There's an unmistakable crispness in the air and the light has changed: Farewell, Summer. Hello, Autumn, "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness..." A gorgeous time of year.
Time to harvest the garden's final summer offerings and plant winter gardens so our veggies keep flowing into the kitchen. As we find ourselves more indoors during the shortening days, we begin taking special steps to nurture ourselves through the coming winter.
Regular readers remember my review a couple months ago of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the sheer pleasure author Barbara Kingsolver and her family achieved by eating seasonally and locally. Their story inspires me to consider the seasons in my meal planning and shopping. Here in Saint Helena, we receive a CSA veggie box year-'round. We also make a special note of our local year-'round or wintertime farmers markets -- precious sources for authentic nutrition during the dark months! I'm working up my courage to plant a winter garden, so we are Oh! So happy to continue frequenting the local winter markets and love our weekly veggie boxes. Almost as good as growing it yourself and certainly more local than the big box markets. Keep in mind that the more local your food sources, the more chock full they are of nutrients, because you're receiving your veggies long before those you see on the megamart shelves.
So it's winter soup season. Check out our online soup recipes for some ideas. Corn Chowder is one of my husband Mike's favorites. I am often asked how you make a raw soup. The answer is that it's heated to a pleasant temperature but never "cooked." Even if you aren't committed to eating raw foods, this is an interesting experiment: Resist the temptation to over-heat soup. I heat soups over a very low flame just until they're the right temperature for serving -- usually well below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I test with my finger. For family members who want a hotter soup, just continue to heat up gently. The lower the tempertature, the better retention of the delicate nutrients.
The Holi-daze are right around the corner, and you know me: I'm always thinking of ways to share ways to keep food real and healthy. My More than a Nut Milk Bags and the Recipe Collection make wonderful gifts, and to encourage you, I am offering some special prices at my website. Within the US, shipping is free for More than a Nut Milk Bags and the Recipe Collection. Those of us who use the bags frequently know well that there are NEVER too many bags . . . you can always find a use for one more.
Stocking stuffers note: we're offering our five-bag special package -- not individually packaged, but a bundle of five bags, exclusively in our website shop: the best deal on the planet!
Over in Amazon-land, where my More than a Nut Milk Bags are making quite a splash, I have received a few negative comments about the fineness of their mesh. Most frequent users know that we chose the mesh carefully after extensive testing: it's easy to clean at this fineness, but not so much at finer meshes. To get a finer strain, so that no pulp or graininess comes out in the final product, we nest two bags, one inside another . . . sometimes, even three bags! To clean, we un-nest the bags, of course.
When you read this, I'll be on my annual pilgrimage to Indonesia, visiting the Rawsome Creations team in Bali and delivering More than a Nut Milk Bag Project contributions to my friends at Bumi Sehat and Yayasan Widya Guna Orphanage. The Balinese Calendar is 210 days long, and this year two of its high points, Galungan and then, ten days later, Kunigan, happen to come during my usual late Fall trip -- lucky me! In Bali, there is no word for "art" because everything is art, and for these festivals, everything is richly decorated with fruits, flowers, and leaves. Pageantry celebrating the restoration of good over evil fills the streets. The people, already welcoming and friendly, are particularly warm.
As in so many cultures, Autumn is the time when changing seasons thin the veil between the worlds and allow ancestors to return to offer and receive blessings. I've packed my kebaya, sash and sarong so I'm ready at any moment for temple when I hear the gongs.
I still have a few tomatos in my garden, and I see them in the farmer's market, so I am busy straining and freezing them for our winter marinaras, creamy tomato soups and chilis. This month's special recipe, Creamy Tomato Basil Soup, calls for cashews to provide the creaminess that we crave, but it's worth remembering that all nut milks can provide a smoothness and substance that is very comforting on a cold day. Almond Milk works beautifully in this recipe in place of the cashews. If you'd like to try; replace the cup of cashews with a cup of almond cream and adjust the soup consistency to your liking.
We work hard at being upbeat and positive, but can't help noticing that the GMO furor continues. Our national legislature, that band of do-nothings and ne'er-do-wells, further erode any confidence by proposing to make it a federal offense for states and communities to require labeling GMO bearing products. Is that what we mean by "freedom"? Maybe those folks don't get enough fresh local vegetables?
Washington State is getting set to pass the same GMO-labeling law that Californians rejected last Fall after the big GMO-makers poured zillions of cash into the campaign. I think they're worried. In Washington, more than 75% of the anti-labeling funding comes, again, from Monsanto and their co-pirates.
Meanwhile, the once credible World Food Prize, based in Iowa, is getting ready to award the Monsanto chemist who perfected the biotechnology that allows factory farmers to pour poisons on food crops, a double whammy that makes almost all commercial corn and soy products secretly toxic. Japan and the European Union are rejecting grain products from Oregon because of a secret GMO program there that has cross-pollinated into the fields of honest farmers.
What should we do? Well, first up, look for food with S.O.U.L. -- Food that is Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Unpackaged, and Local. Support stores like the Ashland Coop, where an activist Sustainability Committee is clearing GMOs off the shelves. More than 200 products have been discontinued because one or more of the first ingredients are genetically modified. And if you must use packaged products, choose from the increasingly large offerings that voluntarily label their GMO-free products. Maybe our federal government's ears have closed to We the People, but the food industry listens when we speak through our purchases.
Above all, as the sun settles farther into the south, shortening and cooling our days and lengthening our nights, do what all of Nature around us does: Slow down a little! Take care of yourselves and those around you -- we're all we've got!
Gluten Free -- what's it all about?...
I'm back from a fabulous trip to Bali and a decompression week on Maui with my sweet husband, just in time for the holiday season. Happy Holidays to you!...
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