Happy Birthday to my Tomato Plant

A little over a year ago I bought a Miracle-Gro AeroGarden for my small New York apartment.  It is a simple hydroponic device with a grow light.  Pretty cool.  I started several plants for fun and there is a monitoring device to check for water level, remind you to add food and track how many days have passed since you planted.  That little timer tells me that the tomato plant you see in the picture is 365 days old!  All the other plants went to that great garden in the sky but this beauty is still cranking out cherry tomatoes as you can see.

This is not an economical method for sure.  Between power for the grow light and circulating pump and the refills of distilled water (yeah, they told me it would help and that tomato plant is darn thirsty!) I spend much more money on this little project than I would if I just bought cherry tomatoes from the local market.  But it is lots of fun and I sure know exactly where this produce comes from.

That companion plant beside it is basil.  It came later and not pictured is a small companion planter with three more.  Of course it is a delightful addition for a Caprese salad (haven’t yet sprung for a water buffalo to supply the milk for fresh mozzarella, maybe next year).  Especially good is a weekly dose of fresh pesto I make when I trim the plants back for the freshest concoction you can imagine.  Pardon me, need to go out and plow the south forty before dinner.

Tomato plant after one year

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Showing Mom Around

Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately.  Or you may be quite relieved!

My mother (nearly 80 now) just visited my home in New York and boy did we have a great time.  She stops by every year or so and has no interest in tourist sites or even our roster of great restaurants.  She wants food shopping.  We hit all the great spots and she takes home lots of goodies back in Florida where she has three freezers.  She cooks a lot (must be where I got it from) and loves to put things up for later and for neighbors.

So we went to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx (the real live Little Italy in New York) where she stocked up on great stuff, Murrays Cheese Shop and Chelsea Market (one of her favorite spots), Union Square Green Market, and Sables for fresh whitefish salad, bialys and other good stuff.

Finally I took her to a lovely gourmet store called Agata and Valentina.  She has specified that it will be the first stop on her next trip (to pick up fresh products for me to cook up for her visit) and her last stop (for her to stock up on things for her to bring home).  Yep, a good trip.

Always exhausting looking after her and always exhilarating watching her love the food discoveries.  I’m a pretty lucky son.

Murray's

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

The Imbible – A Spirited History of Drinking

Had some friends in town and we wanted to go out but for something fun, no ballet, no opera, not even theater.  So we found this off-Broadway gem at New World Stages – a show held in their bar – The Imbible – A Spirited History of Drinking.

Anthony Corporale, the writer and host for the evening is a terrific guide through alcohol in our culture.  I loved the show because it combined two of my favorite pursuits – history and booze!  The supporting cast of singers, dancers and comedians were terrific as well.

And you get three cocktails with the show.  I had assumed these would be tiny samples in mini plastic cups but they were honest to goodness drinks in glassware.  And quite good at that!  It makes a great evening for a social occasion and a fun way to spend a night out.  They have three offshoots we may look up as well – Daytime drinking for Memorial Day weekend, Pirates and Rum for the summer, and a special Christmas edition.  I’m guessing that includes nog.

OB The Imbible- A Spirited History of Drinking

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Spring Lake, New Jersey

While attending performances of my play “Your Turn to Watch Dad” by the South Street Players we stayed in the lovely little Jersey Shore town of Spring Lake.  Just one night at the Hewitt Wellington Hotel.  Very nice place on the shores of a nice little lake and just blocks from the beach.  The surrounding town is very well to do and quiet.  Clearly they jealously protect their enclave.

Luckily the restaurant included a superior fancy restaurant perfect for celebrations.  “Whispers” is a fancy schmancy white table cloth BYOB with a terrific menu.  The service was impeccable, attentive yet to intrusive, friendly but not overly familiar.  I enjoyed the Mozzarella Burrata and Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Fettucini while Pamela had the Lobster Crepe and Sea Bass.  Excellent food.

On the way out in the morning we enjoyed Ray’s Cafe in the small downtown.  The shore is pristine and we watched whales playing and breaching off shore.  I am sure this is a big beach town every summer but I was struck by the lack of public facilities at the beach.  I’m sure this town prefers it that way and are much happier to have the tourists go to neighboring towns where there is more retail and bathrooms.  The fancy homes that line the shore probably like it that way.

spring-lake-hewitt-wellington

*as always you can find more at my website http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes*

Thin Mints Cereal

I am truly frightened.  I have not eaten a bowl of cereal for decades.  Once I figured out how to cook some bacon and a nice scrambled egg I left that reassuring milk filled bowl behind.  I really haven’t missed it.  I have even eliminated most of my milk consumption (after building strong bones and teeth as a youth, of course)

And in recent years, especially since moving to Manhattan almost two decades ago, I have left behind Girl Scout cookies.  Before that move I would find Girl Scouts camped outside a suburban grocery store, their parents peddling their wares at work or even (how quaint) escorted uniformed Girl Scouts selling door to door.  Just doesn’t happen in Manhattan.  That was actually good for me as I could never resist Thin Mints.  I would buy as many boxes as would fit in my freezer (somehow room appeared each February – amazing) and then “ration” myself for weeks, or more often days to come.  Amazing how good they tasted out of the freezer.

Out of sight helped keep them out of mind.  Now, word that General Mills will be offering a Thin Mints Breakfast Cereal starting in January.  They say it is for a limited time but it can’t be limited enough as it will ruin me.  If I see them in the cereal aisle of my crowded Manhattan grocery store it is all over.  Done.  Finished.  A bowl of mini Thin Mints cookies in cold milk?  Forget drugs.  They are already calling my name and blocking out any rational thought.  I’ll need to shop for bigger jeans.

thin-mints-breakfast-cereal

*as always you can find me on the web at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes*

Plowing my south forty

Recently I purchased a Miracle-Gro AeroGarden, then I bought another.  Currently in the largest, Bounty version, I have cherry tomato plants.  For a while I also had lettuce, but they seeded out and the tomatoes took over.  I love tomatoes and so am getting a real kick out of harvesting fresh cherry tomatoes straight  into my mouth.  The AeroGarden is a version of a hydroponic garden (the roots are in both air and water) and so uses no soil.  This is very handy and clean in a New York City apartment.  It also has a grow light which will serve me well all winter.

My second garden is a small Sprout version that is being used for herbs (basil – delicious; dill – very nice; and parsley – struggling a bit).  I love having fresh basil to add to my beloved Caprese Salad, fresh and delicious.  I will also try making some fresh small batch pesto later.

I missed the gardening that I did in Pittsburgh, Florida and Ohio and never thought I would have a chance in a NY apartment.  Just call me Farmer Walter.

aerogarden