Tag Archives: vegetables

Shopping with pani puri.

Tom took me along on his shopping trip yesterday, to a few stores and shops including a multi-story big box that had features of a Super Wal-Mart, Costco, and a department store. The escalators were ramps that accommodated shopping carts, and we visited all the floors and departments, but never found a C-battery or anyone who knew what that was. Tom wasn’t very sure himself, but some new baby equipment wants them. Oh well.

I was fascinated by the many varieties of basmati rice, both packaged and in large bins where women in pretty clothes were scooping up their favorite type. I love basmati rice and used to buy it in 25# bags myself; I came home with a jar of the Brown Basmati.

The packaged rice is one of many products and ads that feature a photo of a famous movie star, often a Khan, or the “Big B,” Amitabh Bachchan. I don’t have a hope of keeping all these celebrities straight, but a couple of them have leading roles in an unusually good Bollywood movie we are currently watching here (over the course of three nights, because it’s close to four hours long): “Lagaan.” Oh, and on the route between the different shops, whose car did our driver point out but that of the very Aamir Khan himself. Mumbai is the center of Bollywood, did you know?

Women were also filling bags with large-crystal sugar from a great bulk bin.



We ate several pani puri snacks and another type of snack at a stand in the food department of the store. For us to take our fill of those savory treats cost less than 100 rupees which Tom said was about $1.10.


From this store we drove to that quiet neighborhood Tom introduced me to on my first day here, where is found their favorite market.

The shopkeepers know at least the names of vegetables and how to count in English so I was able to complete the purchase of some carrots, zucchini, peppers and broccoli while Tom went to the next stand where we found leeks and potatoes from which he is going to make soup.

Are those red carrots really carrots? I’ll cook them today and find out.

We brought all our loot home and then Tom cooked up a big delicious dinner featuring mutton chops, pesto green beans, tomato salad and more. It was the first meal of not particularly Indian food that I’ve had in ten days.

Baby “Raj” had stayed home with his mama. They are eating well and building strength and we are all enjoying the early Getting to Know You period. Well, not quite all: Huckleberry Cat has led a very sheltered life until this point and he doesn’t feel entirely positive about the strange creature who suddenly showed up.

As I write, it is a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve been holding a sleeping baby for an hour while chatting with Kate and Tom about so many things India, seeds that could germinate into future blog posts. Now I’m back here typing with two fingers to finish this one. My mind will immediately and irresistibly start gathering threads of images and impressions to weave into the next scrap of cloth I hope to share with you, of this colorful tapestry that is Bombay.

Sunny flowers and vegetables.


I’m way behind on gardening, and now that the weather permits catching up, I’m off on a short trip to see grandchildren, planned when I couldn’t envision anything but rain. Yesterday I did manage to fit in a very few tasks such as weeding and feeding and even harvesting.






I think these would be called carrot thinnings, of the sort you end up with when you put off thinning too long. Some of them are sweet enough. What I didn’t eat last night will make good snacks on my journey.

For dinner I made a tiny stir-fry using all the pak choi and snow peas that I had picked. Hope leapt up for my vegetable gardening future.

Helianthemum are blooming, starting with the yellow ones in the front garden. I’m a little sad having to leave all my plant children right now, but I will entrust them to God and come back soon!

Back to my happiest place…

gl2 P1040417This afternoon I returned from a short road trip, and within a few minutes I’d taken a stroll around the garden to see what changes might be evident. I hoped that the newly planted items had made it through the weekend without my attentions, and they had.

The Terra Cotta yarrow has begun to bloom, and it looks pretty against the blue pincushion flowers nearby. In a month the rows of lavender bushes will all be flowering in contrast as well, but already one variety is starting to open enough that a fat black bee was checking it out.P1040414


The vegetables have not stopped growing huge — just what magic is in this custom mix of dirt for planting boxes? I’ve never grown or even seen such lush and large leaves of kale and Romaine lettuce.




Just the day before my trip I had set out  a flat of flower and vegetable starts, including this feathery fennel and two zinnias. I always like some zinnias mixed in with vegetables. In the garden, that is.

