Tag Archives: Food

Street Eats

During my recent trip, the food was an integral part of the experience. And while we ate a lot of meals traditionally, at a table, we also did a lot of outdoor eating, carefully trying not to make too much of a mess.

In Seoul, we visited a couple of the big markets. In Namdaenum Market, we passed several stalls selling snacks. We avoided anything with meat – skewers of raw meat were sitting in the hot sun, unrefrigerated, waiting to be grilled to order. But the green onion crepes – thrown on the griddle to order – were tasty, and the brown sugar-filled pancakes (hoddeok) were definitely memorable and craveable.

For tourists only...

In Seoul, we also saw a very confused food cart at the N Tower, a major attraction: churros and Heineken. There was a Cold Stone directly across from this stand, too.

In China, we didn’t see nearly as much street food, other than people selling food to take home.

The markets sold everything else, though. Clothes – premade or tailored to order – of all varieties. There was an insane array of fake goods: sunglasses, purses, shoes, watches, pirated movies.

Chestnuts (or similar) and lotus roots

But food-wise, there were chickens and turtles and pig parts, fruits and vegetables and the like.

In front of the “luxury mall” on the main shopping street – where every single store, without exception, was a big name, Western brand (Prada, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, etc), people stood outside with baskets, peddling chestnuts and what I learned were lotus roots.

But Taiwan… oh, Taiwan knew how to do street food. After 5 PM, night markets spring up in several locations throughout Taipei, varying in size and specialties.

Rows of stalls served everything from bao and grilled kebabs to fish balls and waffles filled with everything from chocolate to red bean paste.

Snails.

Most things were snack-sized servings, often for less than US$1, so you could assemble a meal by trying several different things. Going with people also meant you could try more things.

Shaved ice with mango. OMG.

And of course, you have to end the experience with a shaved ice, topped with fruit or candy and condensed milk. This mango shaved ice was incredible and giant, so I shared it with several people.

Waffles. These were filled with either chocolate or custard.

Yes, those are corndogs.

Some stalls had helpful pictures so you knew what you were eating. Other times, not so much.

The incredible thing to me about Taipei was that they do this every single night. In the US, we’re finally starting to maybe allow some food trucks, but for the most part, “street food” is a rare occurrence, tied to festivals. (And Christkindlmarket. But even that is temporary.)

Read on for more food stories.

Eating Local – Wherever “Local” May Be

Eating local is one of the best ways to understand a town, a city or a culture. In Elgin, we have lots of great local options, from In the Neighborhood Deli, where each sandwich is named for a local institution (schools, churches, etc) to the Walnut Speakeasy in my own neighborhood, which has become almost Cheers-like in its familiarity.

Lately, we’ve been reminded about how important it is to eat locally. Local restaurants don’t have the advertising dollars of their national chain competitors. Nick’s Pizza & Pub, which just announced their financial troubles stemming from a shaky economy and construction, competes against national chains who can run TV commercials or far-reaching campaigns. While social media helps build local community, it also provides an unrivaled platform for national brands to share their message nationwide. Whether your Facebook friends live in Dubuque, Albuquerque or Seattle, they know the same national brands you do.

While traveling in Asia, we talked a lot about food and its role in culture. I was bound and determined to eat as much fantastic local food as possible. And since you have to eat multiple times a day, it’s a natural way to easily experience local flavors and culture.

Good - and fun.

In Seoul, it was Korean BBQ. I went twice. The first time, my roommate, Inggrid, and I went to a place packed with locals on a Monday night,which we figured was a good sign. It was. The menu was entirely in Korean, with no pictures. Inggrid was able to use her smidgeon of Mandarin to order us a terrific meal. They bring raw beef, which you cook on the grill built into the table, using the heatlamp. Then you wrap it in lettuce leaves with a sauce, garlic, and veggies. Divine. And a lot of fun. The next night, we went to another place where the garlic- and spiced meat was even better.

Suckers!

Of course, Korea was also my first “surprise” meal of the trip. One day, between meetings with marketing executives, we were given an hour to find lunch nearby. Inggrid and I took off down one of the small alleys off the main street, finding a row of restaurants with alluring aromas. We went inside and ordered by pointing and smiling. When it was served – she got chicken ginseng soup and I ordered bim bam bop – everything smelled so good. But as I stirred my lunch, I discovered tentacles and suckers! I had somehow assumed I was getting pork or chicken in my bim bam bop – not octopus. But after the initial shock, and surrounded by office workers who inhaled their lunches, I tried it. And it was actually pretty good, though a bit rubbery. I wouldn’t order octopus, but it wasn’t terrible.

