Thursday, October 28, 2010

There, There, Gertrude

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Oakland this morning, pausing among friends before heading north tomorrow for a weekend of consulting with a regular client in Sonoma County.

As my life's work is centered around community, and this country's highest concentration of community-focused folks is in northern California, the transitive property suggests that I'd have a lot of friends in the Bay Area—and I do. Thus, my reality sharply contrasts with Gertrude Stein's famous one-line put-down of Oakland, "There is no there there."
While I tip my hat to her clever word play, she obviously wasn't moving in the right circles.

The boundary between Oakland and Berkeley is seamless; and there are interesting groups and people to see in both places. Whenever I have work out here, I try to carve out as much time as possible on one end or the other to renew acquaintances. Yesterday I had three dates, and today I have three more—all in the Berkeley/Oakland hotspot of my community world.

What Can Brown Do for You?
As a bastion of liberal politics, the Bay Area is noted for its commitment to environmental practices. Thus, I note with amusement that Jerry Brown is running for governor again. Talk about recycling! Jerry's California political career goes all the way back to 1969, when he served for two years on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

Forty-one years later, Jerry is the state's attorney general, and reaching again for the top spot. Right before his current gig, he was the two-term mayor of Oakland (1999-2007). (You see, Gertie, you have to keep your eyes on Oakland.) Way back when Nixon was President, Jerry served as a two-term governor (1975-1983), following in the footsteps of his father, Pat, who had been the Golden State's top official in 1959-1967—thus creating a Brown-bread Democratic sandwich on either side of Ronald Reagan's eight years in Sacramento.

Reagan, as we know, used his governorship as a springboard to the Presidency. Jerry Brown tried the same thing three times, most notably in 1992 (when the more irreverent of my friends were speculating on what it would be like to have Linda Ronstadt—whom Jerry had been dating at the time—as First Lady, rather than on what initiatives Governor Moonbeam would bring to the office). While Jerry's political views made him electable in Oakland, they were not on a national scale, and he was never the Democratic candidate. (In the 1992 Democratic primaries, Jerry ran against Bill Clinton. At the time, Bill admitted to having smoked pot in his youth, yet claimed to have never inhaled. The joke about Jerry was that he never exhaled.)

For all of that, today's San Francisco Chronicle reports that he has a 10-point lead in the most recent Field Poll over Republican challenger Meg Whitman in the race to replace the Governator. I'm reminded of the pagan chant:

Hoof and horn
Hoof and horn
All that dies
Shall be reborn

Cane and grain
Cane and grain
All the falls
Shall rise again

It looks like Californians will get at least one more chance to see what Brown can do for them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Raining in the Desert

I'm in Las Vegas right now, visiting my son Ceilee, my daughter-in-law Tosca, my two-year-old granddaughter Taivyn, and my five-year-old granddog Zeus. After spending the weekend together, Ceilee and Tosca went to work Monday morning while I stayed home with the wee folk (though at 70 lbs, it's a stretch to attach "wee" to Zeus). Mid-morning I went for a walk with Taivyn & Zeus, and that got me thinking about where I was and about today's adventure in word play…

Raining in the Desert
Oddly enough, I arrived in Las Vegas only to experience overcast skies and chances of rain. As they average less than five inches annually, this was noteworthy. I had left northeast Missouri Thursday evening, where we'd had a solid month of sunny dry weather—great for the harvest, though highly unusual for fall. While dodging scattered raindrops this morning, it occurred to me how odd it was to be seeing my first moisture-laden clouds in a month only after traveling to the desert. Weird.

In addition to steadily rising temperatures, it's my sense that the weather is also rising in degree of predictability. Dry in Missouri with rain in Nevada is a rather clear demonstration of that phenomenon.
Reining in the Desert
My son lives in recently built housing in the southwestern part of the city. As it expands, Las Vegas has gotten in the habit of gobbling up the surrounding desert, one tract at a time. When the housing bubble burst two years ago, Vegas was one of the hardest hit cities. In consequence, there's been contraction the past 24 months and the desert has held its own. When I walk around the block, two of the edges of my rectangular circuit border raw desert. It's striking how sharp the contrast is.

