a little glimpse

Hello again, I see that the blogging habit did not stick the last time that it circled back around, though it is often in my thoughts.

Lately I’ve been busy being mama, and playing music. Mostly they work really well together. It feels more graceful now that the little one’s just a little bigger. This past weekend for Harvest Festival the little ones grandparents, uncle, and aunt worked magic for me to be able to play a three hour gig (and help load and unload and teach workshops). Gratitude. Here we are:Marimba Project

Today I’ve been antsy with “the list” and trying to get little bits done here and there as well as being present for the making of a pile of red, yellow, and green leaves on the bench.

I just pulled the latest pickles into the fridge and they’re working!

Recipe:

Fresh pickling cucumbers – unwashed – straight from the garden (this is important because the skin has some of the bacteria needed for fermentation)

brine – 1 gallon of water to 1 cup salt – boil the water, add the salt, let cool before pouring on

spices – as desired – fresh dill, pickling spice, whole peeled garlic cloves, whole peppercorns

a couple of grape leaves (for crunch)

a jar

3-14 days

tuck the final cuke under the edge of the jar so it can’t stick out. Then I cover with a plastic bag stuck into the water to create a seal and lightly cap with a lid. store out of the sun in a place where they will go undisturbed but remembered. 7 days has been working nicely for me – a cool spot in summer, a warmer spot in the winter – as stable as possible

skim off scum and refrigerate.

 

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fall herbalism

We made it through the flood of tomatoes and peaches and nectarines. Now we have pears and apples left asking for attention. And some grapes. But as the food clears out of my kitchen, I realized that I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the herbs in my garden.

So this week has been focused on herbalism. It seems that the plants calling right now are the ones good for the winter illnesses.

I started with the horehound and mixed up some horehound honey for winter coughs.

Next was pulling some mullein leaves to dry for tea and the lungs.

Also this week, I gathered a small crew (thank you!) and we dug echinasea and washed the roots and cut them and put them in organic vodka to tincture.

Next week it will time to dig valarian for tincturing for the winter blues.

Also right now, the dandelions have been glorious. With all the rain we’ve been getting here, they are lush and glorious. I’ve been liking them fresh (chopped small) in a salad dressed with oil, vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of honey and carrots or sesame seeds. I’ve also been making a stir-fry with greens (including dandelion), and dressed right at the end of cooking with vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of honey and a touch of nama shoyu or wheat free tamari. Yum. It’s always amazing to me how generous our weeds can be when we stop fighting with them.

Here are a few of the reasons to eat dandelion:

#1 – High in Calcium: Dandelion greens are loaded with calcium. Just one cup of chopped dandelion greens has 103 milligrams (10% of the recommended daily value) of calcium! That’s slightly more than kale! Add two to three cups of dandelion to a smoothie with calcium-rich fruits like orange, kiwi, fig or papaya and you’ll have a green smoothie that has more calcium than any dairy product!

#2 – Rich in Iron: Next to fresh parsley, dandelion greens have a high iron content. One cup contains 1.7 milligrams of iron.

#3 – Improves Digestion: Bitter foods, like dandelion, tone and stimulate the entire digestive tract. (Susan Weed)

#4 – Loaded With Antioxidants: Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption.

#5 – The Ultimate Detox & Cleansing Green: If your goal is detoxification and cleansing, dandelion greens should be the ones you use in green smoothies! They are said to help cleanse the liver and many detox recipes call for them.

#6 – Lots Of Minerals: Dandelion greens are rich in minerals. Besides calcium and iron, they are a good source of copper (10% RDA), manganese (8% RDA), phosphorus (5% RDA), potassium (5% RDA) and magnesium (5% RDA).

#7 – 14% Protein: Dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids so it’s a complete protein. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein.

#8 – Multivitamin Green: Besides vitamin A as beta-carotene (186% RDA) and vitamin C (21% RDA), each cup of chopped dandelion greens are also good sources of vitamins B1 (9% RDA), B2 (11% RDA) and B6 (11% RDA), vitamin E (13% RDA) and especially abundant in vitamin K (357% RDA).

