I’m not a farm girl. For one, I’m afraid of cows. A herd of them running towards me, each weighing in at about 500 pounds does not put me at peace. However, living on a farm even if for just a few days, makes you a witness to what comes out of the earth, goes back into the earth, not just into a trash can that gets carried away by a bigger trash can on wheels to somewhere that nobody likes to think about. Last week, instead of keeping a garbage bowl on the counter while I cooked, I had a goat bowl. Everything that could be chewed by a goat went in the bowl, and I think it was 50% of what got thrown away. If you have a place for paper and metal, that is very little garbage at the end of the day. I am also afraid of goats though. I let ten year old Nancy, who protected me from the oncoming cattle, feed the goats and I watched from a distance, waving. The goats are lawnmowers, (saving on gas), cheese makers, milk makers, and fertilizers. Even with a good sized backyard, I am not going to keep a goat, but I am thinking I have got to find a way to stop throwing away banana peels into plastic bags that get dumped in the ocean. I am going to figure out how to have a compost.
You can either just make a big pile out back of all the uncooked and meat free stuff and just keep turning it with a pitchfork (I know you have a pitchfork), making sure to get all your old grass cuttings and dead leaves in there along with it. Or instead of the stinky old coffee can that we used to use when I was a kid, you can buy yourself a pretty composting pail from backyardgardner.com, or even better an automatic kitchen compost machine from kitchencontraptions.com. They say to put that thing on your counter and every two weeks you have yourself a few pounds of black gold to sprinkle over your garden. I don’t recommend this in NYC. Keep it outside on your fire escape because I don’t care what you call it, the roaches are going to come and eat it if it’s edible and left out on a counter for two weeks.
I like the polywrap wastepaperbin these guys have as well, that works without plastic bags. You just unfold it after you dump it out, and wipe it clean.
To get myself inspired to grow something out there once I have the dirt, I’m going to make an herb oil. It’s beautiful tossed with pasta, dripped onto bits of bread, or drizzled over steak or even fish.
Get your best olive oil ready–any oil that tastes like at least the fruit of the olive, and leaves your mouth feeling clean without a greasiness left on your lips. Smash a big handful of fresh basil in a mortar and pestle, grinding instead of pounding. Add the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme, fresh marjoram, fresh mint, and even a little parsley. There is no exact amount of anything. Add a little kosher salt, and then once the herbs are ground to a paste, drizzle in the olive oil, drop by drop until you have about 1 part leaves to 2 parts oil.