Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, a marker of how the year has evolved from its birth at the Winter Solstice to full-throttle, productive life-force wave. Between Solstice and Imbolc, we let rest and cleaned our garden’s dirt. Imbolc marked the occasion to clean out and put thought and intention into the seeds we plant for the year. As we crossed the equilibrium point of Spring Equinox, we plant our seeds and intentions to grow throughout this productive season. Now, what we planted is full of life force, in motion and even bearing fruit.

In this time of quickening, we feel our gatherings are a time for channeling more than just what we have known of the past – it is also a time to prepare for a future that no human has ever known before. We take the opportunity of this Summer Solstice to continue our journey as The Ones We Have Been Waiting For. As we each step into our own form of leadership, creation and contribution, we seek to first get grounded in our own being so that we may each walk strong in our journey. We hope that you will join us to explore, learn, celebrate and connect!

The ascent has begun! Join us as we gather to celebrate


Rooted in beginnings, we gather to honor the solar zenith!

…Love and magic will reign the weekend as we dance and feast, sharing and building community!

We gather with the energy of the Muladhara – the root chakra located at the base of the spine. The deity of this region is Ganesha, with coral orange skin, wearing a lemon yellow dhoti with a green silk scarf draped around his shoulders. In his 3 of his hands he holds a ladu, a lotus flower, a hatchet, and the fourth is raised in the mudra of dispelling fear. Ganesha also Reigns over beginnings. Adventure awaits! Are you grounded? Together we will deepen our anchor and salute the sun from the root of being. 

We seek to co-create a sacred experience during the entire gathering. We will open sacred space on Friday evening and close it on Sunday midday. Within that container, we will co-create workshops, meals, fun activities, grounding body work, and ritual. You are invited to participate! Every participant will have the chance to offer their home soil, movement, altar items, costume, and food for the event. Every participant is also welcome to help in the co-creation process for the weekend and we hope you will!


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On a night when I tried a new first in the creative realm (no further detail until after the surprise :), I’m posting about another first for me this year – a new recipe. Or more accurately, a new dish that I am making, since I don’t really follow recipes very well.

Wood ear mushrooms

A couple of weeks ago, I was working in the yard and saw a lot of jelly mushrooms. They are the jelly ones that are translucent and sometimes come in the shape of an ear growing on branches. We get a lot around the yard (when oak branches fall, generally have them) and I’ve been gathering the branches with these in our mushroom compost pile for over a year. They were in a massive flush!

harvest of wood ears

I walked around the yard with Alon (who wouldn’t let me get his picture) and we harvested a bunch (see pic)!

After celebrating the abundance and giving thanks, next on my to-do list when this happens is a crash course in mycology. I was pretty sure about them, but wanted to be really sure. So here’s the low-down:

  • These are in the order Tremellales , and there are no known poisonous in this order.
  • This mushroom (most likely Exidia recisa though appears like
    auricularia auricula)

    is common throughout N. America and goes by many names,

    Tree ear, Wood Ear, Jew’s Ear etc. I didn’t perform a spore print but the most common – though frequently not in the books – look alike is Exidia recisa, which has some info posted here.
  • Related species is the a. polytricha (Mo Ehr), which is common in Chines markets and dishes, including Hot & Sour soup.
  • Both the auricularia are edible and apparently have a very similar mild flavor.
  • Auricularia species contain polysaccharides, which act as immune system stimulants and anti-carcinogens. These mushrooms are also reported to affect blood cogulation and may affect coronary artery health.

Check this site (with references) for more mycological geek time.

Given that this is a key ingredient in Hot & Sour soup, I just had to figure out how to make that! I found a recipe and modified it (on the fly, surprise surprise). I cooked it despite not having 2/3 of the ingredients! I even forgot the sour, and it was still really good! (when I cook something that makes Tirza very happy, it’s definitely worth paying attention to!).

Later that week we visited a Chinese grocery (a treat for the Nomads) and stocked up on several helpful ingredients. Below is pretty much what I up doing for the Souper Sweet Valentine’s Day event. Since the soup won “Best International” and we were asked to share our recipes…here we go:

Hot & Sour Soup Recipe from the Nomad’s Cafe


  • 12 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha or red chili paste+garlic
  • 3/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sliced shittake mushrooms
  • 1 can peeled straw mushrooms (don’t know these and haven’t used but were in original recipe and sound good!)
  • 1 can sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 4 large carrots cut in match sticks (or whatever, if you don’t like cutting:)
  • 1 cake soft tofu, sliced into 1/4 inch cubes (didn’t do this either)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup dried black fungus (wood ears), soaked in water for one hour, drained and sliced.
  • finely chopped scallions for garnish

If you like your soup more brothy than chunky, add even more water (I’m still trying to figure out the ratio…I more than doubled what it called for and it’s still chunky).  Note that all spices are approximate and should be adjusted to your pallet (I don’t actually measure anything when cooking this).Also, as a confession, I leave out the corn starch and didn’t miss it in the experience at all.


