Pathways, Rivers, The Journey


Just beyond this point across The San Francisco Bay on a clear day you can see The Golden Gate Bridge in all it’s glory.


It is a chilly but sunny morning here in Western Massachusetts. Thoughts of beautiful pathways and flowing rivers were the first thing that came to mind as I lazily awoke to the crisp air this morning. These images were not of the local natural world but from past hikes in California. Muir Woods, Land’s End in San Francisco and The Bay Area are very much on my mind. That may have something to do with the fact that I am missing my youngest daughter, Hannah who lives currently in The Bay Area and possibly because I spent the day yesterday at a delightful wedding party of my dear friend’s son who also lives in The Bay Area. What ever the reason it is a nice way to wake!


With the crisp air I find myself searching for one of those comfy long cooking meals that you smell all afternoon while it simmers. So I am planning to make an heirloom mixed bean stew with barley and loads of vegetables for dinner. I love making stews and soups that cook for long periods of time so we get to smell the mixed foods and anticipate the flavors. And there is always plenty left over for another meal on another day.

My heirloom bean stew will be cooking this afternoon while I pack my kitchen for the upcoming demolition and remodel that starts the end of this month. I am anxiously excited about this project which has been in the planning stages for over 2 years. Once the kitchen is complete I imagine spending time cooking wonderful new foods, enjoying lively conversations with family and friends, and embarking on adventures far from my soon to be cozy kitchen.


Let me share the recipe so you too can explore one of those long cooked meals.

Heirloom Mixed Bean and Barley Stew

 1 diced onion

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced carrot

½ cup each of any other vegetable you choose

2 Tbsp olive oil

8 cups vegetable broth

1 cup uncooked barley (washed and pre-soaked overnight)

1 ½ cups mixed heirloom beans (washed and pre-soaked overnight)

1/3 cup crushed tomatoes

¼ tsp sea salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp each of following herbs: basil, oregano and thyme

Sautee the vegetable in oil for 3-5 minutes. Add broth and remaining ingredients bring to boil then reduce and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the beans and barley are tender.

 These meals are like a big hug from an old friend or like when your heart just swells with joy at seeing someone you adore.


Ahhh… such a nice way to start the day!




Miso Happy

Some of you more seasoned bloggers may see that I am a novice in the blogosphere. An example of just how much a novice follows: I just spent the last 2 hours trying to post a picture and video about my trip to South River Miso in Conway Massachusetts. The photo I took was upside down the video had a 2 minute advertisement for a new improved diet pill…I hope these things didn’t actually make it onto my blog but if I inadvertently posted them please pass them by…ignore them as I found something better to share! I found this delightful video link that stars Christian Elwel the owner operator of South River Miso.

I was among a handful of students from The Kushi Institute who had the good fortune of spending a Saturday with Christian and his wife. He has a wealth of miso making knowledge and is very happy to share his wisdom. He and his wife invited us into their miso haven providing a tour, sampling of many varieties of miso and wonderful stories of how they came to be the fine miso crafters they are.

Their property is in a beautiful country setting and one has a sense that they created every single garden, building, stone walkway, pond and sculpture with great thought and care. Everything seems to flow into the next with ease and I found myself so relaxed sitting near the frog pond watching the abundance of aquatic life. The tour was equally enjoyable giving me a sense of stepping back in time to the early craft of miso making. As a California girl I was struck by the similarities to fine wine winemaking that takes place in many regions of my home state. I found the day to be inspiring in that it helped me think about all the healthful qualities in miso while observing and learning about the process. I was also delighted to hear about the love and care that goes into its creation!

With all this said, I promised that I would share the recipe for miso soup in my next post…being a woman of my word I shall do so. Miso is a staple of Japanese diet and is also enjoyed by folks who are macrobiotic or simply enjoy healthy eating. As Christian said it has many active microorganisms and vital enzymes that aid digestion. Miso also helps to discharge toxins from the body. It is high in protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B. I will offer a basic miso soup recipe that can be eaten daily at breakfast to set your body in a proper state for the day.


3 cups water

2” wakame-soaked and cut into small pieces

2 dried shiitake mushrooms-soaked and slice thinly

½ cup daikon-cut into thin half moons

1 ½ tsp – 1 Tblsp 2yr. barley miso

1 Tblsp minced fresh parsley or thinly sliced scallion for garnish

Add the wakame, shiitake and the soaking water to 3 cups water and slowly bring to a boil. Add the daikon, cover the pot, reduce flame to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Dilute miso in a little broth before adding to soup stock. Add to pot and continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes on low flame. Once miso is added do not boil just let it simmer.

Serve in bowls with either parsley or scallion garnish.

Before indulging in your miso soup, take a moment to sit quietly and set your intention for the day. It does not need to be earth shattering. Merely offer gratitude and at be at peace.

Until next time