I was daddy's little girl growing up. I was his constant shadow -- anything he did, I'd do, anywhere he went I'd follow. He'd tell me stories of his past, about that far away place I knew so little about. "I was only 17 when I went away to work on the farms...we'd have little to eat...there'd be snakes in the bed..." I'd listen to his tales with fear imagining giant cobras lurking beneath his bed. My eyes widened.
"You see here?" He'd point to a deeply embedded scar on his leg -- "I got these from leeches. I'd work in the rice fields all day long and there'd be thousands of leeches everywhere." I touched the deep grooves around his shins. "Do they still hurt?" "Sometimes." He'd say.
I could see the ghosts lingering within him, though however dark his past may have seemed he always kept his knack for gardening. After 7 years of working on a farm, it becomes part of you; a part that you try so hard to forget yet at the same time you can't let it go. After moving into our first home in America that was one of the first things he did: start a garden. Together we'd clear the grass, break up the dirt, till the soil and plant the seeds. I admit, I was mostly in charge of fetching glasses of water and picking out the grubs and squishing them with my shovel but it quickly became something I'd look forward to doing with dad every season.
He'd plant all sorts of things: squashes, wintermelon, cucumbers, peas, mustard greens -- he would take fish carcasses and let them ferment in the sun. Once the mixture was putrid and broken down, he'd mix it in with the soil. It horrified me, as I screamed and held my nose tightly every time he pulled the "magical" mixture out. We harvested a 38 pound wintermelon that year.
My father had the ultimate green thumb, there was no doubt about it. Each year our harvest would be so full and bountiful we'd often give most of it away because there was no way in hell we'd be able to eat it all. So it was only natural for me to carry on my dad's green thumb by
making helping Collin start a garden in our first home. To be honest, my thumb is anything but green. Collin actually calls it my black thumb since I tend to kill all plants I buy. (It often makes me question my abilities of becoming a good mother but we'll save that for another day.) The point is, I found two veggies that seem to be fool proof: Radishes and Salad Greens. I literally threw seeds in the ground, kept them well watered and BAM! Six weeks later, I have freshly grown vegetables: (Wells) Farm to table.
I paired the radish and arugula with some tangy and creamy herbed goat cheese, coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on top of a crunchy wheat crostini - fresh simplicity at its finest. What plants seem to grow well in your gardens?
Ingredients for Radish Arugula Goat Cheese Crostinis
(Serves 2-4; Total Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Cooking Time: 10 minutes)
- 6 Cherry Bell or English Breakfast Radish, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh Arugula
- 4 oz herbed goat cheese
- 4 slices wheat bread, toasted and cut into 2" circles (about 2 circles a slice for a total of 8)
- coarse kosher salt and pepper
To assemble crostinis, spread about a nickle sized dollop on each crostini. Top with a couple slices of radish, arugula and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.