These recipes align well with the herbalist's or herb-enthusiast's interest in home-sourced, and/or naturally-derived, wholesome foods.
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Burdock (Arctium sp) is one of the most nourishing herbs on the planet. It’s long tap root reaches deep into the soil and pulls up minerals, storing them in it’s roots. These burdock pickles jar nutrients are then rendered bio available to our bodies once we ingest them. Western herbalists consider burdock to be a blood “cleanser” and I like to be more clear in that it nourishes the liver, which supports our bodies with elimination. Burdock also nourishes the blood, it does not deplete as the wording “cleanser” insinuates. It actually, deeply nourishes and replenishes while also assisting the liver in functioning more effectively. In doing this burdock is known for it’s ability to clear skin conditions, from eczema to acne. So you can see that ingesting these pickles can nourish the body in very deep and long lasting ways.
As for harvesting, we harvest burdock root in the late fall, just before the ground freezes. The roots contain the most nutrients, at that time, as the plant has stored them for it’s own winter nourishment. You can also purchase burdock root in asian grocery stores as well as health food stores. Burdock is a biennial (a plant with a two year life cycle) and like many plants with a two year life cycle, the root is harvested in the fall of the first year. When harvested at this time of the year the root is a tender vegetable. In Japan burdock is known as gobo and is considered a staple vegetable. When prepared properly it is tender and delicious. I love to pickle the roots and to eat them as part of my daily nourishment, particularly during the winter months. I learned to make these pickles from one of my first herb teachers, Eaglesong Gardner. I am ever grateful, as many years later we still make these with our own twists to the recipe. I like to make one or two gallons which will last through the winter months.
Making Burdock Pickles
- 1.Slice burdock roots. Can be in strips or coins, but whichever style you choose it is ideal to slice them evenly burdock pickles slicing
- 2.Place sliced roots in a steaming basket and into a pot. Add a small amount of water to the bottom. Steam for 5-10 minutes burdock pickles steaming
- 3.While the roots are steaming slice a small amount of garlic and ginger. Wild leeks, wild ginger and turmeric can be added as well. Place garlic and ginger in a proper size jar for the amount of root that you have. I use quarts or 1/2 gallons.
- 4.Prepare the brine. The brine consists of:
- -1 part cider vinegar (I like to use raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar)
- -1 part tamari or shoyu (both fermented soy products)
- -1 part steamed burdock water
- 5. When roots are steamed, pack into jars. Once roots cool down, pour the brine over them. I like to have everything cool, so that the beneficial bacteria in the vinegar and the tamari renders these a fermented food product, beneficial to the digestive system.
*burdock contains inulin, which is a prebiotic substance, also beneficial to the digestive system*
- 6.I like to leave these on the counter for a day or two, until the flavors meld. Then I place them in the refrigerator. They can be stored there indefinitely.
- 7.We like to nourish our bodies by eating a couple of pickles a day.
We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
Purslane (Portulaca grandiflora) is a common weed that contains many nutritive benefits, One of the most striking benefits is that it is one of the few plants that contains omega 3 essential fatty acids.. Purslane also contains high amounts of dietary minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and manganese. And it is high in vitamin A precursors, vitamin C and vitamin E. These vitamins are all known for their antioxidant powers. This edible weed also contain beta-cyanins and beta-xanthins, which also act as antioxidants.
This plant is considered a delicacy among forgers and in addition to being added to soup, it is delicious in salad, added to sir fry vegetables, cooked on it’s own as a vegetable, added to relish, tuna salad, egg salad and so many other dished. It is incredibly versatile. It also helps to hold moisture in the soil, so is an incredible herb to plant under your cultivated vegetables and plants. It is cooperative and grows well with others.
Whether you are familiar with this plant or just meeting it for the first time, I trust you will find inspiration and go outside for a nibble. If you are ambitious you can make the following refreshing summer soup.*this recipe is inspired by the Unblended Gaspacho recipe by Sally Fallon in the cookbook Nourishing Traditions.
- Lemon Miso Dressing (see recipe below)
- 2 bunches scallions or other onion
- 2 red peppers
- 1 bunch celery
- 3 cucumbers
- 1 bunch radishes
- 1 quart chicken or beef stock
- 6 tomatoes (I prefer heirloom tomatoes, as they add superior flavor)
- 2 cups cut purslane
- 1 cup chopped purslane for garnish
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
- Chop all of the vegetables in very small pieces. Mix scallions, celery, peppers, cucumbers and radishes with lemon miso dressing to marinate. Refrigerate for 4-24 hours. Stir in purslane, stock and tomatoes. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with purslane and chives. Lemon Miso Dressing
- 2 tablespoons miso (fermented bean paste)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot Blend all ingredients with a wisk or food processor.
