Thursday, May 24, 2012

My First Foray Into Wild Edibles

Every year when we put out our garden there is this certain weed that absolutely wants to take over. Last year we put straw down, which made a remarkable difference. We are going to do the same this year - probably this weekend. My husband has tilled in between the rows in the meantime to keep the weeds under control. But, this weed is still cropping up in the rows where our veggies are growing.

Then, a few days ago I  read this blog post from New Life on a Homestead about a common garden weed. MY common garden weed. Turns out that it isn't a weed after all. It's actually a super food called purslane. Go figure. 

I'm starting to realize that many of the plants that we consider weeds are actually some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. 

Take the lowly dandelion, for instance. That little plant is the nemesis of every man who desires a green lawn in the nation. But, it's actually very good for food. It's leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked many different ways. It's roots can be roasted and ground up and brewed as coffee. The flowers are also edible and are supposed to be a favorite when battered and fried. Though I've never eaten (or drank) it, I hear it is really yummy. It's also a powerhouse of nutrition that is fantastic for your liver, among other things.

But, we're talking about purslane today...


This is what says about purslane:

...also called Summer Purslane - purslane usually grows spread out flat on the ground. It can be found growing in almost any unshaded area, including flower beds, corn fields, and waste places. Purslane can be found growing in cold climate areas (e.g., Canada) as well as warm areas (e.g., the Caribbean).
Medicinal Uses:

Verdolaga is also valued in Latin America for its medicinal properties. Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plants, and may have positive effects on the brain and may aid in such conditions as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, autism, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and migraines. For other medicinal uses see:

American Indians used the plant as a poultice for burns, juice for earaches, tea for headaches and stomachaches.

Pretty cool, eh?

It's also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E and the essential amino acids. So, I figured that I needed to try this wonder food. Crab cakes were on the menu for the night and I don't have any of the parsley that I usually put in it, yet. So, I thought it would be a great night to try the purslane. I went out the garden and pulled some of it, washed it really well in water and then spun it dry in my salad spinner.  

Since it can be eaten cooked or raw, I tasted one of the leaves. It has a very mild, but tasty flavor. It is supposed to be very similar in taste and consistency to watercress, but I've never eaten it so I can't vouch for that fact.
For my crab cakes, I simply cut the roots off and added the amount I needed to the food processor, stems and all. They're edible, too. Next, I added the rest of my ingredients to the food processor to finish chopping and mixing everything together.

Evidently, purslane is also a very popular salad green in Europe. Considering we were having salad with our dinner (and I've been buying the el cheapo bagged iceberg lettuce lately) I picked off the leaves of some more of my purslane and added to the salad mix to bump up the nutritional value of my otherwise pretty nutritionless bagged salad.

Not only is it tasty, but it's pretty, too. :-)

All in all, I really liked the purslane and will definitely use it again.
You probably realize this, but I'm going to mention it anyway. Don't eat wild edibles from places that are likely to have been sprayed with pesticides or that grow too close to the road where they would be covered in exhaust fumes. I felt confident using the purslane from my garden because we don't spray. We've actually found that our garden seems to do better than most people's in our area and I think it's because we leave it alone and try to build the soil quality every year. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants.
I'm amazed at how many wild edibles that we have around us and are clueless about. I would really like to start learning more about them. It just so happens that Wild Cards is a deck of cards that has pictures and information on 52 different wild plants that you can eat. It includes information on where each plant is found, how to cook it and its medicinal uses. I really need to get one of those decks.
So, tell me - have you ever eaten weeds?

I'm sharing this post with Wildcrafting Wednesday.

* UPDATE: I have had a couple of people tell me that the link to the Wild Cards took them to an, um, unsavory website. I apologize for that. On my Mac it took me right where it was supposed to. In an effort to fix the problem I changed the link. Please, let me know if it is still not working right and I will just remove it altogether and you can just google it for yourself. ;-) Thanks, y'all!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Anniversary Weekend

Hello, Hello, Helllllooooo... Hi! Hey, Y'all! So glad to see you! Thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in my health and well-being. And, to those who'd wondered if I'd turned to poop and the hogs ate me. So, let me start by saying that I have not turned to feces and been eaten by the other white meat. Also, I am fine and dandy. I have just been extremely busy and my brain has been on overload - incapable of trying to string together coherent sentences that anyone would want to read on this little ol' blog of mine. Hopefully, now that homeschool group is done for the year, I'll be able to get back to blogging a little more regularly. Now that we've gotten that out of the way...

OK. So what in tarnation have I been up to exactly? Well, of course you know that I started a business this year and opened a shop on Etsy, PURE YANKABILLY - All Natural Skincare. That's where the majority of my brain cells have been recently. Y'all, there is a LOT of work that is involved in starting a business. It's not just making products, taking pictures and uploading them to Etsy. That's actually the smallest part of it. Who knew?... Anyway, Isaac is still homeschooled and we are part of a homeschool group. So, we've had that and several days of Stanford Testing. And, for some weird reason my family expects me to still feed them and make sure they have clean undies and all. You understand about that, right? In the midst of my new normal, though, we've tried to squeeze in a few fun thing, too. Today I'll share a bit about one of these mini trips with you.

