We grew broccoli in our backyard garden, and I loved it in broccoli-and-cheese soup, as well as fried in stir-frys.
There was a family down the street, that always seemed to find everything “white” to add to our days.
They were the breeders of our beloved mixed silver persian – a very intelligent animal that would follow me off to the elementary-school – and wait faithfully to trail me back home.
These neighbors always kept homemade Christmas candy on their livingroom tables – many of which shined pearly-white – with the best of hopes and intentions.
And one day I was introduced to the ‘white’ version of – broccoli – otherwise known as cauliflower.
Which we quickly added into our favorite meals.
Cauliflower has a softer, more velvety taste than broccoli, and is considered a delicacy in many nations. Cauliflower is not as high as a Vitamin A source as other relations to the cabbage plant, however, cauliflower is made almost purely of fiberous material – which is good, and gentle – for your digestive track.
Cauliflower’s gentle flavor mixes comfortingly into different flavor combinations, which has led many cultures to embrace this soft-headed puritanical vegetable, earning it the honor of canvasing the medieval grand tables and menus.
Nutritionally, what cauliflower lacks in Vitamin A, it makes up for in maganese and phosporus. While not very caloric, this white blooming cabbage is full of B vitamins, nor is it low on protein.
Cauliflower could most-likely only be grown in pots around the village, as this family-member to the cabbage isn’t likely to do well in tropical soil – however it is a treat that can sometimes be found on first-world grocery shelves – even in developing nations.
Today cauliflower is a commonality in many parts of the world, and can be found in Latin American dishes, Indian and South-East Asian dishes, as well as European. It is less known beneath the global poverty-line, besides as a delicacy in high-end local grocery stores.
I was a bit disappointed with my picture of cauliflower as it began to change colors quickly after I purchased it without refrigeration – although it can last a long time if kept in cool air.
When we started our Rainbow Garden project in the village – one of our many goals – which included discovering what different kinds of nutrition we could produce in a hungry village, all garden plants that we had some experience with were considered – just for the joy that trying a new food would bring to different people of the village.
Thanksgiving is a great time to try out your new cauliflower dishes and casseroles. You can tell your guests it is food fit to feed a king, as it has been reserved to the more developed nations of the Northern Hemispheres.
Cauliflower is something we would like to be able to produce in the village someday. Cauliflower is as nice of a civilized vegetable as a proper cup of tea, and we hope to invite more people to enjoy the savory flavor and health benefits.
It would be nice to share a cauliflower meal with them, and give them a savory place around a blessed table.
Click on any of the cauliflower pictures for a bookmark-able and printable copy of the actual recipe. For tips and tricks with fresh cauliflower, click on the video below:
Love Cauliflower? Love Villages? Love Gardening – or – Cooking? Share your stories with us, here:
Welcome to Pinteresting Against Poverty. Share our posts with your friends! Learn more about our work and our village by watching the video below:
I can remember stepping into a mud brick building.
They called the space — the kitchen.
There was a boiling cauldron in the room filled with smoke and coals,
— and pieces of ash flying around as if it were Armageddon.
The cook was trying to boil enough meal to feed thousands of people.
The boat oar swirled with great effort into the big iron pot —
–which once prepared, would be sloshed into bowls where students would line up by the hundreds, before breaking down into groups of three or four, around every prepared bowl,
— to eat the gruel — with their fingers.
The cook knew the students could not survive only on meal alone — they needed nutrition.
So they would pull cabbage from the field, and chop it up, adding it as a relish to the mix.
It seemed they didn’t have enough.
Nobody seemed to notice.
Village schools know that children who worry about where their next meal is coming from — are not able to focus as easily on absorbing the lessons from their academic studies.
To address this, the headmaster created a plan to address the hunger of his students. The students at different grade levels alternated one day a week each to work in the fields which produced the food that maintained them in their studies. Meals like this cabbage soup recipe make a big difference in small villages.
The process seemed to work. The students were better nourished than the children who did not participate in the fields, or have access to the program.
The short tender cabbage roots need only a little soil to be able to produce a decent volume of food, which means — they could even be produced on the rooftops of inner city schools with minimal efforts — and can grow in the hot tropics or even the mild winters with only a bit of environmental adjustments.
