One day I’ll live in a little, vine-covered cottage by the sea. A flock of happy chickens will roam the grounds, laying eggs for breakfast. The backyard will be home to a big, beautiful garden, bordered with bright orange marigolds, alive with ladybugs and surrounded by apple and pear trees. Occasionally a freshly caught fish from an unpolluted ocean (if that still exists) will grace the dinner table. My beloved bike will take me everywhere and I’ll live a simple, carbon-neutral life. But until my sweet, “living off the land” dream becomes a reality, I have to make do trying to get back to basics in a crowded urban setting.
One way of getting back to basics, growing food, has become a little bit of an obsession lately. As I walk my dog through the neighborhood I find myself peering in people’s yards, trying to get a closer look at their gardens.
Last week I stumbled upon a stunning garden in my neighbor Jason’s backyard and inched my way through the grass to take a closer look. There I found a lush plot of tomatoes, kale, scallions, herbs, squash and a host of other goodies. This is one of the communal, apartment gardens I love so much and it is a magnificent display of organic goodness.
As luck would have it, I ran into Jason down at the dog beach a few days later and raved about the beauty of his garden.
He mentioned that he had more veggies than he knew what to do with and said to help myself any old time. Really? Carte blanche to fresh, organic, veggies?
I returned to his garden that very evening, carrying a large canvas shopping bag with lots of room to take my little green treasures home. The next day, happy as could be, chopping away in my kitchen, this is what I made:
Bunch of mixed greens, from Jason’s garden
raspberries, picked from the community garden
crumbled Salt Spring goat cheese
Homemade olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard and basil dressing.
The salad is accompanied by sourdough bread, topped with heirloom tomatoes, basil and Salt Spring Island goat cheese. The bread is drizzled with olive oil and lightly toasted it in the oven.
Add a chilled glass of something sweet and sparkly and you have a really simple, really delicious meal.
Thank you, Jason, for sharing your garden with me.