Grow your own

Right in the center of my vision board are the words Farm to Table. The further along my yoga path I have come, the more this means to me. Eating consciously. Locally grown, seasonal, organic…you know, the good stuff.

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Since I live in Manhattan Beach, where outdoor space is hard to come by, having a farm is not an option. There is very little land here that is not beach or home. Few people even have yards. That means if you want to enjoy farm to table you rely on the farmers markets, which are amazing. However, my intention when I put it on my vision board was to have the farm myself. My grandfather was a farmer and he advised me at a young age to not take up farming as a career. So actually what I really meant when I set it as an intention is to grow my own food…at least some of it. Garden to Table is more accurate. With limited space you have to be creative in order to make this happen, but I’m here to tell you, it can be done!

We are fortunate enough to have a balcony, so we can grow things in pots.

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Sure it would be nice to have a big yard with a garden, but you do the best you can with what you have. As a lover of food, I can honestly say, I am hard pressed to find something more satisfying to my taste buds and to my soul, as food that I plant, take care of, harvest, cook and eat myself.

I believe there are several factors for this. First of all it’s 100% organic! Next, there is hardly any carbon footprint. Except for when Chelsea and I went to the Garden Center in El Segundo to get the seeds and soil. Third, it’ seasonal and finally they were grown and cooked with love and I truly believe this has a positive effect.

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We planted the beets and kale out on our balcony, along with some sweet potatoes that our friend Berit gave us. I have been on a morning meditation kick and I usually do it outside near the plants. It has been a nice practice, spending a few minutes sitting quietly in the morning, connecting to my breath, listening to the birds sing amidst the drills, saws and hammers from the construction next door. Then getting up and looking after the plants. Watering them and watching for bugs, trimming off the dead leaves, etc.

Meditation and gardening have this in common…to get the most benefits, consistency is key. You can’t just meditate once or water the plants once and expect results. However, when done on a consistent basis over time the benefits of meditation are a greater sense of peace and joy. The benefits of gardening are beauty from the flowers and food from the plants. So, after just a few weeks, it was time for a joyful food harvest. I decided to make Kale chips and beet greens with my bounty.

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The beet greens were surprisingly delicious and easy to make. I cut the leaves in half and chopped up the stems into tiny quarter inch pieces. Sometimes I toss them in the skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and after a couple of minutes they are sautéed and ready to enjoy. Tonight I added them to a stir fry Chelsea was making using coconut oil and veggies from the farmers market.

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The kale chips were almost just as easy and even more delicious. I used my friend Katie B’s recipe. Katie Bressack Heat the oven to 425, trim off the stems and toss the kale lightly in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and spread onto a baking sheet.

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Place into the oven and keep an eye on them. They only take a few minutes and the difference between good and un edible happens fast. When they are crisp, they’re ready. Crunchy and yummy. What a great way to enjoy veggies!

Both the kale chips and beet greens satisfied my taste buds and my soul. The fact that I planted, tended to, harvested and cooked, made them even better.

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Cheers…to homemade BBQ sauce

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Let me start by saying, I LOVE Barbecue Sauce! Maybe it comes from my roots in Arkansas, or my upbringing in North Carolina, where the Southern folks love them some BBQ. But, I have always loved the sauce. There are so many different kinds too. Even different regions of the state have different flavor profiles. Some are sweeter, some more tangy , but all just a little bit different. Have you ever noticed, there is basically just one ketchup, but there are a wide variety of sauces with the title BBQ attached to them. Over the years, I would always order a side of it whenever I was at a new restaurant. As a result, I have tried hundreds over the years and my love of cooking inspired me to make my own. I have modified this recipe over the years, so sometimes it is sweeter and sometimes more tangy, but I love it and rarely do I find one out on the town or even in stores that I like better.

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The great thing is, it’s easy to make and can be made from organic ingredients , which is important to me. I look at the ingredients of many of the popular versions in stores and they have high fructose corn syrup as one of the first ingredients. None of that here, so you can slather it on whatever you want. One time Chelsea came home to her roommate eating it with rice. She said “I just wanted to eat this sauce”!

