Megan, a friend and prior student who recently returned from a year working with a rural farming community in Guatamala, came by to visit last week. She loved it there. She loved seeing the Milky Way every clear night, the family that embraced her for a year, the grounded simple way people live, including how seasonally and locally they eat–not because they choose it, but because that’s the way life has always been lived.
She’s in a re-entry culture shock. Her word to describe being back was “fake.” Everything seemed artificially bright, over-the-top, plastic, processed, fake. She wondered what happened to the blemished produce in the grocery store. Air conditioning felt uncomfortable on her body, a body that had learned to adapt to hot and cold the way bodies did before electricity. Megan spent a year cooking corn tortillas on an rudimentary outdoor oven with her Mama, and learning to catch, gut, and cook fish, and to eat even the edible parts of the head–and if you know Megan, all that would have been unimaginable. Mostly she ate corn, beans, and squash, and tough chicken about once a week. Our food seems fake to her too–especially all the food that comes in packages and isn’t recognizable as real food.
Megan scrubbed her clothes with a bar of soap. You became familiar with every piece of clothing, she said, and grow an affection for each piece. You treasure the time you’ll spend washing your clothes because it’s part of the routines of living and not an inconsequential task. Clothes dryers seem ridiculous after hanging clothes outside to dry–and inside during the raining season, though “inside” was a bit of a euphemism being the house she shared with her family was always open, allowing the flow of air, moisture, sounds, and other things. She’s seeing our culture through different eyes for the first time, and it makes her yearn for a simple, grounded life.
She thought our life came closer to what she yearned for than most of her prior life here. I long for the essence of what she longs for, too, although our life is not as idyllic as she might suppose. For instance, I appreciated our air conditioning this week, ordered from Amazon.com, and am sitting in a Starbucks (I know…) as I write on a computer that uses electricity and is connected to the ever-awake-ever-active-ever-selling-something internet. Still, most evenings this week I sat outside with Emma, watching the night fall, listening to the crickets, and catching a view of a faint Milky Way. Last night I wondered, as I sat outside, what God might have hoped for in terms of humanity coming into its fullness. How else might we have used our intellect and capacity to manipulate elements and organize ourselves into various social systems? What other paths were open, and more importantly, what other paths are open to us still?
Exposure to other cultures’ ways of living in the world is at least a way to help us wonder what we may have lost along the way. Meanwhile, Mark and I remain ever grateful for this chance to live a more grounded and simple life at Fern Creek than what we’ve lived in the past.
Anticipated in the Market
Assorted Grapes or Honey Crisp Apples
Delectable Sweet Corn
Red Ace & Chiggio Beets
Kale (Dinosaur, Red Russian & Meadowlark)
Zucchini Squash & Summer Squash
Tromboncino & Patty Pan
Walla Walla Onions
Marketmore and Green Finger Cucumbers
Copia, Pineapple, & Rose de Berne Tomatoes
Yellow Pear, Indigo, Red Cherry, & Snow White Tomatoes
Black Beauty & de la Guardia Eggplant
Sage & Rosemary
Pick One or Two
Blue Lake Beans & Fortex Beans
Red Express & Green Cabbage
New from the Field
Delicata Squash: Starting this week we will have winter squash every week–and for a while a different variety, culminating in your pumpkin at the end of the season. You’ll see some you likely recognize (Acorn and Butternut), and a few you likely don’t, like Delicata, Red Kuri, and Blue Hubbard. We also have Spaghetti squash and sweet Pumpkins for baking and other unusual pumpkins (like Cinderella and Black Futzi), which are good for decorating and eating.
Delicata is an heirloom squash with bright yellow meat and a flavor similar to acorn squash. Unlike all other winter squashes, the skin is tender enough to eat. Most often I slice it into rounds, (which are beautiful flower shapes), remove the seeds, and roast the slices with other vegetables. Enjoy this teaser of the fall weather and food just around the corner!
Recipes of the Week
Layered Vegetable Torte
This torte comes from Mark Bittman and takes a little bit of advance prep, but it is definitely worth the effort. Next time I will make a potato crust (like the one in this cauliflower pie recipe) to give it more body. Eat it the first time as a side dish, and then re-heat left-overs with scrambled eggs the next morning. If you omit the potato crust use the vegetables in a grilled panini sandwich or as a topping for a vegetable pizza. Experiment with different vegetables–but consider this a great way to use some of your eggplant!
Double Chocolate Zucchini Whole Wheat Brownies
This recipe from King Arthur flour calls for pureeing rather than grating the zucchini, and I loved the texture–very moist and wonderful. I omited the frosting as the brownies were moist, sweet, and chocolate-y enough without it.