Posts tagged: traditional foodways

Autumn Scenes

By , November 17, 2019

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Dawn Chorus Herbal Tea Recipe for Spring

By , April 7, 2019

It is Spring. Brown and barren, with the greenery of hyacinth bulbs barely beginning to nose up through the dry soil. Now and then, a wet snowstorm, slush, and mud. This is Early Spring in Colorado, giving way to a period of ephemeral, rarefied beauty that makes it difficult to keep eyes on the road as one drives around a city. Millions of fragrant light pink, dark pink, and white crabapple blossoms filling tree after tree, petals fluttering in every direction on the breeze. Fuchsia redbud trees in protected corners with an iridescent glow on gray days. Cheerful tulips and hyacinth and green grass in front yards. Bushes bowing heavily with lilacs. Fresh spring rain showers. Robins, finches, sparrows, blue jays, flickers — nearly constant birdsong from dawn until dusk. What a feast for our senses.

It is around this time that this winter-lover’s eyes begin to really crave green. It is so nice to see the green!!

I have also rediscovered an old favorite herbal tea blend called Dawn Chorus — it’s a nice one for Spring. Mountain Rose Herbs gets the credit for this one, but it’s such a simple blend that I reverse-engineered a recipe for it quite a while ago. Mountain Rose is so often out of stock on stuff and their shipping is so expensive, that I stopped using them — but I still love this tea blend. My own recipe might have more rose petals in it, which is even nicer than the original.

Dawn Chorus tea blend:

1 part green rooibos (or red rooibos, for a taste that’s different but every bit as good in this blend)

1 part stinging nettles leaf, dried

1 part rose petals, dried

Mix together.

Put a heaping teaspoon into an infuser* in your mug. Add boiling water, steep for 5-10 minutes, squeeze out, add milk!

Then sit down and enjoy it. I am a big tea drinker. A chain tea drinker. I used to have a rule where I had to sit down while I drank my cup of tea. Over time, the rule faded and I’d be up chopping vegetables between sips of tea, starting a load of laundry with a cup of tea in my hand, going out to get the mail with my cup of tea, cleaning up and taking things from room to room with my cup of tea, writing emails with my cup of tea. I’ve recently decided to follow this rule again, most of the time. Taking that quiet moment feels good.

*Infusers! There are so many crappy ones. My favorite is the People’s Brew Basket in stainless steel (made by Republic of Tea — I get this locally at the health food store for about $3.50) and this one which is good for wide mugs. Fill-able tea bags are also sold, but you can make your own with coffee filters like this:

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Stewed Figs

By , December 7, 2012

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If you find yourself with some fresh figs on hand, try stewing them. They’re a nice little treat.

Cut them into pieces, and cook in a saucepan with a bit of water. Add a good squeeze of fresh orange juice if you like, and maybe a quick dash of salt.

Simmer, covered, until the figs are tender and the water is nearly gone — about 15-20 minutes.

I tossed a sprig of fresh rosemary into this batch. It added a nice flavor but don't use too much or let it cook for too long or it will impart a bitterness.

Serve plain… or topped with pepitas… alongside yogurt… or on a salad.

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Breakfast Salad

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I love salads for breakfast!

I chop everything into small pieces, including the lettuce, and eat the whole salad with a spoon.

This particular breakfast salad contained:

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Romaine lettuce

Apple

Avocado

Onion

Dried Cranberries

Pepitas

Stewed Figs

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Freshly squeezed Orange Juice

Nama Shoyu Soy Sauce

Salt/Pepper

(and no oil, although you could certainly add some if you like)

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Absolutely delicious!!!

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Classic Pumpkin Pie

By , November 19, 2012

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With an eye toward Thanksgiving this week, here’s my own recipe for classic pumpkin pie, along with my own crust recipe.

Neither recipe is the most decadent you’ll find out there because heavy, fatty things don’t agree with me. So if you’re wanting to make a pumpkin pie that’s on the lighter side, try this one. I make it every Thanksgiving. The crust is not really rich and flaky, and probably won’t wow any chefs out there, but it is humble and it does the job. I like it.

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Lindsey’s Classic Pumpkin Pie

Rounded 2/3 cup of rapadura (or white or brown sugar)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp, heaping, of cinnamon

1/2 tsp, heaping, of powdered ginger

1 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup half-n-half (light cream)

1 15-oz can Libby’s pumpkin (or 2 cups cooked pumpkin or winter squash, pureed, and cooked down if too watery — the healthfood store brands of canned pumpkin are way too watery. I learned my lesson to use Libby’s!)