In Shanghai, we saw an incredible array of food that seemed impossibly far removed from the Americanized Chinese food most of us are familiar with. We saw lots of jellied seafoods and chicken feet, and in the markets, buckets of live turtles or fish made you wonder if they were selling pets or dinner. We ate very well, though sometimes I didn’t want to know what I was eating. And it was in China that we discovered the lazy susan style of eating: absolutely everything is served family style and spun around the table to share. While this is a great way to try a lot of things, by the eighth consecutive day, you just want to order your own thing. While all the stir-fried veggies were great, and I fell in love with xiao long bao dumplings, I was really craving a big salad by the time we left.

I had no preconceived notions of what Taiwanese food would be. Every guidebook promised it would be delicious, heavy on fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables. And it was. Again, many of our meals were banquet-style, with 8-10 people at a table and a giant lazy susan spinning 10 or more courses. The shrimp and fish were so good, and so fresh, especially to a Midwest girl. The mangoes were the juiciest I’ve ever had, and we tried a “milk pineapple,” a variety only available in Taiwan with incredibly sweet white flesh. Everywhere we went, there were stands selling fresh juice – mango, watermelon, pineapple, everything, squeezed to order.

On our free evenings in Taiwan, we usually went to the night markets for dinner. Such street food merits its very own blog post.

However, despite all the eating local, familiar American options abounded. KFC is extraordinarily popular in China, where they’re open 24-7 and have adapted to the local palette, serving things like congee with pork. (The day we visited Yum Brands’ headquarters, we had lunch at KFC. I felt worse that night than any other on the trip.) McDonald’s exists, but is less popular than KFC. There were a meal at Macaroni Grill our first night in Taiwan, when hunger, tiredness and frustration had us craving something familiar.

I tried to eat local, but I did often hit Starbucks in the morning, as finding a decent cup of coffee could be difficult. In fact, finding what we consider “breakfast” foods was often tough, as many Asian cultures don’t have a distinct difference between breakfast and lunch or dinner foods. So, Inggrid and I often went out for dumplings or soup. On time-pressed mornings when we had meetings with companies, I often did a quick trip to whatever coffee shop was closest to get some type of breakfast sandwich.

Overall, though, I loved my culinary adventures through Asia, suckers and all. And now that I’m home, I’m happy to get back to Domani and its fantastic coffee. Because eating local is the most familiar and comforting of all, regardless of where “local” is.

Read more about the Street Eats. 

Peachapalooza!

Twenty orbs of summery goodness.

Last week, I split a half bushel of peaches with two neighbors. The fine folks at Trogg’s Hollow, our ultra-local neighborhood farm, took orders and went to Rendleman Orchards in downstate Alto Pass.

We had anticipated that a half bushel would give us each 10-15 peaches – a slightly daunting challenge for a person living alone, given the fleeting perfection of summer peaches, but I was excited by the possibilities.

When Jody called to let me know she had picked up our half bushel, she cautioned that there were more than anticipated. I brought my basket over and loaded up, walking home through the neighborhood with several pounds of fragrant fresh fruit. Twenty peaches in all.

I started eating the first one before I had even closed the door behind me. It was delicious – about a day from perfection, so I left the basket on the counter overnight. The next morning, the kitchen smelled divine, and I ate one with breakfast. The juice dribbled down my chin and tasted warm and sunny, like summer.

Thursday night, it was Iron Chef: Peaches at my house. I started by making peach daiquiris, blending a peach with rum and a squeeze of lime juice. Divine. I made peach crisp and peach-oatmeal-blueberry bread and muffins. While it was all in the oven, I retreated to the hammock in the backyard and sipped my daiquiri under the stars.

But there were still more peaches, and despite eating them for breakfast and snacks, they were starting to turn. Somewhat frantic, Sunday night I pureed three with some yogurt, added ginger and lemon juice and poured them into popsicle molds. After they were partially frozen, I added some crystalized ginger, which definitely tempers the sweetness a bit.

