Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Sleepwalker and the Spotlight

To see a child eat—is pleasure. Visceral goodness.
Eating with their fingers. Smacking their lips.
Food encircling their mouth in delight.

I am not an authority on etiquette or grace,
But I no longer eat like a child.
My food is consumed more quietly,
With functional refinement, barely touching my lips.
Rarely is a meal experienced in such a sensual, lip-smacking way.

I recently noticed, however, that I was eating loudly—
Eating loudly, perhaps, because I was eating quickly,
Shoveling. I became aware—
Like I’d been transported to a darkened, lonely stage,
And the spotlight…landing…on…me.

www.alexgrey.com

I was slightly embarrassed,
Like a sleepwalker being awoken
And not knowing how she got there.

From behind the red velvet curtain, an old soul reminded me—
Do not confuse etiquette with grace. Be mindful.

My spotlight expanded.
In front of me—a bowl of tangerines.

And I began my innocent monologue:

Taking hold of the tangerine,
You are taking a trip
(The inside-out
Of a mobius strip).

Peeling the tangerine,
You unleash a fragrant mist
(Scent of earthly lovers
In a springtime tryst).

Come together earth and rain,
Take hold of bundled seed,
Burst forth in fragile blossom,
And in the fruit is freed.

Each segment a ray,
Bringing light to my soul,
A season of suns,
Making me whole.

From inside-out
To outside-in,
Celestial star songs
Dripping down my chin.

~Jenell Heimbach

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Persimmon Apple Crumble


Crust
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 Tbl. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C oil

  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar.
  2. Make a well in the middle and add the milk and oil. Mix until all ingredients are blended.
  3. Form evenly to cover the bottom and edges of a 9 inch pie pan.

Filling
  • 4 C Pink Lady or Fuji apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 C Fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 2 Tbl. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly and fill piecrust.
  2. Bake crust and filling for 25 minutes at 375 degrees using the center rack.

Topping
  • 1 C flour
  • 1/2-1 C sugar
  • 1 stick butter, firm
  • 3/4 C chopped crispied almonds

  1. While pie is baking, make the topping.
  2. Mix dry ingredients well.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces and blend into dry mixture using hands until a course mixture is formed.
  4. When pie has cooked for 25 minutes, carefully remove from oven.
  5. Starting on the outside, crumble topping over the filling until completely covered.
  6. Bake an additional 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Chef's Note: This recipe was adapted from Annie Main at Good Humus Farm. The recipe called for 1 cup of sugar in the topping. While my family liked it, I thought it could use less sugar and still be good. You might want to adjust the sugar amounts to your liking. I also used Nourishing Traditions crispy nuts in the topping. Here's a link for how to make them. This recipe was really fast and easy to make. I made it for myself for dinner one rare night when my family were all out and about. We've been eating it for breakfast all this week, too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meditations at Lagunitas

Meditations at Lagunitas

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

~Robert Hass

This post is inspired by and in response to Mon of Holistic Mama. She wrote a great post today about the extinction of words.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday

Birthday Rap

Despite the fact
That you're not an early riser;
Twice your age,
But I'm none the wiser.
You've got an open heart
And an open mind;
Within everyone
You see the divine.
On the Human Potential Movement,
You put a new spin~
Bringing to life
What you envision within.
Guitar, pencil and wool
You bend to your will
While reuben, chai and sushi
Give you your fill.
Happy Birthday, hippie sista'!
So sad we missed ya.
But you're in our heart
Whether near or afar....

~Jenell Heimbach

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Defense of Food Book Review

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having first read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and then The Botany of Desire, I was in awe. To produce all that research, to go out in the field for interviews and first-hand experience, and then to orchestrate it all in such objective and eloquent prose—that was superhuman! And I became a humble worshipper.

Pollan’s newest work In Defense of Food is another such brilliant creation. He first talks about nutritionism, which is the reduction of foods into their constituent parts: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins (which weren’t “discovered” until 1912!). Pollan next sets his sites on Industry (yes, with a capital “I”), and how Industry has used the science of nutritionism to commodify their products. And—not only did—does—Industry use scientific research, it also funds it, so that you have the cereal Industry touting their cholesterol-reducing effects or the pork Industry announcing it’s “the other white meat.” Then you have the diet Industry selling the Atkins diet one year and the McDougall Program the next. While he is not in any way opposed to science, Michael Pollan suggests that we have become dependent upon the “experts” to tell us what food is made of. Good nutrients? Bad nutrients? Pollan posits that thinking about food out of context disempowers the eater.

