Archive for Eat Weeds


A Bright New Year to You!

Posted by: | Comments (2)

The pale cold skies of January always bring me thoughts of the dense comfort foods of mid-Winter. I started off the New Year with these in my belly, and that feels good! Oatmeal cooked with diced apples and raisins filled the kitchen this morning with delicious smells. It got even better with the addition of chopped pecans (from Ridge Spring, SC – thanks cousin Joe Cal Watson), cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of ginger.  I eat this with a sterling cereal spoon that belonged to my Great Grandmother Kate Hyde Sloan. There’s a crack in it I was always warned to be careful about, and I have been, for over 60 years. This oatmeal was so good, I ate small bites for a long time!

Lunch was as good – if not better! A bowl of rice and spicy baked butter beans (or lima beans) is still warm in my belly. These are not summer foods for me. They are too dense and heavy for the deep heat and light clothes of summer. And that reminds me of a question a friend from California asked me: “What is seasonal eating ?”

She was referring specifically to being able to buy strawberries in November where she lives. What an interesting question! I’ve spent time thinking about this, because it is different for different parts of our broad, wide country. And yet, there are similarities as well.

In the broadest terms, eating seasonally means eating what is ripe and ready, at that moment, in your locale. It means seeing foods in their freshest state come and go from your menu. It means paying attention to the local farmers world around you day by day. And it means listening to your body and it’s demands. California will be different than New York, Minnesota will be different than Texas.

Here in an area where there are four very distinct seasons it is much more obvious: yummy cold hardy leafy greens in the Spring are an ecstatic addition to any meal at the end of Winter! However it is more than that. During the growing season we eat all of the fresh foods we can, sometimes gorging ourselves with the bounty. The surplus gets dried, frozen, pickled, cured, preserved, canned, smoked, fermented, hung in the pantry or put in a root cellar for the Winter. As one of my Canadian friends said in his Year End letter: “Our search for food these days is fairly simple.  What we have is stored in our pantry although there is a stray turnip or two under the foot of snow that finally arrived.” [Thank you, Graham!]

Our bodies have spent millennium adapting and adjusting to what is available, when, and what is not. We have long histories of ‘putting foods by’ so that we have enough to eat all of the time. The temperature and the light tell the cells in our bodies that there is a change in the seasons and we get ready for it. Growing up in a cold winter climate in an uninsulated farm house established a pattern in my body that the first true cold snap brings on. When there is skim ice on the water, my taste for winter foods kicks in – casseroles, baking, hearty soups, and steaming cups of spiced cider. I gain ten pounds each winter (except when I lived in Tucson) and lose it in the Spring once the weather gets warm. I’m used to it. My body obviously needs it. I don’t keep a scale!

My body is primed for seasonal eating, and now that I have added wild foods to my diet, it all makes so much more sense! At the end of winter, there are a few shriveled apples, potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips and parsnips. The garlic and onions are sprouting, and the pantry is becoming full of empty jars. When those first sprouts of green emerge, be they dandelions, wood sorrel, green onions, or lambsquarters, I want them! My body craves them to help purge the heavy winter foods from my body. I don’t want the tomatoes of high summer at that moment, I want new peas,  asparagus and strawberries, and the wild baby greens that help me regain my summer figure!

Think of the time and money you save by only going to the store once a week for a few staples. It’s so much simpler once you remember to think about your food ahead of time. Just before bed grab something out of the freezer, put a cup of dried beans in to soak, and even soak the grains for a morning bowl of hot cereal in apple juice or cider! That’s ‘instant’ oatmeal that really counts! If you are not shopping on the way home, you have another 30 minutes to cook an outstanding evening meal.

So think ahead; make menus or find them on line; keep track of the seasons; and have a bright and abundant New Year!


Adding My Voice In

Posted by: | Comments (2)

There have been many conversations with friends about the ‘state of the Union’ lately. That’s the good news! At least the disparity of the situation between the 1% and the 99% has become so evident, we now get it. Or do we? I wonder if the whole truth and depth of this attempt to overturn the form of Democracy our country was founded on is really sinking in?

Whatever do I mean? What does this refer too? Well, our food contains poisons that are compromising our health, and damaging our children. Babies are now born with up to 200 chemicals in their bodies at last count. The various state and federal governmental bodies are in the grip of international companies, international financial institutions, and large organizations with even larger self interests. None of these are human, so there is no ethical code, integrity, honor, or morals involved in their point of view or their dealings with all of us. We have become chaff in the wind and whatever money we have is the only thing left in the basket when the harvest is done. We, as people, have been blown away in the winds of very Big Business doing the one thing they are geared to do: make profits above all else.

