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Make a Ras-el-Hanout Spice Blend for Moroccan Chicken Skillet, Chai Tea, and More

 

Having special spice mixtures ready at hand on the spice rack makes preparing exotic dishes quick and easy. Keep your blends in an airtight spice jar and make fresh every year. I couldn’t find ready-blended Ras-el-Hanout even in my upscale grocery, so I mixed up my own. I looked at blends by a few chefs, a few more online and created my own.

Ras-el-Hanout is a blend of common spices that gives extraordinary flavor excitement to something as simple as a one skillet chicken dinner. If your grocery (or a friend’s) has a bulk spice department, you’re in luck picking up small amounts of whatever spices you don’t have on hand. For larger amounts of spices, I like Atlantic Spice.

While you acquire the spices, you’ll probably want to make some fresh preserved lemons, which will often be paired with the Ras-el-Hanout. Go here for an easy method of preparing your own homemade. When you need the extra lemon juice for the preserved lemons, be sure to pull the peel off the lemons first and candy these for your stash of frozen Pantry Essentials. (Read how to do that here.) No work involved. I tuck the finished lemon peel into a freezer bag, add a little of the syrup left, and put it into the freezer for all sorts of future treats, such as lemon pound cake, Christmas Stollen, and panetonne.

I’ll start with a small quantity of spice — after you’ve made the chicken skillet, you’ll probably want to triple the amounts and mix up a bigger jar. There are a lot of ingredients, just assemble them along with your mortar and pestle or spice grinder so that blending takes just a few mouth-watering, aromatic minutes.

Ras-el-Hanout Spice Blend Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1 tsp whole cumin
• ½ tsp whole coriander
• 1 tsp whole black pepper corns
• 1 tsp whole white pepper corns
• ½ tsp whole allspice
• 1 tsp whole cloves
• ½ or a small bay leaf
• whole nutmeg
• optional: a few dried red or pink roses
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• 1 tsp ground turmeric
• ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground cayenne
• 1 tsp paprika

Directions:

1. Grate enough of the whole nutmeg to make ½ tsp of fresh nutmeg.

2. Put the whole spices up to the cloves into your mortar or spice grinder. If you use a grinder, you can “flush” it with a teaspoon of sea salt, then go ahead and add this to your blend. Grind the spices, than add all the pre-ground spices and crumble in the bay leaf and rose petals. Those are pretty left in discreet pieces.

3. Funnel the blend into an airtight spice jar and keep in a dark place.

Moroccan-style Chicken Skillet Recipe

This is a very simplified version of a chicken tagine, prepared without a tagine and on the table in less than a half-hour. You’ll figure the proportions with your family in mind but use plenty of healthy vegetables.

Serve with saffron couscous

Ingredients:

• Boneless chicken pieces
• Ras-el-hanout spice blend
• Onion, color bell pepper, plenty of garlic and other veggies such as carrot and turnip or eggplant.  Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• A little chicken stock
• Preserved lemon wedges
• Pitted green olives

Directions:

1. Start with boneless, skinless chicken pieces, sliced or pounded less than ½-inch thick. Pat the chicken dry, then very generously sprinkle with the ras-el-hanout. Don’t salt yet — the salt will begin to “cure” the chicken. Put the chicken into a plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator all day or overnight.

2. Put a nice spill of olive oil in the skillet and, over moderate heat, sauté the chicken until it’s nicely browned.  While you sauté the chicken, cut up the veggies. Cut hard veggies smaller than the pepper; you want them softer.

3. Now season the chicken with the sea salt and pepper. It doesn’t need to be cooked through yet. Remove to a plate while you sauté all the vegetables, adding another sprinkle of spice plus sea salt to taste. When the veggies soften a bit, nestle the chicken pieces back into the skillet, pushing them to the bottom. Add just a little chicken stock, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked.

4. Scrape the pulp from preserved lemon wedges, cut the rind into slivers and add to the skillet. Add the green olives. Cover the skillet and continue to simmer gently for another few minutes.

