apartment living: indoor herb garden

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A friend had left over PVC from a project and made all of us planters. Mine was a perfect rectangular box fit for a window sill. He even potted a basil plant inside. So at the Union Square Greenmarket, I picked up cilantro, bay leaf, chives and rosemary plants (4 for $10!) to start a little herb garden. I quickly fell in love with the small connection to nature in the midst of seemingly little, and the benefits of fresh herbs in the kitchen.

On the down side, I quickly learned I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb. It seems to be rather purple or dark blue. I placed all of the herbs in separate pots in direct sunshine. I watered the little things and harvested when needed. But they just stared at me indignantly and drooped. I even tried talking to the plants. Maybe they just needed a boost of self-confidence?!

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So after searching “my indoor herbs won’t grow” oodles of times on Google, I found a few tips. Read on if you’re a beginner like me.

1. Rotate your pots with respect to the sunlight so that they don’t become “leggy” or lean in one direction. Via the Kitchn

2. Don’t drown the plants. If they’re wilted and light green after watering, test the soil. Insert one finger up to the knuckle into the soil to test for dryness.  If the soil is dry, water away. Via Simple Bites

3. Drainage is key! Find a pot with a hole at the bottom. Place pebbles in the bottom of your planter to prevent the soil from compacting and clogging up drainage holes. Via Gardenista

4. Prune often. You should cut the herb just above a set of growing leaves, not below. Also, keep cutting little flower buds whenever you see them. Via SkinnyGourmet

5. Preserve fresh herbs by wrapping the stems in a moist paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Via the Kitchn.

Got any indoor gardening tips? I’d love to hear!

First of the Month: April

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Happy April! At the first of each month, I’ll be sharing what’s on my to-do list for the four weeks ahead, whether it be in the kitchen or Astoria. April highlights include a local favorite reopening and Queens Beer Week. What are you excited for this month!?

1. Fatty’s reopens! Yesterday, the Village Voice’s Fork in the Road reported that Fatty’s Cafe (!) is opening on 28th Avenue in mid-April. Their sweet little polenta cakes stacked with provolone are so simple and delicious. I’ve tried recreating them at home and it’s just never the same.

2. Astoria Performing Arts Center Raffle. We Heart Astoria spread some community love and support about APAC’s new fundraiser. Ticket buyers could win an iPad, a “Taste of Astoria” prize and gift certificates to several local restaurants and shops.

3. LIC Flea. The food and flea market opens this Saturday at 10am. For more info, check out their website.

4. A weekend getaway to D.C. with Baalok. This has nothing to do with Queens or cooking. However, the anticipation of this weekend just makes me warm and giddy with excitement.

5. Spring cocktails. Let’s celebrate spring with one of these light and refreshing cocktails from The Kitchn.

6. Queens Beer Week. According to DNAInfo, Queens Beer Week kicks off April 19th. 9 glorious days will showcase Queens’ burgeoning beer scene and local breweries.

 

 

14 tiny kitchen essentials

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First lesson (mishap) in the kitchen:

Yes, I was the naive girl that thought a slow cooker, blender, food processor, fondue set, toaster, toaster oven, microwave, Tupperware collection (not to mention, tableware, coffee cups, wine glasses, etc.) could all fit into my cozy Astoria kitchen. I soon realized I was deluded as I sat exasperated on the floor, attempting to squeeze one last pot into an 8-inch wide cabinet. So, I narrowed my cooking tools down to the basic necessities:

  1. Good Knives – chef’s knife / paring knife / serrated knife
  2. Wooden Cutting Board (doubles as a serving tray or cheeseboard for dinner parties and lasts a lifetime)
  3. Colander or Strainer
  4. Can Opener, Microplane Grater, Measuring Cups/Spoons (these items can all fit in one small drawer)
  5. Spatula, Wooden Spoon, Tongs (placed in a sweet container add simple decoration)
  6. Nested Mixing Bowls
  7. Sauce Pan
  8. 10 inch non-stick fry pan
  9. Dutch Oven or Deep Skillet
  10. Metal Sheet Trays
  11. Glass Casserole Dish
  12. Containers for Leftovers
  13. 4-cup Mini Food Processor
  14. Mini Coffee Pot or French Press

Of course, cooking needs vary. One may not want a coffee pot or a baker might need a mixer. What are your cooking essentials?