husk’ay: to scatter seeds (Quechua); puesta de la semilla en el suelo, en el acto de la siembra.
I enjoyed the process of the self-edited, self-published The Lima Year, reflections of living, mostly in opening up to some of the more introspective aspects of human life. This newsletter (or subscribed writing) aims to honor dialogue, flow from a place of peace, challenge the ego, and present aspects of being in and on this beautiful, sacred, oxygenated, gassy planet. Expect topics ranging from permaculture, nutrition, baking, being outdoors, herbalism, to writers I’m enjoying and challenged by.
I’ll aim to update on the month-long June travel to Guatemala where I’ll be diving into permaculture and herbalism at Atitlan Organics. I had my first exposure to permaculture at a retreat in Huaran, Peru with Reviveolution. This wasn’t the first time I had been introduced to natural farming as I volunteered on biodynamic farms when not wrapped up in an apron while baking in Napa 10 years ago. Rudolph Steiner, founder of the biodynamic approach to agriculture, is a person whose work I find worth the reading nook and I have started a manageable collection of resources inspired or written by him, e.g., Sacred Economics, Way of Initiation.
Currently making herbal salve and tea blends. If interested, please message me directly. (First herbal blend found in the Muyuy collection, a collaboration with Sierra Estes.)
ON BEING OUTSIDE
I had a very nudging, expanding, and rather reverse spring experience. Ten full days in Montana included Bozeman, Gardiner, Missoula, and the mountain and valley hikes in between. Hiking in Slough Creek (Yellowstone National Park), I felt truly naked, exposedly human and deeply connected with each foot forward. I walked in the mercy and grace of time and place, as April is active wolf and bear season, knowing that a moment could be a first or last and yet I would continue to choose this. They suggest making noise when walking and carrying bear spray. I preferred the faceless observation of the mind and someone else holding the bear spray.
It became neither first nor last. I would highly recommend Hip Camp (for outdoor camping on people’s land if you don’t need all the amenities of a KOA or RV park) and All Trails for offline hiking. The Hydrapak Seeker 4L water storage held our treat of spring mountain water! The BioLite camping stove inspired us to not dive into the world of Weber grills when we learned that Traeger pellets work well and are much more economical and less smokey than picking up not dry enough wood bits to cook with. If you’re in the market for portable solar panels, I recommend Goal Zero Nomad 10 for size, efficiency, and packability.
Over the years and more (and more) recently I have encouraged myself to ask what is natural and what is constructed. Can I consider my role within the environment—how I impact it daily and how it impacts me? I am not above the cycle of nature. The beauty of much of the undisturbed land that resides in the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park would deepen the desire to regenerate lands so that they too could become natural again. Also…how do I consume less so that others would have the chance to breathe cleaner air, have clean water, have their lands returned to them, have access to pesticide free food, not have to work at the factory making clothes I don’t need more of?
ON WRITING and NEW EYES
Writing for myself and for others at times past felt like incomplete captures. In the state of constant evolve, I wonder when the carefully threaded word version of me could and would change. When acknowledging this space in time, I hold caution for could the words I release hold me to a past neither of us are still in? Would we have the same threads that wove us together? Could we stop asking if I would bake professionally again?
As I rewire the nervous system to forgotten rhythms and cycles, I have become more specific in how I nourish myself, find more nuances in the things that interest me, and leisure in ease. Maybe I would one day open a place that serves baked things and seasonal teas, but it's not something my mind wanders in these days. I enjoy baking at home and sharing them in more intimate settings. When I cook for a few or the times when it is just me, I am able to adjust the recipe to fit a narrower range of nutritional/nourishment needs.
In finding a new way to experience time, the days feel less measurable, less weighted by gravity, and more meaningful. I do not feel rushed, I do not feel over-committed, and I find the most basic requirements of living more nourishing. I have deepened in study of breathwork1, physical movement, rest, consciousness, ecology, and nutrition. I have found an endless source of inquiry.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust
ON NOURISHING WITH FOOD
Amy Halloran in her newsletter, Dear Bread, asked, asks, and has been asking: Why did America hand over cooking, one of the most intimate forms of care, to industry? Why don’t we outsource laundry rather than feeding each other?
The women in my lineage did most of the cooking. My father chooses to cook on Sundays and rarely enjoys the task being taken away from him, unless I’m making pizza in the Gozney Roccbox. What my grandma would spend hours or sometimes all day making, we would consume in far less time. Grandma wasted no effort, though. If the set-up or prep was long, she always made a batch to freeze for a later date (or later dates). Grandma also knew that my sister and I had different (individual) constitutions that required separate herbal brews and caution when eating certain types of food, like nightshades or fats.
It’s hard to have an outsider know or understand individual needs or be able to accommodate all the varying biomes inside a food establishment. There’s more ease to having the sauce on the side, dairy omitted, or varying options when eating in more intimate settings. A combination of studying Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and an anthroposophic approach to nutrition opened me to recognize the human individuality, their own ‘I’. There isn’t a single way or even a few for all. I have had to loosen the many things I thought I knew and test it against my ever-changing biome. I have been able to reintroduce some things back into my diet, but have also reduced the frequency of many things I used to enjoy. The nourishment that sustains this body now is mostly dairy-free, more lectin-free or lectin deactivated via fermentation (explore topic in The Plant Paradox), mostly pre-digested wheat from sourdough, many times vegan, but still also includes the shortbread recipe with just butter, sugar, salt, and flour. These books helped me balance internally and externally: Nourishing Traditions, Keeping Healthy with the Seasons, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition.
