Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gardentime 2010 (The Cucumber Explosion)

At the beginning of this week, I was worried about the state of my cucumber plant. I hadn't originally planned on growing cucumbers, since I'm limited to containers and cucumber vines like a lot of room. Then I saw a bush cucumber plant, and it was little and cute, and so I ended up getting it. I eat a lot of cucumbers, so getting a plant made sense, especially if it wouldn't vine everywhere.

I waited awhile before moving the plant outdoors. During the time it was limited to the peat pot, the plant grew a considerable amount. Its roots pushed up to the surface of the pot and out of the bottom. It even grew small blossoms.

I had to move it. Then I ran out of potting mix. So the plant sat outdoors for a day or two, half planted in its container (I know, I know, that sounds really irresponsible). Finally, I got more potting mix, tore off the bottom of the peat pot and planted little cucumber properly.

Then he looked sad. He yellowed a bit, didn't grow, and lost all his blossoms. Whenever I'd go out back, I look at him and think it was all over. No homegrown cucumbers for me.

Then it rained a lot, this week and last. And for some reason, that was the rallying cry for the little cucumber plant. He's doubled in size since Monday. His leaves are big, and a lush green. Tiny blossoms are returning. No sign of an actual cucumber yet, but my hopes are restored.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Jean Luc Godard's Breathless is playing at the local Ritz theater, in a remastered print released in honor of the film's 50th anniversary.

Of all things, this is what stood out to me: Patricia (Jean Seberg) is interviewing a famous novelist. She's young, inexperienced as a reporter. The other journalists are shooting questions at this writer, played by Jean Pierre Melville, and Patricia tries to keep up. She calls out the writer's name several times, finally getting to ask her question: What is your greatest ambition in life? He looks at her, but does not answer her question. Several more shots of Patricia, eating her pen, looking pensive. She calls out another question, he answers in a flirtatious way: "if she is charming and wears a striped dress." She finally gets to ask her original question again: "What is your greatest ambition?" He looks at her, pensive, and answers: "To become immortal/and then to die."

Melville's response stood out to me for this simple simple (superficial) reason: it's a line in an early Divine Comedy song, "When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe."

It's dumb to be writing about this, but I love it when, years and years later, I pick up on an allusion in one of his songs.

Back to the line, though. Is it even worth thinking over? Maybe not: on the surface, here it is, young Godard's first film. What is it he wants? To make films, to be remembered: then he can die. But why have the accomplished writer ignore the question at first only to answer it later? Admittedly, the question is a novice question, asked by a young woman just starting as a reporter. The writer could have continued to ignore it, but he doesn't. He delivers the line, removing his sunglasses as he does, and the film cuts to Patricia, also removing her glasses and turning to face the camera with a terrified expression spreading over her face.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tony Awards

Didn't watch them, never do. But this criticism from Charles McNulty (who was the reason I applied to BC's program, though he left the year before I attended) is totally spot on. Pretty much sums up every thing wrong with the theater world.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

First Peas of the Season!

I didn't think I liked peas, until I ate this:

It tastes like freshness and light!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Etsy Finds

I'm a bit of a sucker for vintage stuff, so I thought I'd start a new feature on this blog, showing off stuff I find on Etsy. First up is this very awesome rotary phone, which I got from seller Objet Petita.  She even threw in a free watercolor of a disgruntled looking Shakespeare, which I thought was great.

I had a rotary phone in my room growing up. It was a slimline princess phone in a drab shade of beige but it was MY phone so I loved it. As I got older, rotary phones quickly became a little useless, since you had to press buttons when calling customer service numbers, and so my love affair with my phone kind of died by the time I was a senior in high school (that's also when I got a translucent purple cordless phone and when most of the rest of the people my age were switching to cell phones).

But then one day a few years ago, I decided I really wanted a rotary phone in a cool color to just sit on a table in my house and look nice. In case you couldn't tell, green is one of my favorite colors.

This phone has the old style cord, with four prongs on it, so it won't work in a modern day jack. I don't have an actual landline in my home anyway, so it doesn't matter. The phone is a broken anyway, the buttons under the receiver are stuck down, but it looks very very happy sitting on my side table. And I kinda like picking up the receiver, turning the dial and listening to the "errrtccccch" sound it makes.

If you want a rotary phone for yourself, there are plenty more of them on Etsy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Annatto Seed--This Year's Culinary Unicorn?

I recently got Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook, Viva Vegan! (she co-wrote Veganomicon and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar). I'm just starting to make some of the recipes in the book. I've hit a slight wall though, in that a primary ingredient in many recipes is "Annatto Infused Oil" The oil is easy enough to make, you just steep annatto seeds in canola oil on the stove for a bit. Finding the seeds or ground annatto or achiote paste is, however, proving quite difficult.

I've found it online, which is great and all, but I want a local source. Any tips for finding annatto in Philly? Whole Foods and Essene were a no, as was Pathmark. Guess I could try the Latin supermarket over on Wolf St.

(Btw, annatto is the stuff that makes orange cheddar cheese look orange.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gardentime 2010 (part 2)

Well, here we are, two weeks (more or less) since the frost-free date and everything is set out. I really wanted to set the plants out before May 15, but then some nights between May 1 and 15 actually did get cold enough for there to be a frost warning, so, phew, glad I listened to myself.

There has definitely been a bit of drama in the garden, mostly from a few pesky alley cats who decided to use one of my containers (that was freshly planted with poppy seeds) as a litter box. I won't go into details, but it was gross. And the itty bitty poppy seedlings were destroyed. I've replanted that container with Cosmos, which don't seem to be coming up. I hope they do, since some flowers among the  veggies would be nice.

I've not had much luck with the little strawberry plant either. It's certainly getting leafy and has even sprouted a runner, but its fruit kinda sucked. Either it went moldy or rotted before I got to it or I got it too soon and it was blah.

The first crop of radishes has been picked and eaten. There's a new round in the container, but it may stay too hot for them to fully develop. I'm worried about the little peas for that same reason.

Oh, and those cats again: trampled the peas one morning, killing about half of them. I stuck a stake in the container and the surviving few are beginning to flower and put out pods. Let's just hope the days don't stay crazy hot (90 degrees. At the end of May), so they don't die before I can harvest.