Monday, February 29, 2016

How to make nettle pesto, and why everyone should eat it


How to make nettle pesto, and why everyone should eat it. There. I should-ed on you. Although I usually don't tell people what to do, I urge everyone to eat nettle pesto.   

Why?

Because nettles are so, so good for you, and because I think nettle pesto tastes better than traditional pesto made with basil. My kids agree.

Since they are rich in vitamins A, C, D, K, and lots of minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium and sulfur, the health benefits of nettles are immense.  Filled with chlorophyll, tannins, B complex vitamins, and made up of 10 percent protein, nettles are a powerhouse for health.

I get dizzy reading about this plant's health benefits.  Nettles are a diuretic and are used to treat anemia, arthritis, rheumatism and respiratory and urinary problems.  Nettles help with eczema, asthma and sinusitis.  They are a great blood purifier and protect against skin disorders, hair loss, kidney stones, allergies, hay fever, osteoarthritis, internal bleeding, nosebleeds, enlarged spleen, diabetes, endocrine disorders, stomach acid, diarrhea, dysentry, lung congestion, and cancer.

If you want to read more about the medicinal qualities of nettles, read this.

Now do you see why I'm telling you to make nettle pesto?



How to make Nettle Pesto - Recipe below

Find a patch of nettles in the spring time.  This is the season when they first come up and are not tough, but nice and tender.  Don't be fooled, though! Nettles aren't called stinging nettles as a joke! If they touch your bare skin, you will get hurt. Getting stung by a nettle is no fun at all, so wear long sleeves and gloves.





In case you do get stung, grab a plantain leaf, chew it up in your mouth, and then put it, together with your spit, on the area that got stung.  I swear it works to take the sting out every single time.

Cut only the top portion of the nettle (the first 2 or 3 inches), because lower down they get fibrous.

Either use scissors or just break them off between your (gloved!) thumb and index finger.







When you've collected enough (see recipe below), head into the kitchen and fill a large pot halfway with water.  Once the water boils, put your nettles in the pot (either with tongs or your gloved hands), and push them down with a spoon so they are submerged in the boiling water.

This takes the sting out of the nettles.  Only leave them in the water for one minute - that's truly all it takes to remove the sting. Then take them out with a slotted spoon, tongs or colander, since you want to save the water for drinking later.  Some nutrients leached into that water, so you might as well drink it, or water your houseplants with it once it's cooled.

Some people now put the nettles into ice water to preserve the nice, green color, but I never do, since it's an extra step and the nettles always stay green for me.

I just put the nettles into a colander and let them drain well.








Recipe

  • 2 cups fresh nettles (or more if you have lots - this pesto freezes well!)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
  • 1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Cut 4 cloves of garlic (or more if you like garlic a lot) into a few pieces and throw them into a food processor.  My trusted old Cuisinart does a lovely job.  I like to cut the garlic into a few pieces because they sometimes get stuck in the blade if I don't.  



Add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup olive oil, and drained nettles and chop them in the food processor.  

Add 1/2 cup walnuts and 1 1/2 cups parmesan and process them all til everything is smooth.  Usually, pesto calls for pine nuts, but I find them too expensive.




Voila!  You are done!

Adjust the taste. Some people add more salt and pepper, more or less garlic, and more or less parmesan.  Do you want it more liquid? Add more olive oil.

I serve pesto with pasta.  It's also great on pizza.

If you have lots of nettles, just double, triple, or quadruple this recipe.  I love making LOTS of nettle pesto and freezing it in quart freezer bags.  







If you liked this tutorial and want to learn more, please sign up for my mailing list to get more inspiration and free tutorials.  When you sign up here, you get my free ebook "Three Essential Skills for the Homesteader and Urbanite"!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Beaming beauty your way

For all the folks who can't see evidence of spring yet, it IS coming.  
The Pacific Northwest has broken a record for winter rainfall.  Between the beginning of December and Thursday night, a total of 22.78 inches fell in Seattle.  And since the area where we live gets much more rain than Seattle... you know.  It's been dreary.

But look here:







I started my onion seeds on Valentine's day, and look what happened:



Oh yeah, baby, spring is on her way, although she is taking her time about it.
In the meantime, we wait.  And every time the sun comes out, we scramble outside and absolutely worship it.

