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The sister from Seattle came into town a few weeks ago for a visit, bringing along some real pimentón from a recent trip to Spain. We took advantage of this fine ingredient and made use of our shiny new paella pan. Having previously been obsessed with Bittman and Batali’s trip across Spain, I decided that nothing but a real fire could provide a proper heat source. While Sonja and Lisa walked to the grocery and cut up the ingredients, I nursed a few logs down to a red-hot coal furnace.
Sonja meshed a hundred recipes into a original work of art that even the Minimalist could be proud of: Seafood/Green Bean/Mushroom paella. Recipe as follows.

Super Easy Seafood/Green Bean/Mushroom Paella

  1. Build a fire and let it burn down to a nice bed of coals (and hour or more).

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following items and place them neatly in a basket:
    A glug of olive oil.
    4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
    A few mussels.
    A few high-quality shrimp.
    A handful of green beans.
    A bunch of sliced mushrooms.
    4 cups of vegetable stock.
    1 1/2 tbsp pimentón.
    1 pinch saffron.
    1/4 cup tomato puree.
    1 1/2 cups Arborio rice.
    A handful of jarred pimentos for garnish.
    Salt to taste.

  3. Heat the olive oil and cook the garlic until it starts to brown.

  4. Add the shrimp and mussels and fry for a minute or so.

  5. Add the green beans and mushrooms and fry for another minute.

  6. Add the tomato puree and stir.

  7. Add the stock, pimentón, saffron, and rice.

  8. Wait until the rice absorbs all of the water, drink wine to distract you from your
    temptation to stir. Don’t do it.

  9. Remove from the fire and enjoy. Feeds 3 hungry people.

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  1. We try to consume a local, environmentally conscious, and vegetarian diet.
  2. We have lived in our home for over a year.
  3. We are overly ambitious in most of our projects.
  4. We started a garden.
So, we decided that we needed a garden this year. Starting in March we accumulated seeds and library books and left them to collect dust on our counter for over a month. Meanwhile, we touted the plans for the bountiful summer garden of our dreams.

Gardening it seems, from all of the advice that I so carefully ignored, is a frustrating game of planning, lucky timing, weather, more planning. Turns out though, you can simply put seeds in the ground, and watch (some of them) grow into food. Real food, like the kind from the stores. It is really quite amazing.

We’ve planted a formal (planned) garden. We planted herbs in pots around the patio. We planted flowers in every which corner of our property. And, we planted a mysterious mix of vegetables, fruits, flowers and weeds behind the garage.
Over the last 5 weeks we’ve faced the normal obstacles: too little rain, too much rain, laziness, hailstorms, and grave-robbing critters. Today, however, we harvested our first crop. Radishes. Six of them. A little on the spicy side, but full of earthy deliciousness.

I’m confident that there will be more successes than failures as the summer rolls on. I’ll be sure to keep you updated. Until then, don’t let the man tell you that you can’t grow food. You can, and it tastes good!
Bon appétit.
~ Alex