Cucumber Kimchi, Tomato Sandwiches, Mystic Garlic Festival, and Hmong Vegan Boots

Windfall of garden cucumbers? Not a problem – here they are, sliced paper thin, marinating in rice vinegar, dill, lots of garlic, black pepper, Himalayan salt, fresh ginger, and organic cane sugar

Last night, we reached an impasse as far as our garden cucumbers are concerned. My husband and I stood in the kitchen, jaws slack, surrounded by piles of cucumbers. I had just given away a ton of them that morning, and we were still left with an insane amount of these beauties.

Now, in the fridge in a gigantic glass bowl, are all those cucumbers, peeled and sliced paper thin, marinating in rice vinegar, fresh dill, lots of garlic, black pepper, Himalayan salt, red pepper flakes, ginger, and organic cane sugar. I’ll leave them for a couple of days, then jar them in sterile Ball jars. Looks like a lot of family and friends will be getting free, fresh Korean cucumber kimchi. Win.

Successful food growers have to get creative in August. If you’ve been diligent and cared for your food plants, now is the time to start jarring. Our plum tomatoes are ripening up: very soon, I’ll have jars of fresh, raw sauce. I’m not a fan of freezing fresh food, so it’s a good thing we have a pressure canner. Even with that, I don’t let unopened jars sit for more than one month. Open jars are used right away.

We’re in a stretch of excessively hot, humid weather. Temperatures are in the high nineties; it’s so humid that it’s hard to breathe. Fungal infections can take hold of a food garden when the weather is like this. If it was June, I’d be applying natural fungicides. But because the season is beginning to wind down, I’m letting nature do its thing. Less is often more in the garden.

So, in keeping with changing out all my non-vegan shoes and boots for all vegan, and in preparation for autumn and winter (yuck), I just bought a pair of vegan Hmong batik boots from Etsy Seller Siamese Dream.

My first vegan shoes came from Siamese Dream, a woman-operated, fair trade manufacturer in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They make great quality, colorful, comfy, and pretty affordable vegan footwear. Did I ever mention that Chiang Mai is on my bucket list big time?

We’re going to the Mystic Garlic Festival next month. This will be our third year there. My husband likes it – and I love it. Imagine a festival where fresh, local garlic is just everywhere. True, we’ve grown our own garlic this year, but there’s no such thing as too much garlic.

Plus, we get black, fermented garlic each year at this festival. There’s great Buddhist hippy store there, and lemon Italian ice. And we’re right near the ocean. You can’t lose.

This year’s tomatoes, especially our Cherokee Purples, are the most delicious I’ve ever grown. Last night’s dinner was a tomato sandwich with Veganaise, Himalayan salt, and black pepper on multi-grain toast.

Thick, juicy, sweet slices of still-warm-from-the-garden tomatoes. There are no words adequate to describe that sandwich. After I munched it all, I thought, ‘life is good’. And I wanted summer and the summer food garden to never stop. If there’s one thing that makes me forget the Teaching of Aparigaha, it’s the garden. Not good.

Very recently, I’ve noticed a real increase in my body/mind energy. I have little doubt that this is a result of a vegan lifestyle. If I’d known the joy of vegan living before this, I would have transitioned from vegetarian to vegan when I started college. It’s transformative, and insanely easy.

I look at dairy and wonder how it is that humans are the only species on Mother Earth that drink the mother’s milk of another species. Milk that’s designed for the early development and health of a calf. Milk that’s loaded with animal fat, milk that even an adult cow mustn’t drink, let alone an adult human. Lactose intolerance is epidemic now. That makes perfect sense, since we’re not supposed to be drinking bovine breast milk in the first place.

I wonder how the idea ever came to be that taking milk by force from animals so that we could drink it, ferment it, freeze it, cook it, and jam up our arteries with it was a sane thing to do.

For the record: when a calf is born at a dairy facility, it’s immediately taken from its mother before it has a chance to suckle, so that the milk the mother’s body has produced for her calf - who longs for it - can be pumped out by machine, processed, sold, and consumed by people.

I don’t care what the defense is: that’s an act of insanity.

Live in peace.

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