Pear-Dulse Salad

By Larch On October 25th, 2010

Taste it! Sliced pears (soaked in lemon water to prevent browning) encircling a bed of grated carrot, topped with chopped celery, toasted pecans, and rehydrated dulse cut finely with scissors or knife. Dress with fresh orange juice and olive oil, half & half.

Pear dulse salad

Veggie Soup with Seaweed Soup Mix

By Larch On October 25th, 2010

Life evolved from single-celled creatures living in the nutrient-rich ocean. Seaweeds concentrate these nutrients, and when you make soup that includes seaweed, you are nourishing your body’s inner ocean that is around and in the cells of your body. The Seaweed Soup Mix offered at is a chopped blend that is 60% laminaria digitata kelp (similar to Japanese kombu used to make dashi, a delicious soup broth), 25% alaria esculenta (similar to Japanese wakame), and 15% laminaria longicruris, a delicate Maine kelp. This is the blend that I use in my own kitchen. I serve soup several times a week. After all, our bodies are mostly water, and we transact with seaweed and veggies at the level of water. Here is a recipe:

I start by filling a four quart soup pot half full of water. I turn on the heat and add four tablespoons of Seaweed Soup Mix. I add three tablespoons of rice or barley. I add a couple of slices of ginger root. I add three dried shitake mushrooms. I peel a few cloves of garlic and toss them in. When the pot comes to a boil, I turn down the heat. When the mushrooms have rehydrated, I remove them to cool, and then I slice them and return them to the soup pot. In a separate pan, I saute’ a medium size sliced onion with liberal sprinkles of thyme. I like to use sesame oil or coconut oil. When the onion slices are golden, I set them aside. I slice root crops like carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, beets, and turnips. When the grain is al dente (soft enough to chew), I add the root crops. If I want a sweeter soup, I might add a few slices of delicata squash and some cut sweet corn. (In midsummer, I would add cut string beans and summer squash.) During the last three minutes of cooking, I add greens like parsley and kale, and I add the saute’d onions. I season with Eden organic shoyu soy sauce (no alcohol) and sometimes a dash of cayenne. I serve up the soup with a topping of fresh parsley and/or chopped chives. When I reheat this soup on the second day, I add more parsley. The seaweed creates a rich creamy broth that boosts the savory flavors of this soup. Yum!

Seaweed Vegetable Soup

Hay Season on the Water

By Larch On October 2nd, 2010

Seaweeds have their seasons of peak vitality just like plants in the garden. In mid-May, kelp plants (laminaria longicruris and laminaria saccharina) are in their prime. On the land, dry air blows in with high pressure from Canada, and in the afternoon, a southwest sea breeze helps dry the kelp that is hung up on lines at the high water line. Mornings are flat calm, sometimes there is fog, and we journey to the kelp beds by reading the signs on the water. For instance, sometimes there is a cross-hatch pattern on the water. I call this a “mixing pattern”. It is created when the incoming tide splits and flows around the islands at the mouth of my bay. When I hear an apprentice exclaim, “Oh! Look! The mixing pattern! I KNOW where we ARE!”—then I know that s/he is beginning to pay attention to reading the signs on the water.

Cross-hatch pattern on water

Cross-hatch pattern on water

In the springtime, early morning new moon tides are the lowest. Early morning full moon tides are also lower than average. We pull on our wetsuits around 4 a.m., and we’re on the water by 4:30 a.m. Apprentices get their breakfasts around 3:30 a.m. if they’re going to have one. (When I was a young man growing up in Minnesota, I worked summers on my aunt and uncle’s 1000 acres farm. During hay season, we fed a hundred head of cattle and 50 pigs right after breakfast at first light. A good day on the farm during hay season, working with a family crew of 5 or 6 people, was a thousand bales of hay into the barn by the end of the day, around 9 or 10 p.m. This is where I learned the work ethic, “If I do not work, these worlds will perish.”)

The journey to the kelp beds takes about an hour. There’s a two hour window of opportunity to pull kelp into the boats. The goal is to pull 2000 pounds into the boats within two hours.

Larch pulls kelp into punt boat

Larch pulls kelp into a punt boat

Coming home takes an hour. We all take a mid-morning break, getting out of our wetsuits, taking showers and warming up. Then we have a substantial breakfast. This is the meal that’s going to be with us as we hang up the kelp. The rest of the day is spent in the open air and sunshine, and if you just want a mantra to keep your hands busy while your soul ripens, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to handle approximately 2000 pieces of kelp, pinning each individual piece of kelp to clotheslines set up on the high water mark in the cove.

Kacie hangs up kelp

Kacie Hangs Up Kelp

By the end of the day, we have all done an honest day’s work, and here’s the proof:

Kelp hanging on lines in the cove

Kelp hanging on lines in the cove