When I look to the east I see a fully developed housing complex, typical of suburban developments anywhere (though with a Southwestern motif, featuring earth-colored stucco exteriors and tiled roofs). When I look west, I see pristine desert, with hardly a speck of vegetation or human disturbance. I was perambulating a schizophrenic boundary between a Chamber of Commerce brochure and a National Geographic photo essay.
Reigning in the Desert
Ceilee & Tosca have been in Vegas for nearly four years now and love it. They recently bought seven Cricket stores (selling cell phones, not insects), which they are hopeful of using to springboard into an
entrepreneurial career in business. Knowing their drive and talent, I expect them to succeed.

The environmental reality of Las Vegas is crazy (how can there be a metropolis of two million people living smack in the midst of the desert—where everything except the attitude is imported?). The answer, of course, is that proximity to Hoover Dam makes it all possible, with its cheap electricity and impounded Colorado River water.

Given that the water is now fully subscribed (the Colorado River no longer has an outflow into the Sea of Cortez) and that you can't do anything without water, it's hard to picture how Las Vegas can return to anything like its pre-bust halcyon days of boom town growth. Regardless of how the crisis in second mortgages shakes out, where will they get the water?

Reigning in the Dessert
As it happens, today is my birthday, so it was my call to cap off an all-you-care-to-eat sushi dinner extravaganza with servings of green tea ice cream. And this on top of having indulged in a couple flavors of Ben & Jerry's the night before. Yum! My dessert bowl runneth over.

Reining in the Deseret
Nevada borders Utah, and both states have a substantial Mormon population. In fact, Las Vegas was originally developed as a Mormon settlement in the 1840s, centered around artesian spring waters helpful in sustaining wagon train travel to the West Coast. This was coincident with Brigham Young's efforts to colonize Utah, but it didn't last long. After experiencing trouble with the local Native Americans and also with pioneers moving through the area, the Mormons pulled back to Utah in the recall of 1857—when the true believers were admonished to come to the beehive state and laager there against the unwashed.

After that, things remained relatively quiet in Las Vegas until it was developed as a rail head and officially designated as a city in 1905. After gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931, Las Vegas started down a path that led to its current persona as Sin City, which is more or less the antithesis of the highly moral, family-oriented Mormon nation, otherwise known as the Deseret.

While Mormons still make up about 12% of the current population of Las Vegas, and enjoy the business opportunities characteristic of a city with a wide-open reputation, they have little influence on the city's determination to be associated with gaming and glitzy entertainment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways…

While driving me to the train station last night, Ma'ikwe asked me—on the verge of my embarking on the start of back-to-back long road trips—to take time today to write all the ways that I appreciate her as my partner.

I liked that assignment, and thought it might be interesting to share what I came up with for today's blog entry. Keep in mind that she only asked me to write about the good parts, so this is my rose-colored perspective of our marriage. Fortunately, I had no trouble coming up with quite a long list.

In no particular order...

1. She takes responsibility for her own happiness, and does not build her life around mine.

2. She's logistically competent.

3. She offers helpful reflections about my writing.

4. She stands strongly for her views when present with me in dynamic situations. She's collegial without being mousy or pushy.

5. She balances well her ongoing friendships and her home community with her time with me.

6. She's intellectually curious.

7. She's spiritually curious.

8. She's willing to share many of my recreational pastimes (such as crosswords, cards, board games).

9. She's sexually open, and non-judgmental.

10. She's wiling to tell me when she's upset with me.

11. She hangs in there in tough times with me.

12. She's committed to personal exploration and growth.

13. She's a gifted facilitator.

14. She's a creative and sensitive mother.

15. She's a highly accepting and supportive partner with my friends and family.

16. She takes the time to listen to me share what's going on in my life (which is a substantial investment).

17. She works gracefully with multiple paradigms (examples include her own health, and personal growth work).

18. She's a good project manager.

19. She loves me.

20. She's committed to our marriage.

21. She's a good cook.

22. She's totally accepting of my chewing foods she eschews (don't laugh; this is bigger than you might think).

23. She's fun to work with.

24. She doesn't wilt in the heat of the moment.

25. She loves Nature.

26. She loves her body.

27. She's not squeamish and handles rustic conditions well.

28. She's equally adept at being a leader, a coequal, or a follower.

29. She can forgive and move on.

30. She likes trains.

31. She adapts her dress and demeanor to the situation.

32. She can work a room well in social networking situations.

I don't know that one is ever truly done with a list like this. Like the marriage itself, it's a work in progress.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Managing the Jump from Hyper Space

In two days I board the westbound Southwest Chief (train #3) and start a stretch of 54 days on the road, excepting four days straddling Thanksgiving. I'll be on the West Coast twice, and the East Coast twice. I'll see my son in Las Vegas & my daughter in Toledo, (two cities which have little in common other than being the residence of my children). I'll participate in the annual NASCO Institute in Ann Arbor MI, Nov 5-7, attend the fall FIC organizational meeting (at Mosaic Commons in Berlin MA, Nov 12-14), conduct Weekend III of the Mid-Atlantic Integrative Facilitation Training, and consult with four or five communities along the way. Whew!

