farm lunch: spring confetti

 

french breakfast radish, carrots, chard, kale, farm lunchToday’s lunch.

I have been calling this mixture here–french breakfast radishes, spring carrots, rainbow chard and kale (three varieties today–purple and green lacinato, plus red russian), plus the beets before we ate them all–my confetti vegetables.  They are the bulk of what we are harvesting, besides lettuces, and so it is this combo cooked with loads of coconut oil, green garlic, and green onions, and served with a little something–poached eggs and pork today–for one of our meals, then a hearty salad, with a little meat, for the other.

This, plus eggs, for breakfast, everyday.  Simple stuff.

It would seem redundant, perhaps, if it weren’t so pretty.  Or if I didn’t feel like I was having a little party on my plate each day with all these colors.  Or, perhaps, if tender, fresh, spring vegetables weren’t so damn good.

We round it all out with peas and strawberries, and even early ripe raspberries, for snacks, al fresco.

Recipes come in all shapes and sizes.  This spring, each meal I cook has three main ingredients–fresh, simple, and beautiful.  It strikes just the right chord of this season.

Topped with a dash of love, each day, and we are filled.

Eating with your heart

heart-beetbig heart-beetBe still, my heart.

After seeing those pictures that come and go on the internet showing the correlation between the way food looks and the part of the body it is especially good for if eaten, I often find myself doing the same when I look at food.  When I saw this giant beet, the result of what we now know is the miracle of growing food under plastic in spring, new to us this year but quite nice as it turns out after all the hemming and hawing that took place deciding to bring this into our farming picture, my first thought was that it looked like a heart.  That I should eat it, right then, for my heart.

True, or not, we sliced this beauty up and roasted the whole thing, and I did end up eating almost it all myself, right then, since not everyone on this farm loves roasted beets like I do.  And I did feel that my heart was filled, in more ways than one.

The little boy wanted to help slice it, not easy since beets are pretty solid pieces of root food, but we pretended.  We had fun.  We looked at the surprising inside design of this heirloom variety.  We marvelled, together.  I took photos.  Our oldest boy, my visual artist, took photos too.   And my mind strung together thoughts.  Theories on feeding your family well and with joy, and on the need for a healthy, loving approach to food, free from fear.  I played with words, with phrases like, eating with you heart and food for your heart-beet.

beets, heirloom, seasonal eating, local foodbeets, heirloom vegetables, seasonal eating, local foodBut in my heart, I know that modern day diet theories are a sticky issue.  One I prefer to stay out of, mostly, besides shout outs about the obvious things, like DOWN WITH MONSANTO!  Truly, though, I lament the fact that it is all so complicated.  Complicated, more than anything, by the fact that there is a whole food industry that many of our human kin rely on to feed themselves that appears to care nothing at all about really feeding us.   A food industry that not only appears to not care about that seemingly significant idea in regards to food, but also doesn’t seem to care that they are quietly (and sometimes loudly) making us and the land and all the other creatures around us sick instead.  And for so many of us, sick and wanting to feel better, or simply fed up with eating from the hands that bind us, look around for something better.  A little blind, we seek and grasp for a way, but we are not really sure what that is because that ship has long since sailed.  We have lots of ideas, but lots of them are different from each other.  And so much fear surrounds us because of this, fear of eating the wrong way, that we still don’t eat the right way because we feel confused, unsure, and mabye not better.  And to hope to fix this broken machine seems mildly hopeless, making it all the worse.

I have my own theories for my own family, but I like to keep them as such, theories.  They work for us and stem from our own personal experience with our own personal bodies and health.  I know what makes me sick, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well as what makes my children’s bodies out of whack, and their minds and spirits.  We come from a long line of food allergies and we have our own set of things to consider.  So, we do.

As should we all.

But getting to that point, the point of knowing what works for you and what doesn’t, of where and how to source the food that will really feed you the best, personally, isn’t easy.  And so, to say you should eat with your heart doesn’t really work at all for most of us, unless we have already cleared a lot of the post-modern cobwebs out from inside, and can hear, loudly enough, that beating vessel for what it wants to tell us.

What to do?

Thinking about this mess, it struck me that we do, indeed, have something we can all agree on, something we can all do without fear or worry or confusion.  That the easiest, simplest, truest thing that can be said about eating and thriving and feeding ourselves well and whole, without complication, is this–eating fresh, bright, and beautiful vegetables, in abundance, is the right place to start. 

Whether you plant your own small (or large) garden and eat your own harvests, or you head to a farmer’s market, easy to find these days, and eat the harvests of other farmers like us, or even if you just go to the regular market and look for the brightest, most beautiful, and fresh looking produce you can find and bring it home, this is the place to start.  Eat them, everyday in every way. This is a powerful and fulfilling way to eat no matter anything else.

