How to Eat a Raisin

  • January 27, 2012 5:10 pm

I was recently at a meditation retreat up in Massachusetts at the Kripalu Center.  I try to do at least one silent retreat a year.  I need the time and the space, I need help with my meditation and with my yoga practice.  Whenever I am looking for a teacher, it’s important for me to also know that the food is going to support my practice of sustainability.  At the Kripalu Center, you get great teachers and the food is fantastic.

I’ve studied with Jack Kornfield before, but not for 6 days and five nights.  The group was 193 and in the beginning it felt like a lot.  By the second morning, they felt like friends and family.  We did sitting meditation and  walking meditation for about 6 hours a day. Breakfasts were silent, and if you wanted silence one could eat all meals in a silent dining room.  AFter the fourth day, I was ready to listen to others talking, but not quite ready to speak.  So I sat at each meal and listened.

For me the most impressive meditation was the raisin meditation…I have a piece coming out in in the next few weeks called “Meditating on a Raisin”…so stay tuned for this.  And if you haven’t read my last  piece at take a look.


The Joy of Quiet…

  • January 8, 2012 11:02 am

January 6, 2012

Last Sunday, there was a terrific piece in the NYT that was life affirming to me. It was called “The Joy of Quiet,” by Pico Iyer.  It’s about unplugging; it’s about  looking around, being mindful and appreciative in the moment about everything.

Not too long ago, I had a meal with a group of people in a magnificent little NYC bistro.  I noticed that a couple of those seated pulled out phones every couple of minutes.  They would begin to text.  I asked one of them to tell me what he was texting.  It turned out that he was “tweeting” about the meal and some of the things that we were talking about during our meal.  One of us had mentioned that a popular chain of organic bakeries (on almost every corner in NYC), was serving what they said was organic whatever and sometimes it wasn’t.  How did that person know, I asked; because, as it turned out, they worked there and they were part of the kitchen conversation. Oh, I said, disappointed, I liked the bakery and wanted to continue to get “organic” food there. At the end of the table someone else was tweeting about books, things said at dinner reminded him of things he wanted to pass on before he forgot.  I sighed heavily and said, do any of us sit down to a meal without our phones, without TV, without the newspaper, and just talk and eat?  For almost a moment, the table went quiet.  And then, they ignored me.  But it’s a good question, and one that deserves exploration during this new year of ours.  If every moment is important, and sure should be, than our meals are a time to re-engage, to wrap our forks and our hearts around food and conversation and community. We pick the people we want to dine with, and in this fast paced world in which we live, how many times a month do we get their full undivided attention?  So when we have, it’s such a shame not to fully appreciate every aspect of it.  And turning off our electronics shows both good manners and a kind of power.

Coming Soon….

  • December 8, 2010 1:07 pm

Growing Roots is in the process of updating our blog. Please check back soon for stories and photos from the inaugural book tour across the country, updates on the people and families profiled in the book, and much more!


  • August 21, 2010 3:35 pm

It is middle of August, August 21 to be exact. The chokecherry bushes are full of berries and they are turning that deep purple that means, the bears will come over the mountains!  And they have.  We see their prints everywhere.  In town, they are breaking into cars, tearing screen doors off of hinges and causing all kinds of havoc in order to get into trash cans, and even refrigerators.  Yesterday, Luna chased a rather large black bear out of the back garden.  I missed it because I had taken a hike with a friend up the back mountain to try and catch a glimpse of  a mountain lion that had been spotted and had apparently taken down a fawn.  One of the neighborhood dogs had brought home a small fawn leg bone…

We’ve had lots of rain and the fields are all blazing in shades of green, the cottonwoods are a deep green and the aspen, too.  It’s that time of year when I look around and notice, the baby apples on the trees, the last of the apricots, the tall purple flowers of the echinacea and the golden rod.  Even the Chamisa is beginning to bloom out.  This morning after the farmers market, I drove up  the highway to the James Ranch to pick up my milk, always one of the splendors of my week.  As the weeks have passed, the cream on the top of the jug is thicker, the body of the milk is thicker.  To me, the milk seems more and more precious because there are now probably only 8 more weeks of it’s divine nourishment, when the girls, as Dan James calls the cows, are put out to pasture.  I recall what the poet Donald Hall said about beginning to mourn the loss of light as early as mid-June.  The August light seems somehow brighter, stronger, more intense.  The Dog Days of summer.  But there is an earlier shadow.

My friend Sally Florence’s recipe for Chokecherry Jam:


Remove all the stems and wash the berries than drain.  Add 1 cup water to every 4 cups fruit.  Place the bunch over very low heat and simmer until the fruit is tender, stirring.  Push the pulp through a medium sieve; measure, and add an equal amount of sugar.  Place over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has melted.  Bring to a full rolling boil (as my mother used to say) and cook until the mixture sheets. Seal in hot sterialized jars.  three cups pulp will make about 3 half-pints.  We pour it over Coconut Bliss.

Next week I will be at the Durango Farmers Market with Growing Roots.  If you’re in the area, stop by and see me.


