Odd snack

Well maybe not too odd…..Thanks to a wonderful blogger I follow, I went out of my zone and tried a new food. For those who know me, this is BS because I will eat just about anything.

Amaryllis shared a radish snack. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some ruby gems.

I have always wanted to like radishes. They are sassy little orbs of goodness. Alone, I could not really acquire the taste so I sliced them up and slathered salad dressing on them in salads.

Im trying so hard to eat cleaner and determined to enjoy a radish, I gave it a try.

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I gobbled up every last one. Delish!

I sliced the tops and bottoms off the radish then cut in half so that the first cut served as a little flat area to keep them from wobbling all over. I put a little organic butter (I didn’t have any French butter, imagine that) on top and a smidge of sea salt.

Thanks amaryllis !

Jewel weed failure

Today’s urban homesteading lesson is about jewel weed and its natural healing powers for the skin, especially for speeding up the healing process for poison ivy. A week ago while filming my adult sons make a teeter totter out of felled trees, I felled into a patch of the evil ivy. I bought iverest but it has only spread.

As a kid my father would dig jewelweed up, boil it and then freeze it in ice cube trays, having it available all summer long. I was convinced that it eased the itching of mosquito and chigger bites too. He didn’t agree but I just read a lot of interesting facts about it and it is useful for insect bites, see here

Jewel weed is a form of impatiens and are often called touch me nots as the little blossom will pop off as if spring loaded when touched.

They do not grow in the sun, they prefer shady areas along creeks or run offs. Be careful, you may find yourself tangling with more poison ivy as it grows near it, being the antidote.

So back to poison ivy. Here is what it looks like on my knee. The big ugly bruise is from the fall as well. It is what I get for wearing flip flops in the woods right after a rain.

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Oops, upside down.

So I ventured out in my community. I live in an urban area but also close to little stretches of rural bliss. I found a shady road and after a little while I spotted some yellow blossoms. It was growing right in the middle of poison ivy and yep… Wearing those flip flops again. I very carefully stretched and plucked the plants. They come right out, roots and all.

This is what it looks like.

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This is what the roots and stems look like,

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The roots look like chicken feet.

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I would have liked to have found more but this was it.

Careful wash off the roots. It is a juicy stem and you don’t want to lose any of it.

You can cut the stems and rub directly on the affected are or make a batch to use a few times.

To make a batch, cut the stems and place in a pan of water. I only use filtered, it is just safer.

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Boil and let cool. The object is to get all the juices out of the plant.

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Strain it. It will be an amber color

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Freeze it in ice cube tray, put cubes in freezer bag when frozen. When you need it, rub it on the rash or bite while it melts.

I am going to mix some into a small bottle of Dr. Bronners and use in the bath this week.

Watching boys ride the teeter totter was so worth it!

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FAILURE….. The jewel weed did not ease my poison ivy like it did when I was a kid. I guess my concoction was off.

I ended up putting the apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and it is making it better.

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Obsessed with chicory

I have become OBSESSED with chicory. I am in love with the rich dark chocolatey java like substance. Earthy coffee. Mmmmmm obsessed I am. Whoever called this poor mans coffee was sadly mistaken. Coffee is wonderful but chicory is even even better. For a added bonus it is very healthy. Google it. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

It can be free. Most county roads are full of it. Make sure you are pulling it up in areas you know haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or weed killer. My favorite location is an uninhibited lane leading to a little church in a rural part of the county I live in.

Growing up we called it cornflower. It grows everywhere here in Kentucky, along roadsides, railroad tracks and bordering parking lots. It grows in full sun and thrives in heat. It’s tough to dig up but when you can pull them up, the root looks like a carrot. It is easiest to pull these after a good rain. They are strong and stubborn.

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They are light beige when scrubbed clean. Some are fat and woody, others long and slender. Some have little "hairs" but those usually come off when scrubbed. They don't hurt. They are just runners.

The greens are edible, much like dandelion greens, if you like that sort of thing. I find them to be too bitter but they are full of vitamins.

To make this worth the work, and it is, get at least 5 lbs of root. After you dig it up, snip off the greens at the base of the plant and discard if you don't plan to use the,greens.

You will need these, scissors will not cut it.

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I clean mine by placing them in a large bucket outside and spraying my garden hose with the high pressure nozzle. This knocks loose a lot of the dirt and grime. Rinse and fill again with clean water. Let sit about an hour. I pull the roots from the water and lay on my patio and rinse again. Use a scrub brush if needed.

Once cleaned, using snips cut the pieces like you would a carrot and pile on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Chop small enough to dry quickly. You are roasting to dry and remove the moisture in the plant so you can grind later.

Bake at 425 for about an hour. Keep an eye on them after 40 minutes. Burning chicory is not a pleasant odor.

Bake until brown, almost burnt.

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Once dry roasted, use a coffee grinder or ninja blender, something tough. You are basically grinding up hard little sticks.

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Grind until some is fine and some is woody like so.

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At this point you can place it back in the oven for further roasting. The darker it is, the richer it is.

Place a few spoonfuls in your coffee maker or for best results, use a french press.
Use only 1/2 to 2/3 of what you would typically use in coffee in your maker. It’s more water soluble than coffee.

Sweeten or use cream if desired. Enjoy your cup of free, organic and healthy caffeine-free hot joe.

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Oops. Guess I should have shown you what it looks like.

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Mulberry jam

Mulberries are everywhere in northern Kentucky and are ripe for harvest. The purple berries are falling all over town, on cars, sidewalks, sticking to the bottoms of my shoes and worse…. Being shat out by all the birds. Blue bird pooh….. Everywhere.

Unlike the song, mulberries grow on trees, not bushes. They are edible. Some varieties are white, but that is just weird to me. I wonder what whit jam would look like. Maybe some day ill give it a whirl.

With my granddaughters pink sandbox bucket in hand, I went hunting and foraging around town. Instead of looking up as I drove, I kept my eyes, down, looking for the purple mess beneath the tree I was searching. It is important to beat the birds to the berries. Although tempting, I wouldn’t recommend picking them up off the ground. The branches are high. I put a large cloth on the ground and then with a long stick, I hit the branches, causing the berries to drop. I’m sure there is a more graceful method that involves ladders and pretty buckets. I am sure that method would require me to wear a kerchief and matching smock of some sort. I used what I had, an old piece of material I would never make into something, a stick and a pink sandbox bucket. That’s about as graceful as I get.

Despite the odd glances from passers, I collected berries until my bucket was half full and it was time for me to get ready for a bbq party with my husband (Who finds this foraging of mine amusing but in a “oh there she goes being weird again” kinda way). My fingers were stained blue, a lovely touch when shaking hands with strangers.

Anyway, here is my fruitful foraging booty.

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I soaked them in water and then gently put them in the colander instead running water on them. The ripe berries are fragile, bursting with juicy goodness.

Then then fun part begins…. Snipping off the little green stems.

I placed the stemless berries in a heavy sauce pan. About 2 cups.

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I added 3/4 cup organic sugar

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I cooked them on medium heat, stirring frequently and then smashing with a potato smasher while they stewed.

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Once it was cooked down and thick, I let it cool a bit before placing in a small jar. This was for storage for immediate use, not canning or preserving although that could be easily done if you follow directions for canning and preserving.

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I kept some it for a nice spring salad if homegrown lettuce, strawberries and mulberries. Add almonds for a nice crunch.

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