Collecting Seasonal Vegetables
Excerpt from: Cooking for the Love of the World
Awakening Our Spirituality through Cooking
by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt
mentor at Wise Woman University
Selecting seasonal vegetables for our meal can be a rich and joyful experience independent of having a garden. Whether we collect our food from our backyard, at the local grocery or gather wild foods in nature, we have an opportunity to fully relate to the foods we choose to cook with.
To care for vegetables and observe them grow is a very intimate experience. If a garden plot is not available, raising plants in a pot in a southern exposed window can create a similar deep experience. Herbs are especially well suited for this; basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary, chives and sage are but a few.
Every time I plant a seed in the ground I am in awe of the archetypal cycle that I see in it; the metamorphoses from seed to leaf to bud, blossom, fruit and seed. I am amazed that a sunflower seed blossoms within weeks into a sunflower, greeting the sun on its journey across the sky. Only a sunflower will grow from that seed, not a squash or anything else! What a miracle!
My assistance in this process is humble. I nurture the plant with rich compost and make sure it has water. Then I watch the plant with the utmost interest and attention. I see the ethereal life forces that bring this plant into manifestation and I sense the nature beings busily working around and within it. When it is time to harvest, it is with the deepest respect and appreciation that I reach out in joy to pick the food.
In America an abundance of produce is available at all times. It is quite a different experience to collect our vegetables at the market than growing them ourselves, yet it can still be intimate. At the market the shelves and bins are already filled with a cornucopia of colors, forms, and shapes; a variety of vegetables and fruits, many from other parts of the world.
At the marketplace I imagine I am at an art gallery, looking at beautiful artwork created by a phenomenal artist. I admire each piece as it lay there with its friends in the bin. Who and what could create this exceptional, magnificent artwork? One at a time I hold different vegetables in my hand.
I look at the shapes, the colors, smell them and feel their texture. I imagine how the mother plant of the vegetable looked in the field. I see how it grew from tiny sprout to a full mature plant. I follow the growth of plant in relationship to the seasons and sense its connection to the warmth, air, water and the soil.
While looking at the vegetable I appreciate all the activities and people involved in getting the food in my grocery bag. I feel gratitude toward the rain, the bumblebee, the farmer’s hard work, the makers of the farm tools and machinery, the truck drivers, distributors, managers and clerks at the store. It is quite astonishing what is involved in getting our food to our table.
We can create still another experience when we go foraging by a stream, field, a park or an edge of a forest to find fresh edible wild plants. In the city we might be concerned with pollution, but compared to the experience of picking our own fresh food it is not much to worry about.
The early spring is a great time to pick fresh, nourishing nettles. They are one of the first plants to peek out of the ground after the snow has disappeared. Their tender top-shoots can be picked for food until the nettle begins to flower about one to two months later.
Spring is also a wonderful time to collect dandelion leaves and flowers, early clover blossoms, wild onions, chickweed and over-wintered burdock roots. At the source of a stream we can find crispy watercress during spring, fall and winter. The summer and fall is the time to gather a variety of berries, wild apples, plums, and cherries as well as dig for dandelion, horseradish and other wild roots.
If we go to the same place often we will be able to follow a plant’s development from the first early leaves to the mature fruit that seeds in the fall. Sometimes we can bring a magnifying glass to help us stay present to the wonders we encounter. One way to increase our attentiveness and sharpen our perception is to draw the plant, for example the stinging nettle, in its different developmental stages.
When we draw something we really observe what is in front of us. I draw only what I see unfold before my eyes, as real as possible. After that I close my eyes and ‘draw’ the nettle in all details in the imagination. Then I erase the physical image and sit quietly with the life-filled space left in place of the plant. After a while I observe if there is an after-image that lingers with me.
When it is time for me to pick the plant for food I sit down with appreciation in my heart. I take a seat among the leaves and grasses, listen to the birds, smell the fragrances and sense the moisture of the earth. There seems to be a friendliness and business of the place totally of its own.
It feels like industrious nature beings are working deliberately and intentionally all around me. It is as if the beauty and gentleness of the place bring them to life in me. When I leave with a handful of food for my dinner, I feel the gratitude that wells up within from a fountain of joy. Life is abundant! Life is beautiful!
Pressed New Radishes
Pressing vegetables is a quick way to make a light pickle. Radishes taste less sharp after the pressing process.
1 big bunch of radishes
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar
Rinse and trim the radishes. Slice into thin rounds and place in a bowl.
Mix radishes with sea salt. Place a smaller bowl on top of the radishes. Leave a heavy weight, a large rock for example, in the smaller bowl. Let them sit under pressure for 20 minutes to 2 hours.
Pour off the liquid that has been pressed out of the radishes.
Season with vinegar, mix well, and let the radishes rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Cooking for the Love of the World:
Awakening our Spirituality through Cooking
by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt
A heart-centered, warmth-filled guide to the nurturing art of cooking.
"Cooking delicious nourishing meals - with heart and soul - is easy, fast, and fun with this great guide. Everything you need to know is right here - along with exercises and experiences that will help you love cooking, love yourself,
and love the earth."
-Susun S. Weed, Author, Healing Wise
Order Cooking For the Love of the World in our Bookshop
Online Courses by ANNE-MARIE FRYER
Cooking for the Love of Children
taught by Mentor: Anne-Marie Fryer
Learn about the nutritional needs of your growing child and receive delicious, seasonal, wholesome nutritious menus and recipes on affordable budget so as to encourage children to eat and live healthy.
Learn about the nutritional needs of your growing child and receive delicious, seasonal, wholesome nutritious menus and recipes on affordable budget so as to encourage children to eat and live healthy. During this four weeks course we will explore the nutritious needs for your growing child.
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Culturing from the Heart
This course will explore some of the many benefits of fermented and cultured foods, and why it is important to include them regularly with every meal. You will be guided through the steps of making sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, kefir, soft cheese, and yogurt, as well as get a chance to discover new fermented drinks such as kvass, wines, and beers. I will aim at answering personal questions around your culturing and fermenting experiences.
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About the Mentor: My name is Anne-Marie. I am a Waldorf class and kindergarten teacher, biodynamic farmer, author, and nutritional counselor. I have taught nutritional cooking and counseled for 25 years in my homeland Denmark, Europe, and the United States. I am the author of “Cooking for the Love of the World, Awakening Our Relationship to Spirituality Through Cooking.”