Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Martha Stewart's Harvest Show

When Martha Stewart decided to do her first harvest show ever, she put out a call for audience members to bring baskets full of their home grown bounty. Colleague Kathy Jentz (Washington Gardener Magazine) requested three tickets, then invited us two Ellens to come along.

(ESP & KJ)

A line of eager gardeners reached halfway down the block in front of Martha's Chelsea studios. Some baskets were truly impressive, others just confusing. (Like the guy who brought leaves and seedpods of Ricinus communis. Really? Sure, they're pretty, but also deadly poisonous. He didn't seem to have a clue.)

Kathy brought a bumper crop of okra, tomatillos, and ground cherries.

O.E.'s basket overflowed with herbs and photogenic rose hips.

Mine was fully foraged: mushrooms, sumac berries, crabapples, dandelion greens, silverberries, houttuynia, bayleaf, and a demi-bouteille of lilac wine.

Alas, the subtleties of my wild edibles were lost on Martha's minions. They fell for the gardening equivalent of the blonde cheerleader with big boobs: overflowing baskets of corn, squash, tomatoes, and peppers. We smart girls with great personalities were relegated to the upper reaches of the studio audience.

I was able to interest Emeril with my wine as he walked through the audience looking for ingredients to use. He took it, but didn't end up using it in his dish and never gave me an on camera nod. Yes, that bugged me, but it was my own fault. I shouldn't have brought something I wasn't willing to part with...I just expected an appropriate thank you in exchange.

Once I recovered from the unanticipated agony of flashbacks to the cattle calls of my twenties, I was able to sit back and enjoy both the bounty and the message. Baskets overflowed with gorgeous edibles, Martha and Emeril whipped up two vegetarian dishes (sans wine!), and we watched a special remote segment on the recent National Heirloom Exhibition in Sonoma, CA.

It was great to see heirloom vegetables, seed saving, and non-GMO crops get the press they deserve from someone with a platform as far-reaching as Martha's. I've admired her for years and was pleased to see that she is as strong, articulate, and quick on her feet as I hoped she would be. So kudos to Martha for celebrating the harvest with her television audience. And next time pick one of the smart girls. They're way more interesting.


meemsnyc said...

I love Sumac and the strong tart flavor. I loved your foraged basket. I'm sorry you didn't get picked. Looks like a great show to attend.

Cheval Force Opp said...

Ellen & Ellen, Feel like I was there! Sorry I missed seeing you two but know Kathy had a great time. Cheval

Garden Glamour said...

I've been on Martha's show often when I worked at the Botanic Gardens. I saw first-hand how much extraordinary work goes into a show segment. The Martha team makes it look easy.... that is one beautiful TV set, no? Thank you for sharing. Your happy harvest baskets are portraits. Ellen, what can one do with houttuynia? I have some beds that runneth over with this aggressive vine & would love to do something with it... And hey, watch those cheerleader references. We can't help it if we are smart AND pretty :)

Ellen Zachos said...

You got me Dutchess! Truth is, I was a cheerleader, too. But you blondes got all the glory.

Houttuynia is used a lot in Vietnamese cooking; they call it fish mint. It's very strong, so I cut the leaves up small and use them in salad and stir fries. Try a bite and see how you like it. Warning: it loses it's taste when dry, so this is an herb to be used fresh.

WashingtonGardener said...

Great sharing this adventure with the Ellens! I did see Emeril open and sniff your lilac wine and at least it made it to the TV prep counter :-).

WashingtonGardener said...

Now up - my screen captures from the show: http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-martha-adventure.html

Zoe said...

Well, Martha doesn't know what she was missing! I think your basket is fantastic... what a fun and interesting (and sophisticated - lilac wine!) selection.

Shari said...

I'll admit it... I'm jealous. I would love to have seen the taping of a Martha show -- especially that one.

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