Hunting and Gathering

There is nothing I like better than feeding my family well and on a budget too. It is my hunting and (mostly) gathering gene that makes me this way. Going to the supermarket to harvest great deals to feed my family is like a form of gathering for me. I think many women feel this way. And I am very fond of points cards. I can’t believe that I didn’t catch on to them sooner.  I have been using them for about five years or so. I use Superstore’s Optimum card- it’s an easy load and points card system that in my mind pays for the expensive ferry ride over every time I do a big shop in ” town.” Right now I have a balance of 40 dollars on it- not too shabby! I have also caught on to those shopping apps like Check out 51, as another blogger said( can’t recall which blog sorry)- you’d be stupid not to get paid for shopping. I agree. If you have the energy to upload your offers once a week and then send a jpeg of your check out slip-it’s as easy as that.

The best way to save money on groceries is  to wild craft it yourself.  Yesterday we went  to pick the new fresh leaves of stinging nettles to make fresh pesto. My daughter made some homemade pasta to go with our nettle pesto and we had some shrimp given to us from a fishermen on the dock up island- for free! It pays to know people – well fishermen anyways. Here is our dinner pictured below.

On that note, enjoy the warm spring like weather and all of the new fresh food that comes with it.

There are many great blogs to follow for saving money, such as Frugal Endeavors  https://hiproofbarn.wordpress.com/category/striving-for-victory/and Cooking on a Bootstrap, just to name a couple.

Nettle Pesto Directions

First pick your stinging nettles carefully. If you pick them in the spring they are fresh and fairly bug free! Use a pair of scissors to snip the top few rings of leaves and hold a Ziploc bag underneath to catch them- this way gloves are not necessary.  At home I rinse the leaves  in a colander and then boil them in water for about three minutes to take out the bad stingy stuff. Squeeze out the water and use as you would basil leaves in your pesto. I hardly ever measure anything, so here is my very loose recipe. Note: I am using gloves when I am removing the leaves from the stems.

Throw together in a blender: your freshly boiled and squeezed out very green  and nutritious nettles with a clove or 4 of raw garlic, a few splashes of olive oil or more, a half cup or so of  walnuts because pine nuts are too expensive, some Parmesan cheese and some fresh ground pepper. And voila! Fresh nettle pesto. Slather on a homemade whole wheat pizza crust or serve tossed in some hot shrimp pasta.

 

It’s a Lentil Soup kinda day

I don’t know what it is about fall, but just about everybody I’ve talked to is making a big pot of Lentil Stew. I made this last week and enjoyed it so much, that guess what? I’m making it again. And mainly because I have all of this great kale and swiss chard and parsley galore that has been pretty much reseeding itself for years. I found this amazing recipe by Rachel Ray. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her on our big family trip to New York one year. If there was anyone I would have wanted to see, it would have been her.

She is my hero. Pretty much any recipe that I try from her is filled with strong delicious flavours and good for you too.

All last year when I wanted my teenager to love me I would have a pan of Rachel Ray’s Cauliflower Mac n Cheese sizzling away in the oven when she got home from track. It was pretty much a sure thing that she would talk to me for a little bit as I was serving it up. She is off on a world adventure right now so I guess I am missing her a little bit. I always feel that it has been a good day if you make a pot of soup or stew and a batch of soap, which I did earlier today, so all is good.

Click on the link below for this easy recipe.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/sausage-kale-and-lentil-soup-recipe-2200991

our garden’s bounty

In Praise of Pie

What can be better than a pie made with only ingredients from your own garden? Rhubarb, apples — oh, I suppose the blackberries really weren’t from the garden, they were wild crafted with many adventures that involved not one but two near misses with wasps nests. Leave it to the man to step right into one… lucky for him I had a back scratcher (I use it as a hook to grab blackberry branches ) to beat those wasps off his leg. Another adventure that happens on any ordinary day out here.

What biological reason would a wasp have to make a nest on the ground where mammals walk? Unless it is fun to attack people when you are a wasp… another one of nature’s great mysteries. I did a little research on wasps and found out that they really aren’t that interesting. I guess that’s why kids in school always learn about bees and don’t have many tissue paper art projects that involve wasps. Although now that I think of it, it would be fun to make a paper mache wasps nest.

My daughter was sporting a retro style bee print outfit the other day, I rarely if ever have seen a retro wasp print dress. But who knows? In the future, we could come to worship wasps for their ability to clean up after us, which is really a good thing. Too bad they are so cranky when you step on them.

