Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eat My Luigi

Or is that Mario? Am I racist for thinking all short Italians with mustaches look the same? I'm calling it Luigi with brussels on top because our crabby olde Internet dweller, Endive Haricot, forwarded this dispatch and called it Luigi. Where did he find it? Somewhere in the mind-blowing art labyrinth that lives here. They call themselves Studio Jfish. Floating, wobbly hamburgers (ham-bo-go's) await you.

Those are turnips that were his eyes.... Probably radishes, actually, but I like the way "turnips" sounds better. ("Those are pearls that were his eyes." Glory to whoever can catch that double reference without Google). Also, did you notice that Luigi's entire face is a butternut squash?? There is some hardcore Arcimboldo action happening here. For realz.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Off-the-Grid Vegetables

This post comes to you courtesy of the magic redwood grove wi-fi of the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California. My lovely Zoe and I took off on a coastal sojourn to be among the mists, cliff sides, creeks, and cypresses, to witness "the face of creation as God intended it," as Mr. Miller once raptured. We've been tucked away at a yurt village and campsite called Treebones, a former lumber mill perched on hills overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific south of Big Sur. Besides their yurts, which have given rise to endlessly indulgent travel writer word play ("Flirting With Yurts," "Get a Yurt!," "Yearning for Yurts?," "Yurts: what goes around comes around . . . and around"), Treebones's other sophisticated hippie attraction is its off-the-grid status--qualified by its own water supply, three septic fields, clean energy fueled by two propane-burning turbines whose exhaust heats the pool, hot tub, and floors, plus an on-site fire suppression system (don't ask me how this works but a sign in the bathroom explains this all). On top of this, much of our dinner last night came from their organic garden perched over the sea, pictured above.

The usual fall/winter suspects abound in the Treebones garden: sprawls of squash, brassica rows in various states of growth (kales, chards, broccolis), lettuces, carrots, pockets of nasturtium.

Here is some exciting purple basil that Zoe imagined making deep purple pesto from:

And a spiky, slightly bitter green that looks to me like mizuna, though maybe a more astute Weird Veg reader can properly identify this for me (the wwoofer in the garden couldn't confirm my guess):

Perhaps the most dramatic members of this garden community were the matured brussels sprout stalks, like tiny trees or giant broccoli, depending on your starting perspective. These were stripped bare of their brussels-adorned branches and mostly there to dazzle visitors with their strange, pale green glory. Their tops look like collard greens, but the garden worker said they were too tough for people to like and mainly fed to horses. I didn't have a chance to ask the horses what they thought.

As we left the garden, this bird on wire saluted us in farewell. Hummingbirds seem to be the official spirit animal of the California Wild Coast. They've been buzzing their iridescent bodies onto fence posts and succulent stems, between the branches of persimmon trees, all the while kissing flowers and each other brazenly before our delighted faces.

I began this post at the Henry Miller library but had to break off while we moved on to dinner--we had planned on the famous Nepenthe but decided instead to huddle in the candlelight under the low Norwegian ceilings at the cozier, woodsier restaurant at Deetjen's. And now I bid you goodnight as we adjourn from the fireside at the Treebones lodge and retire to our humble tent on the cliffside. Let us all dream of waterfalls and tender artichokes and awake to waffles in the morning.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Just when you thought all the games and parades were over--Halloween, World Series, Dia de los Muertos, S.F. Giants homecoming cable car parade--I bring you the official Weird Vegetables BANNER ART CONTEST! Oh yeah. Okay, sit down, get ready. Calm your excitement by gazing into the waxy eyes of these animal vegetable paraffin creatures that my thoughtful friend John Kim sent me (and thanks to Dave Huang too, whose company imports these from China). For I lay before you a proposition as mysterious and absurd as the imposed relationship between vegetables and briefcases. Now, to explain.

Back while I was working frantically to meet my non-vegetable-related deadlines head on, an email arrived in the Weird Vegetables virtual letterbox from Eileen of the CSNPromo Team. She dangled free gifts before our curious noses, with tales of booty from Cookware.com in exchange for a WV product tie-in post. "Vegetable love cannot be bought so easily!" the cabbage dog and onion pig declared hotly, but the cauliflower sheep nuzzled my arm gently to say that $55 in cookware could actually be quite a nice thing. Determined not to sell out so transparently, I considered reviewing only products that could be relevant to the blog's raison d'être, such as the machine that transforms all vegetables into spirals, or tools that suggested a strange fear of dirt + compulsion towards gadgetry (potato peeler with extraneous toothbrush thing), or that merely sounded bizarre: the Ronco Veg-O-Matic.

But I decided in the end to leave my cluttered kitchen universe intact and instead to let one artistically inclined reader choose something they actually wanted--like a Le Creuset mustard jar with matching silicone spatula or that Global 2.5" sheeps foot peeler you've been drooling over--while also breaking my ennui at my own photo of vegetables that currently resides at the top of this blog. In this way, we might imagine that art will trump the convoluted strategems of commerce. The contest is as follows.

Design a banner to run across the top of this blog. The only requirement is that it say Weird Vegetables clearly (can be all lowercase letters or all caps too). In color or black & white. I will say I'm partial to some sort of illustration or graphic to contrast the photos on the blog. I'm not sure what the measurements up there are, but the jpg I uploaded was 35 x 7 inches or 2575 x 554 pixels, if that's any help. Email the jpg or other kind of image file (or a link to where it's posted) to weirdvegetables AT gmail.com.

The winner will receive $55 of credit to use on cookware.com, plus the ultimate tribute of having their art featured atop the illustrious blog-o-space that is Weird Vegetables. Let's say we'll decide in just over a month, so you have until December 15 to send in something eerie and wonderful. So spread the word, start roaming farmers' markets and the fields for inspiration, and get your sharpies and paint pots out, your scissors and knitting needles moving.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Squash the Rangers

Now is the season when veggie lovers everywhere have outed themselves as unlikely sports fans. The San Francisco Giants are now one game away from the taste of sweat-stained victory and I am pulling out all my superstitious tricks to help them along. This kabocha squash from Happy Boy Farms is dedicated to closer Brian Wilson, the pitcher with a beard of tar, which birthed the postseason mantra "Fear the Beard!" (though reliever Sergio Romo's beard has emerged as a scary contender).

For me, and probably most accidental sports fans, it all goes back to childhood, when you sat with your brother, your cousin, your dad, through countless games at Candlestick Park shouting, "Good eye, good eye!" and "Ooh-ree-bay!" at the Giants' former shortstop, whose second cousin Juan Uribe has now inherited the chant as our current shortstop/third baseman and heavy hitter.

 With laughable ease, I could have carved a more elaborate pumpkin face, like this one shown on the Fear the Beard blog (yes, there's a blog but it's not only baseball and kind of overwhelming to me),

...but I didn't want my little squash to develop a disturbed psyche, as cautioned in this shoebox greeting card--

--sent for Halloween by the aunt of this lovely lantern fish:

Let's go GI-ANTS!