We’re in BIG TROUBLE, Folks! And it’s going to take a large turnout of ordinary citizens to get this wagon turned around. We can do this, and have to do it now – if we value the high principles this nation was founded on. That means we have to show up!

Showing up comes in many forms, so don’t think you have to join rallies, occupy Wall Street, or sleep in a tent to make a difference. Those things all help and it is a huge part of showing up. Spending some time on your closest capitol steps with others will show up as a signal of how fed-up we are with being stripped of power. There are many other ways to get this idea across and actively join the 99%. So I’ll talk about a few.

Stop consuming goods from ALL the big box stores. Trade with each other, barter, find things on FreeCycle and Craigs List. For the Holidays, ReGift to all the people on your gift lists. Think of recycling, repurposing, and renewing as political and critical acts to alert the Big Companies that we mean it when we say we are fed-up with being treated like ciphers, sheep, and cannon fodder. Allow the GNP to take a dump this year!

Start connecting with others to establish a local economy (Denver Dollars for instance), local food, and learn what you can eat that you never considered as a source of food. There is wild food in the city, you know. Relearn what Grand parents and Great-Grandparents always knew and did. We have the skills, we have the talents, and we also have the teachers. Don’t let the rhetoric of the Big Company Journalists affect or effect you! We have people who know what to do. Seek them out and become an interdependent force to be reckoned with!

That’s how we started and those sweet juices of community and cohesion are still running through our veins. We know what we need to do. So just start…start acting out of honor and morality…start joining rallies…start unplugging from the Machine!! Just tell ’em: “Grandmother Said So!”


Urban Foraging

Posted by: | Comments (3)

Urban foraging may sound like an oxymoron to you – how can you find food in the city, much less find enough to consider it foraging? Actually there is a lot of food to be found without going too far from your doorstep. Now I want to note that I live in Denver, Colorado so I am not talking about New York City, although the neighborhood fresh foods programs and vacant lot or roof top gardens there are becoming far more common than you might think!

I am actually meaning something more basic than growing veggies and fruits in the city. I am teaching people about the plants that are already growing and ready for the picking. The greens are in full swing right now, and you can find enough to eat to make a salad for your family almost anywhere. You just need to adjust your sight to the cracks and crevices, alleys and yards, road cuts and ‘wild’ areas of neighborhood yards and parks.

In a short time, I can have enough of these nutritious plants for a pot of greens or a fine salad. Gone are the days when iceberg lettuce was the mainstay of a tossed salad! Now we are regularly using baby spring greens, arugula, sprouts, red and green leaf lettuces, and (believe it or not) weeds! Dandelions have come back into favor to the point where I can find a large bunch at the natural grocery for an unfortunate price, or go pick my own!

A short story of the lowly dandelion: these plants were so well thought of by our Founding Fathers and Mothers that they were brought over on the Mayflower as an essential food and medicinal plant. It was known as an indispensable addition to the yard/garden, table and medicine cabinet. All of it is edible and nourishing. The flowers can be dipped in batter and fried like squash blossoms, the young leaves are delicious in salad, and the old leaves make a good pot herb like kale or collards. The roots can be boiled, diced up in soup or stew, as well as roasted and ground for a hot drink. The uses go on and on!

There are some caveats to foraging that I want to make very clear before I mention the next lovely foods for the table. First of all, know where you are picking and whether the plants have been exposed to pesticides or herbicides, car exhaust or old dumping sites for toxic materials. Second, never gather wild foods unless you know what you are picking. There are very few poisonous wild plants however the few that are poisonous are really deadly. Third, stop using chemicals on your lawn and try to get your whole neighborhood to stop as well. The last item is to use 50% of your regular greens with the wild ones since this is not yet a common table item for you. Always start slowly or you will really clean out your system! Not such a bad thing…if you expect it!

I will only mention a few more very common wild plants here today. They will go very well with the dandelions in a salad. Find a good book or a knowledgeable person to show you the first time. My current favorites are: lambsquarter, sorrel, clover flowers, especially red clover, chickweed, and purslane. Each is a good foil for the more bitter dandelions, all can be eaten raw, and each has an abundance of nutritious qualities. As an example, purslane, a low growing tasty succulent, is good raw or sauteed, and has more Omega 3 fatty acids than most fish!

This is local, organic, sustainable, nutritious, and tasty at it’s finest! Eat your weeds, Friends, and enjoy!