5. Prepare couscous according to the proportions on the box, stirring a pinch of saffron if you have it into the water before you add the couscous.

6. Serve the chicken and veggies over the couscous, arranging it so some lemon and olives are on top as garnish.

Spicy Chai Tea Recipe

On a cold day, nothing short of brandy is as warming as spicy Chai. On a steamy hot summer day, serve over ice.

Many years ago, I had never heard of Chai when I read a piece in a magazine. It sounded tempting, so I tried some. The original recipe I tried directed mixing all the spices, heating them in water and then adding milk and sugar directly to the mixture, bringing that back almost to a boil, then straining out the spices. That was the way I made it for awhile until I decided it was much too messy and too milky. Here’s the way I do it now.

Ingredients:

• ¼ tsp whole cloves
• ½ tsp whole coriander seeds
• ½ tsp preserved (candied) ginger
• ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
• ½ tsp whole fennel seeds
• 1 tsp whole green cardamom pods
• 1 tsp whole allspice
• about a tsp crushed nutmeg
• 1 whole star anise
• 2 inches cinnamon stick
• 1 heaping tbsp black tea leaf

For serving:    

• 3 cups cold water
• 4 tbsp best honey, to taste
• milk, to taste

Directions:

1. For efficiency, I mix several batches of spice and tea in individual small plastic bags so I can just grab one already blended when I want Chai.

2. Put the spices into the water and bring to a boil. Steep the tea and spices in a teapot, then strain into mugs, add honey to taste and milk if you like milk in your tea. If you have a big tea strainer or little muslin bags that works even better.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Herb Queen of the Spring: Stinging Nettle

Here in the Appalachian Mountains, spring creeps across the landscape. Despite a vicious cold spell that swept across our curvy hills, wild edibles are emerging in our valleys, meadows, and forests. One of the most nutritious and energy-rich of these wild edibles is a dark-green weed with a ferocious bite. Stinging nettle is her name, and though she bites with shockingly strong needles, her leaves are well worth harvesting, for they are extremely nutritious and fortifying for the body.

As the renowned herbalist Susun Weed writes in her herbal e-zine, “Nettle is amazingly rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially the critical trace minerals: anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, diabetes-chasing chromium, and bone-building boron. A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins.”

Nettles are also high in vitamin C and iron, making them an excellent supplement for pregnancy, bone and blood health. Here at Wild Abundance, a permaculture and primitive skills school just north of Asheville, North Carolina, we harvest nettle in these early months of spring, while the plant is still young, and relish the taste of this health-giving herb. Here in Appalachia, we also gather a native woodland nettle (Laportea Canadensis) as well as the common stinging nettle (Urticaceae), which grows across North America, Europe, through Asia and in northern regions of Africa.

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The nettles’ sting is thought to increase circulation and help relieve the pain of arthritis. When harvesting in the early spring months, when the plant is still young, Natalie Bogwalker, the founder of Wild Abundance and the Firefly Gathering, considers the sting to be beneficial, healing the pains in her hard-working hands. “I'm careful to only touch the nettle with the insides of my hands, as it doesn't seem to sting that part,” says Natalie. “My inner wrists and forearms seem to be pretty sensitive, but if I do get stung I think of it as good medicine for my over-used arms. Later in the season, [when the plant's sting is strongest] I tend to always where gloves, long pants, and closed shoes.” Gloves and proper attire are recommended for the novice nettle collector!

Below you’ll find two recipes for stinging nettle, plus Wild Abundance’s favorite preservation technique (courtesy of Natalie Bogwalker). Harvest while you can, and enjoy the many benefits of this nourishing wild food!

