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Garden in the City: The Plot-to-Table Challenge

 It's harvest time. What to do with those peas and beans.
Garden the City: Plot to Table
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LINCOLN SQUARE — The motto of the Peterson Garden Project is "We Can Grow It!"

OK, then what?

After nervously planting seeds back in May, I found myself harvesting actual beans and peas this weekend. Now I must share one of my dirty little secrets: I don't much like to cook. Bake yes — because I totally get the point of cookies and cake — but cook, no.

In fact, one of the reasons I got into gardening was I hoped it would spur me to expand my culinary skills beyond popcorn and microwaving Trader Joe's Organic Jasmine Rice.

So ... beans.

Truthfully, I mostly played with these, pulling out my ruler for a game of "find the longest bean." The winner measured a whopping 7 inches if you included its "tail," which I figured was fair game considering the world's tallest buildings stake their claim on their antenna towers. This impressive feat was made less so when I once again turned to my square foot gardening book after harvesting, only to discover that the smaller the bean, the bigger the flavor punch.

Because we also had some store-bought beans on hand, I decided to conduct a taste test. I steamed both batches separately, stirred in a little butter and served them side by side in a less-than-blind manner.

Legitimately, both Dave and I preferred the garden variety, which had a silkier texture and "bean-ier" flavor. Though there was the smallest of chances that the homegrown beans were doped up on a smidgeon more butter.

The contest, alas, could not be repeated to verify the results, as that single serving wiped out our entire bean harvest.

On Sunday I got a bit more creative with the peas, inspired by the fact that July 14 was also Bastille Day. I Googled "crepes with peas" and came across this recipe from Mario Batalli, who is on my irrational hate list largely due to his friendship with Gwyneth Paltrow. I could only hope his taste in crepes was better than his taste in celebrity buddies.

Halving the recipe, I needed one cup of peas. No problem, I thought, as we set to shucking. I mean, I had planted a whole three square feet of peas. That should add up to ... I don't know, a bushel?

After liberating every single pea from its pod, I had ... ta-da ... a scant one-third cup. One-third cup for an entire growing season. And now I see why farmers talk in acres, not feet.

We headed back to the garden to see if we'd left any pods on the vine and returned home with an added tablespoon. Curses.

Improvising like a true chef, I rifled through our vegetable crisper and pulled out an ear of corn, shearing off the kernels. Voila, crepes a la petits pois et maïs.

I'm not gonna lie, the crepes were delicious but the peas were completely overwhelmed by the corn.

So the moral of the story is: Next year, grow corn.