Thursday, September 15, 2011

My story of the woods

The story is a simple one. I bought a piece of this planet’s rarest forest, and it brought me to my knees. It holds the promise of growth and renewal. It is a sacred space created by the heaving of the seas and the planting of seeds. It holds so much hope it makes me cry to think on it. And when I am gone, it will remain. Men come and go. I will build a house, walls, orchards. But what remains is fog dripping from redwood leaves, roaring storms of wind, and a scraping of two giant plates of earth against each other. It is the one place where I can breathe. I can place my ear on the world’s tallest tree and hear a waterfall running through it. I can move one dead branch and find a salamander as old as the primordial swamps.

Because I love this earth. I have circumnavigated it and here is where my soul rests; I lift like a fairy that dances on the wind.

I sleep under those stars. Some fall to earth, but most stay to tell their story again. When I wake there is a grey time, before the sun shines but after the black fades, when all the creatures, even the trees, hold their breath and await the dawn. They open a hole in time each morning. One day I will pull a man of earth through that hole; he will understand. I will grow in him, and he will water me. We will master windstorms. We will name the stars.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tomato-Peach Chutney

Hats off to Bernard Clayton for the inspiration (Bernard, your soup recipes ROCK but read like UNIX manuals) - this is cooking right now:

3c fresh tomatoes, chopped and peeled (and seeded if you're up for it - I'm not);
3c fresh nectarines and/or peaches, peeled if they're peaches and chopped (I used high sugar, low acid peaches and nectarines)
1c chopped green bell pepper (for me, this was 1 pepper)
1c packed brown sugar
3/4c sugar
3/4c white vinegar
1/2c golden raisins
1/2c chopped onions
1/4t cinnamon
1/8t ground allspice
1 jalapeno, minced and seeded
1/4c wild blackberries (this is totally optional - just happened to be sitting in my kitchen - see previous blog)

Combine all the ingredients into a deep, nonreactive saucepan.
Stirring frequently, cook over medium heat for roughly an hour or until mixture has thickened (or you've reduced it by about half).
Feel the love. The aroma should make your mouth water.
Ladle it into sterilized jars leaving at least 1/4" headspace; process for 20 min in hot water bath.

My guess is that this will make 4 half-pints. I'll post a photo when they're done.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What I've learned about stinging nettles

Well, I knew that they're great for cooking. Some people might even GROW them in order to EAT them. I knew they had prickly leaves, and it's an immediate pain and eventually it goes away. I knew it's not contact dermatitis like poison oak - it has to do with miniscule spines.

But when I was halfway up an embankment in Los Altos Hills, berry pot in left hand and large blackberry cluster taunting me overhead, I decided to embark on a scientific experiment, the outcome of which I was unsure.

Either I could forget about the berries or hoist myself up the embankment by holding onto a stinging nettle plant. And I wasn't sure if the STEMS were covered with the prickly nastiness.

Well, now I know. To my credit, I was only experimenting with MY OWN body, and after being an NCAA volleyball player, 5.10A climber and yogi, I figured what's a little pain?

I shall have to look it up online (when typing doesn't hurt so much) to see if there are actually MORE stingers in the stem than in the leaves. Maybe it will have a dire warning that the toxins are CONCENTRATED in the stems, and after numbing two fingers and my Oh So Important opposable thumb on the right hand, it may be years before I feel all of my digits again.

But if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research. (Einstein)