Broccoli Delight

The garden has been slow to develop this winter. Now that it is definitely spring, I am finding more growth and response. I love the way the flowering bulbs pop their heads up early showing promises for the coming glory.

At this time of year, I have a sideyard full of oxalis providing delicious lemon yellow color all day long. The tantalizing scent of narcissus is filling the house. Intoxicating!

narcissus and calendula

While today the first, and most fragrant, of the freesias (the yellow ones) are opening to fill the air with their own lovely fragrance.

yellow freesias

The broccoli I planted last spring (what’s still standing of it) is finally offering us baby broccoli to put in the salad. The “winter” crop of broccoli is also finally giving us something to eat. This year we discovered that the greens are as tasty as the heads. They provide a delicious and nutritious option to chard, kale or cabbage.

 

 

purple baby broccoli

garden greens

 

The hearty mustard is with us this at this time of year also. Mustard is my favorite of the naturalized plants. Though many people don’t like them as they are not truly “native”, I enjoy the happy yellow mustard blossoms. And their greens are delicious! Nothing like wandering out in the yard and picking fresh mustard greens to add to a dish. It’s only available for a limited time each year and that makes it doubly precious. Come and get some in the next week while they’re still around!

 

 

The garlic chives are doing quite well also. I’ve tried for years to grow onion chives with little success. For some reason, I always get aphids on them and they die. So, I’m very please that the garlic chives are doing well!

garlic chives

When I have vegetables in the garden, I love to peruse my cookbooks (yes, actual books!) and find recipes to make featuring what’s fresh. One of my favorite cookbook authors is Mollie Katzen. I found a recipe that I hadn’t tried before in her Moosewood Cookbook. It’s called Warm Salad. I love the use of the fresh greens mixed with the other vegetables. I added my baby purple broccoli  and some broccoli leaves instead of the escarole. You can see how gorgeous the broccoli is after its cooked. It starts out purple and turns a bright green with cooking! I used my spring onions instead of leeks and it was delicious. Here’s the recipe from the book:

warm salad

           Warm Salad

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small bunch escarole, chopped

1 medium bunch red or green chard, chopped

8 large napa or savoy cabbage leaves, chopped

2 cups chopped mustard greens

 

1 – 2 tsp. salt                                                                  1 stalk celery, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced                                   1/2 small cauliflower, chopped

2 medium leeks, chopped                                           3 Tbsp. balsamic or wine vinegar

2 cups red onion, chopped                                          6 Tbsp. or more parmesan

3/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced                                         fresh black pepper

1) Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large wok or deep skillet. Add the escarole, chard, cabbage and mustard greens, a little at a time, salting lightly after each addition, and adding more greens as soon as the ones in the pot cook down enough to make room. Use a fairly intense level of heat under the pot, and stir as you cook. When all the greens are wilted and tender, stir in the garlic. Cook and stir just a minute or two more, then transfer to a platter.

2) Add the remaining oil to the wok or skillet, and when it is hot add leeks, onion, mushrooms, celery and cauliflower (I added the broccoli here). Salt lightly, and stir-fry quickly over medium-high heat until just tender (about 5-8 minutes). Add to the platter, mix gently to incorporate the greens and sprinkle with vinegar and parmesan while still hot. (I put the greens back in the pan to mix. Then I had each family member take a serving and sprinkle their own vinegar and cheese individually. That way, the leftovers can be reheated and taste fresh tomorrow.)


Loved by Nature

The day is overcast and I find myself feeling a bit restless. This is “earthquake season” in California. That time of year when the weather begins to turn. The deep quiet can often be a sign of an earthquake on the way. It’s still dry from the baking heat of  Indian summer and the threat of destructive fires surrounds us in this dry land.

When I’m restless, and perhaps a bit melancholy, I find myself wandering around the garden. Just being there I find myself feeling better. More connected, more comfortable even with my odd mood. The chickens were in their nesting boxes and so there weren’t eggs yet to collect.  As I spent time over the weekend planting fall vegetables and flowers, I decided to sprinkle some alyssum seeds in a bed that could use some lightening and color.

alyssum

As I was collecting the soil to pour on top and complete my little project, I noticed the old stump that has been sitting next to the soil pile all summer long. My heart became light as I saw the message that nature had given me. Love. That’s all there is to it.

