I plant bombed my old apartment. Not intentionally, mind you. Rather, it happened because my old apartment complex was run by a bunch of managerial hellspawn who feed off the wails of their tenants. Cenobites of property management unleashed after you sign the Lament Configuration Lease.
When Fiance and I were gardening we took very good care of everything at our old apartment's precocious little square of dirt. We planted tomatoes and tomatillos, enough so that we were gaurnteed volunteers the next season and assuming that no one totally rips the ground apart volunteers will spring forever more year after year.
In fact, whoever gets our old apartment with its untreated mold and possible cancer risk will get a boon of food from the plot of land out back. Tomatoes, sage, rosemary, eggplants, chilies, basil... oh they are in for a treat. Assuming they garden and don't let some of the other plants go Napoleanic on them like the blackberry bush or the two types of mint we planted. In the ground.
You see, we kept a rather close eye on them both and kept them in control. Now, I imagine, they are running wild and are creeping across the yard with the stealth of ninja. When the hot weather comes they'll raze across the yard and the neighbors' yards with a fury of a million women scorned.
However, I assume that most everything is probably dead (minus blackberries and mint) considering the fact that the new tenants likely don't garden. It's a shame. We put so much work into that space. What was a plot as neglected as the dust idleing on a bookcase was transformed through not just a small bit of labor on our part.
The weeds were pulled, the soil turned, stone pathways laid, boxes built, vegetables and fruits of so many kinds planted. Then before we could harvest our home was flooded by old pipes underground. The damp water, poorly treated, was soon followed by a black mold that began to spot and vein itself through the carpets, walls, and air ducts reaching out for new surfaces to colonize. Evacuation was imminent and slow moving, but the garden was left abandoned.
So now we're starting all over again. Of course, this time we live in a house proper with an actual yard and not just a plot. We're building boxes for herbs and chili peppers of all kinds. Lavender and rosemary sit in the boxes out front and when the wind blows they wave with their color and fragrance to the people walking their dogs. Mint and lemongrass line the sides of the house to ward off ants and other unwelcome guests. Blueberry bushes sit here and there reaching out to the sky with shocking vigor. Boxes for tomatoes and tomatillos are being built as I write this by Fiance' who just yesterday potted the dwarf lemon and orange trees.
We're starting again though I'm afraid it won't be the same. A fire pit and grill sit where Sassy's little outdoor bed once sat. Our Garden Guardian since passed away a few months ago after 17 very long and fruitful years. We're planning to put a spot of catnip down in a sunny spot of the yard where she would roll in the dirt to her endless amusement and my personal distress as I knew all the dust would result in ochre paw prints dotting the couch and counter.
Still, it'll all come out. We'll have this place ready, green, growing, and productive soon. We're looking forward to nights outside by the fire place, picnics and plenty of cocktail hours, and an engagement shoot with the photographer who has agreed to let us pay her in a summer lunch (gracefully, thankfully, her idea).
As Fiance' finishes turning the ground over I'm whipping together a simple soup. It's a bit chilly and overcast outside today so a pot of onions, carrots, and apples in vegetable stock is simmering on the stovetop. It's laced with ginger and speckled with vanilla, which may sound a bit odd for a soup but I assure you results in an almost achingly sweet, coy as a crush, and creamy without cream soup.
Sadly, we can't grow vanilla. California can grow almost everything, but not vanilla to my overwhelming dismay.
Lucky, I have my bean hookup: Rob, over at Beanilla. My bud as always, he sent me over a package of a new breed of Tahitian vanilla. (he's the one who helped me put together the Vanilla Variety Guide.) Many Tahitian vanillas are actually grown elsewhere, so the Tahitian species develops a different flavor. When this particular strain is grown on the fertile and tropical ground of actual Tahiti the resulting beans are stunning. The beans themselves and thick, sticky, and oily with seeds and flavor. A simple touch and the chocolate-cherry heady scent of this musky vanilla will stay with you all day. Used in foods the vanilla adds the flavor of sugar, cream, and a scent of vanilla that stands up against more pushier ingredients.
It really does make a perfect home of this tender carrot soup.
Lucky, for you all Rob and Beanilla are more than happy to share the vanilla wealth so you can highlight your own garden gatherings. He's put up a lovely vanilla prize package for one lucky winner:
-Tahitian Vanilla Beans
-Madagascarian Vanilla Beans
-Tongan Vanilla Beans
-Premium Vanilla Paste
-Premium Almond Extract
-Premium Vanilla Extract
There are two ways to win. One is to leave a comment on this post. The second is to go to Beanilla's Facebook page. ENTRY IS NOW CLOSED The winner will be announced next week, March 27, 2012, and the winner will need to contact me with an address to send the prize to. if you post as Anonymous please leave a first and last name or an e-mail.
Best of luck to you on your own gardens and the giveaway.
Carrot Vanilla Soup
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 cups peeled carrots, coarsely chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped (or 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract or paste)
pinch of salt
sour cream (optional)
1. Place the oil in a medium-sized pit and place over high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant and the onion has softened. Add the ginger and stir for 20-30 seconds or until fragrant.
2. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, apple, and vanilla seeds and pod and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until carrots are soft and easily pierced by a fork. Remove the vanilla bean and then puree the soup in batches with a food processor or blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.
3. Serve in bowls and garnish the a spoonful of sour cream if desired.