If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

~P.B. Shelley

Seasonal cycles have ruled humanity since the beginning of time. No matter how hard we try to control them, inevitably everyone must succumb to the laws of nature.  Farmers markets, by definition, work with the earthly cycles of growth and regeneration. When shopping at them, we become partners with the land, locally and regionally.  The food we procure and the interactions at the markets enhance our lives with the energies of the earth and the vitality of communing with it. There is no better time to experience this than the transition from winter to spring. 

Winter

Winter in the Midwest, where I lived most of my life before San Diego, is often brutally cold, yet hardy shoppers come to the markets to buy cold storage items such as apples, leeks, onions and potatoes.  As the farmers gear up for spring, they order seeds, tend to cold frames, greenhouses and hoop-houses in order to get a good start on the season.

In Southern California, the hallmark of the winter season is citrus.  Unique varieties such as Satsuma tangerines, Paige tangerines, Naval oranges, Mandarin oranges, Persian limes, Mexican limes, Kaffir limes and citron grace the stalls of the local markets.  Lettuces, greens, herbs and vegetables are also available in moderate quantities, depending on the location of the farms and the methods used for growing, ie, permaculture, dry farming, hoop houses, plastic covers or other warming techniques.  On rare occasions, usually once every few years, a frost will temper the harvest in the warmest areas.

Since the growing season here is year round, farmers stagger plantings in order to prolong the harvest of tender varieties into months instead of weeks.  Examples of this are arugula, spinach, tat soi, chard and many varieties of kale.  Staggered plantings of garlic, leeks and green onions do the same.  San Diego farmers have to keep their market stalls filled year round, so the approach is very different from commodity farmers who supply their harvests for commercial food production, national and international supply chains

Spring

One of the joys of living in the Midwest is the arrival of spring. The animals and humans share the phenomenon with a flurry of activity. Buds pop up from half-frozen soil, birds are feathering nests and singing, land is cleared then tilled and people are running around in short-sleeves.  It is a time of dramatic change and the collective mood is one of exuberance. I do miss this and hope to experience some of it when I travel to Michigan in late March for my next book tour.

I’ll be be hanging out at the Royal Oak Farmers Market with my farmer friend Don Cinzori of Cinzori Farms who, in addition to having his greenhouse planted herbs and plants, will have green garlic shoots, spinach and leeks. 

Other Michigan spring delicacies to be discovered are morel mushrooms, fiddle-head ferns and asparagus. As spring progresses, baby lettuces, raspberries and sugar snap peas will bolster the drama of spring at the Michigan markets.

In San Diego, spring is different. To say there is no spring in Southern California is incorrect; it has its own unique version. While the markets of San Diego continue to bustle all winter, I always get excited when spring crops start showing up. The warm ever-constant sun brings people to the markets and the romantic days of mid-February to early-March find shoppers searching for the abundant sensual pleasures.

The first sweet strawberries appear at JR Organics in early February.  Depending on the Santa Ana winds and warmth of the sun, the harvest steadily increases until it peaks in May. Giant one and two pound sweetly-fragrant Chanterelle mushrooms from the mountains near San Luis Obispo are sold.

Tender lettuces, baby kale, spinach and green elephant garlic are abundant at Sage Mountain Farms. Young broccoli, radicchio and baby beets are at Suzies Farm. Siberian Kale and cilantro accompany the basil of Archi’s Acres.

Fuerte avocados, chermoyas and guavas begin in February at Korals Tropical Fruit Farm with Kumquats and a continuing plethora of citrus  in March.

Lone Oak Ranch begins to press fresh pomegranate juice. Terra Bella Ranch has the very special Livermore red walnuts, almonds and Chandler walnuts. Spring doesn’t just pop up in San Diego, it comes in like a high tide. The arrival is heralded by the bounty and festivity of the markets.

I encourage everyone to shop at the local farmers markets.  Even during the off-season months, there is much to discover. In addition, we make a community connection, life is enhanced and we are healthier for it.


In the coming months I will be working on a lot of quick and easy to prepare recipes which I plan to share with my subscribers.  So if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to my blog below, or on the upper right hand corner of this page.

See you at the markets!

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Ingrid Newkirk on Vegetarian Traditions

Oh, be still my heart: Vegetable Almond Quesadilla, Portabella Romescu, Benares Rice Pudding and the cherry on top–Hazelnut Torte with Hot Fudge Sauce–and all recipes are dairy-free! If there is a heaven, it is inside the covers of this gorgeous, easy-to-follow cookbook of legendary recipes–Vegetarian Traditions. Or perhaps even more heavenly, a kitchen full of cooks preparing these delicious dishes for you and your guests, so that all you have to do is think dreamy thoughts and treat your palate to a party. Vegetarian Traditions makes a gorgeous present that will be enjoyed for a lifetime. I was mightily impressed and felt immediate food cravings!

~Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president and co-founder

Walden (Life in the Woods)

“I learned from my two year’s experience that it would cost incredibly little trouble to obtain one’s necessary food even in this latitude; that a man may use as simple a diet as the animals, and yet retain health and strength.  I have made a satisfactory dinner, satisfactory on several accounts, simply off a dish of purslane ( Portulaca oleracea) which I gathered in my cornfield, boiled and salted.  I give the Latin on account of the savouriness of the trivial name.

And pray what more can a reasonable man desire, in peaceful times, in ordinary noons, than a sufficient number of ears of green sweet-corn boiled, with the addition of salt?  Even the little variety which I used was a yielding to the demands of appetite, and not of health.

Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not for want of necessaries, but for want of luxuries; and I know a good woman who thinks that her son lost his life because he took drinking water only. The reader will perceive that I am treating the subject rather from an economic than a dietetic point of view, and he will not venture to put my abstemiousness to the test unless he has a well stocked-larder.”

~Henry David Thoreau



About Julia Child

July 2009-28

Julia wanted her viewers to loosen up, get physical, not with controlled substances but with food, not through a glass darkly but at table, with delight. Hers was a civilized sensuality, the integration of the senses that she’d learned in France. This is why her following was legion—Julia’s appetite appealed to young and old alike.
“Americans didn’t come over on the Mayflower trusting food,” says Laura Shapiro. “Julia’s whole thing about food was that you had to trust it. That, to me, is her great message. Getting your hands into it—touch it, breathe it, smell it, live it. If we as Americans have overcome to any degree our fear of food, our weird neurotic thing about the body, it starts with Julia.”

July 2009-56
“I felt very related to her,” says Judith Jones, “because we were both released from very traditional, middle-class American values. And it was France that released us. She wanted to bring this message to America—that we were still steeped in the Puritan attitude towards food, and what the food industry had done to make us feel that food was not for the modern woman. It’s what an artist does: you want to express it so that you awaken sensibility. And she really did that.”

July 2009-50
“Her favorite point in her life was the years in France, that period of discovery and awakening,” says Alex Prud’homme. “As she said, ‘I felt myself opening like a flower.’ It was a lovely phrase. And I think one of the reasons that—this is my personal theory—she wanted to write all these recipes down and transmit them to Americans is it was a form of distilling experience, almost like a short story or a poem. She used the recipe as a way of talking about France and its values, which are so different from ours. You know, doing things correctly and taking the time to get it right, and to work hard and learn your technique, and also to have fun.”

Original article:
http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/08/julia-child200908

Vegetarian Quote

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

-Albert Einstien

yellow-tomatoes

An Encounter With Jacques Pepin

The venerable chef Jacques Pepin once described to me his view of the ‘world of cooking’.  Keith Famie had invited him for a book release event at Keith’s restaurant, Les Auteurs, in Royal Oak. During the event, Monsieur Pepin approached me and spoke about the vast world of cooking and how there are only so many preparations one can make in a lifetime.  He told me that “people become too attached to making a few good recipes.  When someone learns to prepare a fish well and then thinks he is a chef, I do not have much respect for them. On the other hand, when a young cook presents something to me and asks for an opinion thinking it could be better this way or that, there is hope.  Humility and respect are essential for success in the world of cooking.”  Monsieur Pepin then described his latest cookbook, his passion for mushrooms and his farm that produced 10,000 delectable pounds a year.  Pointing to a picture of himself and his wife in the front of the book he mentioned that under the table he was not wearing pants.

A few moments later, he took me over to the beautiful spread of food which Keith had laid out and picked up a small spoon of mustard for me to taste.  It was the one thing he had prepared at the table.  The mustard danced on my tongue with intensity.  The flavor was like coming upon a solid yellow field of mustard blossoms among a sea of green growth.  Well balanced with a sweet finish, it was great.  I thanked Chef Pepin, he had given me much to think about …as well as with something to wink about.

Chapati Tales

All sorrows are less with bread.  ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

 

 

kusum-sarovara

The chapati may be the original bread…flat, without yeast and prepared over open fires.  The technique has been used for millennia and is adaptable to many different cooking circumstances, such as hot stones, coals or open flame.  The art of chapati making is often meditative and conducive for simple, yet elegant meals that focus on fresh and local flavors.