  • August 16, 2010 5:18 pm

Saturday, August 14, 2010, Growing Roots was officially released at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.  And what a beautiful, bustling market it is.  Right at the train station, organic vendor after vendor.  We set up early under a canopy with Collected Works Bookstore and the help of both Alli and Joel.  The sun was bright, the sky a deep blue, and hoards of people milling about.  I did my own shopping early, before the crowds arrived.  I was desperate to get peppers!

The night before we’d had a great dinner at  the home of my good friend and college roommate,Victoria, and her husband Aku. Victoria had prepared a huge bowl of Shishito Peppers which are absolutely one of the most divine southwestern delicacies.  They are small, almost spicy, green peppers the size of an index finger.  You should eat them within 24 hours of when they are picked; the fresher the better! According to some, the Talon de Gato Farm introduced these peppers to the Santa Fe Farmers Market in 2003, the original heirloom seeds coming from Japan and Spain.  I looked over Victoria’s shoulder as she prepared them:


  • 8 ounces of Shishito Peppers
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste


Heat a clean heavy skillet (Victoria used a well seasoned iron skillet) on medium heat until just smoking.

Add 2 tablespoon fine olive oil (I used a good quality oil and then added a few drops of Skipstone’s Makena as a treat) and a full layer of peppers, loosely spaced. The oil should be very hot so that the peppers are seared.  Shake the pan until the peppers blister and puff up without burning.  When the peppers start to deflate, empty the pan onto a paper lined plate and sprinkle with sea salt (I used Redmond Real Salt from Utah).  Serve immediately and eat with your fingers!!!!

Among others at the market I also met the Katz family from the Boxcar Farm in Llano, New Mexico, who offer specialty garlics from around the world.  They had Cichi, a mellow porcelain garlic from the Republic of Georgia, Red Rezan, a purple stripe stiffneck from a town outside Moscow, Transylvanian garlic from Romania, Ayacucho, a deep purple garlic from Peru, and many, like Penasco Blue, Santa Fe Roja, and Chamisal Wild, all local to the area.  It was so fabulous to see so many varieties of garlic.

On the drive back to Durango, we stopped along the way to let Luna run.  This is what we ran through….could it possibly be more spectacular!

Brie Cheese at the James Ranch

  • August 12, 2010 4:09 pm

On Wednesday August 11, at about 5 pm I scurried up the highway to the James Ranch to sample their Brie Cheese.  Dan and Becca James are the first profiles in Growing Roots and as members of their dairy herd, their beautiful cows  have been providing us with the most luscious, cream topped milk, all summer. But today’s surprise was a  real treat.  Sitting on top of a checked tablecloth, under the cottonwoods not far from the Animas river,  were three wheels, of soft and gooey Brie.  At the moment I’m not eating gluten so I cut myself a piece and ate it with my fingers and a couple of slices of Palisades peaches. The flavor was  smooth, just a hint of a bite. Truly divine.  When you read Growing Roots you’ll see that Dan has been making hard cheeses now for some years.  But lately, he’s been experimenting.  Back at the beginning of the summer we had a little taste of Farmer’s Cheese, also a treat.

Just before we piled into the car, the sky opened up and dumped on us.  Afternoon monsoons, spectacular. Well worth the wet, though.

Saturday, August 14 is Growing Roots’ first launch.  In Santa Fe at the farmers market sponsored by Collected Works Bookstore. If you happen to be in Santa Fe come visit us near the water tower.  It’s a beautiful market and the day is supposed to be bright and sunny.  We’ll keep you posted.  Meanwhile, check out the link: file:///Users/Katherine/Desktop/Collected%20Works%20Bookstore%20%7C%20Santa%20Fe’s%20oldest%20locally-owned%20independent..webloc

First Post

  • August 3, 2010 5:28 pm

Today is Monday, August 2, 2010.  It’s raining here in Durango, Colorado and the daisies, larkspur and chicory are shining.  Early this morning, Luna was out in the driveway.  I happened to glance out the kitchen window and saw her on one side and a large pointed eared bushy tailed creature on the other. There seemed to be a kind of stand-off between them and then suddenly Luna’s hackles went up and the barking began. It was a coyote. Yesterday we had taken a hike up Red Creek.  On the way down we ran into a lone calf…watching Luna (who is actually a cattle dog) streak up behind it, herding it as if she did this sort of thing every day, was wild.  That’s the kind of summer it’s been so far, hot during the days and soft thunderstorms in the evening.  I’ve been working of my promotion for Growing Roots and the schedule will follow soon.  Our first book signing is in Santa Fe on Saturday, August 14 beginning at 7 a.m. at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.  If you’re in the area, come see me!!

Exciting News

  • August 3, 2010 12:55 pm

After a quick walk with Luna (the sky, scattered clouds and a bit of drizzle) we spotted the coyote again. I’m beginning to get a little nervous, thinking he might be staking out Luna for his/her next meal.  Back to the house for our breakfast and then to work.

If you don’t know about Shelf Awareness, it’s an online publication that goes out to the media, writers and publishers.


Notes: Blumenthal Investigates E-Book Pricing; Kindle Sells Out Book trailer of the day: Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks and Food Activists by Katherine Leiner (Sunrise Lane Productions) .

To see the video directly:

Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks and Food Activists