Let me beam some beauty your way:







The two dots in the sky in the picture above are bald eagles, soaring.

Other than dropping everything we are doing once the sun appears so we can be outside, we've been catching up on other chores, like making goat milk soap, pruning fruit trees, making sauerkraut (mixed with a little red cabbage for effect), and snuggling with the puppy.  Although everything that has to do with the puppy doesn't seem like a chore at all...





Sunday, February 21, 2016

My online fermentation course - only two more days left to get 10% off

I hate, hate, hate the idea of being sales-y.  I don't like promoting myself, yet I realize that although I did send out an e-mail to people who are signed up on my mailing list (YOU, dear one!), I never wrote a blog post about it so that other people can find it too.

So I'm just popping in to tell you that there are only three more days left for my 10% off coupon for my brand new online fermentation course, so instead of paying $39, you will pay $35.10 for the whole thing.

Coupon code: gethealthy (expires Wednesday).

And just in case you didn't realize: My course is completely self-paced.  So once you purchase it, you can complete it all on your own time.


So here is the info about the course:

After getting up at 5am every morning for two months, after neglecting my poor children and husband (and laundry) for too long, I am proud to announce that my hard work has paid off.

My online fermentation course is up and running!

I am totally excited, and also scared, because I put so much hard work into it, and what if people don't want it?

It's a self-paced online fermentation course, and people will learn how to make Greek Yogurt, Beet Kvass, Sauerkraut, Kombucha, and No-Knead Bread.

My ebooks and demonstration movies we filmed in my kitchen will teach you how to make incredibly healthy and tasty fermented foods and drinks, and save lots of money!  It's so much cheaper to make your own!

The course is only $39, and for one week only, I will offer it at a 10% discount to entice you to purchase it, and have your life changed by it.

Discount coupon code: Gethealthy.

Hurry, the coupon expires February 24th!

This course has the potential to change your life, since fermented foods will strengthen your immune system, improve the probiotics in your gut, and help you absorb the nutrients in your food much better.

You can read more about the health benefits and how much money you will save by making your own fermented foods on my website course page, or if you are ready to buy the course, go directly here.

I hope to see you in my online classroom!





Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It has begun

I'm calling this post "It has begun".  Here is what has begun:

*** Our planting season: I intended to show you beautiful pictures of my kids planting garlic in our exceptionally fertile-looking, dark soil.  But I had deleted my garlic planting pictures on my i-phone to make more space for shooting demonstration movies for my upcoming fermentation course.

I'm bummed out about deleting my garlic pictures.  You can still find some on my instagram feed, if you don't believe me about our Martha Stewart-worthy-looking soil.  Anyway, the important message here is: we planted our garlic!  Spring is coming, it really is!

Instead of the garlic pictures, I'll show you pictures of our big bamboo burning, which happened the same day we planted garlic.  Have you ever heard bamboo popping when its inner chamber explodes?  It's very loud, like gunshots, and our poor small town probably thought some idiot was shooting guns all afternoon.  Sorry, neighbors.





We also found out that our puppy loves chomping on the kale and collards leftover from last year's garden.  Good girl, eating her vegetables...I think.  I do, however, believe that I need to fence her out of the garden when my first little transplants are growing in earnest, otherwise that dog will eat everything in sight.



The same day as planting garlic and target practicing burning bamboo all day, the kids built a fort in the woods.  It was the first sunny day in a week, and little Eva insisted on wearing a bathing suit and going barefoot.  I was too busy planting, burning and chasing the puppy out of the garden to play fashion police, so she got away with it.  She now has a wicked cold.  Bad, bad Mama.



Once the sun comes out, we stagger around like blinded lemmings, and then decide to soak up some vitamin D and head for the creek.  Having a new puppy forces me to take two walks every day, which I love, but I also love having all of us together, kids, puppy and adults, to go exploring.  And after we get good and cold, there's the cordwood sauna to sweat in.








*** New beginnings: Baby goats.  Not from my own goats, not yet, but from our friends'.  The puppy had fun meeting the goats, but I don't think the feeling was mutual.


*** More new beginnings: baby chicks.  Or more accurately, soonish-to-be baby chicks, which are now incubating and will hopefully hatch in 19 days.  


