Soil Sacrament and Harvest

Abundant tomatoes for BLTs and salads

Abundant tomatoes for BLTs and salads

It is harvest season. I am frantically drying, preserving and freezing the abundance of apples from our trees, making green smoothies from the delicious salad greens and indulging in wonderful tomato salads and sandwiches.  It seems fitting that I am in the midst of reading Fred Bahnson’s delightful memoir Soil and SacramentI was particularly struck this morning my his comment:

Our ecological problems are a result of having forgotten who we are – soil people, inspired by the breath of God… in St Augustine’s phrase, terra animata – animated earth.

Drying apples

Drying apples

So as we contemplate this day and this season may we indeed remember who we are and who God has made us to be. Last year I wrote this liturgy for the harvest season. I decided I could not improve on it this year so add it again here as a way to draw all of us into the blessings of this season.

God we thank you for a harvest of plenty,

Small seeds that multiply to feed many,

Trees that blossom and produce abundant fruit,

Tomatoes that ripen on the vine with sweet flavour.

God we thank you for abundance overflowing,

Enough for our own needs and an abundance to share,

Enough to feed the hungry and provide for the destitute,

Enough to reach out with generosity and care. 

God we thank you for seeds you have planted in our hearts,

Seeds of righteousness yielding goodness and mercy,

Seeds of love yielding justice and peace,

Seeds of compassion yielding healing and renewal.

God we thank you for the bread of heaven,

Christ our saviour planted in our lives,

Christ our redeemer growing in our hearts,

Christ your Son making us one with you.

God we thank you for the gift of life,

Like water poured out on thirsty ground,

Spring and autumn rains that revive and bring life,

A river that flows from your heart and out into the world you love.

Amen

Preserving the harvest - Canning Tomatoes

Preserving the harvest – Canning Tomatoes

For other posts on harvest season you like might to see:

2011 I wrote this reflection: The Harvest is Plentiful But the Labourers are Few;

2010 I posted this: Praying for an Abundant Harvest

2009 I wrote this litany: God of the Bountiful – A Harvest Prayer

And my first post on this theme in 2008: The Generosity of God – Fish and Loaves for all

 

Which Seed Catalogues Can I Trust?

Catalogues galore

Catalogues galore

I mentioned yesterday that the seed catalogues have started to arrive. This is a great time to curl up by the fire and drool over all those wonderful photos in the seed catalogues that in your saner moments you know won’t grow in your climate zone but which you just can’t resist when it is too cold to grow anything. This year I have done some research on who owns our seed companies and which we can trust to have organic non GM seed.

I always like to buy from those companies that specialize in heritage and organic seed like:

Seed Savers Exchange

Bountiful Gardens

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply 

or those that are based in the local Washington area

Territorial Seeds

Raintree Nursery

I also cannot resist a couple of big company catalogues like the English classic  Thompson and Morgan and Park Seeds which have products I can’t seem to find anywhere else.

Unfortunately I discovered recently that many of my favourite companies are owned by Monsanto or Mars.

Seeds of Change – I love their seeds but someone told me recently that they are owned by MARS  incorporated, one of the largest food conglomerates in the world. So though Seeds of Change itself provides ethical seed, non GM products, its parent company has a different philosophy. As Tim Stanton who alerted me to this commented: They present themselves as a warm, inviting, environmentally conscious company, but Seeds of Change has a money-hungry corporate core.  Tim goes on to say:

Even though Seeds of Change signed the safe seeds pledge (pledging to not sell genetically modified seed), Mars. Inc. spent almost 400k to defeat Prop 37 (which would have required the simple labeling of GM food so PEOPLE could make informed choices). Seeds of Change had been a New Mexico based company since the beginning (since it started out small and independent) but Mars uprooted it from original place of operations in New Mexico and moved it to Los Angeles, leaving almost their entire faithful New Mexico crew jobless. They even abandoned their warehouse cats in the process –

So if you want to get away from any seed company that is associated with Monsanto, here is a very helpful list that documents some of the companies owned by Monsanto who may be using GM food. Unfortunately I notice some of my other favourites (including ones listed above) are on the list. It also contains a list of those that sell safe seed even though they have not signed the safe seed pledge.

