Digging in @ Chesterbrook

Last Thursday marked the beginning of a new vegetable garden at Chesterbrook Housing Community in Waltham. With six cubic yards of compost dumped, the kids and HW staff got digging as we shuttled wheelbarrows of the rich, black soil over to the garden’s new location. From an eyeball-estimate, it seemed that the kids were able to move over a third of the huge pile in under two hours in high heat and humidity!

It was quite a sight to see such great teamwork in motion. The only thing that seemed to stop the kids was the storm clouds that came rolling in towards the end of our session! Later this week, we will continue to transport compost in addition to transplanting two apple trees.

Rebekah

Images by Rebekah Carter (2011).

Steamed Edamame

At the end of April, I gave the Chill Zone kids a behind-the-scenes tour of Moody Street’s  Tempo Bistro, the restaurant I’ve worked at for nearly five years. We hit all the major spots of interest, including the dining room floor, prep kitchen, walk-in refrigerators, and main kitchen. Since we were there during the early afternoon (before the restaurant opened for the night), the kids even got a chance to chat with the executive and sous (pronounced “sue;” French for “under”) chefs!

As the cornerstone of our work with the Chill Zone, I still wanted to include a healthy snack for the kids to eat during our tour. Luckily, Tempo serves steamed edamame (green soy bean pods) as an appetizer. None of the kids had ever had the dish before, so we turned our healthy snack into a taste test; it got 100% positive feedback. The best part? It is so easy and simple to make at home! Look for it in the freezer section of your local grocery store’s natural foods section. Even better, we’ll be planting loads of edamame @ McDevitt Middle School this week to enjoy in September.

Steamed Edamame

2-3 servings

1. Fill a medium-large pot with 6-8 cups of water; bring to a boil.

2. Carefully add one package (typically 14oz) of frozen edamame pods into the pot; cook for 4-5 minutes.

3. Carefully drain the edamame in a colander and lightly sprinkle with salt while hot.

Enjoy!

Rebekah

Image by Rebekah Carter (2011).

What have we been up to this spring?

The past several weeks have been a very busy time for Healthy Waltham. With the weather continuing to warm up and seeds and seedlings (started indoors in February, March, and April) needing planting and care, we’ve been doing a lot more than usual, but were snapping photos along the way. Here is a medley of pictures capturing some of our more recent activities and garden growth from this past spring.

To enlarge these images for a better look, simply click on the photo of interest.

APRIL

April blooms

Early risers: radishes and sugar snap peas

Perennial chocolate mint

Perennials lemon balm & freshly-transplanted rhubarb

MAY

Radishes bulging out of the soil

Gathering sticks and making the pea trellis @ Stanley

The finished product!

Marking and digging holes for lettuce transplants from Waltham Fields Community Farm

Getting those greens in!

Tendrils feeling their way up towards the trellis and sun

First radish harvest @ Stanley!

We ate all of the fresh & raw radish roots and most of the tops (great in salads)

Rebekah and volunteer Lara @ the inaugural Moody Street 5K Road Race

Waltham Fields farmers Amanda and Dan finish their run!

A day for discovering garden bugs and animals (a baby vole)

Late May growth: yellow irises and kale in the morning sun @ Stanley

Our lunch lettuce crop from Waltham Fields and snap pea blossoms @ McDevitt

Chive blossom

Lettuces, cabbages (before they bolted), kale, broccoli, and kohlrabi

JUNE

Weeding and cultivating soil around snap peas for pumpkin seed planting @ Northeast

Cultivating for sunflower planting and watering newly-planted pumpkin seeds

At last: sugar snap peas planted way-back-when in March are ready for picking @ Stanley

Transplanting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant; young summer squash seedlings

Inoculating and planting pole beans near the husk cherries

Pulling up romaine, red leaf, and green curly-leaf lettuces and picking cabbage flowers

At this week’s Stanley Garden Club and Waltham Boys & Girls Club session, we made a tasty lemon vinaigrette to dip our freshly-harvested and washed lettuces in. We put lemon juice, olive oil, shallot (you could also use onion or garlic), salt, and freshly-ground pepper in a bowl and gently whisked it until all ingredients were well combined. It was a simple and healthy snack that was enjoyed by all on two hot and humid afternoons!