And so, in the final section of the book, Pollan aims to re-contextualize those nutrients back into what we all can recognize as food. He provides suggestions that will help us re-establish a relationship to where food comes from, how it can be made into a meal and how that meal can sustain a community. He says:

1. DON’T EAT ANYTHING YOUR GREAT GRANDMOTHER WOULDN’T RECOGNIZE AS FOOD.
2. AVOID FOOD PRODUCTS CONTAINING INGREDIENTS THAT ARE A) UNFAMILIAR, B) UNPRONOUNCEABLE, C) MORE THAN FIVE IN NUMBER, OR THAT INCLUDE D) HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.
3. AVOID FOOD PRODUCTS THAT MAKE HEALTH CLAIMS.
4. SHOP THE PERIPHERIES OF THE SUPERMARKET AND STAY OUT OF THE MIDDLE.
5. GET OUT OF THE SUPERMARKET WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
6. EAT MOSTLY PLANTS, ESPECIALLY LEAVES.
7. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT EATS TOO.
8. IF YOU HAVE THE SPACE, BUY A FREEZER.
9. EAT LIKE AN OMNIVORE.
10. EAT WELL-GROWN FOOD FROM HEALTHY SOILS.
11. EAT WILD FOODS WHEN YOU CAN.
12. BE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO TAKES SUPPLEMENTS.
13. EAT MORE LIKE THE FRENCH. OR THE ITALIANS. OR THE JAPANESE. OR THE INDIANS. OR THE GREEKS.
14. REGARD NONTRADITIONAL FOODS WITH SKEPTICISM.
15. DON’T LOOK FOR THE MAGIC BULLET IN THE TRADITIONAL DIET.
16. HAVE A GLASS OF WINE WITH DINNER.
17. PAY MORE, EAT LESS.
18. EAT MEALS.
19. DO ALL YOUR EATING AT A TABLE.
20. DON’T GET YOUR FUEL FROM THE SAME PLACE YOUR CAR DOES.
21. TRY NOT TO EAT ALONE.
22. CONSULT YOUR GUT.
23. EAT SLOWLY.
24. COOK AND, IF YOU CAN, PLANT A GARDEN.

In this last section, Pollan expounds upon each item and ties it into the previous sections’ how-tos and wherefores. Pollan does like to play with words, so this list may seem a little enigmatic. You’ll just have to read the book! Michael Pollan masterfully synthesizes information from a growing movement of people who are reclaiming their health and their lives.


View all my reviews.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Green Intervention

Here's a post that I'd written last year for the Winter Solstice. Times have changed, and I find myself struggling again to make good food a priority. But recently some close friends of mine worked with Good Humus, another local CSA, to gift our family with a quarter's share of vegetables. I feel like this was a green intervention--that I'd fallen off the wagon. My family and I are so grateful for our friends, for our community, for good food.

Saturday, December 22, 2007
Long ago, the answer to the question, "What's for dinner?" was simple. Go look in the garden or the larder. In my adult life, the answer is not so straightforward. The "garden" is often across continents, and the larder is my overabundant supermarket. The choices can be overwhelming, the experts confusing. What to eat? What not to eat? And, in the confusion, the "simple" alternative often has the most pull; fast food. Yuck! No wonder I never really liked food!

But, we have begun to spiral back around to the source of our food. Revolution! Although I have not tended my skill well enough to grow my own food, I do get it from growers I've met and trust. I have been buying a monthly share of Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) on and off for years. It wasn't an easy transition for me, because I didn't have a relationship to food. Leeks? Squash? Broccoli Raab? My vegetables, along with the strange hodgepodge of food that I got from the store, took on a life of its own in the depths of my refrigerator. So what changed? I started reading. I've shared some really interesting resources at the end. I realized that I can't go on supporting the current food culture. However, because I don't have much money, it seemed like an extra expense. But remember the science experiments in my refrigerator? I don't throw out as much food anymore. That saves me a good chunk of money. Our share breaks down to be $15 each week. Not bad, really.

The farm that my food comes from is called Full Belly Farm. Each week we get a box is like Christmas. Everything in the box is seasonal and flavorful. It is truly an offering, and I want to do it justice. I pore through cookbooks and recipes, eyes a-sparkle. Then I make a weekly menu plan and supplementary shopping list. Each item I get is put to use to create new, tantalizing recipes. Each bite fills me with a profound nourishment. And I am transformed.

