Before we even knew the forecast, we had decided Sunday would be the day we dig the garden.
It’s convenient to now think of it as an “Earth Day” activity, but the truth of the matter is that my awareness of the comings and goings of the actual day of “Earth Day” is tangential at best. At some point I knew it was coming, but that didn’t really put it on my radar.
However, seeing as it was quite pleasant here in Seattle, weather-wise, and because we’d planned an earthy activity on an earthy (faux) holiday, we turned it into a bit of a family event.
Among my many neuroses, would be a persistent concern about food and all the nasty things that can happen to it between the time it’s gathered in its raw/natural state and the time it arrives on my plate.
Actually, the true terror isn’t really when it arrives on my plate, rather on the plates of my wife and child. I get the benefit of said concern for the well-being of the others, so…there you go.
Hence, in addition to wanting to make sure Owen grows up with a hard-wired love for Detroit sports and music made with stringed instruments, I hope to instill in him an adventurous palate and a strong understanding of food. I believe a key component to this is going to be giving him a life-long appreciation for where food comes from.
I’m certain that, had I been asked when I was in elementary school where food came from, my response would have included words like “cans” and “grocery store.” This despite the fact I count among my most treasured memories sitting with my grandfather on his Allis-Chalmers tractor traversing corn fields.
Same beloved grandfather would send us kids out to the fields to bring back large rocks for which he’d pay us on a per-piece basis. I now realize this was a very low-cost way to get some peace and quiet in the house.
George Doubrava was a wise man.
Anyhow, my point would be that I plan to put forward a focused effort on arming my son with as much knowledge and understanding of food as possible and hope it benefits him his entire life.
Turns out it’s not entirely difficult to sell a toddler on the idea of digging a garden. I don’t even think Owen was particularly psyched about digging in the dirt, which might seem a stereotypical sales point for a young boy. All we had to do was bolster his natural desire to be doing whatever he sees Mommy and Daddy doing with a tool he could use.
Orange watering can.
That’s it! That’s all it took!
Well, “all” includes refilling the can several times to account for both how little water it took to make the can too heavy for him to carry without spilling it all over himself, as well as for how quickly he was able to dump the water. Unlike the gentle misting effect of the typical Seattle rain shower, Owen likes to go for the midwestern-style downpour where no umbrella can really save you.
In a sort of celebration to the launch of our gardening operations, we also heated some charcoal for a particularly meaty, not-at-all gardened dinner entree.
What better way to bust into the warm weather of “grilling season’ than with a giant sandwich of grilled meat? Other than vegetarians, who doesn’t love a burger?
Despite having turned myself off from the prospect of buying meat from most sources, I still am generally open to the products found at our local Metropolitan Market, which made it an especially sunny moment when I wandered over to the meat department to see them running a special on Wagyu beef. With enough meat to make two large adult patties and a toddler version costing me less than $6, I couldn’t resist.
I know Anthony Bourdain would think me an idiot for eating ground Wagyu beef, but after having it at Hubert Keller’s burger bar…well…I just don’t care. It’s crazy delicious.
The Missus had requested a pasta salad with the meal. She also wanted tomatoes, artichokes, and Parmesan cheese in the salad.
Being the wise guy I am, I hit the market’s olive bar for some marinated artichoke hearts AND an artichoke lemon pesto thingy I thought would work for oil. Also, trying to be considerate, I opted for some sheep milk feta to help with any lactose issues known to rear their heads in the house, and a small block of another firm sheep cheese spiked with black truffles.
Result? BAM! (What? NOBODY but Emeril get’s to use ‘bam!’ amy more? Please…)
I used a Barilla pasta that wasn’t quite like the rotini/rotelle I am used to getting, though, if I’m honest, I don’t remember whether it was called either of those things. It’s definitely spiral-like, as you can see, but can be stretched out, rather than being held to a certain length. This worked most advantageously for Owen who dragged a few spirals around his plate while making a snake-like “sssssssssssssssssssssssss…’NAKE!”
(It’s funny he can do the “ssssssssssssssssss” all day long, but always says he’s being a “NAKE” and that he takes his shoes and “DOCKS” off. Not sure when it’ll click he can put the hissing sound in front of “nake” and say “snake,” but it’s cute for now.)
Unfortunately, the Missus had particularly wanted the Parmesan to satisfy some need to salty something or other. She claims to really like the salad I made, though.
We supplemented the entire venture with the leftover Spring Asparagus Salad I had made the day prior.
That’s my recipe. I am “Seattle Dad.” The secret is OUT!
Hearty, well-sourced meal provided the calories to go dig in the dirt for a while. It felt momentous to get started on something that will pay dividends potentially for years beyond our time in this house.
So, Happy Earth Day, even to you scrooges who turn on extra lights to spite the “libs.”