By Emily J Weitz
It’s harvest time, and that means gardens across the East End are brimming with the bounty of the season. For some, this is the moment they’ve been waiting for – the reason they took the time to plant the seed, the reason they watered faithfully, the reason they cleared the weeds.
But for others, who garden not for the kitchen for the love of gardening alone, this time presents a perplexing situation – they find themselves with an abundance of delicious food, and not a clue what to do with it. For these dutiful gardeners, Marders in Bridgehampton offers a workshop on how to cook the food you grow.
“I’m not a cook,” admits Paige Patterson, who will present the workshop next Sunday. “But my husband [Dereyk] is. So I planted a huge vegetable garden to inspire and delight him. Instead, we ended up with tons of stuff, an overwhelming amount actually.”
She started to look for interesting recipes to prepare the food, or ways to store it. As she searched, she realized something.
“I decided that if I had this problem,” Patterson says, “probably a whole bunch of Marders’ customers would have the same problems, and might be interested in sharing the information.”
They offered the lecture last year and it was warmly received. But when spring came around again, Patterson decided she would be more efficient with her planting this year. She would grow what she could easily use. Once again, come harvest time, she ended up with too much. So this year, she’s offering the lecture again with new recipes.
“We have a real community of people who come to the lectures,” says Patterson, “and thus, they can laugh along with me about my inability to cook and my excessive amount of cucumbers this year. Last year it was tomatoes.”
All joking aside, Patterson loves to eat what she grows.
“There is nothing to compare to the feast of a fresh-picked, warm from the sun cherry tomato,” she says. “I’ve been out here [on the East End] my whole life, so I’ve always eaten what’s available from the local farmers. I’m a little upset that there’s so much non-local food put forward at farm stands nowadays, so it’s great for people to try and grow their own.”
One of the advantages to growing your own food, Patterson believes, is that you begin to understand the natural cycles, the seasons, and the actual effort that goes in to food production.
“I joke that growing my vegetables is a lot of work and it makes me really appreciate the efforts of those who do it for a living, but really we are so spoiled when we talk about the cost of food,” said Patterson. “Try doing it yourself and see how much money and time you spend.”
Some of Patterson’s favorite crops include eggplant, garlic, and tomatoes.
“I adore eggplant, grilled until they’re almost like a potato chip,” she said. “My husband makes a wicked garlic pesto that we eat all year long. And I adore tomatoes. This year I grew this variety of blight resistant yellow cherry tomato plants. We had a grower start the plants organically especially for us. Marders’ is all about organics.”
This year, she plans to hand out recipes to share. Members of the Marders’ team usually bring in their own favorite recipes. There will also be a honey sampling, where she and Josie Gambino, both of whom keep bees, will show the difference between honey produced by bees in different environments.
One of the greatest aspects of growing your own food, Patterson believes, is sharing it with children.
“It’s great for them to see that you can put a single seed into the ground and end up with a gazillion cucumbers,” she says. “My parents taught me this when I was tiny, and that magic has always stuck with me.”
“Cooking from Your Garden” will take place at Marders’ on Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton on Saturday, September 2 at 10 am. This lecture is free and open to the public.