Tuesday, June 28, 2011

10 Things - Wanderlust Edition

This past Saturday I had the immense joy of attending the Wanderlust Festival held in Stratton, VT. Wanderlust is a yoga and music festival, that until this year had only been held in Tahoe. When I heard they were coming east I knew I had to go, at least for one day, and I am so, so, so glad I did. The energy was sky high, even in the misty mountain rain, it was life and love affirming.

 Please check out my ski (and now yoga) sister - Female Ski Bum's account of our spectacular day.

Life Sisters

Handstand at the peak, with the bear. And my  belly.

Acro yoga - gotta work up the balls to try this.

Waiting for the concert to start in the rain - it cleared just in time for the show to start. I saw the space station and a shooting star during the show!

Michael Franti

Here are 10 thoughts, quotes, musings I took away with me:

  1.  Be playfully serious, and seriously playful. ~ Desiree Rumbaugh
  2.  Speak, act, think as you want your life and your world to be, not as it is. ~ Desiree Rumbaugh
  3.  Dare to live in the light of your heart. ~ Elena Brower
  4. The people who need our light the most are those who challenge us. Soften to them. Offer your best intention. Think, maybe it's me.
  5. Alignment is the key to freedom. ~ John Friend
  6. A yoga 'class' with Michael Franti and Seane Corne was possibly the most Connected I've ever felt - to my community, to the spirit of giving and healing, to love, to the one, ever, in my life. Live acoustic set, while doing asana? Amazing. I cried.
  7. I love to dance. I don't do it nearly often enough.
  8. Michael Franti puts on a great show. He touched my hand!
  9. Yoga can produce great change, both in the hearts of those who practice, and in the world.
  10. Love is stronger than fear. ~ Desiree Rumbaugh

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Farm Share Week #3 - in which Mira makes (guess what?) more jam!

Good take this week - still the greenery of our cold wet spring, but that will soon change. And there were scapes! There will be pesto. Here's the mug shot of the goods:

4 scapes (i found more at market yesterday), head of lettuce, bunch of laticino kale, radishes, bok choi, 2 quarts ipm strawberries, and a pint of organic strawberries. The bread was lovely rye rolls.

What to do with the loot? The kids and I did eat that pint straight up, but I'm sitting here waiting for another batch of rhuberry jam to process, having licked a few spoons and spun around in the kitchen in full-on happy tummy dance. 4 half pints made, and just shy of a quart of strawberries frozen. I sliced a few strawberries to see how they do in the dehydrator. There's also 3 trays of last fall's cranapple sauce becoming fruit leather.

I have used my new Tattler Canning Lids for a few jars, with success. The lids are reusable, no-BPA plastic. Knowing that the traditional lids are single use, and are lined with BPA made me look for an alternative, and this is the best I could find. I don't love that they're plastic, but it seems a lesser evil. The only thing I really need to do is find rubber or silicon heat proof gloves - to ensure a good seal you have to tighten the metal band as soon as the jar comes out of the canner - we have pit mits, but they are cloth, and although I have a high tolerance for heat, the boiling water in the cloth mitt is burning my little fingers. So, friends, if I give you a jar of yummy goodness and it has a white plastic lid on it, it means 2 things. First, I hold you dear enough to share said yummy goodness. Secondly, I will hunt you down for that lid :)

Scape Pesto:
A large amount of scapes (10? 15? Eyeball it, find your inner Italian)
A large chunk of good grating cheese, like romano or parmesan - maybe a third of a wedge
A handful of pine nuts, or walnut
Salt & pepper, splash of good olive oil
Whirl in a food processor to make a paste. At this point you could freeze it, and add more olive oil upon thawing it, or add more oil until pesto is a smooth thick sauce. I love this with fresh pasta, or on crostini. You can also add basil for a more 'traditional' pesto. Just remember your garlic math if you plan to snuzzle a loved one - 2 people eating garlic equals no one bothered by garlic odor.

Nom nom. Next week is vacation on the Cape, so we'll miss a week. But upon our return, the berries will likely be a different variety, and the veggies a different hue.

Happy eating!
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Making the Impossible, Possible

Open your heart, share your love generously. 

