Cook. And if you can, plant a garden.

Pollan's Rule of Thumb #8. Cook. And if you can, plant a garden.

Cooking is already a love for me, so that was a quick win in this effort. Gardening is newer to me and my experiences so far have been less than successful. Part of the problem is that the very best place on my property to grow things would be the front yard. Of course, this is suburbia and front yards are not used for vegetable gardens. My whole (un-jumbo) backyard is shaded by a huge maple tree, the house itself and a wall of deciduous pine trees.

The south-facing side of my house has a 3 x 9 garden area that gets the most sun (other than the front yard), though I cannot confirm that it is the full sun that the 6 tomato plants I have there have requested.

I purchased 4 tomato seedlings at home and garden store. Two of the tomato seedlings I picked up at the Chicago Botanic Garden this past weekend. They were just giving them away. These two are heirloom variety Red Brandywine Tomatoes. Because it is an heirloom variety (according to the instruction sheet given with the plants) it can be reproduced from its own seeds. Also because it is an heirloom variety, it is not typically found in grocery stores (the thin skin does not make for successful transportation.

New to gardening, I was unaware that every tomato plant could not be reproduced with its own seeds.

In addition to my 6 tomato plants, I have a few cucumber plants, one green bell pepper plant, two different kinds of strawberry plants (one pictured above - with some baby strawberries!) and one heirloom zucchini plant (also a gift from the Chicago Botanic Garden).

So in 50 - 80 days, I should have quite the harvest if the plants get enough access to the sun they need and I can keep the chipmunks from treating the area as a buffet until then. (the little creeps have already eaten 8 of 9 sunflower seedlings).

Meanwhile, I can take advantage of the numerous farmers markets in the area. The one in my very own hometown launches June 25.
Got this recipe for Home Fries from from Rachael Ray:

Heat oven to 500 degrees (525 of your oven can)
Slice one baking potato (per person) in half and then in quarters and then into slices, lay flat on baking pan
Smash garlic (as much as you like) and distribute chunks among the potatoes
Chop fresh rosemary and sprinkle over potatoes
Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and hand-toss until all is mixed together.

Bake for 20 minutes or so (until your whole house smells like a holiday)

I served these with corn on the cob and some homemade burgers with lots of delicious garden toppings (red onion, tomato. fresh basil).