Posts tagged ‘Gardening’
The past couple of days have been relatively warm and sunny – in the low 60s here on the Mendocino coast. Hardly any frost on the ground for the past two mornings, after several weeks of frost covered grass. I’m sort of obsessively monitoring the daffodils in my yard – waiting for the first golden bloom to emerge. The paperwhites I forced on my kitchen windowsill have kept me company during the cold, frosty mornings, but they are nearly finished, and I noticed that the alyssum, which appeared nearly dead as I transplanted it in a few key places last fall is popping up all over. Success! Spring is in the air, if only temporarily – but it is on the way. Hooray!
Besides bringing flowers, Spring showers and longer days, maybe thoughts of Spring cleaning – or better yet, a Spring cleanse. It is the perfect time of year to renew not only our spirits but our bodies. Drinking plenty of green juices and a adding a squeeze of lemon to fresh water first thing in the morning cleanses the liver and removes some of the sluggishness we might feel from eating some heavier foods to keep us warm and spending more time indoors during the long winter. That puts a spring in our step and the longer days motivate us to get outside and get our mojo working again!
If you’d like to know more about how to be the healthiest you can be, why not sign up for our Science of Raw Food Nutrition™ series with those inimitable gurus of green – the Drs. Dina! Honestly, the feedback we get from students about their classes is amazing. Drs. Rick and Karin have a way of making even the most complicated scientific information seem accessible and even fun! And they are both approachable – no question is too complicated or too simple – you’ll see! Series begins March 16!
Listening to the recent controversy surrounding an NPR story about organics, I was amazed that the “scientific findings” in this particular study seemed to refute the idea that buying organic produce makes a difference to health. And this in spite of a nationwide movement of people who are increasingly choosing farmer’s markets and locally grown organic produce (an even more important distinction, buying local, I think). On a personal level, I definitely notice the vitality of organic foods. In our salad bar, some of the greens are shipped from San Francisco and some are grown right here in Fort Bragg. The local ones look, taste, and feel much “brighter” and healthier. Nearly everyone knows that food picked right out of the garden has more nutritional value than vegetables that have been stored in your refrigerator for a long time. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, I say. Finally, when the United States is coming around to what Europe has realized for decades – that selecting produce grown on small farms, or growing your own with traditional farming methods does make a difference, a respected media outlet like NPR tries to tell us differently. The good news is that the public reaction and comments on the story were largely organic positive, which makes an immense amount of sense. The public is not going to be hornswoggled at this point in time. Sometimes its hard to believe that The Silent Spring by Rachel Carson came out almost exactly 50 years ago, in September 1962. Wake up scientists! You’ve been asleep almost as long as Rip Van Winkle. We all need to wake up to the fact that every choice we make that has to do with organics and supporting sustainable farming in our communities really counts. Whatever decisions we make about these issues will affect future generations and the planet for a long time to come. Which is one of the reasons I’m glad that serving organic food in our school and in our cafe has been Living Light policy from the beginning.
There’s nothing like early summer – my niece Stella’s favorite time of year. Here in California we’ve got lots of blooming plants already and my all time favorites are roses – might be because I hark from the City of Roses, Portland, Oregon. The ones in my yard (I moved last fall) have been neglected for a few years, so I’m carefully picking off all the leaves that have black spot and trying to get them to feel better. As beautiful as they are, roses aren’t the easiest to take care of, and yet they are kind of resilient at the same time. Like people, they respond to care and attention. I made a promise to myself to stop and smell the summer roses this year. We’re still plenty busy at Living Light, what with the Raw Food Revolution Tour heading East and Drs. Rick and Karin Dina beginning their Science of Raw Food Nutrition Tour in just a couple of weeks, but this is the first time in the seven years I’ve been at Living Light that we don’t have a MAJOR EVENT like a Vibrant Living Expo or a Chef Showcase at the end of August. I have a little more breathing room, and a bit more freedom to balance my life and remember that it’s important to enjoy the long days of summer. Mmmmmm – smell the roses! This weekend I’m going to the Mendocino Film Festival. What are you doing this summer?
