Nutritious Spring Greens

In the spring, my garden is popping! The naturalized greens and herbs are all over the place. Nutritious delicacies are overflowing with vibrant life! We love to harvest these happy volunteers and delight our winter weary bodies with the cleansing taste of spring. We especially love the Mallow and Mustard that volunteer each spring. Both of these plants are naturalized after being brought over from overseas.

Mallow, also known as Cheeseweed for its leaf shape, is a mild laxative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory with soothing demulcent and expectorant properties than help to clear mucus from the body. No wonder it grows in spring! Originally sweetened with honey by the Egyptians, the mallow root derived mucilage was then later transformed into the French confection we know today as “the marshmallow.”

Mustard greens are rich in anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. Mustard boasts a wide variety of vitamin and minerals (B complex, A , C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and manganese), as well as, delicious flavor!

Crispy Green Chips

Spring Greens Chips

Spring Greens Chips

30 leaves of mustard greens and mallow leaves

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. Basil vinegar

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. oregano

Prepared Greens

Prepared Greens

1 tsp. marjoram

½ tsp. cayenne

Unbaked greens

Unbaked greens

1 tsp. seasalt or to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 300ᵒ.
  2. If necessary, gently rinse the leaves and spin dry. You can use other greens for this recipe (kale, chard, broccoli). If the center ribs are thick, be sure to remove them first.
  3. Pour oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to mix.
  4. Add the leaves and mix gently with your hands or a spatula until leaves are coated.
  5. Add the spices and repeat mixing.
  6. On a large baking sheet, lay a layer of parchment paper.
  7. Lay leaves individually onto the paper as flat as possible. A little overlap is okay, but keep it to a minimum.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
  9. When cool enough to touch, store chips in a paper towel lined large plastic container so they can lay flat.
  10. Repeat steps 7, 8 and 9 until leaves are finished baking.
Mallow

Mallow

Parsley

Parsley

Mustard

Mustard

fennel

fennel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another delicious spring garden staple in our home is the Spring Veggie Broth. This is a cleansing broth that includes any edible we currently have sprouting up in the spring. This recipe allows you to buy ingredients from the local farmer’s market, so you can have a similar version at home. The hijiki is a type of seaweed and adds minerals. Some people don’t like the flavor, so it is optional, and of course, doesn’t grow in the garden!

Spring Veggie Broth

Broth Veggies

Broth Veggies

veggie broth

Uncooked veggie broth

½ bunch of celery

1 large carrot

1 bunch of parsley

Top of large fennel bulb

1 small burdock leaf

1 medium-sized bunch of chard

1 onion, with peel

Mix of greens – amaranth, mallow, wild mustard, cleavers – about 3 cups

½ c. hijiki (optional)

  1. Prepare ingredients by washing and cutting into large pieces.
  2. Put all ingredients in a large soup pot. Cover with water.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit, covered for half an hour.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables. Keep anything you want to munch on (carrots and hijiki are especially good this way.)
  6. Enjoy!

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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


Cleaning Up My Act

As the New Year arrived, I was strongly aware of a heaviness in my body. Feeling stiffer than usual, symptoms that are usually occasional, small annoyances were talking to me more loudly. “Time to cleanse!” I told myself. So, I decided to go ahead and do that even though I prefer to do it in the spring. I just couldn’t wait to get started.

My first step was to focus on a lovely 7 Day Cleansing Feast that I got from the beloved Dr. Bill Kneebone, who passed away last year. I started the day with a cup of hot lemon water with cayenne 15 minutes before breaking my fast. Then breakfast, a full 8oz. of freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice. Topped off with a 1/2 lb. of fresh fruit – apples, pears, persimmons and 5 Tbsps. of cottage cheese.

Freely snacking on fresh fruits and veggies throughout the morning whenever I felt hungry. My biggest challenge was getting enough water in. The requirement is 12 large glasses a day. It’s more than it seems and in the first few days, I felt like I would wash away to sea. Make sure you actually drink this much or the toxins that are released during the cleanse will not get flushed out of your system properly!