A couple of years ago I witnessed a woman express irritation at being called a lady. She was reacting to the idea of being considered an aristocrat and elitist connotations she was prescribing to the term. I realized that I don’t find the term offensive and I find language fascinating. I know that in different eras, words have different meanings. I often find language fascinating, so I decided to do some research on the origins of the word. Following my curiosity and a hunch, I was delighted by what I discovered.
What I found is that the word comes from the old English word hlaefdige. The first part of the word which is a derivation of half meaning loaf, bread. The second part is from the root dig=, to knead. So we can say that a lady is she who kneads bread. The connotations at the time delineated the role of the lady to nourish her household.
While it is true that lady became a term for women of nobility, clearly the origins stem from that of a woman who nourishes her family by baking bread. As a woman who devotes her life to nourishing my family and community by baking bread and preparing whole and wild food meals as well as offering a wide spectrum of opportunities to gather and learn, I do not take offense to being addressed as a lady. I have come to embrace the term and smile when I hear it. I smile because I hear a celebration of myself as a bread kneader.
In celebration of all of the current and future bread kneaders, I am delighted to share the following instructions and recipes for baking sour dough bread. I focus on sourdough bread, as I appreciate the fermentation process. This process produces a bread that has been leavened for a long period of time and renders it more digestible.
The first step in making sourdough bread it to catch yeast. There are a variety of ways to catch yeast. My preference is to catch yeast from the surface of wild grapes, which grown abundantly around me. I replenish my starter every year, even though it is probably not necessary, but I enjoy the process of catching yeast.
- 1. To catch yeast from grapes and other fruit: Place a bunch of grapes or other fruit (I have made a nice starter from blueberries that I purchased from my local food coop) in a bowl. Mix in equal amounts of flour and water. I start with a cup of each, but equal proportions are more important. Mix them together and cover, place in a location where the temperatures are at least 68 degrees F. Every day for 3-5 days add equal amounts of flour and water, until the mixture is bubbly and has a mild sour smell. Strain the grapes out of the mixture with a strainer, using a spoon to push the mixture through the strainer. You know have a starter that you can use to bake bread. You will need to continue feeding your starter, see below for feeding instructions.
- 2. To catch yeast from the environment: Wild yeast lives everywhere. You can capture it from the air and from the flour itself. Simply place equal amounts of flour and water in a bowl. Cover the bowl and leave it in a place where the average temperature is at least 68 degrees F. Add equal amounts of flour and water everyday for 3-5 days, until the mixture is bubbly and has a mild sour smell. You know have a starter that you can use to bake bread. You will need to continue feeding your starter, see below for feeding instructions.
- 3. To catch yeast from another person: Some people are fortunate enough to have a culture passed on through their family. If you do not have this option, you can find a friend who has a starter that they will share with you, you can purchase starters on the internet and at some natural health food stores. There are many starters and trying different starters can fun. I have had several going at the same time. It is fun to experiment.
Feeding Your Wild Yeast Starter:
Feeding our starter fresh flour on a regular basis, provides it with the carbohydrates necessary for it to thrive. The yeast need sugar and the flour is the source. Feeding the starter weekly is ideal. If you are baking once a week or bi-weekly you can feed it once you remove the amount you need for your recipe. Starters can be stored in the refrigerator between uses. If you bake every 2-3 days you can feed the starter and leave it out of the refrigerator.
To feed your starter, place the starter in a jar or a crock. If you are planning to bake add equal amounts of flour and water (it is ideal to do this by weight, but if you do not have a scale you can use a measuring cup), the starter should be the consistency of a thick soup. Do this for 2-3 days prior to baking bread.
If you are simply feeding it to keep it active, you will want it to be a little thicker, like a thick dough. This can be stored outside of the refrigerator for up to a week. If you are not going to bake with it, place it in the refrigerator after a week.
* Generally, the amount you feed your sourdough starter depends on how much of it you have to start with. I typically double the amount of starter each time I feed it. Keep in mind that if you have more starter than you need you can pass it on or you can feed small amounts of flour and water just to maintain it until you need more. You can also make sourdough crackers, pancakes or other baked goods.