And yet, there were still more peaches! I had one for a morning snack today, and eyed the last two suspiciously. They had started to shrivel just a bit, but cooking could salvage them. So how to close out my week of peaches?

I’d heard that grilling peaches really intensifies the flavor, so I decided to try Jenn’s grilled peaches with balsamic glaze. The grill was already nice and hot for my eggplant caponata, so it was a cinch to slice the last two peaches and throw them on the heat. The balsamic glaze was easy. They were fantastic, though I think I don’t even need the glaze. I have two halves left in the fridge for later in the week – perhaps I’ll just warm them up and add a little dollop of vanilla ice cream? And there’s still another serving of crisp, which will be great after a late night of class tomorrow.

What’s your favorite way to eat peaches? And is there a fruit that better epitomizes summer?

Eating Alone

Over spring break, I borrowed What We Eat When We Eat Alone from my local library.

The concept intrigued me, as I eat alone more often than not. So what might others have to say about the ritual or the reality?

I was sorely disappointed. Most of What We Eat was about what people eat in the rare instances that they eat alone. The majority of the book involved tales of saltines and sardines or cottage cheese, and the joy of not cooking when there’s no one to cook for. The recipes were odd and strangely old-fashioned, heavily reliant on canned goods and tinned fish. I had to check the copyright at one point to make sure this wasn’t a reissue of a book from the 50s, with talk of “batching it” and painfully outdated gender roles. Women eat salad and men eat meat, right?

There was a single, thin chapter given to people who habitually eat alone, but it was told in almost a pitying tone, as if chronic eating alone is a transitory state that should be avoided. While the book celebrated beer and popcorn as an acceptable “eating alone” dinner, that’s not sustainable in the long run.

Looking for topic salvation, I picked up Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, and found much tastier food for thought. This compilation of 26 essays from foodies, writers and food writers spanned a wide range, from those who have eaten alone for years to those who do so only rarely. And while the latter share some of the same features as What We Eat, the stories felt more honest and interesting.

Most telling, though, was the split among the chronic alone-eaters, between those who philosophized about how cooking for yourself can be nurturing and empowering, and those who look at cooking as a burdensome means to an end. This resonated with me, as it’s a dilemma I face frequently.

Until about a year ago, cooking was a chore. I didn’t think I knew how. Cooking meant finding the quickest way to fill my growling belly after a long day at work, which often meant pre-packaged foods, pasta or grilled cheese. (Not that there’s anything wrong with grilled cheese.)

I’ve since grown to love cooking, as it keeps me healthy and fuels me so much better than the old stuff ever did. When I have the time, I love being in the kitchen, chopping and prepping and experimenting. Since joining a CSA, I’m enjoying planning my meals around the weekly baskets (though stumped by this week’s head of Chinese cabbage).

The reality is that I don’t always have the time to cook. In a packed day, sometimes I can’t take 30 minutes to cook, let alone eat, because I need to be out the door in 20 minutes and I’m not dressed yet. I try to cook proactively – and abundantly – so I have a ready selection of nukeable sustenance. That doesn’t always happen, or I’ll burn through my stock quicker than it can be replaced. And that’s when I have peanut butter and jelly or granola bars or piles of raw veggies.

I went through a phase where I religiously ate every meal sitting at my dining room table, pouring water into a real glass, rather than drinking from one of my omnipresent steel bottles. I’ve relaxed that – if I nuked leftovers or have a big salad or pizza, why not eat on the couch? And this time of year, I eat as many meals as possible outside at my little patio table.

What do you eat when you eat alone?

Greens, Greens, Greens! My First CSA Produce

Midway through last summer, I discovered that some lucky people get boxes of produce delivered to them every week. These Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes include a variety of whatever is at the peak of freshness. And buying a “share” at the beginning of the season helps the farmers by ensuring they’ll have enough income to work throughout the year.

It really sounded like a win-win situation. Supporting local farmers, buying locally AND getting the freshest veggies? Sign me up! I’ve always made frequent stops at farmers’ markets, from Chicago’s Daley Plaza, Elgin’s Downtown Harvest Market, or my own local Klein’s Farm Stand. But the during-the-week markets can be tough to get to. (In the case of Daley Plaza, it’s a truly fantastic market – the mind reels with possibility – but it’s tricky transporting delicate produce home via train.)

