So, how is everybody doing? These are such strange times. I keep reflecting on the fact that this pandemic and the media and social media response to it, coupled with the fact that we are all very isolated right now (and rightly so), are serving to unite us all in this low-grade hum of fear and anxiety.

But then I look outside and I see that the robins are back, and my rhubarb is pushing through the earth, my chives have sprouted and the neighbors daffodils have unfurled and I take great solace in the fact that nature and its never-failing cycles persevere. And that very fact alone is a great anchor of strength and comfort for many of us right now, myself included.

And so, the gardens at Convivium (and those that work in them…thanks A.J.) are also soldiering on. We spend a great deal of time in the winter planning our gardens – what to plant, when to plant it – in order to maximize use of the produce in the kitchen. With the restaurant closed until April 30 (but likely much longer), our meticulous plans have been upended. (Join the club, right?)

But we have decided to share our garden-to-table journey with you here and on our social media pages instead. We want you to also feel the comfort of the quiet strength of nature that we see here at Convivium each and every day – and be able to recreate it at home, if you wish. 

This week, if you were following along on social media, we featured three different posts – potato towers, rosemary cuttings and our garlic sprouting. What do you get when you put them all together? Well, Rosemary-Garlic Potatoes, of course. A staple item on both our breakfast and lunch menus (spoiler: we are sharing the recipe below!).

We started this week with a little re-cap of last year’s potato tower class. What is a potato tower you ask? It is a way to grow potatoes vertically, in a wire cage above the ground. Great for small spaces and for those who don’t want to do the backbreaking labor of digging up potatoes.

It is tradition in the Midwest to plant potatoes on or around Good Friday, so we typically hold a potato tower workshop the Saturday before Easter. This year, we sadly had to cancel it, but I’d like to share some photos from last year’s class and also some instructions here, in case you would like to recreate these at your home. Click here to view a pdf of the supplies and step-by-step instructions.    

 

 

Next up, is the rosemary — a very important part of the Rosemary-Garlic potatoes. It is also difficult to start from seed and expensive to buy a large number of starter plants, so we start our own each year instead. Last fall, AJ dug up a couple of our plants from the garden and put them in pots. They have been hanging out in our coffee shop window all winter. This past week, he took cuttings from the plants and started a whole new crop for our gardens this year. Here is a photo, or click to see a video of him explaining the process.  

 

And we can’t forget the garlic! Garlic is actually a crop that needs to be planted in the fall and we doubled our garlic crop this year. We go through a lot of it here in the Convivium kitchen. As an organization, one of our core values is that “you can never have too much garlic”. We are growing two different varieties this year – ‘Music’ and ‘German Red’. Each were chosen because of flavor, clove size, good storage qualities and peelability (is that even a word?).  

Put them all together and what to you get?  Rosemary-Garlic Potatoes! See below for the recipe.

We are thinking of you all and are trusting that we will all return to the ‘normal’ cycles, routines and rituals of our lives – and hopefully that includes a breakfast, lunch or brunch every now and then here at Convivium. But until we meet again, we will be sharing our garden-to-table journey with you here along with our recipes from our breakfast and lunch menu.

Stay well. Leslie    

 

Convivium’s Rosemary-Garlic Potatoes

Serves 4

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
2 sprigs rosemary
3-4 cloves garlic – unpeeled
2-3 Tbsp olive oil 
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Wash potatoes and chop into 1-inch chunks.
  3. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. If they don’t fit on a single layer, then use two cookie sheets.
  4. Drizzle olive oil on top of the potatoes and gently stir around to make sure all of the potatoes are lightly covered.
  5. Place garlic and rosemary sprigs on the sheet(s) with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast for 20-25 minutes – or until crispy and fork tender.