What if every elementary school in more developed nations planned a four-hour nutritional production course and field into their curriculum?
Surely — it wouldn’t cost as much to keep them nourished, with all of the efforts and hands involved. From the spirit of Oliver Twist, may every orphan and student whose stomach growls be able to enjoy a second bowl of comforting nutrition.
Learn how to make this delicious meal and more with your own Instant Pot!
We hope that the next time you eat cabbage, you remember the children in the fields.
Have a comment or story to share? Leave a message below.
I carefully used the knife, slicing into the dark wrinkled – dinosaur-skin-looking fruit, revealing the big wooden seed in the midst of the creamy green center.
“Avocado looks like a Spanish word…” I would teach the children who sat at my tables while waitressing at a Mexican restaurant. “…but it’s not.”
The kids would sit happily in their booths or tables, playing with tortilla dough while their parents read through the menu.
“If you ask for an ‘avocado’ in Mexico, you would probably end up getting a ‘lawyer’ – because the word for ‘lawyer’ is so similar – ‘abogado‘. Without clear pronounciation – or with an accent – you’d be saying, “I need a lawyer, please.”
The children acknowledged and smiled.
“How do you say this?” Asked a kindergartener, pointing to a tomato.
I liked making guacamole in front of the tables – and teaching the customers about the places their foods were coming from.
“‘Ji-tomate’ if it is red, but ‘tomato or tomatillo’ if it is still green.” I answered, explaining that many villages in hunger seasons could not wait for the fruits to turn red on the vine, and for that reason the red-colored vegetables were coveted and prized.
Carefully I would go around the simple ingredients and train the children on their names and meaning.
Avocados – which are called ‘aguagates’ in Spanish – are very good for you.
Avocados – are full of healthy oils – which yes, can cause you to gain weight quickly – but in the village that is exactly what we need – more foods that fight malnutrition. They also contain essential missing vitamins in many of the world’s impoverished diets – vitamins B, K, C, E as well as potassium and lutein.
In some nations – avocados are used nearly as a substitute for butter. Flavorful, they are opened and spread on breads or diced to flavor many foods.
We had a malnourished little girl in the village – who sadly died. Right before she died, she wrote me a Christmas letter – and was allowed to make a phone call as I was traveling.
We thought that the little girl was getting healthier, but unfortunately the chicken pox found it’s way into the schools, and her body was so weakened that she couldn’t accomodate the virus.
In her honor, the children of the village and I agreed to plant an avocado tree in our front yard. The tree grew big fast over the years, and we were all proud of the tree that reminded us of the little girl.
Sadly, someone came in and decided to chop down the tree that was already fruiting, much to the sadness of everyone – on multiple levels, for multiple reasons. There are so many cruel opposers to emotional comforts and good nutrition for children in the village. I think they probably cited that the children did not have ‘official’ permission to plant the tree in honor of their friend.
The children were ashamed of what happened, while I was travelling, so when I returned to the village – we planted flowers together – and as we were planting flowers, in the brush, I found a new sprouted little avocado seed which the children set aside to plant again later.
In the village where I have been working, the children do not like avocado with salt and chilis – but prefer it with sugar. The mothers mash avocado like potatoes to add to the nutrition of their babies.
In Latin America, the avocados are small and dark-colored, but beautiful creamy green on the inside – and are usually bountiful from the months of April through May.
In other parts of the world, avocados are – huge – the average avocado pulled down from a tree like the one we planted for the little girl was usually the size of an ostrich egg – which have more fats and nutrition than could possibly be consumed by even two people.
Avocados are also comforting for your skin, good for use as cooking oil (imagine Crisco or butter) and are also used in soaps and household products.
Avocados are ripe when the tough skin is sensitive to the pressure of your fingertips – as if there were butter beneath the textured surface, and can also be served a bit more firm – diced and added to soups.
In Mexico, our housemother would carefully break into the fruit and drop a few slices carefully into each bowl with a knife. “Si te comas demasiado de estos te vas a engordarse.”
