Category Archives: Be present

Rain – April Employee of the Month

Today we salute you, Rain. You are indespensible to our operation and we’d be lost without your dedication to the work we do.

Rain
Our April Employee of the Month

Ya know, I chuckle to remember back over the years. When I first interviewed you for the position here at Enka:ri Farm, I asked you, “What’s your biggest weakness?”

And do you remember what you said? ” I’m a workaholic. I’ll dive in, get so engrossed in my work, and just won’t let up.” I laughed, such a typical, canned response. Well I shrugged it off and hired you on and as far as I could tell, you kept that workaholic thing pretty well in check. That is, until last year right around this time.

My goodness, you were hell-bent on doing your job last spring and like you said, you just wouldn’t let up. At my wit’s end, I called you in for a conversation, and tried to explain myself.

You see, there’s nothing quite like Rain. Is there anyone else who can say without words, “Take the morning off, I’ll cloud cover for you.” “No need to water the orchard saplings, boss. I’ll take care of it.” You’ve done so much for me and now I needed, desperately needed you to take a rest as well. And at last, with all your grace, you did.

Rain, your presence here reminds me of these words from the Tao Te Ching:

The sage never tries to store things up.
The more he does for others, the more he has.
The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.

We thank you for all you do, Rain.

Join us after work for a Happy Hour to celebrate our dear Rain. The first Mudslide is on the house!

Robin – March Employee of the Month

Today we honor Robin as Enka:ri Farm’s March Employee of the Month.

On a frosty March morning, when I’ve rolled open the barn doors but am feeling too cold to set down my coffee mug and move about, I see Robin. He greets me lovingly as he swoops in and hops about with that untiring positive attitude. It’s contagious; I can’t help but smile, greet him in return, and do my best to start my own little swoops and hops about my duties.

I asked Robin his take on punctuality to which he responded, “If you’re not early, you’re late!”

Not only is Robin the first one clocking in every morning, he gets right down to business, you won’t catch him reading the paper over a cup of coffee as seems to be the status quo these days. There’s work to be done, and Robin leads the way energetically, chirping in his famously sing-song way as he goes. I asked Robin his secret to being so joyful on the job.  He looked at me with great intention and said,  “To love life through work is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.” As I paused in awe of this wise token, Robin smiled and informed me that it’s a quote from his favorite book, The Prophet  by Kahlil Gibran

Robin, I’m grateful for you. My world is better with your song in it. Thank you for all you do.

Now if you’ll all follow me to the barn, we will celebrate Robin with dirt cake and coffee.

Lean in

 

So you want to be a butterfly?
Lean in little caterpillar, listen closely. I’ll share the secret my grandmother whispered to me through the wind.
You must find a place that is not disturbed by man’s rush for more more more.
More control, more money, more stuff.

Find a place where the natural rhythms still prevail. Where you can listen to your thoughts and hear your own mouth chomping on a frond of dill. Where you can hear a bird singing, if only for the warning that Mama Wren may be swooping in to gobble you up.
There may be humans there, but in a good space the humans are mindful enough to be on the lookout for a little bugger like you or me, and may gently relocate you to another delicious dill if they’ve gone and cut the frond you were nibbling on. Good luck little one. Eat up, chomp chomp, see you in the sky!

Top 5 Nonfiction Reads

Top 5 Nonfiction Reads

 

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

This is one of the very few books I’ve read more than once. A well-told story with a Socratic style, the characters’ dialogue makes you question everything you never thought you didn’t know. The author spent decades perfecting this masterpiece and I’ll bet that anyone who has read it agrees it changes your view of our culture and the things that are the way they are. It’s strange to start a nonfiction list with one whose main character is a talking gorilla, but I’m not turning back.

 

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

My friend Karri made this print of a quote from the book Braiding Sweetgrass, and released it coincidentally, just as I was reading the final chapters of the book, during all the free time that coincided with the Covid-19 quarantine. So now I have this lovely artwork to remind me of many things like a dear friendship, the world ashift, and the many powerful messages from this amazing book.

Kimmerer’s essays bring you outside into dew-filled forests, and along aching lakesides and singing creeks. She introduces you to trees who you’ll want to have a drink with and get to know better.  Amphibians you’d like to take a sunset walk with.  Her writing delivers a peaceful appreciation for the natural world and a plea for change to respect and adore the non-human players around us.

 

The Land Ethic from A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold

While the book in its entirety is a loving appreciation of the natural world, I recommend this essay in particular and in fact I remind myself to pull it out and read The Land Ethic nearly every spring. A few years ago on a road trip to Texas, I remember stopping to peruse the shelves in a used bookstore in Nashville and feeling panicked at the great number of copies of A Sand County Almanac on the shelf. You’d think I was looking at puppies in a cold animal shelter. “These shouldn’t be here,” I thought. “Why aren’t they in a warm loving home?”

In the preceding essay, Wilderness, Leopold writes,  “The shallow-minded modern who has lost his rootage in the land assumes that he has already discovered what is important; ”  Leopold spent many years in conservation work, and he writes with a notably indigenous perspective, with an understanding of the undeniable connection and what should be non-distinction between humans and the rest of creation. I quoted the preceding essay instead of the one of topic here to up the allure; did it work?

