Garlic Scape Pesto

Desperate to cook with something from our garden, I decided I would make use of our only crop of a decent size at the moment – garlic scapes.  Since I just learned what scapes were last year, I can imagine there are some people out there who also don’t know (ahem *city folk* cough cough).  Well, they are the first shoot that comes from garlic that had been planted the previous fall.  Yes, you must plant garlic 3 whole seasons ahead of time before you can harvest the bulbs in the summer.  So, at least we get garlic scapes in June – that taste just like garlic and can be used kind of like green onions – otherwise I’m sure some of us would get anxious and pull up our garlic too early (I’m dying to know how big those bulbs are under the soil). It is also essential to cut the scapes before the flower blossoms, to keep the plant’s energy going into making your garlic bulb nice and plump.  I got the idea for pesto from Stacie at the Kimberley General Store (who is always full of great local food ideas).  One of our first garden recipes!

I started out processing just olive oil and scapes, a la pesto style, until I lifted the lid of the food processor and got hit by a wall of garlic.  In a desperate attempt to cut the overpowering and overstimulating effect of garlic, I added some parsley, basil, ginger, parmesan and honey.  I don’t know if you could taste any of these other flavours, but it didn’t matter because it was delish, and also because now all I can taste is garlic still.  I bet some lemon would be a great addition also.  Even though Dylan says he will taste it for days, it was sooo good while we were eating it.

(I couldn’t get this first photo to flip properly, so please turn your head to the right to view the beautiful garlic scapes).

All in the food processor…

Mixed up with some brown rice pasta (or pasta of your choice), some salt and pepper and voila!



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I’m Not Supposed To Have Responsibilities….I’m a Hipsie.

We may have rooted ourselves.  It’s terrifying. 

We were debating chickens for a while but it’s pretty obvious we couldn’t commit.  We eased ourselves into it with a garden and some houseplants (just 2 houseplants).  But we still want to be mobile, we love it.  And then we even went and emptied Dylan’s storage unit and moved some more stuff into our house, as though we are going to live here for a long time.  Another year even.  It makes me want to run.  And now!  Now we’ve gone and got not one, but 2 cats!  We can’t even house-sit anymore unless we can bring it (we’re only planning on keeping one….for the mice of course), or unless we can find cat-sitters too.  This is getting ridiculous.  I feel like I should just pack up the car for practice to make sure I can still get outta here in one load.  One light in the dark tunnel towards “status quo life” is that we got a sweet FREE barbeque at the end of someone’s lane the other day!  Can’t believe they gave away a Weber that was barely used, came with all the accessories (even charcoal and mequite chips) AND it matches our cookware!

But then…..look at these faces…….I’m melting….

My First Vegetable Garden

We did…..well…I did, what every body,

book, blog, article and website tells you not to do.

We went big.  A smart, caring and busy individual would be wise to start with a 4X10 plot, no bigger.  We doubled that, probably tripled it, and I’m sure we’ll pay the price.  Luckily, we are still in the honeymoon phase of vegetable gardening, where most things are growing, nothing has been attacked, the weeds are at bay and we’re dreaming of delicious, easy and fresh vegetables in the near future.  We are not dreaming of all the weeding that will need to take place, the bug patrolling, the rabbit visits, or the heartbreak.  I’m so naive it’s 9am on a Sunday morning and I haven’t even looked at the garden this weekend yet.  It could have been totally wiped out yesterday or today, but in my happy naive bubble, that just won’t happen to us.  It happens to everyone else in the books, blogs, website, and articles, but not us.  Like car accidents, deaths in the family and natural disasters.  You never think it will happen to you and you only partially prepare for it, if at all.  Luckily, we’re just talking about peas and bean here. 

Nonetheless, we have a 20X20 row garden and a 10X4 square foot garden and they are not all for us.  They are to test out some organic growing methods for our non profit Free Spirit Gardens and the produce will be shared with Free Spirit Tours staff, family and friends.  We are also growing all heirloom, organic varieties, so I think the yield per plant is going to be significantly lower than conventional hybrid plants, thus we’ve planted 12 tomato plants rather than 4.  hah.  With a shitty kitchen, a small fridge/freezer, no pantry or root cellar, this is going to be food overload.  Perfect, it’s what I’m hoping for.  Because, in all reality, there’s a chance that it will be slim pickings.  The season is late, and I was speaking to a very well seasoned farmer at the Flesherton Farmer’s Market yesterday who consoled me by saying that this season is a hard season for even experienced growers, nevermind beginners.  So if I get more food than I can handle, my self-proclaimed vegetable growing expertise will be validated.