Lunch was a lovely big salad with a mix of at least four fresh veggies – lettuce, kohlrabi, carrots, beets, anything seasonally fresh! Sprinkled with lemon or lime juice, olive oil and salt. This is so tasty, you won’t believe it. Alongside the salad goes a full 2 cups of freshly made vegetable broth.

Veggie Broth recipe: Please use organic vegetables, it’s very important!

1 bunch celery                             5 large carrots

Broth Veggies

1/2 bunch parsley                       1 bunch spinach

Cut the washed vegetables and place in a large soup pot with about 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until cool. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon. This photo shows onions as well which are not part of this cleanse.

Dinner consisted of 2 more cups of the delicious broth and a large plate of steamed vegetables topped with a small pat of butter. It’s important to avoid potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, legumes and meats on this cleanse. All other vegetables are fine. I especially enjoyed broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, carrots, kale, chard and beets.  It’s enough variety to stay enjoyable.

I must admit it was challenging for me to do in January. We were having an unusual cold spell that week and I found that I couldn’t stay warm as easily while on the cleanse. I only did it for 4 days instead of the usual 7. And I had to have a few handfuls of nuts each day, which is not usually allowed.

In my eagerness, I made the mistake of jumping right in. It’s best to change your diet gradually over a week or so to prepare for the full cleanse. Start by removing meats, grains and processed foods and sugars from your diet.Choose what to let go of first. Then each day remove something else. This will help you avoid the problems I had. Even so, it was worthwhile.

By the end of the first day, I was already feeling a difference in my stiffness. A few days later, my massage therapist said I was more mobile than usual. My muscles felt softer to her touch. After two days, I was truly enjoying the simple foods immensely and not having any cravings.

Here’s a lovely recipe I found in Sunset magazine for a tasty way to get your kale greens! I prefer cooked kale, so I steamed the kale first until wilted. It was so good I made it again and doubled the recipe. Yummy!

Kale Salad

Festive Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts

1/2 cup organic walnut halves or pieces

1 large bunch organic lacinto or dinosaur kale

1 organic orange

1/4 c. organic extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsps. orange juice (squeezed from half the orange)

1 1/2 Tbsps. lemon juice

unrefined sea salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c. organic dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place walnuts on baking sheet, and toast in oven 10 minutes, or until fragrant and crisp.

2. Wash kale, and pat dry. Remove center ribs, slice leaves into thins strips and place in large salad bowl.

3. Zest orange, and reserve fruit. Place orange zest, olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a cup or small jar, and mix.

4. Add cranberries and toasted walnuts to salad. Add dressing, and toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand on countertop at least 1 hour.

5. Peel rind from remaining orange and chop fruit into small pieces. Add to salad, and serve.

Kale Salad with Seabass with Mint Pesto and Aduki Beans

 

I’m continuing to eat lightly and have decided to slowly add back some grains and meats to my diet. I’m starting with fish and a little chicken or turkey. Baking my own gluten-free foods will also help to keep the process gradual.Check out my next post for some yummy gluten-free stuff I’m experimenting with.

 


April Garden Fun

This has certainly been one of the weirdest winter-spring times ever! It is raining again today and is supposed to continue all week. This is quite odd in my neck of the woods. The cats are certainly as confused as the plants. They keep sitting on the bench watching the rain. And then they come in the house and complain. Jade, especially, thinks I have magical powers to stop the rain so she can scamper around chasing bugs in the sun!

peach leaf rot

 

My beautiful little peach tree that Ofer grew from seed is suffering with this strange looking leaf rot that I have never seen before. I assume it is from these late rains. On the other hand, it has some lovely little peaches growing. Hopefully, the rains won’t ruin those too.

 

We spent the weekend working in the garden. The flowers continue to bloom creating a cacophony of color and beauty all around the garden! Lavendar, lilac, rosemary, California poppies, freesias, mustard and broccoli blooms, alyssum, blue-eyed grass, sweet peas are just a few…and the tulips are also starting to come up!

