Master chefs and culinary artists are inspired by their gardens, farms, greenmarkets, & artisanal food makers. Author Leeann Lavin has written a book about the nexus of garden art and culinary art. The blog chronicles the process of producing the first-in-a-series-book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook & explores the exciting, burgeoning farm to table movement, food, and local, seasonal, delicious ingredients.
The ivy-covered walls of nearby Princeton University may
have lent an element of gravitas to the television interview I did for The
Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook with Princeton TV and
their Management Your Wealth host,
The day was more than just the interview.
It was a love-filled bouquet, especially because my most
favorite people accompanied me: my mother, Virginia, and a beloved garden
design client, dear friend and muse, Maria.
And my number one fan and supporter, my husband Bill.
So despite the Polar Vortex, me and my Homegrown entourage
drove “over the river and through the woods” -- to Princeton.
I’d met Deborah previously at a book talk and book signing I
did at Judy McClellan’s invitation for her Mercer County United Way group.That was a swanky, teatime event at the
Deborah bought a book at that time and has since made my
homegrown heart flutter when she tells me that she keeps The Hamptons & Long Island
Homegrown Cookbook on the coffee table in her offices at RBS as a
conversation starter with her financial services clients.
Deborah is one smart cookie.
And to that point I continue to be gob smacked by her
definition of wealth.
According to Deborah, “Wealth is an abundance of valuable
So you see, it’s not just those greenbacks as money-in-the-bank
that is considered wealth.Rather our
health and well-being and sustainable lifestyle comprise what is the true
measure of wealth.
Deborah explores these topics and this pursuit of true
wealth on her Princeton TV show, Managing
Deborah called me in late December to explore the interview
Here, she explained about her show’s format and how the
content is both informative and entertaining for her audience who are most
interested in managing their money and wealth.
Later she said she was struggling a bit to fit in the
homegrown food and garden topics into the show’s format and focus.
She asked me how I might go about it and just like that, I
was going on about how gardens have always been about “conspicuous consumption”
and showing off wealth – from the Persians to Rockefellers to today’s hedge
fund totems. Especially since the Victorian times when exotic and rare plants
were brought back to the West, plants and gardens came to represent great
wealth and achievement.
Further, I prattled on, good landscape design today
increases the value of one’s home by 15-25% or more.
And not breaking stride, I articulated how taste is today’s
I shared one of my often-repeated quote, “That food created
for taste and not transport” can be considered a sign of wealth, given the nod
to valuable resources under Deborah’s rubric.
Then there was silence.
“Uh-oh,” read the bubble in head.
I feared I lost her.
“Are you there?” I asked timidly.
“Oh, yes,” I’m taking notes on all this – it’s terrific!”
So it was settled.
Yes, I can do the interview on her show.
As we proceeded to chat about some other topic details, I
could just make out that Bill was telling me something to share with Deborah.
“Can you hold on a minute?” I ask.“My husband is trying to tell me something.”
It was the Christmas holidays so he home from work.
“Tell her about growing our asparagus and garlic and …”
As I note in my Homegrown book’s Acknowledgements, Bill
surely became a master gardener and chef during the time it took to produce the
He starts our seeds indoors under the lights in the spring,
we compost, and our Garden State farm-ette produces abundant, homegrown food
that enriches our menus and our friends and family’s with the best garlic,
asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, shallots, onions, lettuce, and…
As I dutifully relayed Bill’s brilliant suggestion, Deborah
said, “That’s great background.”
And further, “Bill should join us for the TV interview.”
I smile as I say more loudly so he can hear across the room,
“What’s that you say? Have Bill join me for the interview about gardens and
edible homegrown food?”
As Bill is mouthing “NO WAY!” and gesturing with his hands
like a football ref just to make sure I got the No message, I say to Deborah,
“Why that’s a brilliant suggestion and invitation.Bill says he’d love to!”
And so it was.
From then until the actual interview session, I researched
the background data points for the gardens as wealth and the importance of
eating sustainable, local, food and its importance to creating true food
networks, jobs and a community lifestyle.
(If any of you are interested in those data points, let me
know and I can share with you.)
Otherwise, many of them are included as part of the TV
Then, in another sign of good karma, Pantone announced the
2014 Color of the Year.
What does this have to do with gardens or the TV interview,
you may be wondering.
See, Deborah’s TV set always features the color purple – as
does Deborah – as she cites purple as a sign of wealth.