Heart stump

Whether you are feeling low or overly busy with life, there are many ways that nature will offer her gifts to you.

A few years back, when I was at my Flower Essence certification training in Nevada City, I had an epiphany! I realized that a wonderful way to improve my garden and the benefits for everyone who enjoys it was to plant more of the flowers that I use in my Flower Essence Therapy work with clients.

I already knew that I felt a burst of joy whenever I had Borage blooming in the garden. So, I decided to look around and see what else would do well in my yard. As a flower essence, Borage brings uplifting joy, courage and optimism.

Borage

I found quite a number of flowers blooming throughout the year that are useful for Flower Essence Therapy (for more information, go to my website www.SugiHealth.com). Nicotiana is a wonderful helper in the garden for getting rid of insect pests. As a flower essence remedy,  Nicotiana or Flowering Tobacco brings heart-centered peace as it gets rid of numbness and offers a deep connection with the Earth.

Chocolate Nicotiana

Echinacea is a well-known herb that is also used as a cut flower. Echinacea flower essence offers recovery from soul-wrenching traumas by restoring the soul’s true self-identity and dignity.

Echinacea

Love Lies Bleeding is an amaranth that is used in the garden as a cut flower and for it’s delicious leaves that serve as a green similar to chard. This flower offers a feeling of compassion for the trials of pain and suffering that we experience. Understanding our own pain gives us the ability for self-love and compassion for everyone.

Love Lies Bleeding

Some of the usual kitchen herbs that we grow in the garden are also used as beneficial flower essences. For example, Rosemary is helpful for bringing warmth into the physical experience, creating a stronger connection to the body. This is useful for people who are often forgetful, hypoglycemic or spacey.

Rosemary

Sage brings out the inner wisdom that has been received through life experiences, giving us meaning and purpose.

Sage

Nasturtiums are a great companion plant for the garden and a tasty addition to salads. These flowers bring us into a healthier balance when the intellectual forces are overused. This over-intellectualizing quality can be cold and disconnected from the emotions. Nasturtium flower essence gives warmth and vitality to this otherwise cold experience.

Nasturtiums

Another lovely cut flower is the Cosmos. Often found in a whimsical cottage garden, the Cosmos flower is just dancing with joy. Cosmos flower essence brings clarity of expression and ease of spoken communication.

Cosmos

Sunflowers

 

The sunflower is a valuable flower for any garden. It has edible seeds for us to enjoy and brightens everyone’s day. It’s beauty is unlike any other flower. The bees and birds love it equally. In flower essence therapy, the Sunflower brings balance to those with low  or inflated self-esteem – often due to an unhealthy relationship with the masculine. A great healer for men and women alike.

 

 

Sweet Peas are the darlings of the garden. Also a great cut flower it will give you more blossoms the more you cut it. In the flower essence world, the Sweet Pea helps us to develop a deep commitment to community, to find the place in the world that is “home”.

Lavendar Sweet Peas

Bleeding Heart is a gorgeous plant that loves the shade and will make a lovely addition to any garden. It’s beauty shines forth as a flower essence that offers open-heartedness and the ability to love unconditionally. Bleeding heart helps to heal heartache and grief.

Bleeding Heart

Calendula, like Cosmos, brings help to spoken communication. By bringing warmth to our words, Calendula helps to heal relationships, ridding us of argumentative, cutting qualities.

Calendula

The Iris is a classic beauty in the garden. As a flower essence, Iris inspires us, creatively infusing our souls with vitality and color.

Iris

Some new flowers that I will be planting that are from the flower essence repertoire are: Tansy, Self- Heal, Snapdragon, Sticky Monkeyflower, Shasta Daisy, Agrimony, Centaury, Evening Primrose, Chamomile, Goldenrod, Blackberry and others. Hopefully, they will bloom beautifully so I can capture their images to share with you in the summer.