Over the winter, I discovered Trogg’s Hollow, a very, very local farm. Their field is barely a mile from my house, in the midst of an older neighborhood like mine. They were sold out of shares by the time I found them, but then a neighbor got in from the waiting list. The shares are designed for four people, so she offered to share her share with me. Serendipity!

After a cool spring, I finally got my first batch of produce: lots of lettuce, spinach, a radish and beet greens.

So how to use those veggies?

Part of the reason I signed up was I wanted to branch out beyond what I usually buy and cook. It’s easy to get in the trap of buying the same things every week. For me, it’s usually a bunch of spinach, a couple of bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and whatever a recipe requires. (On the fruit side, it tends to vary more, based on what’s on sale and in season.)

The lettuce and spinach are easy. As soon as I got home with my bag of veggies, I made a giant salad, and I’ll have several more over the coming days. I also add spinach to scrambled eggs.

I had just found a recipe for spicy stir-fried eggplant and beef that called for radish greens, something I had never  considered existing. But suddenly, I had some in my fridge, so I made the recipe last Thursday. (And wow, was it fantastic!) I ate the radish itself while I made dinner. (For some reason, radishes always make me think of Fraggle Rock.)

The beet greens posed a bit more challenge. My cooking guru, Jenn, suggested sauteeing them with garlic and onions, and the Trogg’s Hollow newsletter suggested a similar treatment. Easy-peasy. But tonight’s dinner was a clean-out-the-fridge type meal, so I managed to work the greens into a skillet of Italian sausage, new potatoes, bell peppers, onions and garlic. I added some fresh parmesan – divine.

And just in time, as I’ll get my second share tomorrow.

Maiden Voyage: Whole Foods

For the past two quarters, my professors have assigned giant projects that use Whole Foods as a case study. (This quarter, it’s the final project for my Finance class.) And though I’ve spent months talking about value drivers, compound growth rates and competitive strategy (this quarter) and consumer attitudes towards organic foods (last quarter), I had never set foot inside a Whole Foods.

One opened last year in quasi-nearby Schaumburg, but I have a strong hatred for Schaumburg  on weekends. I knew I really should go, but I hadn’t made the trip yet.

But last Saturday, after spending five hours discussing performance ratios with my group at an Andersonville Starbucks, I realized I was actually pretty close to a Whole Foods and I might as well stop in.

So I navigated myself to the Sauganash store, parked and checked in via FourSquare.

Since it was an impulse trip, I had no list, no plan and no idea of what I actually needed. I was trying to think through my fridge and pantry, and meals for the coming week, but I haven’t been on a real grocery trip in a month – just quick stops to pick up dairy and produce.

So I wandered, somewhat aimlessly, noticing the huge array of relatively pricey produce. Everything looked so fresh and good, though, it took some willpower not to start loading my cart with things I thought I had at home.

I ambled through the store, somewhat afraid a security person would stop me, as I probably could have been profiled as a shoplifter. I was picking up dozens of items and reading labels, but putting little in my cart.

The other big limiting factor to my trip – other than the lack of preparation – was the damn pantry project I announced last week. While I wanted to stock up on things, I already have quite a stock at home that I should use up. This proved especially tempting at the grind-your-own nut butter station.

Then I stumbled on the Larabar selection. I love Larabars, and I’m lucky that my local Meijer stocks a couple flavors and occasionally puts them on sale. But Whole Foods had several flavors I had never tried – banana bread, carrot cake, ginger snap, PBJ – and they also had the mini versions. I ended up grabbing a box of minis and about 6 or 7 regular size bars, not really violating the pantry project because they go in the cabinet, not the pantry.  (This was a loophole I should have exploited more.)

Then, I rounded the corner and discovered the famous bulk foods aisle, just as I got a tweet from a friend insisting I must visit said aisle. I marveled at the variety – every kind of grain, for dirt cheap? All kinds of granolas and dried fruits? Sign me up! But again, restraint prevailed. I ended up getting a couple pounds of oats, since I was due to make granola bars again, and some cous cous, which I was out of. I also got a bunch of dried figs. If I had regular access, I would definitely take advantage of this aisle.

I was hungry after a day of caffeine and sugar, and the prepared foods area smelled divine. But I hadn’t cooked in a week and craved my own home cooking – and had chicken thawing in the fridge – so I passed by with a wistful sniff. I investigated the cheese section, marveled at the wine and beer, and grabbed the milk (cheap for organic!) and eggs I needed.