Or so my heart and head decided, stewing about this all, beet in hand and then in tummy, the other day.  I know, without a doubt, that this food feeds the whole me.  And the whole you probably wants a bite of this beauty too,  this vibrant, healthy, uncomplicated, sweet kind of food.  There is little bad you can say about the humble vegetable class.  Besides the sometimes unpleasant flavor of less than fresh broccoli, it is all good.  This, I feel sure about, even in a time when sure is hard to come by.  So.

Eat Your Veggies!  With love.

beets, radish, carrot, spring food, local food, seasonal eating

moving forward in a circle

into the unknownWe are one week away from the start of our summer farmer’s market season.  We have been so steadily putting one foot in front of the other this spring, getting ready for this stretch of the year, these next 20-30 weeks or so, our “main” season here on the farm, and now that it is just one week away, of course, we are feeling not steady at all but instead just rushed, rushed, rushed.  Those gooseberries I wrote about that never got weeded are nearly giving me nightmares, they have all but disappeared underneath the bindweed.  And the strawberry patches we hope to be harvesting from in the next few weeks are playing hide and seek in some knee high grass. 

Oh, the adventures of it all!

We are fairly used to this routine by now, seven years in, but that doesn’t mean we can always control our feelings of ineptitude when we encounter, even repeatedly, the sheer force of the wild world.  With a leftover sore throat caught from the children, today I feel it overtime.  Today, I dream about the many hired hands we could use if only we could afford to hire them.  I dream of a week straight of childcare so that I can get ahead.  I dream of the sleepy feel of winter. 

So silly!

Life on the farm truly is about routines and cycles, and as such is fairly predictable, at least in general, even if it is not in the particular.  Those things change every season, and are always a mystery we have to watch unfold as we go.  But the cycle remains the same. 

Every year, at least once at this time of year, we will feel overwhelmed.  Some years it is the weather, the waiting for the land to dry.  Some years, it is the planting and keeping things going in the ground on schedule.  Some years it is the money and do we have enough right now when we spend it the most. 

And this year, I swear, it is the weeds. 

I walk the farm with the babe of a boy on my hip and worry about getting some air to our perennial fruits.  And I can’t seem to catch up.  And everywhere I look I see another thistle or burdock or hemlock plant that needs to be knocked down before it blooms.  I sigh and let the one rainy day in this month, today, comfort me with rest while I make the lists that will keep us moving forward.

Then, tomorrow, I will set out again, one step at a time, moving towards this unattainable goal of getting to all those weeds.  With or without reaching it, just like every year, I know that soon the summer will fully set in and we will be back in the swing of it all.  We always “catch up” eventually.  We always move from this kind of busy to the harvesting kind of busy, all fun and full, hearts raised and beating hard, out in the sun while it lasts.

The farm is always moving, both in a forward-upward motion, as well as in a circle.  Kind of like life.  The path it takes always leads somewhere good, even though it is not always right on target or 100% predictable.  We start a farming season in all possibility, all hope.  Then, inevitably, we get a bit waylaid for a while in the weeds, until we emerge and find that once again, everything is again.  Even more than okay.  We find that just like every year, it is bursting in greatness.  We find ourselves swimming in the river on hot summer afternoons, staying up late not just working but playing by the bonfire, wishing on twinkling stars.  We find ourselves blissfully breathing easy again, while the land provides, ever abundantly.

I could almost say that it happens with or without us, and that would almost be true.  The earth provides.  It cycles, on and on, ever and always.  But we did, and do, a lot in order to receive this fecundity year after year.  This, we must always remember, no matter what kind of spring craze we are feeling. 

This, we must remember, no matter if we feel a bit like we are still at the bottom of the staircase of the year.  Because all of us, most likely, have been doing the work we need to do, moving forward on the journey, even when we are at that point when we can’t exactly see it.  Perhaps a few steps more forward, even with a blindfold on, will lead us up and into the light.

Gathering the last bits of summer and the freshest bits of fall

Now two weeks ago, after turning what ended up being my last large harvest of ripe tomatoes from the canning garden into salsa, I dashed down to our lower field to see if I could find a few more tomatillos to turn into my favorite tongue plucking, smother your eggs in the morning, salsa verde to tuck away for the winter.  The harvest was scant, I got only three pints more in the end.

In fact, I kind of thought I would be gathering all kinds of the last bits of summer during that harvest.  Maybe I would find a little more zucchini to shred for the freezer, some last beans from the rows the farmer was done harvesting from to pickle.  I was still in the throes of preserving summer for winter and the squirrel in me was working hard.  But really, there just wasn’t much left.  And just like that, the summer crops of my own, grown for putting up in the winter were frozen or rain split and the crops here were bare or past their prime.

