recipe: growing grace farm’s kale chips

I love to hear my child exclaim “Yay!” when I announce I am making kale chips.  As thin and crispy as regular chips, we love to make these in the summer time.  Different kale will offer you different texture–needless to say, the thinner the kale, the less like a potato chip it will be.  We grow Vates kale and Russian kale for their hardiness, long season, and flavor.  They do make a thinner chip, however, which can almost melt in your mouth.

growing grace farm kale chipskale in dehydrator

ingredients:  raw kale washed and patted dry, olive oil, kosher salt, dehydrator

additional options–garlic salt or garlic powder, Italian or Greek seasoning (sometimes, I use Cavender’s)

In a large bowl, throw in 2-3 large handfuls of kale.  Pour olive oil in the cap or a teaspoon then drizzle over the kale.  Using tossing spoons or hands, toss the kale to distribute the oil.  Take a large pinch of kosher salt and sprinkle on the kale.  Toss again.

Place on dehydrator tray without much overlap (use as many trays as needed based on your dehydrator’s size).  Dry on vegetable setting for length of time that creates a crisp kale chip.  (Temps and times vary based on dehydrators.)

Lenten reflection: bringing the gardens to light

Saturday, I spent my first Spring afternoon doing nothing but tending to the gardens.  After months of working inside the house on many projects that needed my attention, the weather and my (nondriving) teenage daughter’s schedule aligned so that I had 4 hours free to do as I pleased.

Yes!

If you know anything about gardening, you understand that the first part of the season is less not about planting and harvesting and more about clearing and cleaning.  Beds need to be uncovered from piles of leaves, stray vines must be trimmed back, and dead plants are clipped to make room for new growth.photo-7

By dinner time on Saturday, my body was full of scrapes and scratches and tuckered out.

That evening,however, I enjoyed sitting up on my front porch and surveying all that had been accomplished by my hand.  What a delight~I could feel it way down into the depths of my spirit.

And Sunday morning, I could feel it way down into the depths of my body.  Argh~

At the spiritual retreat last weekend, I was reminded that our souls are like gardens.  We tend to them, we water them, and we expectantly wait for Spring sun to shine down and bring Light into the world.

And yet, gardens also require work.  Hard work, sometimes.  Whether we are wrestling with the thorny wild rose or hoeing in the compost, there are tasks that we’d rather not do–they’re not fun, they leave us tired, and they seemingly don’t contribute to the beauty of the garden.

When we stand back, however, and look at the bigger picture of the full day’s work, we can regain perspective.  We may be spent and have a few tender scratches here and there, but our work is not in vain.  It uncovers new growth and exposes it to light so that the garden is prepared for a new season.

My prayer for us during this Lenten Holy Week is that our reflections on our spiritual “hard work” will open our spirits up to opportunities for growth and new life.

 

lessons learned: the blessings of watering cans

You spread out a table before me,
    provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies;
You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil,
    filling my cup again and again with Your grace.
Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me
    where I go, always, everywhere.
I will always be with the Eternal,
    in Your house forever.

~Psalm 23: 5-6  (The Voice)

Joy!  Last night marked the first evenin’ I threw on my overalls and worked out in the gardens in the lingering Spring sunshine. Aaaahhhh–a deep breath for my soul.

I began by raking dead leaves and withering plants out of the beds in front of the house.  Some may consider this a tedious chore, but for me it has become akin to unwrapping presents at Christmas time.  The delight of finding what lies underneath certainly outweighs the work involved.

As I made my way over to the water spigot, I spotted green shoots reaching upward.  A handful of volunteers had already peeked through the leaves to greet Springtime.

I realized that their head start was fueled by the water that had spilled out of the watering can last week.  You see, before we left on our Spring Break trip, I had watered all of the early seed starts  in their containers.  Sometimes, I am distracted by chattering birds or our friendly cat, and I let the water overflow beyond the edges of the can.watering can

As a result, these sprigs been nourished and beamed with Life.

If we are fortunate in our lives, we have people who serve as watering cans to our souls.  Their hearts and spirits are so full that the lovingkindness showers those around them, and we flourish.  They are not stingy with the grace they have been offered by the Master Gardener.  Rather, they allow it to spill out without judgment or reserve so that others may experience the same.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a dear friend of mine who is recuperating from a fall.  At 98-years-old, she could have easily been confined to her bed and resting, and yet when I entered the room, she stood up and shuffled over to give me a hug.  During the course of conversation, she sat on the end of her bed sharing stories.  I watched her face and hands as she spoke.  Her eyes danced like those of a giddy child–she was filled with Light and Life, just like those plants under the water spout.

