My New Wednesday Tradition: A Simple Salad

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On Wednesdays I work at the farm (CSA).  I bring home my 3/4 bushel box of food, beautiful food, and I just can’t wait to have something while it’s so fresh. I enjoy a simple salad each week with whatever looks like it will work in a salad.

I’m not a greens-tearer. I like my salad in bite-sized pieces, so I cut the greens. This week I used butter head lettuce, mizuna, spinach, another green (not sure what it was), radishes, beet greens, raw beet root and scallions. I dressed it with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, salt and freshly ground black pepper (tho the radishes were spicy enough to carry it).

Oh, this was a treat! I think I ate about a gallon.

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If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

A few dishes I made with my CSA veggies

These are some things I made during the last week with the veggies from my CSA, sometimes a few additional things. I don’t always note quantities…they’re kind of simple, pinch and toss type dishes.

Stir-fry with Bok choy, green beans, red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, lots of onion, fresh ginger root, salt and a bit of soy sauce.
Stir-fry with Bok choy, green beans, red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, lots of onion, fresh ginger root, salt and a bit of soy sauce.
Fast food on a night I didn't feel like cooking - edamame pasta with marinara, Bok choy , onions.
Fast food on a night I didn’t feel like cooking – edamame pasta with marinara, Bok choy , green onions.
Miso Soup - 1 TB miso and 1/2 tsp. soy sauce to 1.5 cups water (I think I made a soup of about 6 cups). I sauteed onion and Bok choy stems first, then prepared the liquid/soup in the same pot. When it was hot, I added cut up Bok choy leaves and tofu squares. Checked the seasoning, added a little pepper and topped it off with green onions.
Miso Soup – 1 TB miso and 1/2 tsp. soy sauce to 1.5 cups water (I think I made a soup of about 6 cups). I sautéed onion and Bok choy stems first, then prepared the liquid/soup in the same pot. When it was hot, I added cut up Bok choy leaves and tofu squares. Checked the seasoning, added a little pepper and topped it off with green onions.
Corn and potato chowder. Saute chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil, add some cut up carrots. When soft, add lots of cut up potato and organic corn. Cut up greens come in at the end when finished cooking. I think I might have used kale or maybe a mix of kale and Bok choy for this, but any tender greens are fine. It was simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and I happened to have some fresh marjoram as well.
Corn and potato chowder. Saute chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil, add some cut up carrots. When soft, add lots of cut up potato and organic corn. Cut up greens come in at the end when finished cooking. I think I might have used kale or maybe a mix of kale and Bok choy for this, but any tender greens are fine. It was simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and I happened to have some fresh marjoram as well.
Lots of delicious sauteed onions and Bok choy stems, sauteed tofu squares, Bok choy greens at the last minute and a bit of soy sauce. Mmmm...mmm...good!
Lots of delicious sautéed onions and Bok choy stems, sautéed tofu squares, Bok choy greens at the last-minute and a bit of soy sauce. Mmmm…mmm…good!
As usual, I sauteed lots of chopped onion in some extra virgin olive oil, added a bit of carrot, then 1 cup of red lentils and 6 cups of water, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. curry...pan roasted some cauliflower and added it when the lentils were done, then collard greens at the very last moment. Topped it with some garlic "sprouts" (I forget what you call them).
As usual, I sautéed lots of chopped onion in some extra virgin olive oil, added a bit of carrot, then 1 cup of red lentils and 6 cups of water, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. curry…pan roasted some cauliflower and added it when the lentils were done, then collard greens at the very last moment. Topped it with some garlic “scapes.”

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Collard Green Wraps

Collard Green Wraps
Collard Green Wraps

Today we had to stop working early at the farm (CSA project) due to rain, so I came home and made myself these delicious Collard Green Wraps. Collard greens make a great wrap — the leaves are smooth and pliable and the perfect size to roll up some delicious veggies or whatever you’d like.

Here’s what I did for mine, mostly veggies from my CSA box this week:

Prepare the filling. I used spinach, red onion, radish, carrot and avocado, everything Julienned.

