I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything more romantic…

The Blue Robe
By Wendell Berry

How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves:
how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,
beautiful in her blue robe!

 

So much exciting stuff has been going on lately:

  1. Our creation care ministry was approved as a PARTNER of Grace Church, enabling us to expand our reach and resources
  2. We decided on a new name: Project Eden
  3. We have lots of exciting stuff coming up, so stay tuned!

With all of these changes, I have decided to move the foodie and gardening related posts to a new blog going forward, so be sure to subscribe to www.sarabytheseason.com for lots of new recipes, gardening tips, and other good stuff. We will have a blog under Project Eden as well for all sorts of creation care-related goodies, so be on the lookout for that soon. Be sure to check out the new blog and let me know what you think!

IMG_3415Last night’s garden harvest!

I looove roasted tomatoes. The fire-roasted tomatoes take tortilla soup to a whole new level with their smoky sweetness. We’re still harvesting several pounds of tomatoes from our garden every day – IN OCTOBER! I am finding all sorts of crazy things to do with them because I haven’t had time for much canning (or cooking for that matter) lately. It doesn’t get much easier than roasting the tomatoes, and, trust me, roasted tomatoes are much richer tasting than their non-roasted counterparts, especially for the soup and stew months ahead. So use this little trick to make some roasted tomatoes of your own.
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Oven-roasted tomatoes
Adapted from Food in Jars

Ingredients

Tomatoes of any variety – I have used this method with cherry tomatoes, Romas, heirloom varieties; all of which have turned out beautifully
A generous amount of olive oil
Fresh herbs of your choice (basil would be obvious here, but anything works. I also used a jalapeno for one batch that I’ll plan to use in chili)
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. If using cherry tomatoes, just throw them in a glass baking dish. If you’re using a larger tomato, slice (or dice them – your preference) the tomatoes and lay them out in a glass baking dish. Dice or shred the herbs or peppers, and throw them in the baking dish. Pour the olive oil generously over the tomatoes (you want all of the tomatoes to be doused in olive oil) and salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 4-6 hours*. I’ve been doing these after dinner, so I usually put them in for two hours. Check on things, stir them around, put them in for another two hours. And then turn off the oven and let the tomatoes set in the warm oven overnight. Then I pack them into freezer-safe glass jars in the morning and throw them in the freezer. The whole process takes about 12 minutes of hands-on time, less if you’re using cherry tomatoes.

*Tip: the juicier tomatoes may take longer. You want to let them go until they begin to brown up just a bit like the ones in the picture.

 

 

We had lots of people come up to be a part of the new community garden by helping us build a shed out at the garden for the 2013 Weekend of Service. We were blessed with a perfect day and plenty of flexible, construction-savvy volunteers. As I told everyone during the morning’s briefing, this shed is the start of something big at Grace. We will look back on October 13th as a turning point in our efforts to connect our people with where their food comes from. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for next year’s garden!

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I apologize for my absence here – it has been a crazy and exciting few weeks. Last week, our creation care ministry was approved as a Partner of Grace Church, which is a tremendous vote of confidence in our new ministry and opens many, many doors for us going forward. Then last weekend was our Weekend of Service, in which we had over 400 people participating in caring for creation around central Indiana. Over the weekend and in the days since, I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what God is doing at Grace and beyond when it comes to His command to us to care for His creation. I thought this poem of Wendell’s was appropriate:

Learn by little the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of all things which
perhaps is not gratitude at all
but the maker’s joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.
Wendell Berry, Leavings

We used this prayer for our prayer walk this week at Grace, and I thought it was so beautiful that I wanted to be sure to share it. The leader says the plain text verbiage, and everyone responds with the text in bold.

 

Loving God, we remember that Jesus taught us to pray saying, “Our Father…”

You created us, you made this world, and you called your creation very good. Yet often we forget that you are our loving Parent who continues to bless your world.

Jesus told us that you are “…in heaven…”

Yet we fail to live in awe of you. We take you for granted, and we don’t see the awesome beauty of the world you have made.

We pray, “Hallowed be your name…”

We confess that our reverence for you does not always lead us to care reverently for your earth, sky and sea.

We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

We confess that we often put our own interests first-exploiting your creation, and living for our own convenience and self-interest.

We pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”

We confess that we consume more than our share of the world’s resources, while billions go hungry every day and your whole creation suffers.

We pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

We confess that we see these words only in spiritual terms, while the Bible is filled with teachings about economic justice and creation care.

We pray, “Save us from the time of trial.”

Help us to resist the temptations of spending more, using more, acquiring more, and wasting more.

We pray, “Deliver us from evil…”

Free us from greed and self-centeredness that separate us from you and others.

We pray, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.”

Help us to know that in caring for your wonderful world, we are working for your kingdom, being good stewards of your creative power, and giving you glory.

We pray, “Amen.”