Overall, it was a good first trip, and I have a better understanding that may help my project. I will definitely go back, prepared with a list, after pantry project month is over.

I think it might even be worth braving Schaumburg on a Saturday.

While I was wary of the “whole paycheck” moniker, I actually didn’t spend that much, in part due to my restraint. The total damage was only $37, of which about half was Larabars. The rest was spread among milk, eggs, oats, cous cous, figs and a bag of fingerling potatoes that I ended up using for dinner. I’m sure if I had grabbed meat or cheese, that number could have been far higher.

What’s your favorite grocery store? If you go to Whole Foods, what are your must-buys?

The Pantry Project

I’ll admit it: I’m a borderline hoarder when it comes to pantry goods. Taught by my mom, I tend to stock up on things when they’re on sale. That’s all well and good, but six weeks later, when canned tomatoes go on sale again, I buy another five cans to add to the eight I bought last time.

It’s good to be well-supplied, but it’s not like I could ever really get cut off from food supplies. There’s a fully stocked (and freshly renovated) grocery store just a 10 minute walk downhill, and, if things get dire, a gas station on the corner. And besides, it’s just me. Unless we have some sort of nuclear holocaust, I don’t think I’ll need to rely on my pantry to sustain me for weeks on end.

My hoarding impulses used to be kept in check by a lack of space. I lived in a couple apartments that had virtually no kitchen storage whatsoever, and my current kitchen is pretty small. But when I realized that I could turn part of a hallway closet into a pantry, I started moving some canned goods off the cabinets’ bowing shelves.

And here we are, with two big shelves full of canned tomatoes (really, the only veggie that’s ok canned), soups, brown rice, oats, flour, nuts, various dried fruits, soy sauce, coffee, olive oil… you name it, I’ve likely got it.

The packed part of my pantry. This doesn't do justice to the depth of the shelves. The shoe box is full of coffee.

When unloading groceries the other night, I stopped and wondered how much money I have invested in all that food. True, with my eating habits, I spend a lot on fresh produce, dairy, meat, etc… and in the summer, a lot of that never gets reflected in my budget, as it’s cash spent at farmers’ markets.

And then I wondered how long I might be able to go without buying any more pantry staples? Surely a week, but how about a month? I think it’s completely feasible that I could go a month and buy only produce, dairy and meat.

So let’s do it. It’s March 2. Can I go the rest of March without buying any additional pantry goods? Can my grocery trips involve just fresh produce, meat, dairy and household goods? Can I do a little pantry spring cleaning?

My meals may get interesting by the end of the month, but let’s see what happens.

Ritual Caffeine

I keep hearing an ad for 5-Hour Energy that touts the product as a better caffeine-delivery system, without the “making, waiting and hassle” of coffee.

But I rather like that “hassle.”

For years, I didn’t drink coffee. I drank tea. I enjoyed filling the kettle, wandering off for a few minutes, and being summoned back to the kitchen by the high-pitched whistle. Then I measured out my loose leaf tea into the little ball. As I poured hot water into the mug, you would smell a hint of the tea to come, an aroma that grew and blossomed over the next 5 minutes until I was ready to settle in with a mug of warmth.

I started regularly drinking coffee about four years ago when I realized that the occasional latte really helped me focus and power through work, so why not switch to coffee in the mornings? A friend gave me a coffee grinder and a bag of beans and recommended I buy a French press. I was in heaven. I could follow the same ritual – filling the kettle etc – and pour the water over freshly ground coffee. The aroma was heady and intense. Growing up, the smell of coffee meant morning, as it wafted upstairs in the wee hours before I had to get up.

Of course, life has gotten busier, and I welcomed the Keurig single cup brewer I got for Christmas a year ago. It really is much quicker than the kettle/French press method, with less clean up required. I got a refillable k-cup that I can fill with my freshly ground beans.

But on weekends, when I have time, I still fill up the kettle and break out the French press for my favorite cup of coffee of the week.

Since school started, my caffeine consumption has roughly tripled, but I still enjoy the ritual of every cup of tea or coffee. And when I get home from class, late at night, there’s something soothing about starting the water, changing into my pajamas, and curling up on the couch with a mug of mint tea while my brain slows down for the night.

What’s your caffeine ritual?