Fresh Nettle for the Adventurous Only

From Natalie Bogwalker: “I make salad from wood nettles simply by massaging the greens to disable the stinging hairs. I then chopped it very fine, and add nuts and dried fruit with a vinaigrette. One time, years ago, I did not massage the wood nettles quite enough to disable all of the tiny hypodermic needles. I served the salad to my boyfriend at the time, and he got stung in the mouth, and made a very big fuss. I haven't made this particular salad since then, but I do still suggest making it, especially if you are more adventurous than faint of heart when it comes to the sensitive inner tissues of your mouth.” Massage vigorously and well, add oil, apple cider vinegar, a splash of honey, fresh chopped garlic, salt and ground black pepper. Keep massaging!!

 A Recipe for Long Life and Abundant Health: Sautéed Nettles & Shiitakes

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil or butter
2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 fair-sized finely sliced onion
5 cups stinging or wood nettle leaves or tops, chopped
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
3 cloves chopped garlic

Directions

1. Heat oil over medium flame.

2. Add shiitakes, cook, uncovered, stirring until mushrooms release and then reabsorb moisture.

3. Add onions, cook for about 5 minutes until translucent.

4. Add nettles and tamari, cover, cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

5. Add garlic, stir uncovered over flame for about 2 minutes. Enjoy.

nettles (1) 

Preserve the Abundance: How to Dry Nettles

From Natalie Bogwalker: “I harvest the tops of plants about 1/3 down the plant. This encourages regrowth, and prolongs the flower-free period by harvesting the plants in this manner. Take note: herbalist and ethnobotanist Frank Cook would say that nettles could contribute to kidney stones if eaten when flowering.

“I like to hang long strings attached to hooks or nails in an indoor space where the humidity tends to be lower and more constant than our moist and lush Appalachian environment. I hook one leaf of each stalk over the string. You can really pack the nettles on the string, with stalks about ½ inch apart. I wait for the stalks to completely dry, unhook one end of the string, put it into a large paper bag, and slide all of the nettles into the paper bag.

“Once the nettles are in the paper bag I crush the leaves and green matter into this bag, and pull out the rather fibrous and inedible stalks. I then pour the resulting nettle flakes into clean glass gallon jars or food grade buckets. I keep them tightly sealed, and try to store them in a dark place. 

“As well as making a nutritive and iron-rich tea, these green flakes make an excellent addition to stews, get mixed right into egg mixtures for omelets, combine well with ground deer or beef and feta cheese (optional) for nettle burgers.” Enjoy!

Wild Abundance offers an array of homesteading and permaculture courses throughout the spring, summer and fall including, a Garden School, a Wild Edibles Foraging Adventure, a three-day festival on primitive skills called The Firefly Gathering, a Women's Basic Carpentry workshop, an Advanced Women's Carpentry workshop, a Tiny House & Natural Building Workshop, a Permaculture Design Course, the Cycles of Life: Humane Butchering & Slaughtering weekend workshop, Hide Tanning, and an Ancestral Foods Cooking Class and more!

Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt is a student with Wild Abundance, a writer, gardener and beekeeper in Asheville, North Carolina. Check out her other articles written for Mother Earth News here.  


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Home Brewing Kombucha

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What is all the hype about this funky tea known as Kombucha? Kombucha most likely started in China and spread to Russian over 100 years ago. It is often called mushroom tea because if the scoby that forms on the top, resembling a mushroom. Scoby is actually an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

Kombucha contains multiple species of yeast and bacteria along with the organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and vitamin C. According to the American Cancer Society "Kombucha tea has been promoted as a cure-all for a wide range of conditions including baldness, insomnia, intestinal disorders, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and cancer. Supporters say that Kombucha tea can boost the immune system and reverse the aging process." I will caution you however that there is little scientific evidence to support such strong claims.

For us Kombucha is fun to make, and is highly recommended among many of my holistic friends. It is naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, which is helpful for digestive health. I think it smells a little strong, but is actually pleasant tasting.

Instructions for Making Kombucha Tea

Ingredients

14 cups water
1 cup sugar
8 tea bags
1 cupstarter tea or vinegar
kombucha culture

Directions

1. Combine hot water (14 cups for 1 gallon) and sugar (1 cup) in the glass jar you intend on using to brew the tea. Stir until the sugar dissolves. The water should be hot enough to steep the tea but does not have to be boiling.

