The Incredible Nettle

“In Scotland, I have eaten nettles, I have slept in nettle sheets, and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth. I have heard my mother say that she thought nettle cloth more durable than any other linen.”

18th c. poet Thomas Campbell

“Nettle oil preceded paraffin; the juice curdled milk and helped to make Cheshire cheese; nettle juice seals leaky barrels; nettles drives frogs from beehives and flies from larders; nettle compost encourages ailing plants, and fruits packed in nettle leaves retain their bloom and freshness.”

Margaret Baker from Discovering the Folklore of Plants

“Tibetans believe that their sage and poet Milarepa (AD 1052-1135) lived solely on nettle soup for many years until he turned himself green: a literal green man.”

Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal from Hedgerow Medicine

“Nettle magic is steeped in dualities: both fierce and soft, painful and restorative, common as weeds and priceless as jewels. Potent. Tenacious. Humble and often overlooked. Resilient.”

Terri Windling

 How do I love thee, nettles? Oh, let me count the ways!

You have fed my body and my soul, all the hundreds of hours I have spent with you over the last decades of my life. Harvesting you, singing to you, cooking with you on my woodstoves, both indoors and in my outdoor kitchen, boiling giant pots of you over a live fire in my firepit, with my now not-so little girl. Gazing at your beautiful hairs shining in the sunlight. Crawling under oak trees, cottonwoods and willows to get to your most abundant patches of sprawling life, my hair catching on branches, my bare ankles stinging, singing me awake to step more mindfully. You have been such a mentor to me. Teaching me, over and over again, how to pay attention to, and celebrate the abundances of each and every moment. How to seize the blessings of the day, and how to give back in return. How to nurture, value, and protect my own energy. Read more

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Rosemary Yogurt

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

A ReWilded Kitchen

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?

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Preserving, Drying, and Cooking Lamb’s Quarters- aka. Quelites

To be honest, it took me quite a while to fall in love with lamb’s quarters.

But once I learned how to make “quelites”, a traditional Mexican dish, I became very attached. Maybe I even need them, like I “need” cheese in my life. Certainly, my enchanted pantry would be a sadder, less magical place without them.

This month, I’m attempting to gather up enough to see us through the winter. Many an evening I’ve been spotted by the local wildlife running barefoot upriver to the lamb’s quarters patch, piling up my greens for the night in an old sarong, then wrapping it up and slinging it over my shoulder for the mile walk back to the kitchen.

I have three ways I like to preserve lamb’s quarters or “goose-foot,” Chenopodium album, a plant that is known in the US Southwest more often as “pig-weed” or “quelites”. The Spanish word “quelites” refers to the traditional Mexican dish or the lamb’s quarters plant itself. It can also refer to amaranth greens, and they are often prepared the same way. Most often, they are boiled and then sautéed with minced onions and red chile, sometimes adding mashed beans near the end of the cooking time.

The first easy preservation trick is pesto. Lamb’s quarters pesto might sound odd, but its flavor is wonderful! I don’t love all herbal pestos, and I was skeptical, since I’m not a huge fan of raw lamb’s quarters…but this is one that makes me very happy. 

The second is to boil it and freeze it, which also works very well. Of course this takes up precious freezer space, however, so my third and favorite way to preserve lamb’s quarters is to dry them.

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