I’ve cooked with a few strange roots in my time, but, before today, I’d never tried dandelion roots! My friend Sarah dug some up out of her garden and saved them for me, knowing me as she does! So I searched for a little encouragement online, and most of what I saw was about roasting up dandelion roots for a coffee substitute, or tincturing them in vinegar as a liver tonic. Both great things to do, that I haven’t tried yet! But I did see one mention of acting as if they were carrots. Which is exactly what I was hoping to see! Read more
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.
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.
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?
was out on the plaza watching my beloved busk with his one-man-band outfit a few weeks ago when I saw a woman fluttering by in a beautiful, long, hooded beige coat dress. It was funny, I only saw her back, but there was something so familiar about her… it was almost like seeing a little piece of myself. My rational brain just thought “Oh, it’s because she’s wearing something I would wear, that’s why I feel this.”
A few minutes later, she came back down the street and stood right in front of me. “Loba??” Is it you? WHAT are you doing here?”
(here’s a little moment of Mattie being her beautiful self here!)
A little yet-untold back story for my readers here, that some of you already know from reading the Anima blog I was a sporadic contributor to for at least a dozen years: Elka has only been my name for about the past four years. Before that, my name was Loba for twenty years. Before that, I had another name that I dearly loved, and still love. (You can find out what it was here in the second story that appears).
It took me a few seconds to adjust my eyes to see this person apart from the only context I was used to. “MATTIE, is that you???”
I’d been thinking about Mattie, I’d been wanting to contact her, but had lost track of her email and didn’t remember her last name. I figured she was probably back in Montana, where she was from.
She was one of my all-time favorite helpers in the canyon, and stayed quite a bit longer than most of our other helpers did. I have many beautiful memories of us baking together in the outdoor kitchen, sharing songs, harvesting and cooking up the wild greens of summertime with endless panfuls of homemade corn tortillas, floating in the river, doing water dances in the moonlight with our lovely & mischievous friend Evangeline, sharing tears and fears, stories of our lives and some of the powerful moments we each had on our own with the canyon.
It doesn’t take long to make and eat a simple breakfast of eggs and vegetables. But how many days of the week do we actually do something like this for ourselves? If you say “nearly every day”, yay for you! I’ve made these kinds of breakfasts many, many days of my life. And, back in the canyon, by the time I left, Rhiannon was very good at whipping up wonderful egg and veggie breakfasts for all of us. So when Monica made us this one, it was a very warm, familiar feeling, to be cooked for with love and attention! Read more
When Rhiannon was little, one of our favorite things to do in the late afternoon was to climb the mountainsides, following the last rays of sunshine, from one golden patch of beauty to the next. Sometimes we’d bring a little treat to enjoy along the way. Here in Oregon, in my brand-new life, I’ve been keeping up this practice. In Ashland, the mountainsides are only a few minutes from the bustling little town streets. It’s easy to get caught up in all the demands and distractions of every day life, and miss the outside moments that keep our souls fed, as we all know so well! And having someone special to share the beauty with– what a blessed treat! Here’s some recent photos of some of these little jaunts. Read more
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.