#10 – Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens: The nutrients in dandelion greens may help reduce the risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and stroke. Dandelion contains anti-inflammatory properties which may provide benefit to those with asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

 

 

update from my world

hello there.

Well, the pickling went well. They are now ready and tasty. It’s time to get the pickles out of the crock and put in some kimchi.

-cabbage
-daikon radish
-scallions
-carrots
-ginger
-garlic
-hot peppers
-salt and pressure + time = kimchi (or, since it’s not fully traditional, I’ve heard it called kimchi-kraut). If you’re feeling more traditional: http://youtu.be/0sX_wDCbeuU

 

This weekend we went out for a quick visit to the woods:

DSCN1029 nourishing!

 
Today, I’m feeling thankful for the rain. It means that instead of rushing around this morning before work to water everything by hand, I dug a bit, prepping a lettuce bed that I’ll plant for fall lettuce tonight or tomorrow. And then I had tea.

 

And now for more food preserving. Tomato sauce this evening and maybe another round in the dehydrator (it heats the house and preserves our food at the same time, what fun : )

bacteria

I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation and really enjoying it. Right now I’m in the fermenting section and it is making me want to bust out my pickling (read: ferment) recipes so that I can up the healthy bacteria in my gut.

I’ve known that fermented foods are good for us. I’ve known that while anti-biotics can be useful in certain cases, they come with a whole host of side effects by killing all the bugs in our intestines, not just the bad ones. I’ve been suspicious for a little while now of anti-bacterial soap and how clean the average American suburban home is. There is research now that shows farm-kids as healthier because they are exposed to more germs.

But reading about what is actually going on in here, makes me want to feed my bacteria.

“[The human body] is more like a complex ecosystem—a social network—containing trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit our skin, genital areas, mouth and especially intestines. In fact, most of the cells in the human body are not human at all. Bacterial cells in the human body outnumber human cells 10 to one. Moreover, this mixed community of microbial cells and the genes they contain, collectively known as the microbiome, does not threaten us but offers vital help with basic physiological processes—from digestion to growth to self-defense.” -Ackerman http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ultimate-social-network-bacteria-protects-health

I get all sorts of science fiction images when I read this. . . what happens if the bacteria takes over? . . .

But so far, it seems like we are in charge, and that it also makes sense to start taking better care of these little bugs that do so much for us. Like pickling and fermenting and such good things. So here’s a recipe for you by Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation www.wildfermentation.com

I’ll let you know how it goes at my house. . .

Making Sour Pickles by Sandor Katz

The biggest variables in pickle-making are brine strength, temperature, and cucumber size. I prefer pickles from small and medium cucumbers; pickles from really big ones can be tough and sometimes hollow in the middle. I don’t worry about uniformity of size; I just eat the smaller ones first, figuring the larger ones will take longer to ferment.

The strength of brine varies widely in different traditions and recipe books. Brine strength is most often expressed as weight of salt as a percentage of weight of solution, though sometimes as weight of salt as a percentage of volume of solution. Since in most home kitchens we are generally dealing with volumes rather than weights, the following guideline can help readers gauge brine strength: Added to 1 quart of water, each tablespoon of sea salt (weighing about .6 ounce) adds 1.8% brine. So 2 tablespoons of salt in 1 quart of water yields a 3.6% brine, 3 tablespoons yields 5.4%, and so on. In the metric system, each 15 milliliters of salt (weighing 17 grams) added to 1 liter of water yields 1.8% brine.

Some old-time recipes call for brines with enough salt to float an egg. This translates to about a 10% salt solution. This is enough salt to preserve pickles for quite some time, but they are too salty to consume without a long desalinating soak in fresh water first. Low-salt pickles, around 3.5% brine, are “half-sours” in delicatessen lingo. This recipe is for sour, fairly salty pickles, using around 5.4% brine. Experiment with brine strength. A general rule of thumb to consider in salting your ferments: more salt to slow microorganism action in summer heat; less salt in winter when microbial action slows.

