Awesome Acorns

Oh nuts! 

So I went for a hike with one of my girl friends in the fall and we came across a mighty oak, and it got me thinking about acorns and all the things we can do with them.  Every now and then I need to get out of the city, enjoy the cool fall air and get back in touch with nature. Ah, so nice.

We are going hiking, because not only is hiking wonderful for you, (see how hiking can change your brain in this article here: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/01/call-to-wild/

But also to forage for some nuts and possible apples or crab apples.

How can you eat acorns you ask? Well that is exactly what i was wondering this morning so I thought i would do some research on the topic and find out what i need to do to ‘cure’ them so they are edible, how i need to store them for future use and of course what new thing I can make from these lovely little nuts.

Well I found a wonderful article that not only shows how to get our little acorns ready for eating but also shares what you can do with the tannic acid as well! I do love things that use all parts!

In this article http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/survival-skills-5-ways-eat-acorns from Outdoorlife you will also find recipes for roasted acorns, acorn brittle and bread, and acorn cookies! MMM.. these sound delish.

I can’t wait to go hiking to get back in touch with nature and to forage a little so I can come back and make one of the wonderful recipes above.

So what is so wonderful about acorns and why would we want to forage for them?

Well they are a wonderful source of natural vitamins and minerals such as

The tannin’s in the acorns can be saved and used as an astringent for your skin. Use it to soothe burns, scratches and bites.

Acorns are high in fiber which improve digestion and gastric distress. Fiber keeps things moving along just like we need it too. We also know that adding nuts to your diet is a wonderful way to get some healthy protein that no one has to die for.

Yay nuts! Let’s go get some!

 

Starting your garden!

I am so excited! The lilacs are blooming and that is the earth’s signal for us to start planting our vegetable gardens for the season!

Gardening is a great hobby and gives everyone who plants one access to clean fresh food. You can get my report on how to grow your own herbs that heal by signing up on our contact page.

Growing up on a farm, I learned at a young age to love fruits and veg. I wouldn’t even need to come inside to eat because i would be playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine, eating whatever was around to forage. We had grape vines, a cherry tree, wild strawberries, raspberries and a huge garden where i would often pick beans, peas or pull up a carrot to wash off under the hose so i didn’t have to go back inside.

I still find myself in awe of how something as tiny as a seed will grow into a magnificent plant that nourishes us. I get so excited to see those little seeds grow!

So come on, let’s get growing so you can see for yourself how vibrant food makes a vibrant you!

When deciding to start a garden you will need to start with a plan.

I didn’t do this at first, I just read a bunch of books and went willy nilly at it. I reaped some from the fruits of my labour, but I didn’t get  any extras to store for winter and some plants did not do well at all. 🙁  Now I have a garden journal so that I know where I have planted my veg in the past so I can rotate my crops for better nutrients for the new crops and I plan out where I am going to plant things that benefit each other for this year. Like the three sisters. Beans, corn and squash. These three have been planted for years all over the world. They stabilize the soil and help support each other, not to mention they are delicious.

While a smaller garden means less work and money, it will not produce enough food to sustain you for the winter months. Container gardens are fun and easy to maintain not to mention a necessity for small yards or balconies, but they do require more water and fertilizer.

One item that will ease your workload is to put down a 4-inch layer of mulch. This will reduce the soil’s need for water and helps keep weeds under control. Last years leaves or straw make a great mulch. I use both, and I have very few weeds.

Keeping your yard tools in good condition is going to make your maintenance tasks easier. So go ahead and put them away when you’re done, somewhere they are out of the elements.

Save your seeds at the end of the season; it’s cheaper than buying more and you can trade them with other gardeners. Some communities have seed exchanges where you can swap some of your seeds for new varieties!

Here are six things to consider when starting your garden:

Remember each garden will have a unique process for bed preparation, depending on soil conditions and available tools.