Avocados are thought to have originated in Latin America, and are a politically-packed little fruit with a foreign relations history. Mexico originally thought to offer a continental trade agreement to produce the fruit, but the USA refused to accept the fruit, claiming their fruit might be infected with a certain type of fly that was claimed to destroy US crops in California. A decision was made to only sell avocados in the USA in the winter-time, which was in opposite season for Californian production, and the fruit flies could not withstand the winter conditions if transported. The United States government refused to accept the avocados until Mexico began banning the purchase of corn from the USA. Now popular demand for the fruit caused Mexico to become one of the biggest producers of avocados in the world. Trade agreements were enacted as an attempt by foreign policy anaylists to keep peaceful relations and boundaries by encouraging nations to work together post WWII to be united by the provision of common needs across borders.
Mexico is now a leading producer and exporter of the coveted green fruit – producing more than 30% of the world’s average avocado product – with the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru and Indonesia also listed as major producers.
Avocados are an important food to those who do not consume meat products because they are full of diverse fats. From Wikipedia –
Other predominant fats include palmitic acid and linoleic acid.
The saturated fat content amounts to 14% of the total fat.
Typical total fat composition is roughly: 1% ω-3, 14% ω-6, 71% ω-9 (65% oleic and 6% palmitoleic), and 14% saturated fat (palmitic acid).
Avocado trees are very easy to grow, and even sprout sometimes on their own just from seeds left alone in the fields after consumption – but that said, they need to have enough access to water in the dry seasons – and politically and civilly – you have to stop people from cutting down the trees.
In many poor corners of the earth – the people who plant the trees don’t own the property they are planted on – so a tree that could provide gallon upon gallon of healthy cooking oil isn’t what richer populations want to have planted on prime lands – because they attract scavengers and squatters, which lower the value of property and make it more difficult to develop.
The absence of avocado trees forces the poor to depend on products they cannot produce for themselves, like hydrogenated cooking oils – usually produced from corn or maize products.
Several weeks ago I tossed a pretty wooden oval of an avocado seed into a planter after making a fresh soup – and forgot about it. I pulled the planter into the bathroom when cooler weather struck – and lo and behold – there was another avocado tree, greeting me – the leaved sprout more than a foot high already.
Try some easy guacamole recipes – or adorn your tacos with healthy, creamy tropical flavor:
Questions, Comments? If you notice any injustices, find a way to protect the production of foods in nations that have a high percentage of malnourished children.
My son and I used to grow kale outside of our back doorstep in a little wooden-box raised garden.
The kale bloomed throughout the whole winter, loving the warm concrete from the heater inside.
Kale is a cold-weather green that tastes good in warm, comforting winter soups – and as a compliment to potatoes, and is even sweeter after surviving the frosts.
Kale is one of the only greens that it is hard to get children to like without some kind of cooking – or alteration, and not all cooks are up to the challenge.
That said, we’ve learned that kale tastes great, and can be sweet, salty, savory – soup-y or even mixed up in an apple-smoothie –
What makes kale worth the trouble – is the level of nutrition packed into those curly little snowflake-tolerant leaves.
Kale can also be a bright violet color – and some varieties are so pretty they are used in mixed-baskets for mere decoration and accents.
Kale is considered to be a less domesticated form – a wild, adventurous family member – of the more cultivated but less distinct – yet always comforting cabbage – which we just can’t seem to get enough of, these days.
Kale was one of the new greens that I wanted to introduce to the children of the village, as it can grow in almost any climate – and is known from Russia to South Africa, from Chile to Alaska – and is full of micronutrients.
I’ve also experimented in growing kale in a vertical PVC pipe – which is a project I hope to post about soon – on vertical gardens.
If you are feeling like you need better nourishment – try adding some kale to your regular diet with some of these great recipes!
Love Kale? Love nutrition? Kale – isn’t exactly optional once you know how good it is. It’s not for everyone, but those who crave it after trying it probably need kale especially and exclusively – on their dinner plate – or their breakfast smoothie or lunch salad bar – and would be blessed by it’s adventurous goodness. And then, off to dessert!