There’s something about this time of year – I sometimes feel a bit in limbo. I’m looking forward to Spring, and knowing that the season is almost upon us – only 18 more days until the Vernal Equinox. At the same time, Spring is not QUITE here. The sun actually looks a lot warmer than it is. Still, it’s nice to wake up to a little more daylight and brightness, and to sometimes make it home near sunset instead of when its pitch dark. So hope springs eternal in the human breast, and we come out of the darkness into the light again every year, like clockwork. For me that means moving from a more contemplative aspect into a more energetic mode of being. More walking outdoors, gardening, traveling, and stopping to smell the flowers. I’ve had Calla lilies and daffodils on my kitchen table this past week – they’re growing in my garden. Energetically, it feels as though I am slowly coming out of the dream of winter and moving into a new and magical realm. Things are heating up here at Living Light, too. Our FUNdamentals of Raw Living Foods students are already arriving, and I just met a woman who is here with her cousin – they live in Bermuda, and she has a lovely, lilting accent. Chef Made is back with us for his Advanced Pastry Arts – Unbaked! course. He’s from Fivelements Puri Ahimsa in Bali. Some people are arriving for the Associate Chef and Instructor training; others plan to be here through Gourmet, and still others have signed up for our complete Platinum Package - they don’t want to miss a thing!
When I lived in Oakland, California I used to make a conscious effort to connect to the part of the world on which I was living. It was pretty paved over and who knew if those weeds under the overpass were indigenous or not. The estuary was right across the freeway from my loft, but it was pretty industrialized, too. I used to make a point to remember the ground, the water, the sky all used to be wild and natural and we were living on a piece of the earth. Now I live in Fort Bragg, California and am ashamed to say I now have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the beautiful, wild and natural setting I’m in today. The trees, the flowers, the powerful Pacific is all right there and sometimes I don’t even notice till bedtime when I take a moment to review what’s right with my life. Oh well – being conscious and appreciative and careful with the gifts we’ve been given is a full time job and I’ve already got one of those.
Wild Mendocino was appreciated by my daughter and lots of Living Light employees this past Sunday as our directors, Dan and Cherie, sponsored a mushroom lecture and hunt. The event was led by Ryan Snow, mushroom expert, who gave the talk and then led our intrepid seekers through the woods. My daughter went with my roommate (who also happens to be Living Light’s Student Services Manager) and they came back with tons of mushrooms and knowledge. And the fresh faced flush of a day out in the wild part of the world. My son and I spent the time shopping for valentines and playing air hockey, in case you were wondering. We came home all flushed with competition and consumerism and ready to eat the spoils of the hunt. Modern life doesn’t always mix with connection to one’s surroundings, but it sure tastes good to try.
I was in San Francisco last week and had the opportunity to have dinner at Gracias Madre, the all organic, all vegan Mexican restaurant opened by the Café Gratitude people right smack dab in the middle of the Mission District. Although it may not have blended perfectly with its surroundings, it certainly seemed comfortable there. The atmosphere inside was welcoming and warm and the food I ate was yummy. I sat at the bar, which serves beer and wine, and had a green juice (there’s no place like home…). It’s all non-gmo with lots of the produce grown at Be Love Farm. The intention is love and gratitude for all our mothers, including mother earth. If you eat cooked food (and even here at Living Light we serve cooked grain and soup), you should check it out.
Speaking of food, Thursday is Thanksgiving. The kids and I will be heading up the Sierra’s to my dad’s house in a couple days. I was just looking at the pictures from last year’s trip. There was a ridiculous amount of snow – very festive for pictures – but kind of a pain. We’re not really equipped for, well, weather that requires equipment. But, I’m feeling extra thankful right now and hope I can hold on to it through this next installment of Holidays 2011, regardless of the weather or any other external factor. If you want to have happy holidays then you will. If you want happy holidays served to you on a platter, you may not. A good way to start is to take a moment to say, “Gracias, Madre”.
