Howard Creek Ranch https://www.howardcreekranch.com Thu, 08 Apr 2021 03:15:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.14 Peanut Butter Banana Cake https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/29/peanut-butter-banana-cake/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/29/peanut-butter-banana-cake/#respond Sun, 29 Sep 2019 15:10:28 +0000 http://gardenofleah.home.blog/?p=283 Peanut Butter AND Banana, the BEST marriage ever. Made into a cake, a CAKE!! And what’s even more fantastic is, it only needs THREE ingredients.

This absolutely simple and beloved recipe first came to us from an Argentinian lady’s vegan friend. It was one of those peak banana period and we had soooo much bananas that we either had them as smoothie (which is absolutely heavenly on a hot afternoon), or we made bread and cakes and whatever desserts we can think of.

VERSION ONE – The Original Version

Banana Peanut Cake
The Original Version,
topped with bananas and crushed peanuts.
September 2018

I love this one because it only requires 3 ingredients, is gluten-free, and so easy to make. Simply make some peanut butter by dry roasting or toasting them, grind until smooth, add into the hand-mashed bananas in a big bowl, stir in some cacao powder, scoop into a baking tin and bake it for 30 mins at 180°C.

Since then, this recipe has evolved through different hands, had ingredients added, preparation method altered. 

VERSION TWO

The original version was nice and chunky, but I wonder how it would change if we added some rice flour and water, using the same hand process as before and baking it in the oven. It came out smoother and more like a cake.

VERSION THREE

Then came Graziele. She added more rice flour and put everything in a blender. Blend until smooth, pour in our magic pot (multipurpose cooker, yes, we like to magic-fy whatever we can here ;)) and cook with the ‘dessert’ mode. The result was a really smooth pudding texture which was very nice.

Slice Banana
Peanut
Peanut Butter

VERSION FOUR – The Final Version to Date

Now, somewhere along the line of our dietary experiments, we decided to use less processed ingredients. So I decided to take out the rice flour again, and keep the blending, and go back to the oven. 

Here it is my final favourite that combine the smooth texture by blending, and back to the same simple 3-ingredients. I also baked it instead of cooking it in the magic pot, as I like the little harder surface of the cake that gives a different texture underneath. 
Top it with some freshly grated coconut flakes or crushed roasted peanuts (if you want to keep it strictly 3 ingredient), and enjoy it warm or chilled. So simple, it’s a piece of cake 😉

Chopped Bananas blend with Peanut Butter
Chopped Bananas blend with Peanut Butter with Roasted Peanuts
Chopped Bananas blend with Peanut Butter Mixed

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups chopped bananas, blend it smooth
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, grind with a pinch of salt until pasty
  • 1 TBS cacao powder

Preparation:

  • Blend everything until smooth in a blender
  • Scoop out into a baking tin (add coconut flakes in the bottom first if desired)
  • Bake in oven at 180°C for 30-40 minutes
  • Serve warm, or chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

Note: I also set aside some in a small bowl which I put into the fridge just to see how the texture would be when it is chilled. It is almost like the baked version except less held together and without the slightly firmer top. Possibly a version five?

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The Vegetarian Festival https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/28/the-vegetarian-festival/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/28/the-vegetarian-festival/#respond Sat, 28 Sep 2019 16:09:44 +0000 http://gardenofleah.home.blog/?p=280 Hail to the Nine Emperor Gods!!

It’s that time of the year again when many people in Thailand would honour the Nine Emperor Gods by not eating meat for 9 days. It is also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. While this may be the origin of what is now known as The Vegetarian Festival, many non-local people didn’t know about it. The first time I encounter it in Chiang Mai two years ago, was on the day before I was going for a Vipassana meditation course in Lamphun. I had to pass through the Chiang Mai city to run an errand in a shopping mall. By the time I was done, I was so hungry and I didn’t think that there would be any vegan food in the mall. But to my surprise, there was a big pop-up stall at the food court selling specifically vegan food.

Thai
pronounced ‘jheh’
meaning vegan in the Thai language

In Thailand, vegan food can be identified by this word ‘jheh‘, which in Thai means vegan.

I was so happy, and relieved. I bought a noodle dish and some really delicious looking spring rolls.

As it was the first year I’ve relocated to Thailand, and my first time in that mall, I was curious if vegan stall like this is only in that mall. So I ask if my eating neighbour, a farang (caucasian), if he knows anything about it. Apparently, it is the first day of the Vegetarian Festival in Thailand and there are many vegan and vegetarian food all over Thailand in these 10 days. Yes, 10 days, not 9. I asked why is this a special 10 days, and he said it’s just a Vegetarian Festival that the Thai celebrates. Unlike many of the local Thais, he eats vegan everyday. I thought it is cool that there is such a festival lasting 10 days in Thailand and that many Thais who are not usually vegan or vegetarian, would actually abstain from eating animal-product during this time.