Feeding the Soul

2010 was the year I really learned to cook. So when the 12/26 prompt asked, “Soul Food: What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?” several answers popped to mind.

I ate really well this year, better than ever before. There were fantastic meals at great restaurants that I remember fondly, but it was the casual lunch I ate alone in Coronado that is seared into my memory. After a morning of walking along the ocean, barefoot despite the chill (but oh-so-warm for a Chicagoan in February), watching the waves crash into the shore, I put my shoes back on and walked along the quaint little strip of downtown Coronado. I wanted fish tacos, and I wanted to sit outside, since I was returning to a snowy Chicago that evening. I passed a couple places that looked rather touristy and finally settled into Miguel’s Cocina, just off the main drag near the Hotel del Coronado (thanks, Mint.com for helping the memory). It was noon on a Friday, and I was the only one sitting outside – it was “chilly” by San Diego standards so the other patrons were all indoors. The sun felt so good on my winter skin, and I ordered a small pitcher of sangria to go with my tacos. The salsa was mild with just a hint of spice, and the chips were fresh and warm. The tacos were delicious – exactly what I didn’t know I was craving – well seasoned, perfectly portioned. They tasted like summer, as did the sangria. I people watched and planned and thought, and was very sad when I had to leave and grab a cab off the island, especially given that the evening meal was fast food at the airport.

But beyond the restaurant meals, learning how to cook and balance flavors and textures and high-quality ingredients has taught me how to feed the soul on a regular basis. In years past, cooking for myself meant soup and sandwiches and rice-a-roni, with the occasional venture into tacos or chili made from spice-packet recipes. As I’ve branched out, the things I cook now are truly nourishing and help provide some much needed balance and nutrition on busy days. I really look forward to dinner time when I have something good to eat. Looking at cooking as part of the entire eating experience – from planning, experimenting and execution to sitting down at the table with a glass of wine – is so much better than the nuked Trader Joe’s burrito eaten on the couch. It’s creative, and, when done properly, gives me multiple lunches and dinners for days when I don’t have the luxury of time.

How about you? What feeds your soul?

This post is part of #Reverb10, a month-long project to reflect on the year nearly gone. Read all my #Reverb10 posts, or learn more.

Gardening Fail

My first year of vegetable gardening didn’t go quite as planned.

I had lots of early success, but when it came to the fall harvest, I fell sadly short.

So sad... no caprese

I got a handful of tomatoes, but they never got much larger than golf balls. I left them on the vine, hoping they would grow, but most of them shriveled up and died.

I saw four small eggplants, and hoped they would keep growing, but I finally harvested them after the frost and tried to roast them, but they were just too small.

Good thing I wasn't planning on making carrot cake.

Good thing I wasn't planning on making carrot cake.

The carrots? I waited until the tops were 8 inches tall before excitedly pulling them from the ground… and got a handful scrawny little carrot bites.

The beans started off well, but I think I planted them too late, as they like the cooler weather. They wilted and scorched under the July sun.
I had several peppers start, and one got a decent size before falling to the ground, where some animal got to it. (Or perhaps the critter knocked it off the vine? All I know is it was just about ready to pick one day, and on the ground with gnaw marks the next.) But the rest never got very big, despite my waiting. At the end of the season, while removing the last of the tomato cages, I found two decent sized peppers – with gnaw marks. Damn squirrels.

Anything that got much bigger than this got eaten by the local wildlife

The cucumbers and zucchini sprouts did very well on the driveway, but once I transplanted them into the ground, they really didn’t grow much. I had a couple squash blossoms, but no fruit.

Meanwhile, the cherry tomatoes and basil in planters along the driveway did very well, and the zinnias, begonias and nasturtiums out front thrived in their full sunlight.

So what did I do wrong? Plant too late? Reading labels, it sounds like I should have started these plants earlier, like late April or May, especially the cooler weather veggies like beans.

Not enough sun? I watched a couple days, and while the backyard definitely gets far more than the 0 hours of sun it used to, is 4 hours of full sun and another 1-2 of partial sun enough? The tomatoes stretched to reach the sun, but perhaps the lack of solar power stunted their growth.

Do I need to do more than just water and weed? Should I fertilize? Mulch? Use Miracle Gro?

So, gardening friends – help me out. Alternatively – does anyone have a good local CSA they recommend for next season?