Summer’s End–October

This is an amaranth plant growing in the large garden at the Hanuman Temple in Taos. There are many varieties (colors and shapes) of this ancient plant grown by humans for their health-giving seeds. I buy amaranth seeds in bulk and add them to a mix of chia and flax which I grind in an electric coffee grinder and sprinkle on food, especially salads. I add it to pancake batter and hot cereals as well. When the plants are young I pick the leaves to add to salads, but they are definitely edible at any stage of growth.

Speaking of the Hanuman Temple…they recently had an annual festival, the Bhandara, in honor of their guru. For this popular event they do traditional Indian cooking with wood fired ovens. In an outdoor area near the kitchen there are eight of these and I was able to see them in use for my first time. I’ve always wondered how and when they were used. It seemed at the time that most of the cooking that day was over and the attention was focused on these tortilla type breads that were being placed in a large wok-shaped pan of oil. On the upper left you can see how they puff up when cooked.

Here’s a view of the cooking operation. I had heard of the annual Bhandara celebration  before I moved to Taos from a good friend in Ketchum, Idaho, who had attended it many times with her family over the years. They have a close friend who’s been associated with Ram Das most of her adult life. Likely the gathering was an extended family reunion opportunity. Now that I live here and usually go to the temple on Sundays I appreciate what a role it plays in bringing together like-minded people. It is a very inclusive, welcoming place.

This may not be a world-class photo but it introduces the seasonal ritual of ristras. Before I lived in Taos I thought they were just for looks but soon learned that to the pepper-addicted folks of the region they are a practical way to keep dried ones handy in the kitchen. The couple on the left have become two of my favorite farm market vendors. Love their radishes and often photograph their amazing flowers.

And this is a last look of the season of Barbara and Larry of Cosmos Farm in Dixon. Barbara was still stringing marigolds when I took this but said this would be their last time coming to the market for this year. For me there was something special about the beauty they brought with their marigolds and garden bounty and I’ll look forward to seeing them again next year.

It’s difficult to transition away from the season of the farm market which brings the spread-out and diverse community of  Taos together. The end of the market season is just one less reason to drive to “town” with any social expectations. Many of the farmers drive long distances to participate in the summer market and one can only imagine the work it takes beforehand–to plant, nurture, then harvest their produce in time for the weekly early morning drive, not to mention setting up their booths. What a gift of dedication to the good of the larger community! I’m sure I can say WE ALL thank you!

I’m not sure of the date of the last farm market but I can feel it’s soon. Last night our temperatures dipped below freezing for the first time of the season. I check the weather online so knew it was coming. I harvested all my unripe tomatoes and cut all my marigold flowers to make the strings I so love. I can take down the faded ones I made last year now and enjoy the fresh orange color and the smell of the new ones.

I am adding a stewed apple recipe to this blog for folks who both like to eat healthy and find they have an over-abundance of apples (like me). It comes from an ayurvedic cookbook (Eat Taste Heal), is great for balancing Vata, and is dairy and gluten free.

Ingredients:

2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

4 or 5 dried apricots, soaked in hot water 20 minutes

4 dates, preferably Medjool, pitted and cut in half

2 C water

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (I say “or less”)

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, and same amount of cardamom

Put all ingredients in medium (small?) saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer for at least 5 minutes (or longer? I say). With a ladle, transfer 1/3 of the contents, including juice, to a blender and process to a puree. Stir this back into the pan and serve warm.

Keeps well in the fridge for a week or so (my comment).

Cottonwood leaves along the curb…

Temple’s Annual Bhandara Festival

 

Over the past 10 years or so I’ve heard fond tales of attending the annual Bhandara Festival, here at the local Hanuman Temple, from an old friend in Ketchum, Idaho. She had been many times with various friends and family members over a long span of time. So finally, a week ago, I got myself to this year’s festival. Usually it’s hot but this year it was cool and rainy, no doubt creating some logistical issues, if not the big puddles I discovered in the parking lot. I did arrive during a dry period just in time for the “Ram Lila,” an annual staged reenactment of the deeds of Lord Ram, Sita and the monkey Hanuman.

The three girls in this photo are playing the terrifying demons who threaten a happy ending to the story and the young boy is a bear. You can tell by his short, but furry, tail and the overall brown look.

The main focus of the festival is an annual prayerful commemoration of the death of the temple’s guru, Neem Karoli Baba, September 11, 1973. To learn more you can visit the temple’s website and select “festivals.”

Can’t recall how this elephant fit into the story but it was an interesting photo. That’s the lovely couple in the upper left corner, Ram and Sita.

This fine gentleman (wish I had learned his name, sorry), who served as one of two narrators of the story, was sporting a live snake around his neck. I found that very impressive, to say the least. Ahh, Taos, how you live up to the myth just when I least expect it. Get’s me every time, right in the sweet spot of my heart. This was taken during the bowing end of the play. For the performance he was sitting on a throne and he managed to look very at home there.

As part of my volunteer work for the upcoming SEED3 art show I volunteered to go over to Gael Minton’s flourishing garden and take some photos for promotional materials in the show’s exploratorium room.

I selected this one to mark the hint of fall colors peeking out here and there. I think some night temperatures have reached the low 40s so far. Well, it all depends on your location here but I got that number from the local weather stats delivered via the internet from the Weather Channel.

Gael’s garden is not too far from where I live and she has access to acequia water there that comes from the same Rio Chiquito “mother” ditch as ours, just different branches. I took a tour of her garden in the spring and blogged about it but there wasn’t much to photograph at that time. I’m trying to make up for it a bit here. She calls her place Squash Blossom Farm and it’s a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm. I greatly admire her beautiful and wise food production and her passion for preserving the acequia tradition here in the Taos valley.

Calendula seeds emerging from the flower head