And in those moments, I was blessed by the grace of her sharing it with me.

As we go through our lives, may we not forget that we are all watering cans for the Creator.  When we are touched by God’s healing presence or reap unexpected rewards, we are not called to hold onto those gifts. Rather, we are encouraged to let the blessings spill over to those around us so they can experience Light and Life too.

10 ways to turn off the technology and turn on nature

With the advent of Spring, I thought this one might be appropriate to repost.  Happy Saturday~cameron

So last night, our Just Be women’s group met at the community garden at church for a night of prayer, fellowship, and laughter.  We started this garden a couple of months of ago, but it’s been slow to take shape given weather and time constraints.  Last night, we were determined to get weeds pulled and plants mulched.

Lucinda being loved on

Well, I couldn’t imagine leaving the Sisters at home in the guest bathroom all evening after being there all day so I decided to bring them to the garden.  Needless to say, when two boys under the age of 8 arrived, the Sisters took on their first playmates!

As I was hoeing around the tomatoes, I heard small voice say to his friend, “Ya know, when I bring my guinea pigs outside, they’re never like this!”  These two youngsters spent close to 2 hours chasing chickens, digging holes, and hoeing weeds.  Oh yeah, and they breathed fresh air, laughed their heads off, and probably, slept really, really good that night.

Why?

Because they were outside–outside enjoying the earth, outside learning about hens, outside making memories.

So how do we get kids to turn off the electronics and turn on nature?

  1. Plant a family garden–since I began my little farm, I have had more friends attempt gardens in their yards and noting that their kids really did have fun participating.  I spent one Saturday afternoon helping a mom and daughter build their first container bed.  At the end of the summer, the mom said that they didn’t necessarily harvest much, but it made for good conversation and valuable learning opportunities.
  2. Build a birdhouse–there are some ideas under my Thrifty Thursday projects, or you can find plans online, or you can go to your local hardware/craft store and buy a kit.  Not only is it a project than can include everyone (the carpenter, the artist, the naturalist), it will also be there to provide entertainment and discovery as long as you keep it filled.
  3. Raise a pet that needs to get outside (and I don’t mean placing a fish bowl out in the sun)–we actually inherited several pets from our yard who lived inside for some time then went back out into nature.  Animals are not only great opportunities for exercise, they can also be wonderful motivators for kids who are not “outdoorsy.”
  4. Fill a bug box or tadpole jar–doesn’t matter how dirty you get or how stinky something smells, bugs and tadpoles are preschoolers’ best friends.  Want to go bigger–find an old fish tank on Craigslist and create a terrarium which can bring the outdoors inside for winter months or rainy days.
  5. And speaking of rain, get out in it–splash in puddles, build creeks/dams, catch water in a rain barrel, measure the rainfall.  Kids will be totally amazed that you as an adult are going against the grain by playing out in the rain.
  6. Take a hike–make it even more of an adventure by having a list of 10 things they collect in a bag or look for on the trail.  Take paper and crayons and make rubbings or bring back items from the hike for crafts.
  7. Visit a new park, pond, lake, creek, arboretum, etc.–even in our most urban areas, green spaces are coming back “in style.”  When my daughter was little, she would say she was bored at our neighborhood park, but by golly, take her then park in the neighborhood over, and you’d thought we’d gone on vacation.  Often local greenspaces that are protected, such as a bird sanctuary, national forest or arboretum often have programs for families on the weekends that are free or at a minimal cost.
  8. Build a fort, treehouse or put up a tent–create “livable” spaces outside that gets are relegated to for play and hanging out instead of staying inside
  9. Go fishing–one of my most favorite memories is sitting at the lake with my dad fishing off a small wooden pier.  Now, I only had a stick from the yard with a string tied to it and a large earthworm on the end, but it wasn’t really about catching the fish–it was about sitting there with my dad.  Growing up, he taught me how to fish in the ocean, and we’d stand there together at dusk casting out beyond the waves.  My dad is not a sports fisherman–he only does it when he’s with us.  What a great opportunity for connection.
  10. Plant a tree–when I was young, I brought a maple seedling home from my friend’s house.  My parents let me plant it in a pot inside until it actually sprouted, then we put it in the ground in our yard.  Even as a pre-teen, I watched that tree grow, providing colorful leaves in the fall and cool shade in the summer.  I was always proud of that “project.”

As always, folks, share your ideas here–clearly, there are so many more than 10 ways to turn off the technology and turn on nature.  Don’t we owe it to our children and the generations to come to share with them all of the memories we made outside as kids?