Inland Northwest, High Desert
How to Grow Fresh Air
All you ever wanted to know about sick-building syndrome and how to cure it is contained in How to Grow Fresh Air, by Dr. B. C. Wolverton (Penguin Books, 1996; $16). Dr. Wolverton's excellent guide cites findings by NASA about how plants clean and humidify the air we breathe. For 50 well-known houseplants, it gives care requirements, mature size, and NASA's rating of ability to clean the air of toxic gases.
If you can't wait for the growing season to harvest vegetables, here's a simple recipe to get the flavor of summer in late winter. Select the freshest veggies from the produce shelves and coat them with my sweet and salty sauce.
2 medium-sized potatoes
2 carrots, quartered and cut in 4-inch pieces
1/2 onion, thickly sliced
6-7 mushrooms, sliced
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup each of balsamic vinegar and pure maple syrup
Place all the cut-up vegetables in a large bowl. Mix the balsamic vinegar and syrup. Pour it over the vegetables and toss. Transfer to a package of heavy-duty foil or a sealed casserole. Bake at 400F for about an hour, or until fork tender.