I had the pleasure of subbing a Chakra Flow class just over a week ago. The Chakra for that week was the heart Chakra - meaning yes, a backbend heavy practice. I have for many years had a hate-hate relationship with backbends, but recently have been attempting at least to make friends with them, to observe the discomforts rather than fleeing from them. A woman came up to me after the class, and told me that although she had a rod in her back, and she had nearly walked out of the studio when I introduced the theme, she said that the way the class was sequenced and presented made it accessible to her - that even if she could not wear the full expression of each posture, she left that day feeling her heart open, and her body lightened of previous perceived limitations. Another student yesterday, with herniated disks, told me he had never been able to 'do' yoga since his injury, but felt the practice that day was presented in a 'kind, gentle manner', that allowed him to find new possibilities in his body and mind in that moment.

This is yoga to me - through the practice we make what seems impossible at the moment, possible over time. It's magical to me. Physically I've found new corners of Neverland (the name I have for postures that are at the moment un-accessible) over the past 2 and half years of practice, but slowly the landscape changes. What seemed impossible in 2009 is now part of my regular practice, and poses I didn't even know existed are in the Neverland category, as something I am working towards. But more importantly than physical progress is the quiet in my mind, and finally, finally a willingness, a courage to explore the shadowland in my soul, to bring to light buried traumas, to remove the armor I have worn for so much of life so I too, can blow my heart wide open and live a life free of fear. This will be the second time in my life I call on this practice to be a ship to carry me over a sea of dark thoughts, to be refuge from the darkness of my mind.

I believe the physical traumas we experience in life write themselves into our bodies, like psychic tattoos. The deep work of yoga can release those deeply held memories and beliefs. I have a heavy mantle of somatic emotional pain, of transgressions, of violence. Once the autonomy of one's body is breached, it is no longer safe or sacred. I am damaged. I have no safe space in my own being. Backbends have always scared me, as they require me to open my most vulnerable areas to attack, belly and throat up and exposed, heart open, easy target. Each and every time I drop my head back into Ustrasana, I feel that hand grab my hair and wrench my head back, rendering me powerless. But I am tired of living with this darkness. I want to be touched in love without seeing the flashes of hands holding me down, and so, I will do this work. I will reclaim this place of openness. 

So here is the state of the backbend at the start:

In honesty they don't look nearly as bad as they feel - right hip (as per the usual) likes to be in external rotation always, shoulders are tight, but not a bad place to start from. This was taken last week. Tonight I did my practice, tears streaming down my face, lots of inversions, and of course more backbends. They do feel better, but each time I prepare to enter the postures, I have to gather my courage, beat back the fear and un-grit my teeth. Time, diligent practice, tears. Hard work. I will reclaim my body.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Here's the equation:

24 quarts of strawberries + 4 friends + 4 two year olds = day full of fun, chaos, and yumminess!

And here's a law of physics that I've noticed... the day you plan to can each week will be the hottest of the week. Without fail. I do not have AC installed as it was barely 60 degrees all last week, and am in a second floor apartment. 'Nuff said.

In the end, we put up the following: (all  are half-pint jars unless noted)

3 Strawberry Preserves
5 Strawberry Vanilla Jams
8 Strawberry Lavender Jams
12 Strawberry Jams
6 Strawberry Mint Syrups
4 Spiced Strawberry Butters, 1 4oz jar as well
6 trays Strawberry Leather

I prepped about a quart and a half for the Preserves last night.

Hulling over 20 quarts of strawberries.

The strawberry-vanilla prep that Rebecca brought.

We took slightly overripe berries and pureed them for the fruit leather.

 Finished products

Already plotting more of those Preserves. Sweet mother of all that is holy, they sure don't suck.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Farm Share Week #2

Week 2, and we're still in the very green of early season. Today's take included a napa cabbage, head of (beautiful) lettuce, bunch of scallions, and fennel (squee!). The fruit share was 3 fragrant lovely quarts of strawberries. Bread and cheese this week too! And, I ordered a flat of strawberries - so 11 quarts in total.

3 of the quarts are in the freezer as we speak. I washed and hulled the berries, then put them in the freezer on baking sheets to firm up before transferring them to Ziploc bags. This way they freeze separately instead of in a big red mass.

