I have recently returned (from where will have to wait for multiple other posts) to the place of my birth, a spiritual Sufi community called the Abode of the Message in the Berkshires of upstate New York. Though I wasn’t raised here, it is a place where I have spent a lot of time and have grown to have a strong connection with. The Abode is a converted old Shaker Village with beautiful buildings, some of which are as old as 265 years.
It is a very peaceful (when the bugs aren’t attacking) and quaint sort of place.
About 37 years ago, it was bought by a group of hippies who needed a space to meditate and be self-sufficient. The Abode turned out to be the perfect spot for their needs. Belle, the lovely draft horse plows the organic farm.
I often wonder what meals this kitchen has seen. What failures and successes have been cooked here? How was the food spiced when my parents were doing the cooking? What methods did the Shakers use? What has been the largest number of people served here? There are probably ways to find answers, but I don’t think I’d be satisfied with them. Some queries are best left to wonder about.
Because the reality of this place is entwined with memories from my childhood, I never quite got over my sense of awe. The buildings are old and creaky, there are unused things from previous residents stored all over the property and awesomely creepy cellars in just about every building.
I have mixed feelings about being back (the open road calls me constantly), temporary as my stay here will be, but it’s certainly a great place to explore cookery. And here I am, just in time for harvest season. So many cooking opportunities, so little time.
Here’s a simple summer salad fresh picked from the garden:
Baby Arugula Mixed Salad
- black and/or green olives
- roasted almonds pieces
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oil