Since moving to the city I’ve felt utterly nature deprived. It’s not that there aren’t parks and walking trails, it’s just that they are so manicured and full of people. There aren’t many wild places left, and that to me is what real nature is all about. Places where animals are allowed to roam free and trees can grow wherever they want. Where you can fish and hunt and set up camp and no one is there to tell you no. In Canada there are still many places like this, though you have to make a journey to find them. Yesterday we made it to a little nook in the woods, and while not totally wild it was still a closer cry to the calling in my heart that aches to just walk through trees and feel the sun on my face, unfiltered from city towers and highway smog.
There were buffalo rolling in dust piles and a coyote with a pheasant in it’s mouth. And of course there was a picnic, because no outing is complete without a nice meal in the grass. These shrimp and avocado lettuce wraps were the star of the show. They out do a sandwich any day and leave you feeling nourished but not weighed down. It’s so nice to just disconnect, even for one day a week. To just walk and breathe and witness the beauty all around us. The rest of the week can be for hustling and connecting but just one day devoted to simplicity is worth more than a whole week of busyness.
The almond satay sauce for these is super versatile and makes an amazing salad dressing or sauce for rice noodles or grilled chicken. You could also substitute the shrimp in this recipe for chicken or other seafood, they are mighty adaptable and make a great healthy lunch.
Nettles, the stinging sisters as Susun Weed calls them, these magical stinging weeds turn into luscious nourishment once the heat touches them.
Nettles make me so giddy, they are such a treat and they don’t last long. When they arrive in early spring I stalk them and try to get them at their most prime, before they go to seed and get too rough and woody to enjoy. They are one of the first fresh local greens to come on the scene.
They like to grow in marshy wet places, alongside fields and swamps, near creeks and moist woodlands. When harvesting nettles, wear gloves and long pants, bring scissors to snip off the tender top shoots and if you’re lucky you can go around for a second harvest.
Many people see stinging nettles as an invasive weed, but they are actually a delicious food. All wild foods are far more nutrient dense than the domesticated plants we eat most often. Stinging nettles when lightly steamed to remove their sting, are reminiscent of spinach. They make a delicious earthy tasting tea and when infused for 4 hours or more offer an amazing source of key minerals that many of us are lacking.
We eat a lot of nettles this time of year, basically you can enjoy them in any dish you would use spinach for. So far we’ve really been digging stinging nettle omelettes, hummus, palak paneer, teas and other delightful nettle experiments.
This pesto is ah-ma-zing, it’s really a classic pesto just nettles instead of basil, which gives it a more demure taste but equally satisfying. We ate it with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and roast chicken which was divine, the next days leftovers were spread on crusty sourdough bread from the french bakery in town.
Henry David Thoreau once said ” All good things are wild and free.” I would have to agree, and nettles definitely fall into that category. Food is meant to be free and the Earth provides plentifully, we just have to know where to look.
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
by Mary Oliver
If there’s a poem to summon to the surface the realization that worry is of no use this would be it. Not that I’ve fully grasped that concept yet, it seems still there is always something to fret over.
Whether my taurean moon is stirring worry over money and bills or I leave the house certain I left the stove on. The eyes of many may close when we rest our heads at night, but the minds are another story. My head hits the pillow and that is where the real fun begins, the continual thought stream until the sandman’s magic dust forms a crust so thick I can’t help but drift away.
There is a light, a reprieve, sleep arrives and worries melt away and wander around our dreams. A new day, and a chance to let it all go, brush it off. As I meander through my mind, I wonder, is there any purpose to imagining the worst, focusing on the bad? I’ve never been one to ignore the gritty, less appealing details of life. Life is messy. Plants don’t grow in sunshine and rainbows, they grow in shit and darkness. Yet there is a balance, a line we walk along which crossed too often into fears allure causes dis-ease. Especially when fears bubble up in a selfish hungry manner. Stepping into the world beyond our thoughts takes courage, but more than that it takes connection. Living in our heads is boring after some time, there’s a whole big wild world out there beckoning us to just release and be vulnerable.
I’m happy when my mouth is on fire, when my heart is on fire, when my soul is alight. One worry has at least been squandered and that is not having any hot sauce. I’m slightly ashamed to say this bugs me, there’s something fundamental about always having hot sauce on hand. This recipe makes sooooooo much, you can give it away, hoard it for months or a little of both. It also makes a great marinade for pork or chicken, but be warned, very very spicy.
In a large pot melt the coconut oil, add whole garlic cloves and brown on all sides.
