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Fairview Gardens – Growing your own wheat

So, Rachel and I went to a class last weekend where we’d hoped to learn how to grow your own wheat and learn how to make it into flour.  Well, when we got there, Mark had some bad news.  His wheat crop failed this year due to some rain we got in June.  So, instead we got to learn a bit about how to make bean flour from beans.  I’d wanted to know how to do this just as well, so we were happy to stick it out and learn all that we could

Prior to our class, Mark pulled the bean plants from the farm and had them laying out to dry.  After the beans have dried, the next step is to thresh them.  Basically, this means, get the largest stick you can handle and beat the heck out of the dried plants.

After the beans have been dislodged from their shells, you sort of have a mess that looks a bit like this.

Now, it’s time to sort it all out and get them ready to winnow.

This took us right up until lunch time.  So after they were sorted, it was winnow time.  This is how it looks – oh and since we were short on wind that day, Mark was kind enough to lend us some wind from his fan.

This wasn’t easy for everyone, so for some, winnowing looked a bit more like this.  Perhaps a slower method, but just as effective.

Once we were all done there, it was time to wash the beans and let them dry.

With everyone participating we were now ready to let the beans dry.

And now for the workout of the day – or at least the workout of the afternoon.  It was time to grind them up into a flour.  There were several methods to choose from.  This was my favorite method.

Others preferred the old grind-it-with-a-stone method.

Either way, we all ended up with some beautiful looking flour that we could take home and make breads, pancakes, waffles or whatever else we wanted.

It really was a perfect day and a wonderful class.  Keep an eye on Fairview Gardens for many great classes in 2012!



Coffee Plantation Tour

In January, I flew down to Panama with my son.  We flew into Panama City and pretty much immediately headed out to see the Panama Canal.  We went to Miraflores Locks and watched a cruise ship pass through the canal and then a ginormous freighter ship.  It was all very fascinating, but other than that, Panama City wasn’t my kind of vacation destination.

The next day we began our long journey to Boquete.  I’ll spare you the details of the journey itself, but suffice it to say, it was one long bus trip without healthy vegan food options along the way.

I was treated to a nice surprise upon arriving in Boquete.  There was Mexican food, Falafels and even an Organics food shop!  Whoo-hoo!  You might think this was the highlight, but it wasn’t.

Cafe de PanamaThe next morning we went on a tour of ‘Cafe de Panama Finca La Milagrosa’ – the miracle coffee plantation.  Raul picked us up in his dilapidated Jeep Cherokee and up the mountain we crawled.  High up into the cloud forest, we finally turned into the coffee plantation.

Walking around the fields, we tasted many different Panama Coffee Plantationcoffee berries.  The coffee berries are red when they are ripe and some have 1 peapod, some have 2 beans and others have 3.  The ones shaped like a peapod hold their caffeine strength through the entire process, better than the other varieties.  This particular plantation also grew the famous Geisha coffee, which sells for $100 per pound and $9 for a 12 oz cup at the local Coffee Shop!

Coffee BerriesAfter picking the ripe coffee berries, the beans must be separated from outer sweet berry.  In the early days, this was done entire by hand by Tito, the owner of this plantation.  If you taste the juice at this phase, there is a huge difference between the Geisha berries and the others.  The Geisha berries are incredibly sweet!

The beans will then ferment for up to 30 hours.  Any longer and you’ll have Coffee Beans Fermentingcoffee wine.  This is being done in some parts of Panama, but I’m not sure how successful they have been.  After fermentation, the beans flow through a similar structure to the Panama Canal, locks and all.  As the beans flow through, the higher density beans will sink to the bottom, then some will flow to the next lock and again, the higher density beans will stay put.  There is a series of 4 locks, the ones that make it all the way to the 4th, will leave the process and become part of the organic compost that is put back out into the fields.  The remaining beans have now been separated into 3 qualities of bean – premium, medium and average.

Coffee Beans DryingFinally, the beans are laid out to dry.  Once they are dried, the outer shell is removed – again either by hand using a mocahete or a machine.  In Brazil, the outer shell is sent off to be used as paper, but at this plantation, it is sent to the organic compost pile.

Now it’s time for the beans to rest.  They are exhausted Coffee Beans Restingby that they have been through, so they get placed in burlap (or other breathable bags) and sent to dry for another 3 to 4 months.

For many plantations, this is the end of the road for the beans.  From here they are often sold to other plants that will take care of the remaining process of roasting the beans, grinding the beans and bagging the beans.  But here, once the beans have rested, they move right on to the roasting process.

Coffee Beans RoastingIf you take a small portion of beans and place it into a roaster and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, you will have a lightly roasted coffee bean.  Now, the amount of caffeine in that bean varies based on the type of bean (peapod or not) and the length of time it’s roasted.  The less time roasting, means more caffeine.  To make a medium roast, it only takes 2-3 additional minutes, then for dark roast another 3 minutes.

