Alternative Edibles

I just want to make clear, that I, in no way, am taking credit for this post. I borrowed this post from ApartmentTherapy.com I hope that you, my readers, enjoy this post. -Ami

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I’m a little late to the game of getting my spring seed orders in (if you hurry there is still time) and as usual I am trying to grow things that I either can’t find in the grocery store or that I think will surprise and excite visitors to my kids’ farmers market stand. James Wong is providing excellent inspiration in my hunt.

James’ first book was provocatively called ‘Grow Your Own Drugs,’ and in it he provides lots of recipes to use plants (that you can grow yourself) to relieve common ailments. His new book, called Homegrown Revolution, isn’t out yet (it it will be out later this fall), but I noticed that his website has been recently updated with all sorts of new treasures —just in time for spring planting. James is a Brit, so there is a little translation that needs to go on, but it is worth the effort to hunt down the plants he suggests. All of his suggestions are lesser known and generally not available in the grocery store, but just as fun and nutritious to grow in our own gardens.

My favorites are the cucamelons or Mexican Sour Gherkins (Melothria scabra). After much searching, I discovered that here in the USA they go by ‘mouse melons’. I ordered seed from Terroir Seeds in the USA. James suggests these cherry tomato sized cucumbers in salads and also pickled, but I am thinking that they will be wonderful as a cocktail garnish too.

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I’m also quite excited about discovering what James calls Inca Berries (Physalis peruviana) — and what are often called ground cherries in the US. I had some of these in Italy a couple of years ago, where they were not only a beautiful garnish but a tasty treat as well. James has a recipe for Buttered Inca Berry and Pineapple Jam on his site that looks extraordinary (if only I could grow pineapple in Massachusetts!). I bought a similar variety (Physalis pruinosa) from Terroir as well (they call them Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry).

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I am still on the hunt for Chilean Guava berries (known in New Zealand and Australia as ‘Tazziberries’), but near as I can tell these would have to be a greenhouse plant for me (and not having a greenhouse….I have a little problem). But if you are in zone 9 or above you might see if you can find these. They were a favorite of Queen Victoria and are said to taste like a cross between “wild strawberries and pink guavas, with a hint of candy floss” (that’s cotton candy to us Americans).

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Confessions of a Yoga Practitioner

I admit it: I started practicing yoga not for some highly evolved, spiritual-sounding reason, but because I was desperate for peace and quiet.

Five years ago, I was working as a live-in caregiver for adults with special needs.

I loved my job, but as an introvert living and working in a house with 13 other people, I craved solitude.

My housemates’ needs filled my thoughts when their voices weren’t filling my ears.

It was then that I found sanctuary, in the form of the yoga studio down the street. And yoga didn’t just give me an escape; it helped make me a better caregiver.

Here are three lessons that my yoga practice (and caregiving commitments) taught me:

1. The unavoidable truth: Persistence precedes mastery.

My first experience with yoga came courtesy of my mother, an instructor who encouraged me to practice with her. When I first started, I couldn’t stay in downward dog for more than a few seconds. My upper body lacked strength, and postures like plank made me tremble. As such, I’d get discouraged, making witty comments like, “Plank sucks!”

But to her credit, my mom didn’t give up on me. She kept sharing her love of yoga, and I kept trying. And gradually, I noticed: I was getting stronger. Postures that had seemed impossible were now doable. I could stay in plank. Then side plank. Then side plank with my leg extended.

And when I started working as a caregiver, I saw how valuable those early sessions had been. My mother didn’t just teach me poses; she taught me that faithful practice can yield major changes over time. As such, I persisted at my new job, even though my caregiving routines seemed incredibly challenging at first. Yet I knew that if I could build enough muscle to maintain a strong plank pose, I could build my knowledge and learn a complex morning routine, too. Soon, I felt a sense of flow in my work; I started moving through routines as though they were sun salutations, one building upon the next.

Fast-forward several years, and I’m considering yoga teacher training. Arm balances are my favorite type of pose, and so it’s only fair to acknowledge another truth: My mother knew best.

2. The decision to show up is the one that matters.

Yoga rewards those who show up. If you keep coming to your mat, your practice will deepen. Likewise, as a caregiver, I discovered that a commitment to showing up for my housemates allowed our relationships to grow. It was freeing not to give myself an option to ‘skip out’. Unless I was physically unwell, I performed my caregiving duties, and I kept up with my yoga practice as well. True, I didn’t always feel like going down the stairs to set up breakfast (or getting myself out the door for yoga), but I knew that once I showed up, that would change.

Furthermore, taking time out to go to my yoga practice empowered me get more done when I returned home. The energy I gained from my practice was priceless, especially considering my responsibilities as a caregiver. Thanks to yoga, I had the stamina to lift wheelchairs, haul laundry, and cook dinner for dozens … and then crash into bed. (I’m only human.)

3. Tending the body can also tend the soul.

Sometimes, the best way to heal the soul is to care for the body. When I’d do spinal twists after a long day of sitting in a waiting room, those postures nourished my body and my spirit. Doing yoga gave me a sense that my body was worth listening to, that it had wisdom to share. And in extending care and attention to my own body, I learned to care for the bodies of others as well.

For example, during my time as a caregiver, part of my routine involved cleaning an older gentleman’s feet. Sometimes we’d banter as I held his feet in my gloved hands, and sometimes we’d just smile at one another. Either way, this small, intimate task became a favorite for me.

And then one day, I participated in a spiritual service that involved a foot-washing ceremony. And who should be my partner but the man whose feet I cleaned every day? As I later wrote, “During that ceremony, as I touched the feet I knew so well, I felt the sacred and the ordinary collide. And I realized that there is no separation; that the ordinary things we do out of love for one another are sacred.”

Borrowed from: Mind.Body.Green