Add the diced onion and cook until translucent.
Using a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder, combine allspice, cloves,peppercorns,coriander seeds and thyme, if using a mortar and pestle smash the ginger with the spices, if not, throw it in the pot.
Add carrots, habaneros, salt, sugar, vinegar, water and lime juice. Cook until carrots are tender and puree until super smooth. Adjust thickness by adding more water until desired consistency is achieved.
Makes a large amount (10 C) of hot sauce and lasts in the fridge for a long time.
My giant 110 lb pooch is laying on me as I write this. He’s the sweetest bubba, biggest cuddle bug, and most loyal wolf companion. I think I’ll have to invent some special dog treats to share the recipe testing duties with Ranger.
Today I longed for summer, I pined for the warm water and even the mosquitos, the dragonflies, the bees. My feet are itching for the warm earth. The celebrations of true love filled with toasts and endless dancing. The thick mist that rolls through the mountains early in the morning while I weed the garden and sip strong coffee.
Are you pining for summer yet?
I was thinking also about strawberries, the sweet little ones, freshly picked just hours before they would lose their prime, still warm from the red hot sun. You know the kind right? You squeeze them gently between your fingers and they become instant jam. Impossible to compare summers strawberries to those shipped from California barely ripe. I always aim to freeze ample amounts every summer. It never happens because they are too good, but I did have a little stash of berries in the freezer.
A humble amount of strawberries will do in this recipe. It’s delightfully summery, with the crisp red stalks of swiss chard and fresh sprouts locally procured. This strawberry balsamic vinaigrette will definitely be happening in bulk quantities as soon as those bright red berries come into my life again. I hope you’ll try this dressing with whatever salad variation you fancy and feel like summers right around the corner.
I had NO idea making coconut butter was so darn easy. Really, seriously, easy. I feel silly for having bought it all these years, the same way I feel about buying broth or sauerkraut. If I can make it from scratch with minimal effort IMMA MAKE IT. Okay off my soapbox, this creamy, luscious coconut butter was made in my handy dandy vitamix but you can also make it using a food processor.
Coconut butter, if you aren’t familiar with it, is quite different from the oil. It’s made by “creaming” the flesh of the coconut to make a smooth butter. When you refrigerate it, the fats from the coconut solidify and your butter gets quite hard. A fine example of the healthy saturated fat present in coconut. If you’re curious about the benefits of coconut, check this out, they are many.
In a high powered blender or food processor add coconut flakes and blend on medium until they start to get creamy, turn to high setting until you have a smooth butter. For an extra smooth coconut butter, process through a fine mesh sieve. Store in the fridge, lasts a very long time.
What to do with coconut butter? Here’s a list of ideas…
It’s official folks, sauerkraut and other lacto/wild fermented/cultured veggies are officially more potent than expensive probiotic supplements. The benefits of making your own sauerkraut are huge! This humble and ancient food has never been so appealing, consuming sauerkraut could literally change your life and help heal chronic problems. It’s easy, cheap and powerful, learn how to make your own delicious sauerkraut and reap the benefits.
“We had it analyzed. We found in a 4-6 ounce serving of fermented vegetables there were literally ten trillion bacteria”
A 16oz jar of home made sauerkraut is the equivalent to 8 bottles of a standard probiotic supplement! WOWZA!
Cultured Vegetables are the ultimate superfood!
10 reasons to eat sauerkraut
1. They are delicious the combinations of vegetables, herbs and spices are endless.
2. 85% of your immune system lies in your digestive wall it is our bodies first defence against illness. If our gut bacteria is compromised we are far more susceptible to disease.
3. Helps maintain a healthy weight because when your digestion is healthy and your body has all it’s fundamental nutrients you’ll be less inclined to binge on unhealthy foods.
4. Protects you from nasty parasites as well as candida overgrowth, pathogenic viruses and bacteria.
5. Preserves food when it is at its peak production. Instead of buying a cabbage out of season in the middle of winter, how about cracking open a bottle of kraut that you made when that cabbage was in season?
6. Fermentation makes nutrients easier to absorb. It has been proven that cabbage, once fermented, contains 200X more vitamin C than it does when consumed raw.
7. Protect yourself against depression and anxiety by consuming cultured vegetables. Researchers have shown a link between unhealthy gut flora and the incidence of depression. In one study they found using blood analysis, 35% of people with depression were found to have leaky gut syndrome. Gut bacteria also regulates the release of the feel good hormone dopamine.
