4.24.2011

Eggs So Pretty {An Easter Story}



I love everything about eggs. Their golden yolks that nurture with fat and flavor, their silky whites that transform into luscious meringues, their fragile shells in pale blues and greens, tans and browns. I love the way the shells crumble into a million pieces, how they look sitting up tall and proud in an egg cup, or poached and perched, yolks oozing over a frisee salad. But in our big world of bold colors and flavors, the egg is still a fairly humble ingredient.

So at Easter time, I always find it remarkable how magnificent they can look painted. These painted eggs got their beauty in the patient and talented hands of my friend George McKirdy, owner and pastry chef of Astor Bake Shop, our favorite neighborhood haunt. Years ago I worked for George in the pastry kitchen of Café Boulud, and was thrilled when he turned up again down the street behind the big, open windows on the corner.

I've learned so many things from George {how to make the world's best coconut macaroon, to forever love the combination of passion fruit and chocolate, and that a financier never, ever goes out of vogue} but in a sense this is my favorite ~ that with a little tender care, the humble, everyday egg can become something spectacular, something that glimmers with alarming beauty.

That is the message of Easter. That something bare and unadorned ~ an egg, a life, a soul ~ can be transformed by the gifts of patience, grace, and love.

4.22.2011

{Happy Earth Day!}





{photos by Dasha Wright and Robert Jacobs}


Up north, we wait a long time for garden season, but this year the wait seemed even longer. Last summer, as my belly grew round with the babe, I spent hours and hours tending our small community garden plot, laughing with wonder as the little one inside me kicked and squirmed. When I finally met our giggly girl, Greta, I couldn't wait to take her back there to see our garden with her own blue eyes. 

She was born in November, and the garden sat under a pile of snow for months on end. We'd walk by often during these long winter days, checking for peeks of green, but still the snow fell. 

Finally, five months to the day after Greta was born, we got a rare April day so warm that we headed outside with her hands and feet bare. As she is everywhere in life, she was eager, engaged, reaching out for everything with her curious hands, delighting in the textures and colors of the world around her.  I was thrilled that this place I love seemed just as full as wonder and discovery for her, with more curiosities to offer her than anything she'd seen inside four walls.

We spent that day at the house of our friends Robert and Dasha,  both photographers, who captured Greta's first earth day on film in their own sprawling gardens ~  those first moments as her bare feet touched the soil, her tiny hands reaching for the green shoots of spring onions, and even the I'm pooped mamma tears that ended our garden play-date before I wiped her muddy toes and tucked her into the corner of their plush couch for her afternoon nap. 

It's a rare child who doesn't delight in the texture of warm, damp earth between their toes, the dance of poppies nodding in the wind, and the close attention of their parents sitting side by side with them in the soil.  I wrote about how and why to make your garden a special place for your babes in Mothering Magazine, but in case you missed it, here are my favorite three tips for gardening with a child of any age:

Schedule Garden Time
kids thrive on schedules and predictability.  Schedule a time each day or week to spend in the garden with your child.  Your little one will recognize it as a special bonding time and place where you work as a team to grow healthy foods together.

Build a Food Vocabulary
Babies and young children love the sound of their mother’s voice.  Talk to them while you garden; explain what you are doing and give names to the tools you use and veggies you grow, helping them build their nutrition and food vocabulary season by season.

Designate a Bed In the Garden
No matter how young your little gardener is, pick a patch of soil just for them where the rules and rows of gardening don’t apply. Throw caution to the wind and let your littles dig and experiment at their whim, giving them a sense of independence and pride in what they grow.

There's never been a better time to get started gardening as a family than on Earth Day. You don't need a sprawling garden or any fancy gardening gear, just a few seeds, and a pot, and a little one you love. For more tips on getting started, here's my post on five gardening basics {click here} to grow on. 

Happy Earth Day!

Special thanks to Robert and Dasha for sharing their little oasis and beautiful photographs with us. *


4.21.2011

Earth Day ~ For the Love of the Soil



{photo by Robert Jacobs}


There's something magical that happens the first time a little one touches the earth. A connection is made that sparks a lifetime of respect and understanding, one that is cultivated every time their little hands meet the soil. It starts small, like a tiny seed, and only takes a little nurturing from you to help it grow and grow. Tomorrow's Earth Day, the perfect day to get outside with your wee ones and get your hands in the soil together. It doesn't matter what you grow ~ Save the Bee's flowers, carrots or a sunny patch of strawberries ~ spending time in the soil with your sweet babes will teach them how and why to value our precious planet.

For tips and ideas for getting started gardening with your kids {no matter how young}, read my recent article for Mothering Magazine {here}. And come back tomorrow and all summer long for more photos and ideas for going green with your tiny soil mates.

Happy Earth Day!
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.