While that's a gob of travel and a gong load of reports, the scary part is that this represents a slowing down of my current pace.

This is the busiest time of year at Sandhill, and the harvest continues into the fourth week. Some years, we can get it wrapped up in three weeks; this year it will take five. We've been lucky with the weather and a killing frost has stayed away long enough to allow this year's late-maturing sorghum cane to ripen. We'll have it all stripped and cut down in another 3-4 days, and the final cooking will probably happen next week.

I did my final tour of duty in the food processing kitchen this evening, making one last batch of tomatillo salsa and another gallon of lacto-fermented garlic and hot peppers. It should be ready to decant by the time I'm back for Thanksgiving. (After putting the fermented peppers through a blender, we style the result
"Rooster Sauce," in deference to the logo on the popular Huy Fong brand of sriracha, that our homemade product emulates.)

It's hard leaving the farm while there's still crops to bring in, but I have to make travel commitments well ahead of the weather, and nine years out of 10 we're done by Oct 21. This year is the exception. We're in the midst of fall glory right now. When I return, we'll regularly be drinking our morning coffee by the wood stove and winter will be knocking at the door. The daylight hours will be measurably shortened, commensurate with the sharply diminished workload of winter. In the next couple days I need to gather a load of firewood for Ma'ikwe, vote absentee in our county seat, and take care of a dozen other little things that are much easier dealt with in person at home.

I just have 44 hours left of my harvest regimen, where I juggle the happy frenzy of accelerated food processing on top of everything already on my plate—Sandhill meetings, time with my wife, domestic work, relationships at home, yoga,
product shipping, FIC administration, consulting logistics, writing, and personal correspondence. When I'm at home, everything is in play. After I board the train however, the first half of this list falls away and my routine shifts into a sequential intensity where I typically prepare for, deliver, and reflect on a single client each weekend. In the interstices I visit with friends, and even have time to read. Or look out the window as a rumble across the country, wondering what's being harvested in the lives of the people whose home I'm passing through. With apologies to Audrey Niffenegger, it's the Time Zone Traveler's Life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Horseshoes, Hand Grenades,… and Meetings?

How close to starting meetings on time is considered "on time" in your group? In short, what's close enough? For commercial airlines, if you depart or arrive within 15 minutes of the posted schedule, it counts as "on time." Is that good enough in your group?

It turns out that the answer varies widely group to group. Worse, if you randomly poll members of the same group about: a) the group's punctuality; and b) how members feel about it, I've found that both answers can vary widely. In general, those who are habitually slow to arrive tend to be equally slow to perceive the issue (rather like less-than-fastidious cleaners who never see the dirt on the kitchen floor). The long-suffering on-timers face a Hobson's choice of: a) waiting patiently on the pleasure of the tardy; or b) making a stink about it and running the risk of being labeled anal, control freaks, or the Clock Gestapo. In consequence, most groups never talk about timeliness as a value or a behavior norm. They just roll the dice and hope for the best. While meeting punctuality doesn't tend to be any group's #1 issue—and some groups function fine without any explicit agreements—it's more of an issue than many realize, and thus is a worthy subject for today's ruminations.

As you might guess, issues around punctuality can easily lead to low-grade tension that undercuts trust and good will—even before you've launched into the first agenda topic! To be sure, there are subtleties. No one (or few, at any rate) would argue that it's appropriate to chastise folks who sit down 43 seconds after the scheduled start time. On the other hand, for every 12 people waiting for latecomers, the cumulative cost to the group is one hour every five minutes. Delays get expensive in a hurry! However, absent any agreement about what's acceptable, individuals are free to apply their own standard of punctuality and this can inadvertently lead to people fuming about others having a violated a standard that has never been articulated. When you toss in the additional complication that member's watches are never synchronized, it can get ugly.