We end our prayers with “Amen,” a word that means “let it be so.” We know we can be faithful disciples by your grace. Amen! 

I have a new-found love for cabbage lately. I don’t remember ever being too crazy about it, although I’ve always loved cole slaw. We got a whole bunch of it from the CSA and from a local farm, so we’ve been eating it for just about every meal for the past for weeks. Here are three different ways that I’ve prepared it lately:

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Beef and cabbage
A Sara Original

I don’t know what I was expecting when I through this together one night (in about twenty minutes from start to finish), but I wasn’t expecting us all to enjoy it so much, I know that. It’s easy, delicious, and healthy – and everyone asked for seconds. This was definitely a keeper!

Ingredients

1 pound happily-raised ground beef (or pork, turkey, etc.)
2 tbsp fat of choice (I used some coconut oil, but use whatever you like)
1 whole head cabbage, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, cayenne, or any hot pepper, diced (remove seeds if you don’t like spicy)
1 tsp oregano or thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Brown the meat in a large skillet with the oil/butter. Once most of it is browned, add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the spices, pepper, and garlic, and cook just until you start to smell the garlic. Then add the cabbage, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover the pan for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  The cabbage will release water, so it will steam itself up a bit in the closed pan. Once the cabbage has softened up (about 20 minutes), you’re ready to eat.

Fermented kimchi

I used this recipe and modified it quite a bit because I didn’t have radishes or green onions, but I also used airlocks, which she doesn’t use. Check out this post for more information. It’s still healthy and delicious even if you just want to make a big batch and keep it in the fridge instead of messing with all of the fermentation details (although, I will say, that fermenting is more than worth the little bit of reading upfront).

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Freezing cabbage

After fermenting about 12 quarts of the cabbage, I still had quite a bit to use up. Since we all enjoy cabbage so much in soups and stews, I decided to just blanch and freeze some that can easily be added to soups and stews in the middle of winter. I washed the cabbage heads thoroughly, removing several of the outer leaves. Then I cut them in half, but left the core intact to help with the blanching process to keep all of the leaves together. Then I brought a large pot of water to a boil, dumped the cabbage halves in the boiling water for about a minute, then layed them out in a colander to drip-dry. Once they had cooled off, I put them in large plastic bags and put them in the freezer. (I blanched them first just in hopes of killing any leftover bacteria that might have been on the leaves). They take up quite a bit of space in the freezer, but they have already come in handy as an easy addition to soups to add some veg.

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I really don’t think too many of us have trouble using up tomatoes, but, by this point in the season, I am looking for some different ways to eat them, just to spice things up a bit (whereas in July, I have them with just salt and pepper for every meal of the day). These aren’t really recipes, so much as formulas, so play around with the flavors and ingredients based on what you have laying around and on what sounds good to you.

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Tomato-Cucumber Salad
A Sara Original

Ingredients:

A cup or two of cherry tomatoes, halved
Small red onion, diced
2-3 small cucumbers, diced
Handful of fresh basil or mint or oregano (we have all three in the garden, so I just pick on based on what sounds good, but really any fresh herb would be delicious), sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Throw all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir, barely.

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Heirloom Caprese Salad

A Sara Original (stolen from centuries of Italians)

Ingredients:

1 heirloom tomato, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 cup feta (or fresh buffalo mozzarella for the more traditionalists)
Small handful of fresh basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Assemble the tomatoes on a plate, followed by the onions, topped off with the cheese and basil. Dress with the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

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Corn Salad
A Sara Original

Ingredients:

4 ears sweet corn, cooked and shucked (grilling the corn gives an even tastier, smokier flavor if you have time)
1 small red onion, diced
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, diced (take out seeds for less spicy, leave them in for more heat)
Juice of one lime
1 tomato, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 cup cilantro, chopped (or more, depending on your taste)
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Assemble all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir carefully. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and jalapeno if necessary.

Now I’m hungry, so I think I’ll head out to the garden and see what I can scrounge up!

From Carmel Green Initiative, a great upcoming local event…hope to see you there!

Sustainable Living Seminar: Forks Over Knives

Learn how to improve your health and the health of our planet by changing your eating habits.

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Carmel Clay Public Library
RSVP

The film “Forks Over Knives” examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. You can also taper your greenhouse-gas footprint by eating more plant based foods. Global meat production produces more ozone depleting gases than every plane, train and car combined. After the movie, Sarah Smith of Whole Foods Market will have a whole food plant based sample for you to try and answer questions on how you can transition to eating lower on the food chain. Free door prizes will be raffled. This event is sponsored by Carmel Green Initiative, the Carmel Clay Public Library and Whole Foods Market.

“That we live now in an economy that is not sustainable is not the fault only of a few mongers of power. We are all implicated. We all, in the course of our daily economic life, consent to it whether or not we approve of it.”

Wendell Berry, in his Jefferson Lecture

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