1 9-inch pie shell (recipe below)

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Preheat oven to 425°.

Mix sugar, salt, and spices in a small bowl.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in pumpkin, sugar-spice mix, and the milk and half-n-half. Mix until thoroughly combined, but don’t get overzealous (like, don’t do what I did once and overbeat with egg beaters — it beats too much air in, and makes a souffle-type thing!)

Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 350° and bake 40-50 more minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.

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Lindsey’s Not-Too-Rich 9″ Pie Crust

2 cups flour (whole wheat, or white, or a combo)

1 Tbsp sugar

Scant 1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces (salted or unsalted, either is fine)

Ice water (you’ll use about 3/4 cup)

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In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in cold butter.

I like to use my fingers to rub in the butter and blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Mix the ice water in, 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring lightly with a fork after each addition, until a dough is formed. (3/4 cup is about 12 Tbsp.) Try not to overwork the dough. Small bits of butter will be visible — this is what you want.

When a good, workable dough is formed — not too dry, not too sticky — wrap in cellophane and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to roll out, lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.

Roll into a circle. Transferring to your pie plate is made easier by folding the dough in half and draping it over your rolling pin.

Trim off any excess dough, but leave enough extra around the edge to fold under and crimp with three fingers, as in the photo below.

If you do have a little extra dough, you could use a cookie cutter to cut out a little something-or-other (a maple leaf, for example) that you can bake and then place on top of your finished pie as decoration.

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Soup of the Day

By , July 13, 2012

This was a delicious little lunch for today. I pulled the beef broth out of the freezer, and the rest is from my own garden! With everything cut into little pieces, it cooked up in just a few minutes.

beef broth

scallions (white part)

celery

kale

potatoes

…and at the table, I stirred in some raw homemade sauerkraut with some of its juice, which leant a wonderful brightness to the soup!

And I just remembered I have some soaked & cooked lentils, which I think would also go well in this soup.

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Nettles!!

By , May 1, 2012

As I mentioned in this post, I found nettles! This was really very exciting because now I can collect my own instead of continuing to purchase my usual dried nettles for tea. And for the very first time, I had freshly cooked nettles and they’re amazing! A mild and pleasing taste. I cooked them in some salted water, and ended up drinking every last drop of the broth too — it was thick and delicious — almost meaty. They’re so good for you, too. High in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Cooked nettles

Nettles & white beans

And I love nettles tea because it works better than an antihistamine pill for me. This was an accidental discovery; I’m allergic to bee stings, and I get honeybee and ‘mixed vespids’ venom immunotherapy shots every 6 weeks so that my body gets desensitized to the venom. Normally I get a big, itchy 3″ wide welt on each arm where I get the shot, and I take a Claritin pill the morning of the shots to help counteract that. However one day I had some strong nettles tea before my shots, along with the pill. No welt! No redness! No itchy! At first I didn’t realize it was the nettles, until another time when I’d forgotten to take the antihistamine pill and only had nettles tea, and same thing! No welt. Finally I realized it was the nettles tea, and the pill wasn’t even really necessary. So now I make sure to have nettles tea before my shot, and every day for at least about a week afterward. It’s quite magical. If you have seasonal allergies (mercifully, I don’t), you might try nettles tea!

My favorite nettles tea:

2-3 Tbsp dried nettles

~1/2 Tbsp dried mint

~1/2 Tbsp dried lemongrass

In a mug, pour 8-12 ounces boiling water over herbs, cover, and steep about 15 minutes.

So anyway, back to the fresh nettles. I couldn’t believe my luck with finding patch after patch of them, and while I often travel with an empty plastic bag (you never know what you’ll need it for!), I didn’t have one with me on the walk. However my mom had packed snacks in a bag, and thank goodness she had! Precious, precious bag. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to collect any. Disappointing!

I had an empty little sandwich baggie which I used as a glove to pick them, though still got plenty of stings on my wrists. (The stinging compounds are easily neutralized once the nettles are either boiled or dried to a crisp.) I stuffed the bag full, and also took some plants with roots and have planted those in pots outside, hoping they’ll decide it’s a satisfactory location to grow. I’ve read that nettles are particular about where they grow; you might think you have the ideal location for them — but they have the last word.

