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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sauteed Nettles

  With all the rain we have been having, things are just growing crazy. My Stinging Nettles patch seems to be growing 3 inches a day! Wanting to take advantage of this most nutritious vegetable before it goes to flower, prompted me to go and gather a bunch for dinner. Normally I don't mind the sting too much but decided to use gloves this time, as sometimes my fingertips stay numb for a couple of days after picking bare handed. I love the taste of  raw Nettles,  and have figured out a way to eat them without getting my mouth stung. If you take the leaves and roll them in your fingers or against your pant leg or something, it triggers the sting and is safe to eat raw. Though a few stings in the mouth is not the worst thing in the world, I'm sure most people would not like it too much. If you dry or cook the plant the sting is neutralized also and I dry lots of Nettles for infusions over the winter and to use as a liquid fertilizer for my garden and house plants.
 Anyway, you may ask, why bother going through all this trouble to eat a plant? Well, Nettles are one of the most Nutritious and Medicinal plants on the planet. Nettles are reported to be very high in Vitamins A+C, Iron, Calcium, Protein and lots of trace minerals. The medicinal qualities seem endless, and as a nourishing adaptogen, seems to help with everything from fatigue to chronic viral infections. Nettles are also Hemostatic and finely powdered herb sprinkled on small cuts and scrapes will stop bleeding and help sanitize the area. A strong infusion can be used as a wash for open sores and Poison Ivy. Ethnobotanically speaking, this plant is a treasure trove of usefulness, from its fiber content for cordage to its ability as a Dye plant just to name a few. This is only the tip of the iceberg!

 Dinner was simple. Once I pulled the leaves off the stem, I sauteed the Nettles with Onions and Mushrooms and garnished with Violet Flowers. Delicious!
 I took the stems and remaining leaves and covered with water and brought them to a boil. I have been using this infusion for watering my garden seedlings and plan to use some of it as a foliage spray for nourishment and to help keep insects away.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Redbud Flower Pancakes!

  At 12:13AM the sun crossed the Equator on its way North towards the Tropic of Cancer, which signals the Vernal Equinox or Astronomical Spring. The weather, and the Earth/Sun relationship, don't always agree with each other. As for the Weather and the Plants, its been 'Spring' for a about a month already and the temperature has been in the 80s the past couple of days.
Redbud Tree In Bloom
 The Redbud Trees are in bloom already, and if you recall from last years post on Redbuds ( http://ethnobotanist128.blogspot.com/2011/03/redbuds-are-blooming.html ) this is a relatively new Wild Edible for me so I couldn't wait for them to bloom again so I can start my experimenting. I have been nibbling on the Flowers for the past couple of days and since the trees were in full bloom on the first day of Spring, I wanted to do something special with them so I decided to make Redbud Flower Pancakes!
 I collected a bowl full of Flowers early this morning for the pancakes. It was easy as the flowers are prolific and clumped together very tightly on the branches. For some close up photos of the Flowers check out last years post using the link above to get a good idea of what the Flowers look like.
I make my pancakes from scratch using Organic Rice Flour, freshly gathered Eggs, non-aluminum baking powder, soy or rice milk and a touch of Stevia. I don't know the exact recipe as I do it by "feel' as I make them. One thing is, I use extra egg because there is no gluten to hold the cakes together and they will fall apart when you go to flip them if you don't. Once the batter was made I added the Flowers and made the

Batter with Flowers
Finished Product!

What a great way of bringing in the first Day of Spring, YUM!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Violets are here!

 Astronomically it may not be Spring yet but due to the mild Winter we have had, the plants around my house sure think it is.
 I love Sweet Violets. Not only are they beautiful but they are nutritious and medicinal at the same time. When I see the Violets flowering around my house I know the warm weather is just around the corner. I also know it's time to start sprucing up some rather boring winter salads. I had some Organic Lettuce in the fridge and decided to go foraging to turn it into a salad any wild plant enthusiast would be proud of. Using the Lettuce as a base I went outside and gathered a bunch of Chickweed, lots of Violet Flowers and leaves and some Dandelion Flowers for health and garnish. Not too extravagant but quite satisfying.