31 Jul

All Hail the Holy Basil

Hello Sustainable Choices readers!
My name is Jessamy and I’m excited to be guest blogging here today. Many thanks to Marla for the opportunity to stop by and chat a little bit with her followers. Last week I made an impromptu stop to visit her one afternoon. As she took me on tour of the various things she was growing I was particularly captivated with something I found in her herb garden. Basil! Yes, she had your usual big-leaved sweet basil, but it didn’t stop there. I found a handful of varieties I’d heard of though never experienced before. So, it got my wheels turning about these new-to-me varieties and after a week of messing around with them in the kitchen I thought I’d like to share my thoughts and discoveries.

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Basil, part of the Lamiaceae family, is believed to originate from central Africa and southeast Asia. There are numerous varieties and cultivars available for culinary and landscaping purposes. For most of us, we best know basil as applied to Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. It is part of the symphony of flavors in most of the pasta sauces we know and love. It is also a component of popular fare like bruschetta and Caprese salads. The flavors supplied to these dishes typically come from a sweet basil such as Genovese or Lettuce Leaf.

Upon my last visit to Mahantango Creek Farm, I was pleasantly surprised with the opportunity to see and sample a variety of basils I’d never seen before. These included, cinnamon, holy and lemon basil. After experiencing other cultivars of basil it was clear that we can use these to step outside the box and take advantage of a new range of flavors and applications.

First let’s take a look at cinnamon basil. This type of basil is a beautiful addition to your garden if only for its beauty. With deep purple stems, lush green leaves, topped with purple spires and lavender blooms the landscaping value is clear. However, aesthetics is not all this plant has to offer. This cultivar contains methyl cinnamate, the same property that gives the cinnamon we often associate with baked goods its scent and distinct flavor. Ramona Werst, of Love Your Basil, shares a recipe for an icebox cookie that uses cinnamon basil which sounds like a real treat! The recipe can be found here: http://www.motherearthliving.com/in-the-garden/love-your-basil-cinnamon-basil.aspx#axzz3948Zn1i4
Consider also, some sources report that cinnamon basil deters mosquitoes. Try rubbing the leaves on your skin or growing the plant in areas where you often spend time outdoors in the summer months.Jerseys Cheap
I have also read that cinnamon basil can be soothing to several health issues including gastro-intestinal trouble, joint pain, and respiratory problems such as colds or allergies. For this reason, I chose to dry a large bundle for future medicinal tea making.
Next, we’ll examine Tulsi or “Holy” basil. This plant is a very important part of Hindu culture and as such is commonly grown in places like India, where it is native. This particular cultivar has a clove scent to it and a darker green hue and matte appearance to the leaves than Genovese. This type of basil is widely regarded for its health-promoting properties. In fact, Organic India actually carries a Tulsi tea variety that can often be found at health food stores. This is a wonderful herb to dry and keep on hand for medicinal tea making. It is alleged to be very useful in treating colds and the flu.

Finally, a look at lemon basil. This variety of basil is a very bright, light green color and matures to have pale, white flowers in spires. Brush against it and you’ll release a magnificent lemony scent. The scent of this plant is so clean and fresh you may want to bring it inside your home. Snip some long cuttings from the plant to tuck amongst flowers from your garden for a lovely bouquet, or gather a large bunch of basil alone to place in a vase on your  counter top. Warning: your kitchen may feel cleaner than it is thanks to the brilliant scent released.
Personally, I’m very taken with this variety of basil at the moment and have been experimenting with culinary uses for it. So far my favorite use is the recipe that follows which I came up with last night.

Summer Vegetables in Lemon Basil Cream Sauce

2-3 cloves garlic
1 large red onion, chopped
2 small to medium zucchini or summer squash, sliced
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 + 4 Tblsp butter
3 ounces cream cheese cut into cubes
3 Tblsp milk
salt & pepper
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
1/4 cup lemon basil leaves, thinly sliced into ribbons
Peel and finely chop garlic, allow to rest 10 minutes (to activate aliinase enzyme and associated health benefits).  Meanwhile boil water to prepare your pasta according to package directions.
Melt 1 Tblsp butter in a large skillet, add garlic and onion, cook 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally until softened. Add zucchini and broccoli, cook 5 minutes or so stirring occasionally until softened. Season with sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add remaining butter and cream cheese to pan, stir to incorporate as they melt. Once melted, add milk and stir. Turn heat to lowest setting and put a lid on the pan allowing all the ingredients to simmer and melt together another minute or so. Remove lid and sprinkle in half of the lemon basil, stir to incorporate with vegetables and sauce.
Serve immediately atop a bed of the angel hair pasta and sprinkled with additional lemon basil.
All of these basils and other herb varieties can be found at Mahantango Creek Farms. Consider picking up a bundle with your next Sustainable Choices order and experience some new flavors!
30 Jul