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks

Special Equipment:

  • Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
  • 1-gallon/4-liter jug filled with water, or other weight
  • Cloth cover

Ingredients (for 1 gallon/4 liters):

  • 3 to 4 pounds/1.5 to 2 kilograms unwaxed cucumbers (small to medium size)
  • 3⁄8 cup (6 tablespoons)/90 milliliters sea salt
  • 3 to 4 heads fresh flowering dill, or 3 to 4
  • tablespoons/45 to 60 milliliters of any form of dill (fresh or dried leaf or seeds)
  • 2 to 3 heads garlic, peeled
  • 1 handful fresh grape, cherry, oak, and/or horseradish leaves (if available)
  • 1 pinch black peppercorns

Process:

  1. Rinse cucumbers, taking care to not bruise them, and making sure their blossoms are removed. Scrape off any remains at the blossom end. If you’re using cucumbers that aren’t fresh off the vine that day, soak them for a couple of hours in very cold water to freshen them.
  2. Dissolve sea salt in ½gallon (2 liters) of water to create brine solution. Stir until salt is thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Clean the crock, then place at the bottom of it dill, garlic, fresh grape leaves, and a pinch of black peppercorns.
  4. Place cucumbers in the crock.
  5. Pour brine over the cucumbers,place the (clean) plate over them, then weigh it down with a jug filled with water or a boiled rock. If the brine doesn’t cover the weighed-down plate, add more brine mixed at the same ratio of just under 1 tablespoon of salt to each cup of water.
  6. Cover the crock with a cloth to keep out dust and flies and store it in a cool place.
  7. Check the crock every day. Skim any mold from the surface, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. If there’s mold, be sure to rinse the plate and weight. Taste the pickles after a few days.
  8. Enjoy the pickles as they continue to ferment. Continue to check the crock every day.
  9. Eventually, after one to four weeks (depending on the temperature), the pickles will be fully sour. Continue to enjoy them, moving them to the fridge to slow down fermentation.

http://www.wildfermentation.com/making-sour-pickles-2/

end of August

I’m sitting on the porch with the sound of a few gentle raindrops on the apple tree above the overhang. It has been a sweet quiet Sunday, a two nap day, finally getting caught up on rest after perhaps overextending a bit for the first part of the month.

It was fun – camping, backpacking, hanging out with Pretty Gritty, teaching a workshop to a worship team in Fruita, heading over to check out the first annual Arise Music festival and seeing some of my favorite bands: Gregory Alan Isakov, Xavier Rudd, Zap Mama, Michael Franti, Sea Stars and some fun new music too. And I got to get up on stage with Scott and Shanti Medina to offer a bit of embodiment practice, yum. But I stayed up maybe a little too late, and ate maybe a few too many coconut caramels and breathed just a little too much dust.

And when I got home, the laundry had piled up and the weeds were growing just as fast as the plants in the garden. And a bit of overwhelm kicked in. 

And then, I started feeling concerned because just as the abundance that we have worked so hard to produce in the garden was coming into the kitchen, I was feeling burdened.

Luckily, with a bit of sleep, it all comes back into perspective. . . those 20 pounds of zucchini would make yummy fritters for the winter. And the eggplant that has been asking to be picked for at least a week is now baba ganoush and both recipes have earned a place in my “let’s do that again” folder.

Luckily the next peach tree on the property has given us a bit of a breather, but I hear the promise of soon. . . 

peaches

I’ve been feeling the peaches lurking. We’ve got a tree in our driveway and the branches start to brush on the roofs of our friend’s vehicles as they pull into the driveway. And I kept checking, and they were not ripe. And I wanted them to be, but they were not. And then. . .

Boom.

Peaches.

They are falling when people drive up the driveway. They are falling when the wind blows. It is time for peach preserving.