So, at the request of my friend Val, I’m sharing this recipe on here for anyone to try. Have fun with it and feel free to make modifications depending on your own preferences. This one is a little sweet, a little tangy, a little spicy and full of umami. (Which is that pleasant savory taste that helps make ketchup so satisfying) http://www.umamiinfo.com/2011/02/What-exactly-is-umami.php

For Matt’s homemade BBQ sauce 2014 edition, mix together
1 cup organic ketchup
1 cup organic brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

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The key is then to cook it down, meaning adding mixed ingredients to a skillet and cooking it on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally, especially as it begins to bubble. This will give it that stickiness that takes it to the next level for my taste buds, it’s where the umami comes out. Then after it cools a little, I put it in a glass jar and either give it away to someone I love (I’m bringing some to yoga tomorrow for you Val) or enjoy it on everything from salmon to grilled eggplant. I even use it on our home made pizzas.
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Oh yeah, the beverage… It’s a mock tail. Non alcoholic cocktail. Fun to drink and easy to make. Chelsea and our friend Laurel made some ginger syrup. I used a little of that, along with soda water. I then muddled up fresh basil from a basil plant we have next to the sink along with lemon from a tree outside, mixed it all together while the sauce cooked down. Delish!
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This is the yoga pose for today’s post. It’s called Malasana, basically a squat. Great to do when your muddling. This pose helps my low back feel better the way it stretches and builds strength. I have had two yoga teachers say that “Cultures that spend time in this position have fewer back issues” I can believe that. Since I’ve been doing it, my back feels great. Try to do it for one minute per day, followed by a forward fold, muddler not needed to perform this pose;)
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Boulder – ing

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Anne and I went “Bouldering” tonight. I thought that was only a hip town in Colorado that many of my closest friends have spent time in. Turns out that when you add an ing at the end, it becomes a new activity for my ADHD self.

In my efforts to find new exciting ways to exercise (see previous blog) I did this a couple of weeks ago with Anne and our friend Berit. It was so much fun, I went again and bought a package, ensuring that I would make this a weekly activity. It has all the things a good activity should have. It builds strength, it’s a challenge, it’s fun, and it gives you a chance to root on your friends and watch each other grow and progress, and sometimes fall. I was surprised by how much it increased my heart rate and even made me sweat a little. My forearms are going to be sore tomorrow.

I believe that there are yoga poses that will compliment everything we do, especially when it comes to sports. So I always like to think of which poses will best compliment each activity. So here my friend Anne is demonstrating three poses that will help with ‘bouldering’
The first one is finger stretches. Definitely needed for all the use of the fingers to hold on with.

Finger Stretches

Finger Stretches


The next one is crescent pose to stretch out the hips and strengthen the legs with the palms touching and hands behind the neck to stretch the shoulders and triceps.
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Finally, we have chaturanga dandasana, which is very similar to a traditional push up. This helps build strength in the arms.

Yoga push up

Yoga push up


The other climbers all seem to be really nice and helpful. On my last attempt tonight, before my body said enough, I was almost to the top, my fingers slipped and I fell all the way to the ground. Fortunately, I safely landed with bent knees on the cushy pad at the bottom, about a 20 foot fall. A guy next to where I landed said, sorry I wasn’t paying better attention, I would have helped you out. Then he proceeded to give me a bunch of climbing tips.
We went to this place called Hangar 18 South Bay, just a few minutes from the beach in one of those places with a bunch of office buildings, you’d never know what was inside from the looks of it, but inside here is a lot of fun!

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Then, the best part is when we came home, Anne came in to say hi to Chelsea and she had cooked us a delicious organic whole food vegetarian dinner.
Roasted carrots, fingerling potatoes, steamed broccoli, red lentils and quinoa

Roasted carrots, fingerling potatoes, steamed broccoli, red lentils and quinoa

Oh yeah, I was talking about Boulder…I’m going there in June for the Hanuman Festival with YogaGlo. We are one of the main sponsors and 10 of our teachers are going to be there. I’m going with an amazing company of friends. I’m excited to experience this wonderful town. It’s my kind of place. It’s “Green” for the lack of a better term, I like to call it “Conscious”, you know what I mean. It’s set up to bike and people compost and everything is local, you know, cool. I’ll have a word for it when I get back I’m sure. I’m going to a yoga festival, so “Amazing” might be the word. I’m excited to learn and be inspired by like minded individuals. Happy Now and looking forward to June. I Love it when I have something cool to look forward to. Like Bouldering next week.

I’m back!

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After years of writing all my random thoughts and inspirations into paper journals and after being inspired by my friends and fellow bloggers Gabby from Cause We Can Events, Jessica form Life, Love, and Yoga; and Peggy and Megan from Curry Girls Kitchen…I’ve decided to share with those who care, my thoughts and inspirations on everyday life. In the hopes that someone, somewhere, will be inspired to live a better life, be a better person, and have a positive impact on the world around them.

I will do this through the lens of Yoga, Love and Food. Three things that I am passionate about. Three things that positively impact my life. I love yoga (teaching and practicing), I love Love (making and spreading), and I love food (growing, cooking and eating). So here goes…

Namaste and Bon Appetit.

Love,
Matt