2. Place the tea or tea bags in the sugar water to steep. Use 8 tea bags for a gallon of tea. I prefer the flavor of green tea, but you can also use black tea. Try to find an organic tea. If you use loose tea leaves use 4 tbsp for a gallon of tea.

3. Cool the mixture to room temperature. The tea may be left in the liquid as it cools. Once cooled remove the tea bags.

4. Add starter tea from a previous batch to the liquid. If you do not have starter tea, distilled white vinegar may be substituted. If using vinegar use 2 cups for a gallon of tea.

5. Add an active kombucha scoby (culture).

6. Cover the jar with a towel or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Ants can smell sweet tea a mile away.

7. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed at 68-85°F, out of direct sunlight, for 7-30 days, or to taste. The longer the kombucha ferments, the less sweet and more vinegary it will taste.

Keep the scoby and about 1 cup of the liquid from the bottom of the jar to use as starter tea for the next batch. You will have the “mother scoby” that you added and a new “baby scoby” that will have formed on the top. You can reuse your mother scoby, and gift your baby.

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The finished kombucha can be flavored, or enjoyed plain. Keep sealed with an airtight lid at room temp for an additional 7 days with added fruit if you like a fizzy drink like soda.  Otherwise store in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.  These little bottles of “hippy tea” have been popping up all over grocery stores for about $3 a bottle, but you can make it at home for about $1 a gallon. I'm not sure that it's a cure-all, but at worst you have a delightful and affordable probiotic.

Melissa Souza lives on a 1-acre, organically managed homestead property in rural Washington State where she raises backyard chickens and meat rabbits and grows plums, apples, pears, a variety of berries, and all the produce her family needs. She loves to inspire other families to save money, be together, and take steps toward self-reliance no matter where they live. Connect with her on Facebook.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Mocha Fudge Sauce

 

Welcome to Part 2 of my blog series on what to do with leftover coffee. I really cannot bring myself to throw it away, and have scanned my library for any and all (well, maybe not all) recipes for using this ingredient. The sauce in question has to be the best I have come across as many times the flavors or consistencies have been disappointing. It was delightful to come across one as excellent as advertised. The book in question is 300 Best Chocolate Recipes (that right there got my attention when I bought it), and it lives up to expectations.

Please note that there are also chocolate sauce recipes in this book that call for merlot wine or bourbon, the bourbon probably being the best, but not having tried them, I cannot speak as to how they taste. See references below for all bibliographical info. One more thing, you will need your spoon, as in, it’s fabulous right out of the jar. Sort of a dessert in its own right.

Ingredients:

• 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
• ½ cup packed light brown sugar* (See note)
• 1 cup hot, fresh coffee  (I used leftover)
• ½ cup whipping or heavy cream
• ½ cup light corn syrup
• 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
• 2 tbsp. dark rum

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, whisk together cocoa powder and brown sugar. Add coffee, cream and corn syrup, whisking until smooth.

2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking continuously. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate chips and rum.

3. Let cool, it will thicken some, and serve. The author also suggests instead of the rum you could add kirsch or crème de menthe, but personally, I’d hold out for the Chambord. 

Note: I used dark brown sugar as dark has so much more flavor than the light.  It is your choice, as either way it is delicious.

References: Hasson, Julie. “300 Best Chocolate Recipes.” Toronto: Robert Rose Inc., 2006.

You can follow the further adventures of Sue or sign up for a class at her website: www.svanslooten.com or email: wwwsvanslooten@icloud.com.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Lemon-Ginger Marmalade: A Pantry Essential

This will be the last of the marmalades in the Pantry Essentials series for now. Come summer, we’ll do more. This marmalade goes beyond the toast and biscuit spread to a big punch of pure flavor to add enticement to a weekday chicken and veggie skillet.

