Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - 7th Day of Christmas

7th Day of Christmas - December 31st

New Year's Eve!

The day when folks celebrate the achievements of the outgoing year, or the celebration of opportunities with the incoming year — either way, or both, it is a good time for the spirit of renewal to guide you and your choices.

Folks, I inadvertently left out the Spirit of Generosity section in the 6th day of Christmas post yesterday, so I'm putting two in today :-) — Catherine


Tomorrow is the day I traditionally plant my potatoes, so I get the frame out (mentioned before), loosen up the top soil inside the frame and have the compost or fallen leaves ready for tomorrow's planting. My potatoes have been stored in the frig crisper from last season's harvest, plus any new varieties I have ordered.

If that is more ambitious than you are interested in pursuing, consider sowing in some cilantro (coriander) seeds, there is still time to get a nice crop in for harvesting. Also pick up a spare bulb of garlic at the grocer, separate the cloves and plant 6 inches a part in a sunny spot with good draining soil. In about 3 weeks you will see the leaves growing up, when they are about 8-10 inches tall you can harvest your "garlic scallions" as needed — Use them the same way you would use dried garlic or green onions — their flavor is slightly milder than the dried clove.


What's a New Year's Eve (or New Year's Day) party without a dip?

My take off on the many numerous varieties of Texas Caviar, a bean and salsa ‘salad' this is not only good tasting but good for you. Some variations are:

1)use black-eyed peas at New Year's for a traditional good luck dish; OR
2) garbonzo beans, mint and parsley instead of black beans, cilantro and cumin.

Chips are always great, but I liked the toast points for a little fancier presentation.

3 medium tomatoes
5 green scallions
half a large yellow or orange sweet bell pepper
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
small bunch of cilantro, finely shredded
small bunch of garlic chives, finely shredded
zest and juice of one lemon
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
half teaspoon of salt
half teaspoon of cumin
6 turns of a pepper mill
Toasted bread cut in 2x2 inch pieces and brushed with olive oil OR Corn Chips
Optional: small jalapeno pepper, finely minced

Cut tomatoes, scallions, and pepper(s) into bean size pieces, catch all juices. Mix these with the cilantro, chives, lemon zest and juice, salt, cumin, ground pepper, drizzle with olive oil and fold/stir again. Serve on toast or with chips.

THE SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY (should have been in yesterday's post -- 6th Day of Christmas)

Heifer International OR Heifer Project International is an incredible organization. Taking the well-honed admonishon that teaching a person to fish feeds them for a life time instead of giving them a fish which only lasts for one meal, they have created an organization that tiers the initial gift, allowing the recipient to then turn around and give to the next in line (Passing on of the Gift) — a total win/win/win concept. They fund projects in 51 countries and 23 states in the US (One project Heifer participated in: a project with Navajo Sheep ranchers to bring in new rams to diversify the dwindling gene pool and raise production).

Read Barbara Kingsolver's article (author of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle") on her journey to Peru to view first hand not only one of Heifer's projects but also the celebration of their mantra in practice "not just to get, but to give." Given my love of goats etc this article on the Heifer project's assisting a tiny village in reclaiming decimated farm land in Peru is a great example of what ‘teaching to fish' can do on the smallest level, rising with great power to impact many lives.

Heifer maintains several regional offices in the US — the address below is the one for the Southwest region.

Heifer Southwest Regional Office
330 Main St. Suite 203A
Seal Beach, CA 90740
Phone: (877) 663-1683


Sometimes folks have choices on how they share their spirit of generosity: they may time, but no extra money, or they have extra money, but no extra time. Some folks like a more hands-on participation in aiding others: Volunteering at shelters, food banks, and crisis nurserys (or even being one of the ‘cradlers' so valuable to new-born-with-challenges and premee babies in hospitals). But if you would like a more direct approach to sharing your spirit of generosity look into ‘micro-loan' programs.

To read up some on the concept and some of the various companies providing micro-credit see this New York Times article from 1988 — admittedly old, but still a great basis for understanding where it got started and why it works. ec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

Wikipedia has a good page on FINCA, one of the micro-lending organizations a couple-friend of mine regularly donate to.

Do the recipients pay interest along with their repayments - yes, BUT, not near what they have traditionally paid to local money lenders — loan sharks — up 20% per day vs. Commercially- comparable rates via micro-loans AND the recipients have two immediate benefits to these micro-loans — they do not have to come up with collateral as they would via a commercial bank, and they must participate in a group project to get the loan which in turn becomes a support/training/mentoring group holding them up while they improve their lives and the lives of their families and villages.

And finally for an even more money/hands-on approach to micro-lending, check out I recently read an article about this group, and it sounded so good to me as a person who sometimes likes to see the result of my spirit of generosity first hand (other times I enjoy being anonymous). Once your first loan is repaid you can turn around and lend again or donate out- right to Kiva. Check it out for yourself.

Old Time Radio:

Fibber Magee and Mollie are invited to the Country Club Dance on New Year's Eve. Find the link to listen to the show on this page.

GARDEN REMINDER: In use and cultivation since ancient times, garlic, onions and leeks (the "Pungent Lilies of the Bible") have been both food and medicine. The Children of Israel lament the onions, leeks and garlic missing from their desert diet after leaving Egypt. (Old Testament Numbers 11:5.) "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food," said Hippocrates. And, of course, current science has shown the many benefits (cardiac, digestion etc.) of these pungent lilies in the diet.

January 4th. Plants-of-the-Bible Tour at 1:30 p.m. Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Merry 7th Day of Christmas and a Happy New Year's Eve!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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