The boys have been intent on reminding me this week that THOSE ARE NOT WEEDS! They are FLOWERS! Their insistence comes after I went on a bit of a rampage clearing out a flower bed and into the green bin went a heap of their beloved sour grass. But they are not alone in their enthusiasm; at our market this past Saturday I met a farmer whose entire acreage is given over to what grows there of its own volition. She had strawberries for sale, tiny red ones. In big buckets were curvy-stemmed, three-foot-tall gaggles of weeds. Or flowers, if you’d like. With thoughts of my guys, I brought home a bunch.
We have started the work that feels like summer; we dig and plant, squinting in the bright, sliding into shady edges as the temperature climbs steadily into the seventies. Tonight we had dinner outside, barefoot and wishing for a breeze. Tomorrow we will wear shorts, and sunblock.
I’m trying to let go of my do-it-all-at-once wishes and focus on a couple projects for the spring. We’re getting rid of an old shed, building some raised beds, hopefully planting a plum, maybe too an apple tree. As Kyle and I stand, arms crossed, considering the shed, the boys work their way around the yard – we hear Lucas calling to us about bugs that are “so cute!” and Jacob reminding us not to move the terra cotta pot where he has poked lettuce seeds into finger-deep holes.
Lucas crouches over the lettuce-seed pot, watching, waiting. “Don’t touch it,” Jacob says, but then he crouches down too. Next they move to the lemon tree, at the base of which they had spotted a clump of something that might be edible. Lucas pulls on it, and the entire plant comes out of the ground. He holds it up high to show his big brother. “Is it a … baby carrot?” Jacob shrugs. “I can eat it?” J shakes his head, no.
It is good to see them feeling better, to be outside, to dig and plan. They don’t like our ideas about getting rid of flowers and planting vegetables – they love their yard, just the way it is. Jacob suggests we get a community garden plot instead, like Sonia’s. Lucas worries mostly about displacing the bugs, and listens extra carefully to my someday-plan for a chicken coop.
There was a film canister of poppy seeds I was saving, seeds we finally took outside to plant today. I had an emotional attachment to them – they were from my aunt, and the bright red poppies that would spring from them were a favorite of my mom. The little container had been sitting on our kitchen windowsill all winter while I debated internally over where precisely to plant them, here at our still-new house. I finally decided, and Jacob helped me ready the spot: a little slope at the side of the yard, under a big tree, a place I could see from the kitchen and where they would get just enough sun.
As we bent to the task of planting, Jacob dropped the container. Seeds scattered, almost all of them, through the grass down below us. I let out a profanity and went inside. (Yes! Total parenting fail!) Luckily, Kyle was there to ease Jacob’s upset and help explain mine. When Jacob came into the kitchen, where I was wiping tears and feeling irritated with myself, he gave me a big hug.
“Mommy, I think there were some seeds left under the wood chips.” He looked up at me, his arms around my legs, his eyes big and sad. “And anyway, didn’t you say that poppies are wildflowers? And those are like weeds? So, they might still grow.”
I looked at him, and I knew he was right. I told him so, and then I took the little canister back outside and tapped the last few tiny specs of seed into the dirt of our chosen spot.
And so. We’ll see what flowers grow.
This recipe is a really useful one to have on hand – using a few pantry staples and the last bits of any fresh herbs you’ve clipped, you can turn a can or two of garbanzos into something memorable. This comes in handy when you are, say, homebound for a week and running out of options. It is also nice when you have a bunch of leftovers to work through and want something “new” to jazz them up. I’d say they are great to keep on hand for just such occasions, but the truth is every time we make them they are gone within the hour – sometimes they disappear right from the pan (*cough*Kyle*cough*) and don’t even make it onto the leftovers they were intended for. It’s the kind of simple kitchen magic that makes me happy – where heat and herbs turn the healthy-but-boring into a little treat of a snack.
(By the way – if one of you makes these and comes up with a must-try seasoning combination, I’d love to hear about it!)
3 cups/15 ounces/1 1/2 cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried
1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2-3 teaspoons paprika (Heidi suggests a mixture of sweet, smoked, and hot varieties)
optional: 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, or 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Preheat your oven to 425 F with a rack in the top third of the oven.
Make sure your chickpeas are dry; Heidi uses a salad spinner, I use a clean dishtowel. They need to be dry, not just drained, to really roast up crisply.
Put the dry chickpeas onto a rimmed baking sheet, in a single layer. Roast for ten minutes, then shake the pan and roast for another eight or so minutes, until the chickpeas are just starting to crisp a bit. (Keep an eye on them.)
While they are roasting, mix together all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl. (You can vary the herb and spice mixture to suit your taste or your meal: I made a batch last week with tons of garlic and lemon and rosemary, excellent, and we have also made them really spicy with chile on top of the paprika. Relatively versatile, and even plain old olive oil with salt tastes good.)
Toss the roasted chickpeas with the olive oil mixture in the bowl, making sure each pea is coated. Return them to the baking sheet and roast again, three to five minutes, until they are fragrant and crisp.
Serve warm, or let cool completely and store to use on top of soups, salads, stir-fries, etc.