Reflections on deep time

Eric and I have been doing the final clean-up and the first of the spring tilling. Admittedly, and this is coming from a hard-working Kiwi, the work is tough on the body. Eric in the boxing ring with a 300 lb alligator, his arms and body dragged along as the rototiller bounces on the root matted winter grasses, he’s then flung into some fluffy realty to only be dragged off again hanging on for dear life. And then there’s the task of rounding up the last of the 300 tomato cages; a walking marathon, carrying 6 at a time, back and forward. Every rock and stone marked, I am zenned out to the feel and sounds surrounding the human created ecosystem. Beyond the fence, trees glowing new leaf shoots of greenery in every possible hue. A backdrop so alive that the farm with it’s formidable plastic deer fencing reflects out in a promising hope of greenery itself.

If you’ve ever grown a garden, and I hope that you do, you’ll know too well that you can’t start without finishing up. And that the curvature of the environment is no straight line but that it weaves about in a cyclical spiral. The seasonal rhythm is a timing that is governed not by our clocks or our lineal minds, but by the seasonal shifts and more closely by the weather. If ever you need to experience a different kind of realty, one that is shaped by these terrific forces, then gardening would be the task to pick. As one engages in these seasonal rhythms, then one can get in touch with deep time that goes beyond our everyday scheduled lifestyle and approaches something closer to what humans practicing agriculture 10,000 years ago experienced. The work of breaking down and building up, finishing and starting is cyclical to our intuition, and every year of working in this way we get a little better at getting the timing just right; our sense of observation is keener. The garden gives us a portal from which we can glimpse into a world that is wholly governed by nature as it strives to connect us to the process, putting seeds in our hands, giving us knowledge of plant, soil health and treating us to a reflection of ourselves glowing back at us.

To find ourselves again on this threshold of ending and beginning, coinciding with Spring and it’s greenness, is to grasp at what it means to be alive, to have hope and renewed joy in the world. The gift we are showing the world is the unfolding of the story of the garden from the hummus to the humans, from the earthworms to the hummingbirds, from the ancient seed to the table. A gift that is a co-creation of the forces of nature, the human intention and our dedication to being in deep time with our surroundings in such a way that we are harnessed to the task by our own impulse to be part of the great spiral of life.

 

 

 

Harvest Meditation

I find harvesting is one of the most satisfying activities for a number of reasons. The most obvious is reaping what you sow, and the less obvious and equally rewarding is the way in which it puts one’s mind to rest.

The combination creates an experience that is uplifting and gratifying like none other. I have discovered over time that dropping into the spaciousness of “being in the moment” can be done with ease while harvesting. Getting close to a plant requires getting down to ground level and this act of kneeling and squatting is deeply cathartic. Grounding oneself literally on the earth is the first step, the second is feeling your way into the activity. This requires some mental stimulation but once you get the swing of things you can drop into auto mode and free the mind. It’s in this state of present moment awareness that time slows down and almost simultaneously surrounding sounds become louder and more acute. Awareness to one’s surroundings and the subtleties of aroma and feeling are pronounced. It’s here at the juncture of timelessness where the breath is a rhythmic exchange of energy with all elements.

Namaste!

Hot peppers on a cool morning in Calaveras

Source: Hot peppers on a cool morning in Calaveras

Read artist Maggie’s account of her drawing journal of seasonal vegetables. A great perspective and her drawings are so delightful and real.

Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes

Salt and pepper

1 lb green beans (about 4 cups)

1 TBS EVOO

1 shallot or red onion diced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 – 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 TBS dry white wine

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, about 1 cup

1 tBS chopped fresh tarragon or basil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1/2 tsp salt. Trim the stems from the beans, leaving the tail ends on. Cut them in half on a diagonal or leave whole if small. Drop the beans into the water and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes, depending on their size. Rinse under cold water and set aside to drain.

Heat the olive oil in a medium-size saute pan; add the shallots, garlic, 1 tsp of the lemon juice, and the white wine; cook over medium heat for 1 minute, until the pan is nearly dry. Add the beans, 1/4 tsp salt, and a few pinches of pepper; saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and herbs; saute for 1 to 2 minutes, just long enough so that the tomatoes heat through  without losing their shape. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.

Green Beans and Cherry Tomato Grattinate

Ingredients

1½ pounds fresh green beans
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ pound cherry tomatoes, preferably small grape tomatoes
½ pound fresh mozzarella
6 basil leavesgreen bean corn tomato salad
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter

Directions

Arrange a rack in the top half of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Fill a large pot with water (at least 5 quarts) and bring it to the boil.

Trim both ends of the beans and remove strings (if they’re an old fashioned variety and have strings). Dump them all into the boiling water, cover the pot until the water boils again, then cook uncovered, for 10 minutes or so, until they are just cooked through-tender but still firm enough to snap.

Drain the beans briefly in a colander then put them in a big kitchen bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt on the hot beans and toss them so they’re all seasoned. Let the salt melt and the beans cool for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse and dry the tomatoes; if they’re larger than an inch, slice them in halves, otherwise leave them whole. Cut the mozzarella into 1/2-inch cubes. Slice the basil leaves into thin shreds or chiffonade.

Toss the grated cheese and bread crumbs together in a small bowl. Lightly grease the insides of the baking dish with a teaspoon or more of the butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese and bread crumb mix all over the bottom of the dish.