And it's worse than that. How about the person who arrives at the last second and then tells the group to go ahead and start while they lurk in the next room making tea? In the tea drinker's mind, they're on time. But to someone who is wanting everyone in the room to share a sensitive opening statement, the meeting is effectively delayed.

Another complicating factor in this genre is hand work. Under what conditions, if any, is it acceptable that people do hand work during meetings? For those whose dominant channel of input is visual, hand work can be a distraction. For those who are more aural, this doesn't tend to be the same issue (though it can appear to be: consider how it may land for a visual person who is telling a heart-rending story while an aural person listens and simultaneously shells peas). While most groups find it easy to agree that members should offer each other respectful attention in meetings, it's not so simple defining what constitutes "respectful."

The answer here, I think, is that group's need to talk about punctuality (how close is "on time") and also need to have a way to discuss tensions (of any kind), so that awkwardness around someone being perceived to fall short in their responsibilities as a group member can be dealt with directly and with compassion—not to punish, but to clear the air as a prophylactic against distortion when the heavy lifting is attempted on more weighty topics.

I bring this up because meetings are an important aspect of the group's life, and I'm all in favor of people having the time of their life at them—not just sitting around watching the clock, waiting for life to happen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There's Nothing Like a Pepper

My title today is borrowed from the new ad slogan for Dr Pepper, the quirky soft drink with the hard-to-define flavor that's been around since 1885. (Would it surprise you to learn that this wacky drink originated in Waco?)

At Sandhill, our distinctive line of food products includes a variety of condiments, including mustard, horseradish, tomatillo salsa, gooseberry chutney, mushroom ketchup, BBQ sauce, peach salsa, and hot pepper relish. October on the farm is Pepper Month and I spent the lion's share of today in our food processing kitchen, dicing peppers in preparation for a making a monster batch of pepper relish. I was cutting up hot peppers (serranos, cayennes, and Thai hots) as well as sweet ones, all of which get boiled down in a syrup of honey and vinegar to produce a sweet and spicy gooey red relish. This is one of our top selling condiments and I emptied four buckets of raw peppers to fill a five-gallon cooking pot. All of this will ultimately wind up in pint jars that we'll make available at $6 a pop this weekend, when we attend our biggest fair of the year—the Hannibal Historic Folklife Festival.

This year is the 34h annual rendition of the festival, and we were there back in 1977 when Chris Vincent first put this gig together for the Hannibal Arts Council. It's easy to remember the date because that was our first year producing sorghum.

In the early years, they held this event in early November, and that led to some seriously challenging weather conditions. (I recall trying to break a $100 bill one time when a determined customer wanted to buy a jar of horseradish in the sleet. He was about the only person in the streets, and my hands were so cold I could hardly make change.) Now, fortunately, they've bumped the dates up to the third weekend in Oct, when there's a much better chance of clement weather in the land of Clemens.

The fair is held in the historic district, down by river. Three blocks are barricaded off from vehicle traffic and vendors are only allowed to offer products that could have been manufactured circa 1900. This eliminates all of the plastic drek cranked out inexpensively in Third World sweatshops specifically for the American fair market. Whew!

It's one of my favorite weekends of the year, and we're hoping that many the folks strolling down Main St this Saturday and Sunday come to the conclusion that there's nothing like Sandhill Pepper Relish.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I've always loved numbers. And that make's today's date irresistible for comment.

I'm pausing for coffee (& wi-fi) on my way home from a weekend in St Louis where I was facilitating for friends Tom & Carol Braford, who produced the Cool St Louis Climate Summit. This event was inspired by Bill McKibben's work with, aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% in the next 10 years, in the hopes of bringing atmospheric levels down to 350 parts per million—which scientists think is necessary to sustain human life on Earth long term.

The Brafords timed their event to conclude this morning, when all the 10's lined up like Rockettes on calendrical odometers. While this numerical oddity will not make a fig's difference to atmospheric CO2, it might help lock the concept into people's consciousness, which, after all, is where the necessary changes will have to originate. Yesterday's conferees focused on three leverage points: residential energy use, public facilities (schools, churches, senior centers, etc.), and transportation choices. In each case, the key challenge was how to motivate people to effect voluntary changes in the personal behavior. Even when people know that shifts are needed, that's often not enough to get them to change habits.

A main hope of the Brafords is that people will be more successful in getting over the hump if they gather together in "Eco Teams" to reinforce each others good intentions, a la Weight Watchers. This concept is laid out in no-nonsense, practical terms by David Gershon in his recent book, The Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds. We'll see what they achieve.

