Rain is falling on the roof, splashing and rolling down the mossed green hills of home. The grass knows that a new year has come, and sprouts, tender and vibrant from the muddy ground. The weeds come up, too, energized by the falling water interspersed with days of sun. Even in winter, the garden grows on, and the farmers bring their harvest to market. We tuck a few more bulbs of garlic in the ground, harvest collard and kale from the outer leaves of brassica in the demo garden, and monitor the temperature in the aquaponics system, housed in a translucent greenhouse.
It’s the end of an old year, the beginning of a new... or maybe that’s making it too simple. If we travel in circles (and we do), around the sun and through the seasons, and all things that come to pass have their roots in the past, their hope in the future, then perhaps this moment is neither a beginning or an end, but only another beat to mark the time. Like the smudged pencil marks on a doorjamb that chronicle the inexorable passage of a child’s years, our numbered calendars track but do not control the passage of years and seasons. The weather is mutable, humanity surprises and inspires, delights and disappoints, and the round world spins slowly on her tilted axis. We are along for the ride, but there is much for us to do in our short time here.
The new year often begins with resolutions and review. After the glitter and glut of the holiday season, and the months of washing rain, and the promise of a new start, it seems a good time to gather our thoughts. To take stock (to make stock!) and resolve to do better for ourselves and the world, whatever that may mean to us as individuals. For some it means big changes, to others, small, incremental adjustments.
As community members, and as a business, we are constantly refining our role here. What worked, and what didn’t? What grew well? What foundered, and more importantly, why? How can we improve?
The seeds that we plant now, and the plans we lay, will take shape over the coming year. We are using this time to think well about what we want to grow, what must be cut back, and what might sprout to take its place. Your feedback, and your support, are central to this process. Stay in touch. There’s work to be done in the garden…
And when you come in from the garden, take off your muddy boots and gloves, hang the jacket to dry by the door. Rub a little of this salve into hardworking hands, or anywhere else that needs some nourishing moisture.
Warm yourself from the inside out with a cup of this roasted mushroom broth. It tastes of earth and sea and rain and mushrooms, and it is good medicine for this time of year. Drink it by the cup, or use it as a base for cooking other dishes.
While you are roasting all the roots, take care not to forget their tops! Often overlooked as an ingredient, the tops of carrot, turnip, and radish greens are rich in flavor and nutrients. They suffer from a problematic texture, however; that;s where the blender comes in. Fresh and raw and vibrant, this pesto was a welcome discovery on a recent trip to the farmers market, that left me with a bounty of carrot and turnip greens. Here’s the recipe.
And for dessert…This is when the benefits of preservation really prove their worth, and the back reaches of the pantry become important (important, we say!) sources of delicious inspiration. There is not a cherry to be had in the market these days (and if there is, it comes from thousands of miles away, and is likely not nearly so delicious as these.) You might recall that we made these cherry preserves back in the June edition of this journal. We hope you made them then, too, and more importantly, we hoped you saved a few jars for this very moment. If not, try it with another jar of preserves; berries, apricot, or apple chunks. Very sweet jams will benefit from a bit of lemon juice mixed in to the jam, to balance the sweetness.
A TASTE OF SUMMER
Lean back, after all of this cooking and eating. All this stock taking and making, creating and tasting and reflecting. Listen to the rain fall on the roof outside. It is falling on the garden, on the weeds and grasses and the dark forested hills. It is raining out over the ocean, where the kelp that might someday find its way into your stock pot is drifting in the cold, clear brine. We are a part of everything.