Learning curves

Last summer slugs decimated the strawberry harvest from my garden. This year I was prepared. Or so I thought. I had a bag of diatomaceous earth stand by, and an old salt shaker to spread it around the plants. But there were no slugs. Instead, chipmunks discovered the strawberry patch and took a bite out of every single ripe strawberry. Continue reading

Iraqi cuisine: Almost four thousand years and counting

A cookbook that holds a special place in my collection is Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisine by Nawal Nasrallah. I have the first edition from 2003, a hefty, 650-page book that was self-published and printed in black and white (it was later released as a hardcover with color photos). It’s a book that I turn to when I need to get grounded again about food and cooking. Everything these days is so overheated, short-lived and hyper, and the social media attention keeps moving from one food trend and snippet and Instagram photo to the next within split seconds. Reading a page, or even just a paragraph, about Mesopotamian civilization that goes back to 6,000 BC, to the dawn of recorded human history, helps me to cool it and put things back in perspective. Continue reading

Taking stock, twenty years after immigration

On January 5, 1998, I landed in New York City with an immigration visa that I won in the Green Card Lottery. The previous summer, I had received a letter in the mail notifying me that I was one of 55,000 lucky people whose number was drawn in the Green Card Lottery from more than eight million participants. Winning, however, was only the first, easy step. What followed was a thorough and costly screening process to make sure that I was who I claimed to be, without a criminal record, in good health and able to support myself for a few months in the United States without working. I have often wondered how Green Card winners less fortunate than me made it through that process. Continue reading

As American as apple pie?

In the past few months I have thought a lot about the expression, “as American as apple pie.” Whether I was tossing and turning in bed during many sleepless nights, driving past homes with the American flag and an occasional Confederate flag, whether I was standing at the stove until late at night canning and preserving the harvest from my garden, or angrily digging up the soil and pulling weeds until I almost dropped in an attempt to vent and get away from too much news intake – it all seemed to be boiling down to one question: What is American? Continue reading

Green Card Gardener

Flower feet“Green Card Gardener” is my story, a work in progress about how I came to America on a Diversity Visa that I won in the Green Card Lottery, how I became a passionate gardener on a remote rural hilltop in Pennsylvania, and how with every gardening season I feel more at home in America. Yet, there is not a day I forget where I come from, a family of diverse identities, traditions and heritage.

By renaming this blog “Green Card Gardener” I speak as an immigrant to this country. Continue reading

Apple Masala

Apple Masala Bread

A long and productive gardening season is winding down. After the first frost, the last peppers and tomatoes are ripening on trays indoors, the freezer is packed to the top, the basement shelves are filled with all kinds of canned goods, and the water-bath canner and all the other canning equipment has been put in storage. And I finally have time to get on my bike again.

Well not so fast…. From one of my bike rides I brought back a whole basket of windfall apples. Continue reading

Lavender state of mind

Lavender Meringues w lavender

It’s not that I don’t have enough work from and in the garden already. Every week now, another fruit or vegetable needs to be harvested and processed. And yet, after visiting The Lavender Farmette, a local lavender farm, I just had to make some treats with lavender: Lavender Meringues, a favorite of ours and a great way to use up leftover egg whites. And, for the first time, Lavender Ice-Cream based on my standard ice-cream recipe. Continue reading