As the weather is getting colder, we are going to try to share a few more healing posts – to compliment your healthcare this winter season. Please enjoy this updated post on carrots – with more recipes for you to enjoy – and stay warm out there! More updates coming soon. I am so busy working on cards this year.
One of our little children was sick in the village.
Their childhood illness was wrapped up in an additional problem — the child was also severely malnourished.
A cold, a flu, a cut — it doesn’t matter what kind of ailment a child faces —
— when they are malnourished — the effects are worse.
In a place where there is not enough healthcare — these conditions put a higher burden on responsible adults —
In addition to the stresses of tending a sick child, with few resources, and the possible spread of the illness to themselves due to lack of clean water — there are not always enough beds in hospitals if the child’s fever spikes.
— there may not be enough vehicles to rent one if you need to try to reach a professional.
That means — swollen little eyelids and dry little lips are your business — to moisturize, to comfort — to soothe —
Each tear that falls is a drop of liquid that isn’t in their bodies that you might not know how to replace.
What do you do, when they are this sick?
One of the village doctors, has a solution.
The children hate it — but it works.
In the lines of the sick and afflicted — the doctor calls those who are suffering from certain symptoms — giving the influenza-affected, cold-affected, incontinence-affected children —
Vitamin A is actually cutting edge medicine — providing an economical new solution to measles and other childhood diseases. If immunizations are not present or available, Vitamin A is a second-line defense which helps the children fight the epidemic once infected with their own natural systems.
Still, for someone who still has to hold and rock the sick little babies — who hate those pokey- needles —
I had to wonder — for the love of God —
— could someone just try planting some freaking carrots around here?
One of the benefits in education of living in areas that have food insecurities — is you learn what each food has to offer by the diseases and effects the deficiencies have on human bodies, when certain vitamins and minerals are lacking in the diet.
I used to wake up early in the mornings, and sometimes run an hour before school.
Just as a horse needs to be fed in order to work it’s hardest, a body needs to be nourished – and oats are good for that.
Without proper nutrition, even a spiritual animal like a horse will just break down, and won’t be able to give as much of the same push or pull as it could if it were well-nourished.
Think of consuming wholesome meals as the bodily fuel it takes to cover long distances – even an oatmeal cookie – is healthier than you might imagine.
When the weather is cold outside, warm blankets are an option when you are standing still, but when you are moving along – especially running – or walking long distances, you also need that special nutrition, like a candle burning inside keeping your vital organs functioning and internal chemistry warm.
It is good to cook with oats – often.
Sometimes, when we use too much energy – running on a treadmill – it helps to recooperate with a good oat cereal recipe.
It’s not a good nutritional story – when oats are not around.
Oats have a lot of good vitamins and nutrients to offer, but lack presence around the world.
Once you are used to the comfort of oats being around, and the feeling of there-ness isn’t always available – you miss them, terribly.
The comfort of proximity then becomes the confusion of where-ness.
How far do you have to go for your next breakfast-and-coffee session with big bowl of granola cereal?
In the village, your body is required to use it’s strength wisely – so foods like oats really make a difference – especially in places where there are no roads – or enough signs to direct you to where you are going.
When playing sports, and training – your goal is simply to be able to do small things – like run three miles, kick a ball into a net, etc.
When you are doing those things – like walking 8 miles or more – in addition to work – it’s important to have a direction to point your efforts towards – because your day isn’t defined as successful by merely being able to go a certain distance – it’s distressing to go any distance until you have an idea where you are going to end up.
The longing for there-ness and the comforting feeling of home isn’t far from your aching feet.
Imagine walking ten miles, and not being able to solve a problem. You’d be in need of some oatmeal cookies – that’s for sure.
And prayerful about knowing what it was that caused you to use so much effort for such meaningless goals.
When you eat healthy food, and share healthy food, it is confusing to not be able to accomplish healthy goals.
It is easy to walk 8-10 miles in a regular day, sometimes more than that – without having access to a healthy water source – or vehicles.
Having the right nourishment helps people to be able to do better things.
We’d like to share oats with the village someday.
Try some oats – and new recipes today – there are plenty to go around your holiday table.
Questions? Comments? Do you miss oats in your diet? Share your messages here:
“Hold out your hands.” I said to a child that loved baking.
