Monday, September 21, 2009

A Morning at Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

Remember how I mentioned that rooftop farm that my roommate had mentioned to me up in Greenpoint (the neighborhood north of Williamsburg - my neighborhood - in Brooklyn)? Well...I found their website, emailed them, and found out that they have volunteer/community days on Sunday mornings! I mentioned in the email that I used to work at a business with a rooftop farm and have experience gardening, and Annie (Annie Novak and Ben Flanner are the two who run the place) had actually heard of Uncommon Ground (my old place of employment in Chicago). 8:30 this morning I jumped on my bike and headed up to Greenpoint in search of the farm.

Found it (the bike ride was short but very sweet)...and WOW was it amazing. I took a ton of pictures and had a good time, even if I wasn't there for the entire volunteer time (every Sunday from 9-4 pm they have volunteers coming and leaving). Here's what we did with some pictures interspersed in there:

-picked and sorted flowers/herbs for sale (me sorting some flowers)

-re-staked tomatoes (yep, that's the Manhattan skyline...)

-helped set-up and hung out around the farmer's market (that's Annie)

-ate cute little ground cherries

-harvested some dino kale, and more things! Here's some glamor shots just for fun:

Basket of carrots

Just-picked peppers

Chard bundles

Compost bins

Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint is different than other farms I've been to because they don't use raised beds and instead plant directly on the rooftop. It was so awesome being able to be on my hands, literally in the dirt with the plants. The rooftop of the building is turned into a farm with 16 beds and rows between them (and around for runoff) made of green roofing material ( The soil used is also part of their own compost mix and a rooftop blend that makes it super light so that it's easily supported on the roof. People in the community are encouraged to bring scraps of their kitchen remnants, biodegradable trash, and even things like pet hair!

Rooftop farms also works with community youth in the Growing Chefs program, to teach urban farming and appreciation of food preparation as a skill.

Check out Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint, Brooklyn just past Franklin on Eagle Street (heading towards the water), and at their website (which includes links to lots of good literature about them!) -

Also check out the website for Growing Chefs -

All in all, I will definitely be going back and working on this farm as many times as I can. I loved my day there, met many great people, and hope for many more gorgeous days on the farm!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Meal Medly

I've been at home in Waukesha, WI this past week at my parents' house regrouping before I head off to school again. Since all of my high-school pals have already left, I've had pretty free evenings, and have been cooking a lot of dinners entirely from scratch (and oil-free for my dad, which has been a creative challenge). I've been seeing how many different ways I can dress an excess of zucchini, tomatoes, and flour. I don't remember enough of what I did to write a bunch of recipes, but here's a few that I at least remembered to take pictures of:

Whole wheat gnocchi with garden tomato sauce and reduced balsamic
Shredded zucchini with cilantro spinach pesto
Red leaf salad with raspberry vinagrette

Tofu "caprese" pizza
Zucchini and winter squash pizza

Potato and summer squash soup
Tomato stuffed with snowpeas and salad beans with reduced balsamic and pesto
Whole wheat caraway bread

Whole wheat pita with coriander chutney and hummus
Winter Squash and chickpea falafel
Pea and potato curry
Braising greens with tomato and garlic

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spinach Spaghetti with Heirloom Tomato and Summer Squash Sauce

This recipe was inspired by the vegetables I bought at the Park Slope Green Market last Saturday! I came home with an extremely large summer squash, a beautiful yellow heirloom tomato, a large red pepper, a bundle of carrots, tons of green beans, and a few other needless to say, I am going to have a few things to cook with this week :)

Yesterday for lunch I made something pretty bombtastic that all of you need to try because it is SO ridiculously easy, and SO ridiculously healthy. After going through my cabinets and deciding that I really was hankerin' for a pasta dish (I feel like I've been eating brown rice for weeks), I whipped one up. Here we go!!!

Spinach Spaghetti with Heirloom Tomato and Summer Squash Sauce

-1 serving of Hodgson Mill Whole-Wheat Spinach Spaghetti Noodles
-1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (optional)
-1/4 yellow heirloom tomato (I would tell you what variety it was, but I have no idea. tasted rather sweet.)
-1/2 of a small/average (or 1/4 of a large) sized green summer squash/zucchini
-as many little grape tomatoes as your heart desires to make it as red as you want.
...and that's it!

First, start your pasta-water heating up in a saucepan. Get that going and then get out and wash off all your veggies.

Dice the summer squash first, and start it heating on medium/low in a saucepan with the TBSP of olive oil (if you are making this optional, you can put the squash in there with a tiny bit of water to get things steaming). While that is going, dice up the heirloom tomato and throw that in. Cover the saucepan while you are quartering the grape tomatoes; this will take a little longer than the other veggies (because they are small and annoying to cut), so the other veggies can cook and break down a little while you're getting these babies cut up.

Put your noodles in and turn the water down; these noodles cook in about 7 or 8 minutes (sometimes faster!) so stay by the stove. When you are about 2 minutes away from draining the noodles, stir your veggie sauce and put in the grape tomatoes. The heirlooms should have broken down to make it more stew-y, and now the red will add vibrant color!

Drain your noodles, add basil/oregano/whatever you like (I added basil, oregano, some black pepper, and some salt) to taste to the sauce and simmer for the remainder of the time it takes you to prep the noodles on a plate or in a bowl, and then devour with glee!!!

Delish. Enjoy.