* To store your starter for long periods of time, you can either dry (simply smear it on a dehydrator tray and dry on a setting below 100F) or you can place it in a small jar (4 or 8 oz) and freeze it.
Quick Sourdough Bread Recipe
(makes two loaves and makes a light bread, that is agreeable even to those who are not used to whole grain breads)
- 1-11/2 cups of starter
- 5 cups flour
- 4 cups of warm water
- stir and let sit overnight (or for at least 8 hours)
- Add 5-6 more cups of flour
- Add 1 TBS salt (to be adjusted to your taste, as you make more bread)
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- Mix and knead for 10-15 minutes
- Grease two baking pans (I alternate between loaf and round pans)
- Place loaves into the pan and rise for 2-3 hours (the bread should increase in size)
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes
Always remember this step! In the morning take 11/2 cups for your starter.
To the flour mixture:
For moist bread place a pan of water in the oven during baking.
Salad dressing is something I have not purchased in a very long time. Back when I did purchase it, the ingredient list, no matter how “organic”, always contained something I had concerns about. As a result, I began making my own dressing and will never turn back. It is so simple and one of the most nourishing things we put on the table.
Here are a list of reasons I make my own dressing:
- 1. I know what goes into it.
- 2. I can choose ingredients that add to the nutrient density of my meal. In other words, I am getting my vitamins and minerals from my salad dressing.
- 3. I get to put my wonderful herbal infused vinegars and occasionally an herbal infused oil to the dressing (which lends itself to #2). Vinegar is a great medium for extracting vitamins and minerals as well as supporting the body in assimilating them.
- 4. I can add new ingredients along the way, making each dressing unique and interesting.
- 5. This dressings also makes a great dipping sauce for bread, vegetables and whatever else you are inclined to dip.
- 6. I can make enough for a week or two in 5 minutes.
Adding herbs through infused vinegars and/or oils adds to the dressings the nutrients that the vinegar and/or oil extract from the plant. Vinegar will extract a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals and provides the perfect menstruum for nutrient absorption. And if you use raw apple cider vinegar you benefit from the extra nutrients in the vinegar. I often serve this dressing at class lunches, wild eats dinners and during the apprenticeship program. I am often asked for the recipe, so here it is. Enjoy!
Salad Dressing and/or Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup Olive oil
- 1 TBS miso paste or more to taste (in addition to our own homemade miso, we like South River Miso. Of course you can use any Miso paste that you have access to)
- 1-2 TBS raw local honey
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup Tamari or Shoyu (another fermented soy type sauce) Combine above ingredients in jar and shake or wisk together.
I sometimes add buttermilk which thickens it and adds a creamy texture. You can also add ground flax seeds, ginger, and/or garlic to make an Asian-inspired dressing.
This can be used on salads, any vegetable dish, grain dishes and/or as a marinade. The more miso you add the thicker the dressing will be.
Of course those of you who are like me, a scratch cook, you will add whatever you have available to create your very own version.
I am stuffed full and quite content – thank you for the excellent meal and community!”
The sap moon has arrived! We have been the orchestrators of an Urban Maple Sugaring Project in our community for the past 6 years. Our project began with our own desire to learn about the process and add another wild food to our pantry. We now provide ourselves and our community with a locally produced sweet that is mineral rich. We tap trees throughout the city of Sheboygan, WI (population 50,000) with the permission of home and business owners. We share some of the harvest with the people who support the project. They of course enjoy the syrup and they learn that there is food right in their backyard!
The project also includes collaboration with our local environmental center. The center evaporates our sap for us. The center has been tapping trees in their aging maple forest for many years. Their project is focused on providing a demonstration project for school groups and a community celebration of the harvest: Flap Jack Days. We help to tend the sugar shack and we give the center a percentage of the resulting syrup. After a long cold winter, we are thrilled to be able to participate in this community activity!
A Couple of days ago, we and a host of other volunteers tapped the trees at the center. It was still a little cold for the sap to be running, but they are preparing for school groups and needed to have their demonstration project ready.
It is ideal to tap trees just when the sap begins to run, as the resulting yield will be higher. The sap will begin to run when the daytime temperatures warm up above freezing. It has been a very cold winter here in Wisconsin and daytime temperatures have not yet reached above freezing. As we watch, weather predictions show that the temperatures will begin to rise next week. We are planning to tap trees for our project at that time.