I am retiring this week. After a little over 63 years I will quit working for someone else and work for myself, and Archie. Whenever we watch Avatar , Archie and I walk on air knowing the importance of our job as caretakers of our land. Now I, like Archie, will be able to do it 24/7.
This year, for the first time, we had enough tomatoes to can. I have never done it before, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Last year we had a few left over so we dehydrated them. Hopefully next year we will have enough to do both and/or to make salsa and spaghetti sauce and can that. We shall see.
I am so looking forward to doing my crafts and putting the garden to bed this winter. Then in the spring we will plant the seeds, and harvest all through the fall. One of my favorite jobs has been to sweep the forest. This means picking up branches that have fallen to either be put on a burn pile or used as fuel in our fireplace. One of the neat things about doing this is finding mushrooms or places where the fairies live. Maybe I will finish the children’s book and novel (actually two) that I started years ago. So many things to do; and all the time to do them in.
At Living Light, I have enjoyed talking with people from all walks of life and all over the world. One of my favorite stories is when I was fired by a prospect. I told her I was not 100% raw so after a few seconds of silence, she said quite fervently, “You’re fired!” and hung up. I do not know why, but that tickled me.
Most of our students are gentle, responsible and accountable. Cherie and Dan say that is because they are raw. I like that. Maybe we can convert the governments of the world!
We had a break-in this weekend and were robbed. We went to harvest our organic corn and found only half was still there! We had been hit by raccoons. Aaugh! They may be cute little buggers, but not any more! Our goldfish are safe from them because we provide a four-foot deep pond for them and the ones in the wine barrel have a screen over them. We didn’t even think about our vegetables being in jeopardy! Did I say “Aaugh!”?
At Living Light, we will be through with the Associate Chef and Instructor course this week and then will be in the advanced course of Ethnic Flavors. The students will be learning to make East Indian Zucchini Dahl, Rawvioli with fresh Herb Pesto atop Tomato Concasse, fresh Corn Tamales and Transcendent Crab Cakes just to name a few recipes. This is basically a recipe development course, so there will be many more foods explored. After Ethnic Flavors, comes RawFusion Spa Cuisine: another recipe development course where students will learn appetizers and savory snacks, the art of dressings, sauces and marinades, and learn the art of plating and garnishing. Sounds good, huh?
This last weekend I harvested the last of the carrots. Some were juiced (I love carrot and apple juice!) and some will be shredded and put in the freezer to make future carrot muffins. Every Christmas I enjoy giving to others. What will it be this year; loaves of carrot apple kuchen, cranberry walnut scones, or pumpkin pie? One year I made almond biscotti – what fun!
This last weekend we registered the last session of students for the year. Some are here for just a few courses, some for the Associate Chef and Instructor Certification, some for the Gourmet Raw Food Chef Certification, and some for the Nutritional Certifications. Some students enrolled for one day, others for over fifty. We even have one student interested in the Professional Chef Certification which will include a year’s internship after she has taken every course available. People come to Living Light for different reasons. Some want to be teachers, some chefs, some just to learn an alternative way of preparing food, some for their own or a loved one’s health. For whatever reason, the journey is always an adventure.
I love my Sweet William flowers. They are pink, crimson red, hot pink, and white with purple markings. I bring them to work for my desk and for our Marketing Director, Kristin Suratt, as well (I gave her a little friendship vase for her birthday in January and said I’d keep it in flowers through the year!) She mentioned the other day that Sweet William looks similar to carnations. I looked it up and sure enough, they are cousins. So I decided to have a carnation flower bed intermixed in my lavender garden. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Not to happen, however. My husband Archie said that lavender is drought tolerant and carnations need lots of water. Oh well – I will have two gardens!.
Speaking of two of a kind, Pastry Arts Unbaked 1 and 2 will be taught back to back this November. Pastry Arts 1 is taught throughout the year. This is where you learn to make Tiramisu and White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, just to name a few sample recipes. Pastry Arts 2 is a recipe development class where you will learn how to make Hibiscus Cooler and other non-alcoholic beverages, along with a myriad of other desserts including fruit tarts, cakes, and candies to sweeten the pie. All I can say is Yum!