vegetable garden meditation

simple grated carrot, beetroot, parsley salad

26th July 2011

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I love the soft, gentle sweetness of beetroot.  They taste simply of the clean, sweet earth from which they came from.  In Winter, I roast them in their skins.  In Summer, I have this salad daily, accompanied by big chunks of avocado and cooked red lentil hummus or babaganous (enjoying the first of the eggplants), lightly saute small zucchini’s from the garden and grilled halloumi for the children.  It makes the perfect lunch.  For dinner, I have been enjoying this simple golden soup with thin slices of toasted homemade sunflower bread.

I have also been working hard in the garden preparing for our month away in England.  Preparing the soil with manure, digging and turning, then covering it with a very thick layer of mulch leftover from our goat pen.  It has been hot, dry and humid, so I am not sure how the garden will hold up, but I am doing my best to protect it in my long absence.  I have been spending all of my afternoons in there and I feel sad to leave it.  It has been my therapy, my calmness, my joy and my deep desire for simplicity.

After so many afternoons of hard manual work, I had one day where I could just sit, reflect, wonder, watch, listen, and smell.  An inner quiet and peacefulness fills me just by being in my garden in those early mornings or late afternoons.  I am sure if I watch carefully, I feel the plants pushing up and up.  It is so wonderful to be a part of this amazing process of planting a seed, watching it grow, then eating the result of that energy force which has been nurtured and cared for with so much love.  Imagine what a different world it would be if all our food was prepared with so much respect and care.

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I have planted lots, and hope that the garden will be as abundant as I left it when I return.

Goodbye heat!  Welcome, the green, the rain and the coolness.

simple grated beetroot carrot parsley salad

Serves 4

ingredients 

2 medium beetroot, grated

2 medium carrots, grated

1 tsp cumin seeds

handful coriander or parsley, finely chopped

juice of half a lemon

2 Tbsp flax-seed oil (or olive oil)

1 tsp agave/honey

¼ cup lightly toasted sesame and/ sunflower seeds

¼ tsp fine rock salt

preparation 

1.  Heat a small pan, add cumin seeds and lightly dry toast them until fragrant – remove from heat and set aside.

2.  Prepare the beetroot and carrot, either by grating in a box grater or using a food processor and place in a salad bowl.

3.  Pour the flax-seed oil, lemon juice, salt, cumin seeds and agave in a jar.  Place the lid on, and shake to combine.

4.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and sprinkle with coriander and toasted seeds – toss to combine.

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Goodness shared from Stacey

spiced aubergine & sweet potato curry

5th December 2010

My vegetable garden is made up of six triangles in the shape of a mandala with an olive tree in the middle and a seat around.  My sanctuary, my space where I find quiet, my contentment and peace.

When I work in the garden, I usually start from one triangle and work my way around until all are rotated, weeded, mulched and planted to satisfaction.  By the time I finish with triangle six, it is time to start at the beginning again and around I go. A cycle or circle of meditation.  There are bees, butterflies, snails, big juicy green caterpillars, foxes, woodpeckers, parrots, and a mole that drives me incessantly crazy.  But my favourite of all, is my friend, the kingfisher.  In the triangular closest to us, there is a knobbly stick which I especially put in for my friend, the elegant, but grand kingfisher to sit on.  And he does sit there, but always flies off before I can get really close to appreciate him and his long beak and aqua, blue wings.

At present, I am up to triangle six, with the last of all the Summer things growing at their dreary end, but still with edible fruit.  This is where the eggplant plant is, a little unruly, but full of black globes.  I have been trying to use them in all different ways, one being this lovely fragrant curry. The sweet potato and aubergine absorb all the beautiful, complex flavours.

spiced aubergine & sweet potato curry

Serves 4

ingredients 

1 medium eggplant

1 small sweet potato

12 cherry tomatoes

3 Tbsp ghee/peanut oil

1-inch knob ginger, grated

3 cardamon pods

½ tsp turmeric powder

2 cups water

cup red lentils, well rinsed

1 Tbsp tomato paste

½ tsp sambar powder (or chilli powder)

voggarane

½ tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

⅛ tsp asafoetida powder

a handful of spinach/kale

½ cup fresh coriander, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

preparation 

1.  Prepare the aubergine, cut into 1 cm circles, and then into small cubes, place in a colander, salt well and set aside to draw out the bitter juices for 10 mins. Peel the sweet potato – cut into small cubes and finely chop the tomatoes.

2.  Pat the aubergine with kitchen paper and place in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add the ghee/oil and heat until almost smoking – fry the aubergine until golden brown on both sides, then remove and drain on kitchen towel.

4.  Place a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add the fried aubergine, sweet potato, tomato, ginger, cardamom and turmeric – simmer for 10 minutes.

5.  Pour in 2 cups water, lentils, tomato paste and sambar powder – simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the lentils are broken down and soft.

6. Prepare the voggarane, in a small pan, heat a little ghee, add the mustard seeds, and when they start to splatter and pop, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida – fry for a few seconds.

7.  Pour the voggarane into the curry and add a handful of spinach, kale. Gently warm through.

8.  Season with salt, pepper and add coriander.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve with rice and drizzle with ghee when serving.

Goodness shared from Stacey

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