Turquoise Barn

An Eco-Conscious, Green-Certified Retreat, Event, & Education Center located in the Catskill Mountains on an Organic farm. Offering group workshops, retreats, outdoor event space....specializing in sustainable Botanical Cuisine, Nature Therapy, and more! An ideal venue for YOUR retreat, wedding, or friends/family gathering. For more information, please visit our website.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Hands are Dirty - Real Dirty - With Real Dirt...

It's finally feeling like spring!  I've really been enjoying the sounds of the birds in the morning & the peeps at night, the smell of fresh rain,  feeling the warmth & energy of the somewhat elusive and oh so beautiful SUN, watching the unfolding of new life all around, and exploring the land to discover new species of nutritious & delicious edibles. 

Yesterday was a deliciously warm & sunny day - almost balmy.  And......according to the Biodynamic Calendar, it was a ROOT day.  So....I finally made it out to my garden to begin planting.  Into the ground went really red, red & white striped, & golden yellow beets; purple pink & scarlet radish, purple kohlrabi & pretty pink turnips.  But before all these lovelies get into the dirt there is work to be done.  It involves "weeding", compost, a fork and some stamina.  

Contrary to most, one of my most favorite aspects of gardening is weeding.  One of the things I  like about it is that I see  results - kind of like vacuuming the house - it makes things feel more organized and "right".  I also find weeding to be very meditative and relaxing.  But mostly what I really, really, enjoy is getting dirty, with real dirt.  I like the smell & feel of it - i even like the turning in the compost (when it's veggie) and playing with the slimy worms. And believe me, I am one of those people who gets squeamish & starts gagging at anything resembling "gross".  (although I'm not as bad as my son who gags at our kitchen compost)

Years ago before I had my own garden, I use to try and find ways to incorporate dirt into my sculptures.  I was sometimes successful & sometimes not.  It's somewhat of a contrast because I strive to keep things neat, clean & orderly but when it comes to dirt....well - it just doesn't bother me. I can be covered in it and I just don't care.   I just love the feeling of working with it; whether I'm in the garden or in the studio - it feels sacred, magical, like an elixer- and it always leaves me with a sense of peace, calm and yes.....dirty.  

Well I can go on forever about dirt, weeds, and gardening but what I wanted to do was to share a recipe with which you can use some wild edibles from your own backyard.  And the sun is coming out! So here it is. 
Wild Edible Salad:
Dandellion, lambsquarters, red & green amaranth, kale, collards, parsley, garlic scapes, sorrel, pansies

Fresh Garden Green Salad
I love to grow & harvest greens, herbs & flowers.  This recipe has so many variations; here are the basics,
then just experiment with different types of greens both wild & cultivated, season with fresh herbs & decorate with lovely edible flowers. 

2-3  bunches of kale
1 bunch collards
1 bunch dandelion leaves
½ cup parsley
¼ cup olive oil
few dashes of pink Himalayan sea salt (to taste)
juice of 1 fresh lemon

De-vein greens - hold stem and pull until leaf comes off.  You don't really have to do this for the smaller leaves or the dandelion, although doing so will make it less bitter.  Chiffonade or (if you’re in a hurry) tear into bite size pieces, add to large mixing bowl.  Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat, few dashes of sea salt and lemon juice.  Massage mixture into the leaves. The greens will shrink a bit so I always use as many greens as possible. 
You can also massage in 1/2 a really ripe avocado, add in some shredded carrots, diced red bell pepper, fresh herbs & seasonings -  the possibilities are endless.  I just use what’s fresh in my garden, what I have on hand, or have a taste for. 
*Note – if harvesting dandelions – they are most tender and the least bitter before flowering.

We will be hosting wild edible weed walks throughout the spring & summer at Turquoise Barn - contact us for more details or check our website http://www.turquoisebarn.com/

Next time we'll talk about my favorite wild edible "Stinging Nettles" - eat if you dare........

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Everything I Need is Right Here" and The Nature of Books

My intention for this next entry was to show you lovely pictures of some nutritious & tasty dishes I've created using the amazing wild wonders that I've foraged this week; the scrumptious ramps, the delicious dandelion buds & leaves, watercress, & lambsquarters.  Well.....it's been non-stop rain, wind, & cold for the past week.  A few days ago on FB I was accused of being a "sissy" for not getting out there and planting my peas.  Yes - it's true...I'm a big "sissy" when it comes to cold weather - I don't mind the rain - but rain + cold = big fat sissy.  So the wild edibles, garden gossip, and pretty food pictures will have to wait until next time. 

