It's a free for all

As I last posted, the community garden is covered in green. Not only are there plots of cover crops, but there are a few large areas of lamium/dead nettle and chickweed.

Last Saturday I harvested dead nettle, chickweed, dandelion greens, and sorrel to make a pureed green soup. I'm not a big smoothie fan (they go down too fast for me) so a rich warm soup is a great way to enjoy the benefits of these "wild" greens.

I've been reading Katrina Blair's The Wild Wisdom of Weeds. From her book: Dandelions are rich in beta-carotene, calcium, iron, potassium, and Vitamins C, D, and E. Chickweed is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins A C D B6 and B12. From other sources I've learned dead nettle is an important supply of nectar to bees, anti-inflammatory, and also loaded with vitamins and minerals.

Cauliflower Sorrel Soup

This recipe was loosely based on Gayla Trail's potato sorrel soup recipe, though I couldn't find my copy of the book with that particular recipe (Easy Growing). I've probably loaned it to someone, which means I just need to go get another copy for myself. Her books don't come back readily.

  • one onion, sliced
  • 4 bulbs elephant garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • one head cauliflower, pulled apart into florets
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable....something rather bland)
  • 8 cups mild flavored greens
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • grated ginger, salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Sautee the onion and elephant garlic in butter until translucent, but not golden. Stir in stock, add cauliflower. Simmer until cauliflower is soft. Add rinsed and drained greens and simmer until well-wilted. Blend with an immersion blender until uniformly pureed. Add milk, season with ginger, salt, etc.


Temptation and a Coconut Averted

A mid week vacation day deserves a little celebrating, especially when the temperatures are sticking to the low 100s. Hi-C seemed to think so this past Tuesday and came home fully prepared for a coconutty blowout, armed with pina colada mix, fresh pineapple and rum. Since I'm back on the weight loss wagon, a calorie packed frozen drink was tempting, but out of the question. Instead, I made my own lighter, tasty treat, one I dubbed Rhuby Pome.

Are you familiar with Izze sparkling juice? They're fruit juice sweetened, no corn syrup, no artificial colors or dyes; effervescent and delicious, albeit a bit more expensive than your typical cola. We don't usually have sodas in the house, but I bought a 4 pack of the Pomegranate Fortified* a week or so ago and stowed it away in the back corner of the fridge, knowing some form of temptation would arise and I needed to be prepared. 

The recipe? Fill your glass with ice, pour 8 oz Izze Pomegranate and 2 oz Rhuby (this translates into 4 parts Izze, 1 part Rhuby). Also, it's imperative you let the glass sweat so your perspiration soaked shirt won't be lonely.

For a finishing touch? Make the drink super fancy looking by raiding the party supplies from your toddler's 2nd birthday: stripey straws make everything taste better. 

Take a picture, it'll last way longer than your Rhuby Pome will.

*I should add I generally find "fortified" products to be a marketing scheme, as they usually add little to no nutritional value to daily intake. I think these are probably a way to make Pepsi's Izze competitive with Coke's Vitamin Water and I bought them because I like Izze, not because I wanted extra nutrients. Sugary foods, even fruit juice sweetened, should be the occasional treat, and nothing can replace the way our bodies rely on whole and wholesome fresh foods for proper nutrition.

Tincture Thyme

This weekend Mabel and I went to the community garden to do a little digging. Since I'm the newest volunteer there, I feel best about doing hard labor over planting any of the crops, at least until I get my sea legs there. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy a little of the bounty though!

It's still early in the season to harvest any veggies, but the herbs are going bonkers. I brought a couple handfuls of thyme and about a cup of chive blossoms home to make herbal vinegars.
According to TLC Family,
"Thyme has a pronounced effect on the respiratory system; in addition to fighting infections, it dries mucous membranes and relaxes spasms of the bronchial passages.
The ability of thyme to relax bronchial spasms makes it effective for coughs, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Its drying effect makes it useful to reduce the abundant watering of the eyes and nose associated with hay fever and other allergies. And gargling with thyme tea can reduce swelling and pus formation in tonsillitis.
Thyme combats parasites, such as hookworms and tapeworms, within the digestive tract. It is also useful to treat yeast infections."
Chives have less medicinal value, but are high in Vitamins A and C as well as folic acid, sulfur, and iron. If you haven't tried a chive blossom before, they're in the onion family, so they have a mild onion taste, but also a surprisingly pleasant note of garlic. The chive blossom vinegar will be the perfect addition to homemade salad dressings.

It's fairly simple to make an herbal vinegar. For the chive blossoms I followed the recipe in Grow Great Grub. For the thyme vinegar I followed pretty much the same process:
  1. Sterilize your jar,
  2. Thoroughly wash and pat dry the herbs, stuff them into the sterilized jar. 
  3. With the chive blossoms I warmed white wine vinegar and covered the chives, but with thyme I wanted to reap the enzymatic benefits of  apple cider vinegar in conjunction with the thyme so I didn't heat it.
  4. Cap the jar with a layer of wax paper to prevent the metal to come in contact with the potentially corrosive vinegar.
  5. Steep the herbs for several weeks. Give 'em a good shake or two each day. After at least 2 weeks you can strain the vinegar from the herbs for storage or leave the herbs and just strain off the vinegar as you use it.