Tuesday, June 26, 2012

garden eating

There is no going back inside now. Even a rainstorm beckons me out to get my face wet. The weather is unpredictable these days, but venturing out under any conditions is part of summer fun.
The New York Botanical Garden is a perfect place to get lost and cool off under the shady trees.  Wander inside the climate controlled greenhouses for an instant vacation to another climate and take a deep breath of air that positively make you drunk with oxygen overdose.
The green houses and the lily pond at the NY Botanical Garden in the Bronx

The garden is currently featuring a flower specimen show inspired by Monet's garden in Giverny, France. Waterlilies were his big thing, but he was a serious gardener and there is plenty of floral color in this exhibit to dazzle and inspire creative juices.
Waterlilies conjured up images of Monet in his garden. How lovely to spend an afternoon painting them. I did not come prepared!
Walking along the wooded paths, part of the 50 acres of the garden, for instant summer in the country.

Back on my home turf I took a look at my own botanical specimens. The Queens backyard collection is a bit motley I'm sad to say, but anything green does the trick when you are looking to cool off. 

To continue the ease of the long summer day a simple supper of grilled potatoes and vegetables does the trick.  I like to put the potatoes on the grill after they have been par-boiled or partially cooked, to speed up the grilling time. The hot, direct heat of the coals will add some crispy caramelising and smokey undertones.
Small potatoes- parboil unpeeled potatoes in boiling salt water for about 10 minutes until just about tender when pierced with a knife. Alternately, the potatoes could be stuck in a microwave for 3-4 minutes till tender. Put them in pans right on the grill and add olive oil and seasonings of choice. The batch on the left is doused with olive oil and a heavy hand of Indian spices, a blend brought back as a gift from Goa. I added some sliced fennel bulbs for added flavor. The batch on the right is for my husband. A dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and you are done. Let the potatoes get crispy brown in spots tossing them a bit as they cook and the oil sizzles around them.
Bigger potatoes get the same par- boiling treatment. When they are cool enough to handle, split them in half or in thirds length-wise, depending on how big they are, and season the pieces with oil and rosemary. Lay them directly on the grill, moving them around from time to time to get nice grill marks but no major burns. 

The potato above was sent swimming in a fantastic salsa I picked up at the Williamsburg Flea on Sunday, made by The Brooklyn Salsa Company. They have about six flavors and I quickly sampled them all declaring the tomatillo cumin salsa, known to them as The Green, and their mole salsa, aka: The Hot, as the best of the bunch. They are in fact all good and if you have a chance to sample them, do!

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