What I did gather that day, aside from that small bit of tomatillos, was broccoli raab and a few different Asian greens for our plate that night.  You see, although the earth is on its way to the dying part of the year and the summer plants are on their way to decaying, the color of autumn eating here s a luscious, healthy, happy green color and the taste kind of has a bite like those sour tomatillos.

These crops are so beautiful right now.  Well before the hardest weather of winter leaves them a bit tattered and thick skinned and some of their heat and bite in flavor turns to sugars to protect them from the cold, they are incredibly tender and bright and mouth waking right now.  This “new” growth, while so many other crops are looking so much the worse for wear and a farm and garden are looking bedraggled and worn, kind of brightens both the fields and the kitchen.  Shines in its own unique fall green kind of way.

In all things, a silver lining?

As autumn falls upon us

The weather outside changed so abruptly this weekend.  The long, dry, warm, and beautiful fall–that was kind of like summer–weather we’ve been having turned to pretty rainy rain just like that.  Friday we kindled our first fire of the season.  Sunday we hosted our fall farm potluck/open farm inside the house instead of outside around a bonfire.  Even though the dust from other farmers’ bare, tilled fields was enough to make me wish for some wet weather, in the end it actually seemed harder to take after so many especially wonderful days in October.  Running errands in the rain was a bit of a downer, but the cozy feeling that is beginning to return to the house, a space so empty in the outdoor days of summer, is really nice.  I am ready to move into fall, rain and all.

But with autumn coming, I can’t help but also start to take stock of a year nearing its end.  I have been going through both my written and mental to do lists for 2012 to see what I did accomplish that I meant to, what I didn’t and won’t, and most importantly what matters to me to still get done before January.  Many of the things on my list found a way to the light, although the fiddle and piano completely eluded me and will, I think, till the bell drops on this year.

Not on that written list above but on my mind all year was the need to start taking some yoga classes again, and sadly not a one have I attended.  Thankfully, a CSA member brought up a series of deep restorative classes that she will be teaching from October through December and I think that is just the right way to begin.  This was part of a general “take care of yourself mama” feeling that permeated my own personal goals for the year, and although the yoga hasn’t happened yet (and the coffee still floweth forth), I did get myself out running in the spring and gardening and farming a lot this summer.  And since there was less of that, like usual, after the baby was born, it felt really good to do so much work in the dirt this summer.  It really hit me how much that makes my heart sing.

Maybe I’ll start running again now that the garden work is pretty much done for the year.  I do prefer being out in the cloud and cool for that kind of activity.  I may make the switch to tea soon, may, now that there is more a sense of waking up slowly, without so much work to be done in a day.  There are still four busy children to face, but this is the time for sitting on the couch and reading, reading, reading.  Sweet and relaxed.  I just might be able to manage a few groggy mornings.

As far as tasks go, a lot of home projects were accomplished this summer, but the kitchen remodel is hopefully still to come during winter.

I also feel ambivalent about my goal to make a rag rug; the truth is I want the rag rug, but I don’t necessarily want to make the rag rug.  I really just want to work on knitting, I’ve missed it this summer.  It was a summer with little sitting and I am over the moon to have that kind of time again.

And although there was no canoe, we did borrow a raft and take it out on our magic mountain lake this summer.   We spent countless hours at the river, we made sure to make time for that.  True weekends in the summer still eluded us, but they are already back with the turning of the seasons, maybe that will just always be a part of the farming cycle.

In the end, I really don’t feel like too many things were left undone.  It’s already been a pretty good year.

I was driving down the road the other day thinking that the only thing that I wished had come to fruition this year that hasn’t is getting to see The Lumineers play live.  Not happening.  However, a local favorite is coming to town at the end of the month, and that will definitely do.

I can’t help but feel that the right track is the one that leaves me so content.  No big  feelings of “need to do” or “things would be better if”.  The leaves are beginning to swirl to the ground, marking the winding down of another year of this life.  If you haven’t found what makes you content, now is the time.

I remember feeling a little like we were standing on a precipice at the start of the year, ready for take off, when I set down that “passions to fulfill” list for 2012.  Now I feel like my feet are planted solidly on the ground, dreams intact, work being done to continue bringing them down here to the earth.  Around my feet, the colors of the season gather, each leaf another wonderful moment of life captured.

(as an aside and completely irrelevant,  it was pretty hard for me to do the picture of my feet for this post because of this wild anti-whatever-everyone-else-is-doing kind of thing I have.  It is silly sometimes, I know; but also, if you want to have your own voice out there in the world, you have to be careful not to just be going along with the flow, and man is the Internet full of shots of people’s feet and shoes.  Still, it seemed so necessary to go with the words of the post, and so there you have it.  And please know,  I don’t begrudge any one else’s pictures of their feet, I do enjoy those shots, and it happens to be one of my son’s favorite photo ops as well!)