June 30, 2018

Cold Food For Hot Days - Nori Wraps

Nori wraps are like sushi without the rice, or meat... which wouldn't be sushi, technically speaking.

Summer is hitting our area with a persistent heat wave forecast for the next week. When the weather gets hot, Linda and I reach for our list of no-cook meals. Or, like today with our nori wraps, we add to our list.

Having never tried making these riceless, meatless wraps before, we were in full experimental mode - anything could happen. Another adventure in cookery.

In times like this, we figure that with yummy ingredients, it doesn't really matter what happens, as it is bound to be delicious regardless of the final result. 

Or at least edible. 

You can't go wrong with beautiful ingredients like this.

Our ingredient list included thin sliced radishes from our garden, sticks of firm tofu, slices of yellow bell pepper, thin sliced cucumber, and avocado chunks for the filling. Sushi nori provided the wrapping agent.

It turned out to be a meal as glorious to make as it was to eat, considering the fresh ingredients that popped and crackled with colour and life as they lay ready on the cutting board. Or was I having a bout of heat stroke?

I placed the ingredients on the bottom of the nori, same as making a burrito. Then I wrapped it in much the same fashion, but much more delicately so as not to tear the nori. Before closing, I ran a bead of water along the top of the sheet to help it seal shut in the final wrap.

We cut each roll into 4 or 5 sections, then dipped them in a sauce of Bragg (soy sauce works, too) and sesame oil. Peanut sauce would also be good. 

These turned out so well that they are destined to become a regular go-to meal for hot days like today. Or any time. 

Stay cool. Hydrate. Move slowly. Rest in the shade of a tree. Eat cold, yummy food. 

I am ready.

June 29, 2018

Pity The Nation

Things have been going sideways on our little planet for a very long time. Through it all, the poets have been trying to warn us. Had we been listening, we might have avoided a lot of hardship.

Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran wrote the following poem, called "Pity The Nation":

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years,
and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.
Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.”

It is said that the poem is about Pakistan, but Gibran did not consider himself to be a member of any particular country, saying "the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen". 

Therefore, this poem could refer to any country, and today it applies to many, perhaps even my own.

Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu, so it is no surprise that his work would influence other people, and other poets.

Rebel American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti was one such poet, and wrote the following poem in 2007 after Gibran. It is also called "Pity The Nation", and it is specifically about the USA, although again, it could apply to any country.

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.

Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,

and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero, 

and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.

Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own and no other culture but its own.

Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.

Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode,

and their freedoms to be washed away.

My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.

Ferlinghetti's next book will be published in the spring of 2019, on his 100th birthday.

Pity the nation that doesn't heed the warnings of its poets.

June 25, 2018

Consumerism Equals Irrelevant Things

There are so many ways one can serve the human family and the planet, that it can be a challenge to know where to concentrate one's efforts.

What is the most relevant thing an individual can do for the world? Is it becoming vegan? Driving less? Eliminating plastic from your life, or being kind to all living things? 

While all the above items are worthwhile goals that make a difference, there is something else that should be considered. It is the one thing that we can all do that will make the most difference to personal and global well-being.

Here, I refer to the 20th century Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, who taught that: 

“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” 

That simplifies things quite a bit. First work on this goal, and then everything else will fall into place, because the more we learn about our true nature, the more our decisions will be beneficial.

This idea is not unknown in Western thought. 

"Know thy self" 

is a well known ancient Greek aphorism. Socrates put it a slightly different way when he said, 

"The unexamined life is not worth living".

He explained why he did not spend time indulging in life's many diversions:

"I have no leisure for them at all, and the reason, my friend, is this: 
I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; 
so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things."

While we may have a cultural awareness of the importance of self knowledge, we mostly just pay it lip service; it is essentially seen as time wasting, and given the derogatory label of  "navel-gazing".  

In the West we are told that working hard in order to acquire more stuff, is the way to self-realization. But is it, really?

Consumerism could easily be seen as "the ridiculous investigation of irrelevant things". Since it is a very profitable ridiculosity, it endures despite the poor outcomes.

Trying to attain self-realization through shopping only serves to take us further and further from the ultimate goal sought by the poets and philosophers for millennia - knowing ourselves.

We can take productive steps away from irrelevant things and toward increased self-realization through repeating affirmations that lead us in the right direction. If you don't like these, try making some of your own.