• • •
It's a Number Thing
Following my natural fascination with numbers, it was an easy choice for me to be a math major in college. (Among other things, it was the option that required the least number of courses I didn't want to take.) When I went into the job market post-graduation, my prospective employer (the US Dept of Transportation in Washington DC) was attracted to my math credentials. Imagine my surprise when I got hired and learned that what they were actually looking for was not my facility with psi-squared statistical analysis—they were just wanted someone who didn't freak out when there were numbers in a report. In two years, I was never called upon to use anything more advanced than high school algebra, yet almost every report that came through our office and included numerical data was run by me to see I thought the data and the prose told the same story. I stood out as a valued analyst merely because my eyes didn't glaze over and I could follow the bouncing ball.
We're talking about a low bar.

What I came to understand was that math is simply a different language, and not everyone can speak it—even though almost everyone was introduced to it as early as kindergarten—any more than everyone is facile in Farsi. As a nonprofit administrator (rather than a working mathematician), I most frequently bump into the limitations this represents when trying to walk groups through financial reports and fiscal planning. For an alarming number (pardon the expression) this is the same as voodoo. And I'm not even talking about the nuances of accrual versus cash accounting, or capital reserve funds.

Basically, I stumble over a problem that's hard for many of us: how to explain clearly something that is not hard for me yet is for my audience. I rarely have a feel for where others get stuck when it comes to numbers, and I can mess it up in either direction—either by "dumbing it down" to the point where people feel condescended to; or by going too fast and leaving everyone dust. It's a mine field. And it's my field. Uffda.

• • •
While the relief is no doubt ephemeral, at least for today, I am taking a moment to pause and celebrate that everything is a perfect 10.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You Can Smell It in the Air

Seasonal changes are accompanied by characteristic olfactory shifts, and today I'll write a paean to fall smells and seasonal changes. The phrase, "it's in the air" connotes both an immediate sensory experience and also anticipation of what's to come. Today I mean both.

When people say that "fall is in the air" they're referencing the subtle, earthy odor of decaying leaves; the smoky haze from burning brush piles; the way clean laundry smells drying quickly in the autumn breeze. Hell, even cold mornings and heavy dew have a different nose, and I appreciate the quarterly change of menus. That phrase also implies that winter is on its way (in the sense that the grasshopper should be sorry for having dallied away the summer, while the ant is thankful for having steadily stockpiled against the hard days to come).

At Sandhill Farm, there is a distinctive marker that heralds the arrival of fall—the sweet smell of boiling sorghum. Sorghum syrup is a traditional sweetener in the Midwest and the South and is my community's signature agricultural export. In a good year we'll make close to 100 gallons, which translates to about $30,000, or one-third of our annual income—all of which is typically cut and processed in about three weeks of all-hands-on-deck harvest madness. It's my favorite time of year.

Tomorrow will be our first cooking of the 2010 harvest and I anticipate being able to detect the pheromones of hot sugar in the air. This year's harvest commenced much later than usual, due to a wet, cool spring that delayed planting. While the plants are doing their level best to catch up (the Midwest is experiencing a solid stretch of sunny, Indian summer weather right now, after flirting with frost over the weekend), it's a race now between waiting for the plants to reach maximum sugar content (which occurs when the seed heads are dead ripe) and losing the crop to a killing frost (which bursts the cell walls in the stalks and exposes the juice to the atmosphere, leading to souring). We're watching the weather forecasts closely and dancing the edge, holding off with our machetes as long as we dare.

This afternoon we'll start gathering the first field of cane (cut last Thursday) and start up the sorghum press for this first time, producing the characteristic rhythmic sound of large metal gears driving the slow-motion rollers that crush the cane—the aural equivalent of smelling boiling syrup. The modest amount we grind this afternoon will have settled overnight and be available at dawn when we fire up the boiler. By the time I've consumed my first cup of coffee—circa 7 am—Stan & Kris (our master cookers) will already have hot juice in the cooking pan.

While most of our on-farm crew will be focusing on sorghum tasks tomorrow, I'll be handling auxiliary food processing (on a homestead farm, sorghum is hardly the only crop that's harvested in October). My main duties will be to process eight five-gallon buckets of tomatoes (the last hurrah from the summer) and to transform two buckets of cleaned and peeled horseradish roots (that were dug Monday) into eight cases of prepared horseradish sauce.