  1. Bring stock to simmer, add soy, shittakes and stray mushrooms, Sriracha/chili paste. Simmer for 10 min.
  2. Add white pepper, vinegar, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrots, wood ear fungus, tofu. Simmer 10 min.
  3. Pour in the eggs in a very thin stream over the surface. Let stand for 15 seconds before adding the sesame oil.
  4. Serve with garnish of scallions.

Hope you enjoy! If you have comments or questions, feel free to add them below.

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This year marks our fifth year celebrating the Solstice! After a summer solstice that blew us away, we’re excited to be expanding in community and experimenting in new ways to bring forth this shared community. So…this time, we’ll be combining our Solstice Gathering with a Yule Gathering that’s been happening for a number of years as well!

A few changes this year:

  • Date: We’re doing it on Dec 18th, which is the first time we’ve not done it on the actual solstice.
  • Place: We’re doing it at Melanie and Shawn McElroy’s (second time we’ve done it not at our place)
  • Ceremony: Combining some elements from their Yule celebration with our Solstice. Notable traditions so far include candle lighting, direction calling, and burning the Yule log that was the May Pole at Beltane!

We’re excited to bring in new elements of ceremony and to join forces with new collaborators. We hope you’ll join us for a night of welcoming in the new season and celebrating in community. Please find the event details and RSVP on the Facebook event here.

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Here at the Nomads Lounge, we love to find solutions that benefit many people. Here’s our latest find: free workouts! That’s right, get your cardio and strength training without an expensive gym membership!

If you’re looking for a way to tone up for summer, come by the Nomads Lounge this Sunday. We’ll have a great workout at thesame time we are getting ready for the Solstice Gathering! Plan on at least 20min to get your cardio workout, but feel free to go at it for an hour or two or more!

Nothing is required to participate, but do wear sturdy shoes and your exercise clothes. And if you happen to have a wheelbarrow you can bring, that would be great! 🙂

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Celebrating the Sun

We’re just a month away from the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year. Hope everyone is enjoying the long days! In the rhythm of the year, Summer Solstice is after spring has sprung and the land is vibrant with the vigorous growth of plants and leaves. Green is everywhere as all the plants want to soak up the sun so they can grow.

This is usually when gardens are growing strong too – summer plants like peppers and tomatoes are in the ground and now they’re growing fast and ripening fruits. It’s the time when we can sit back and enjoy all that is growing, all that is happening. At this half way point in the year, we can also take stock of what we have going on, as it is what we will be harvesting later this year.

Here at the Nomads Lounge, we’ve got a bunch of spring crops we’re enjoying (a wide variety of salad greens, snow peas and snap peas, strawberries), but I can already tell they’re getting towards the end of their season. We’ve got tomatoes, peppers, hops, blueberries (and other berries), figs, peaches, cherries growing. We also created mushroom logs last month, which we may get oyster mushrooms from this year. Outside the plant kingdom, we have several projects in the works too (imagine that!), including a cordwood sauna that is in planning phase and will be ready by Winter Solstice. This is part of a women’s space Tirza has envisioned on the property.

Solstice is coming! As usual, we will be celebrating with a community gathering on the exact day of Solstice (June 21, 2010). Read more about the event here.

What are you working on? What are you hoping to harvest this year?

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Tonight I presented our first experience inoculating logs for mushroom cultivation at the Mushroom Club of Georgia meeting. The whole process, since initial idea till now (with completed logs) is only two months (or less). We’re new to this, but we dove into it and learned a lot in the process. I put together some slides to show the process, what we did, how much time it took, and how much it cost. See slides below. Since it’s TIrza and my anniversary today, special thanks to Tirza for making it a community night!

It was great to learn from others tonight about some of the details and experience items. Great panel with lots of experience:

  • Katharine and David have been growing mushrooms for 14 years and have a wealth of local experience. They talked about there process for adding a few new logs each year to keep a steady supply, how they stack them, and getting logs off the ground (with bricks/blocks) to make them last longer. They also answered a lot of questions from the audience and let me know that I should see oysters in 3-4 months but shiitakes won’t be for a year.
  • Brandy Arts talked about the approach to fungi integration into life and gardening she learned from working with Paul Stamets. Lots of great resources in a digestible form in Mycelium Running. She proposed integrating fungi into gardening as a source of fertilizer. She says the school she teaches at (where Alon is at!) will be doing a project to use hair + mycelium to clean up oil. Send those kids to the Gulf Coast!
  • Rod Stafford geeked out on his chemistry-lab-inspired mushroom cultivation setup. He brought in petri dishes, the sterile jars filled with rye seeds and mycelium and then the bags where he grows the mushrooms. He showed pictures of a laundry basket filled with hay that was busting out oyster mushrooms! In September, he’s giving a talk about his “lab in a box” setup. Amazing patience and attention to detail he has!!

Slides from our experience:

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Mushroom Log Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow we’ll be working on our mushroom logs! 80+ logs and 2,300 spawn will become one 🙂

We’ll be working all day at the Nomads Lounge. If you’re interested to learn about cultivation of edible/medicinal mushrooms, please feel free to drop by. Also, if you want to be more involved and are willing to help out for a couple of hours, you’ll be rewarded too!

RSVP for event and find details on Facebook page.

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