So you may also want to check out this link to where you can research seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge,

I would love to hear your comments on this. How do we decide which seeds to use? Should we be concerned about who owns the seed companies?

Can a Simple Piece of Paper Change the Way We Eat?

This is an amazingly creative way to save fresh produce. When I first watched the video all I could think of was the food that goes bad in our fridge, (yes self centred I know) but this really could save the 25% of the world’s food which presently gets wasted because of spoilage. Kavita M. Shukla the Inventor and Founder/CEO of Fenugreen is a pioneer in the movement towards sustainable, active, natural food packaging.

Let Us Thank God – A Harvest Prayer

Scarlet runner beans ready for the winter

Scarlet runner beans ready for the winter

It is harvest season here in the Pacific Northwest. The tomatoes are finally ripening, the beans have dried on the vine and the apples and pears are ready to be picked. As I walk out and see the miracle of what has come from tiny seeds my heart swells with gratitude at the wonder of how God provides. each year at this time I write reflections and prayers on the harvest season.

Last year I wrote this reflection: The Harvest is Plentiful But the Labourers are Few;

The year before I posted this: Praying for an Abundant Harvest

And the year before wrote this litany: God of the Bountiful – A Harvest Prayer

And my first post on this theme in 2008: The Generosity of God – Fish and Loaves for all

I had not intended to write another reflection for the harvest season this year – there is so much else that I want to write about. But there is something about this season that calls forth my gratitude and thanksgiving in ways that I realize I cannot deny. This morning it bubbled up within me into this prayer:

God we thank you for a harvest of plenty,

Small seeds that multiply to feed many,

Trees that blossom and produce abundant fruit,

Tomatoes that ripen on the vine with sweet flavour.

God we thank you for abundance overflowing,

Enough for our own needs and an abundance to share,

Enough to feed the hungry and provide for the destitute,

Enough to reach out with generosity and care. 

God we thank you for seeds you have planted in our hearts,

Seeds of righteousness yielding goodness and mercy,

Seeds of love yielding justice and peace,

Seeds of compassion yielding healing and renewal.

God we thank you for the bread of heaven,

Christ our saviour planted in our lives,

Christ our redeemer growing in our hearts,

Christ your Son making us one with you.

God we thank you for the gift of life,

Like water poured out on thirsty ground,

Spring and autumn rains that revive and bring life,

A river that flows from your heart and out into the world you love.

Amen

Making Bread

Bread - the staple of Life

Bread – the staple of Life

Yesterday our summer intern Chris Holcomb made bread – not the fast bread machine type, not the intensive “knead for 10 minutes” type but the slow natural “lets take 24 hours to do this” type. Amazingly it is not labour intensive – a few minutes at a time is all it takes. It was the best home made bread I have tasted for a long time so I thought that I would share the recipe plus links to other articles on no knead bread that I thought may interest some of you.

What it made me realize however is that here is another aspect of life in which we so often miss the best because we want it in a hurry. Our bread machines make 1 hour bread for a quick loaf or else we dash to the store for a basic mass produced loaf because we think we don’t have time. Makes me think of the way we treat our faith. We want a quick fix. We want it now and we are not particularly concerned if it lacks flavour and quality.

Jesus the bread of life is I think like this slow process bread – something to take our time over. Something to savour and enjoy. Something that has us wanting to come back for more all the time.

All that said here is the recipe:

1 ib unbleached white flour

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups water

Baking stone or cookie sheet, Pizza peel or heavy sheet of cardboard

Starting the night before baking day, in a large mixing bowl use your hands to mix the flour, yeast, salt and enough water to form a soft and sticky dough. Cover and let the dough rise overnight at room temperature. This long cool rise (don’t use warm water) lets the the yeast and various enzymes develop maximum flavour in the dough and also makes for a chewy texture. When you get up in the morning, wet your hands, lift the dough onto a flat, wet surface, then gently stretch it and fold it in half 2 – 4 times. Return dough to the same bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size. While the bread is in its second round of rising line a bowl with a cotton or linen cloth heavily dusted with flour. When the dough has doubled turn it out onto a work surface and with wet hands stretch and fold, and turn 2 – 4 times until dough begins to stiffen and assume the shape of a ball.

