Living in Sync with Nature

What does it mean to be living in sync with nature?  Is it something only the wise-woman knows? Is there a way to begin to ascertain the feeling of nature? The busy rush, rush of modern life has had a profound impact on our  ability as individuals to feel connected with the earth, our food, our selves. Here are some descriptions of what each season may feel like:

Spring can be soft and gentle. Filled with hope, the person who is in sync with spring is open and flowing will manifest spring energy through tapping into creativity. This person is bursting forth with enthusiasm for what is coming next. On the other hand, a person stuck in spring is blowing irritation around and repeatedly starting over, without getting traction to move forward.

Baby purple cabbage

Baby purple cabbage

Narcissus

Narcissus

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Oxalis in spring

Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Love

Bee Love

 

Being in sync with summer means moving in and out of the varied aspects of summer’s moods. Sinking willingly into the quiet, drowsy parts of the day and then, jumping up into activity as the heat wanes and energy bubbles up again.  An out of control summer person is constantly going and going, sending out hot rays of forced sunshine.

 

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Sweet, silent fall.

 

The person in sync with fall is able to feel deeply the wounds of humanity and still have an open heart, filled with compassion for all of life. When the quality of fall is in balance, there is a sense of awe about life. A person stuck in fall is filled with eternal grief, needing to let go and unable to gain fruition or completion.

 

 

 

Blue moonscape

Blue moonscape

Being in sync with winter is expressed by intentionally going inside to feel and observe the deepest elements of oneself. A profound peacefulness is found in the darkest recesses of the soul. It is a peace that can be pulled forward during times of lack, bringing warmth to the inner fire to keep it burning strong until spring. The person stuck in winter is cold, removed, feeling blue, internal and lethargic.

Come to the Sugi Garden to experience the qualities of spring that are bursting forth. Through this experience of spring, you will learn how to get in touch with the natural rhythms of life.

We will explore some simple processes of self-inquiry that will bring your inherent joy to the surface and transform the way you live. As a result, you will become more in sync with nature, deepening your awareness of body, mind and soul.

Join me for a two hour workshop offered by Sustainable Contra Costa. Register at sustainablecontracosta.org. Look for the Sustainable Living Workshop Series.

Sunday, March 13

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

$25


More Gluten Free Fun

My experiments with gluten free baking have been continuing for weeks. It is not as challenging as I would have thought, though, the hardest part is consistency of results. Using yeast has always been a tough one for me. I don’t understand it very well, and I find that the need for exacting measurements and temperatures can make it hard for me to succeed. I’m finding, though, that with a little patience and persistence, even gluten free baked goods with yeast are worthwhile.

After the pizza, I moved on to sweets. I love brownies and my husband made some wheat based brownies that smelled delicious. So, I pulled out my gluten free flours and had a stab at it myself. I started with a recipe I found online. It used a base of coconut flour, which, to my taste, was too strong. The coconut flavor overruled the brownie taste and I found that disappointing.

Next time around, I decided to replace the coconut flour with mochiko – sweet rice flour. I had a bunch in my cupboard from experimenting last summer with making ice cream mochi. In addition, I had some leftover silken tofu in the frig, and I know that makes a lovely pudding style topping.

Mixing brownies

Mixing brownie batter

silky chocolate pudding

Silky chocolate pudding top

The brownies are moist, a tiny bit cakey, and quite a deep chocolate flavor. I’m quite pleased with the result.

Gluten Free Brownies with Silky Chocolate Pudding Top

½ c. butter, melted

¾ c. cocoa powder

3 eggs

¼ c. water

½ c. maple syrup

½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. Madagascar vanilla

½ c. mochiko (sweet rice flour)

GF brownie slice

GF brownie slice

pudding top brownies

Pudding top brownies

Silky Chocolate Pudding:

9 oz. silken tofu, firm

1 Tbsp. vanilla almond milk

½ tsp. Madagascar vanilla

1 Tbsp. honey

⅓ c. chocolate chips

1.     Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.