As with all marmalades, this has lengthy prep so sit, turn on the music, and enjoy. There are multiple styles of prep, which give this marmalade a lot of texture interest.

Homemade Lemon-Ginger Marmalade Recipe

Yields 11 half pints

Ingredients:

If you wisely froze some fresh lemon juice when you made a lemon zest puree for holiday baking, you’ll have that on hand and won’t need to buy extra lemons for juice.

• 4 pounds lemons, about 14 the size of a jumbo egg
• 1 cup fresh lemon juice (never bottled)
• a hand of ginger
• 8 cups white cane sugar
• 2-3 Tbsp ginger puree*

Directions:

Day 1

1. If your lemons aren’t organic, give them a quick scrub.

2. Using a potato peeler, peel 4 of the lemons. Snip the peel into skinny 1/8-inch strips. Set aside, reserving the peeled lemons.

3. For the remaining 10 lemons: Slice off the knobs at either end. Set the lemon on end and slice in half lengthwise, then turn, cut side down, on the cutting board and slice each half into 4 lengthwise segments. Now, slice across the segments very fine, about 1/8-inch slices. Each slice will be a little wedge with zest and a bit of juicy pulp. Frequently scrape the cut pieces into a bowl so you don’t lose juice. Continue on until all 10 lemons are sliced.

4. Peel sections of the ginger and then choose the tender juicy outside of the pieces, avoiding the tough stringy interior. Cut the best of the ginger into tiny dice, less than ¼ inch.

5. Next, juice out the 4 lemons you peeled in the beginning. Add fresh juice to make 2 cups of lemon juice. You should have:

1 ½ cups zest strips
7 cups of slices
2 cups lemon juice
½ cup of diced ginger

6. Mix all this together in a bowl and cover with plastic by sliding the whole bowl into a plastic grocery bag and tying the handles. Into the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2

1. Start up your water bath, lay out clean jars, ladle, and funnel. As the water begins to boil, dip the jars, lids, and equipment to sterilize, and lay these out on a clean towel ready to fill.

2. Put all the prepared lemon and ginger into your jam pot and add the sugar. If you leave it for a few minutes, the sugar will begin to dissolve. When it all looks pretty wet, start stirring as you turn on the burner. Stir until the sugar is all taken up, making sure to get into the bottom edges.

3. Clip on a thermometer. Bring the mixture quickly to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat and continue cooking until the lemon zest looks transparent and the marmalade looks glossy. Now, turn up the heat and bring the mixture to 220 degrees.

4. Ladle the marmalade into jars, apply the two-piece lids, and put into the boiling water bath. Process for 7 minutes. As you remove the jars, put them upside down for a few minutes before righting them. This prevents floating fruit.

5. Label the jars, including the year, and store in a dark cupboard. Marmalade keeps for about a year, but you’ll probably have eaten or given it all away by next January when it’s time to make more.

Note on Ginger Puree

* I use ginger puree a lot, especially in pickles. If you haven’t yet put up a jar in the freezer, this is a good time. Here’s how:

Ginger puree is so handy to have on hand. Watch for fresh, silky-skinned ginger and buy a big piece. Roughly peel it and slice into ½-inch pieces. Toss those into the mini-prep processor, add about 2 Tbsp cane sugar to 1 cup of ginger chunks, and process to a puree.

The sugar keeps it from freezing too hard. Keep this in a jar in the freezer to add to preserves, pickling syrup, and even stir fry. And, yes, gingerbread! There’s not enough sugar to make any difference in flavor.

Lemon-Ginger Chicken Skillet Recipe Idea

Ingredients:

• Chicken pieces of your choice
• Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
• Olive oil for the skillet
• Diced onion
• Fresh or roasted garlic cloves
• Fresh veggies such as color bell peppers, zucchini, sugar snaps or snow peas
• Optional: a handful of pitted olives
• Spoonfuls of Lemon-Ginger Marmalade
• Optional: just a little white wine

Directions:

1. Prepare the chicken for cooking. I use boneless breasts and slice them horizontally to pieces about the size of my palm (3 by 4 inches) and ¼-inch thick. Season with sea salt and pepper.