Last month Chris and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. In trying to think of something fun to do in honor of it, we decided to take a weekend trip to Columbus, OH where it all began for us. We wanted to take Isaac along and show him all of "our" special places - where we met, where we went to school, where we dated, our first apartment, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The closer we got to the city and as that lovely skyline came into view, we got really excited. Well, Chris and I did anyway. Floods of old memories and the feelings that came with them started rolling in. Then, we came to the area that we once called home. To say that it had changed would be a colossal understatement. It had been really nice when we lived there. Now, not so much... Anyway, we checked into our hotel and began our expedition. Oh yeah, our hotel wasn't even there 17 years ago. Neither was the mini city that used to be cornfields surrounding it.

Y'all, it was CRAZY! CRAZY, I say! Our journey to 'us' began when we met at Meijers (a northern version Walmart, only nicer), where we both worked. We got off of work at 2 in the morning and the only place open at that time was the Waffle House that occupied the front of the Meijers parking lot. So, that was where we went every night when we got off work to drink tea and talk until we had to go get a few hours of shut-eye before school. People, they closed Meijers down! It was just an empty, dilapidated shell of a building! Then, they had torn down the Waffle House and built a new one in a different location of the same parking lot. So, even though there was still a Waffle House there - it wasn't "our" Waffle House. Bummer... After that disappointment, we decided to go see our first apartment that we lived in after we got married. It. had. changed. ALOT. It was a pretty new and pretty nice neighborhood back in the day. Now, though...well, let's just say that we were afraid to slow down to snap a picture of it.

 After that, I had Chris drive by my first apartment there. And, lo and behold, it hadn't been torn down or moved or changed into a new super center or anything.

I lived in the first floor apartment right there where the grill is. Ironically, the name of the apartment complex is "The Moors" and my new last name is also Moore. I think it was destiny. Yep. Lots of memories there. I lived there with 4 other girls. The people above us sounded like they moved the furniture at least a few nights a week to hold line dancing parties. Of course, we probably weren't much quieter. That apartment complex was more like a dorm and our place seemed to be a major hang-out. At least one thing about Columbus hadn't changed so far...

We moved on to see the old school. You guessed her... The old campus had been sold. It wasn't there anymore. The school had relocated and had changed names. See, I told you it was crazy. By this time it was getting late so we hit the Walmart that hadn't existed 17 years ago for drinks for the night, grabbed some take-out from the Popeye's that popped up out of nowhere and headed back to the hotel that used to just be a cornfield.

The next morning dawned with fresh hopes of finding and exploring the parks that we used to picnic at and walk the trails. We also thought we'd head out to Hocking Hills, which is only a short 40 minute drive away. But, alas, it was not to be. It was raining. Not that all out frog chokin' kind of rain - just the kind that was light enough to be a nuisance. We knew Hocking Hills would be a bad idea because you just really don't want to go walking trails high in the cliffs on wet rock. We figured we could still go find our old parks, though. But, you guessed it, we could not find them for the life of us. Everything was so built up and new roads and towns expanded to the point where nothing was recognizable. And, if it hadn't been for GPS we would have been totally lost.

On to Plan B. We decided to go find one of our favorite towns, Granville, OH. It's a beautiful little town nestled in the hills and home to Denison University.

We used to love to take the beautiful back roads and drive through those gorgeous hills, enjoying each other's company as well as the view. It was magical - especially during Autumn when the leaves were in peak color. It was also the place where this incident happened.

Although it was rainy, it was still beautiful. Here's a bit of it's charm - although there ain't nothing like the real thing, Baby.

brick roads

quaint churches

lovely houses

and this charming town full of incredibly cool restaurants and stores

like this one.

It's a very French-y type store

with darling vignettes every place you look.

Granville also has this hotel.

It's supposed to be haunted. We didn't go in to find out.

A brief trip through Granville was all we could handle. Not only was it still drizzling, it had gotten c.o.l.d. It looked like everything we had planned for our anniversary get-away and trip down memory lane had been doomed from the git-go. I didn't even mention how our original hotel reservations had fallen through when we were only about an hour away and our room ended up costing more for one night than our original reservations had been for 2. So, we decided that we would stop for a nice, warm lunch and head on back to home-sweet-home.

Although nothing went as we had envisioned for that weekend, all-in-all it was still nice to get away for the night. We also learned a good lesson. You can't relive the past. Time marches on whether we want it to or not. So, it was a good reminder to enjoy the memories of our lives just for what they are - good memories - and focus on making new ones. Which is exactly what that weekend ended up being. Now we can look back and say, "Hey, remember that time we went to Columbus to show Isaac all of our old places and our history and not one thing went right because everything had changed?"

Have you ever tried to take a trip down memory lane only to find it had turned into a super-highway?