Carefully she cupped her hands and waited with expectation as a few stars fell onto her small fingers.
Star anise — to be exact.
“We are going to have to learn new ways to make our tea these days.” I told her.
The girl nodded carefully. She had also been subject to the food insecurities that had caused us both to miss several meals.
“I’ve learned that this spice can actually help us to kill the worms that get into stomachs when we eat from infected food sources and water.” I continued.
The girl nodded again, carefully and seriously.
“Smell it.” I suggested. She held the little brown stars to her own little brown button nose, and smiled.
“It’s nice.” She commented eagerly.
“The worms — don’t like that smell. It will cause them to leave the bodies of those who are infected, and they won’t have to compete with the parasites for the little nutrition they are able to eat.”
Together we broke apart mango leaves and different fruits, testing out our new spice with more familiar flavors, for an entire afternoon.
We mixed our new spice with banana peel, and created a banana tea. We mixed it with mango leaves, for a greener tea. And we knew it could also be mixed with the orange leaves — for a black tea.
Later, we took many anise seeds, and planted them around the community bathroom outside.
Perhaps, if the parasites that entered the human body through the feet did not like the spice in our stomachs, perhaps it would cause them to leave the grounds that we walked upon — sometimes with bare feet.
Star Anise is the over-the-counter spice which contains the active ingredient for the drug Tamiflu.
Star anise was under-produced in 2009 before the outbreak of the Swine Flu, which sent prices for the precious herb soaring for the fragrant little pods of stars. In a small village that can’t compete with the cost of medication, the best we can do is search in the spice aisle in the capital city for a salt-like tin of the packaged spice — which we were lucky enough to locate.
A warm cup of tea flavored with star anise is likely to numb many pains. Chewing on this wood-like portion of the herb can also help manage dental pain, which is also classified as an anti-viral medication. The stars can be re-used many times, and it is easy to diffuse the flavor and the medicinal properties through the use of hot water.
Now we had a way to clean our bodies from the inside — out.
Not only does the star anise grow into a beautiful bouquet of flowers that smell very pleasant — and look beautiful in arrangements —
— but this fragrance was also — healing and consumable.
Who knew that one simple spice could help solve many problems in the village?
One of the older villagers scoffed at the tea pot.
She felt our new tea wasn’t a proper English cup of tea.
The stigma of being poor will often stop those in poverty from taking advantages of natural remedies that would otherwise aid the people in so many ways.
Pride is a factor when it comes to solving poverty.
It was easier to start this project with the child that was interested in the remedy, and allow them to introduce it to the village.
For a lesson that started in the village that couldn’t afford Tamiflu, we found out that simple spices and teas could help the children recover their health. The next time you feel achy, consider giving this Chai Tea Recipe a try.
Also, try out this comforting Vietnamese Pho Soup recipe – which also is flavored with the healing powers of star anise.
*This blog is not suggesting readers ignore medical advice or consultation, we are just suggesting what may also be a possible alternative flu remedy in areas where healthcare is difficult to access.
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Of all of the little children around the world that I’ve cared for – I’ve never found a child that doesn’t like potatoes.
One of the pickiest eaters I have ever known – an adorable little Chilean girl that I nannied, would still curl up and breathe in the goodness of one of our favorite meat-and-potato soups on cool evenings.
In the village, a warm steaming bowl of potato soup has the same power to comfort hungry bellies – as it does in other regions of the world.
One of the first foods that I ‘shared’ with the village – was the joy of mashed potatoes.
Starches and sugars – like the ones contained in potatoes of all varieties – are one of the most important components of the human diet. Potatoes have the natural ability to be comforting, and memorable.
Potato roots thrive in most environments where they are planted – from the Northern Hemispheres to the sub-tropics – and forgivingly can still be settled into regions where the weather is too wet or dry – because potato vines perform well in pots.
On this blog, we’ve already shared so many stories about different varieties of foods – especially potatoes – that help village communities avoid famine.
As Thanksgiving is coming up, we hope to find you, our reader, full of all of the good anticipatory feelings of that big fluffy spoon of buttery mashed potatoes present at your dinner tables – and share some savory holiday potato recipes.
