Jul 092012
 
image-capers in a jar

Photo of capers by Mate Marschalko via Flickr.

In my last post, I grew lyrical over the beauty of the caper flower. But there’s no ignoring that this weed also yields a uniquely-flavored vegetable relish, out there and free for the picking. If you’re brave and have made up your mind to ignore some good thorny stings.

Here’s what you do. To make the effort worth your while, try to locate two caper bushes growing in your vicinity. Well, one great big one will do. Ideally, you visit your crop every morning for a few days, harvesting each part separately, because leaves, stems, fruit and buds appear on the runners at different times and each yields its own flavor. Not to mention that it’s a pain to separate pickled buds from leaves, stems, etc.

image-caper-shoot-buds

For pickling the shoots, cut them into finger-sized lengths and peel. As for the green, oval fruit, pick only the smaller ones. The mature one’s seeds are bitter and spoil the flavor.

Choose only tightly-closed buds. Even a little opening in the husk will make a bud go mushy in the pickling. And surprise: even the leaves are pickle-able. Don’t bother picking individual leaves, just cut the tips off some shoots. You’ll have to scissor away any thorns at home.

Then, like olives, your crop must be soaked to get rid of bitterness. Rinse the dust off and throw out anything with worm holes. Soak  for three days, changing the water daily. This not only leaches harsh flavors out, it encourages development of a flavorful fungus.

Hey, cheese also needs fungus.

Pickling Instructions:

Have ready 1/2 cup (125 grams) soaked and drained caper buds, leaves or stems.

Make a brine of 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon salt.

Put your caper products in a glass jar and cover with the brine. Leave for 3 days, then taste. If you like it, start using.

You may choose to continue pickling for one week. Either way, once you’re satisfied with the taste, store in the refrigerator.

Notes: if pickling the fruit, make enough brine, the same way as above, to cover the fruit generously. Proceed as above, but start tasting only after a week.

Don’t be alarmed if little white spots appear on your product. This is a natural reaction to the fermentation.

I haven’t salt-pickled capers myself, but am tempted to try it with leaves this summer. Here’s how: after soaking, pat dry between kitchen towels and pack in fine salt, generously covering the herb. Start tasting after a week. Rinse off the salt before eating.

So what do you do with your capers?

  • Put them into salads. The Greeks occasionally put caper leaves and stems in mixed salads.
  • Leaves and fruit taste good with fish and chicken, as a relish.
  • Make tartar sauce with the buds.
  • Or flavor your next tomato sauce with a few buds.

Or make…

Butter Sauce with Capers

4-6 servings

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup capers
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter, stir in remaining ingredients.

Remove from the flame.

Serve over vegetables or fish, or incorporate into mayonnaise to perk it up.

Try stirring a small amount into cream cheese for super lox and bagels.

Last note: Don’t have capers nearby, or don’t feel like picking? Grow some nasturtiums. The immature buds of nasturtiums can be pickled the same way.

 Posted by at 7:30 AM
Jun 252012
 

image-rose-geranium-liqueur

Rose geraniums are so intensely fragrant, you’re tempted to eat them.

And Pelargonium Graveolens is indeed an edible flower. Just now, having soaked up lots of sun, rose geranium blooms and leaves are full of heavenly essential oil. The lightest brush with your finger releases a scent that makes you feeling like you’re standing in a rose garden.

In a region where cooks often scent pastry with rose and orange blossom water, it’s natural that scented geraniums should also have a place. But flavoring with geraniums is viewed as folklore, a cute thing to do with kindergarteners baking cookies (carefully placing one leaf in the middle of each cookie before Teacher slides the tray into the oven). Still, lovers of old-fashioned teas enjoy breaking a few leaves off to make a fragrant brew.  And hoping to revive the custom, I’ve posted a truly exquisite, summery, geranium-flavored sweet cream to serve with fruit.

So let me show you how to make a rose geranium liqueur. It’s a treat to serve with dessert, candy-like but not cloying. It impresses your guests.  And it couldn’t be more simple to make. Continue reading »

Mar 252011
 

image-fresh-garlic

It’s just that time of the year in Israel, folks. Wonderful, stinky fresh garlic is in the shuk. I’m in the shuk too, packing as much garlic into my little wheeled shopping cart as I can. I expect I’ll be writing about garlic every March till I’m too old to type anymore. And cooking it till I’ve died and gone to garlic heaven.