Be sure to check in for weekly updates all summer long, as our garden work will continue at the school, Boys and Girls Club, and public housing gardens throughout these hot months (the best time to grow food in New England) and into the fall.

If you and your family are interested in helping us maintain our school gardens at Stanley Elementary, Northeast Elementary, or McDevitt Middle School, please contact me via:

rebekah@healthy-waltham.org

No experience necessary as training will be provided.

Rebekah

Images by Rebekah Carter (2011).

Apple and Fennel Salad @ the Chill Zone

A few Saturdays ago we tested out one of Chef Glynn’s recipes at the Chill Zone, and much to our delight, this Apple and Fennel Salad turned out deliciously. For many of us, a salad is the first thing we think of when we think about eating healthy, and especially when we talk about eating vegetables. And while we most often think of lettuce and dressing as a salad’s main features, this dish can be so much more! Have you ever had a fruit salad? What about a tomato-cucumber salad? Salads can have any combination of fruits and vegetables, and can be topped with just about anything, including cheese, beans, nuts, seeds, and eggs! The possibilities are endless.

The salad that we prepared at the Chill Zone is a great mix of the traditional with some exciting additions. Perhaps the most exotic and interesting salad ingredient was the fennel bulb. The girls who helped prepare the salad all took turns smelling a few crushed leaves from the fennel, trying to pinpoint why it smelled so familiar. The fennel smelled, strangely enough, like licorice! Although fennel and licorice plants are not technically related, they do share a very similar smell because both plants share an aromatic compound called anethole that gives them their distinctive flavor. The fennel definitely gave the salad a nice crunch and an interesting taste.

After marveling over the fennel, we got down to work, washing and chopping up garlic, apples and grapes. We squeezed fresh lemons and carefully picked parsley leaves to make the vinaigrette dressing. A basic vinaigrette salad dressing is made of 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar, but there are infinite variations with different herbs and spices. Experiment with making your own vinaigrette dressings at home! After finishing up the dressing and fruit prep, we combined everything with some fresh romaine lettuce and a sprinkle of goat cheese. What a sweet way to welcome in the spring!

Below is the recipe we used; we adapted Chef Glynn’s original recipe slightly to make it vegetarian (excluding the meat). Any recipe can be adapted if you don’t especially like one of the ingredients or would prefer something else; experimenting is a vital step in becoming a great chef! It may not always turn out quite the same way as the original, but practice makes perfect. Before long, you’ll be making up your own delectable recipes.

Apple and Fennel Salad

Vinaigrette

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup parsley, freshly chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Salad

  • 3 apples, diced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups grapes, halved
  • 6 cups romaine lettuce
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1. To prepare the vinaigrette, mince garlic, then add vegetable broth, parsley, lemon juice, cider vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper. Stir until well blended and set aside.

2. To prepare the salad, combine washed romaine and place it on a serving platter.  In a large separate bowl, combine apples, fennel, and grapes.  Pour about 1/2 of the vinaigrette over the apple mixture and toss gently to coat.  Spoon apple mixture over lettuce.  Sprinkle with goat cheese. Spoon remaining vinaigrette over salad and serve immediately.

Cece

Recipe from Healthy Waltham’s own Chef Glynn. Images by Cece Watkins (2011).

The Healthy Kid Challenge

Healthy Waltham’s April column for the Waltham News Tribune is by guest columnist Beth Toolan, Executive Director of the Waltham Partnership for Youth.  Beth’s article talks about the challenges kids face today and some of the things we are doing in Waltham to keep them healthy.  One of the many areas where Healthy Waltham and the Waltham Partnership for youth collaborate is on the Safe Schools Healthy Students initiative.  To learn more about this and read the entire article, please click here.