Every time I go outside tomorrow to change buckets, I'll be able to smell hot sorghum, bubbling in the pan. Tomorrow, fall really will be in the air, and I can hardly wait.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The 10-Hour Cook Shift

One of my primary joys in community living is cooking. In a small group, my turn comes around once every 7-10 days, fluctuating with the on-farm population (more frequently in winter, less in the growing season). On my day, I generally give myself over to the task of nurturing my community family with wholesome, homegrown food and don't expect to get anything else substantive done that day. On all the other days, someone else is cooking and I can enjoy their offerings guilt free.

As I'm sure I'd derive less pleasure from cooking if it were an every day duty (something about familiarity breeding contempt applies here), this is pretty much an ideal rhythm for me. That said, Sandhill is now in Harvest Mode, which means a jump to warp speed. Our on-farm numbers swell to double and triple our normal complement and the carbohydrate demands balloon beyond that in response to all the calories burned while stripping sorghum cane and wielding machetes to fell it. In consequence, a kitchen shift—keeping the compesinos happy and well fed—can be fairly intense. Let me walk you through my schedule yesterday to lay out what I mean...

o My Saturday cook day actually started around 8 pm Friday, when I prepped a cucumber salad, marinated in red onions, salt, pepper, and toasted cumin seeds (ground), then tossed with oil and vinegar. After that went into the fridge, I went into the sack.

o Up before 7 am, I sauteed chopped onions & garlic in oil, then added yellow miso to create a savory topping for hearty oatmeal—great on a cool fall morning. Simultaneously, I put on water to receive the rolled oats. While that was simmering I laid out other topping options: black currant compote, damson plum jam, tahini, peanut butter, and almond butter. This is my favorite stick-to-your-ribs (as well as the roof of your mouth) breakfast.

o After getting that laid out I repaired to my bedroom for a couple hours of report writing—the last time I'd sit down until 8 pm.

o Back in the kitchen at 10:30 am, I started prepping lunch. Our main strategy for the mid-day meal is to feature leftovers. Friday night's steamed rice became fried rice on Saturday; I reheated a red dal dish; popped a trayful of falafel balls in the oven; retossed the salad; and opened the containers of hummus and raw chopped veggies (carrots, cukes, and peppers) available for dipping. For something new, I pulled out a couple gallons of okra from the walk-in. After slicing, I dredged them in seasoned flour and fried them in very hot oil. I just had enough extra time between rounds of okra frying to whip up a mustard vinaigrette to dress the salad. That was lunch.

o After finally frying the last okra round (which look like tiny wagon wheels, and rolled on for more than 90 minutes), I washed the dishes, and started dinner prep. First up was garlic chutney: a potent mix of raw garlic (about a pint), more toasted cumin, lime juice, coriander, a healthy dose of cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt. This is a terrific condiment for all allium lovers who enjoy food that bites back.

o Next I prepped a risotto featuring toasted pine nuts and finely chopped onions sauteed in olive oil. That went into the hay box at 3 pm—plenty of time to be ready at dinner.

o Right after that it was time for dessert. We're flush with apples right now so a crisp was a no-brainer. After shoving that in the oven circa 4:30 pm, I figured I could sneak off for 20 minutes of yoga.

o Refreshed from stretching (can I ever get enough back bends?), I was back in the kitchen by 5, chopping carrots, which I later steamed until just tender and then finish off in onions cooked in oil and flavored with orange juice concentrate and rosemary.

o Finally, it was time for the main dish, a potato and green bean bhaji, cooked—with the obligatory onions and garlic—in a wok with Indian seasoning: salt, cayenne, black mustard seed, turmeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin (can see a pattern yet?).

One of the nice things about Harvest Mode cooking is that when the population peaks, so does abundance from our garden. The only ingredients in the above menu that weren't grown at Sandhill were:
—cumin seed
—black peppercorns
—black mustard seed
—lime juice
—garbonzos ( in the hummus)
—rolled oats
—orange juice
—the various nut butters (which we get from East Wind, our sister community in southern MO)

There is nothing quite so satisfying as putting love out on the dinner table, the ingredients of which were grown in your own garden—unless it's the relief you feel after sitting down after it's all consumed, the dishes are washed, and the floor is swept. Whew! Tomorrow it's someone else's turn!