In order to understand cooking as an intimate form of care, we need to understand the value in the performance of it. How do the vegetables grow? Who tends to them and the soil? How do they arrive at the table? What is the magic that we cannot see but can feel? Being present in the steps offers nuances that lifts the experience out of a manufactured one. In recreating her recipes, I realize everyone experiences the same recipe differently and has ownership of its creativity. This ownership I like to call alchemy, a process of transformation, creation, or combination. Some suggest the Earth has 6 seasons instead of 4. How often do we observe the season we are each in?
Cooking at home has always been a source of comfort, reprieve, ease, and an act that not only nourishes others but also myself. I don’t enjoy the hard-soled shoes that don’t breathe or bend (as required in professional kitchens) and relish cooking barefoot at home. I’ve been relishing in the spring greens of dandelion, chicory, chickweed, mustard, parsley, and burdock. Many restaurants shy away from these pungent or bitter greens, which are great for supporting liver and lymphatic system flush. These days, I eat a lot more porridges, often rice or millet-based, fermented pancakes, and fortifying soups. Exploring the foods of India through Ayurvedic studies, I came to really appreciate the uttapam, a savory fermented rice and mung bean or dal pancake. I began more actively fermenting vegetables as I ate more plant-based to increase the intake of B12 and as a way to get probiotics. A benefit of cooking seasonally is that I never get fatigued eating the same kind of thing because while the cooking method may stay the same, the “recipe” changes.
I’ve really enjoyed helping others tidy their pantries, organize their kitchens, and enjoy the intimate care of cooking in their homes more. If you’re interested or know a friend who might be, the offerings are listed on mskarenman.com.
I’ve added much more to my site: bread.blog, after receiving dozens of messages asking for tips on baking sourdough loaves in 2020. I’m not someone into statistics but it’s nice knowing 100 some new people find the site each month. I don’t have an about page or a way to contact me. I thought that’s an okay way to have a “blog” site, to be able to update without pressure and maintain some online “presence,” knowing that we are all interconnected, with intention being so deeply important in manifesting things.
Time is the conversation with absence and visitation, the frontier between ourselves and those we love, the hours become ripe with happening only when we are attentive, patient, and present.
- David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea
ON KAREN MAN
I am a creative, curious human, baker, mama of under the sink worms, participant of natural cycles, and almost always have something on or around the counter fermenting.
I allow for something learned every day. I strive to be honest (satya) and compassionate (karuna). I support humans so together we can find our fullest expression of joy (mudita). I pour energy into openings that give strength, creativity, and freedom. I insist on experiencing more everyday awe. I participate in the cycle of lessons. No matter where the beginning and end merge, I breathe inspiration from all times, breathe with gratitude in all spaces, bow reverently or sun salutate a way through, and love endlessly. I expand and contract, exploring a middle way.
I habitually drink hot tea not hot.
Here are two crackers I’ve been making often. They pack well for camping trips or time on a picnic blanket with friends:
135g whole wheat, white wheat, or an unbleached, unbromated all-purpose flour
2.5 g sea salt or pink salt
248g sourdough starter, 100% hydration
56g olive oil
Black pepper or other toppings
Mix flour, starter, salt, and olive oil to combine. Cover and chill 30 min to overnight.
Roll to 1/16" thick on floured surface, or on parchment. Can directly bake on this parchment too! Sprinkle with toppings (currently enjoying nigella seeds) and press in lightly by rolling the rolling pin over. Cut to preferred sizing with pizza wheel. I prefer a 1.25” square. Brush with olive oil. Bake at 350°F (176°C) for 20 min. Rotate pan half way. Lower heat to 300°F (150°C) until finished drying out.
75g pumpkin seeds, super coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
160g ground flax (1 cup)
55g unhulled sesame seeds (1/3 cup)
40g chia seeds (1/4 cup)
5g sea salt or pink salt (1 tsp)
300g water (1 1/4 cup +1tsp water)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (2 tsp dried)
Mix. Let hydrate for 10 minutes. Spread thin, with offset spatula, onto two 1/2 sheet pans (13”x18”) lined with a silicone baking mat. Score into 1/4ths, careful not to cut silicone baking mat, to assist with shrinking and dividing. Dry at 200°F (93°C) for 2-3 hours. Flip over half way. Break to appropriate sizing.
(Great for putting in the oven after baking something else as to be efficient with energy use as the oven cools down.)
Deep breathing and meditation affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), which controls the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) as well as the parasympathetic nervous system (this informs us to chill out). Deep breathing and meditation may reduce the SNS and increase the PNS, also lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Our brains receive cues from the body. Our bodies receive cues from the brain. When the body calms down, the brain receives the message that all is well.