There are plenty of arguments in favor of gardening, and they’re all important. Exercise, connecting with nature, saving money, controlling your food supply, eating food at the pinnacle of freshness, learning to ferment to handle the surplus, and so on. It’s not like I need to make the argument. But for me there is one overarching reason that trumps all the others combined: inspiration.
There is simply nothing that gets me as excited to cook as going out and seeing what new thing has sprouted, or matured, or flowered, or gone to seed, or is getting long in the tooth and needs eating stat. And right now, as new things appear every day and the possibilities increase exponentially, it’s positively giddy out there among the beds. Today I had a hankering to use some of the sorrel. Sorrel is a perennial favorite (get it?) because, apart from its lovely lemony taste, it grows twice per season and is indestructible; it’s one of the first things up in spring and one of the last to wither in winter.
Its only weakness is that it turns a dull grey very quickly when cooked. There are two solutions: cook it very quickly, like blanching, or eat it raw. It’s a wonderful component to a salad, and it adds a lot to various purées. Like today’s invention, a sort of green goddess dressing. Only it kicks the ass of regular old GG dressing, which is kind of gross on account of all the mayo and sour cream, i.e. it’s really just dip. It’s the salad dressing equivalent of the caramel and whipped cream-topped “latte,” which is a dessert, a big one, not a cup of coffee. If your “salad dressing” has as many calories as a milkshake, you’re not fooling anyone. Have a fucking milkshake.
This should really be called Green Gaia dressing on account of how much better it is. Also, too, Earth Day. I used a fat bunch of sorrel, chopped, with a handful of chives and chervil, a big clove of garlic, and a spoon of Dijon mustard. To this I added a fair pour of yogurt whey, a little cider vinegar, olive oil, a little bit of heavy cream because I had three big jars of raw milk that I just picked up and it just sits there at the top of the jars looking all thick and sexy, and salt and pepper. I stick-blended this all smooth in a quart jar, and then tossed a big bowl of flowering claytonia in it, saving the rest for tomorrow. I like to make vinaigrettes in jars with the immersion blender, because then there’s a jar of vinaigrette in the fridge for a few days.
The rest of this meal was a Hawaiian marlin steak, cut in three and then pan-roasted, and a small container of leftover basmati rice that was too little to do anything significant with so I fried it in duck fat until crispy and then tossed it with salt and smoked paprika to make a crunchy and compelling counterpoint to all the sexy textures at work elsewhere on the plate. A bite of fish, studded with rice and swabbed in the green sauce, made for much happy (and sonorous) chewing. An added benefit was that the whey, the vinegar, and the cream were all cultured with their various organisms, making it extra natural and probiotic and shit. I probably should have added some patchouli for good measure.
This can go in so many directions, depending on what’s growing. In a couple of weeks, when all the volunteer cilantro is ready to cut, this could head in an Asian or Mexican direction; add an avocado but keep the texture on the thin side and you’ve got liquid guacamole. LIQUID GUACAMOLE, PEOPLE. Make yourself a syringe out of masa and you’ll be good to go. See? I just thought of that because I have sorrel growing outside. The argument makes itself.