Friday, March 26, 2010

My garden doesn't need to be a success

I garden for fun, or for my soul, or to the betterment of society. To have control over what my family eats, or to fill my time, or to share my experience. To save a little money.

I don't garden because that's where our food has to come from.

I don't write about it to make sure everyone else is doing it right. If you end up with homegrown food on your table, by definition, you're doing it right.

Even the use of the term "gardener" is telling. In some societies, if you're not a gardener, you're also not an "eater." Once in human society, we were all gardeners. It would have been like saying, "oh, I'm a breather."

If my tomatoes fail, I can walk down the block and buy some. I can choose not to grow garbanzo beans, because the plants don't fit in my beautiful layout, and I'd have to give up the space I give to raddichio. I can get garbanzos in a can for 79c. I can even get farmers' market garbanzos grown in my county, thus satisfying both my desire and my politics.

What I do with a garden is laudable, and enriching, and important. But it's not necessary.

Sourcream-honey crackers with rosemary

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon seasalt
2 tablespoons softened butter
liquid: 1/3 cup each milk, sour cream, honey

seasoning: 1 teaspoon each seasalt, white peppercorns, dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 150'C/ 300'F.

Grind the seasonings together in a mortar; whisk the milk, sour cream and honey together to form about a cup of thick liquid

Add the salt to the flour, and in a mixing bowl or food processor, cut the butter in until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. (I start this with a knife or pastry cutter, then finish it with my hands.)

Slowly mix in enough liquid to form a soft, but not sticky, dough.

Divide the dough into four portions and roll out one at a time, until paper thin. Some people recommend a pasta press, but I did it fine with a rolling pin. Keep turning the dough over, and lightly coating it with flour so it doesn't stick to the pin or the board.

Lightly brush the sheet with a flavorful oil (nut or olive), then sprinkle and pat the seasonings on it. Using a sharp knife or pizza roller, cut the dough into crackers. Line cookie sheet with parchment (or just put them directly on an ungreased sheet), then transfer crackers to the cookie sheet if you rolled it out on a board.

Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp. Allow to cool on the tray and then store in an air tight container for up to a week. This recipe made about 200 1" square crackers.


  1. Xan, this brings up a bigger problem for me, that I have with the whole mentality of success. Everyone raises their kids to be winners. But the very concept of winner implies there has to be a loser. And often more than one loser, like in the Olympics. I'm NOT saying give every kid a trophy (whole 'nother rant, that), but that our society's obsession with winning is inherently flawed. Winners/CEOs/whatever are by definition a very very small percentage of the population. Every person CAN'T be president. We need people to do all kinds of jobs, have all kinds of hobbies, and [ooh, coming back home now] keep all kinds of gardens.

    For me, I garden because I am. I couldn't not garden and keep my soul together. And because I have a Leidenschaft for tomatoes. And because I like wildlife and growing things and they need each other. I like to set them up, LOL!

  2. There's a bunch of noise on MyFolia this week also about what makes a "good" gardener. Ugly gardens, good gardens, whatever folks. Just get your hands in the dirt!