My first exposure to Indian food started in Cleveland in 1972.  The marvelously flexible and flavorful bread was served at the Hare Krishna temple on Sundays.  Soon, I became a regular, helping to make hundreds of chapatis in the clean and unpretentious kitchen that once belonged to John D. Rockefeller’s daughter.  I was shown proper ratios of flour, water and oil along with the best methods for making the dough by hand.  Taking on the job of kneading, I also learned how the dough was similar to the clay I was working with in pottery class at school.  Kneading and resting the dough were important for good chapatis: Ten minutes of kneading, then fifteen minutes of resting.  Sometimes, we would change the technique and “age” the dough in water overnight, which made the dough elastic and with a slight tang.  Often, we would seek the help of Indian women who learned the art of chapati making in early childhood.  I marveled how they deftly handled the thin rolling pins, turning a ball of dough into evenly rolled, thin, flat and perfectly round breads in a matter of seconds.  A talent passed on from mother to daughter for millennia, vividly displayed with fluid hand movements and perfectly puffed breads.

Living in the Northern Indian town of Vrndavan, I was immersed in a culinary yoga which maintained a strong emphasis on the balance between chapatis, rice, dahls and subjis.  The total chapati experience was revealed with the invite to lunch in local homes where I was able to witness this sweet perfection of Indian hospitality.  First and foremost, Vaishnava Hindu households always made a small portion as an offering to Vishnu first, thus “spiritualizing” the food and stressing the importance role food play in a life.  In a social setting, this was rarely shared with company, as the guest was made to feel as they were the only object of attention.  In my case, a desire to learn about food often brought extra demonstrations and detailed information about the preparation of food.  The menu was usually simple local fare such as mung dahl, basmati rice studded with black cardamom, a subji such as begun sak (eggplant and spinach) and, of course, a steaming fresh chapati.  Not just warm, but cooked to perfection, puffed up with a small vent of steam pouring out the top, just at the very moment the bread was placed on my plate.  As my fingers lifted the last morsel of tender bread off the plate, another fresh, perfectly prepared chapati would be placed in front of me…the steam swirling and beckoning.  This gastronomical ritual would continue until my belly could consume no more.  The most amazing part was that these experiences were merely daily lunches.  The sophistication of the food, high etiquette and attention to detail were simply how life was lived.

From The Hare Krishna Cookbook, circa 1973
From The Hare Krishna Cookbook, circa 1973, Copyright BBT

A “white” whole wheat flour works well.  The best flour to use is the durum whole wheat “atta” flour sold at Indian import stores.

To make this recipe vegan, place the chapatis directly in a covered container to keep the steam in.  

The chapatis will retain moisture and be soft for serving.  

Koral’s Tropical Fruit Farm

 

barry-and-josh-koral1

Strolling through the Hillcrest Farmers Market, one vendor stands out among the vibrant colors of bountiful booths.  Barry Koral is six foot plus, wears a large straw sun hat and frequently dons a colorful Hawaiian shirt.  Beyond the visual, his pronounced voice penetrates the hubbub of the market with timely offers of avocados, Meyer lemons, guava and persimmons interspersed with sage advice.  Drawn to the booth for his addictively good fruit as well as powerfully energetic personality, I make the pilgrimage almost every Sunday.  When he first spoke about how his food is alive and full of nutrients, I recognized the glint in his eye as that of a raw food aficionado.  

My first exposure to live foods was in 1981 when my wife Barbara visited the Hippocrates Institute in Coldwater Michigan to pursue a cure for the cancer she faced.  Ultimately, the illness was not overcome, but the experience kick-started her healing journey holistically in body, mind and spirit.  The experience was both enlightening and invigorating and, since then, I have incorporated elements of live foods into my own diet and food preparation.  A prominent symptom of a seasoned live food devotee is an incredible energy level and the same glint in the eye that I see when Barry speaks. 

Short of doing a proper interview, Barry was kind enough to share the article below which paints a beautiful picture of his contribution to the community.  Meeting him has been a privilege and those fleeting moments of exposure to his good present energy adds momentum to my week.  He helps people connect to the life energies inherent in the earth, often without them having any idea of what is going on.  Souls such as he, help the rest of us understand how to live and breath with the earth, as well as utilize the readily available bounty to increase the quality of our existence.   An example worth following and fruit worth eating!