 

Here is his recipe—-just kidding, the man ( thank you again Frugal endeavours for this phrase) just threw in this and that and the next thing and it worked out fine, with a crumbly nut topping that was amazing!

fabricmill.com

 

Nettle Picking Time! How to Make Wild Crafted Nettle Pesto From Start To Finish.

nettle book 2

I was lucky and got this book for my birthday, quite a few years ago, titled 101 Uses for Stinging Nettles, by Piers Warren. Here is one of the many things I have gleaned from this little book.

Stinging Nettles are full of iron and important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, vitamins, A, C, D, E and K. The long list of nutritional benefits in nettles makes them a kind of nature’s super food. You can replace nettles in any recipe that call for cooked green vegetables, like spinach, kale or basil.

Pick the stinging nettles in the spring time when the first young tender leaves poke out from the forest floor. They can be found near streams in the forest, or ask your neighbours if they want to get rid of their nettle patch. Cut off the tender upper leaves, usually the top two or three pairs of leaves. Don’t pick ones that are white and flowering, this means that the plant is too old and tough to use.

Try to stay away from nettle patches that you know may be sprayed by pesticides.

You can pick nettles with rubber kitchen gloves and a pair of scissors. Hold a clean plastic bag underneath to catch the snipped leaves. Always wear long sleeves and long socks with your pant legs tucked in. I have picked nettles so often I don’t need gloves anymore. Develop your own style. The itchy, stinging parts are mainly on the leaves and not the stalks. Once nettles are cooked there is no sting, only tons of dark green nutrition.  You can  also air dry the leaves to use for nettle tea. If you add a handful of peppermint leaves with your nettle tea it improves the taste.

Soak the fresh nettle leaves in water to get rid of any bugs or dirt. Make sure to discard the stems. Using a pair of metal tongs, blanch the leaves in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two. Next place them in a colander and carefully squeeze out the excess water. Now you can use the nettles to replace the basil in your pesto recipe.

Here is a simple wild crafted nettle pesto recipe:

  • 4 cups of blanched nettles, pureed in a blender with a ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of parmesan cheese
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup of walnuts or pine nuts if you are independently wealthy
  • 1 teaspoon of salt and some fresh ground black pepper.

That’s it.

This healthy pesto tastes amazing on a homemade pizza crust. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and spicy prosciutto ham for a great gourmet meal. Leftover pesto can be frozen in plastic ice-cube trays and then put into freezer bags to use in a quick pasta dish when you are in a hurry.

Our nettle pesto pizza is always a hit at potlucks.

margot nettles

One of my favourite Nettle patches on Gabriola Island.

Stay tuned for my Nettle Shampoo bar recipe.

The Vat O’ Green Sauce

 

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Some people have ketchup, others salt. But in our family it is a large vat of spicy green sauce. When this began I can’t really recall.  We put it on everything. Our eggs in the morning, spooned onto our spinach wraps for lunch, and always colouring our plates with dinner every night. If our house was burning down, I am certain after saving us, my husband would have that vat o’ green sauce under his arm.

When we were young, we went on a back packing trip through Mexico and Central America. This was in the early 90’s- when Nirvana was popular. We actually carried a giant ghetto blaster with a Nirvana tape around Central America for three months,(children -this would be like bringing your Ipod with only ten or so downloaded tunes but much, much heavier). Our days consisted of lying on the beach and fighting over our one paperback copy of The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. We bought it off of an enterprising backpacker who sold novels for a dollar to English speaking travellers desperate for a good read. We rolled our own cigarettes and lived for our next meal. If we heard there was a restaurant that served great Ceviche we would make a long three-hour trek to try it.  The condiments in even the smallest diners in Central America were always made with fresh ingredients and packed with flavour.

Today while raising a family, I always like to read about health. I learned that ketchup has astonishing amounts of high fructose corn syrup in it. So I figured, why not get my family hooked on a fresh healthy condiment like the sauces we loved to eat on our rice and beans in Mexico?

This recipe is so easy I am going to share it with you.

Green Sauce Ingredients:

 Jalapenos about 12-15

(you can throw in a sweet pepper if you want a milder sauce)

1 Habanero ( if you like extremely spicy!!)

Cider vinegar-1/4 cup (or the juice of limes if you have some rolling around your crisper)

Garlic-3-4 cloves or more-so good for you!

Honey – 2 tablespoons

Salt-1 teaspoon, or to taste

You can add one über spicy Habaneros for more heat. The red peppers pictured in our blender are Fresno peppers (we think) which are similar to Jalapenos.

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Put halved Jalapeno’s in a blender and whirl away. You can leave the seeds in. If you have fresh cilantro, throw in a handful.

Then add the garlic, vinegar, honey and salt. I pour the sauce into a clean glass jar. It keeps for over a week or until it is all gone and you have to make more.

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