So today I rallied a small crew and we made peach sauce, peach chutney, peach cobbler, dried some and froze some.

Yum. Peaches.

I didn’t really use a recipe for the chutney, but here’s the basic ingredients, and you can adjust to your tastes.

put this all into a pot and let it cook for a bit:

– peaches (once they start to cook mush them with a fork or potato musher)
– raisins (or cranberry bits or dried cherries or currents)
– onion (diced)
– hot pepper to taste (fresh if you have it)
– ginger (fresh and grated or chopped small)
– garlic (minced)
– salt

eat with chips or lentil soup or indian food or rice.

Yum.

But the thing is this. . . we spent all afternoon on this project and we got a lot done, but there will be more to do tomorrow. And the next day and the next. If we want peaches, this is it. . . preserve them or loose them.

So many things in the garden happen this way.  I tried to plant the “exact right” amount of zucchini last year, so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed, and what happens? None of them grew at all. 0 zucchini. So this year I planted lots, and lots of zukes. I decided that too many was better than none. And overall we’ve been keeping up. . . We’ve dried some and frozen some and given some away.

And I’m sure this is a metaphor, but I’ll let you fit it into your own life and say this:  I’m so thankful for the abundance.

balance

This morning I harvested mullein flowers for mullein oil. I gathered culinary sage, lemon balm, red clover blossoms, and a bit of chamomile all for tea – or rather for infusions (more plant material, soaked longer). The garden is so abundant; it’s almost overwhelming. It feels like such a dance – this freedom that is created by growing and making my own medicine and the dedication and consistency that is required to plant, water, tend, harvest, preserve and use the medicine.

We were thinking about going backpacking this weekend, but I panicked. Too much calling me here. I’m in the market for day-long hikes where I still get to come home and water the garden. I love the woods, but it feels like my work is here this season.

Lately, and more than usual, I feel fragments of my personality/being asking for different things. There are parts that want to stay on silent retreat in my home for weeks, parts that want to go out clubbing in the city, parts that want to stay in the woods for as long as possible, parts that want to host house parties and play music. I’m not sure how to sit in the center of all these parts and navigate what is most true for the wholeness of my being. How to give myself the nourishment being asked for without sacrificing other aspects?

Yesterday in our writing circle I wrote this:
Open the window; the howling begins. Howling and keening and dancing. I want bonfires and I want the end of self-consciousness. I want to wander in the mountains and live on berries and bark. I want to set down my pink polyester backpack and my pink polyester raincoat and strip down to my birthday suit and “c” words all about: caterwaul, careen, carbone, caper, cartwheel, chitter, crawl, and cachinnate. But there are mosquitoes and I don’t like to be hungry and I don’t know how to take down the boundaries of this technological age and let myself be taken into the woods for vision. I’m not sure what true freedom would look like or how to get there from here.

I also wrote this poemish:
Outside I say yes, sure, find.
Inside I hunker down to find a soft warm hole to slip into and sing myself lullabies.
Outside I look, or try to look, confidant, composed, alert, on top of it, present.
Inside I am dreaming of magic, of self-cleaning kitchens, Thai food ordered in, and a bed so comfortable I never have to leave.
Outside I’m getting it done, crossing if off the list.
Inside I’ve set it all aside and will spend the next ten years diving inside the sound of the willow leaves rustling against themselves.
Outside willow nubs are dropping into my lap.
Inside I am dropping up into the willow, swimming in layers of leaves. Dancing and tiptoeing my fairy feet on the branches. Catching a ride on the cottonwood fluffs and allowing myself to be taken by the wind over to the next horizion.
Outside I wake, I eat, I bathe, I sleep.
Inside mostly I breathe. The heart beats. And this is enough to fill my whole universe for eternity.
Breath. Pulse. Here.

nothingness

Reflected in my computer monitor is my face, behind that the blue and white of the sky and the green of the apple trees. The scene is nearly distracting in its realness and clarity. Human, sky, clouds, trees. She makes faces at me. Smiles. Sighs. Focuses beyond the image to the words.