8. Keep Alzheimers at bay research shows increased incidence of alzheimers in people with leaky gut syndrome. When certain gut bacteria escape into the bloodstream such as H.pylori they can affect our brains and instigate the build up of plaque.
9. Improved Digestion nobody likes feeling lethargy and discomfort after a meal, you should feel energized and nourished. If your gut bacteria are in balance your digestion should be efficient and painless.
10. Beautiful skin has a defined affiliation with balanced healthy gut flora. Many studies have been done showing this connection including one Russian study where they found 54% of acne patients had significant alterations to the gut flora.
Anything you want to add to the list?
Now don’t you want to start making your own delicious sauerkraut?
It’s super easy, and incredibly affordable, especially when compared to fancy probiotic supplements.
Make sure not to overdo it if you are just starting out. Fermented foods are very cleansing and can result in a healing crisis if too much is consumed at once. I recommend starting slow, with a teaspoon of cultured vegetables at every meal. You can work your way up to a heaping tablespoon over the course of a week or two.
I am sending you over to the master- Sandor Katz, if you want to learn more check out his books, author of Wild Fermentation and the Art of Fermentation both very comprehensive and insightful books on fermentation wisdom, history, and recipes.
Here is the basic sauerkraut recipe,which I use as a template for all my sauerkraut antics, but feel free to add the following…
other types of cabbage
My Basic Sauerkraut Recipe
Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater OR One-gallon mason jar or two 500 mL mason jars with lids
Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)
Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)
Homemade Sauerkraut Directions
Chop, grate or slice cabbage, you can use red or green, if you combine the two, the preferred method of Sandor Katz author of multiple books on the topic) you’ll end up with a beautiful pink sauerkraut.
Sprinkle the cabbage with salt as you go, this draws moisture out of the cabbage through osmosis, creating the brine which will allow your kraut to preserve itself and the probitics to proliferate.
At this point you can choose to add other vegetables, herbs and spices which I’ll talk about below, or you can leave as is.
Pack the salted cabbage into your vessel, whether you’re using a crock, bucket or jars place small amounts of cabbage at a time and pack down using your fists or another sturdy tool. You want to make it as compact as possible to help force the water out of the cabbage.
Once you’ve packed down all your cabbage, cover with a plate or for jars use the “butt” end of the cabbage to push it down and allow the liquid brine to cover the cabbage. Use your weighted water bucket or heavy stone on top of the plate to keep the kraut submerged.
Press down on the weight every few hours as the salt draws more moisture from the cabbage. You want the brine to be above the plate. If the brine still isn’t above the plate by the next day, add one cup of pure water combined with one tsp salt and add it to the kraut. If you’re using jars there are some nifty contraptions that seal out oxygen but allow Co2 to release, a worthwhile investment.
Cover with a cloth to let it ferment and come to life.
– See my original article at: http://realfoodies.org/food/how-do-you-make-sauerkraut/#sauerkraut-recipe
My Super Mineral Kraut
For this version I mix 1 Tbs. dulse flakes with my 3 Tbs of himalayan salt. You could use other flaked seaweeds too, like nori, arame, kombu…
This version is great for adding more iodine into the diet which is protective against radiation. Seaweed is also high in B vitamins, particularly B12. The mineral content of seaweed is impressive, and fermentation increases the bioavailability.
I think it’s really important to consume foods that are rich in minerals in this day and age. With the levels of soil depletion we are seeing, our foods are supplying less and less nutrient value thanks to modern agriculture and unsustainable farming practices.
My Super Spicy Immune Boosting “kimchi” Kraut
I have a recipe for authentic kimchi here, it’s elaborate and time consuming, plus you need a particular type of cabbage and daikon radish. Not to say it’s not worth it because trust me, it is. However if you want a cheat version that is equally delicious and uses plain old green cabbage then this is it. This is a fantastic food to eat when your feeling under the weather.
Follow the directions for plain sauerkraut but mix in the following additions…
1 Tbs red chili flakes
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs fish sauce
My East Indian Inspired Kraut
Around our house we eat alot of indian curries and pickles. I find classic sauerkraut doesn’t quite jive with Indian cuisine, but I still like to get a dose of probiotics and healthy enzymes. Plus turmeric is incredibly healing, check out some of the reasons you should incorporate more turmeric into your healing practices.
Follow the directions for plain sauerkraut but mix in the following additions…
Hey I'm Chantelle, my alter ego would be a mermaid if I wasn't such a terrible swimmer. I love writing authentically and cooking in my pyjamas. My favourite pastimes include eating avocados, travelling the world and hanging out with a toddler.