I like to tap the trees when the sap begins running, so that we can drink the first sap of the season right from the tap. It is a such a remarkable site to see the sap run from the tree, once you have placed the spile or maple spout. While today spiles are typically made out of aluminum, the stalks of many shrubby plants can be used today and have historically been used. Two of those shrubs are staghorn sumac (Rhus sp) and/or elderberry (Sambucus sp). We have used commercial taps, as well as made some of our own.
As we begin collecting the sap, we will transform much of the beautiful mineral rich sap into syrup for use throughout the year. The sap to syrup ratio is typically 40:1, but does fluctuate depending on many factors. To learn more about maple sugaring view our video on maple sugaring down below.
In addition to transforming the sap into syrup, we also use the sap, which looks like water, but has a very slight sweet taste in other preparations. We also simply drink it. We like to use the sap as a base for teas and infusions. The sap adds minerals and a slight sweet taste to any beverage! We have partially reduced the sap and made maple soda as well as maple wine. These are some of the most delicious and do not last long in our house!
We also use the water as a base for cooking venison stew. The sugars in the sap, tenderize the meat. The stew meat melts in your mouth. Of course you can use any meat that you have access to and your own stew recipe, just be sure to cook it slow for a long period of time. I like to use the slow cooker or crock pot for this.
Cooking beans in sap, is something I learned from my dear friend Rose Barlow. Rose was an herbalist who was one of the inspirations for our sugaring project. She used to tap a couple of trees in her yard each year and she would make delicious maple beans. While Rose died a couple of years ago, she is always present in my kitchen when I put the beans and syrup together in the pot. Below is my version of her wonderful Maple Bean Recipe.
Happy Sap Moon to all of you. May the change of the season be sweet and kind. Linda
These baked beans are slow-cooked in a crockpot for about 24 hours. As the sap slowly cooks down it turns into a sweet, maple-flavored gravy.
- 4 cups dried navy beans (or any bean)
- 10 cups fresh maple sap (if you do not have sap, you can add maple syrup to water)
- Bacon or other fatty piece of pork
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 medium onions, minced
- 1. Soak beans in water overnight in water and a TBS of whey or miso as well as piece of seaweed. If you do not have whey, miso or seawwed, you can simply add salt.
- 2. In the morning drain, put beans in a crockpot and add 10 cups fresh maple sap. (if you are going to add bacon or pork, cook it on the stove, storing the grease for other uses. Add it when you begin cooking the beans and cook throughout, it will add additional flavor for those who enjoy meat.)
- 3. Turn crock pot on high and cook all day until beans are soft and tender. (if you prefer, you can also cook these down in the over on 175 degrees for the same time frame)
- 4. Add diced onions and a little more maple sap if they seem a bit dry or low on liquid at this point.
- 5. Continue to cook with the lid off of the crockpot overnight.
These freeze nicely for use throughout the year. They are delicious served at barbeques and/or potlucks!
Incorporating herbs as condiments is great way to add flavor as well as nutrients to your diet. Condiments can be made with fresh or dried herbs and can be sprinkled on or added to salads, soups and really anything you are eating.
If you look the word condiment up in the dictionary it is described as an edible substance, which is added to dishes to enhance the flavor and/or compliment the dish. Typically a condiment is added by the diner, but it can also be added to a dish by the cook to add flavor as well as increase the nutrient density of a meal.
Condiments are associated with cuisine from specific cultures. For example Miso is a unique Japanese condiment, as is gamasio. Chutney is served in east Indian cuisine. Olive oil compliments Mediterranean dishes, Worcestershire sauce was first made in England and Barbeque Sauce is originated in the Southern part of the United States.
While these condiments are associated with specific cuisines, they are and cae be incorporated into a wide spectrum of dishes. I like making a wide spectrum of condiments and having them available to add to food as I am cooking or when I am eating. For example, crab apple chutney can be easily opened and put on a rice dish or added to cheese for a tasty snack. Not only does this condiment add amazing flavor, the pectin in the crab apples is a prebiotic substance that supports and improves digestion.
I also love to add wild plants to condiments in order to increase nutrient density. Even seemingly typical condiments, like ketchup can be transformed when made with wild plants and healthful ingredients. Autumn Olives are a berry that we like to harvest in the fall. One of my favorite things to do with this berry is to use it in place of tomatoes in my ketchup recipe. This berry is very high in lycopenes, which are caretenoids (precursors for vitmain A) and antioxidant agents. It is higher in these substances than tomatoes, thus the ketchup is very nourishing. If you would like to learn more about autumn olives by viewing Moonwise Herbs video on harvesting Autumn Olives.
