Thursday

There are kale chips in the oven: kale, olive oil, coconut oil, ground sesame seeds, salt and a bit of nutritional yeast. We like to bake them at low temperatures (200 degrees) even though they take longer – they are much less likely to burn.

There is laundry in the machine ready to be hung: diapers, and diaper covers.

There are slab ends in the driveway ready to be cut. Soon.

The list of things to do is long. On it is also walking, doing yoga and playing marimba.

I am liking “Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing” by Daphne Miller, MD that I get to read while nursing and while the little one is napping. I just finished, “The No Impact Man” by Colin Beavan. And both lead me to feel that we are on the right track with our lifestyle and could be doing more.

So I called the local farmer for goat milk today which is good on both accounts of being a more sustainable choice and being good for the bacteria in my intestines.

Speaking of which, I need to also put on more water kefir.

And now I shall go tend to this life instead of just writing about it. And you?

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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.

reading and living

I just finished two books on eating locally and am feeling inspired – and wanted to share that inspiration.

The first book I read was “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball. You can read more here: http://www.kristinkimball.com/

It’s about her first year on Essex Farm offering a year-round, full diet, CSA in Essex, NY. 500 acres; It made our ten acres feel very manageable and was a great read!

 

The second book was “The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)” by Robin Mather http://www.amazon.com/Feast-Nearby-marriage-preserving-bartering/dp/158008558X

It is essays and recipes from her first year alone in a cabin in Michigan. The recipes are great; we’ve already tried a few and they are solid (even with the tinkering that comes with being mostly gluten-free and mostly vegan). And I’m inspired to try more small-batch canning and staying on the freezing and drying- just to put a little bit of food away for the winter each week.

 

This week the bounty from the garden is arugula pesto! Yum.

I can’t give you exact amounts, but here is a very vague recipe for you (in order of amount included):

  • arugula (with dandelion greens, mallow, sorrel, parsley, and/or cilantro)
  • toasted sunflower seeds or walnuts or soaked almonds with the skins removed or pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • a splash of lemon or lime juice
  • salt
  • sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

put the whole mixture in a food processor and blend until you like the consistency (you can put the greens in a batch at a time and they’ll shrink down). To make it a bit crunchy, add the nuts at the very end.

 

We love to eat the pesto on pasta with stir fried veggies and on toast or flax crackers.

And to preserve, just put into a freezer-safe glass jar with a bit of head room and tuck it into the freezer.