Urban Gardening {Morning Glory}


Happy first day of Spring! To help you get outside and cultivate your green thumb, I'll show you how to get growing the cheap and easy way by turning kitchen tools into garden tools on Danny Boome's new morning show, Morning Glory.


It Starts with a Seed {and a pot}

Last night I stayed up till the wees planting over 60 seeds in little newspaper pots that will later become our summer garden. The thing that made it so fun, besides the promise of practically free organic fruits and veggies all summer long, is making rows of little pots with my new paper pot maker.

This paper pot maker came from Jackie Johnson who sells his handmade oak beauties at his store Wood Elements on Etsy. It’s a handy tool; worth it’s cost for the dollars you’ll save on terra cotta since it allows you to roll old newspapers into pots just the right size for seedlings like the tomato starters above. Since the paper will disappear into the soil as the root systems grow, they can be transplanted directly into the ground when the weather warms. 

If you don’t have time or dime to invest, you’ll find a stash of surprisingly suitable pots in your very own kitchen. Save your paper towel tubes and cut them in thirds, and line them up on a sheet tray or baking dish which becomes their temporary bottom when you pack them with soil. 

Once you have your pots, it takes little more than the cost of a bag of potting soil and a few packs of seeds to create your own mini farm. It helps to have somewhere to transplant your farm in about 6 weeks, like a backyard, a set of raised beds or a community garden like mine. But you’ve got plenty of time to sort that out. For now, set the seeds to incubate in the warmest, sun drenched spot in the house where the window light will reach them while you’re away at work. Before you know it, you'll be seeing green. 

It sort of makes the whole growing your own food thing seem easier than you thought huh? Here’s the news—it is. Here are five other things you’ll need to know:

1. Soil
It helps tremendously to start seed in the healthiest soil available. Choose organic “seed starter” or “potting” soil, which is light and loose {those seeds need oxygen}, and designed to have the perfect balance of the nutrients plants need: potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen.

2. Seeds
It has been well argued that organically grown produce has the highest nutrient content. I’m a believer. Start with organic seeds, dated for the current year. Talk to local farmers and gardeners {your farmer’s market is likely full of them} about what grows well in your climate, and where they get their seeds. Some of my favorite online seed sources are: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, The Seed Savers Exchange, Twin Leaf: Seeds from Thomas Jefferson's Garden at Monticello

3. Light + Warmth
Seeds are dormant storehouses of energy and nutrition, but they need warmth to unlock their potential. That’s why we start seeds indoors in the springtime in cooler climates, where the ground has not yet reached the optimum temperatures. That temperature is different for every plant, but most plants germinate most quickly in soil between 65 and 80 degrees. Seeds don’t need light to germinate, but once they reach the surface they do need about 6 to 8 hours of full daylight.

4. Oxygen
You know this: Plants, like animals, need oxygen, which is why we start tiny seeds in loose soil. Don’t pack your soil too tightly, and water with a light sprinkle or drizzle rather than a heavy douse of water.

5. One Last Tip
Follow the instructions on the seeds for how deep to plant seeds in the soil, but a general rule of thumb is the bigger the seed, the deeper in the soil it should go. Sprinkle tiny lettuce and herb seeds on top of the soil and top with a thin dusting of soil. Press zucchini, cucumber and melon seeds about 1 inch below the soil. They’ll need a deeper root system to grow up big and strong. 


Indulge Yourself, Darling! {pudding}

l.i.c., ny 

Last night I came home, opened the fridge, and found this…

…which was meant to be dessert for tonight’s dinner. Why thank you, I guess you like my chocolate pudding! 

Here is my recipe, and the rest of the meal that goes with it—a most satisfying savory cheese and potato pie with a layer of ham that you really must make {really, I insist, it’s one of my most delicious creations!}. I developed these recipes for the March issue of the Food Network Magazine that is about to disappear from the newsstands to make way for May. But don't worry, these recipes are yours to keep, so there's plenty of time for pie and pudding making.


A Movable Feast {join us!}

new york, new york

This morning at 6 am, András and hundreds of other road racers pedaled 30 miles around New York’s Central Park in the first race of the cycling season. When he came home and found me still snug in bed, his first question of course, was “what’s for breakfast.”

For three cycling seasons running, I’ve held the role of #1 fan and feeder-in-chief, which translates to VIP to a man who burns around 1,800 calories on a breezy Saturday morning. Since feeding the ones I love feeds my soul, I gladly accept. But as often as food is fuel for his next ride, the pursuit of good food also fuels our passion for hopping on the bikes together and finding our next feast. That’s why were such big fans of the new cycling travel series dedicated to regional foods, called Pedaling.

The series, which documents the movable feasts of competitive cyclists and commuters, makes stops in some of my favorite city stomping grounds and gives anyone who watches good reason to get out an explore their own city on a bike. 

If you happen to live in my city, New York, I’ve dreamed up two classes at Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center that celebrate food + bicycles, and the launch of Pedaling TV. If you like to eat and ride, or love someone who does, join us: 

Thursday, March 18
A Movable Feast
6 pm to 9 pm

Calling all biking and baking enthusiasts! Come gear up for your own season of pedaling with culinary expert and Pedaling enthusiast Sarah Copeland; tonight's class is devoted to the making of classic doughs  that provide a flavor foundation for high-quality, high-energy fuel for your next cycling adventure. Learn to make homemade sourdough and whole wheat pizza doughs, and versatile pie dough that swings sweet and savory. 