The Little One rolls her eyes and asks me not to buy any more garlic because I hang it up to dry in the laundry room. The smell of it drying  penetrates into the bathroom and makes her feel like a salami, she says.

My question is, how does she know what a salami feels like?

In her mysterious teenage way, she refuses to say. However, I notice that she does eat anything I cook with garlic in it. I suppose it’s in her genes.

And this year, there’s garlic with some enormous cloves in the heads. Right now the thin sheath that protects each clove is still tender and juicy, so I remove only the papery purple peel. Sorry about the alliteration.

image-garlic-bulbs

Once my garlic is minced to a paste, I add salt and olive oil – some fresh, chopped za’atar and thyme and chives and mayhap a leaf or two of rocket from my little potted plants – and and sit down with a warm pita to sop it all up, drop by drop. And that’s lunch.

Actually, I’m not sorry – I love alliteration.

image-olive-oil-and-garlic

Garlic oil keeps in the fridge for up to a month.

I did have mercy on the Little One and hung up the latest batch outside on our tiny balcony. Here it is, looking strangely shy and head-hanging among the anemones and nasturtiums. For such an aggressive herb, that is.

image-fresh-garlic

Another delicious thing to eat is garlic confit. All the fire goes out of the cloves as they poach in herbed olive oil over two or three hours. You have to put a little fire back in. The result is a delicious relish for roast chicken, a cheese platter, a sturdy salad, or bruschetta. Love garlic? Try this.

image-garlic-confit

image-garlic-confit

Garlic Confit

printable version here

Ingredients:

4 heads of garlic, cloves cleaned and peeled if necessary. Leave the peels on if garlic is fresh and juicy; peel if not.

1-1/2 cups olive oil

4 sprigs of thyme

2 medium bay leaves

1 teaspoon mustard seeds – or 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 allspice berry

freshly-ground black pepper

Method:

Heat the oven to 300°F – 150 °C.

Place the herbs in an ovenproof casserole.

Place the garlic cloves over the herbs and douse them with the olive oil.

Scatter the coarse salt all and grind black pepper generously.

Cover the casserole with tin foil and bake for 2-1/2 hours or until the garlic is very tender.

Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Have a look at previous posts about fresh garlic:

 

 

 

Feb 202011
 

image-saj-bread

Last Friday, I traveled across the country with a bowlful of dough rising on my lap. In the bag with the dough bowl were my chopping block and a big knife wrapped in a kitchen towel. Sitting in the sherut (fixed-route taxi) with nine other strangers and watching the highway whizz by, I thought, At least no one’s going to stop me and suspiciously ask what I’m doing with such a knife.

I actually did intend to chop heads off with it – for my lunch. The heads of nettles and mallows, that is.

Sarah Melamed and I thought it was a good time to show fellow bloggers how to forage for edible weeds. The wild green things don’t have too many more weeks before summer withers them. Now’s the time, so six hardy bloggers stepped out  behind Sarah, glad to be outdoors such a mild, sunny day. She led us around her neighborhood identifying weeds.

Here’s Sarah talking about amaranth, while Yaelianlooks on.

image-explaining-amaranthThere were at least 15 edibles and medicinals growing rampant in the overgrown gardens nearby. Some, like Cape sorrel, are delicious. It has a bright, sour taste. Kids love to nibble on the stems. We ate the leaves and flowers as well, sharing with the bees.

image-cape-sorrellChickweed, a lightly sour, refreshing plant is a great love of mine – I kept finding new things to say about it while Sarah was trying to lead the expedition onward. She is a patient woman.

image-chickweedNotice the line of fine, hairlike fibers twining around the stem. It’s one of the ways to tell chickweed from euphorbia, a toxic look-alike that always grows next to it.

Ariella of AriCooks wanted to hear all about chickweed and took a good handful home.

image-holding-chickweedSarah told us how her son had fallen out of a nearby mulberry tree – smack onto a patch of nettles, like Winnie the Pooh. He roared for his Mom, and she came running out with her heart in her mouth – to find him covered in nettle rash, poor little guy.

There’s a neat way to harvest nettles with a minimum of stinging – cut the stems with scissors, then use the scissors to pick them up by the stem and drop them into your basket.