1. I am not comparing myself to others.

2. I am learning to accept and respect my whole self.

3. I have an understanding that I am in control.

4. I am always growing as a person.

5. I am accepting that this is just the beginning, and that it is a vital process that never ends.

It also wouldn't hurt to practice meditation, and read more philosophy and poetry. These activities will lead to a reduced desire to practice consumerism, and an increased desire to continue to pursue the self knowledge that will set you free.

This is the best form of service anyone can render to the world.

Stay calm. Practice self-realization.

June 22, 2018

Summer Begins - Nature Rejoices

The Lady's Slipper is endangered in Nova Scotia. It can live up to 20 years. If the flower is picked, 
it will never flower again. I saw this rare flower on a recent bike ride.

While winter is a time for rest and contemplation, summer is a time of energy, growth and abundance. It is a time to rejoice in the green, growing natural world around us.

Today is the first full day of summer in my northern location. Nature is taking full advantage of the ample hours of sunlight that we have at Summer Solstice, and I am, too. 

Bunchberry is an early summer flower. Its bright red berries are edible, and are an important 
food source for wildlife.

I have been spending a lot of time outside hiking, biking, and photo taking in the woods around our home. After 3 years in our new location, there is still lots to explore.

Acacia Brook runs through the valley below us. My sit spot is on the bridge in the background. 

In southwest Nova Scotia the sun rose this morning at 5:29 am, and will set tonight at 9:15 pm. That is a stretch of glorious daylight 15 and a half hours long. Daytime at winter solstice here is an all too brief 8 hrs and 48 min long. 

That is one thing I like about living in a northern location on our tilted globe - 4 beautiful distinct seasons. I enjoy them all. But summer is the warmest, and that is nice after being cold for months on end.

I have been sharing my peanuts and sunflowers with this bold blue jay. These birds horde food, 
then have difficulty finding it later. This is just outside my kitchen window.

But right now, there is a lot of daylight (and warmth) to enjoy. It is a large energy input to nature, which responds with riotous growth. I can feel it, too. Now is a time for action. 

Everything rejoices. Summer is here.

June 14, 2018

First Harvest - Kale Microgreens

Kale thinnings from the garden washed and ready for smoothification, and eating right out of the strainer.

The Spring of 2018 has been riding in on the back of a turtle. This slow start has brought us cool temperatures and very little rain. As such, our garden has been slow to start, but that hasn't prevented me from securing our first food from our 8 X 16 raised bed.

The kale and beets were established enough to require thinning. I saved everything I pulled out, and rejoiced in our first harvest of the year. Then I did an internet search to see what I could find out about young garden plants that are slightly more developed than sprouts. 

I was surprised at what I found out - they're a thing! 

I thought I was eating boring old kale thinnings, but I was actually being trendy without realizing it. In the foodie world, what I was eating are a relatively new phenomena called  "Microgreens". 

It is easy to mistake microgreens for sprouts, but they are not the same. Sprouts are seeds germinated in water just long enough (usually 48 hours) to grow roots, a stem and pale, underdeveloped leaves. 

Microgreens, on the other hand, need soil and sunlight and at least 7 days to grow before you can harvest them. They are best harvested between 7 and 14 days old, and have a reduced risk of contamination compared to sprouts.

Sprouting has been a thing for a long time, but they are notorious for harbouring various food borne pathogens, like E coli. That makes microgreens a more attractive alternative.

Microgreens have a better nutritional profile than the seeds they come from, and are 4 to 6 times more nutritious than fully grown plants. They are best eaten immediately after harvesting when they are at peak freshness and nutrition.

Nutritional Profile For Kale Micro Greens

Vitamins A, B, C, E and K

Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc
Carotene, Chlorophyll, Amino Acids, Trace Elements

Protein: 30-35%

We also couldn't resist eating some straight up - crunchy, crispy, fresh food straight from the ground. They were so good that I have decided to experiment more with this nutritious raw food.

I have tons of kale seeds from last year's plants - it seems like I must have millions of them, but who's counting? I am seeding any available spots in the garden with these, then will harvest them as microgreens, or if a little older, as baby kale. 

Because they won't mature, lots of space won't be necessary, and I will be enhancing the growing efficiency of our garden.

Micro greens can also be grown indoors, and will make a great fresh food project for next winter. Since our winter gardening possibilities are limited to non-existent, growing some green stuff inside as the snow flies outside will feel great. 

So my first harvest was not only tasty and nutritious, it was also an interesting learning experience that has me looking forward to further adventures in gardening.