Place the ball into the bowl on the well-floured cloth. Cover and let rise until the dough has almost doubled again. (1 – 4 hours depending on room temp). Turn onto pizza peel or well floured piece of heavy cardboard. Slide onto a baking stone or cookie sheet. Bake at 500F until the crust is golden brown on top and the bottom crust is hard and thumps like a drum when you tap it (about 30 – 40 minutes). Allow to cool before slicing.

The recipe comes from Mother earth News December 2010/January 2011. I could not find the same recipe on line but came across these other articles and recipes at Mother Earth that are definitely worth reading and experimenting with:

Easy No Knead Crusty Bread

Healthy No Knead Bread Recipes

Five Minutes a Day For Fresh Baked Bread

And these great looking recipes from Grit: Rural American Know How

You might also enjoy this video clip.

Having Fun Cooking

Mediterranean diet pyramid

Mediterranean diet food pyramid

One of the things that I always like to do to relax after a long trip is to get into the kitchen and cook. Replenishing supplies like my breakfast granola and eggplant dip (baba Ghannouj) which have become staples for our Mediterranean style diet are always fun. I have posted the granola recipe before, but thought that some of you may would appreciate this very healthy version of Baba Ghannouj too. I took my original recipe and added the pepper which I think gives it a richer flavour and the yoghurt adds a nice tang. If you like it hot at a 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder too. It makes a great lunch spread or addition to a Middle Eastern meal.

1 medium sized eggplant

1 red pepper (capsicum)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup taheen, (sesame paste)

1/2 cup yoghurt (Greek style preferable)

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

2 spring onions finely chopped

2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Wash and dry eggplant and pepper. Prick eggplant with fork in 3 -4 place. Place eggplant and pepper on a baking sheet and broil (grill) 4 inches away from heat, turning them on all sides until the skin is charred. 20- 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel off skin, cut off stem and deseed pepper. Chop eggplant and pepper finely by hand and mash eggplant pulp or blend garlic, pepper and eggplant in a blender until smooth. Combine lemon juice, yoghurt, and salt. Add to eggplant mix. Blend in taheen, mix well. Add spring onions and parsley. Place on a serving plate and drizzle oil over it.

 

Spirituality of Gardening Seminar is Coming

Garden seminar is Coming

Garden seminar is Coming

Garden Seminar is Coming

I have been so focused on Lent, Holy Week and Easter that I have almost forgotten to mention the garden seminar coming up at the beginning of May.

This year’s Spirituality of Gardening seminar at the Mustard Seed House will be held May 5th. I love facilitating this seminar and the opportunity to discuss how the story the story of God unfolds in the garden.

Explore the wonderful ways that God and God’s story are revealed through the rhythms of planting, growing and harvesting. Spiritual insights, practical advice for organic backyard gardeners and time for reflection will all enrich and deepen our faith. Come prepared to get your hands dirty as we will spend some time in the garden or in the greenhouse if the weather is inclement.

Bishop Gregory Rickel, Episcopal Bishop of Olympia says:

“I am pleased to recommend the work of Christine Sine. Over the last of couple years, I have grown to deeply appreciate her spiritual insights and knowledge. Community gardening has been an important faith based response to the recession and her work on spirituality and gardening is important for anyone who wants to engage their spiritual practice with stewardship of the land.”

This year we have special discounts for students and alumni wanting to gain new spiritual insights and share gardening advice. It would be a great opportunity to check out the Mustard Seed garden, interact with our growing garden community and pick up some garden starts.

Register HERE today before all the spots are filled!

There is still time to order garden starts too. The front porch of the Mustard Seed House here in Seattle is already bulging with plants – some germinating on heat mats, some under grow lights, others outside in our green house. Yesterday  was busy transplanting over 100 healthy looking tomato starts – red, yellow and even green and chocolate. Friends told me that our tomato plants were the best they have ever grown. We will also have a selection of other plants available for purchase when you pick up your vegetable starts at the end of April or beginning of May.

Plants are all grown using organic soil and fertilizer. They come in 4″ coir fiber pots that are biodegradable. Proceeds from plant sales will help us establish the Mustard Seed Village.

Please download the order form, fill it in and return it to us as soon as possible so that we can get your plants started.