Lentil Crackers

I went to the Renaissance Market in Ukiah to talk to the owner and ask him for suggestions of local farmers who might contribute to Ecology Action’s upcoming celebration dinner.  As luck would have it, John Jeavons was just then on the air on KZYX. Scott Cratty, the market’s owner, didn’t hear the show, but another man, who walked into the market just before me, did. He was Doug Mosel, the creator and manager of the Mendocino Grain Cooperative. He had always liked what he heard about Jeavons and was willing to contribute some lentils. I was enthusiastic because eating locally-grown beans is my idea of eating locally. Beans make up a major part of the protein in my diet. Grains are good, but I don’t really bake anymore, although someday I’ll have my own kitchen again and make incredible pies, my baking claim to fame.

Doug told me that the grain cooperative could not spare enough lentils to feed all the guests expected at the dinner. Instead he offered a smaller amount of lentils ground into flour for the dinner. So, I baked lentil crackers that we served as appetizers.

I found a recipe online for garbanzo bean crackers and it turned out well.You can find similar recipes at NourishingFlourishing.com I always vary recipes, and in one batch I added nori, Porhyra, a seaweed that Matthew Frey gathered on the Mendocino coast.


  • 3/4 c ground flax seed
  • 2 1/2 c water
  • 4 c lentil flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 Tbs dried rosemary
  • substitute 1/2 c nori flakes


  1.  Make flax egg by mixing water and flax. Set aside to thicken
  2. Mix dry ingredients
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.
  4. Wet hands with water, and remove dough from bowl.
  5. Place dough on a parchment paper-laden baking sheet,and flatten by hand. ( I used a rolling-pin) The thinner the crisper.
  6. Prick dough with a fork to score them into squares.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven when top and edges begin to brown.
  9. Cool for half hour before eating or storing, so they can crisp.

A hearty thank-you goes out to Doug and the Mendocino Grain Cooperative. I may just save up and join next year. If you want to join contact him at: doug@mendocinograin.net

Quinoa Continued

The folks at Golden Rule Garden, a project of Ecology Action contributed two gallons of recently grown and dried quinoa to the Ecology Action 40th Anniversary Celebration, last weekend. Ellen Bartholomew, garden manager, warned me that I needed to repeatedly wash the quinoa seeds (technically a pseudograin because it is not from the grass family, rather it is related to spinach, Swiss chard and the edible weed, lambsquaters). Well, I didn’t listen.

These were her instructions:

Place 1 to 2 cups quinoa in a blender. Fill with water almost to the top. Blend at low speed for a minute or two. Drain the sudsy water, add fresh water rinse twice and repeat. Repeat again. Do this however long it takes for the water to come out clear, not sudsy.

Now the problem is, as you probably know, quinoa is high in saponins, a chemical constituent that is not essential for basic metabolism, but worth it to the plant to produce for some reason. Saponins taste bitter. I love bitter food and I spit out quinoa that was not properly rinsed. The birds in the field don’t eat quinoa, so the saponins are protection against predation. Good strategy.

There is not a blender in this otherwise complete catering kitchen. So I used the high-pressure dish washing faucet to rinse and rinse. Well, after an hour and a half of trying to wash about 10 cups on the day of the event, I got frustrated.  This is not something you can do in advance because in less than 24 hours the moistened quinoa will sprout. Finally, when Fenanda and Luke, interns at Golden Rule, showed up at the Frey’s kitchen, I understood. Luke calmly placed some of the quinoa in a large mixing bowl and added water almost to the top.Voila! The colorful calyx of each tiny seed floated to the surface and Luke poured them off. I had not been adding enough water. Quinoa also has a hard shiny coat surrounding each seed. Fenanda and Luke washed away the bitter principle and we all ate the most delicious, nutritious home-grown quinoa!

Red Grape Press

Red grapes are pressed with their skins, providing more tannins and antioxidants. Christine, one of the French interns, is adding yeast. Normally this step is more automatic, but yesterday when I took the pictures the machine wasn’t working. The yeast and water was in a large tank with a hose attached to it. Christine was filling up bowfuls and adding them to the wine.

Pressing Grapes at America’s Oldest Organic Winery

Gondola unload

The rains came twice in early October, disrupting the harvest. Even so, the Frey family is remarkably calm.  After thirty years of farming, they know how to adapt to nature’s variables. Last year was the shortest season ever, between early rains and early frost. Now the family and a handful of interns and helpers are working around the clock to bring in the harvest and transform it to sulfite-free organic wine. Here is a photo collage of the process.

The Symphony of Rain

The first rains of the autumn season have come to Redwood Valley.  It is hard not to rejoice in the moisture.  The ground is saturated, a relief from the drought of summer.  And yet this is agricultural country and the rains are early. The grapes are on the vine. So the farmers are not happy.

The sound of rain pattering leaves, the mummer of raindrops gently falling on surfaces, then the rising to a crescendo near and far, this is the music of the rainy season. A waterfall gushes from the gutter on the roof. And all the more delightful because sparkling spring-like days will intersperse the cold gray days of the rainy season.