2. Sauté the chicken until nicely colored and just about done. Remove it to a plate while you cook the veggies. Sauté the onion until transparent, add the garlic and stir in. Push aside and do a quick sauté of the veggies, then add the chicken back in, nestling it down into the veggies.

3. Cover and cook slowly until the veggies are just crisp-tender. Stir in spoonfuls of the Lemon Ginger Marmalade to give the meal a glossy glaze. Add a splash of white wine if you’d like it saucier. Heat a moment more and serve with rice if you like.

This version is vaguely Greek in flavor. You can make it Asian by omitting the olives, cutting the chicken into strips appropriate to stir fry and using dark sesame oil instead of olive.

 Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Foraging the Fresh Taste of Spring: Wild Chickweed Salad and Wild Chickweed Pesto Recipes

Chickweed growing

After the long months of winter our bodies are craving fresh, local greens. One of the first wild edibles to appear in late winter and early spring is rich in vitamins A, D and B complex, vitamin C, rutin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica. This abundant wild green is called chickweed (Stellaria Media, Stellaria pubera) and now is the time to harvest and relish the crunchy, fresh taste of this nutritious plant, while filling your body with vitamins offered straight from the earth.

At Wild Abundance, a permaculture and primitive skills school in Barnardsville, North Carolina, chickweed is even grown in the raised garden beds. “I willed chickweed into my garden,” says Natalie Bogwalker, the founder and director of Wild Abundance and the Firefly Gathering, “and now it comes up with my winter cover crops without fail, and flourishes under my row cover with my kale and in my paths, which are protected by raised beds to their sides.”

Eyeing her bright green chickweed patch, she continues, “It is a funny thing to desire a weed in a garden so very much, but chickweed is a very well-behaved and generous weed. It doesn't seem to compete with my cultivated plants, and it yields a tremendous amount of healthy food.”

Juliet Blankespoor, the founder and director of The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Weaverville, North Carolina, adds that chickweed is also a valuable medicinal. Chickweed is “considered a blood cleanser and a tonic, [a] strengthening herb, especially after a long convalescence.” Plus, “chickweed’s nutritional profile is a boon to any diet. The fiber is a welcome addition to most Americans’ diet and, like all leafy greens, chickweed bulks up a meal and provides plenty of vitamins and minerals, while adding few calories.”

Since early spring is the best time to harvest this delectable wild edible, we at Wild Abundance want to share two of our favorite chickweed recipes. The first is for a fresh chickweed salad and the other is a preservation technique. Harvest, feast, preserve and enjoy the first crunch of spring!

Chickweed-Autumn Olive Salad

Ingredients (salad):

6 cups leafy (as opposed to stemmy) chickweed, rinsed, and chopped very finely (¼ inch lengths) across the stem
1-2 cups sweetly ripe autumn olives, redbud flowers, locust flowers, or dried cranberries
½ cup queso fresco or soft goat cheese
¼-3/4 cup black walnut pieces, roasted sunflower seeds, or soaked and roasted pecans

Ingredients (dressing):

1/3 cup fresh basil or monarda spp (bee balm, horsemint) leaves (just coming up in the spring in the wild or in the flower garden)
1 cup olive oil
1/8 cup honey
1 ½ tsp salt

Chickweed Pesto Recipe

Ingredients:

6 cups fresh chickweed
5-20 cloves garlic (depending on size and intensity of garlic clove and your personal taste)
1 cup olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 cup toasted black walnuts, sunflower seeds, English walnuts, or pecans
Zest from 1 lemon (make sure it is organic because you are using the skin)

Directions:

1. Harvest chickweed with knife to avoid dirt, rinse and swing to dry.

2. Make pesto in batches; add half of olive oil first to food processor or blender, then add garlic, then salt, and finally the greens.

