I take stimulation for this post from a long contemplation in the garden on my way to the studio’s keyboard…
Tonight the air sparkles with moisture in a particularly Northwestern coastal way… subtle fireworks tactile on face & arms, exploding any notion of that other element better known also in atmospheric form, yet nothing if wet. This not really rain… yet with obvious constant patter delicately approximating the accumulation of bigger drops which that word more usually defines.
“Chipy-chipy” is a term I learned out of his vernacular from a man hailing from Oaxaca, some years ago at my Mother Garden in northern Califas. I’m spelling his Mexican term phonetically, but it is the very sound of it which has always simply conveyed a quality that I want to describe as a gentle rain which one can accustom oneself being within. Becoming comfortably one with gently dense moisture… quite a natural state, of course.
It is a rain finding little reason for much admonishment to come in out from. A rain which even this sun-loving gardener can easily love. A rain nourishing dry spaces… quenching dry patches of soul… especially during these moods of deep summer when the fireworks are more usually of the opposite element.
Water & fire. Cancer cusping my Leo. Sizzle & boil… sop & sear. Such cooking terms, however, anticipate several steps further along in the progression toward food.
Now the garden is the place of gentle growth & development… strengthening the herbal meatus toward some eventual steaming or saute. A series of looping stages seeding toward consumption… active digestion, then becoming again the compost now supporting this garden. One way first, then always the other. Life creates & destroys to recreate itself.
Today I got up early to join Stephen going to a special yoga session. That savvy group of Island friends & fellow spirits set us up for further adventures wending our way home. A stop for coffee beans at what was the original SBC roasterie, now housing a new coffee company & also selling organic produce, so we bought some yellow beets toward our dinner. The place was hopping with locals finding their caffeine fixes.
Stephen wanted to see a show of photographs at Cafe Luna, the central coffee house on the island. We ordered lattes & enjoyed looking at the images of his first partner, our friend Bob & son Ben, who was born in China. Bob & Ben dialog playfully in these three shots by alternately, seemingly surreptitiously, sticking out tongues at each other during an assumed meditation pose. The triptych of them was a humorous tag to a show of unusually yang & muscular yoga poses, punctuated by a one of a woman posing a leg lift to display sassy red high heels!
Most of an hour was spent with our coffee, visiting with old friends & meeting new. Which could lead me to wonder how Vashon works… so many folk were out in these coffee houses starting their weekend early!
There is a weekly street booth at our town’s main intersection,only a four way stop, which brings good produce from a truck farm east of the Cascade Mountains. That was our next stop to find more toward our dinner…
I could not pass up what is a sweet rarity: tender baby okra. I remembered the method I’d learned in my 20s from an early partner whose Oklahoma grandmother breaded & sauteed these seed pods before finishing them with tomatoes to make a sauce. I took it veering toward India by using besam [chickpea flour] & spices… having made tsiziki with cucumber from the same vendor, yogurt from a farm up the road & lots of mint from our garden. Those dishes complemented nicely the lamb Stephen grilled with rosemary, making our meal for two visiting friends, each of whom have gone to culinary school. Both cleaned up their plates, relieving me of any anxiety about cooking such a curious dish for them.
My cooking often has legs in such history… I generally don’t do recipes, but cook rather experimentally in the moment with whatever is at hand & impulse. It was fun to pull an old preparation forward again after so many years.
I’d picked a bouquet just before beginning to cook, displaying what our rather sodden garden offered best. Soon a robust kale leaf, garnished with blossoms, began to accumulate a first course to accompany our cocktails: toasts with melted white cheddar topped with slices of yellow striped beets… with ground black pepper, coriander chutney or pesto.
Now, not having taken any photographs, I must rely on my words to bring a bit of culinary “chipy-chipy” to the imagination of your mouth.