Wash and dry the collard greens and spread out however many leaves you’re planning to fill.

Spread Sriracha Mayo on each leaf (Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo makes a good one for vegans), and add each of the items you’re putting in the wrap, Julienne strips going lengthwise. Be sure you fill from the stem to the end of the leaf. The Hampton Creek Sriracha Mayo comes in a squirt container, so you can also just squirt a little on top of the filling rather than spread on the leaf.

Roll as tightly as possible. Secure with a couple of toothpicks if desired, but this probably isn’t be necessary.  Cut on the diagonal into 2-3″ pieces. Arrange on a plate, eat and enjoy.

Addendum: Now these were so good that I had to make more the next day! I used several different kinds of greens in theses, onion, avocado, carrot, tomato and some beautiful radishes along with the Hampton Creek Sriracha Mayo:

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If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Eating joyfully

First box from the CSA: Bok choy, Chard, Kale, Spinach, Boston Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots, Mint.
First box from the CSA: Bok choy, Chard, Kale, Spinach, Boston Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots, Mint.

I picked up my first box from the CSA today. It was filled with Bok choy, chard, kale, spinach, Boston lettuce, red and white radishes, carrots and even a bunch of mint for my Tea with Nana!

I have plans for things to make with these wonderful veggies this week, but it was lunch time, and I really, really, really wanted something right away, so I made up this amazingly fresh little salad. It made my heart feel good to sit on the deck in back eating it on this beautiful day. I’m thinking I might use some of the Bok choy tonight in Miso soup…

Boston lettuce, spinach, radishes and carrot with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, salt.
I enjoyed this beautiful salad of Boston lettuce, spinach, radishes and carrot with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, salt.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Another Wonderful Day with My CSA

As we worked in muddy fields with the temperature in the 90s, high humidity and burning sun, we all agreed it would be a good thing if every person in the country spent time participating in agriculture to gain an appreciation for what ends up on their tables!

Good thing I wore those 40 year old boots of mine! They worked pretty well for walking through the deep mud in the fields from the heavy rains the night before.

I also wore a safari hat and big glasses to protect the skin on my face, especially my nose, which, after many childhood burns reacts unhappily to sun now. That much foresight I had! Unfortunately I didn’t plan as carefully for my backside as I bent over, planting rows of squash and melons. Now I have to wear padding inside the waistband for my jeans.

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The biggest problem I had, though, was that I wasn’t quite prepared for dehydration. I’m just not a big liquid drinker, but I did bring lemon water, and I tried to push liquids. I don’t usually suffer from heat, and my endurance is very good for a 67-year-old woman, but the liquid thing got to me.

For a couple of hours of planting and hauling, I was just fine. Then I started to get dizzy when I stood up from putting a plant in the ground, then nausea set in, a little more forgetfulness than usual, then an accelerated heart rate (I have no heart issues whatsoever). Much to my surprise, since I’m one of those people who can’t go long without a bathroom, I didn’t need to visit the facility in the barn all morning. Well, now I know, and I plan to work harder at the water thing going forward.

Still, I learned a lot. In addition to learning about how important it is to stay well-hydrated whether I’m thirsty or not, I learned about how to work with certain kinds of plant containers. I always planted from seeds, not plants, when I had my organic garden in the country so many years ago. Yesterday we were planting from plants. The plants in several trays were in plastic containers instead of those dissolving cups. I had some difficulty getting the plants out and tapped a few, which disrupted the roots. Bob showed me how to squeeze them, popping the plants right out, intact.

I learned about Kevlar, “the amazing super-strong bulletproof material made by DuPont.” Bob loaned me a pair of gloves with the palms in Kevlar so that I could pull thistles from the rows that had been planted the week or two before. Although I pulled a lot of thistles, not one little pin stayed behind to aggravate my skin. I guess that makes them not only bulletproof but thistleproof.

I also learned what the underside of a flat-bed looks like when I crawled under it for a little shade when I started feeling woozy.

