Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tomatoes ARE Real Life

This weekend, I'm moving to London.

The tomatoes in the garden aren't ready to be eaten. In fact, I don't know if I'd even call them tomatoes just yet. They are really just little green lumps of taunting promise of someday possibly becoming tomatoes. Now autumn has arrived, though, and with it, the cold weather. So I most likely won't get to try a nice, glossy red, pulpy tomato from my garden before I become a Londoner without a garden.

Tomatoes in picture appear bigger than in Real Life. Actual size: a thumb.
I didn't know a whole heck of a lot about gardening when I started this project. Tomatoes aren't known for growing well in cold weather, and if there's one thing Norway has a lot of, cold weather is it. (If there were two things, the other'd be blond hair.) But I like tomatoes and thought it'd be fun to try to grow them. I didn't ever imagine that they wouldn't become edible in time for autumn.

Even though I did many things right with the tomatoes, like planting the seeds indoors before moving them outside, I probably should've started a few months earlier and given them enough time to develop in the warmth before planting them outside.

So this tomato thing turned out to be an experiment. I got a lot out of it: a new interest in plants, hours spent outside in the sunshine weeding, something to talk about. Although actual pulpy edible tomatoes very likely is not one of the lot that I got, tomatoes were the reason I started this project in the first place, and without them, there would be no squash, carrots, coriander, or chives.

Time to change the subject. Something I'm sure you've noticed, is that I love all the parallels I'm able to draw from this Garden Experience to Actual Real Life. I'm about to do that again. Here goes.

I'm moving to London to start a Master's in Tourism, Environment, and Development, which is, quite obviously, completely unrelated to my undergrad, which was in TV Production. As with my first effort at growing tomatoes, much good came out of my first try at studying. I found a real interest in documentaries, I started working in the non-fiction TV world, I learned lots and lots, and met wonderful people. The projects I worked on also sparked my interest in another way: the content and research involved made me realize that I really wanted to go back to school again, learn about the world, not just about seeing it through a mediated what-works-for-tv-experience.

I'm super-excited about this next step in my life. I find my mind wandering: I picture myself at the library, nose-deep into books about tourism in far reaches of the world, I picture awkward conversations and careful banter as I get to know the people I'll be sharing a student house with, people who will be from countries I know very little about at this point, I picture me trying to overcompensate in trying to sound English and stealing things from TV and movies (Welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?"). And then in the midst of my daydreaming I remember it's all just a few days away and I sort of jump a little because I've been talking about and imagining this for so long and now it's about to start and that fact still seems unreal.

It's a fantastic thing to be on the brink of a new start, to be able to envision all the possibilities of where life will take you, and have all of them be viable options. It's a gift to be able to daydream. Although I know I'll have to find my way in this new subject just like the first time, I have all this stuff I've been through to fall back on as a reference for this next stab at life. (That sounds like I'm trying to kill life. I'm not.) I didn't know where studying TV was going to take me, and I never imagined I wasn't going to end up working with TV, just like I never imagined the tomatoes wouldn't turn out. I'm not certain where this next degree is going to take me (will I turn into a tomato or something entirely different?): I have no idea where I'll be in a year or five years or ten. And that is a fantastic and liberating feeling.

Would I try growing tomatoes again? Sure. I know more about how to grow them now so they're bound to turn out better and who knows what else it could lead to? Peaches? Plums? Beets? Coconuts?

And that, my friends, is my very last Garden--->Actual Real Life analogy. Probably. I'm not promising anything.


Since I'll be leaving next week, I've been trying to cook with my beloved garden veggies as much as possible before I go. Here's a phenomenal carrot soup I made the other day out of one of my favorite cookbooks that I've posted about many times before, The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.

Carrot Soup

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups stock or water
1 1/2 ts salt
1 medium potato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cashews or almonds
3-4 Ts butter
1 cup yogurt or buttermilk
2-3 ts honey
2 pinches nutmeg
1/2 ts dried mint
1 pinch cinnamon
1 apple, grated, for garnish

Bring carrots, stock/water, salt, and potato to a boil and let bubble for 12-15 minutes until carrots and potatoes are done. In the meantime, sauté onions, garlic, nuts in butter until onions are clear. Sprinkle a little salt over. Add onion mixture to carrots and purée with a handblender (or transfer to a blender). Mix in buttermilk and honey, then spices. Warm if necessary, don't allow to boil. Garnish with grated apple. Enjoy in an autumnly fashion!

1 comment:

Alex said...

don't start speaking like a brit, tally! keep that cute & subtle norwegian twang to your english! (nudge nudge.. :)