2.    Melt butter and stir in cocoa powder. Set aside.

3.     Beat eggs, maple syrup, salt, baking powder, water and vanilla.

4.     Add melted butter/ cocoa mix.

5.     Add flour and whisk until smooth.

6.     Spread evenly into an oiled 8×8” pan.

7.     Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. Cool.

8.    Prepare pudding by putting all ingredients, except chocolate in a mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly with a hand blender until silky smooth.

9.     Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir melted chocolate into tofu blend and mix thoroughly.

10.  Spread evenly onto cooled brownies.

The brownie success led me to “graham” crackers. I’ve been making real graham crackers for my pies and they are simply delicious. The gluten free pie crusts I make are good, but not the same style as a graham cracker crust. So, I thought, there’s got to be a way to get a similar quality with gluten free flours. And I succeeded! The secret is to use a little almond flour to get the texture of the graham flour. Now, I can offer a gluten free “graham” cracker crust for my pies.

GF graham dough

GF graham cracker dough

GF graham crackers

GF graham crackers

 

Another cracker that I like to make at home on occasion is one I found in the New Farm Cookbook, an old whole foods style cookbook from the ’70’s. There’s a Cheezy Cracker recipe that gets its cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast and they’re quite addictive! I didn’t think to take any pictures of these when I made the gluten free version, but I’ll have you know, that my family loved them so much I had to practically fight them off to get my share!

 

 

On the savory gluten free journey, I discovered that I could also make pasta. This seemed like a daunting task that actually was quite simple.  I found a recipe online again and made a few minor changes to the flour mix. A lot of these recipes use large amount of tapioca flour which doesn’t sit well in my stomach. It also ends up being too much like white bread, so I adjust the recipes to include other flours like teff, brown rice, millet or sorghum for a heartier flavor.

stroganoff sausage noodles

Stroganoff sausage with GF egg noodles

 

I didn’t roll the dough out thinly enough on the first try, but the flavor was good and made for a delicious meal with Sausage Beef Stroganoff Sauce with Gluten Free Egg Pasta. A side of steamed broccoli made it a perfect meal.

 

 

 

I’ve been making a melt in your mouth marinated salmon (gravlox). I love to have lox on bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes or blended into a spread. I make my own spread and enjoy it with rice crackers and salad for a healthy lunch, but really miss having bagels. So, I decided to have a go at making gluten free bagels.

homemade lox with capers

Homemade lox with capers

 

As before, I had trouble with the yeast activating properly, so these bagels didn’t turn out that well. They look pretty good, but instead of being a little fluffy with their chewiness, they turned out heavy and dense. That is because the yeast didn’t do it’s thing. They are edible, and even better with the lox spread.

Next time I will use a different mix of flours so they have a heartier quality. I may combine the two online recipes I have to get the best effect.

bagels before baking

GF bagels before baking

garlic onion asiago bagel

Garlic onion asiago bagel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Come and Get It!

Our garden has been sustainably worked for 22 years. Even before us, the owners gardened organically. No use of sprays or pesticides of any kind. We have continued that tradition. We are quite pleased that this is the quality of soil that we have here. The legal term of “organic” these days requires only three years of clean use (and lots of money to governmental orgs for the privilege of using the term).

This year we have an abundance of pears, grapes, basil, figs, rosemary and other goodies in the garden.

The chickens are laying quite well right now, too, so we have some extra eggs.

We would like to invite you to come over on Sunday, September 11 between 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

to buy some delicious late summer crops. Bring your own bags for carrying.

First Come, First Serve.

                                                                        

Rosemary Chicken

Here’s a wonderful way to use fresh rosemary.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Rub olive oil and salt generously inside and out of a roasting chicken. Put a clean sprig (this is a stick about 4 – 5 inches long) of fresh rosemary, a whole lemon (cut in half), and a large clove of garlic inside the cavity. Place in a roasting pan and cover. Bake for 2 hours. You can roast this even more slowly by turning the oven down to 225 degrees and bake for 3 1/2 hours.

Fantastic served with a grain and a salad. Use leftover chicken for chicken salad with walnuts, celery and grapes. YUM!

Garden Basil

Pear Picking