With the momentum gaining on the urgent conversations and actions required about the climate crisis, I thought, what a difference it could make too if this festival is celebrated throughout the world (except for places where there is no easy food choice access.) and that everyone, not just those honouring the Nine Emperor Gods, would stop eating meat too.

The dates for the festival varies on the Gregorian calendar from year to year as it follows the Lunar calendar. This year, it happens to be from September 28 to October 7.

Starting tomorrow, there will be many stalls who are not usually serving vegan food, offering vegan meals.

At the Garden of L.E.A.H., we hold a plant-based kitchen for many reasons. One of the most enjoyable part of being here is the space to create many kinds of plant-based meals using largely locally available ingredients. Since we have many participants from different parts of the world, we often learn about the original cuisine from each culture and adapt it using local ingredients.

In the past year, we have experimented with many different interesting recipes from the local Thai Lanna, Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, U.K., U.S.A., Vietnam, Yunnan etc. This upcoming 9 days, in conjunction with the Vegetarian Festival in Thailand, I will recreate some of our favourites and share some of these recipes here.

Stay tune and enjoy!

Text by Vivian Lee, initiator & activator of the Garden of L.E.A.H..

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We Have Lights! https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/10/the-gift-economy/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/10/the-gift-economy/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2019 04:48:51 +0000 http://gardenofleah.home.blog/?p=220 Bananas, Longongs and Kadnom Chok (Lanna snack) in circulation
Bananas, Longongs and Kadnom Chok (Lanna snack) in circulation

About a month or so ago, a couple friends came to visit for a few days. Like many participants who come through this space, ST & K are city folks who are used to having lights at the flip of a switch. Interestingly, ST, with his usual sense of humour described the house as something like an ‘old and torn temple’(破庙). Despite that, they both very quickly felt at home and comfortable in such a basic and simple space.

Together, the 5 of us, including Magic, spent the next 5 days doing some weeding, repairing of tools, harvesting, shared cooking methods and practices, visiting markets and friends in the area, practising meditation, the usual simple life we lead here in the village… and watching The Matrix 1 & 2 in the ‘old and torn temple’ and having interesting bilingual conversations on many things about life… basically co-creating space for taking care of one another. 

Time flew by and there are so much more nourishing and nurturing energies that can be shared. When we sent them off in the bus, ST said he left something for us under the pillow. I came back and found a red packet. Thanks to the generous monetary contribution by ST & K, we put some energy into installing the lights and power points in the mud house. 

Net

Generous not because the sum was big, although it was a substantial boost of energy that brought about this next stage of growth to the space. ST & K are not from any wealthy family, nor are they drawing a salary or making money with a job – they are full-time Dhamma servers who live on a nominal stipend in the Dhamma center. And generous because it was totally unexpected, and given entirely out of goodwill and consideration of what it might take to create this space, and because they can and want to share. I remember reading somewhere that real generosity is the openness to give freely, and it does not matter how much you have, and it’s not just about giving money, but more importantly to spend time, share goodwill, food, smiles, hugs etc. Money is just one form of energy that we can circulate, and ultimately it works only because as a society we agree to the use of this currency. In and of itself, money has no intrinsic value, unlike relationships and other essential goods.

Since I’ve come to this path trying to figure out a simple & conscious way of living, facilitating the coming into being of the Garden of L.E.A.H., and opening up the space for participation and co-creation in the past year or so, I’ve learnt many lessons from the people and situations I’ve encountered. For every person who exploit our hospitality, there are more who bring life and goodwill into co-creating this space. Through this process I’ve also come to discover what real wealth might or could be, and it certainly has nothing to do with a bank account.

I feel really blessed and in abundance, to be a part of the circulation of energies that flow freely from the heart, from genuine care and giving, and not from any transaction. There isn’t a week that goes by when I don’t receive a gift or two from the community, be it a bunch of fruits or a snack here and there. And there isn’t a week that goes by where there is not an opportunity to share the abundance of bananas, or time, or smiles, or heartfelt ‘how are you’ or deep sharing and listening with somebody. Just yesterday I distributed the abundance of bananas to a few neighbours without expecting anything back, but somehow knowing that the natural circulation of energies happen in non-linear and complex ways so whatever goes around, comes around. So many times we have come home to find some seasonal fruits or other on our table, sometimes we learn later who brought them, sometimes we don’t.