Although we are blessed with a window of blue skies and sunshine, today I am feeling winter's pull. Yes, even the Breadbasket of the world has its winter. Beginning this week, we will not be getting our weekly box of vegetables. The earth and farmers need a break. I appreciate the connection and deep satisfaction they bring. And, mouth watering, I look forward to the next growing season and the Christmas they bring every week.

Here's a wonderfully carnivorous winter meal from Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice. Being a former vegetarian, I know you could cleverly adapt this meal:



Sausage with Potatoes and Cabbage

Serves 2-4

  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, olive oil, lard, or other fat
  • 2 whole fresh sausages in casings
  • 2 leeks, sliced thin, including much of the green part (or 1 large onion sliced thin)
  • 1 small head cabbage (or ½ large head, shredded)
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • ½ bunch greens (chard, kale, collards; or mustard, radish, or turnip greens), sliced into ribbons
  • 3 medium potatoes (such as Yukon gold), diced
  • ½ cup hot water or stock, or more as needed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup sauerkraut (store bought or homemade recipe below)
  • Sour cream or crème fraiche

  1. Heat the bacon drippings, oil, or fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the whole sausages and brown on both sides.
  2. Add the leeks (or onions) to the pan around the sausage and sauté. When the sausage is cooked through, remove it from the pan and let it cool.
  3. Add the shredded cabbage to the pan along with a pinch of salt and the optional caraway seeds. Continue to sauté a few minutes, until the cabbage begins to wilt.
  4. Add the greens and stir gently.
  5. Add the diced potatoes, another pinch of salt, and the hot water or stock. Cover, reduce the heat somewhat, and steam until potatoes are just tender. Add more water
  6. Slice the sausage into ½ inch thick pieces and add it back to the pan, stirring to incorporate and heat through. You can also leave the sausage whole or cut it in half.
  7. Add plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the optional sauerkraut.
  9. Serve in a shallow bowl with a big dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche.

And, if you are really an adventurous food alchemist, make your own sauerkraut. This recipe is also by Jessica Prentice. But take my advice, make sure you don't forget about it if you culture it in the dark of your bedroom closet. Whoever lives with you will tear up the house trying to find what died in the wall!

Quick Kraut

Makes about 3 cups

  • 4 cups (tightly packed) shredded cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

  1. Put the cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over it. Using your hands, begin to squeeze and massage the cabbage to release the juices.
  2. Once it is thoroughly wet, add the caraway seeds.
  3. Pack the cabbage into a 1-quart, widemouthed mason jar, pressing down with your hand to release the juices.
  4. Fill a 1-pint, narrow jar (or any jar that has a bottom narrow enough to fit in the mouth of the 1-quart jar) with water and screw the lid on. Place this second jar into the mouth of the 1-quart jar and push on it until the liquid from the cabbage rises above the vegetable matter inside.
  5. Set this on the counter, with one jar nestled inside the other, and drape a cloth napkin over the top. Keep at room temperature for about a week, pressing down on the weight jar at least once a day and making sure that the liquid stays above the vegetable matter.
  6. After a week of fermenting, taste and see if you like it. At this point you can remove the weight jar, screw a lid onto the kraut jar, and transfer it to the refrigerator. You can also experiment with fermenting it for longer as long as you keep a close eye on the liquid level. If too much water has evaporated, mix ½ teaspoon of salt with 1/3 cup filtered water and pour this into the jar.

Some Resources

Documentaries:

The Future of Food

The GMO Trilogy

Books:

Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Cookbooks:

Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

The Real Dirt on Vegetables by Farmer John Peterson

Website:

Local Harvest

Monday, December 8, 2008

December Bird Song

video

This video was taken by my daughter, Anouk.


"I was impressed with how many birds there were in our big oak tree. So, I thought of taking a video of their beautiful song. This still shows that not everything goes dead in December, but new birth gets created. It might look dead, but plants are getting ready to spring up, and the birds are singing their wonderful song. I hope you enjoy listening." ~Anouk

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Poem...

“Of Particles and Presences”

Some days…I feel
Like a mountain; am I
Inert? Alive? Or
Does my body
Express a slower ecological tempo
In rhythm with the grinding of glaciers,
The tremor of the earth,
The low rumble of river rocks
As they speak of where they came from
And where they are going—
The slow precession through the equinoxes.

This is NOT a funeral durge—
A slow march to death. Today
The wind carries a message
From a professor far away, “Love
Takes time.”

Love, this coming together
Of particles and presences
In a dance weaving through the centuries.
Consciousness
Peaking and dissolving….
And yet we are not mere fractals—
God dreaming the dreamer dreaming
God….
We reunite in infinite variation,
In celebration.


Jenell Heimbach video