Gun in Hand….and He Waved at Me

As I rode my bike home from work one day this week, a young boy was playing in his grandmother’s yard wearing a cape and shooting a toy gun at everything.  “Oh man,” my mind judged, “Straight from TV and games, and his grandma is right there, I wonder what she thinks, I wonder if this will affect what he grows up to be….” Until inevitably I was passing the driveway of his battleground, expecting to be shot at.

But I guess this is what children are for, because this little boy instantly brought me out of my narrow-minded judgments.  I was reminded of the simplicity and impermanence of every moment when he let his hand with the gun fall to the wayside and lifted his other, empty little hand to wave to me.  All intention of shooting things completely forgotten as he entered a new moment of enthusiastically hoping to connect to the biker passing by.  Who knows what the next moment would hold for him – would he go back to shooting or would a new moment catch his attention?  For him it didn’t matter.  All that mattered was to wave to the biker and see if she waves back.  I did.

Talk about a Flexible Platform: From Poulet Chalet to Greenhouse

In the fall we began to build a chicken coop.  I say “we”, but I assume that everyone knows that I mean: Dylan built a chicken coop and I complained that my fingers were numb as I held the measuring tape, took some photos and then ran inside to start a fire.

This is as far as “we” got before we learned that the chickens that someone was hoping to hand off to us had been handed off to another loving home.

So we hummed and hawed about buying some chickens but decided it would not be wise to try our hand at them just as the cold season was approaching.  So the chicken coop stood, just as you see it, through the winter, gathering enough snow to hide it from our sights and thoughts.  When spring arrived, we moved the chicken coop to behind the shed and I wondered how long it would remain an unfinished project.  I began growing seedlings for a new non-profit that I am “executive director” of and when I had run out of light space indoors, our “president” loosely joked that we should use the chicken coop as a temporary greenhouse.

A couple days later I bought some plastic from the hardware store and posed the idea to Dylan.  Thank goodness he’s a carpenter and came up with a much more sophisticated creation than my idea of velcro-ing a corner of the plastic for me to get in and out.  He used re-claimed windows and put them on hinges to open down so I can open the whole side of the coop for ventilation during the day.

It’s an awesome concept, except I got a bit excited about it and let the tomato plants get too much sun all at once and they all got sunburned.  So we put some lattice work up on the other side of the coop to provide some shade relief on really sunny days and every day I check the plants a couple of times praying for those white-ish spots of sunburn to disappear.

Call me Buddha.

This is the gong that rings more times than I can count each day during a 10 Day Vipassana Meditation course.  Note that it is called a “course” as opposed to a “retreat”.  Those 10 days of my life were no holiday.  I cried, I sweat, I suffered, I smiled, and I walked.   I did not speak, sun bathe, play or communicate with any other human being, and I only laughed on the 10th day when the vow of silence is broken.  It was tough.

It is now 7 days since I have returned from my 10 Day course and while I’d love to say I am more peaceful, more loving and more happy…..I can not tell.  I can only assume that some benefit was had and it is showing very subtly in my day to day actions and reactions.   As how real change truly happens, on a deeper level than at the surface, at the root and source of the problem.  As much as I wish that it had been a 10 Day Magic Fix for all of my problems and misery, it was not.  It was simply an introduction to a technique that, if applied to the rest of my life, can help to eradicate the miseries that we all hold so deep within the mind and body.   So I am doing my best to meditate each morning.  We are instructed to meditate one hour each morning AND each night for the full benefit and true practice of the technique.  But shhheeeesshhh…..really??  Maybe when I’m retired, ok. But when my yoga teacher also says to do your asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath work) once a day and I must also contribute to the world, cook and clean, and of course blog…. 2 hours of meditation is a lot.  Yet, for 10 days I managed to meditate for 12 hours each day….and now 2 hours is too much?  hah.  The problem is not that 2 hours is too much, it is that our silly society thinks that we should spend 8 hours out of the house each day doing some sort of monkey task for someone else so that we may own a house and cars and pretty looking things.  Silly society.  Luckily, I lead a rather non-conventional life and should be able to fit in 2 meditations a day.  However, my goal for now is one each morning from 5:30am-6:30am.  Not terrible considering we were up at 4am while on the course.   Yet, some mornings, it is terrible.