As I continue to navigate this so called ‘alternative’ way of simple living in a ‘modern’ society stuck in the old narrative, I feel grateful and blessed to be guided by the Universe and have the opportunities to meet every single person I come across and learn from the encounters. I truly believe in our ‘interbeing-ness’ (ala Thich Nhat Hanh), and know that we can live a content and prosperous life with a Gift Economy, and that we are at the time of evolution when it’s time to write a new story together; a new story of Love, Kindness, Compassion, Connection, Sharing, Empathy, Peace, Inspirations, Contentment, Joy and Abundance.

Text by Vivian Lee, initiator & activator of Garden of L.E.A.H.

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Soil Healing: An Inner & Outer Journey https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/06/soil-healing-an-inner-outer-journey/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2019/09/06/soil-healing-an-inner-outer-journey/#respond Fri, 06 Sep 2019 16:52:19 +0000 http://gardenofleah.home.blog/?p=184 Sprouts In Soil Overlay
Sprouting in Soil
Illustration by Lotte Verstappen

 

Weeding by hand is an endless task in a tropical garden where herbicides are not used and burning is not carried out to clear the land. It forces us to slow down. And it is the first task that participants – who come to the Garden of L.E.A.H. to experience the simple life of growing food, building a mud shelter, and living together in a mindful way – undertake.

As the sun and temperature rise in the quiet morning, some questions guide us to be attentive as we pull weeds from the soil: How often do we notice the call of the birds? Are we too absorbed in our thoughts to be aware? How present are we in each moment? How do we feel as we continue with this physical task while the heat increases and our clothes get wetter with perspiration? How patient and resilient are we in the face of these persistent weeds growing in the garden? What are the thoughts or habit patterns we want to weed out from our lives? How might we align our inner values and outer actions in our daily choices? 

Garden of L.E.A.H. started out in late 2016 as a personal project. Inspired by Japanese natural farmer and philospher Masanobu Fukuoka, I wanted to learn to grow my own food and build my own natural shelter. I saw reconnecting with the most basic needs in life as an extension of my yoga and meditation practice. 

The intention behind engaging participants in the mindless task of weeding is to allow the practice of observation: outwardly, by learning to identify the plants in the garden and inwardly, by observing the way our bodies and minds respond to this physical task. In the process, we become aware of our thoughts, feelings as well as our responses to these thoughts and feelings. 

Working with the land to recuperate from years of industrial farming, which had left the soil barren, has been an adventurous healing journey. The remedy: a natural green manure and time.

 

HEALING WITH TIME

The weeds that are pulled up are piled up on the ground, preventing the soil from drying out in the heat of the sun and eroding on days of heavy rainfall, especially during the rainy season. With time, the weeds turn into organic matter and return to the soil. This allows the microorganisms in the soil to continue growing, eventually increasing in biodiversity and immunity. 

Transforming weeds into green manure process is part of a series of soil amendment practices I had initiated to nurture Garden of L.E.A.H. into better health when the project began. 

Over two seasons, sunn hemp seeds were broadcasted and left to grow for about sixty days before the young plants were chopped up and dropped onto the land to return as organic matter to replenish the soil. A member of the legume family, sunn hemp fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, reduces the build-up of root-knot nematode populations and is an excellent soil-improving crop. 

With soil healing comes personal healing. As the land is given the opportunity to rest and recover, I learn to embrace the wildness of the ‘weeds’ growing, and humbly discover the biological intelligence of each plant in Mother Nature. 

In practicing patience while observing the slow seasonal changes of life of the trees and plants, I began to lean into the flow of the rhythmic cycle of life, realizing interbeingness: that we breathe the same air as the trees and plants around us, that the sun that feeds the plants also nourishes us, that the water, the air and the earth that make up all living beings connect one and all. 

Working on the land physically, I experience with my body this sense of biological unity with Mother Nature – that which we are all a part of. With this understanding, we practice mindfulness and balance to come into more self-awareness. 

Using our hands to working with the soil has been an enjoyable and gratifying experience. It has been more than a decade since scientists found that the bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, in soil stimulates the brain cells to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter – also known as the ‘happy chemical’ – that is a natural antidepressant that also strengthens our immune systems. 

More recently, a new strain of bacteria, Streptomyces sp. myrophorea, that is found in the soil in Northern Ireland, has been reported to be effective against four of six top superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. Working with soil is an inner healing journey, strengthening our emotional, mental and physical well-being so that we may approach life more positively and healthily.

 

NOURISHING NATURE

Harvesting and eating fresh from the garden also facilitates an inner healing process by reconnecting us to the most basic elements that nourish our being. This can be an empowering experience, given the consumer culture, where many in the city do not have access to locally-grown, chemical-free fresh produce. 

It is a very humbling experience when we learn about the abundance of nature and adapt our palette to what is available locally and seasonally. This way of eating connects us to the natural elements of where and how our food is grown as compared to eating food from the supermarket – disconnected from time and place, with no awareness of when, where and how the food is produced. 

