Volume 1, Issue 1,
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Glass Gem Corn from the garden
What’s Been Going On?
Welcome to the debut monthly newsletter from Miel de la Tierra Studio. Each month I’ll put out a newsy message about what’s been going on in the art studio, the garden studio, and the kitchen studio.
In the Garden
Here in Southern California, USDA Zone 9B, autumn is a form of spring. We received a delicious amount of rain a few weeks back and if you observe very closely, there’s evidence of it. Green sprouts are emerging from the parched ground, there are buds on our native plants. In between our hot, dry, drought-stricken days, fog and damp have been seeping into our little interior coastal valley. Moisture collects in the shady spots of the hills, and dew gathers in the tender pockets of plants. It’s been wonderful to walk the lower garden in the morning and feel the coolness in the air and return up the hill with damp shoes.
So, a little bit about the garden—
For those that don’t know, Miel de la Tierra Garden is our quarter acre that slopes rather steeply down into a former watershed that was once Micqanaqa’n land, and is now connected with a regional park system that’s part of the greater Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy. A slim little slip of open space sits right outside this quarter acre that was completely neglected when we moved in. We’ve been nursing it back to health ever since. Many sore backs and grubby hands later, it’s a work in progress as we figure out some truce between the wild rabbits, the grasshoppers, and our dogs with a penchant for arugula and strawberries, all while being water conscious.
Currently, the vegetable growing portion of the garden (pictured above) has new and improved “gates” to protect the food we grow from said rabbits and dogs (in my darker moments I call this, “protective custody”). These are the colorful frames you see above. Happy to report that everything is growing great with the newly upgraded system that’s easy to remove. I’m trying out a new snail abatement program: SAND. Supposedly those buggers can’t do their slide-y action over sand. So, we shall see. Check back next month.
In the Studio
It’s the end of fall semester, which is the point where less and less of my time is spent in the actual doing of art because more time is spent in the management of teaching and grading of it. This semester, in an effort to not abandon artmaking altogether, I’ve dedicated set amount hours to painting to keep up with the practice of the practice. It’s been going well enough that I’m wishing I had more time to devote to painting! My hope is for this one to be finished by end of week:
I also like to see what is happening out there in the art world too. I recently came across the contemporary beadwork of Native American artist Jamie Okuma who blends traditional bead work with couture and mass culture references. The works are stunningly beautiful and intricate. You can visit her site here: https://www.jokuma.com/gallery.
In the Kitchen
We’re rapidly heading toward Thanksgiving, which fills me mixed feelings. I value the importance of acknowledging the abundance our Earth provides for us. Of giving thanks for the people who grow and harvest the food that sustains us. Sitting in the sacred energy of community and breaking bread together with the expressed purpose of this honoring is important to me. But, the history of the holiday sits very uneasy with me. The lack of acknowledgement and erasing of indigenous pain and history isn’t living in balance for me. This year I will visit my relatives spend the day called Thanksgiving with them, but my family and I will also have a Decolonized Thanksgiving with foods we grew, and recipes that honor the ancestors of the land we live on in the best way we can. It’s one small way we can acknowledge the past and move forward in a more conscious way. Which brings me to the topic of cranberries. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?
Here’s some information from the Rodale Institute about why it’s important to use organic cranberries: https://rodaleinstitute.org/blog/clean-up-those-cranberries/
And when you locate your organic source, here’s my recipe for cranberry relish:
Cointreau Cranberry Relish
(-the one I make every year)
12oz bag organic cranberries
1 Cup sugar
½ Cup Cointreau
½ Cup water
¼ teaspoon each: cloves, cinnamon
Zest of one orange
Fresh cracked black pepper
Combine everything except orange zest and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer until berries begin to pop and mixture begins to thicken and turn mushy. This will take about ten minutes. Turn off heat and add orange zest, add in black pepper to taste. Will continue to thicken more as it cools. The Cointreau and pepper give this a nice complexity that goes beyond a merely tart/sweet sauce.
Adiós for now,
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