan. They can be tightly spread, but if it’s more than 2 layers deep, find a bigger pan or divide them between two containers.
Water the seeds.
Cover the pan with a plastic bag – this will create a mini greenhouse and keep in the moisture for the first two or three days of growth. Some air will help keep mold from growing.

Day 4: Remove the plastic. Give a little water if it looks dry.
Days 5-10: Water once a day, or twice if your home is very dry.

Harvest the peas when the leaves are open. You can harvest all the greens at once, or harvest over a few days. Use scissor to cut the stems, leave the roots in place and keep watering, they will regrow and you can harvest a second crop.

Home grown food definitely calls for my fanciest bowl and grandma’s salad tongs.

All Together in the Kitchen

Dirt Magazine, Family, Kitchen

Right before the beginning of the school year, a friend and I got together to cook up eight gallons of chili. The pot was big enough to fit one, maybe both, of my kids — a holdover from Linda’s years in catering.

Just that morning I was trying to get a few kitchen tasks out of the way, while my kids made each other miserable and the floor a mess. I was trying to do seven things at once, which meant that I left my coffee cup in the laundry room, a pot burning on the stove, and when I ran down to the basement I couldn’t remember what I was there to get. I was caught in a web of negative thoughts and miserable.

So imagine my surprise four hours later when I was singing to Old Crow Medicine Show and chopping 10 pounds of carrots, feeling happy and relaxed in Linda’s kitchen. The to-do lists were out of my mind and I was focused on our task at hand. We got a few other things cooked up while our kids played inside and outside. We were trying to get ahead on our meal planning and we froze quarts of chili for weeknight meals. This has to become a monthly ritual, we agreed (secretly hoping we could do it more frequently).

Then, a week later, another friend came to my house (with two kids in tow) and we made granola and some sauces in preparation for Dirt’s Eat Local Challenge. It was just as much fun — kids playing, mamas chatting while we worked, a satisfying stack of prepared food for the week. While Linda and I were cooking, she remembered the tamales of her childhood — one of her favorite holiday foods and made by a kitchen full of family. In my family, we celebrated Shabbat with a special meal every Friday. But my mother never liked cooking, and while we had a full table, the kitchen was often empty but for my mother.

I have been in a kitchen slump all summer — I expected the fresh fruits and veggies of summer would save me from it, but it was company I needed. Adult company, to be precise. Our time together felt more like a holiday, more like a celebration of food, and I went home with a head start on our meals for the month.

Originally published in Dirt Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017