  1. Aerate – Use a pitchfork to loosen the soil (to invite oxygen, water and root growth) without turning it over (to preserve structure and microbiology).  
  2. Weed – All competing plants must be pulled up. Be sure to get all the roots or else they will come back.
  3. Amend – Now is the time to add fertilizer or soil amendments.  adding ash from the fire pit for potassium and higher pH.
  4. Mulch – Apply a layer of mulch of your choice until soil is covered.  Mulch protects soil from moisture loss, weed growth, and erosion from wind and rain.
  5. Plant – Direct seeded tomatoes, beans, peppers and transplant seedlings
  6. Companion planting is another lesson to learn. Multiple species can  grow well together, each contributing to the greater ecosystem.  For instance, legumes and their rhizobia (bacteria in their roots) build nitrogen in the soil.

Starting your own garden is so rewarding! When you are outside in nature you have a real appreciation of where your food comes from and the work it takes to grow.

Have you started your garden? What do you like to plant?

 

Dolmas! (stuffed grape leaves)

IMAG1165[1]I am excited to share that I made dolmas over the weekend! My love brought me some grape leaves from his backyard. Two of my favorite things together! Fresh foraged food made into a handheld package for eating and Boris.

I perused many recipes over the weekend to see how other people have made them, then put together what I thought would be good. See my recipe for them here.

I will have to go pick some more as they are good blanched and frozen for up to 6 months, that way I will have some at Christmas time that I can stuff with dried cranberries and apples! MMM… so tasty.

You can buy grape leaves canned in a store or as I like to do, pick them fresh in the late spring early summer when they are still young and not too tough and chewy. I wanted them fresh so that I knew where they were coming from and know that they are not sprayed with all kinds of pesticides as any type of fruit bearing plants typically are.

I picked 24 beautifully shaped leaves, stems attached and no holes. I then blanched them, immediately plunged them into cold water and set them on a tea towel to dry. I left the stems on so that they were easier to work with and to keep them from tearing. The leaves are quite delicate, so some care is needed when handling them.

Shiney side down, lay them flat then carefully clip off the stem. Add your stuffing, (I made 12 vegetarian and 12 with meat) fold in the sides then carefully roll them up. Place on a steam rack and steam for 30-45 minutes. Tada! You’re done! You can serve them hot or cold. I like to serve them with a cucumber yogurt dip.

It seemed strange to me that the recipes I read all said to cook the rice until  it was only half done, but when you are steaming them the rice gets fully cooked and not mushy.

You could take the basic recipe and add cranberries instead of currants and walnuts instead of pine nuts and I think they would still be very good with all the spices.

Dandelions are part of summer too!

IMAG1076The dandelions are up and not only does it mean that we can start planting some vegetables in our gardens (according the phenology,

the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life),  but we can also start harvesting the dandelions to eat!

My daughter and I were out harvesting dandelions over the weekend, she is learning about all the wonderful medicines that are available through foraging, like how dandelions are good in aiding digestion and can helpful with detoxing the liver and in creating prebiotics for our tum tums.

Dandelions are one of the many wonderful sources of food and medicine that our mother earth generously provides for us. Mother really does know best.

Some people think that dandelion is nothing but a pesky weed, but we know better! Dandelion is medicine! A forageable food source for us in the springtime. One chocked full of vitamins such as  A, B, C, D, E and K, as well as minerals, like iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

Dandelion leaves act as a diuretic, which increases the excretion of water from our bodies. In other words it makes you pee a lot. The leaves can be used to spice up your salad or soup, the blooms made into jelly and the root into a coffee like substance or all parts dried and made into tea.

Dandelion is great for detoxing the liver and it aids in digestion due to the high amount of dietary fibre called inulin. Inulin is a soluble dietary fibre. It belongs to a group of carbohydrates known as fructans. Unlike most carbohydrates, inulin is  not digestible. When eaten it passes through the small intestine and then it  ferments in the large intestine. This fermentation process becomes healthy intestinal microflora or prebiotic.

Dandelion flower also has antioxidant properties. Dandelion may also help improve the immune system.

Fresh or dried dandelion herb is a wonderful addition to soups, salads or breads. Please check out our recipes page for more ways to use this beautiful flower and nutritious herb.

After all dandelions are a part of summer too!

 

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