 

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

A friend gave me my first copy of the Tao way back in my wandering days. I’ve since acquired and gifted several copies and recently came back into possession of the  translation I’d had back then, which I find to be the best. It’s an ancient yet timeless text, and not to be devoured, but slowly savored.

I came quite close to naming the farm “Spoke & Barrel Farm”, which was pulled from the lines of the Tao Te Ching, but I was informed me that any biz name with 2 words split by ampersand is “hipster” and therefore to be avoided. I later realized there is a local food truck named Smoke & Barrel, so I’m glad I avoided that conundrum.

I think that reading the Tao over the years has helped me to relax overall, especially when it comes to understanding what it means to be in control. In situations that could prove a difficult battle, I can often remind myself to be like water, and flow in the easiest direction, and in leadership to remember the value of humility:

“Why is the ocean king of all of the rivers? Because it lies beneath them.”

 

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

I can recall that I  bought The Omnivore’s Dilemma back in 2007 with a half-ounce of presence; I was thoroughly engaged in a phone call while walking through an airport and slid into a bookshop to scoop up a cross-country flight read.  The Omnivore’s Dilemma drew me in, blowing my mind on that flight back home from California; I had begun to read a bit about food and diet, and while real-talk books like “Skinny Bitch” reeled my mind about personal health, Pollan’s writing in The Omnivore’s Dilemma starting my brain cogs spinning about the public health and environmental implications of the foods we choose to eat. I loved this book so much I didn’t stop at the final chapter. I read through the Sources and researched the people he interviewed and referenced; I went on to read more about Joel Salatin and Marion Nestle,  and got myself a copy of Frances Moore Lappe’s “Diet for a Small Planet” to name a few.

Oh right, I also became a farmer. Working at farmers’ markets and on farms for the last 10 years now I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who were impacted by The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I think the whole industry and market for sustainably and ethically produced food has been impacted in a huge way by this one special book. It’s worth reading at least once.

 

 

I only know two recipes

I only know two recipes

Pancakes, and a loaf of bread. These are the 2 recipes I know by heart. And honestly, it’s been awhile since I made bread; I’d have to dig pretty deep in the brain for that file. Furthermore, each new loaf of bread and batch of pancakes comes out slightly different from the last, but always delicious under a slathering of butter and honey or New York maple syrup. Other than these two, I rarely follow any specific recipe and in fact, I frequently stray from any sort of exact measurement at all, which makes it even more surprising the number of dishes I can dirty without having used a single measuring device.

While I take pride in my ability to cook up a perfect pot of rice by measuring neither rice nor water, the problem for me arises from customers who often asking me for recipes for the produce they take home from the farm, and I struggle to respond! Let’s see… dip it in hummus, toss it with vinegar, saute it with butter and salt, grill it, roast it… I think that covers about all of the bases.

Oh and slather it with peanut butter, of course.

I love to cook and prepare foods. And I think recipes are a great way to get started if you lack confidence in the kitchen, but ultimately I think you’ll be better off in the long run if you learn not to lean on recipes, but instead move towards using them as a basis to create and measure your own unique ideas. Learn to think critically about why your favorite recipe for eggplant parm is so delicious. Is it the dash of sugar in the sauce? Or the dried chives in the frying batter? When you start to analyze the apparent magic behind the recipe, you’ll begin to find more and more that you can transfer these tried and tested tastes to other meals, too.

The secret here must be the individually plotted baby cilantro leaves

Besides, some of these recipes you find online aren’t so precise anyhow. Think about it: A recipe calls for 2 onions, finely chopped. I have, in my kitchen now, an onion the size of a ping pong ball, and another the size of a softball. Fulfilling the obligation set by the recipe is obviously a big decision, and while the novice cook sweats nervously as though deliberating between cutting the blue or red cable to disarm a ticking device, the seasoned and thoughtful kitcheneer easily determines the appropriate ratio of onion to all else and proceeds confidently.

I have at times admittedly felt inhumanely entertained by others’ discomfort as I shirk measuring cups or shrug and guess at replacement ingredients, forging ahead with or without a clear idea of the goal or meal at hand. For certain, it hasn’t always been this way. I have messed up my share of meals. I’ve hot sauced, soy sauced, and lemon jucied my way out of a few bad dishes. But alas, here we are, and you want a recipe. So I’m caving in, and I’m going to share some nuggets. It’s winter and I’ve got a moment to spare.

Autumn image. Nobody needs help with winter imagery.

To start: Ants on a log.

Just kidding.

How about this instead:

I don’t remember where I learned about cooking rice without measuring, but this ‘secret’ seems always to work, no matter the quantity and no matter the rice:
Put rice in a pot. Add water until the distance between the top of the rice and the top of the water equals the distance from the tip of your pinky finger to the first knuckle. Add in a bit of salt and EVOO or butter if you like at this point.
Heat on medium until water boils, and lower heat to simmer until all water is absorbed. I urge you to listen to the pot. I believe you will find that the sound of water simmering is quite different from the sound of cooked rice charring to the bottom of your pan. And/or use a pot with a glass lid while you figure that last part out, I guess. Remove from heat and fluff a bit with a fork. I like to add a bit more oil at this point as well. I think it keeps the inevitable leftovers in a finer fashion for future meals.

Oh, the things you can do with a pot of rice when you’re lacking any trace of dinner ambition!
Shall I save that for another post?

Gimbap