(This is something I posted a while ago as a way to inspire myself to actually produce the cookbook I have promised I’d write…hehehe….Here we go again!)
Those who have never been to HeartRoot Farm or eaten our food may wonder when on earth I intend to get to the recipes – and what is all this other stuff about? We are able to describe with great accuracy the qualities and characteristics of any part of the flow of energy through a living system. This is something human beings have been doing for millennia –we have just forgotten and devalued it (‘the womanly arts’, remember?).
Whether we are conscious of it or not, and whether we like it or not, we are each one of us particles of concentrically greater and greater organisations of Life force energy: the family, the community, the nation, Humanity, sentient beings, our planet Gaia, our solar system…. We are able to fully participate in and influence not only our own personal growth and evolution, but also that of all these systems, by consciously aligning ourselves with the energies of the cycles of Nature. Awareness of the mechanics of this cyclical movement can also help explain symptoms and proclivities in all aspects of our beings that could otherwise be sources of panic and confusion…. It is NORMAL to be more irritable in the Springtime, for example….
(I feel the need to mention here that what I will write about food applies and will be of some use to those of us on this planet who have the luxury to choose what we eat. Many of our Earth family are not in this position.)
The various aspects of our beings resonate with the different seasons of the year – energy will be increased in the physical and energetic organ systems that relate to each 3-month period. When energy is added to a system, barring an emergency situation where containment and repair are required, the first orders followed are to take out the garbage. Once the housekeeping has been done, restructuring and healing can take place. We humans, given the choice, have 2 main ways of dealing with our natural growth and evolution: a) ignore it – it hurts and b) bring it on – this is what I’m here for anyway! Our food choices reflect this, and will either be motivated by ‘irrational’ cravings for food that will impede the cleansing process in the part of ourselves currently attended to by Nature, or by the desire, conscious or not, to clear toxins (physical, emotional, psychic), opening the way for growth and evolution.
I prepare food for each of our Retreats to facilitate the nourishing and detoxifying processes appropriate to the season. Cravings are observed – the emotions that would otherwise be suppressed by eating the foods we crave are allowed to surface and be experienced. I can tell you that facing a group of people in dairy-product rehab is a scary thing!
SPRINGTIME & THE WOOD ELEMENT The idea of Spring elicits for most of us images of tender buds and greening hills, gamboling lambs and daff-o-dillies. At HeartRoot Farm, this is far from so…. Here, the Spring Equinox Retreat is usually held in the deepest snow of the year, gathered and held over the Winter in the shade and hollows of the forest. If you stand still though, by the creek among the birch and the cedars, you can hear water rushing along under the snowbanks, freed from its crystalline hibernation. The beginning of Spring often coincides with Easter and Pesach. In our part of the world, healing waters are still collected from spring-fed streams in the pre-dawn of Easter Sunday, when the waters of the earth are highly charged and energised. Spring comes often with the roar and thunder of ‘les tempêtes des sucres’ (literally ‘the sugar storms’) – fierce winds occasioned by freezing nights and days warm enough to coax the sap up from the maple roots into buckets and syrup… You can tell the sap is running by the sweet-smelling plumes of steam rising up from the middle of maple stands throughout the land. The colour in our Spring comes from lumberjackets in unsubtle plaids, from cheeks ruddy with cold, then from heat and effort, and from story and song as the people gather to watch fires and boiling syrup day and night, and to celebrate survival through another Winter. The seed that found its way into the earth in the Autumn and laid down its roots in the Winter now feels the call of the Sun and the World. It leaves the dark sanctuary of the earth and stretches toward the Light with the elation and shyness of Becoming…. We step out of our shelters into the Sun and the World in exactly the same way…. The heavy layers of clothing are peeled off – the first time we can go outside without boots is joyously celebrated. The sap rises in us as it does in the maples – we feel full and ready to DO something! It is important to be aware of the self-sabotaging beliefs that tend to arise in the Springtime – as obstacles present themselves, we can choose to react with despondency, frustration, treating the thing in our way as an enemy to attack and conquer, or as a source of reflection on other ways to proceed. Eagle, the guardian of the Eastern portal of the Medicine Wheel and of Springtime, teaches us that when we encounter clouds, we must simply fly higher to find the Sun. This is the first step in manifestation – that of clarifying our intentions and making sure they are from the highest possible place in ourselves as we envision our paths unfurling before us. We may have a tendency at this time to crave fried foods, alcohol, heavy dairy products and nut butters. These are all foods that slow down liver function and therefore help us suppress the feelings of frustration and anger that arise naturally as Nature adds energy to the Wood element and our bodies move to eliminate all forms of accumulated toxicity.The foods which aid the cleansing process of this element will help us clear the vestiges of winter heaviness and give the energy necessary for our physical bodies to follow where our spirits soar.
Ingredient Suggestions: lemons, olive oil, sprouts, dandelion greens, sorrel, asparagus, fiddleheads, elderflowers, red radish, daikon, black radish, fennel root, leaves and seeds, dill leaves and seeds, fenugreek seeds, oregano, thyme, marjoram, burdock root, caraway seeds, cumin, turmeric, broccoli, bamboo shoots, leeks, carrots, red pepper ginger root, garlic, vinegars: cider vinegar, mirin (rice vinegar)
Especially Avoid: fried foods, meat, alcohol, dairy products, additives and preservatives
Carrot, dill and daikon salad: Grate the carrots and daikon – balance proportions to your taste. Add dill leaves and/or seeds (rub them between your hands to freshen them), again, to taste. I like to just add salt and pepper to this, but you can experiment with different dressings as well…. Red pepper and walnut paté: Grind together shelled walnuts and red peppers (with the stems and seeds removed) in a blender – try 3 volumes of walnuts to 1 volume of red pepper. Add salt and ground black pepper – experiment with other seasonings and spices to taste ( Thai green or red curry paste, cumin seeds, garlic, fresh basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary…). Press the mixture into a serving dish, about 1-2 inches thick. Serve with crudités or crackers. Fennel, pear and toasted sunflower seeds salad: Sauté thinly sliced fennel bulbs in a scant amount of olive oil until slightly browned. Separately sauté pears sliced a bit more thickly than the fennel, also in a bit of olive oil, also until slightly browned. Toast hulled sunflower seeds in a dry saucepan on medium heat until they smell…toasted! Keep stirring so they don’t burn. Mix the 3 ingredients, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar or mirin, and serve warm. Add salt to taste. TO COME: Carrot ginger soup Avgolemono Steamed fiddleheads with vinaigrette Pan-roasted asparagus and garlic Hot potato salad Leek and potato soup Bean sprout, red pepper, cucumber, cilantro, green onion + mirin salad How to use burdock root Citrus sorbet ‘Vindaloo Juice’ – the Master Cleanser