 

barry-koral-booth

This is the article Barry shared with me:

Barry likes to express himself through drawing and poetry. I mention to him that I’m fond of his musings and wish to include some samples on my community service website. He happily responds by saying, “You rock my world.” It’s a nice compliment, and it sets me wondering about his way of moving through the world.

For instance, I discover that Barry has a wealth of timely information to share about life, especially concerning his passion for what he terms the “art of living”. In a few days, I’m invited back to his digs, with a close woman friend. This interview is the result of my wishing to know more about the life of this multi-talented artist and health enthusiast.

Amidst a plethora of one hundred seventy five fruit trees, a small art studio, sauna, hot tub, and an assortment of foraged American folk art, I learn more details about the property as Barry bares his soul about how all this came to pass. Mr. Natural, as I call him, confides that his sanctuary is a dream come true. Barry’s purring cat wholeheartedly agrees, and indeed, this attractively designed spacious environ fits the bill. This pearl in an oyster of a location is perfect for personal growth.

Surveying the property reveals that the trees are filled with tremendous life force. Barry surrounds everyone with a ring of rocks gathered from his worldwide travels. Each is a souvenir of his experiences in far away places. The rocks add minerals to the soil, help to retain moisture around the trees, and create a continual flow of energy, reflecting the endless cycles of nature.

One important thing to consider is natural symbiosis, which incorporates efficient homestead design. At its best, this is an evolving adventure into appropriate sustainable lifestyles. The key theme here, as it relates to Barry’s semi-rural lifestyle, is optimization. For example, a pilgrimage to a sacred earthen lair on one corner of the property, dubbed Mount Compost, is the home of a plethora of wriggling earthworms, as well as a lively assortment of microbes – beneficial for both humans and the biosphere. Here is a tidbit of information that most urbanites and suburbanites aren’t even aware of: one centimeter of soil contains as many as one billion microbes!

Much of the planet’s soil is lacking in essential nutrients, such as trace minerals. In an attempt to remedy this, Barry takes care to add specific life-enriching elements to his trees. Mineralized rock dust and compost applied around the base of the trees can greatly enhance crop yields, while maintaining Gaia equipoise. The pleasure is in reaping delectable results. Barry comments: “Watering, composting, pruning, brush removal, leaf raking, and adding more mulch to the soil are really vital to balanced growth and renewal.”

Barry has taken great care to plant very special varieties of exotic subtropical fruit trees. He and his co-workers carefully select the finest, most delectable ripe fruit from his orchard to sell, and the rest is shared among friends or returned to Mother Earth as compost. As a result, his fruits are distributed in various parts of the U.S. and abroad. His French customers, for instance, have access to the finest produce in the world. Barry is honored to be selected as one of their providers.

Barry supports and stimulates the organic food economy. This helps to promote local self-sufficiency and the health of bioregions across the planet. As part of this initiative, every week, he loads large crates of fruit into his van, and drives the produce to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, where it is displayed in attractive hand woven baskets. He covers the tables with brightly colored tapestries, and puts calligraphic signs in the baskets, each adorned with his creative designs.

Yet this is only the beginning! What would the show be without Barry? Wishing to see for ourselves, a friend and I accompany him on a Sunday excursion to the market. It’s really quite a lively affair. We discover that Barry is among the most vocal of entrepreneurs, entreating potential customers to procure his exotic produce, while educating them about the preparation and nutritional value of the succulent varieties he offers.

There is a constant flow of visitors to his booth. Many wish to know more about the attributes of the exotic fruits displayed. They ask him such key questions as: What is a cherimoya? When is it ripe? How can you tell which one is the sweetest? Do you refrigerate it? What are the best ways to prepare it? Can you eat the seeds? Besides this basic knowledge, there is still much more to fathom about each and every fruit. 

For those truly wishing to be in harmony with both themselves and Mother Earth, the ideal of tailoring one’s lifestyle to seasonal changes is a key aspect to creating and maintaining good health. As an example: ancient Chinese Taoists as well as contemporary ones have recommended eating foods that ripen according to nature’s own rhythmic cycles. Barry adheres to this as it relates to planting and reaping, as well as marketing his produce.

After returning from the market, we get to experience this firsthand as Barry shares more delectable fruits. As always, natural food experience is the best educator. To appease our appetites, we delve into large servings of one of Barry’s favorite fruit compotes, which he refers to as “Holiday Fruit Salad”. Such delicacies as tangerines, papaya, blood oranges, sapotes, and persimmons, garnished with liberal portions of shredded coconut, contribute to the delicious sweet flavor.