Only one or two of the Hardy Foragers was interested in trying the scissors system. Truth is, over the years I’ve gotten tough, and pick most of my nettles bare-handed. This horrified the ladies.

image-nettlesThe morning was wearing away and Shabbat still starts early, so we returned to Sarah’s kitchen for lunch. She placed her big iron saj over two burners to get hot. A saj is light and dome-shaped, like an upside-down wok. Druze women bake flatbreads on the hot surface, stretching dough out like pizza and slapping the circles down on the hot saj to bake into crisp, tender flatbread in a few minutes.

The plan to was to make flatbread like that. We all pulled pieces out of the dough I’d brought and tried stretching them out deftly. The bread came out, well, rustic. Mine was frankly pretty awful. The really thick one under everyone’s much nicer breads was mine. Liz Steinberg‘s flatbreads were much the thinnest and crispest.

image-saj-flatbreads

As Liz remarked, it was the first time we English food bloggers had cooked together. It was great fun. And I did chop a mean onion for the greens…

Being the nettle-proof one, I washed and chopped them for cooking, along with a handful of mallows. Into a new pot went all the vegetables, on top of the chopped, sauteed onion. No salt yet – like spinach, nettles absorb a huge amount of it. The greens steamed with no extra water; it took about 10 minutes until they were tender and darker green. Then I salted them lightly, stirred, and covered again.

image-nettles-onions
When the breads were ready and stacked up, the greens were ready too. We stood at the counter, crumbling feta cheese onto them and adding a tablespoon or so of steamed wild greens.

image-saj-breadAlternately, we used labneh yogurt mixed with fresh, chopped za’atar from Sarah’s garden.
labneh w zaatar
That was simply delicious. I had never considered just roughly chopping fresh za’atar and adding it to something like that – would have thought it too strong. You can do the same with fresh oregano and cream cheese or with yogurt strained overnight to become thicker (become labneh, actually).

We put the rolled-up, stuffed flatbreads back on the saj to heat them through and let the cheese melt slightly.

image-stuffed-saj-bread
Sarah had hospitably bought a lovely spread of pastries, but we were most interested in the saj bread stuffed with nettles and cheese. There was a fruit salad, decorated with edible pansy, allysum, and begonia flowers.

image-salad-edible-flowersAs usual when food bloggers get together to eat, we all stood around the table taking pictures of the food and of each other taking pictures. We laugh when we do it, but we do it. Then we sat down and feasted.

You can see the stack of rolled-up breads in the background of this photo: the rose and shepherd’s purse came from Sarah’s garden. garden bouquetYaelian took some great photos and put them on her blog. Although it’s in Finnish, the photos speak for themselves. And joy! you get to see my hands, washing the nettles, there. My hands tingled pleasantly from the nettles, till evening. I do believe my Carpal Tunnel tsuris was alleviated somewhat from the repeated stinging.

Thanks for hosting the morning, Sarah!

Jun 212010
 
image-lemon-verbena

Photo of Lemon Verbena by Miriam Kresh

Leda Meredith is the the author of The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Local Eating on a Budget. She’s also my good friend. Leda gave us an excellent post on food preservation last year when I was moving house. Now I’m excited to present her ideas on growing herbs in places you might never have considered. Leda, take it away…

When asked, “If I could grow just one edible, what would you recommend?” my first response is always, “Herbs.” They tolerate a wide range of conditions, many are perennials that will come back year after year even in containers, and while a lot of people don’t have enough space to grow the bulk of their food, fresh herbs can enliven their meals daily. As an added plus almost every herb, including those we usually think of as culinary, has excellent medicinal properties.

I’ve grown herbs in window boxes, indoors, on the back steps of my apartment, in hanging baskets attached to a chain-link fence, and even in cracks in pavement.

Growing Herbs in Containers

Almost every herb can be grown in a container provided that it has a depth of at least six inches and—this is important!—drainage holes. It is essential that the plant’s roots do not sit in mud, and the only way to ensure that is to provide a way for excess water to drain out of the container. Use a potting mix rather than topsoil or garden soil. Potting mixes include ingredients such as perlite, which are additional insurance for good drainage.

I’ve made containers out of almost everything, including old vegetable cans that I punched holes in the bottom of!

