Do you ever feel like trying to stay connected to yourself, and to the natural world, gets harder and harder in this techy, cyber linked-up life we lead? Me too! Sometimes the very act of a walk in the woods, lighting a fire with friends, or simply sitting by your window, listening to the birds call in the dawn turns into an insta opportunity, or maybe even just an intention to disconnect that doesn’t 100% happen. Are we ever fully connecting back to our selves and the nature around us, with not a single thought for what else is happening in our wider world, be that work, family, or the www…? It seems like an infinity loop of a question in some sense, the root of which I believe rests in our broken relationship with the land. If we no longer carry out the physical act of planting seeds, how are we supposed to understand how this can happen metaphorically and healthily in other areas of our lives? Example: from sourcing the right organic seeds to prepping your beds properly; planting the little mites, first in pots, then after germination to the beds; tending them with love; watching them grow; to the final acts of gathering, cooking and eating, takes anywhere between 4-6 months, maybe longer. How often do we have the patience for that kind of waiting game these days? I know when it comes to most things, I want them to happen now, now, now, being both a fruit of my generation, and a straight up Aries! However, I have found that in the practice of a little gardening, my monkey mind stops it’s swinging and seems to just become unquestioningly absorbed.
Everyone has that one (or if you’re lucky, more) practice that allows for complete serenity of mind, when the world goes silent. It might be dancing, cooking, or paddle board yoga. For me, it is being outside, hands in the earth, gardening, or in the kitchen cooking up a feast. With either of these practices I can find that hours have passed me by unnoticed. One can just become blissed out in the doing of a thing, the bit by bit creation, rather than the analysis of it. With this little post, I invite you to really call out that one thing that enables your mind to simmer down, and try to gift yourself a little more time every day, or at least 2-3 times a week, when you do it. These self-love practices really do emanate out to greater stillness of mind, enabling us to be a bit more connected to what it is we are planting out there… be that real seeds, or seeds in other senses; intentions for a change in the way we work, relax, spend our time, relate to people. Whatever!
This Spring Equinox I was blessed enough to spend some real quality time with my tribe; cooking green feasts, a sun-bathed Iyengar yoga sesh, and planting seeds out in our gorgeous garden. We have already prepped our raised beds, permaculture style, which involves not turning the soil but instead layering up cardboard, soil, compost and mulch, ready for when the seeds have germinated. For now, these seeds are cosy and warm in little pots, where hopefully in a week or so they will start poking up their heads. We’ll keep them in the pots for 4-6 weeks while they grow strong, and the nights are still cold, until the time comes for them to take to their outdoor sleeping quarters. Having a relatively small patch, we kept it simple and decided on veggies that we often use in the kitchen: celery, onions, carrots, leeks, lettuce. The seed packet will give you instructions on best times and methods to plant each respective one. Just be sure to use locally sourced, organic seeds, and remember to check the code on the bottom of the packet; DO NOT buy seeds with a code commencing in F… F stands for F*#!*d, people!
Something that takes less time than planting a veggie patch is preparing a good old soup. So as promised, here is the recipe for said soup that we made to welcome in the new spring season… This baby is fresh, zingy and so satisfying. Tenderstem broccoli is in season right now and adds such a beautiful colour to your bowl. And it’s soup-er good for you (soz), being richer in both phosphorous and calcium than the regular, larger florets we often buy in the shops, so superb for bone health too.
Pea, Broccoli and Mint Soup
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
2 leeks, sliced
300g tenderstem broccoli, roughly chopped
200g fresh, shelled garden peas
1 can coconut milk
1 litre low-salt veg stock (I normally make my own)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
A handful of mint leaves (to taste)
Freshly milled black pepper
Hulled hemp seeds & watercress (to garnish)
In a heavy based soup pan, melt the coconut oil and pop in the leeks. Fry slowly on a low heat, around 5 mins, until they are deliciously soft and starting to brown slightly. Add the garlic and fry off for a couple more minutes. I don’t like to overcook garlic, it completely changes the flavour! Add in the bay leaves, stir around, and then chuck in the broccoli and peas, mixing all that greenness together. After a minute or two, you can add the stock, turn the heat up, and bring the lovely lot to boil. Once it has started bubbling, reduce to a simmer, pop on the lid, and leave to it’s devices for around 5-7 minutes. check that the broccoli is tender, but don’t overcook, with a small sharp knife. If happy with the firmness, add in the coconut milk, and heat till reaching boiling point. At this stage, you can turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves, add in your lemon zest and juice, mint leaves and black pepper. Once cooled a little, whizz up with a stick blender. Serve into bowls, garnishing with watercress and hulled hemp seeds, giving you your pepperiness and protein. This soup will have your friends & fam springing for joy!