June 11, 2018

Find Beauty

Hummingbirds are beauty personified.

There seems to be a glut of ugliness in the world right now. Can one pay attention while maintaining a healthy, sane state of mind? It can be a real problem if you are awake to current global affairs.

If you have a problem, application of its opposite is the answer. So one would counter hate with love, war with peace, and waste with thrift.

In the same vein, the way to counter ugliness is to seek out beauty.

“Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.”

- Matt Haig

Today I am choosing to see the beauty that is around me always. By focusing on the beautiful, I cleanse my mind. 

A cleansed mind is a joyful mind. A joyful mind can deal with ugliness, and take action to counter it when it occurs.

Have a beautiful day, everyone. 

What is the beauty that you are finding today?

June 10, 2018

Me Simplified

Birthplace: Earth


Religion: Love

Family: Humanity

Politics: Freedom

Passion: Nature

Goal: Self-Realization

Medicine: Laughter

Lifestyle: Simple

June 6, 2018

World Environment Day 2019: Eco-Weenies Unite!

Yesterday was United Nations World Environment Day. Did anybody notice? Did the Anti-Environmentalists take a break for the day?

This UN designated day was started in1974, a sign of the growing environmental movement that had been building since the 1960s. Its purpose is to promote "worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment."

One way they could achieve their stated goal would be to make people more aware of the "movement started to end a movement", because shortly after the Environmental Movement began, the Anti-Environmental Movement came into being.

The green revolution was still in its infancy, and already the backlash had begun. Soon, the Merchants of Doubt would go into high gear.

Now, 50 years later, it appears that the anti-protection factions are winning the struggle to decide whether we help Mother Earth, or continue the mistreatment that Jim Morrison noted in the 1967 song, "When The Music Is Over".

In it, he asks:

"What have they done to the Earth?

What have they done to our fair sister?

Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her.

Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn,

And tied her with fences and dragged her down."

Have things improved for the environment globally over the past 50 years of World Environment Days? Maybe it is time for a different approach.

Currently, many gains the enviro movement has made over the decades are being repealed by misguided anti-environmentalists in the Corporate/Government Complex. Morrison would be horrified, but probably not surprised.

After decades of astro-turfing, lobbying, shady science, outright lies, and buying off politicians, a large part of the public blindly approves of the anti-environmentalist's mangled messaging.

"The Greenies are destroying everything. They hate humanity, and must be stopped. Nothing is wrong - don't worry, keep shopping."

Before/After photos in a recent British Columbia clear cut. This is the real Eco-Terrorism.

And don't forget one of their favourite tactics - the demeaning, belittling, and discrediting name calling.

Until recently, I thought I was an environmentalist, but now I realize that we have been effectively rebranded by the Denial Industry. Now we are something quite different from the concerned citizens that we thought we were when we first started to speak up for a natural world that can't speak for itself.

I thought I was a good guy, but apparently, no.

Now, because I am a defender of Mother Nature (which includes humans, who are part of nature), I am labelled an alarmist, eco-fascist, enviro-Nazi, eco-weenie, and my favourite, eco-terrorist. That is only a small selection of the slurs used to shift pubic views against the self-preservation through a healthy, functioning ecosystem, that is the goal of environmentalism.

This year the United Nations World Environment Day was centred around plastic reduction, specifically, single use plastic products. This is a very important topic that demands action from individual citizens, government, and industry. But after 5 decades, I can't help but feeling that it is too little, too late.

I suggest that next year they do something focused around environmental literacy, and shine a solar powered light on the dirty deeds of the anti-environmental movement, and their false choice of economy OR environment.

Without a functioning environment, there will be no economy, no jobs, no environmentalists, no anti-environmentalists, no nothing.

Maybe the United Nations World Environment Day next year could sport the following motivating motto:

"Eco-Weenies Unite To Save The Environment AND the Economy... AND The Anti-Environmentalists, Too"

The accompanying theme would be: "How the Corporate/Governmental Anti-Environmentalist Establishment Sold Us All Out And Are Destroying the Earth In The Process".

Something like that would really promote "worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment." Lets call out the Anti-Eco-Weenies (where the enviro-terrorist label really fits), and lay bare their lies and rhetoric.

Mother Earth will be dragged down no more. We have to be prepared to draw the line, and defend it.

I'm off to New York to make my proposal. I wonder how long it will take to ride my bike to the U.N. headquarters?