The variety of potato that is common in the village – is not as easy to peel as an Idaho potato, but otherwise share the same appearance and taste.
Even those difficult-to-peel potatoes have a special place at our dinner table in the village – and are still as delicious by the time they reach the table.
In fact, now that the children have become so accustomed to the practice of preparing and sharing potatoes – it is difficult to have a holiday without them – they are missed.
For the children in the village, it’s like – “Aunty? Aren’t we going to make the potatoes?”
I have to turn to our donors to try to fund some of their holiday favorites, and pray they will come through.
One of the most common varieties of potato state-side, is the Idahopotato – which has an interesting food history – and the ability to be comforting, and nourishing.
There has even been a controversial museum opened to commemorate the importance of – specifically Idaho potatoes – as a food source – in Blackfoot, Idaho.
That said, no one can live well-nourished, on potatoes alone.
Other foods are necessary to meet all nutritional requirements.
I would consider any table that scorned potatoes as highly suspicious – what conditions could possibly cause one to not desire potatoes? What could a potato do to upset anyone’s abdominal norms or preferred tastes?
Potatoes are easy to eat a lot of – but are also forgiving – and are full of the carbohydrates that digest easily, and are more filling when paired with a protein source.
In many starvation syndromes, one can witness babies that have been fed too many potatoes – and not enough protein – which leaves the children in conditions like kwashiorkor until their nutrition can be changed.
For example, in Romanian orphanages – in an attempt to save money, officials began to feed the babies starchy potatoes instead of milk. This shortage of protein and nutrients caused social mal-development as well as physical effects and weaknesses amongst the children, like stunting – and encouraged competition. Children have to be properly fed, nourished – and socialized in order to develop healthy lifestyles. Babies who are rescued from these conditions take a while to recoup – but are always worth saving.
So if the original Thanksgiving were considered a historical meal, in the same spirit of a eucharist of starchy, white potato bread, it’s that every nation needs a ritual to produce more potatoes – more than they need protein sources like shark meat at their dinner tables.
My son and I love a potato soup we call ‘hash’ which is a simple soup with browned ground beef, potato wedges, garlic and onions – and the hummus mashed potatoes are another option of mixing potatoes with a vegetarian protein source (imagine – flavorful garlic hummus mashed into your potatoes – like butter.)
Potatoes – also need potatoes. It’s alright to have a double-serving, and they don’t come recommended by the teaspoon.
If ‘man cannot live by bread alone’, nor can he live on potatoes – alone.
That said, protein sources are available – all over the world.
And most of them go well – with potatoes.
So if you are hungry –
– eat potatoes.
Those sweet carbs digest quickly down into sugars that fill your body and heart with good feelings.
If you want a second-helping on a budget – try some potato pancakes with molasses for dessert – and a nice glass of sparking red wine, or light dessert celebratory champagne -and enjoy the faith and triumph of healthy dessert conversation.
I pray that potatoes and good feelings – and good conversation – are a part of your holiday season, as we hope they will also be on our table in the village.
Check out any potato recipe on this page and share with your friends.
Welcome to Pinteresting Against Poverty.
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So much of the world is explained between the function and fluency of different langages.
It’s a little bit funny,
– to describe how I learned about artichokes.
I didn’t learn about artichokes in a grocery store – not on a health food channel, nor from any gardening experience – until we found the seeds for the village.
I learned about artichokes in highschool – in an advanced Spanish class.
Our teacher – a woman as knowledgable as she is kind – had decided to teach us – not only about the language –
-but the music, and the culture of other worlds – and words – and their meaning.
She wanted us to understand the human stories that existed between the newspaper articles, and differences.
“In order to understand a language,” she explained carefully-prounounced español, “You have to be able to understand expressions.”
She took in a breath to let that sink in before continuing, “Not everything that we say and express – makes sense – in the way that you expect it to – and it’s important to be aware of that when you are learning a new language.”
“So for example, we have the phrase – “Okie-Dokie, Arti-chokie…”
We all nodded, understanding. I had heard the phrase, I just had yet to discover the vegetable.
