Early Spring Biodynamic Cooking
To really understand the essence of nutrition requires the courage to re-imagine the world and bring to our consciousness a view other than the purely material. The quality of our food, and especially the life forces of the meal we eat, is of greatest importance.
The most outstanding quality of food that I am familiar with is produced by biodynamic farming. Biodynamic grapes have won nationwide popularity for their excellent taste and aroma, producing fabulous wines. Biodynamic farming is concerned with not only the environment that the food is grown in, but also with the qualitative processes in which the food is created. Cultures of the past, and perhaps some of our own grandparents, were aware that their crops received nourishment from Earth as well as the cosmos, the rhythmical cycles of the moon, sun and stars. They worked the land according to their observations of these cycles and treated their animals, plants and soil in a way that reflected this relationship. Biodynamic gardeners and farmers of today keep building on this respectful relationship.
Biodynamic farmers experience their farms as individual, self-sustaining, living organisms that live and breathe with Earth in a sea of cosmic life forces. Everything is alive for the biodynamic farmer or gardener, who sees it as his or her responsibility to cultivate this connection to the spiritual cosmic world. S/he prepares the soil in such a way that it enables plants to take up the cosmic influences necessary for their growth, using special biodynamic preparations. They are made of substances from the farm, prepared in harmony with the seasonal rhythms and the natural processes of Earth and the cosmos. These biodynamic preparations are diluted in water using rhythmical movements and sprayed on the land and gardens. I think of them as homeopathic remedies for the soil.
Scientist, artist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner inspired the use of these biodynamic preparations, which are made and used with the understanding of how Earthly and cosmic forces interact throughout the year. He recognized that cosmic forces stream onto Earth, and are absorbed through the planet’s light, air and water, as well as the soil and its minerals. These cosmic forces support the plants in their growth. The quality and life forces of the plants we eat highly influence the quality of our thinking, feeling and interaction with people and nature, which in turn creates the condition of our society and the world. Rudolf Steiner was aware that a renewal of agriculture practices was necessary in order to reestablish the proper relationship between the cosmos and humanity, for the benefit of all the world.
What distinguishes biodynamic farming from other healthy farming practices such as permaculture and organic farming is that biodynamic farmers consciously think and work in a practical way with these Earthly and cosmic forces and rhythms. Sowing and harvesting are carefully done at the most favorable times in relationship to the sun, moon and planetary rhythms. In addition to working with the cosmic rhythms, applying biodynamic preparations and composted cow manure, these farmers also maintain healthy soil by rotating crops, incorporating plenty of organic matter into the soil and other holistic agricultural activities.
Animals, especially cows, also play a big part in the life of the biodynamic farm, and ensure a cycling of substances and life forces. Cows are grazers and have an elaborate digestive system. They eat grasses and other roughage, and in return produce rich manure permeated with their own life forces and qualities. When the soil receives this valuable cow manure, composted with biodynamic preparations, its soil life is enhanced. This composted manure creates nourishing humus that is able to draw in the beneficial forces of the sun, moon, star and planets, which in turn supports healthy plants.
Ideally, every biodynamic farm or garden has its own beehives as well. Bees live entirely in the world of air, light and warmth and are an essential part of the interrelationship of the cosmic forces.
Spring is an active season for any farmer or gardener. The light becomes stronger and brighter welcoming the greening of the fields and gardens. Earth once more shows its abundance of life forces. The introversion of winter has passed. Beauty seems to well forth from all reaches of the cosmos with joy and anticipation.
These spring recipes encourage new beginnings and lightness of body and soul. They are colorful, delicious and nourishing. Each dish is beautiful, an artwork in itself, simple in its form and interesting to make.
CREAMY WHITE BEANS WITH CILANTRO AND LEMON
This dish is creamy with a zest of spring. The northern white beans can be substituted with baby lima or navy beans. Tahini is a paste made of freshly ground roasted or raw sesame seeds. Double the recipe and serve the next day for lunch in a rolled-up tortilla, as a spread or in a soup.
1 cup Great Northern white beans
3 cups of water
2-3 inch kombu sea vegetable
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh ground tahini (optional)
2 tablespoons finely cut cilantro
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
- Sort through the beans, rinse and soak for 8 hours.
- Drain the beans and place them in a pressure cooker or heavy bottomed pot with three cups of water. Bring the beans to a boil and skim off the foam that rises.
- Add the kombu and the bay leaf. Place the lid on the pot. If using a pressure cooker bring it to full pressure and let the beans simmer over very low heat for 1 hour. Bring the pressure down slowly. Otherwise let the beans boil for 3-4 hours or until completely soft. Add water from time to time. Discard the bay leaf and any remains of the kombu.
- In a saucepan heat the oil and sauté the onions for 2 minutes or until they become shiny. Add salt and onions to the beans and boil covered until onions are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. The beans can be thickened by mashing some of them lightly or made thinner by adding a little water.
- Season the beans with tahini, cilantro and grated lemon rind.
BLANCHED DEEP GREEN WATERCRESS
Watercress can be found throughout winter and spring by running streams. Pick watercress where the stream begins or buy them freshly cut at your local market. Blanching the watercress brings out a deep and glowing green color and removes some of the bitterness and pungent flavors. Also try garden purslane prepared the same way. If none of these are available substitute with other cooked greens.
1 big bunch watercress
Dashes of hot sauce
- Clean the watercress very well several times.
- Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Submerge the watercress in the boiling water and blanch for 20 seconds. They will shrink quite a bit. Remove the watercress from the boiling water and submerge in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Cut the watercress in 1/2 inch pieces. Serve as they are, beautiful and delicious, with a dash of hot sauce.
SHITAKE MUSHROOMS AND SNAP PEAS SAUTE
Shitake mushrooms are appreciated for their medicinal qualities. Fresh or dried shitake can be used in this appetizing dish. The peas complement the soft, brownish mushrooms well with their shinny green color, sweet taste and crunchy texture.
1 pound snap peas
1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms or 2 oz (1cup) dried shitake
2 tablespoon dark roasted sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- If using dried shitake, soak them in water for 20 minutes. Save the soaking water for soup.
- Trim the ends and remove strings from the snap peas. Trim and discard the stalk ends of the shitake mushrooms. Cut the shitake mushrooms in thick slices.
- Heat a frying pan. Add oil and shitake. Sauté the mushrooms for 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir from time to time. Add snap peas, cover the pan with a lid and let them steam for 2 minutes or until tender, bright green and crunchy.
- Season the peas with maple syrup and tamari soy sauce and sauté for 1 minute. Place the shitake and snap peas in a serving dish right away.
APPLE CARROT BALLS
This dish is so refreshing and delicious that your meal will not need a dessert. Apple carrot balls add a beautiful warm and radiant orange to your table.
2 sweet apples
2 large carrots
1 pinch of sea salt
4 mint leaves for decoration
- Quarter the apples and core each quarter.
- Grate apples and carrots finely. Add salt and mix well.
- Right before serving form 6-8 balls and place them on mint leaves.
Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt is a Waldorf class and kindergarten teacher, biodynamic farmer, author and nutritional counselor. She has taught nutritional cooking and counseled for 25 years in her homeland Denmark, Europe and the United States, and is the author of two books: “Cooking for the Love of the World, Awakening to Our Spirituality Through Cooking” and “Cooking for and with Children, Preparing for the Life of the Future”. Visit www.cookingfortheloveoftheworld.com.