Happy chickweed season everyone!
I first read about this mineral rich plant in one of Susun Weed’s classic books, and first tried it one day years ago when Kiva and I were out in the White Mountains of Arizona on a plant expedition together. I remember how excited she was to find it, and how much I wanted to like it, but feeling rather “ho hum” about the flavor once I tasted it. It seemed to me a bit flat, not so interesting.
It’s funny, though, as much as I gear myself away from kitchen-land, it’s still an important part of me. I still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a fabulous new food idea that I can hardly wait to try. Today, I woke up at 3am asking myself why I’d never thought of making Rosemary Yogurt before! And then I woke up again at 5am, unable to sleep, and got the yogurt started. This is how I did it. It turned out every bit as amazing as I’d imagined it to be! Maybe even a little bit more so. Read more
I’m in the process of moving out of my wonderful house right now. It’s a long story about how and why I decided to do this, but I know it’s all for the best. I’m still hoping to continue hosting the intimate “Underground Cafes” that have been happening once a month there, with great live music and simple but undoubtedly gourmet meals that are served to the guests who mostly sit around the wood stove on pillows on our floor. Things like morel and wild rice stew with preserved lemons, fir oil, and nettle pesto, gluten free buckwheat oat bread, elderberry sundaes made with homemade, organic coconut milk ice cream are all included in the donation, along with the performances. And then, we also have herbal teas, herbal products and elixirs, and my chocolate truffles for sale. Yes, it’s even more fun than it sounds! (our next one is March 14th, you can message me– “Elka Wilder” on FB for details and reservations).
Monica was eating breakfast before her cranial-sacral class this morning, I was sitting on the kitchen couch drinking chicory and enjoying the sunlight. We were talking about the possible births she has coming up, as Monica is studying to be a doula and is going to be on call this coming week. We were talking about what foods she might be able to have with her that would be easy to grab and go. She could be stuck at the hospital for 10 or more hours at a time. A friend of hers is butchering a cow today, and I was suggesting that maybe we could make some jerky. Nut butters and carrots, other snacky types of foods came up. But I kept thinking about soup. Of course, after being summoned to the birth, one could stop at the co-op, wait in line, and get some soup that was made with great ingredients, but how much better would it be to have soup ready from home? Thawing frozen jars of soup in a hospital microwave? Well, looked it up, and it seems that it’s a better idea to freeze the soup in food grade plastic containers, dump it in a bowl, and then go from there.
(with and without Gluten)
As you may know, gnocchi is a type of Italian pasta, usually homemade, most often made with mashed or riced potatoes and unbleached flour. There are many other different varieties of gnocchi, as it can be also made with anything from sweet potatoes, ricotta cheese, cream puff dough, spinach, chestnut flour, semolina flour, and more. I have a version that uses acorn meal in my upcoming cookbook. Many versions use egg along with the potato and unbleached flour, but I prefer only to use eggs when I make the gluten free versions, as they really help to bind the gluten-less flour to the potato. The gluten-y gnocchi (pronounced NYO-key, in case you were wondering), come out perfectly without the egg, and then it’s vegan-friendly, as well!
To Process Acorns:
Pick acorns. Just ripened is ideal, but in New Mexico I have often picked them while still a bit green. Be sure there are no holes on the surface of the acorn shell, which indicates worms. Once you get them home, the sooner you can roast them in the oven the better. If you can’t do this right away, stick them in containers in the freezer, and roast them as soon as you get time. Roast them (with the shells on) at 300 degrees until the nuts inside the shells darken and become fairly hard, if you’re using them for cooking after roasting. The length of roasting time will differ according to the size of the acorns. If roasting for storage not in a freezer, cook them until the nuts inside the shells are very dark brown and your fingernail will not make even a tiny dent in a nut, but take them out before they blacken. Then you can store them in glass jars or, preferably, food grade plastic containers with some holes punched into the tops of the containers, for some air ventilation to prevent mold. After shelling, in my experience, the hard nuts can be kept in glass jars for at least a year, although this may be different in damper climates, I’m not sure.
I was going to make my beloved Acorn Cornbread on Thanksgiving day. But, as things went, our household decided to go to the Indiana River that morning, to give thanks to Mother Nature in our own way. It was an incredible morning, with a light drizzle of rain, and fog drifting all over the forested mountains. I swam in the very cold river., and sang, and we all sang and howled like the pack of happy little creatures that we are, out in the wild with no one around. We saw an incredible rainbow, and, later, Monica brought us to see a whole field of Darlingtonia plants, which completely blew our minds.
Not to mention, that on the way there, a whole flock of wild turkeys gobbled along a road side while we drove slowly by, admiring their beauty. My housemates talked to the turkeys from the inside of the car, saying things like, “We’re so glad you’re so alive!, ” and “Be free, little ones!” and although I could appreciate these well-wishes, I have to admit my canyon-ized self was also wishing we’d thought to pack a shotgun in the car along with our jars of tahini, and that it hadn’t been so long since my last target practice with Wolf.
A ReWilded Kitchen, A ReWilded Life
This is the beginning of an essay that originally appeared in Plant Healer magazine. The complete version will be found in my upcoming book of essays that I’m planning as a companion to my cookbook.
Food- A Primal, Primary Focus
Anima teaches that every moment is a decisive moment, and our reality in part a product of our choices. Picture the life you’ve always wanted, yours for the manifesting. Picture no more compromising of your wants and needs, no more being resigned to obligations or subject to those who would judge and guilt trip you. Imagine your future as a blank canvas, and you equipped with every color of paint with which to created the healthful existence you deeply crave. Where, and with whom would you live? What would you do with your precious mortal hours? What acts of creativity would you focus on, and revel in? How and what would you eat?
On October 12th, I celebrated not only the anniversary of my arrival into the world outside my mama’s belly, but the anniversary of my arrival to Ashland!
It’s been quite the year!
My house was already planning to hold a potluck supper on October 9th, and I wasn’t sure, that morning, that I wanted it to be a birthday celebration potluck. But, I wondered, why not? Some little voice in me was saying it was wrong to want a party focused on me, but I had to wonder where that voice was coming from. I never figured it out entirely, only that I was being silly!
What to do with Monster Zucchini
It happens so easily. The busy-ness of life makes it a little hard to stay on top of what’s going on in the garden. Before we know it, the basil is flowering like crazy, the tomatoes are falling over, and the zucchinis are so huge we start offering them apologetically to friends and neighbors. So many times I have been offered them myself, with an “I don’t know if you can do anything with this, but if you want it, you can have it.”
Well, I am of the mind to accept any offers of fresh produce or someone’s “garden weeds”. If it came from the earth, thank you very much, I will find something to do with it. And so, over the years, I’ve developed many lovely ways to use up mountains of flowering basil, (and I even use the flowers, but NOT in pesto!), overripe or green tomatoes, purslane, lamb’s quarters, amaranth, and overgrown squashes. So, monster zucchini are a bit of a specialty of mine.