Un-Candy

Our family has un-plugged from pre-packaged food for the most part with one or two exceptions. This is one of my favorite recipes that I will share with you.
This recipe replaces ingredients deceptively, you won’t realize they aren’t naughty!
I skipped the chocolate this time but no worries, they are still yummy good!
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Blessings,
Marla
Un-Candy Squares
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup raw cashew pieces
  • 1½ cup chopped pitted dates
  • ½ cup nut butter (peanut, cashew, almond)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • Optional topping:
  • 1½ cups dark, organic chocolate or bittersweet
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
Instructions
  1. In food processor, finely chop cashews, add in the chopped dates.
  2. Add nut butter, coconut, maple syrup, almond extract and coconut flour , pulse until a sticky dough forms.
  3. Line small baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. With damp fingers, press into pan.moncler outlet
  5. Refrigerate 6 - 8 hours until set. Add topping if desired and re- refrigerate one more hour until coating sets.
  6. Lift out and cut into pieces when set.
  7. Topping: mix dark chocolate with coconut oil over indirect heat (double boiler), spread over pressed ingredients.
28 Jul

Changes

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Every day I pray for clarity and once again like a letter in the mailbox I woke with the words to speak.
I know I have shared many time my views on how the twists and turns in life change us, how our decisions impact us and where the road takes us.
Once again I face different set of rules for my life than others so I don’t expect everyone to embrace my view yet I hope I can help to understand where I am coming from.
I said before that I truly belive that who we are at a pre-teen age is alot of who we will be, we are defined but not yet making our own choices.
And I believe it more now than I ever did.
Some people that knew me before I took on the world,  know that there was a soft hearted girl, filled with compassion, wonder and love, curious, a little rebellious, a dancer, a poet, an animal lover, nature lover, book reader with an open mind and heart.
I found that as I grew older and had certain experiences, these events closed doors and windows. New things came in that were not all necessarily good for me.
Those things ended up changing me and creating years of living untrue to my gifts and  got me off of my true path.
Yet I was happy those years, there were good things in my life too, I had a wonderful family,  I made so many friends, I had my beautiful children, I loved, I laughed, I learned about myself.
I made choices that brought pain to me though and continued self destructive behaviors. I drank too much, chased an ego while suffering from a beaten up self esteem, feeding the vicious cycle. All the while, all of this aiding and  abetting the disease in my body.
I still suffer the physical parts of this disease and it does play games with my brain but I have cast off these heavy things I carried, my load is lighter and God brought me to today.
He brought me to a constant stream of moments that snap my head around and get my attention.
As in yesterday afternoon, I set out for a visit, I rarely drive alone but had to see and touch someone I love. I was alone, sun shining, in my Allis Chalmers orange, 1978 Ford Truck, the power under the hood was purring and the wind was in my hair.
I cannot tell you how sweet that feels after putting the past 2 years behind me. It fuels me forward on my quest for living happy and authentic life that is centered around God. My head and mind are clearer than ever about who I am and why I am here.moncler outlet
And a few hours ago,  while walking down the farm road to the barn, I heard the birds morning songs, saw our gardens teeming with things to eat and watched the sun come over the hill.
My heart waits in silence for God to speak to me and he always does and the answers fill my mind as I work.
A push on the barn door reveals the musky smell of my horse and it is warm inside from her body heat. Miss Tillie the turkey is trilling away, talking to her baby peeps, the ducks are quacking, chickens calling for breakfast and guinea hens shrieking over everyone. All the while the Cat is twirling in my ankles, meowing.
I say my good mornings and feed everyone and begin to tidy up, as I do I sing.
Amazing Grace.
When I stopped I realized the barn was quiet. That was all that I needed, thank you God.
He sets my head right.
The best part of it is I get to teach it to others who need help in this world.
I did change and my role will continue to change in this world for the next 44 years.  I didn’t forget my past, there are lessons there that I needed for the next chapter.
I had to let go of some things and sadly some people but they were tied to pain that has no place in today or any tomorrows. I trust my journey and know that if I desire those relations to heal, God will find the way, all I have to do is stay true to him.
If my changes scare you, then talk to me, get to know me again and bring an open mind. If you disagree with me that is okay, we can believe different things and still love each other. I have no bias or judgements.
I refuse to stop learning, I believe in this life we shift from being taught to teaching  but I believe this is a revolving door.
If we close our mind off to only being the teacher as an adult we miss alot of things.
My teachers have been many, too many to count.
I learned so much, it humbled me.
I, Me, the little space that filled up around me. I was focusing so much on my own ego and movements in life that I missed the forest for the trees, that is no more.
I try every day to let things unroll, use the behaviors, follow along, take notes and wait for things to come to me.
Some days are bumpier than others so practicing forgiveness is a key factor, let yourself make mistakes but be your own best friend. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, say a rah-rah cheer and go.
Complaining and kvetching about the details is a bad habit. Let’s look at who we can lift up and what is good.
When you realize everyone is falling down right beside you at different times and places it sure is easier to travel happily.
Off to the garden, my beets belong in jars and my carrots in my freezer, it is canning day.
Blessings,
Marla