Pesto is a substance that I often incorporate into food as a condiment. I love to make pesto from a wide spectrum of wild plants. Any edible plant with green foliage can be transformed into a delicious pesto sauce. Examples are Stinging Nettle (don’t worry pulverizing this plant dissapates the acid that causes irriation), lamb’s quarters, wild leek leaves, amaranth, sorrel and so many more. One of my favorites is watercress. Watercress has a nice spicy flavor, as one would expect from this mustard family plant. This plant is surprisingly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, calicium, potassim, phosphorun, magnanese, magnesium, vitamin B complex as well as carotenes. Vitamin K and carotenes are fat soluble, so no only does the plant provide the nutrients but some of the nutrients are more readily available to the body when the plant is combined with oil.
One of my favorite plants to incorporate into my diet as a condiment is seaweed. I love to harvest seaweed and to incorporate it into my diet on daily basis. Seaweed offers the body a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Seaweed is classified by color. I typically incorporate kelp or brown seaweed into my diet and occasionally red seaweed. Nori, which many people are familiar with as it is the main seaweed unitized to make sushi. While one can utilize any kelp, the seaweed I find the most palatable and the easiest to entice people to eat is giant bullwhip kelp (Nereosystis luetkeana). To learn more about seaweed see our MoonwiseHerbal Homesteading video.
Incorporating seaweed as a condiment is quite simple. It can be powdered and then sprinkled on whatever you are eating. It is ideal to powder your own seaweed, just prior to using it. I have found that seaweed does not hold it’s integrity when powdered and stored for long periods of time. Toasting seaweed adds increased flavor for sprinkling on food. And my favorite seaweed condiment is a traditional Japanese condiment called Gamascio. Not only do I add seaweed, I like to add other herbs as well.
Below is a recipe that is an adaptation of this traditional Japanese condiment that can be added to salads, rice, soups or any other dish you feel inspired to sprinkle it on. It is surprisingly delicious when sprinkled on a fruit salad. When you add sea vegetables and/or other herbs to toasted sesame seeds you increase their nutritional value. As you can see condiments are a great way to add flavor and nutrients to any meal. I often take some of these treats with me when I eat out and encourage others to do so as well!
Place sesame seeds on the bottom of a frying pan, covering the entire bottom (I like to use my cast iron pan)
Begin toasting seeds
- After two minutes add seaweed 1-2 ounces seaweed (Nori and/or Kelp work well-but experiment-any seaweed will work)
- I also like to add herbs: a tsp or two of dried rosemary is a nice addition, a handful of dried nettle and/or a tsp of ground milk thistle seeds. use your creativity as any herb added will add flavor and increased nutrients.
- Toast these together until the seeds begin to pop or brown lightly around the edge of the pan. Turn everything over with a spatula-toast until both sides are light brown and the sea vegetables are crunchy and easily crumble in our hands. If you have added rosemary your whole kitchen will fill with the sweetness of this aromatic herb.
Place in a jar and store for 1-2 weeks. Sprinkle lavishly on your favorite foods.
This basic recipe can be adjusted to taste, adding more sweetener or vinegar according to your taste preferences. I also like to use infused herbal vinegar or honey to add flavor and/or nutrients. For example a lavender infused honey and/or vinegar can add nice flavor, as can a berry infused vinegar. Use your creativity or imagination!
1 gallon cold water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey, molasses and/or maple syrup
Combine and chill.
1 cup sourdough, fed with whole grain flour
1/4-cup lard (rendered from local free range pork fat) or coconut oil
1/4 cup extra flour or as much as you need to make a stiff dough
1/4 cup dried Wild herbal flour (I like to use ground yellow dock seeds, red clover blossoms, nettle and/or seaweed)
1/2 tsp sea salt (if you add salty seaweed omit this)
1/4 tsp baking soda
Olive oil for brushing
1. In a large bowl, combine the sourdough and lard
2. Mix the salt and baking soda in with the 1/4-cup flour and herbs. Add to the sourdough mixture. Knead it all together, adding as much flour as needed to make stiff dough.
3. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a sheet pan or you can line it with parchment paper.
4. Take a small portion of the dough (approximately a 1/4 cup0 and roll it out on a floured board or table with a rolling pin, adding flour if it is too sticky until it is very thin.
5. Cut into cracker shapes with a knife or dough cutter. Transfer the crackers to the sheet pan, brush with olive oil, and optional sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of dough until the sheet pan is filled. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown