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scenes from monsoon season

2013 July 19
by Rachel Turiel

*Thank you for your comforting words here.

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The red, silky MC Hammer pants: totally appropriate for gardening!

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Fifteen years ago our yard was a sea of clay. Look what a little soil-amending will do!

The garden is standing on its own two feet. No longer am I fretting behind the scenes like a stagehand, trying to make sure the vegetal props don’t blow over, or the young upstart primadonnas (tomatoes) have everything they need. The monsoons have arrived, which is like being visited by your favorite, slightly nutty uncle—prone to break out in thunderous antics—but who brings the exact presents you want, which in July, in my case is rain, always rain. 

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Health care plan I believe in.

The curtain is going down on Garden, Act 1. Peas went out with the heat. Spinach, too. Lettuce is looking like something Lady Gaga might wear, flimsy and transparent and sort of lacking (last week, after watching Lady Gaga “Born This Way,” the video we all surprisingly and unapologetically love, Rose asked, “Who is her dance teacher?” Indeed).

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Hollyhock mandala, by Rose.

Now that spinach is bygone and the lettuces are playing out like a record on endless repeat, we  (Dan and me and occasionally Col) have turned to the dark leafy greens: kale and chard and amaranth.

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Can we talk about amaranth? In America (where incidentally, we waste 40% of our food), amaranth is a weed. In less developed  countries (more appreciative of food?) like Nigeria, Uganda, Jamaica, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, The Phillipines, amaranth is an important food crop. Amaranth is chock full of Vit A, K, calcium, maganese and potassium. Also, it’s super delicious. It’s milder-tasting than chard, silkier than kale, and doesn’t have the haughty agricultural preferences of spinach. It grows like the weed it is, which is to say, I don’t have to plant, water or fuss over it.

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Rose graciously snipping amaranth, which is more about getting to use the clippers than wanting to eat the plant.

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A bowlful of amaranth. We like it raw in salads and sautéed in everything.

Try some, and let me know how you like it. This is how I like it:

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 White rice, sautéed amaranth, fried egg, homemade raw chevre, and tomatoes.

Today we leave on a San Juan river trip with some friends. The funny thing (don’t tell our boat-mates) is that (except for Rose) we’re not really water people. Also, I’m just the slightest bit wondering if the whole all day relaxation thing will be a little lost on us. I can see myself wanting to halt the whole parade of rafts to check out some showy desert flower on shore, or maybe Dan can bring a hide aboard to tan or something. Also, we don’t really know what we’re doing, which  is perfect, because that makes it easier to have no opinions, which is our goal for the trip. As in, stop and camp here? Fine with us. Eat now? Okey-doke. Col’s taken to calling himself captain of the boat, and Rose, dear sweet Rose is always up for any adventure.

p.s. don’t tell anyone that I accidentally shook some uncooked white rice into the chocolate-chip-raisin-oatmeal-peanut butter cookies that I made for first night dessert, thinking it was coconut flakes. Aiigh. Col said, brightly, “that’s OK Mama, people like rice in their cookies.” Is this taking optimism too far?

p.p.s. Amaranth coming on raft trip: 1) steamed, chopped and mixed into hummus (with feta and chopped olives) for lunch spread 2) In salad for first night dinner 3) cooked into elk sausage for 2nd morning breakfast.

p.p.p.s. Each amaranth plant has, oh about 100,000 seeds. So, beware of all that.

While I’m gone, here’s a few links for you:

*A piece I published on mamalode about the cycles of life and death.

*Edible San Juan Mountain magazine: a piece I wrote on the heart and soul of leafy greens. (includes salad dressing recipes)

And, if you happen to have an apricot or cherry tree that needs picking but don’t want to do the terrible drudgerous (new word coming to a Webster’s near you) labor of it, we’ll pick it, lickety-split and give you half.

Have a lovely weekend friends.

Related posts:

King of the dung heap
In which sprouts and sauerkraut count as salad
Eat Your Vegetables Part 3: Peanut Sauce


12 Responses leave one →
  1. July 19, 2013

    the hollyhocks….. swoon~~
    adding amaranth to next year’s garden list.
    enjoy the rain + your weekend.
    xo~

  2. Valri permalink
    July 19, 2013

    Is the red amaranth edible as well… I have some volunteers in the yard.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      July 19, 2013

      I don’t see why not…red = extra antioxidants? maybe do a little internet sleuthing first.

  3. July 19, 2013

    The photos of amaranth looked suspiciously like the plant i have been pulling up everywhere on our property. My allergist called it “pigweed” when she diagnosed it as what makes me hive and puff up in the fall. Maybe if I eat some of it, it will get into my system and I will no longer be allergic? Ha.
    So sorry to hear about your friend, and your vacation sounds lovely.
    I have to admit I always look forward to your posts, it’s like getting an email from a fascinating friend!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      July 19, 2013

      Yes, pigweed is another name for it. Sorry to hear you’re allergic. Usually people are allergic to pollen, maybe the leaves would be OK. So glad to hear you look forwrd to these posts. :)

  4. jamie schuster permalink
    July 19, 2013

    Float trips are my favorite kind of river ride! So fun and a great way to enjoy the water, enjoy it for what it’s worth and you will be fine :)

    That being said, I would love to take one of you plant identification classes. I have taken what you’ve been saying to heart, and eating what edible weeds I have been able to find. So far that only includes dandelion and purslane. Amaranth sounds wonderful, I’m pretty sure I don’t have any in my yard though.

    • Jamie Schuster permalink
      July 22, 2013

      Wait! I found out that I have redroot pigweed which is an amaranth. Doesn’t look so much like yours. It is a horrible weed to pull, that is for sure.

      Also found out that I have common mallow and Kochia Plants everywhere. Literally, everywhere.

      My lettuce is about to give up the ghost, so maybe I will try the pigweed, mallow, and perslane as a salad.

  5. July 19, 2013

    I’m not a river rat either. I went on a boat trip to the bottom part of the grand canyon. Everyone was SO excited to do it. And we did it. And the canyon was beautiful. But as for being in the boat all day, I was like “meh”. I can’t sit on a beach and read for more than about an hour either. I want to be MOVING and LOOKING AT STUFF. LOL. Have a great time. I’m sure the kids are totally going to love it.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      July 19, 2013

      Yes. Totally can relate. It’s all about the kids! Plus rumors of big horn sheep sightings and anasazi ruins. :)

  6. Andrea permalink
    July 19, 2013

    Sounds fun! Although we are part amphibian in this family. I suggest clicking on a life jacket and going limp like gumby. Nothing worse than a stiff body on that boat all day! And I agree with Jackie… I love your posts. Can’t wait to hear how you mountain dwellers took to open water. Be safe.

    Ps. How many swimsuit changes will rose undertake?? I somehow imagine that she may have a different suit for each day on the water. Being the family fashionista.

  7. Susan S permalink
    July 21, 2013

    Never a dull moment! Speaking of which, I’m interested to hear how Frosty Pines and Lego Robotics camp went?

  8. July 22, 2013

    Oh you’re awesome! We love the bicolor amaranth! It’s such an amazing green. We love it in our green juices and smoothies! Can’t wait to hear about the boat trip! Something tells me it will be a funny post!

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