Instead, what I did this morning felt like a preparation for getting out into nature again after this loooooooong winter.  Like many people, I have a lot of different interests and sometimes this can feel quite overwhelming.  However, I find that they are all relative to each other and someday I'll figure out how to incorporate them all together in a manner that will feel a bit more cohesive.  Well this morning - I felt that perhaps I was a bit closer than the usual just on my way to discovery path.    

It began last night when i went upstairs into my "studio".  A neglected space full of half finished projects, interesting gemstones, beads, metals, tools, wire, boxes, found materials, books, and photos -  all of my favorite "things" that I will someday get back to again.  The reason I went up there in the first place was not to start or finish a project, but to find some of my gemstones. 

I recently had a guest at the B&B who is what I like to refer to as an intuitive - someone who picks up on the energy of people, places, & things.  Well one of the "things" she told me was that everything I need is right here and also that I should bring more of the outside inside.  Since then i kept thinking about these gemstones I have and their healing properties and I just wanted to put them in some little bowls of water and place them all around my house with candles, rocks, & flowers. 

After I found them, I was then reminded of the time when I was studying gemology.  I so excited to discover the amazing beauty and miraculous way stones are created.  The precise conditions that must be present to create each individual stone and their characteristics & properties (just like plants & people!).  I loved looking through the microscope at all the "imperfections".  To me the more "imperfect" a stone was, the more interesting & beautiful.   Although beautiful in their own way,  I was never really interested in the "flawless" diamonds who's claimed "rarity" makes them cultishly desirable.  In my opinion, there were so many other amazing and much more unique stones with much more to offer in the way of character & beauty.  

Before I even began placing the stones around the house, I became sidetracked and jumped on the computer to begin searching for some info to help jog my memory about the history & lore of gemstones.  As usual, I ended up spending a great deal of time researching, reading, getting even more sidetracked and then wondering if i should enroll in the home study crystal healing on-line courses I accidentally found. 

Ok it's true, and I have been accused of having too many interests, not focusing on one thing; so in my mind I kept trying to justify further exploration or I should say re-exploring this topic.  How would/could this relate to what i'm currently doing with food?    

Then this morning, since it was STILL raining, I decided to try and do some searching in another neglected space in my house - my bookshelves.  What happened was I came across all of these books about gem lore, magic, nature, religion, spirituality, meditation, food, herbs, healing & art.  I pulled out some of my favorites and cleared a shelf especially for them along with some of my special "things" including the gemstones in water.  As I began choosing and arranging these books,  I realized that they were such a huge part of who I was years ago when I actually had time to sit, read, write, & create.  Well, realistically, it probably won't be any time soon that I will be able to actually read them all again, in fact there are some that I still have never even read.  But.....just rediscovering and perusing through them was truly inspirational. 

I read a page by Gary Snyder in 'The Earth Speaks" and found a couple of my edible wild plant ID books which made me realized how fortunate I am to be living in a place abundant with water, trees, plants, & flowers.  I found Andy Goldsworthy & Eva Hess books, two of my favorite artists, and felt inspired to start creating art again.  Books about organic gardening, flower fairies, spiral dances, fortune telling, Hopi & Zen meditations, architecture, alchemy, symbols, language, the earth, the sky, faraway places, and the secret life of inanimate objects - all tying together the connection between the earth, nature, healing, living, conditioning, humanity, & art - and all right here on my bookshelves.  Crazy as it may sound, rediscovering these literary treasures helped me to realized that everything I need really is right here.  BUT.......I'm not giving up on my dreams for sunny warm weather and lots of fascinating travel.

And I promise next time...food & wild edibles will be the topic...along with some pretty pictures. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Bit Behind the Times....My First Blog

So this is my first blog – yes, I realize i’m light years behind but it’s something that has been on my “to-do list” forever.  So why have I decided to start blogging?

I’ve been told by many that I “think out loud”  - this  can be both a blessing and a curse.  I also have extreme sensitivities to all of the senses…not to the point of being labeled as having severe sensory “issues”…but again….being both a blessing & a curse.  I’m also a Virgo and like structure & to stay organized.  Virgos are also known to be perfectionists and hyper-critical –  I like to tie this in with the sensitivity ”issues”.   Where am I going with this?  Well, I guess what I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is that I think I’m really going to enjoy blogging.  I can critique & “think out loud” about what I see, taste, touch, feel, & smell AND I’ll have it all documented in a nice neat orderly structure on-line. 

As a woman, artist, gardener, mother, raw & living food chef, educator, business owner, and wannabe again traveler, I’ll probably be blogging about all of the above.  Well....I’m going to post this so I can get on with some more interesting topics….like food, gardening, foraging for wild edibles, & art - which right now are at the top of my list.