In the plant-based kitchen at the Garden, there is a lot of room for creativity. Participants from different parts of the world have adapted their cultural dishes to be prepared with locally-available ingredients. They also enjoy tasting local food using fresh produce harvested or foraged from the garden and around the village. 

Each meal begins with a short and simple ritual prior to eating, honouring the energies that went into manifesting the meals that nourish us. This simple ritual sets the tone for us to eat mindfully and share conversations that support our personal and communal growth. The daily meals, taken in gratitude for the abundance of Nature, celebrate the spirit that is also alive in every moment that we are in awareness of life itself. 

Text by Vivian Lee, initiator & activator of Garden of L.E.A.H..

Illustration by Lotte Verstappen of createalot.nl.

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Maecenas imperiet neq https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/06/15/maecenas-imperdiet-neque/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/06/15/maecenas-imperdiet-neque/#respond Mon, 15 Jun 2015 22:46:46 +0000 https://avada.theme-fusion.com_demos/hotel/?p=582

Maecenas imperdiet neque

Aliquam pulvinar felis auctor mauris semper, sit amet eleifend lectus auctor. Sed congue risus id congue dignissim. Nullam et maximus est. In condimentum purus eget est pretium sodales. Donec ipsum ante, tincidunt ac justo ut, egestas bibendum felis. Duis metus nunc, congue nec condimentum et, vulputate nec metus. Pellentesque tincidunt odio neque. Morbi dignissim quis nisl in tincidunt. Vivamus orci nunc, venenatis vel ante sit amet, placerat auctor eros. Praesent pellentesque elit dui, vitae ultrices tortor commodo vel. Aenean at bibendum mauris, a condimentum erat. Fusce suscipit augue et ante faucibus venenatis. Aliquam et augue volutpat, rutrum urna vel, commodo libero. In pharetra, tortor vel venenatis vestibulum, mauris nisl dapibus ante, eget pretium sapien ligula nec neque. Suspendisse non augue a enim semper varius.

Donec accumsan nisl ac pharetra dignissim. Fusce dignissim, odio a pellentesque luctus, nunc tortor pretium felis, in egestas magna orci quis dui

Vivamus eget arcu in leo ullamcorper venenatis ut non tellus. Quisque nisi massa, consequat vel bibendum nec, convallis non libero. Fusce convallis lectus quis malesuada egestas. Etiam elementum suscipit felis sed ornare. Pellentesque sit amet risus in lorem vestibulum dignissim eu in ante. Praesent condimentum egestas aliquet. Suspendisse accumsan venenatis nibh id mattis.

Maecenas imperdiet neque sit amet lorem fringilla pellentesque. Nam fermentum ipsum blandit nunc consectetur, sed porttitor lorem lobortis. Nullam vitae auctor mauris. Curabitur rutrum placerat odio, in sodales mauris dictum scelerisque. In molestie ex nec libero mattis, in dignissim diam lacinia. Donec accumsan nisl ac pharetra dignissim. Fusce dignissim, odio a pellentesque luctus, nunc tortor pretium felis, in egestas magna orci quis dui. Mauris et dignissim metus, et pharetra lorem. Sed tincidunt feugiat est, id cursus metus mollis sit amet. Sed eu mauris euismod nisi egestas laoreet. Proin viverra nisl a luctus suscipit. Nulla vitae eleifend felis.

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The Top 10 Ski Resorts In North America https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/the-top-10-ski-resorts-in-north-america-for-2015/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/the-top-10-ski-resorts-in-north-america-for-2015/#respond Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:31:04 +0000 https://avada.theme-fusion.com_demos/travel/?p=425 At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio cumque nihil impedit quo minus id quod maxime placeat facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. Itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.

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Beautiful South America Expeditions https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/south-america-expeditions/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/south-america-expeditions/#respond Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:30:32 +0000 https://avada.theme-fusion.com_demos/travel/?p=423 Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur?

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Top 10 Mountain Retreats You Must Visit https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/154-tips-on-avoiding-scotland-tourist-traps/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/154-tips-on-avoiding-scotland-tourist-traps/#respond Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:30:11 +0000 https://avada.theme-fusion.com_demos/travel/?p=421 At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio cumque nihil impedit quo minus id quod maxime placeat facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. Itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.

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Places to Visit in Iceland https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/places-to-visit-in-iceland/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/places-to-visit-in-iceland/#respond Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:29:42 +0000 https://avada.theme-fusion.com_demos/travel/?p=419 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Europe Travel Guide 2015 https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/europe-travel-guide-2015/ https://www.howardcreekranch.com/2015/02/02/europe-travel-guide-2015/#respond Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:29:12 +0000 https://avada.theme-fusion.com_demos/travel/?p=417 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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