On the Menu: 
Whole-Wheat Flatbread with Fresh Ricotta; Fingerling-Potato Pizza; Mashed Potato + Meat Pies; Little Breakfast Pies with Seasonal Fruit; Musette Pies. 

Thursday, April 29
Food As Fuel: Energy for Biking & Beyond
6 pm to 9 pm

Whether you're getting ready for the Five Boro Bike Tour, your daily commute or weekend ride through the country, pedaling requires high quality endurance foods that are high-energy, low-fat and low-maintenance. Join culinary expert and pedaling enthusiast Sarah Copeland as she unlocks the secret of "food fuel" that's as delicious as it is nutritious. Come prepare an endurance feast to fuel up for your next two-wheeled journey during tonight's family style dinner party. 

On the Menu: 
Hand-made whole-grain soft pretzels, Baja Fish Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas, Smashed Plantains with Cotija Cheese and Lime; Horchata Rice Pudding. 


House of Bread

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread “~ John Muir

lic, ny

A few years ago, I moved from Manhattan to Queens to be with András, kicking and screaming the whole way. I had lived in Manhattan for 9 years, was convinced that my favorite things would be too far out of reach in his borough. He lured me with love, a farmer’s market right outside our building and promises of good bread.

The farmer’s market is indeed a gem, but the bread he spoke of came from an old Greek bakery below our subway stop and was wholly unremarkable. Luckily for him though, he was right, Queens is home to some of the best bakers in town. 

On a summer bike ride around the neighborhood, I passed a truck that said Pain D’Avignon, and followed it home down the street in hopes of finding French bakers that recalled those of walled French city of Avignon. Instead I found only a wholesale operation, and the breads I could smell completely out of view behind brick and motor. Still, I rang the buzzer and met JoAnne Cortese who opened up her doors to one of the most magnificent houses of bread I’d ever seen.

Owned by three gentlemen from Yugoslavia, Pain D’Avignon’s bakers are masters of handcrafted, artisan baking, and their commitment shows in the texture and flavor of their breads. Each and every bread is mixed by Moussa Cond’e, who has been mixing the unbleached, American-raised grains since he came to Pain D’Avignon from West Africa 8 years ago {he’s pictured here in this room of white}. After Moussa mixes the dough, all the breads are hand scaled and shaped before going to rise.

Bakers work through the night to turn out some of the finest, most toothsome artisan breads in town that until recently could only be had in the bread baskets of some of the best restaurants in town, including PicholineLocande Verde and The Standard Grill.

Last week, Pain D’Avignon opened a retail shop at the Essex Market on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, home to Saxelby Cheese and Fromaggio Essex. The market is still one of New York’s best-kept secrets, and it’s worth a journey to this wondrous old-world market for the bread alone. Sadly, you won’t get to meet Moussa or the other men and women behind those hand shaped breads but you can take home their treasures to taste for yourself. 


favorite {books}

A few weeks ago, life brought me a little gift when Caroline Wright showed up in my station in the Food Network Test Kitchens. She was there to contribute her talents and expertise to our ever growing repertoire of recipes, and brought along with her the joy and enthusiasm we share for all things food. Over a few days in the kitchen, Caroline and I became fast friends and quickly learned that we share a love of France, where we both lived at different times during our culinary lifetimes, and books, which we value as inspirations and guideposts along our journey to write our own one day.

This month, she’s honored me as the guest on her desert island cookbooks series on her blog, The Wright Recipes.

Caroline’s eyes and laugh are generous, as are her recipes which she shares with the world each day on her blog so that anyone can learn to cook and eat as well as her. But when it comes to rules, she’s strict. She told me I could bring only eight books to this desert island. I considered telling Caroline that my suitcase has one of those expandable zippers and I’m sure it could hold at least 12, but she’s too kind, so I had to leave four books behind. You can see the eight books I wouldn’t want to live without on her site here; and below, here are four more books I’d sneak along when she wasn’t looking. 
Sometimes even ambitious cooks need to return to the classics. When I do, I turn to the 75th Anniversary Edition of Joy of Cooking. I worked on this edition long enough to appreciate the rigorous recipe testing each and every recipe goes through (including a simple hard boiled egg, which I tested 8 times). The recipes are trustworthy, delicious and a perfect starting point from which to experiment once you’ve gained a little confidence.
Lucques is an acclaimed LA restaurant that’s famous for it’s Sunday Suppers. Whether you’ve heard of Lucques or not, or like me have never been, consider yourself lucky that Lucques’ chef Suzanne Goin was generous enough to share her secrets with the rest of us. I love the way this book is arranged by season, and it’s so easy to navigate and keep on hand for inspiration before you head out to your local market or garden.
This is the kind of intuitive cooking I wish Americans were cooking at home almost every night, and certainly when they entertain. It’s seasonality and simplicity at its absolute best in the hands of David Tanis, the part-time head chef at Chez Panisse. Gather your friends or your family—if they are anything like me, they won’t want to miss a single meal from this book.
The Balthazar cookbook is the essence of New York and Paris rolled into one. If I were on a desert island (or if I ever moved away from New York), I could count on this book to feel my soul and my senses with the classic bistro food that I’ve come to count on for simple suppers and celebrations alike—French onion soup, steak au poivre, and the always perfect pavlova I order every time I tuck into a table at Balthazar. For their remarkable bread basket though, you’ll have to make an actual trip to New York, to the petit Balthazar boulangerie next door to the restaurant. 

My photo
New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.