Where to Grow Herbs

The first consideration is to make sure you plant your herbs (or place their container) in a location that matches the light requirements of the plants. Some herbs such as oregano, lavender, and rosemary thrive in full sun. Others, including chervil, lemon balm, and cilantro prefer part sun or even part shade. Miriam reminds me that in climates that are dry, as well as hot in the summer, even herbs that are usually described as needing full sun might prefer a little shade. Information on the light requirements of individual herbs can be found online.

Windowsills and paved-over areas are obvious candidates for container herbs, but there are other options. I have some potted thyme and cilantro that I grow in pots I’ve hung on a chain-link fence, for example.

image-thyme-in-container

Photo by Leda Meredith

Low-growing herbs such as thyme tend to have shallower root systems than larger, upright herbs. These can be grown in the spaces between stepping-stones or pavement. Put a little good potting mix into the space and keep your plants well watered for the first two weeks to give them a chance to start growing new roots (the shallow soil will dry out quicker than in other growing situations.

-image-parsley-in-pavement

Photo by Leda Meredith

In addition to hanging containers from fences and handrails, there are many innovative containers available for vertical gardening. The simplest of these looks like those shoe racks that are made to hang in a closet, the ones with lots of pouches on a flat piece of fabric. And in fact, you can use one of the ones made for shoes. Hang the whole arrangement flat against a wall. Cut some small holes in the bottom of each pouch for drainage, fill with potting mix, and plant an herb in each pouch.

If you have no outdoor space at all, some herbs can be successfully grown indoors. I’ve had the best luck with parsley, chives, cayenne and other chile peppers, and cilantro. Indoor herbs require much more light than they do when grown outdoors. If you don’t have a window that can provide at least six hours of direct sunlight, opt for plant lights. There’s no need to buy the expensive ones marketed as being specifically for plants: a cheap fluorescent light works just as well (incandescent light bulbs, however, do not). Make sure that the light is no further than eight inches from the tops of your plants. To make your life easier, you can put the light on a timer (set it to be on for at least ten hours).

I wish you much success with your delicious, aromatic, homegrown herbs…wherever you decide to grow them!

Leda’s book is available at Amazon.com. She blogs about her food adventures at www.ledameredith.com.


Apr 122010
 

Teaball and a variety of teasDoes anybody ever make tea in a teaball anymore?

It’s so old-fashioned and inconvenient.

But I really like it.   I have two teaballs: one for a single cup of tea, and one that will take up to 3 teaspoons.

I steep loose tea herbal concoctions like freshly dried chamomile or mallow flowers. Or conventional teas like Earl Grey, so headily fragrant with bergamot. Or Lapsang Souchong, which you can only get loose, at the Wissoztsky store in Tel Aviv, and is very potent. (I once made mead flavored with Lapsang. Don’t ask).

I enjoy packing the teaball and dropping into the cup. Just pour boiling water over it and let it do its work. I even have a tiny teapot-shaped dish meant for placing the wet teaball on, for catching the drips. As you elegantly hand the scones and strawberry jam and Devonshire cream around, of course, while the housemaid, in white apron and frilly cap, brings in the sandwich platter.

Unless you just bring your cuppa with you to the computer and sip at it between sentences.

Cup of tea made with teaball

The herb’s soul rises in a steamy cloud. You taste the herb, pure and simple. Tea brewed in a ceramic pot is ideal, but that’s for company. For myself alone, I use these metal spheres that break in half for you to fill with your tea of choice, and close up again. They allow elusive herbal notes to escape into the hot water – the delicate apple taste of chamomile, the smoky, fermented body of Lapsang Souchong, the green-earth flavor of nettles. Unlike teabags, where the dominant taste is of hot, wet paper.

Today I’m drinking cup after cup of chamomile tea. Caught myself a summer cold, and I find that chamomile, with its anti-spasmodic property, is the right tea for controlling the cough. Ahh, I think as I savor the delicate, flowery brew, lightly sweetened with honey. Why wait till you’re not feeling well?

A good cup of tea should be an everyday treat.

teaballs

Dec 172009
 

Edible weeds are popping up all over Israel now. Nettles, young plantain leaves, sow thistle, milk thistle, chickweed, and mallows are just a few of them. Earlier this week I explored an empty lot close by, and found a huge quantity of mallows among the wild foods. Some of the leaves were big enough to stuff, like vine leaves.