In addition to Bob, the owner/operator of the CSA, I met some wonderful people and learned about them and how and why they came to work the fields with me that day. Matt is there full-time over the summer, and wow, does he work hard! A university student, he wanted a break from studies to be outdoors and active. I remember wishing the same thing a number of years ago when I left a tech job, and I ended up with a food truck. Careful what you wish for! And I met Anna, a beautiful young woman, a wedding photographer and like me, a health and sustainability enthusiast.

Week by week, I’m watching the progress, the organization, the methods for operating a large organic spread. And week by week, I’m more and more impressed with what I see.

There was lots of growth between last week when I was there and this week. I’m so excited about watching as fields get plowed and plants go in.

This week, there was more to enjoy — pigs in an area where I was hosing down some crates. They were fenced in an area under trees, a mud pit, and wow, were they happy!! They were having such a great time, but as I walked over, they all quit what they were doing rolling around in the mud and came over to say “hi.” They clearly wanted some petting!

We’re just getting underway with food, so I wasn’t able to take a crate yesterday but am going back tomorrow to pick up my first one. I know there will be lettuce and bok choy but not sure what else yet.

Now comes another fun part, figuring out what to do with all of it. Lots of salads and stir fry, for sure, but I’m not sure what else yet. Forty years ago when I had my organic garden, I bought a book called, Too Many Tomatoes. I don’t remember that it had a chapter on bok choy, not yet in vogue, but nowadays I have Pinterest!

So Another Wonderful Day with My CSA. As I said to Bob, I hope I’m still doing this when I’m 85, and there’s only one way to get from here to there, and that’s to do it. And he said to me, “So we’re doing you a favor…” Yup. A very big favor, giving me a chance to connect with all that sustains us in such a meaningful way.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

A Day for Decisions

pulse

Yesterday 49 people were killed in Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. I was heartsick when I heard the news. I cried this morning when I read the text messages of Eddie Justice to his mom before he was shot to death.  I thought of my own family. My heart is with all those who lost someone they loved.

Yesterday I heard President Obama’s words and felt his deep sadness, frustration and anger.  Today I listened first to Secretary Clinton speak, then Trump.

I made my decision about the election to come. Although I have not supported Secretary Clinton, I now know if she is the Democratic nominee, and it seems she will be, I will support her without reservations. If I had the option to vote for Bernie Sanders for president, I would do it. But as the candidate, Secretary Clinton is NOT the same as Trump. She is NOT the lesser of two evils. She is not different from Trump by degrees but is, rather, radically, profoundly different from him. And despite its many problems and establishment interests, the Democratic Party is NOT the same as the Republican Party to the extent that the Republican Party supports Trump and brought him near to the presidency. These are different universes.

As a Jew, at the time of a death or on each memorial occasion, I recite the Kaddish, which I would like to share here:

Exalted and hallowed be God’s great name
in the world which God created, according to plan.
May God’s majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime
and the life of all Israel — speedily, imminently, to which we say Amen.

Blessed be God’s great name to all eternity.

Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded
be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing, praise, and comfort, to which we say Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel,
to which we say Amen.

May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace to us and to all Israel, to which we say Amen.

These words don’t speak of death but of life. They reaffirm the values Judaism teaches and praise the God in whom we believe.  In the same way, Secretary Clinton in her words today reaffirmed the American values of inclusion and our responsibility to others at home and in our global community. She reaffirmed values that I grew up with and which are dear to me. They are the values on which this country was founded even though we have never yet lived up to them. We have tried, we have made progress, and we can and must do more, a lot more — and she spoke of that. She spoke of a vision of our country at its best, of how we can be.

Trump, too, struck every chord in just the right way. The right way to generate fear and anger among Americans. He undermined the President of the United States, calling on him to resign. He spoke of exclusion. He recited his usual litany of utter falsehoods. He linked the economic fears and insecurities of Americans to immigrants. He used, as he always does, defamatory words repeatedly. Soon they will no longer sound strange and offensive but commonplace. He used the word “Islam” (not even Islamic terrorism) again and again as he spoke about terrorism and finally complained that the floods of immigrants are “promoting Islam” among their young people and ours.

