Common Chickweed, Mulled Cider, and Other Syndicated Features

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Over the past six years 100+ newspapers have run stories from MOTHER EARTH NEWS as syndicated features. Here are three.

Common Chickweed

When most of us think about wild greens, we think of [1] something bitter that [2] grows away back in the woods and [3] can be harvested only during the summer. Well that’s not at all true, and you need look no further than the common chickweed to prove it.

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) is [1] so mild that most devotees mix it with something more pungent just to give it a little flavor. The plant [2] thrives so well in lawns, fields, and vegetable patches that farmers and gardeners consider it to be a pest, and [3] It’s so hearty that its vitamin-laden foliage can be gathered year round throughout most of the continental United States and in some parts of Canada.

Look for a low, sprawling plant with pale-green, tender, and juicy stems that are so thin and weak they break easily. The leaves are about a half inch long and a quarter inch across, have a rounded profile except for a rather definite point on their tips, and grow in opposite pairs on slender little branches. Small (a quarter inch across), white, star-shaped (five petal) flowers which open on sunny days and close at night are displayed by the plant: year round in the north-central United States and southward, and during the spring, summer, and fall throughout the upper U.S. and far Into Canada.

Pick chickweed by the handful, wash it and chop the plant into salads. Or cover stronger greens (mustard, dandelion, watercress, etc.) with water, boil them for 10 minutes, chop your Stellaria media into the pot, and boil everything for another minute or two. Serve with salt, pepper, butter, bits of fresh onion, and finely crumbled bacon. You’ll have a dish that’s as good as greens can be!

Best of all, chickweed is rich in vitamin C and can be harvested right through the coldest weather in almost all areas of Canada and the United States. So … have a healthful and inexpensive winter: Serve up a “free for the gathering” chickweed dish two or three times a week during the coming months!

Mulled Cider

Hayrides and other outdoor group activities during brisk weather call for a shared cup of cheer. On such occasions Mrs. Pat Hosmer of Chagrin Falls, Ohio warms her chilled guests with this recipe for Mulled Cider. Put into a large kettle:

1 quart of water, 2 teaspoons of allspice, 1 stick of cinnamon, and 1 pinch of cloves

Gently boil the above ingredients for one-half hour while, in another container, you mix:

1 gallon of apple cider
1 tea bag
1 quart can of frozen lemonade mixed with the juice of two oranges
3/4 cup of sugar or 1/3 cup of honey

Add the second mixture to the first and allow the kettle to simmer until the entire batch of tangy, tasty brew is hot. Serve in heavy mugs, if possible, for a real “conquering the elements” feeling and let your happy sippers sweeten to taste.

Cleaning Wool

The trees are bare and the ol’ north wind has been rattling the windows for days. This is the kind of weather that really makes you appreciate the warm comfort of woolen clothes and blankets.

If only wool weren’t so hard to clean! Washing makes it shrink and dry cleaning [1] is expensive and [2] often removes the material’s protective oil coating. “No problem at all,” says Ed Mohler of Bozeman, Montana (where wool is used to good advantage throughout the winter), “just drape your woolen fabrics across fresh snow and stomp the dirt out of them.”

Ed claims that his family waits until a cold, crisp day (25°F or below) and then hangs its woolen blankets, rugs, etc., outside. “I leave ’em there for a half hour or so,” he says, “so that any collected grease will harden and the fabrics will cool enough so that they won’t melt the snow when the real action begins. Then spread the chilled articles on a fresh layer of snow (the smaller and cleaner the flakes, the better) and walk all over their surfaces until the fine, frozen particles are completely worked into the mesh of the cloth. Turn the rugs or whatever over and repeat the process. Then shake the flakes off the pieces of wool and most of the dirt will fail away with them. If you’re fastidious, you can find another clean snowbank and stomp both sides of each article a second time. And, if you’re lazy, you can let the kids handle the whole job. They’ll love it!”