Before I go on to the recipe, let me tell you about mallows. They grow all over the Mediterranean, North Africa, Europe, and parts of the U.S and Central America. I don’t know if they grow in South America, Australia/New Zealand or the Far East – but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. I can tell you though, that once they take hold, they will cover an area.

Mallows are related to okra, hollyhocks, and hibiscus – all edible and medicinal plants. I like to harvest the small young leaves to eat raw in salads, and the big leaves for stuffing. Sometimes I’ll just chop up a big bunch and make soup from them, or stir them into a stew, or into rice, as I do with nettles. I wrote an article about mallows for Henriette Kress’s Herbal Homepage, which you can see here. It includes a recipe for mallows soup.

And every year, I hang bunches of them upside down by their stalks, to dry for cooking when they’re out of season. If you store them in a glass jar, away from light, the leaves will last a year. If I need a soup in a hurry and don’t have much in the fridge, I just reach into my jar of dried mallows (or nettles) and crumble some into the pot, adding instant flavor and nutrition to the food.

I love the striped pink flowers of our native variety, Malva Sylvestris. If I find myself in a field of flowering mallows during one of my foraging walks, I pick as many blooms as I can, to dry for a medicinal tea. This tea soothes the respiratory system and helps to control cough.

You can read much more about the edible and medicinal properties of mallows in the awesome Plants for a Future site. That page doesn’t mention that the mallow roots are edible and medicinal too – so if you happen to uproot a few when you’re out gathering, just scrub them clean, cut the stalk away, and chuck them into soup too.

For stuffing, pick big leaves, at least as big as your outstretched hand. Small leaves are too fiddly to work with.

Check each leaf carefully. Discard any that have lots of little holes in them, or orange spots indicating insect activity. Or other  mallow eaters, like this little guy:

See the rusty orange spots around the Fuzzy One? Discard any leaves with that.

The recipe assumes that you have about 20 large, washed mallow leaves. It’s better to have a few extra because they are tender and some will inevitably rip. Snip off any stalk bits to make rolling them up easy. Keep the leaves shiny side down.

Now for the recipe itself.

Stuffed Mallow Leaves

yield: 20 stuffed leaves

printed version here

Ingredients:

20 large, clean mallow leaves

1 cup of  rice cooked in salted water

1/2  cup pine nuts

1 large tomato, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 small onion, chopped fine

2 Tablespoons diced fresh mint or crumbled dried mint

juice and zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons chopped parsley or celery leaves

1 tsp. salt

pepper

2 large tomatoes, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and whole

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup water

Method:

1. Mix together the rice, pine nuts, chopped tomato, crushed garlic, chopped onion, mint, lemon zest, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.

2. Line the pot with the sliced tomatoes. This adds flavor and keeps the stuffed leaves from scorching.

 

3. Mix the olive oil, water, sugar, and  lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside.

4. Fill and roll the leaves.

Keep the shiny sides down, stem part towards you.

Just where you snipped the stem off, there is a long, horizontal wrinkle in the leaf (see 2 photos up, the one with the scissors). Put a teaspoon of filling, in a long strip, just above that wrinkle.

Roll the filled edge up once. Fold the sides of the leave over it.

Roll again, making a neat little package. Secure the edge with a toothpick.

I wish I had more and better photos to show the filling process, but I would have needed three hands to do it.

5. Place the stuffed leaves on top of the sliced tomatoes in the pan, stem sides down. Place the whole garlic cloves here and there among them. The following photo shows  a bell pepper in the pot with the mallow – because I wanted to use up leftover stuffing. The flavor of the pepper didn’t hurt the stuffed leaves at all.

6. Pour the oil/water mix over the the contents of the pot. Place a small plate, or a pot lid that fits,  inside the pot to prevent the leaves from unrolling as they cook. Cover the pot with its own lid. Simmer over low flame for 45 minutes. Mallow leaves are tender and release a beneficial mucilage (goopy liquid), so there will be plenty of liquid in the pot. They don’t need to cook as long as vine leaves, which need an hour or more.

7. Allow the leaves to cool down entirely before you remove them from the pan. Serve them cold.

Mar 182009
 

There’s a neglected lot between two buildings near my house. Somehow I wandered into it  several years ago, having glimpsed it from the sidewalk. It looked like a weedy sort of place…and I like weeds. But as it was a hot, dry September then, the place looked like this.

