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!

 

 


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.