A lot of people think that the darker the roast of coffee, the greater Coffee Beans Groundconcentration of caffeine, but it is just the opposite.  When we were done roasting our beans, we took them to the grinder and finished up the process.  This plantation also does its’ own silk screening of the bags, so Coffee bean Bagthey handle everything from start to finish.  And at the end of our coffee plantation tour, we were given a small cup of coffee that was freshly roasted, ground and served by Tito!  If you’re in Panama, I would highly recommend this tour.  You can find out about it at Mamallena at the front desk.Coffee Cup


Merry Christmas

Well, I spent way more time trying to find a place to take this picture today than I wanted to.  Oh well.  Rachel has been cooking all day and I had to keep requesting her presence for various shooting locations.  Hope this one works well enough. 🙂

Merry Christmas

Shauna, Rachel and Romero - Christmas 2010


Can a Marathon be Run in the Water

On my tenth week of marathon training, I had a run of 15 miles. This, of course, was the longest I had ever run in my entire life. I was ready, though. As long as I go to bed the night before KNOWING that I can run the distance, then I wake up positive and able to complete the journey at hand. So on this particular Saturday, the goal was to reach Melina’s house at the far end of Goleta by lunch. I knew the run would take about 3 hours, so I was out the door by 7:30am.

Somewhere along the way, I was running on a slanted surface – no sidewalk, just the edge of the road. I remember thinking, “this really needs to end, as it’s killing my feet and knees”. Well, it did finally end and I did finish my run that day. More sore than usual. My knee felt funky, my foot hurt like you wouldn’t believe and that entire left leg was just screaming.

We drove to LA that night to watch the US Men’s Team get hammered by Honduras and got home pretty late. On Sunday morning, I slept in a bit, but once I got up and on my feet, I quickly got off them. My left foot was in so much pain by this point, I wasn’t really sure I could walk, so I rested pretty much all day.

Monday came and not wanting to be a wimp, I ran my 5 miles . . . pretty slowly, but I finished. I ran from my house all downhill to La Marina by the beach. Did 6 hill sprints and then jogged all the way back to my house on the hill. Yeah, the foot was not happy.

Tuesday was my strength workout for my hips to help with my ITBS. It felt good to not be pounding the pavement. I also did my shoulder rehab routine I’ve been doing since my surgery. All was good on Tuesday.

Wednesday, again not wanting to be a wimp, I ran my 8 miles. Slower than I’ve ever run 8 miles because of the now very sharp pains in my foot. I think it worked out to something like 12 minute miles. Ugh. I thought about saying something to someone about the pain, but I didn’t want to complain about some stupid strain. I could just work through it.

Thursday was another 5 miles and at this point, I was in so much pain, I had to say something – after I finished, of course.

Friday, I followed my Tuesday routine and so I felt pretty good. Still, it was difficult to walk, but I was certain I would live through a walk to the beach with my girl and our pup. I had trouble sleeping on Friday, knowing that Saturday was coming and 16 miles was on the agenda. I went to sleeping, KINDA THINKING I MIGHT SORTA BE ABLE TO FINISH on Saturday and that was just a bad idea. Remember, I have to KNOW I can do it – otherwise, mentally I’m toast.

At 6:30am on Saturday morning, I load up the pup and head down to drop the car off at the end of where we’ll be running. I’ve got the pup on the leash and I decide I’ll test out the foot to see how it does. Yeah, ok, I made it like a block and I was crying in agony and mentally beat. There was no way in hell I was running 16 miles today. I hobbled back to the car and when the Urgent Care was open, I was there.

Stress fracture. That’s what the doc said. So, I shot the doc and asked for another. Not really, but that’s what I felt like saying. I didn’t train for 10 weeks (and for those that know me, will attest to this) for nothing. I am not a wimp and I will run this damn marathon on March 21st . . . I think.

So the plan is deep water running. Can you say . . . BORING?!?!? I try to mix it up in the pool, but really, I’m in the deep end and have about 10 feet of space to work with. So today, I had an hour and a half to get through. I did some steady running for about a half an hour, then I did sprints for about half an hour. One length of sprint, one length of jogging – repeat 5 times. Then did 2 lengths of sprint, one length of jogging – repeat 4 times. 3 lengths of sprint, one length of jogging – repeat 3 times. 4 lengths of sprint, one length on jogging – repeat 2 times. 5 lengths of sprint – one time. Then build back down.

So, I had half an hour left and mixed it up with high knee running and cross country running. The good news is, I finished the time. Friday will be 2 hours, so I need more ideas, but for now, I’ve got a good hour to hour and half worth of workout ideas.

Perhaps next week, I can get on the spinner one or two days – if I’m pain free. We’ll see…

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