“If you listen as a new language speaker to only the words – you will be confused.”
“…but if you listen to the heart, you will understand.”
She kept our attention.
“So you have to learn – to listen for the meaning behind the words. How do they intend for you to feel when they are communicating? Do they want you to smile back? Do they want you to go get lunch? Are they trying to tell you a truth that is beyond the words that you have to interpret?”
She continued. “When they say this phrase, we don’t mean, ‘let’s go get an artichoke.’ We’re not saying that ‘artichokes are okay’. We are not even saying that we like them.”
“What we are saying – has absolutely nothing to do with artichokes – and everything to do with the rhythm of speech and comfortable conversation.”
“-all people understand better in rhymes, which are easier to memorize.”
Our Spanish teacher then explained that because all human beings like pleasant sounds, we also say the words that we think sound pleasant.
She pulled out a tape-player, and a tape.
“I made this for you.” She said.
And she turned on the music.
It was popular music – in Spanish – in the style that we listened to in those years.
“At first, I was thinking that I would have you read more poetry – but then, I realized that songs were also poetry. So I thought I would share some songs with you.”
Everyone in the room was genuinely amazed at the sounds of the artists, and the songs were catchy, and we went through several weeks singing the lyrics and getting them stuck in our heads. Everything from traditional songs to popular songs to Christmas carols.
“If you like the songs, and memorize them, you will understand how to use your verb tenses well.”
And so – we did.
That’s my artichoke story.
It turns out, artichokes are not just expressions, green succulent-looking veggies-
-artichokes are a form of thistle – a flower – with a heart.
It is easy to look at an artichoke, and come up with words that sound pokey – starry and somehow full-circle and okie.
An artichoke can grow both in the wild, and be cultivated – so it’s an easy-going kind of veggie.
Artichoke flowers are flavorful, and not only used as a veggie, but also crushed for teas, and liqueur around the world.
One of the best parts about the artichoke – is the heart.
It takes a lot of layers to reach the tender heart of the thistle.
Just like the meaning of the words are one thing, this star-of-Bethleham shining plant that is believed to have originated in the mediterranean area – has one of the most flavorful center – and taste best when warmed.
Artichokes are high in magnesium, and vitamins, and are thought to have other positive properties as well.
Artichoke hearts are a lovely addition to salads, and can be canned, roasted, powdered, dried and frozen – but are always best when warm.
I hope you enjoy some of these artichoke recipes.
It’s nice to think of favorite warm meals and salads with family, with the flavor of hearts and comforting expressions, shared around the table.
We’d like to share them with the village someday.
Thus far, we have identified the seeds, but have not understood fully the growing conditions.
Earlier this year, I went on a shopping trip, with my little flower girl from the village in tow.
She took in the view from the window as we traveled far to a first-world grocery store in the capital city, beyond the devastation of the poverty in the village,
-and marveled together at the strange array of fruits and veggies representative of the world market on the produce shelves –
-taking in the comforts ready to be found for the tourists who visited there.
“What’s this?” Asked one in our group.
“It’s a leek.” They said carefully, reading the produce label.
“Does it look like something you would eat?” We passed the test onto our flower girl, representing the children in the village.
She nodded seriously.
“Alrighty then! Put it in the cart.” She bowed before she picked it up and grinned.
I have seen several Asian recipes that call for leeks –
-but we’d yet to try them on the children in the village.
“It looks like they would re-grow.” I said, peering at the long-legged veggie.
We took it back to the village to experiment.
First we introduced them to the children,
and secondly we placed them in water –
-and were so happy when it began to grow new roots in water.
“Oh, these!” Cried an elder widow. “I have tried them once. They are very nice.”
“We have to try to get them to grow, and then you can have them during the rainy season. They seem like they’d do well then.”
The rains were stronger and put more weight on the ground than we thought, and I am not sure what happened to the leeks after planting. Leeks are also of the allium family, and are bulbous and require little attention once planted in the right conditions.
Up ’til now, I don’t think we’ve tried to make any meals with them, but what I know is that they are supposed to taste like giant green onions, and go well in stir-frys and maybe casserole-dishes, and soups – especially when sautéed to add extra flavor to broth.