That’s rice straw mulching the fennel; another task I had completed the day before my trip was to wrangle a bale of the stuff out of my Subaru and into the back yard so that I could at least tuck it in around the tiniest plants for protection against drying out while I was gone.gl2 P1040422



It’s surprising how several of the Iceland poppies are still flowering even in the warming weather, no doubt encouraged by having lately enjoyed several spells of cool rain, and by the well-drained soil that they reportedly appreciate. Usually they don’t make it through the summer around here….


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Lovage towers above leeks and parsley.

The happiness of being home in my garden again gave me the energy to actually use some of my produce; I picked a dozen kale leaves and cooked a mess of greens in the pressure cooker, to go with my eggs for dinner.

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Fall Garden Report

My husband and I have been cleaning the yard up this week. I’m putting in some greens for the winter, and some cooler-season flowers, and we are already talking about how to improve our harvest next summer. So I thought I’d write notes about this summer’s results.

Butternut Squash:  6 fruits (two of them pretty small) from 16 plants. Considering we didn’t have a warm summer that isn’t too bad. (My best year was 10 larger fruits from 20 plants.) But, also considering that B. doesn’t like squash, I might give that space to tomatoes next summer, when we will be making the Concerted Tomato Effort. The butternuts in the store aren’t as good, but I can live with that.

Tomatoes: We grew 8 plants, 8 different varieties this year. Terrible year for tomatoes, but the scorecard for the various ones:
*Early Girl: Still the most dependable, and the flavor in September can’t be beat. I want to plant two of them next year.
*Grape: This is the 4th year I have grown these, and they are wonderful in all the usual ways, except that this year for some reason the fruits were tinier than grapes.
*Green Grape: These were vaguely grape-shaped, but huge for a cherry type, more like a small plum. The flavor was good and they were healthy and productive, so I might plant them again. I like having a green cherry for the color in salads and such.
*Andy’s Polish Pink: We got at most 3 good fruits from this plant, and when we pulled it up, its roots were not deep. Early in the season the tomatoes were mushy. It’s not worth trying again to see if more heat would improve them.
*Faribo Goldheart: The few fruits we got were tasty and beautiful orange tomatoes. A couple of them were the largest of all our tomatoes this year. Worth trying again.
*Orange Fleshed Purple Tomato: I picked this up at the big box store, part of their effort to stock a few heirlooms. It didn’t make many tomatoes and they were so disappointing–now I forget all the reasons–that we pulled the plant out early.
*Yellow Cherry: This has been the best of the lot this summer. It’s quite a bit like Sungold, but its skins aren’t so thin. It’s been a good producer and very sweet.
*Black Cherry: It was hard to tell when these were ripe, and when they were, they quickly got soft, and their flavor was blah, so I don’t want to plant them again even though the bush was productive.

Peppers: Nothing produced well, of the Anaheims or Pimientos or the other two interesting ones. But they were in a spot that didn’t get enough sun. More and more of the garden is like that, unfortunately. B. wants to plant Pimientos again next year in a place where they did really well in the past.

Basil and Arugula: Always easy, and did as well as usual. Actually better–last year the basil seemed to suffer, maybe from too sunny a spot. This year I put it back in the old place, where it gets no sun until the hottest afternoon rays. The picture is of arugula seeds I collected.

Lemon Cucumber: We got enough for our use, which is very minimal. I may not plant these next year because they are available locally at the market, and we need the space for other things.

Green Beans: Blue Lake are the best! We got a good amount, and since we love them so much, we will probably plant them again, and maybe in the same spot, as it is one of the few places where the runners can’t disappear into a tree or the neighbor’s yard.

New Zealand Spinach: Some of these starts I planted in a too-shady spot, and they never really grew. The others were in a place that gets sunshine all day long, and they grew vigorously, but the leaves are small.  The stems are tough on this plant so I haven’t bothered to use much. I’d like to try this old favorite again next spring, in a place with a little shade.