White Tulip

Alyssum

Lavendar blooms

Mustard and broccoli flowers

White Spanish lavendar blooms

Lilac and rosemary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

colorful freesias

Purple Freesias

Lavendar sweet peas

Blooming Pear

We decided to put out a codling moth trap in the pear tree this year as sometimes we find evidence of their presence in our pears. Hopefully, that will completely eradicate the minor problem that we have. Our apples used to also be affected by this moth, but have grown stronger and now don’t have any problems. Our pear tree is quite old so maybe it is just more vulnerable.

 

 

California Poppies

Blue-Eyed Grass

 

These California natives do beautifully in our yard. In fact, the poppies are volunteers and have found exactly where they like to be. They are more abundant each year and everyone compliments us on them. My neighbor asked me last night if he could get some to plant in his yard, too!

 

The lettuce is finally growing some too. I have had trouble with lettuce for some reason over the years, I guess because I have a very sun-filled, hot yard.

We’re making plans for a big garden this year. Ofer and Yo’el are building beds like crazy and we are planting lots of seeds – too many to list here. I’ll tell you all about it as we go along.

Baby romaine

spring beds

 

We were blessed with the help of friends on both days this weekend. Thank you to Anne, Tyler and Kathryn for all your help!

Here’s Kathryn taking a much deserved rest while I was watering at the end of the day. We spent the time pulling weeds, preparing spring beds for planting, planting strawberries, transplanting seedlings and harvesting the last of the winter vegetables that are still around. I made a lovely gratin with the fennel and today am making a quiche with the  spring onions. I love using them like leeks, caramelizing them and then adding herbs, eggs and cheese for a delicious golden quiche.

 

Brussels, Fennel and Parsnip Gratin

fennel

1# brussels sprouts, sliced

1 medium fennel bulb, sliced

1 medium parsnip, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, sliced

4 sun-dried tomato chicken sausages, sliced

1 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs – marjoram, oregano or winter savory

Olive oil

1 ½ c. parmesan cheese, grated

⅔ c. milk (goat, soy, almond or cow)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.
  2. Prepare vegetables and steam for 12 – 15 minutes until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, sausage and herbs in a little olive oil until lightly browned.
  4. Lightly oil the casserole dish.
  5. Layer the steamed vegetables on the bottom of the oiled casserole. Sprinkle half a cup of cheese over the vegetables.
  6. Spread the onion-sausage combo over the cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  7. Pour the milk over the top, spreading evenly.
  8. Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove the cover and bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad.

Enjoy!


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.)


Asian Cooking at Home

For years I told my family “No matter how good of a cook I become, Asian cooking will best be enjoyed in restaurants.” I thought that my unfamiliarity with the ingredients and the seemingly complicated cooking styles, were beyond my skills. Fast forward many years and the growth of one child, and I am experimenting with Asian cooking again. This time, I have a talented sidekick, Yo’el, who has an equal passion for food and Asian culture.

It all started years ago when we took a sushi making class – Yo’el was only 9 at the time. It was 3 hours of brutal work, though fun, when we tried the recipes at home, it was way too much work! Recently, though, we became inspired to try again. Yo’el took it upon himself to perfect the rice (with Ofer’s help) and now he has also perfected the rolling technique.

Washing Rice

Rice cooking with kombu

Prepped ingredients for sushi

Rolling sushi

 

We went on to exploring a large variety of types of sushi and chirashi (which is sushi ingredients served on a bowl of rice instead of in a roll). From using recipe books to recipes online to making up our own concoctions, we are now looking at restaurant menus and copying their ideas at home.