Leeks can help fill in Vitamin K deficiencies – which will help nourish and protect vision in village children.
Vitamin K is known to protect vision – especially for newborns – so even in the first world, it is routine for babies born in hospitals in developed nations to get Vitamin K eye drops to protect their vision – guarding them anti-bacterially from blindness.
It is difficult for children in the village to afford schooling and uniforms, but to see a specialist – such as an optometrist is cost-prohibitive. We once sponsored glasses for a village child, by the time we traveled in to the capital city and made an appointment with a reputable professional, and had the prescription glasses – it was more than $400 USD. Most people in the nation where we work – about eighty percent of the population, live on less than $2 per day.
When ingested, Vitamin K helps guard against blood-clotting and helps promote healthy intestinal flora with anti-bacterial properties.
Leeks also include maganese, copper, and are also known as elephant garlic and kurrat.
Leeks also have a strange, but significant cultural history – of being worn – as a legendary emblem:
According to one legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. The Elizabethan poet Michael Drayton stated, in contrast, that the tradition was a tribute to Saint David, who ate only leeks when he was fasting. Whatever the case, the leek has been known to be a symbol of Wales for a long time; Shakespeare, for example, refers to the custom of wearing a leek as an “ancient tradition” in Henry V. In the play, Henry tells the Welsh officer Fluellen that he, too, is wearing a leek “for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman.” The 1985 and 1990 British one pound coins bear the design of a leek in a coronet, representing Wales.
Whether you wear them as an emblem, or you just enjoy them as an added garnish to some of your favorite meals, leeks are a flavorful and nutritional option to your meal plates – around the world.
Leeks could be added to just about any of the meal recipes listed on this page – although many of the recipes don’t call for them – you might enjoy the extra flavor or substitute in leeks for any missing ingredients if your kitchen happens to be short. Click on any photo for the recipes.
(Will be editing the molcajete foto soon, and adding in a video of the children planting leeks in our ‘water’ garden.)
Click here to learn more about leeks, and how to prepare them in the kitchen.
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Tourists come to visit – and never know what kind of life or personalities exist beyond the safely-marked roads — or what kind of poverty exists there.
That said, amongst the poverty – there is also abundance.
If you can make it past the hippos and the crocodiles — you can eat the fish.
The girls will refuse to throw lines and dread the canoes, fearing the water’s edge for the aggressive animals that find their home there, just beyond the large crops of fresh sugar cane that poke their reeds shyly out of the river bed.
Even the boys will hesitate — for it is dangerous.
But the men – will smile – and whistle. Fishing isn’t for just anybody. There’s a reason why they are brave.
The men, and older boys will make their own fishing lines, and sometimes climb into a canoe that perhaps they’ve even made — themselves.
Once, we filled an entire canoe with village children – it is not easy to keep the vessel from tipping without extreme and concentrated balancing effort.
Women wait at the water’s edge — or buy from the more corporate fishers, a bulk amount at a cheaper rate —
– and then women and girls will wander through the hills with the dead fish balanced on hats that look like sombreros —
-or they stack them up on blankets in rows on the ground in the markets –
-shouting out their fresh food for the day.
Fish provides great amounts of protein and vitamins for the children in the village, so long as the people are allowed to be near the water’s edge.
Without refrigeration, some types of fish can be dried and stored for long amounts of time, although the smell is not not the most friendly, they are safe to eat.
It is important to have clean water sources for healthy fish. Pollution anywhere, such as in factory-condensed areas – have effects on all of the wildlife – and the people – who live in the nearby environments.
Fish ponds rarely work for extended amounts of time without a budget set aside to repair the pumps when they fail. Rivers and large bodies of water are much more dependable, but often, the poor are not allowed to be on those properties. Some suggest that they bother the tourists, and others – the landscape. Owners of large areas of property frown on gleaners and are known to burn the gardens and crops of widows and orphans that try to plant there.
It is important that people have the right to fish, and licenses and regulations help ensure that all have an equal opportunity to natural resources.
We hope that you enjoy fish, and pick up a few fish recipes today to share – and when you do, you remember the children in the village.
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