This is a blog about the pursuits of Naturalist Alan Russo to incorporate all things Natural, especially Plants, into his daily life. Living close to Nature has always been a passion of mine and I try, with natures help, to live a Healthy lifestyle for myself and for the Earth.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dried Luffa "Sponges"
Purslane Salad / Goldenrod Tea

  My Luffa vines are starting to thin out a bit due to the shorter days and cooler temperatures. Luffa don't like cold weather, the first frost will kill the vines. Anyway, I was able to see some gourds that I couldn't see before and some of them were brown and ready to pick. I peeled the outer covering off and lo and behold there were mature Luffa "sponges" in there! Very exciting. I shook out as many seed as I could than cut them in half, as they were huge, which also helped with getting the rest of the seeds out . Than I put them in a bucket of water to soak for a while. I squeezed them out several times to wash them than did a couple of water changes to clean them well. While letting them dry in the Sun, I decided to see what would happen if I bleached a couple, just an experiment, as I have no intention of bleaching the rest. Whats the point of growing stuff Organically if your just going to put poison on them during processing? (sounds a bit like corporate America. In case you think I am just being cynical, We bought some organic fruit the other day and when we got them home I found they had been waxed! Wanna bet it was paraffin, a petroleum byproduct! )
I did want to see the difference and see why the ones you buy in the store are bleached. The bleached ones look lighter and a bit "fake" as the color is perfectly even throughout. Not for me, I like the variety of Nature, not the sameness of the toxic world. Anyway, that was just 4 of the 20 or so that are still maturing on the vines!
  Since the weather stayed warm for so long this summer, many plants that wouldn't have started growing again till next year started to grow as if it was Spring. In my garden, between the Kale plants is an abundance of Purslane. I like Purslane, that's the reason I planted one plant in my garden last year. Well that one plant turned into thousands this year! I thought the Purslane harvest and eradication control was over for this year, especially since the heat and drought did a number on the original plants, but I guess I was wrong, thousands more are growing! This might not be such a bad thing in many ways. First, I have an unexpected green to eat. Second, these plants will be killed by the first frost and since these seeds sprouted already, next year I won't have such a problem with them taking over the garden. So, I am taking advantage of Natures misstep and harvesting the Purslane for dinner.
  Purslane is a succulent plant, somewhat mucilaginous, with a bit of a tangy taste. You can eat it raw, cooked, and if you find some large plants you can pickle it too. I think it makes a great salad on its own, but I decided to take advantage of my fresh organic lettuce and use it as a bed for the Purslane. Than I decided I needed something Natural to drink with this Natural dinner of mine.
  One of the plants on my property that was not fooled by the weather is Goldenrod. It's pretty much blooming when it is supposed too, so I decided to make a tea of the flowers from a patch that is growing in my front yard. Goldenrod makes a light tasting yellow tea that is quite good hot or cold. All aerial parts are good for tea though some of the older leaves may be bitter. You can dry a bunch of the flowers and leaves for future use. I always tell people that if they have pollen allergy's to be cautious when making tea with flowers as this may cause a problem.

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