The 10 days themselves were certainly the longest 10 days I’ve ever lived…..however they are gone.  Which is one of the primary teachings from the course: That everything will pass.  The teachings are the Buddha’s teachings from 25 centuries ago, that have been slightly lost and mis-interpreted so that while the faith and devotional teachings of Buddha have been emphasized, the actual practice of true knowledge and pure happiness has been muffled.  Luckily, those good Burmese monks were the ones to preserve the pure teachings of Buddha and they’ve helped to spread them all over the world again, all the way to right here in Angus, Ontario.  hah.  It really was cool being able to experience Buddha’s teachings in a very non-sectoral/non-religious place in rural Ontario.

The days themselves were simple – meditate, meditate, stretch, eat, walk, meditate, meditate, meditate, eat, walk, meditate…..etc.  There were 7 hours of sleep in there that I relished, and an evening discourse that I think everyone looked forward to. Not only were we able to watch someone else, we could sit however we fancied and change positions as many times as we wanted. That in itself was a treat!  The discourses a video recording of lectures from Goenke G, a regular Burmese business man who came into Vipassana in his search for a migraine cure and is now spreading the practice due to it’s importance and it’s power.  He is an enlightened man and thus his lectures are full of stories, jokes- even if you are having the ugliest, more painful day of your life, he will make you smile – and repeated reminders:  “Practice diligently, diligently.  Practice patiently, patiently.  Patiently and persistently, patiently and persistently.  You are bound to be successful, bound to be successful.”

On day 1, I survived just fine.  But already in the evening discourse when Goenke G begins by saying, “The first day is over, you have 9 more days to work”…..I was like….oh man, that’s a long time.

By day 2 I was like, ok…..8 days, not too bad.

Day 3 I thought, ok, 7 more days, a week, what’s a week in your every day life Kim?  A week flies by!

Day 4 – “I can’t do it.  I can’t do 6 more days of this.  It’s going to take forever!”

Dav 5 – “It is taking forever, not 5 more days”

Day 6 – “Longest 6 days of my life, I can’t wait for Sunday”

Day 7 –  “Not 3 more days, I can’t wait until Sunday”

Day 8 – “Just make it through today Kim, one day at a time”

Day 9 – “Ok, last day of work, work hard, work diligently”

Day 10 – I experienced such euphoria when we could speak.  Even before I said a word, I felt so light, so happy, the sun came out….it was pure bliss!  I forgot entirely about wanting to go home and just soaked up every second of this day!

Day 11 – I made a b-line for my vehicle the moment they handed me my keys.  7:30am, I was outta there!  hah.

10 Days of Silence and Nothing

 

 

Yet another move is ahead of me, and this one I’m doing solo.  This move is free of trucks, boxes, tape, food, work, books and music.  Thank goodness.  It’s free of all of the stuff that clutters my life and distracts me from living life itself.  It’s free of complex thought and free of the senses.   That’s probably a dramatic enough introduction so I’ll now tell you that I am beginning a 10 day Vipassana Meditation course tomorrow at the Ontario Vipassana Centre.  Me and 49 others will spend 10 days in complete (noble) silence with the following schedule:

4:00 a.m Morning wake-up bell
4:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
6:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast break
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00 a.m – 11:00 a.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Lunch break
12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tea break
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
7:00 p.m – 8:15 p.m. Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m. Retire to your own room. Lights out

 

I have chosen to complete this course because I have some internal work that needs to be done.  It involves healing, letting go, feeling safe, becoming more mindful and focussed, detachment from things that I attach my identity to, and I’m sure more that I’ll discover over the next 10 days.  However, I am also aware that I may just spend the next 10 days sitting, waiting for the next meal and secretly singing in the shower. hah.  Who knows.

Here’s some more information if you’re curious:

http://www.torana.dhamma.org/index.html