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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nettles (again!)

  It's that time of year again, when my Nettle patch explodes with growth, after a long hot Summer. Nettles die back in the Summer after flowering, and stay pretty much dried up till the days start getting shorter and cooler.

I was trying to think of something different to do with the Nettles and I kept thinking SOUP. I have made a classic Nettles potato soup before ( http://ethnobotanist128.blogspot.com/2011/04/nettlespotato-soup.html ) but I wanted to try something different. The only other thing ready in my garden is Sweet Potatoes, so I wondered how it would taste substituting Sweet for regular Potatoes in the soup. I dug up a bunch of Sweet potatoes and cut just the succulent tops of the Nettles and headed for the kitchen.
 I cleaned and diced the Sweet Potatoes, covered them with water, and cooked till tender. I added the Nettles and cooked for another 8-10 min. I added just a little salt and pureed the mixture till it was a smooth consistency. Now was the time to taste.

  Wow, it was so good! Way better than with the Regular potatoes. The unique taste of the Nettles and the sweetness of the potatoes was a great combo. I ate two bowls!
 Than I started to think what else can I do with this soup. The next day I decide to add some Curry powder and a touch of Organic Butter to a bowl of soup and it was amazing! Than for lunch the next day I added some leftover cooked Black Beans for some extra body and the soup was delicious and filling at the same time. Any one of these combos would be even better with a little Organic heavy cream in them which would make it a nice rich cream soup guaranteed to fill you up. You could also start the soup with Chicken Stock instead of water for another flavor all together.
 Nettles are high in protein and  loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is one of the most nutritious plants on the planet, not to mention all the Medicinal value each part of the plant has to offer. So, find a safe patch of Nettle and bring some home an give them a special place in your garden so you can have them handy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What to do with my Dinosaurs?


  Every year I try to plant something new/different around my chicken coop. This serves a couple of practical purposes. One, I have a ready made fence for vines to clime on, and two, the chickens have ample shade in the heat of the summer which thy really appreciate. Also I get to plant some cool stuff I don't have room in my gardens for. I've had Luffa, bottleneck gourds, mango melons and a permanent section for Passion Flower Vines. This year I planted "Dinosaur gourds", also known as "Caveman's Club", they are a very unique looking gourd which I have always wanted to grow.
 I have tried before, but for some reason they didn't grow. But this year they really went crazy, so much so I have had to trim them back several times as they were starting to take over and smothering my Honeysuckle Vines, ( see:  http://ethnobotanist128.blogspot.com/2011/05/japanese-honeysuckle.html) which also have a permanent spot on the fence.
 As cool as these Gourds are I have no idea what to do with them! There is not much info on them, but as far as I can tell they are not Edible. I have seen a site where someone made a Dinosaur looking sculpture out of one but that's about it. I also e-mailed the head of a Gourd Society to get some more info on them and the women wrote back that she never heard of them!
 So, if anyone has any definitive info on these unique Gourds, please feel free to e-mail me or write some comments to help us get some info.