 

22 Jul

Love and Food

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Hello friends,
Every week when it is time to work on updating the list, I feel a sense of sharing. I share so much of myself sometimes I have been told my heart is on my sleeve, yet I carry on undaunted. There is a drive in me that won’t be silent.
When I began this crusade for food, I was in a body going downhill. Food was my life-raft and I knew that going deeper into food and the connections it has on us would lead me down paths undiscovered.
My path now is turning again and I am thankful to be in a place where I wait on God’s timing and trust this journey I am on. At first it seemed foolish to relax to that point but in the light of many weeks of concentrated behavior I am doing it.
Every day brings questions, stress, yesterday’s issues to be resolved, todays issues pop up, we all carry heavy loads.
There is a constantly ticking stopwatch that we hear, it propels us into this fast lane America is in, tuning it out is hard. The question is posed,  how do you keep a schedule in a state of relaxing?
My method is simple, it is a diverter. I was given a hanging for the wall that simply says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, God is already there”. I read it over and over again, each day it means a new thing. Today it means I will not go farther than today. Just the now, the present, and I pause to drink in silence  and focus on the light during the course of my day.
I visualize my path, the one God placed me on 44 years ago and see the turns I have taken.
My path used to be fraught with fear, worry and moments of despair.
Today it is not a clear path, but no darkness lies ahead, it is well lit.moncler outlet
I do not see what is coming, none of us know that. That is too much for us to comprehend, God watches over us though, he knows.
I try to live by a rule, “be ready to say goodbye to everything you love”, now, and every day.
The only constant is change my dear ones and we can either fight it or ebb into the flow and allow things to happen and develop an air of acceptance and trust in the journey we are all on together.
I make a list every day, a “today’s page”, I jot notes, outline my day and have a map. Yes things pop up, they go on the page too, it evolves. Some other benefits are that I can look back and see what I did, when I did it and other details.  No more sticky notes!
I hear from alot of moms that cooking is one of the most challenging tasks, even more so is trying to keep it healthy and simple.
I hear you, I may not have toddlers but I have limited energy resources, I stick to what is most important. For me? You guessed it, it is what we eat.
But I live with 2 guys who like treats and yummy food, their palettes were formed by restaurants and fast food, weaning and changing over is hard but do-able.
That said I am going to work on that, we will offer more recipes to try. I am sure most of you know someone who is making small steps toward  leaving some things on the shelf.
Everywhere around there is a new set of topics in the news, Glyspohate sits at the top, it is killing the bees, birds, butterflies, fish and more,is in breast milk, is known to cause cancer and is in pretty much every food product offered at grocery stores.
We didn’t miss something somewhere along the line, it was put there without our knowledge. Now they don’t to label it or people won’t want to eat it. Oh, that sums it all up.
A skull and crossbones means the same thing whether it is on the Roundup or on the Captain Crunch. 
Let’s put the love back in our food.
Buy it in love (no bees or birds were killed making this product)
Cook it in love (I am making this with good things because these people I cook for are everything to me)
Eat it in love (the hands who grew it loved it, the hands who prepared it give love, the hands holding the fork receives all the love, do you see it? love is a big circle)
Stay tuned, I feel inspired.
Blessings, Marla