 

 

We make lemon mayonnaise sauce, eel sauce and sriracha sauce. All are great in combination with tuna, salmon, imitation crab, shrimp and more. Vegetables can be added too – carrot, umeboshi plum, avocado, spinach, cucumber, red bell pepper, mushroom, onion etc. Cream cheese is a great addition to many types of sushi. Here are some of the sushis we’ve made over the last few months:

naked Lion King roll

blanketed Lion King

Lion King piece

Butterflied Shrimp

naked Shrimp King roll

blanketed Shrimp King roll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

slicing sushi

making sauces

placing shrimp

sushi and seaweed salad

umeboshi spinach crab roll

Sesame Tofu Chirashi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last few weeks, we’ve turned our attention to Thai dishes. Thom Kha Gai (coconut chicken soup), Spicy Angel Wings, Volcano fish and chicken are all fun dishes that we tried with pretty good success. We’ve also been making a larger variety of Japanese dishes like teriyaki, seaweed salad, shabu shabu, miso soup and more. Mochi is a recent exploration – a very traditional Japanese dish. Most often known as an ice cream wrapping (see my next blog post on Ice Creams), I tried it as a savory dish just for fun!

Miso Wakame Vegetable Stew

Teriyaki Beef and vegetables

Spicy Angel Wings

Sesame Mochi on tray

 

I made the mochi, rolled it into balls and poked caramelized onion sausage meatball pieces into the center of the mochi. I placed them on an oiled tray and topped them with a sauce made of miso, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Baked them til golden and boy, were they good! Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Yum!

 

 

Though not specifically Asian, the current trend for making kale chips feels like another great way to eat healthy food! Ofer initially tried this dish with much success. We love to wander around the garden in early spring like this and collect the volunteers that are offering us their nutritious goodness! Mustard, Wild Mallow and others are a wonderful variation on kale for making chips. They’re not only tasty, they’re beautiful!

Here’s the recipe –

Kale Chips

unbaked green chips

crispy green chips

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash kale or other greens and spin dry. Cut out the center stems. I use kitchen scissors for this and it is quick and easy. Put greens in a large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil, cider vinegar and salt. Mix thoroughly. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Lay the greens flat on papered tray without overlapping. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove to a bowl or container to cool. Repeat until all greens are done. I reuse the same paper for a full batch, then throw it out.

Enjoy!


Winter is Coming, Holidays are Here

The weather has turned cooler. Beautiful, crisp air with a loving sun shining down upon us. Perfect weather for taking a long hike in the surrounding hills or weeding out the tiny grasses popping up between the broccoli in the garden. The brassicas love this weather and I hope it will provide an abundant crop this year. Tonight it’s supposed to get below zero, so watering the plants is a good way to keep them from damage.

As a no-fuss gardener, I won’t trouble myself to cover the citrus trees. Hopefully, they will be fine with a night of cold. I’ve planted them in such a way as to give them protection, so I imagine all will be fine as in previous years.

Most of the leaves have fallen now and a lovely carpet of red greets me at the front door. Finally, I felt it was best to sweep them aside to avoid tracking too many into the house.

This weather turns my mind to baking and soups for supper. Orders for our holiday baking sales are slowly coming in and lots of time is spent enjoying the smell of freshly baked cookies in the kitchen. If you are interested in putting in a holiday order, send me a note and I’ll take your order directly. Please note our Ordering Policies at the end of this section.

Here’s what we have available:

Midnight Moons (Gluten-free cookies)…………………$9/dozen   (Sweetened with molasses and honey) 

Tahini Moons (Gluten-free cookies)……………………….$8/dozen     (Sweetened with brown rice and maple syrups)

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies(1/2 pound)………….$5 each

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Silky Chocolate Pie…………………………………………………….$14 each

Regular or Gluten-Free Vegan (Sweetened with brown rice and barley malt syrups)

Silky Chocolate Pie

Chocolate Fudge…………………………………………….$4 / ½lb. ……$8/1 lb.

Chocolate Fudge with Walnuts.………………….$5 / ½lb…….$10/1 lb.