 I'm canning on Thursday, so I'm still musing about what jams to make. Certainly a strawberry jam, possible one with lavender, and preserves. I'm also planning on breaking out the dehydrator for some fruit leather, and dried strawberries. 

Bella mugs with our goods:

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Couple of Recipes

I've had a couple of requests to share the recipe for that (EPIC) jam - as in, I had four jars last week, I think there's 1.5 left... must.make.more.

I found the Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam recipe in this book. I really like it - the chapters are organized by season, with recipes for fruits and vegetables for each. In addition to canning recipes, there are also ways to use the canned goods, and other food preservation ideas. Worth the money, in my humble opinion.

I did up the sugar amount slightly to taste - here's my version:

  • Combine 6 cups (approx 2 lbs) diced rhubarb, 3 cups (about a quart) diced strawberries, 2.5 cups sugar, and a half-cup water in my big dutch oven, and cooked over medium heat until the juices just covered the fruit. Stir occasionally.
  • Strained the juice from the fruit pulp, stirring the pulp to get as much juice as possible. Return the juice to the stove, boiling until the juice reduced by more than half.
  • Add the pulp to the reduced juice, with the juice of two lemons. Cook over medium-low until thickened, and beginning to jell on a cold plate.
  • Ladle into hot half-pint jars, and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Remove, and allow to sit for 12-24 hours before checking seal.
The recipe I followed said it would yield 5 half-pints, I got 4 with some to scrape off the ladle and stirring spoon, for consumption while dancing around my kitchen in mouth-ecstasy, waiting for the jars to process.

The other recipe I thought I'd share is my favorite preparation for salad turnips. If you've never had these, RUN, don't walk, to your farmer's market and look for white radish looking things. They are in season spring and fall. They taste like a mild radish raw, but cooked they are an entirely different creature. Divine. Love love love them. I use the greens in pasta.

Glazed Salad Turnips

Trim the tops and tails off one bunch of turnips, scrub them well, then slice thinly into disks - about a quarter inch thick. Heat 1-2 tbsp butter or olive oil, or both, in a large saute pan (enough to generously coat the pan), add the turnips, season with salt & pepper, and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add a generous splash of apple-cider vinegar, and a large drizzle of honey, and cook until the resulting liquid thickens and glazes the turnips. Taste, add more vinegar and honey as you like, and serve. Yum yum, good lordie, yum. Guess what I'm having for lunch?

So I ordered a flat of strawberries for tomorrow's pick-up. If it comes in, I'll be freezing, jamming, and trying out my new dehydrator with fruit leather the intended product. Happy tummy dance!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Farm Share Season has Arrived!

This is our third season as members of  Farm Direct Coop, a local CSA (don't know what that is? click here). FDC is somewhat unique in that rather than using one farm, and picking up a box of pre-packed fruits and vegetables, we contract with more than one farm (within 100 mile radius, most within MA), and get to choose much of our take. I joined for many of the 'usual' reasons - supporting local agriculture, cost-effective way to buy organic produce, so fresh, yada yada. This winter though, I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle, and that book solidified for me the importance of biodiversity in our food supply, the importance of local food economies, and the importance of leaving the agro-industry without my hard earned dollars. I highly recommend her book, as well as any of Michael Pollan's if you are curious about these issues.

AVM chronicles a year of local eating in the Kingsolver family. Virtually all of the food they consumed was either home grown, home raised, or sourced from their own county. While I'm not intending to do anything that radical, I intend to put up, either can, freeze or dry, at least half of our produce for this winter. I'm not married to this goal, but I'm curious to see how much I can do. So for tonight, I have four 8 oz jars of (the most ridiculously delectable EVER) rhubarb-strawberry jam, and a quart of sliced rhubarb in the freezer.

Our first take of the season - large fruit, small vegetable:

A bunch of kale, a beautiful head of romaine, kohlrabi, brocoli (squee!), a quart of strawberries, and 2 pounds of rhubarb.

Making the jam: 

Reducing the juices into a syrup:

This picture does no justice to the color of this concoction.

The fruit pulp:

Ladling into jars:

The finished product!