Now.  Let's talk about Mardi Gras.  It's an occasion that is enthusiastically celebrated in our little town called Concrete - to such an extend that dressed up folks from as far away as Seattle come join the party.  Maybe it's because February is such a grey, depressing, boring month in our part of the state, and Mardi Gras adds color, excitement and, well, who needs an excuse to party?

We do it right, is all I can say.  I love the small town feel of community dancing on Main Street, our local band called "Jumbled Pie" making us kick up our heels, the goats and puppies that get to join the parade.  It's all really fun and heart warming and lovely, and it makes me proud of being a part of Concrete.







I will leave you with some of my favorite images from the week.  A sunrise in our yard, a smiling puppy, and fixin's for made-from-scratch whole wheat crackers.







Thursday, February 11, 2016

Just in time for Valentine's day!

Did you ever see the post about the raw chocolate truffle recipe that changed my life?  
I eat four or five of these yummy suckers every day, since they are medicinal.  Truly.  They contain raw chocolate powder, coconut oil, cashews, brazil nuts, goji berries, honey, coconut nectar, and vanilla.  Healthy superfood, all of it, right?  Right.

And the best valentine's present ever!

So I made a little movie about how to make them, to get you addicted inspired.

Since I don't have the internet capacity of loading the movie onto this post, watch it here on youtube.  (I just spent two hours at the local library to upload this six minute video to youtube.  Argh!)

Let me know what you think!  Your life will be changed forever.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Joy

When I was a twelve-year-old girl in Germany, I spent a lot of time roaming the scenic countryside with Emil, our family dog.  Just my dog and I, sneaking under fences into meadows belonging to cows with gigantic bells around their necks, exploring streams and forests, getting lost too many times I'd like to admit, and having a great time at that.

Ever since my childhood I have felt almost naked when I walk without a dog.  A hike is not the same without a dog prancing happily ahead, or sitting by a river without a dog blissfully digging in the sand next to me.
When my old companion Pluto died a few months ago, he left a big hole in my heart, one I didn't think would ever be filled by a dog in the same way again.

And then little Raka weaseled herself into our life, bringing with it a tsunami of love and chaos.  This little puppy is bringing joy to the whole family, but I think it is I who is especially taken by her.  The happy bonding hormone oxytocin is coursing through my veins when I hold her, or even just talk to her.





I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit that talking to my puppy involves elaborate baby talk (from me, not her).  I just can't help it.  My voice automatically shifts into blibber-blabber-squeaky-baby-talk, and when I asked my husband if I am annoying the heck out of him with it, he said he actually likes it.  But when I started talking to him like that, he might have peed himself a little laughing.

On our walks, Raka manages to insert herself into every picture, even when I try to just take a photo of a cool piece of bark with lichen on it.  Somehow, she shoots out underneath the ferns, and there she is.  Well, I guess "No Trespassing" signs don't apply to puppies. 


 





She is getting plenty of exercise playing with the kids or the neighbor's dog and going for walks.  When she gets too tired, I give her a lift.







Another great source of joy this week: FOOD!  I cannot tell you how well we eat in our home.  Last night, for example, I looked around the dinner table and was struck by how much of it was grown, raised, preserved and cooked from scratch on our land.  There was home made, slow fermented, no knead bread (I'm going to teach an online workshop on this soon), sprouts, dill pickles, my gouda cheese, kombucha...

We also made 23 pounds of pork sausage with the meat from pigs we raised with whey from my cheesemaking, organic grain and pasture.  I tell you, the house smelled fantastic because we fried up samples of each batch on the spot.  There was breakfast sausage with maple syrup, sage, ginger, thyme and nutmeg, and then there was caraway sausage with white wine, caraway, fresh parsley, onions, allspice and maple syrup, and of course kielbasa with lots of garlic and majoram.  Steve and I might have consumed the rest of the bottle of white wine we used for the caraway sausage, although it was only noon.  See how much fun sausage making is at our house?
The recipes for our sausage are in this blog post from last year.

Our life is so good.











I will leave you with images from an outing to our favorite creek down the road.  It's a magical, wild, joyful place.  







  How are you finding joy this week?

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