Fudge

Pure Vanilla Extracts:

Pure Mexican Vanilla – Grown in southern Mexico, Mexican vanilla is considered the highest quality. Its flavor is deep and sweet with a mild spice and is more subtle than the Madagascar. This vanilla is perfect in moderately flavored baked goods like chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, banana bread or muffins.                    2 oz. bottle $6, 4 oz. bottle $11

Pure Madagascar Vanilla – Often called Bourbon vanilla, the Madagascar vanilla is grown on the islands of Madagascar off the coast of Africa. This vanilla is earthy, sweet and richly flavored. We love this vanilla with chocolate everything – cookies, cakes, ice cream!
2 oz. bottle $5, 4 oz. bottle $9

Pure Tahitian Vanilla – This bean is lighter than the others with a fruity, floral flavor. Lovely drizzled over fresh fruit, added to yogurt, in lightly flavored baked goods like lemon bars, pie shells, dairy-free ice creams or sorbets.                 2 oz. bottle $4, 4 oz. bottle $7

Organic Tahini –  16 oz. $7, 8 oz. $4

 Ordering Policies: Order 5 – 7 days ahead of pickup date. Pickup on requested date with cash payment (we have change).

Egg Curry

Always looking for a variety of flavors to enjoy at the end of the day results in experimenting regularly with new foods. This week alone I am serving Japanese, Thai and Indian style meals for dinner.

Last winter, this egg curry was a delicious way to cook fresh eggs for a simple winter meal. Japanese soups are also wonderfully warming and filled with nutrition.  We like to add seaweed to a miso broth (Ofer has made a hearty red miso at home that is wonderful with little bits of soybean left in to bite into) for a simple addition to a quick meal.

Here’s a recipe from my cookbook that will definitely warm you up this season. This picture shows the different seaweeds in the soup. For a heartier flavor, use the red miso instead of white. Serve with some sushi for a complete meal.

Seaweed

Seaweed Soup

6 cups water 1 sheet nori seaweed
2” x 2” piece of kombu seaweed ½ sheet dried laver seaweed
2 small carrots, sliced 1 onion, in pieces (not chopped)
4 dried shiitake (black) mushrooms 1-2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
10 oz. firm silken tofu white miso, 1 tsp. per bowl
1 scallion, chopped (optional)

1. Put sesame oil in large soup pot.

2. Saute onion and celery in oil over med-hi heat for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add water and kombu, cut into small pieces.

5. Add mushrooms.

6. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat.

7.   Remove the mushrooms, take off and discard the stems, slice into thin strips and return

to the soup.

8. Cut tofu into small squares and add to the soup.

9. Fold nori in half, three times and cut into strips with scissors into the soup pot.

10. Cut the laver into small pieces over the soup pot.

11. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

12. To serve, put miso in individual bowl. Ladle a little broth into bowl and mix in miso.

13. Fill bowl with soup. Add scallions if desired.

Feel free to add more vegetables to make it a one pot meal. Kabocha, a Japanese squash, would be a great addition. And Turnip greens, an often overlooked item, are delicious in soups.

Kabocha Squash

Turnip Greens


Beauty Marvels in the Garden Every Season

The garden is such a charming place. As I walk around watering or just taking a look at what is growing I am continually amazed at the endless beauty of the garden. It is so different each season and yet, they are all fantastic! I couldn’t begin to say “This is my favorite season in the garden.” As the season unfolds, I find that I marvel anew at the beauty I find no matter which season it is!

The winter squashes are harvested and waiting to be enjoyed. We like to cut them off the vine and set them in the sun for a day or two to harden. Then into storage they go to await a delectable soup or roast veggie dish!

Winter Squash curing on a bench

A great recipe for Kabocha or Acorn Squash is to wash the outside of a large squash. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (save these for planting next year!). Place the squash skin side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drop a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of maple syrup into the opening. Bake at 375degrees for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft when pierced with a fork. A perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner!