Somehow Koral’s Tropical Fruit Farm reminds me a bit of Findhorn; how those with agricultural acumen work closely with Mother Nature, and she responds with a lavish cornucopia of abundant blessings. Concerning the ease by which crops thrive, Barry smiles. His face gradually lights up like a candelabra. It seems that Jack in the Beanstalk might even be a bit jealous at the farm’s natural splendor.

 

In a bit of a whisper, Barry shares this tidbit of wisdom about his success: “I plant a seed or a tree, and everything pretty much grows wild. I’m a fruit farmer rather than a crop farmer. I choose this lifestyle because I love fruit, the beneficial effects it has on my body, and what I can offer the world through distributing very high quality organic foods. The demand for high quality organic food is tremendous. My initial vision was to be able to take control over my food source and to supply high quality nutrients so necessary for optimum health. I have succeeded.” 

As our interview progresses, I am able to gain a better understanding of his present lifestyle. The results are surprising. After all, not everyone has created their own ecological niche as he has. Barry recommends that each person’s home become a mini-holistic health center. He considers his home on the range to be much more than just a place to hang his cowboy hat and commune with the neighborhood coyotes. His cat ChaCha wholeheartedly agrees! 

There are more miracles to be experienced by consuming more fresh produce on a daily basis. Barry points out that every seven years, all the cells of the human body transform. The process of cellular regeneration, i.e., the re-genesis program of rejuvenation is accelerated by adherence to live food dietary regimens. He endorses models of true sustainability, which include natural boons such as composting, recycling, and everything  organic. He says, “Healthy soil is the foundation for sustainable agriculture. I spent three years preparing the soil before I even planted a tree. My goal is to create a model of sustainability for the benefit of present and future generations. We’re all one, and we’re all connected, no matter what part of the earth we’re on.”

Barry travels widely and lectures about the importance of living and eating as close to Mother Nature as possible. His poetry also reflects his passion for the art of living, which he considers a pure fruit of the imagination, realized during moments of stillness. Barry says that “Writing poetry is one of the many ways I express my appreciation for artful living. Over the years, my life has become much more of an interpretive, creatively satisfying experience.” An example of his original style is witnessed in his poem:


Sacred Moments

 

A mere glimpse into the higher realms of living

At one with all creation

Envelopes us during sacred moments

A quieting of all inner and outer sensations

Stills the mind to receive from a higher Source

Awakening while living in the physical

Opens receptive hearts 

To the unfolding of flowering beauty all around

This simple landscape reveals an attunement

That allows the soul to reawaken at any moment

To the splendid privilege of being alive

In this wondrous universe

 

It’s important to note that the physical aspects of healthy living are vital to being well-grounded in our core connection to nature. Barry robustly intones, “Health ultimately comes through being more in harmony with our bodies. This is the natural result of cultivating lifestyles based on positive thinking, and eating a wide variety of vibrant living foods fresh from nature.”

As I reflect on his sentiments, Barry offers more sagely wisdom by stating:

“Communing with Mother Earth is a great rejuvenating tonic. In-depth peace

is my goal. I really enjoy being at my sanctuary. My most favorite thing about the orchard is that I can walk up to the trees and harvest lunch.”

And for those who really love high quality produce, the following fruits can be shipped by FedEx or UPS Ground. Here is the general timetable:

Cherimoyas: November through May

White Sapotes: July through April

Pomegranates: November through January

Persimmons: September through January

Figs: July through September

Passion Fruit: Year round

Avocados:

Fuerte: February through April

Haas: March through December

Mexicola: August through October

Nabal: October through May

Pinkerton: April through August

Reed: April through June

 

Please call Barry at 760-631-0200 (Office) or 760-455-1261 (Cell) to initiate purchase orders. Email: barrykoral@cox.net.

For those interested in reading more of Barry’s poetic musings, consider logging onto www.sacredimagery.com.

Loren Lewisohn is an eco-adventurer who specializes in international travel, which incorporates bio-regional analysis and the promotion of themes relating to paradigm shift. His websites may be accessed at www.sacredimagery.com and www.ecoarts.orz.

Ancient Thoughts on Vegetarianism

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“Human beings, stop desecrating your bodies with impious foodstuffs. There are crops; there are apples weighing down the branches; and ripening grapes on the vines; there are flavorsome herbs; and those that can be rendered mild and gentle over the flames; and you do not lack flowing milk; or honey fragrant from the flowering thyme. The earth, prodigal of its wealth, supplies you with gentle sustenance, and offers you food without killing or shedding blood.”

Pythagoras, 5th century B.C.E.