Posts Tagged ‘Phyllis Odessey’

By Phyllis Odessey
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, sushi man.
Cook me some rice as fast as you can;
Pat it and prick it and mark it with S,
Put it in the rice cooker for me and a guest.

Pat-a-cake, patty cake, sushi man.
Cook me a rice ball as fast as you can;
Roll it up, roll it up;
And throw it on a pan!
Patty cake, patty cake, sushi man.

I’ve made a lot of snowballs in my time, but none with rice. In celebration of the planting of rice in The Learning Garden, Yoshihiko Kousaka, master sushi chef of Jewel Bako Restaurant and Mihyun Han, General Manager of Don’s Bogam Restaurant demonstrated how to make rice balls and pickled vegetables to kids from Esperanza Preparatory Academy.

A rice ball called onigiri in Japanese; uses few ingredients, is delicious to eat, and most of all is fun to make. You feel like a sculptor. It’s a tactile experience: using your hands from beginning to end. First creating the ball, second molding the rice into a triangular shape and third adding a secret surprise sour plum to the center and finally wrapping your handiwork in seaweed.

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When you watch someone who is expert at what they do, you think it’s easy, because they are one with their tools and materials. After gathering vegetables from the garden, Yoshi began to slice the carrots, radishes and cucumbers. Like a virtuoso swordsman, Yoshi cut and sliced each vegetable in an artistic way; creating the extraordinary out of the ordinary. (The recipe will appear in a blog to follow).

We want to thank Yoshihiko Kousaka and Mihyun Han for an amazing day in the garden.

If you would like to participate in an event involving the rice paddy, please contact phyllis.odessey@parks.nyc.gov


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By Phyllis Odessey

Eunyoung and I are going to the Urban Agriculture Summit in Toronto, Canada.  Our proposal, Yes, You Can Grow Rice in NYC has been accepted by the programming committee.  The summit is sponsored by Food Share and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and will take place August 15-August 18.

By the time we arrive in Toronto, our second rice paddy will be in full swing.  Last Thursday, volunteers from Goldman Sachs Community Teamworks built a new section of The Learning Garden, which included the second rice paddy, under the direction of James Burns, our horticulture crew member and paddy builder extraordinaire.

The first row of bricks was the most taxing.  The ground is uneven and leveling it was a job.
James demonstrates how to lay the bricks.  He is kind of a precise guy and that is good thing.  The bricks are not exactly bricks; they fall somewhere between bricks and cinder blocks.  They are heavier than the usual brick. The extra weight is extremely important in holding the water within the plastic liner.
Getting the liner in the completed paddy was a little like shaking a sheet after its been in the dryer.
Eunyoung stomps the  one foot depth of  soil. The soil was an organic mix of compost, sand and loom.
PART II – propagating rice with small plastic cups.  Each cup has holes punched in the top in.  The cups are filled with soil 3/4 to the top.  water is added and the rice seeds.  We wait and see what happens.  But there isn’t too much waiting, the rice propagates fairly quickly and what looks like thin blades of grass start showing.  By the time we get to the Urban Agriculture Summit, we will be able to report on the first and second rice paddy.

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Wreath Interpretations
Arsenal Gallery
Parks Department Headquarters
Fifth Avenue & 64 Street
December 4, 2011 – January 12, 2012

In Ancient Greece, a wreath symbolized victory, achievement and status.  The wreath made from rice stalks harvested on Randall’s Island is a kind of victory.   It is an achievement of determination, skill and patience.

Eunyoung Sebazco, Assistant Horticulture Manager for the Randall’s Island Island Sports Foundation, had an idea that we might be able to grow rice in our Learning Garden.  She researched what growing conditions were necessary and decided we could make it work and work it did.

Wreaths have a long history.  Germanic tribes used wreaths to anticipate the end of Winter.  A wreath in Roman times signified many things.  In the arts, it denoted that one was valued and respected.  At Randall’s Island, our wreath expresses the respect we have for the land.

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