Friday, April 1, 2011

Walking the Walk - April 2011

Just another day in paradox.

Ok, I admit it. I'm easily bored. Every time I hear some new version of an old rumor rolling around, or when I catch an re-play of some micro-factional, Point Bob backbiting contest, I have this uncontrollable urge to yawn and go out and work in the garden. And while I'm there, pulling up dandelions and other weeds from last year's lettuce patch, certain questions comes to mind. Such as, don't these people have anything better to do with their brains?
Given the apocalyptic scenario of on-going civil wars, flood, famine, piracy on the Indian ocean, violence in Libya, and the seismic destruction of Christchurch, all of which had been competing for bandwidth until the media air was completely sucked out by the unbelievably devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and given current economic conditions, with oil prices rising and food prices close behind, isn't there some more interesting, fulfilling or useful purpose to which some of this petty, self-centered, energy could be directed? Maybe so, maybe not, it's hard to say. One thing for sure, these thistle plants definitely have to come out.
Something else I admit; I'm not into judgement, or guilt, or grudges, or any of that other junk that gets in the way of clear communication. I'm not holding myself up as a model citizen here, I just hate to see adult energy wasted in what I consider to be adolescent hissy fits. (No negative reference intended to any actual adolescent). As far as I can see, the kids are doing great. It's some of the so-called adults that really need a time-out.
Meanwhile, I'm just working away, hoping that the slugs will find the horseradish plants more attractive than the cabbage, and that the mason bees will come out at the right time to pollinate the apple trees. The garden is a challenge, and a deep and subtle teacher. With so much information offered, there's never a time when I think I've got it all.
And then there's the people and the place, this town I call home. Such an odd mix. There is so much potential here. With its gentle climate and relative safety, a lack of toxic pollutants and noxious insects, in many ways Point Roberts really is a gardener's dream. Now, if we can all just wake up and learn to get along. Welcome to paradox.

If you're suffering from boredom, or some ambiguous seasonal malady, this Lose-the-Blues soup will cure what ails you.

Rose's Crockpot Bean Soup

2 cups of dry beans
1 medium onion
4-5 cloves garlic
1 TBL each of powered dry herbs: oregano, marjoram, basil, tarragon
½ tsp curry powder
1 TBL powdered dulse or kelp (flakes if possible)
½ cup packed, steamed nettle tips *(see note below)
½ pound of sausage
2 cups of chicken or turkey stock (broth frozen from holiday cooking)
2 TBL brown miso
Start this soup the night before by sorting several types of dry beans, removing broken bits and possibly small rocks (this is important). Try a mix of white northern, pintos, and red kidney beans to start. The more variety, the better. Use roughly 2 cups of dry beans for a large (4 quart) crockpot.
Wash and rinse beans in cold water, then soak in warm water and let sit overnight. In the morning, pour off the soak water (removing much of the nitrogen that causes gas), and rinse the beans in clean water. Place the beans into a crock pot. If you have split peas or lentils available, add some of these now, since they don't require pre-soaking. If you were unable (or forgot) to start beans the night before, you can use only lentils, split peas or black eyed peas and still get a great soup.
Dice up and add the onion and garlic, dried herbs, seaweed and nettles. If you have frozen turkey or chicken broth, melt it in a separate pan and add it to the crockpot. Add the sausage.
DO NOT add wine, salt, vinegar or hot sauce at this point, as these will affect the proper cooking of the beans (too acidic). Add these at the end of cooking if desired.
Add enough hot water to bring the mixture to about 1/2 -3/4 inch from the top the crockpot. Cover and cook all day (8 - 9 hrs) on a HIGH setting.
When the beans are done, turn off the cooker and let sit for a few minutes. Put the miso into a small bowl, adding a bit of the soup broth, and carefully blend with a fork. Return this mixture to soup. The miso will fill out the flavor (similar to bullion cubes, which can be substituted) and also make it saltier. At this point, you may add hot sauce or more salt/pepper to taste. Serve with fresh (preferably corn) bread for a good protein balance.
*Nettles are good tasting and highly nutritious, great for soups or pesto. The tops are harvested in early spring, using rubber gloves, scissors and long sleeves. Cut only the first two or three leaf clusters. DO NOT pick nettles after the flowers have begun to form. The leaves are first steamed slightly to remove the sting, then pressed into plastic ice trays and frozen. These frozen blocks are stored in plastic bags for future use. Good hunting and gathering!

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