Following my instinct next spring, I went back to see if the rains had brought up any interesting herbs from that sere ground with its two pathetic tree stumps. I found this:

A wealth of wild chamomile and other herbs, with a flowering magnolia tree to the left and an orange tree bearing both blooms and fruit on the right.

Today, I took bags, scissors, and my camera out there to pick and photograph the wild bounty.

There was so much plantain and chamomile. Below, you see a clump of plantain (Plantago lanceolata) with a few low-growing mallows at its feet. The starry white flowers are fragrant chamomile.

I picked two kinds of plantain today. The rarer Plantago major grows only in one place that I know of near home. It has a broad leaf and its seeds grow all along the length of a slender stalk. Below you see it on the ground, in the yard of a nearby building. I was once admiring this spread of plantains from the sidewalk when a lady passed by and said, “That’s not lettuce.”

I knew that.

The broader-leaved the plantain, the more medicinal, say herbalists.

Here is the narrow-leaved Plantago lanceolata.

When I bring plantain home, I rinse it well and allow it dry. Then I chop it up the green, vibrant leaves and steep them in hot olive oil. The infused oil is excellent as ear drops and as part of a healing salve that helps take away the venom from mosquito and spider bites.  I also keep a few leaves aside to dry for use as a tea that helps control coughs. The seed head  yields psyllium, a well-known bulk laxative that’s only the dry, mature seeds of this plant.

Plantains are edible, but tough, stringy, and not very tasty. If liked, though, you can use the small, young leaves in soup or stew.

Shepherd’s Purses was still green and growing, although it’s late in the season and it’s gotten kind of stringy. It’s valuable, either tinctured into alcohol or dried for tea, to stop excessive bleeding. I have often given the tea to women after birth or to control abnormally heavy menstruation.

The rosette of Shepherd’s Purse, hugging the ground, can easily be mistaken for dandelion before the stalks shoot up. One interesting thing about the herb is how it’s called the same in all languages. Apparently the heart-shaped seed pods look exactly like the lunch bag that shepherds traditionally carry on their backs.

I have eaten Shepherd’s Purse in salads. It’s quite peppery. The seed pods, broken open, reveal innumerable tiny orange seeds. Its flowers are a little, delicate white bunch sitting on top of the stalk.

Cape sorrel was originally a decorative plant brought over from South Africa. It’s now a garden weed much loved by small children, who appreciate the refreshing, sour flavor of its leaves and flowers.

Hiding among more abundant plants were some wild marigolds. I cut away as many flower heads as I could, knowing that the more you cut marigolds, the more will come back up the next morning. Marigolds (calendula) are disinfectant and soothing to the skin. I include the bright orange flowers in a formula for eczema. When a friend was bitten by a dog, I washed the wound with a strong tea of wild marigolds, plantain, and chickweed, twice daily. The inflamation came down quickly and healing started with no trouble. I also like to make a moisturizing lotion that’s made with calendula tea.

There were plenty of mallows, but this late in the season they’re infested with bug (or snail) eggs.

I console myself remembering that earlier in the spring I dried a bunch of good, small young mallow leaves.

There were still nettles, getting mature already. Once those green seeds become brown and hard, it’s time to stop picking nettles. I took a small bunch to cook up fresh tomorrow, either in soup or perhaps stirred into quinoa.

In the center of the photo below stands a proud sow thistle. The leaves on this one are old and tough, but they are edible. The young leaves of early spring make better eating. Sow Thistle revives the appetite, both for humans and for birds. I used to feed it to my budgies and they loved it. Made them hungry, too.

Here are some of the herbs at home, rinsed and drying. Broad-leaved plantain and nettles…

Chamomile…

Marigolds…

Shepherd’s Purse drying and waiting to get chopped up then steeped in alcohol. Maybe you can spot the little white flowers at the tips of the stalks.

And the graceful stalks and seed heads of narrow-leaved plantain make a little bouquet.

It was a satisfying hour spent in the sun, breathing in the apple fragrance of chamomile and admiring the courage of these little wildlings, spent so gallantly breaking through hard, unfriendly soil to spread beauty and healing. I’m glad I was there to salute them.

Mar 072009
 

I was excited, last week, to discover a chef whose preference for wild edibles matches mine. Here is one of the first things I set eyes on when I entered the Little Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem last week. Restaurant review and interview tomorrow, all being well.

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