Trump concluded with a statement that he pledges to “protect and defend all Americans who live inside our borders…All Americans living here and following our laws, not other laws, will be protected.”

If everyone in the U.S. followed our laws, not other laws, we would still have slavery. So I will make a pledge also. I pledge to follow American laws unless they conflict with my other laws and values, and I respect the right of others to follow the laws and values of their religions or ethical codes.

I suppose some will say that Christian and Jewish laws and values are in accord with American laws and values while Muslim laws and values are not. This is nonsense. It’s not the way religions work. Do we really want to judge religions by the actions of extremist groups that grow up in their context for a variety of historical, social, cultural and economic reasons? Do we really want to discount the evidence of 3.3 million Muslims living in the U.S. and 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, people like us who just want to live decent lives, caring for their families and communities in the framework of their religious and cultural heritage?

Trump is a German Christian (whoops, comes from a German Christian heritage). By Trump’s standards, he and his family should have been banned entry to this country and should, now that they are here, be under surveillance. His family comes from a country that sustained the murder of 12,000,000 innocents in concentration camps, masterminded and carried out by a man who could not have come to power or retained it without the support of a significant number of Christian churches and the people who were in them. I don’t know “what the hell happened there” any better today than I did when I started asking that question as a very young Christian teenager, and I doubt anyone else really does either. So I guess until we do, all Germans and all Christians should be banned from the U.S. Ridiculous and offensive comment, isn’t it?

What we do understand about what happened there is what we can hear and see in media of the time — we see a man who used media tools brilliantly to generate fear and anger among Germans. He undermined the constitutional government. He spoke of exclusion. He recited a litany of utter falsehoods. He linked the economic fears and insecurities of Germans to people he saw as outsiders, Jews, Gypsies and others. He used defamatory words repeatedly until they no longer sounded strange and offensive but were commonplace. And so the most enlightened country in Europe retrained their brains and the brains of their young people to support an evil system. As part of that, Hitler employed Christian catchwords and phrases to shape his evil ideology and used it to convince his fellow Germans that they were actually following the dictates their religion, in reality Hitler’s vile perversion of it, for his own narcissistic, opportunistic ends.

It sounds to me a lot like the man who is plastered across all our media day in and day out in this country, the United States of America. His vision of America, of what will make it great, is utterly repugnant.

The vision that Secretary Clinton presented today is the image I will support. I believe that a strong Democratic turnout is all that will defeat Trump, and I believe he must be defeated, once and for all. Then we can continue to build a progressive movement and will someday be able to support a candidate who unequivocally represents those values and that vision. As a friend said to me recently, building a movement is step-by-step. We need to keep going. We need to take our country back from the haters and excluders and narcissistic opportunists who have no value higher than themselves and their own financial grandiosity.

The Dalai Llama said, “The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not criticize others.” Those who hold to a faith tradition in this country, including myself, have plenty to do examining and re-examining the roots of our own traditions and how they have interacted with economic, social and political situations throughout history, how they have changed, what themes have been emphasized more strongly at any point in time, the extent to which those situated expressions of their religion correspond to their most deeply held values. Or don’t.

But if anyone would like to learn about other traditions, not criticize but learn, Harvard currently offers an excellent series of classes in Religious Literacy free of charge online. Islam is in progress right now. The class is a wonderful opportunity to understand some things about Islam and to meet wonderful people, Muslim and non-Muslim, who also want to learn and who share in extraordinary ways.

After listening to a eulogy by Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine, at the funeral/life celebration of Mohammed Ali this past week, I connected with another project with which Rabbi Lerner is involved, the Network of Spiritual Progressives. This organization “seeks to transform our materialist and corporate-dominated society into a caring society through consciousness raising, advocacy, and public awareness campaigns that promote a “New Bottom Line” based on generosity, peace, and social transformation. The NSP shifts mass consciousness by challenging status-quo ideas about what is possible.”

The NSP mission: “Instead of a bottom-line based on money and power, we need a new bottom-line that judges corporations, governments, schools, public institutions, and social practices as efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent they maximize money and power, but to the extent they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and our capacity to respond with awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation.” – Rabbi Michael Lerner

“You don’t have to believe in God, deny science, or be part of a religion to be a spiritual progressive.”

As I reflect on yesterday’s events, I know I need to respond with more than reflection. I will redouble my own efforts to be a better person and to make the world better. I’ll work the fields in my local CSA not just for my own pleasure but because it supports a back-to-basics spirituality through engagement with the earth. I will cook at home from local and organic foods because it supports spirituality through the most basic mechanism of providing healthy, sustainable, life-giving food. I will do what I can to recognize and call out racism and bigotry. I will support any candidate, even one very flawed, who can possibly beat Trump in the election and who offers a vision of caring and inclusivity. I will continue to reexamine my values as they apply to situations in this country and around the world. And I will find ways to support a spiritual reawakening in America, such as that promoted by the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

It is not a virtue for a leader to say what people want to hear. It’s not leadership. Sadly, what too many people want to hear is a vision of this country that will lead only to dead ends and more tragedies, here and around the world.

I want to thank President Obama for inspiring me with his vision and reawakening me to the value and importance of politics and political leadership.

And I want to thank Bernie Sanders for broadening my vision and revealing me to myself as a Progressive. I didn’t know.

I want to thank friends and my rabbi of the last six years who have shared their thoughts and wisdom as I try to find my place.

And I want to say thank you to Secretary Clinton for saying the right thing today. After the tragic death of so many, I wanted to hear words that presented a vision of the best we are capable of being in this country. Words do count.

There is only one path to healing this world and this country: inclusivity and respect for all people, every race, every ethnicity, every nation, every gender identity or sexual preference, every religious and cultural heritage.  All people.

6/14/2016 Update: This morning President Obama spoke again about Orlando and reflected on Trump’s words yesterday and throughout this campaign season. Here is part of his presentation. I will miss him when he is no longer president. His beautiful intelligence, his dignity, his humanity, constantly inspire me and make me proud to be American.

Farmer for a day, and what a beautiful day it was!

I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year, and what a beautiful start to the season. Yesterday was sunny with a few beautiful clouds and a cool breeze, perfect gardening weather. This CSA is on the edge of a forest preserve (Brunner Family Farm) just 10 minutes from my home in Algonquin. I signed on for a Worker’s Share because I want to be part of the process as I once was when I had a farm of my own. Although I’m interested in growing a lot in a tiny space like my deck, being out in the fields has so many advantages, and I couldn’t resist the experience. This was one of those days that provided them all!

Yesterday I got to water some of the plants just beginning to come up, moving from plant to plant, up and down the rows, giving each little plant a good soak. As I finished two rows, I moved the very long hose over two rows and began again.

After a couple of hours, Bob, the CSA owner-operator, came back to check on me from the fields where he was working, planting more rows. He thought I might be getting bored. Bored?! Oh my goodness, no. Being out in that beautiful place on a day like yesterday, feeling the warm sun and perfectly cool breeze, hearing little other than breeze and birds, watching the tall grasses wave and the plants grow, seeing the sunlight sparkling on small puddles of water as I worked…knowing that cows were over in another area being cows and chickens in yet another area being chickens…there’s just nothing better to restore one’s soul.

I thought about the plan I’ve had for several years to move but then thought how fortunate I am to not only live with my husband next door to my younger son and his family and not at all far from my older son and his, but to look out on a pond in a wetland conservation area, to walk to the corner for my groceries every day, and now to drive just ten minutes from my home and farm to my heart’s content. It’s time to give my soul a Sabbath, a rest from planning and reorganizing, and just be, appreciating where I am in this moment in all its amazing, miraculous details. Time to just watch the plants grow.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

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 For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.