I can never eat enough quinoa – which is not to say that I consume quinoa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but rather that no amount of it seems to fill me. While I'm impressed with quinoa's nutritional capabilities (it's a mineral-rich complete protein, after all), I'm usually as hungry with my last bite as I was with my first. And it doesn't matter what food I pair with this chenopod (the seed of the goosefoot plant) to flavor it or bulk it up. Quinoa as an entree doesn't work. So, I've changed courses and decided to embrace quinoa as a side dish and nothing more. There's less pressure on the quinoa and less grumbling from me.
In a food cart built from scratch, I watched Picnic's John Dovydenas and Jen Cox form bread from giant containers of yeasted dough, roast carrots into softly blistered orange chunks, slice freshly roasted Kookoolan chickens to order, and hand customers hearty, creative cookie combinations like olive oil and pine nut. Picnic just opened their chalkboard shutters for their third season, moving locations to the food pod on SW 3rd and Stark in downtown Portland. From 10:45 to 1:15, I watched them field orders, greet customers from previous years, and prep sandwiches. After dealing with an irregular customer base while parked at the Green Castle food pod last year, John and Jen were elated to sell out of their sandwiches within three hours.
After a long winter hiatus, when I first picked up the little green notebook in which I record gardening notes, I flipped to see when the last entry was.
The entry read with an air of hopeful dejection, if there is such a thing: while nothing was working out, I still wanted to believe that something would. Would the brussels sprouts hang on despite the onslaught of pests? Would I be able to grow salad greens again? I stopped recording in October because that's the last time our little raised bed and containers showed any signs of productivity. In November, I prepared everything for winter, and over the past few months I've read through several new gardening books and have emerged with an upbeat attitude. Whereas last year, I was disappointed when things didn't work – even though it was my first year truly gardening – this year, I've shaken off my own rigid standards, and am trusting in my own intuition.