Kabocha Squash

The broccoli we planted last spring is continuing to grow at an amazing rate. One of them is over 6 feet tall! The leaves are more than 12″ long. Strangely enough, we still don’t have heads on these plants. We can’t figure out why they aren’t producing flowers. I’ve watered them, fertilized them with manure tea, the weather is cooler now…..If you have any suggestions let me know. They are beautiful plants so we will just leave them be and see what happens next.

Foot long leaf

Our fall garden is popping with color. The light at this time of year is magnificent. The sunshine isn’t quite as bright and the colors stand out more readily from the background. From the pineapple sage blossoms to the lovely crape myrtle leaves,

Crape Myrtle carpet

the pyracantha berries and the hyssop flowers; the red chard is a deep, rich color after the cool evenings and the newly planted brassicas show a delightful variety of greens. Even the leaves on the geraniums are an interesting shade of purple and green from the cold!

 

 

One of the most beautiful plants we have at this time of year is the Persimmon tree. It’s at the back of the property so I have to go back there to admire it. It’s leaves display multi-colored contrasts showing off its beauty. You can see here how many shades of orange,  green and red are present in this glorious tree!

Glowing persimmon leaves

Golden persimmon leaves

Contrasting colors

 

 

 

 

 

Pyracantha berries

 

 

The pyracantha makes for a stunningly beautiful Thanksgiving arrangement for your table. Collect a few branches and arrange them artfully around a candle centerpiece or a collection of colorful pumpkins. Sprinkle colorful leaves randomly around and it will “Wow” your guests.

As you’re thinking about what to place on your Thanksgiving table, consider some of our freshly baked goods that are being offered through the Come and Get It feature of Sugi Garden. Here’s what’s available for ordering:

Midnight Moons

Midnight Moons (Gluten-free cookies)…………………$9/dozen

(Sweetened with molasses and honey)

Tahini Moons

Tahini Moons (Gluten-free cookies)……………………….$8/dozen

(Sweetened with brown rice and maple syrups)

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies (1/2 lb.)………….$5 each

 

 

 

 

 

Silky Chocolate Pie

 

Silky Chocolate Pie…………………………………………………….$14 each Regular or Gluten-Free Vegan

(Sweetened with brown rice and barley malt syrups)

Fudge

Chocolate Fudge…………………………………………….$4 / ½lb. ……$8/1 lb.

Chocolate Fudge with Walnuts…………………..$5 / ½lb…….$10/1 lb.

Contact me to order 5 – 7 days before pickup. Only local people. No shipping.

To be notified of produce and food products for sale through Sugi Garden, join the weekly bulletin!

 

 


Come and Get It – The Raccoons Did!

For the past few weeks we have been feeling like our garden is a smorgasboard for the raccoons! Every morning when we get up, there are numerous areas in the yard that have been poked through, dug up and disturbed. The seedlings that have accidentally been left in their watering tubs have been thoroughly destroyed by curious (and hungry!) animals.

Seedlings in watering tub

We haven’t caught them in the act, per se, but we have heard many squealing noises during the night. Only a few nights ago, Ofer saw some adolescent raccoons roughhousing in the dirt! So, on a daily basis we have been rescueing our neatly planted beds so that we have some tasty produce in a few months. Most of it is safe and growing happily!

Some of the beds we surrounded with old fencing to protect them and they are growing well, but it is hard to get in there to weed. Oh, well! The good news is that the season is full of crisp mornings and beautiful days. Our baby seedlings are growing strong and starting to look like they’ll make it.

volunteer zucchini

We’ve even gotten some volunteers popping up and the volunteer zucchini from the summer is still going strong.

Red Mustard

Young Calabrese Broccoli

 

The Red Mustard is a volunteer that we get each year and is a most beautiful and tasty plant. The Red Mustard has a little bit of spice in its flavor and  is enjoyable in soups, stews and vegetable broths.

Fall fruits have their own personality and I find that as the weather turns I begin to crave them. Persimmons, pears and apples, fresh from the garden, cut into a fruit salad and topped with cottage cheese or yogurt makes for a healthy, yummy breakfast in the fall!