Do you cultivate your own nettles? Have any growing tips?

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As you can see, the living room was full of nettles for a while. I ended up getting about 3 gallons, dried.

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Classic Tabbouleh

By , April 4, 2012

One of my all-time favorite foods, ever! This is my mom’s famous recipe.

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And since my diet has gone essentially low fat vegetarian, which is presently all my body will handle, this stuff is my mainstay. I plow through an entire batch all by myself every 2 or 3 days! And since I can’t eat much oil at all, I change up the dressing to be only a small drizzle of oil, and tons of lemon juice, and I’ve grown to really love it this way!

Also, tabbouleh is normally made with bulghur. I always make it with quinoa now since I love the taste of it and it’s more nutritious and also a complete protein — but bulghur is of course delicious too!

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Mom’s Tabbouleh

1/2 cup uncooked bulghur or quinoa*

1-2 cups chopped tomatoes — (2 cups = about 1 lb) (I always make it with 2 cups of tomatoes now, but if you do, you may need to increase the amounts of lemon juice and olive oil slightly)

2 cups finely chopped parsley — chop first and then measure (about 1 medium-large bunch parsley…but do measure it first)

1/2 cup chopped green onion or 1/3 cup finely chopped white onion

1 level Tbsp dried mint, crushed (or 2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped)

1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt (about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp), or to taste

Pepper to taste

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Cook the 1/2 cup bulghur or quinoa* (1/2 cup grain to 1 cup boiling water + dash of salt; cover, simmer till water’s absorbed, about 20 minutes). Cool it to room temperature. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll put the hot quinoa into the freezer to cool it quickly.

Mix everything together in a big bowl. But if you don’t think you’ll eat all of it within a day or two, mix the dressing separately, and add it to the tabbouleh right before you eat a helping of it. That way the tabbouleh will stay fresh several days longer in your fridge.

Enjoy!

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*Cooking quinoa:

Be sure to rinse the quinoa well to remove bitter saponin residue. The quick way to cook it is to boil your water (ratio of 1 cup grain to scant 2 cups water), add some salt, add quinoa and cover, simmering until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

However, if you’re able to plan ahead enough, it’s much better, healthwise, to soak your quinoa for at least 12 hours to make it more digestible — the way traditional cultures do. Soaking grains neutralizes phytic acid (which binds to essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and blocks their absorption) as well as enzyme inhibitors in the grain. Soaking also breaks down difficult-to-digest proteins and encourages the production of beneficial enzymes which in turn increases the vitamin (especially B vitamin) content of the grain.

So…

To soak quinoa: Thoroughly rinse 1/2 cup of dry quinoa to remove bitter saponin residue. Put 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup and fill to the 1/2 cup mark with warm water, then mix with the quinoa in a bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours, or up to 24. When you’re ready to cook, rinse and drain the quinoa well, and place in a saucepan. Add a scant 1/2 cup of water, and a little salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Cool, and proceed with the recipe.

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Minestrone Soup

By , February 18, 2012

Minestrone - a variation on the recipe below

This soup is delicious. I sometimes alter the recipe depending on what I have on hand, so feel free to play around.

The recipe makes a pretty large pot. Cut the amounts back if you like!!

Minestrone Soup

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, cut into 1/2″ dice

2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2″ slices

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2″ dice

1/2 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2″ dice

4 cups shredded green cabbage

4 – 6 cups chopped kale or swiss chard (1/4 – 1/2 lb)

28 oz canned chopped tomatoes with their juice (or feel free to use fresh tomatoes!)

2 to 3 tsp salt-free Italian herb seasoning

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (but homemade grassfed beef bone broth is delicious too!)

1 1/2 cups cooked Great Northern beans (or 1 15-oz can, drained)

Salt/pepper to taste

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*It helps to have everything chopped and ready before starting*

In a very large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until softened.

Add carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring for 4 minutes.

Add the zucchini and potatoes. Cook, stirring, for another 4 minutes.

Add cabbage and kale (or chard) and cook till cabbage is wilted.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, the veggie broth, and the Italian seasoning.

Simmer, covered, for one hour.

In a blender or food processor, puree half the beans with some liquid from the soup. Stir the puree along with the remaining beans into the soup.

Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Salt + pepper to taste.

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