When the beans are no longer steaming, drop the tomatoes, cubes of mozzarella and basil shreds on top. Drizzle the olive oil over all, sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and toss together a few times. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cheesy bread crumbs on top and toss well, so everything is coated.

Turn the vegetables, scraping up all the crumbs, into the baking dish and spread them in an even layer. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup of crumbs; cut the rest of the butter in small pieces, and scatter them all over the top. Place the dish in the oven.

Bake the grattinate for 10 minutes, then rotate it back to front and bake another 10 minutes. Check to see that it is browning and bake a few minutes more, until the grattinate is dark golden and crusted. (If the crumbs still look pale after 20 minutes in your oven, raise the temperature, to 400 or 425 degrees and bake until done.)

Serve the hot grattinate in the baking dish.

Holiday Kale Salad with Persimmon & Pomegranate

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Ingredients:

Salad: 

  • 1 large bunch kale 
  • 1-2 ripe fuyu persimmons
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted 
Dressing:
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp grape seed oil oil 
  • 1 tsp grade Maple syrup
Instructions: 
  1. Throughly wash kale & dry well. Pull leaves from stems & shred leaves by hand into bite sided pieces. Add to large salad bowl. 
  2. In a small bowl combine the dressing ingredients, & wisk until blended. 
  3. Pour dressing over kale & toss with tongs until evenly distributed, or “massage” with your hands if you prefer your kale to be more tender. Allow kale to “marinate” while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
  4. Cut persimmons into bite sized pieces ( prefer to leave the skin on) & deseed the pomegranate. 
  5. Fold in persimmon, pomegranate seeds & edamame.Top with pecans.
Serve & enjoy!
 

 

Benefits of Radishes

Chinese-Green-Loubo-web-1

Chinese Green Luobo Radish

1. Naturally cooling

Radishes are a naturally cooling food and their pungent flavor is highly regarded in eastern medicine for the ability to decrease excess heat in the body that can build up during the warmer months.

2. Sooth sore throats

Their pungent flavor and natural spice can help eliminate excess mucus in the body and can be especially helpful when fighting a cold. Radishes can help clear the sinuses and soothe soar throats too.

3. Aids digestion

Radishes are a natural cleansing agent for the digestive system, helping to break down and eliminate stagnant food and toxins built up over time.

4. Prevents viral infections

Because of their high vitamin C content and natural cleansing effects, regular consumption of radishes can help prevent viral infections.

5. Eliminates toxins

In Eastern and Ayurvedic healing practices radishes are said to have effective toxin-purging effects, helping break down and eliminate toxins and cancer-causing free radicals in the body.

6. Protects against cancer

As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family (same family as broccoli and cabbage) radishes contain phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are cancer protecting.

7. Relieves indigestion

Radishes have a calming effect on the digestive system and can help relieve bloating and indigestion.

8. Low in calories, high in nutrients

With a very low calorie count, less than 20 calories in an entire cup, radishes are a great way to add nutrients, fiber and tons of flavor to your meals without compromising your health.

9. Keeps you hydrated

With a high water content and lots of vitamin C as well as phosphorus and zinc, radishes are a nourishing food for the tissues and can help keep your body hydrated and your skin looking fresh and healthy all summer long!

 

How to store produce (without using plastic!)

Save your produce and keep them fresh using each type of vegetable or fruit’s natural growth instincts! The following is a list I put together on my own blog showcasing how to work with your produce and keep them fresh.

Deconstruction Crafts

The following is borrowed from the Ecology Center here in Berkeley, who puts together the lusciously abundant Berkeley Farmers Markets three times a week. They’ve made a commitment to being plastic free (Heck ya!) and share the tips below in their brochure on how to take care of produce without plastic. For more at home tips for not using plastic, I highly recommend visiting Beth Terry’s My Plastic Free Life as an amazing resource for living a life free of toxins, pollutants, and high energy wasting plastics.

~HOW TO STORE VEGETABLES WITHOUT PLASTIC~

Artichokes‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.

Asparagus‐ place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)

Avocados‐ place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening‐ place an apple in the bag with them.

Arugula‐ arugula, like…

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Garlic Scapes?

What the heck is a Garlic Scape?

Kathryn Lukas from Farmhouse Culture wrote this a few years back:

This was my question to Christine last week as she handed me a bag of curly garlic scapes. We were both in a rush so there was only time for this quick explanation: flower stalk thing of a garlic plant- delightfully tasty. I was left to experiment on my own all week and am here to enthusiastically report that garlic scapes are fantastic!
First I finely chopped them into eggs much like I do with green garlic and the results were similarly wonderful. The tips of the scapes are little bulb-like seed pods that I found a bit tough so I used them as garnish. In fact the whimsical shape of scapes inspires the visual imagination and you may find yourself wanting to embellish everything you cook with them. Their mild flavor makes it quite possible to munch on them raw in whole stalk form, so why not?
You can also add scapes to salads, soups, vegetable stir frys, and just about anything you might be inclined to pair with garlic. A goggle search uncovered several pesto recipes that I have yet to try but that sound divine.
Apparently we are quite fortunate to have this short seasoned treat at all. Scapes are found only on hardneck varieties, not the softneck varieties that most California farmers grow. The stalk is removed to encourage bulb growth and until recently scapes mostly landed in compost piles. Thanks to Christine and Eric’s love and knowledge of garlic, we get to play with this sublimely delicious plant in our kitchens.

Carolyn Cope pulled together 7 different ways to cook with garlic scapes. Check them out here.

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