Fuyu Persimmons

The colors in the garden are definitely shifting and the glorious fall colors are showing themselves. Yes, even in sunny California the colors are beautiful in the fall! You can plant your garden to reflect this quite easily. The crape myrtle trees seen here alongside a pyracantha bush

Pyracantha

provides a lovely fall backdrop. Pineapple sage is a lovely way to add red in the fall garden and keep feeding those hummingbirds!

Pineapple Sage

We decided to let the basil flower this year in the hopes of collecting seeds for next spring. It is quite beautiful when blooming so it is a welcome addition to the fall garden.

flowering basil

We  are now offering “Come and Get It!” a weekly bulletin that will announce the produce and food-related items available for purchase. The bulletin will include valuable information about the crops currently ready from the garden and recipes for you to enjoy. We will happily include recipes that you would like to share with others. If you live in the Pleasant Hill, CA area and would like to enjoy our garden-fresh foods, you can sign up through the link on the sidebar to the right.


Why Bother?

I was out in the garden yesterday morning (what a gorgeous fall day!) and as I was digging a hole to plant the fennel,

fennel

I found myself thinking, “Why do I bother to do all of this out here?” As I paused to give my back a break, I looked around at all we’ve accomplished this fall. I took in the sweet little plants that are starting to peek out of the soil and heard the cluck, cluck, cluck of the chickens next to me. A deep breath filled me…. Such a blessing to be part of the rhythm of life. My eyes move across the garden, taking in the incredible abundance and growth surrounding me.

baby romanesco broccoli

Turnip seedlings

So, why do I bother? I realize, yet again, that this sanctuary is not only a place of physical labor. It is also a place of inspiration and comfort.The food that I grow sustains me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined without experiencing it.

onions and squash

In the busyness of our lives, it is easy to become disconnected from the cycles of the seasons. The excessive amount of food in the grocery stores woos us into the feeling that we can have anything at anytime. The cost of this excess is hidden by colorful displays, bright lights and happy music.

When I get caught up in this frantic energy of modern life, I have the garden sanctuary to embrace me. Simply walking out

into the garden, smelling the humus of the soil, watching the chickens or the cats at play all bring me back to myself and what is important in my life. The cats are wonderful examples for me. They move around busily for short bursts of time and the stop and watch to see what is the next step. Putting my hands into the soil, so hard to resist, brings me deeper into myself and my inherent connection to what surrounds me – the bigger aspects of life.

Following the natural cycles of the seasons teaches us the true order of life. As people our lives mimic the garden’s rhythms even when busyness keeps us from seeing it happening. If you look back across the years of your life, you can see periods of growth just like a young plant, times of flourishing that bring a feeling of having bloomed in spring. In the fullness of our lives, there is a feeling of productivity and accomplishment – of bearing succulent summer fruit – juicy and ripe. We reap a harvest every time a goal comes to fruition or we reach the end of a chapter. In the autumn of life, there can be feelings of melancholy and letting go, just as a tree lets go of its leaves each year.

Perhaps you can remember a moment in life when everything was at a standstill, waiting for seeds to sprout – a new direction in life, growth. This is a dark time, a time of quiet and reflection, like winter. This winter-like experience has a purpose in our lives, just as it does in nature. Without these times of quiet dormancy, there would be no integration and rejuvenation. The spurts of growth that come following times of dormancy set the stage for the harvest that is reaped further on. And on and on it goes…

Here’s a recipe from my cookbook for you to enjoy the fall harvest.

Delicious Delicata Squash Barley Soup

2-3 cups delicata squash, peeled and cut in squares                            6 small-medium carrots, shredded

½ head green cabbage, chopped                                                                 ½ daikon radish, shredded

1 cup barley                                                                                                      2 stalks celery, chopped

handful of wakame seaweed                                                                        1 tsp. Dried orange peel

6-7 cups water

Place water in large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Add barley, turn down to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Add vegetables after barley cooking time is done. Simmer another 20 minutes. Add orange peel. Turn off heat. Serve after five minutes.