3. Eat fresh, store at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze for up to 4 months.

4. Freeze in ice-cube trays, and empty into zip-lock bags so that you can defrost just the right amount of pesto.

Bon appetit!

Wild Abundance offers an array of homesteading and permaculture courses throughout the spring, summer and fall including, the Essentials of Homesteading and Permaculture, a Garden School, a Wild Edibles Foraging Adventure, a three-day festival on primitive skills called The Firefly Gathering, a Women's Basic Carpentry workshop, an Advanced Women's Carpentry workshop, a Tiny House & Natural Building Workshop, a Permaculture Design Course, the Cycles of Life: Humane Butchering & Slaughtering weekend workshop, Hide Tanning, and an Ancestral Foods Cooking Class and more!

Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt is a student with Wild Abundance, a writer, gardener and beekeeper in Asheville, North Carolina. Check out her other articles written for Mother Earth News here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Lime-Mint Fizz with Cranberry Ice: A Romantic Mocktail for all Occasions

Lime Mint Fizz Cocktail

Love (English), amore (Italian), liefde (Dutch), rakkaus (Finnish), amour (French), gra (Irish), dragoste (Romanian), cariad (Welsh), liebe (German) — however you say it, love is a universal language expressed in myriad ways, through the spoken and written word, through song, by gifts of jewelry, flowers, or chocolates, with a smile and a wink, by dancing slowly cheek to cheek, with a celebratory drink, by holding hands, by kissing, by passionate lovemaking, and sometimes simply by just being there to comfort and listen to your beloved.  It’s a language understood by everyone. Love feels good. It’s a balm for the soul. Love works its magic on the human heart.

And speaking of love, springtime is a time of romance. How about creating a simple romantic date night at home with your sweetie? No need to go out to have a nice time. Simply cook your favorite dinner, light some candles to set the mood, or watch a movie together. Just relax and do whatever you both love to do.

For your sipping pleasure, might I suggest a bright and bold beverage?  Here is my mocktail version of the classic Cosmopolitan: a Lime-Mint Fizz with Cranberry Ice. It’s sure to delight your senses, being both beautiful to behold and tongue-tantalizingly delicious — one of my absolute favorite recipes!

This oh-so-tasty, slightly tart, ruby-red, refreshing drink is perfect for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or any special occasion in which red is the color of the day and love is in the air. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this delectable drink as much as I do. Cheers!

Lime-Mint Fizz with Cranberry Ice

Simply gorgeous, this sparkling, invigorating, hot pink drink is the perfect beverage to enjoy après “afternoon delight,” when tasty, light refreshment is in order. The drink gets sweeter as the cranberry cubes melt. Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

• Cranberry juice, sweetened as desired
• 10 fresh peppermint or spearmint leaves, or 2 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil
• Juice of 2 limes (about 1/3 cup)
• Plain seltzer or sparkling water
• Lime slices, fresh cranberries, or mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Fill two ice cube trays with cranberry juice and freeze. To prepare the drinks, you’ll need two tall glasses.

2. Finely chop the mint leaves, and divide them between the glasses (or put 1 drop of essential oil in each glass).

3. Generously fill the glasses with cranberry ice cubes, then ever-so-slowly drizzle half of the lime juice over the ice in each glass.

4. Top off the glasses with seltzer, and garnish with slices of lime, whole cranberries, or mint sprigs, if desired. A colorful straw is nice, too.

 

Variation: To make an elegant champagne cocktail, substitute champagne for the seltzer. It’s a most beautiful party drink.

Find this and more passion-inspiring recipes in Stephanie Tourles’s book, Making Love Potions: 64 All-Natural Recipes for Irresistible Herbal Aphrodisiacs (Storey Publishing, 2016). Stephanie has also written many other books, including my best-selling, Organic Body Care Recipes; Hands-On Healing Remedies; Raw Energy In a Glass; Raw Energy; and Naturally Bug-Free (all available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store). Visit her website www.StephanieTourles.com to learn more, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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