In my reports on gardening and being an aspiring herbalist I have this exercise – take an herb in your mouth – start with plants you know to be edible – and eat it. Name three words that come time mind. Basil for example brings to mind: cooling, clarifying and present.

Yesterday I sat with Jeannie Zandi in satsang. I highly recommend it; you can find out more here: www.jeanniezandi.com

As with most spiritual teachers, she recommends bringing our attention into the present moment. All of it. Here. Letting it be simple like the ocean beating against the shore. She quoted Mahatma Gandhi, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” I find myself longing for and avoiding slowing down enough to actually bring my full presence to each experience. Listening even more fully.

This morning, this nothingness that I am (alas my mind is the last to know), sat in the garden and listened to the birds, felt the wind, watched the grass and leaves moving. Then, tried to figure out if I’m going backpacking next weekend or not. Found lots of conflicting feelings. Cried. Ate breakfast.

A habitual belief passes through: I am afraid I’m not doing enough with my life. In this moment, I can also see the other side where that is impossible, a habit of the mind to keep me from feeling this: tiredness, warmth, peace, and a touch of constriction in my belly. Nothing to do? Is it possible to trust the moment enough to stay here and see where it leads? There are those who would say, “yes.” Without ambition I will simply tend the garden and play and rest. My whole being has been calling for less doing, more sitting. I want to be cool and inspiring, but why? So I can feel good about being American? So I can justify my existence? To make me more significant than the movement of a wave on the shore? To save the world? Bless us, and bless us, we are all so afraid of being nothing.

Last night there was a thunderstorm. I lay in our tent listening to the crash of the thunder, watching the flashes of light, being thankful for dryness, feeling the bit of fear that rain brings (childhood panic of always leaving toys out because it never rains here) and snuggling against my sleeping husband. It was a very alive moment, in and out of sleep. Very sweet.

morning

It’s morning here. Cool. There were sprinkles of rain on the tarp over our tent in the night.

I notice a tenderness here in my heart. It seems like it might just be part of being human. There is so much beauty and so much sorrow in this world and all that adds up to a tender heart for me this morning.

I’ve been reading,”Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want” by Martha Beck. I highly recommend it. Instead of starting with what do you want? It starts with Wordlessness and Oneness. Teaching techniques for dropping out of the verbal mind and into the present moment and into our connection with all things. From there it asks the question – “what is wanting to move through you?” I like this version of “Creating the Life You Want” way better than some of the others people talk about. I am such a strong believer in the potency of Presence! Of course our vastness is more intelligent than our isolated personalities.

We’ve been experimenting with some of these techniques in the yoga class I’ve been teaching and that’s been lovely. I love the moving practice and dropping into the body. I love the possibility that unhelpful patterns could just melt away.

I’ve been attempting to bring more of this state into my gardening – realizing how I get caught in the “things to do,” which keeps me out of connection with with garden. It’s been sweet to slow down and offer more attention. Slow down and see what is wanting to happen next. Slow down and notice that one of the trees looks a bit wilty and be able to set a hose. Slow down and notice the miracles of flowers.

Asking the question – what would bring more joy for all beings? How can I play more? What brings me deep satisfaction and joy?

I’ll keep you posted. Today it is yoga class with Amy Williams at BIJA in Paonia – she’s so amazing. And perhaps some water somewhere. And some garden time. And some time for art.

And you?

website up!

I’m very excited to announce that the www.embodyingrhythm.com website is up and running.

Many thanks to my big brother Aaron who tirelessly worked to get it up! You can visit him here: www.northforkpermaculture.com

 

In the garden the St. John’s Wort is flowering, the mullein is flowering, the Nan King Cherries are ripe, the mulberries are being eaten by the birds faster than I can snack on them, we got to eat zucchini fresh from the garden (yay for the wonders of cold-frames) for breakfast, and our black cat is shedding like mad. Life is good.DSCN6701DSCN6675