Some Wild Eating Ideas

I give you EVERY seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and EVERY tree that has fruit with seed in it as well. They are ALL yours for food and medicine. ~ Genesis 1:29

This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in today’s post I thought I’d share a few crazy “foodie” things that Vinny and I discovered on our property, and how we are using them.

The “Bad Boy” Trees

When I first saw all the black locust trees we had up near the front of the property, I was disappointed.  Even though they also go by another, more sweeter name, “Acacia,” the word on the street about these plain looking trees with thorny branches is that they are bad.  “Invasive” is the more exact word. Popping up quickly after you cut them down, shooting up baby trees from their roots.  Well, while that’s true, for those who need a source of fast, renewable firewood – they are a DREAM tree! :-D  And, black locust is one of the best wood to burn because of how long-lasting it is, too.  What a gift is planted right here for us.

But that’s not all.  The flowers are incredibly fragrant and delicious!  They smell like grape candy, and taste like a sweet pea.  We’ve been eating them raw in our salads and mixed in oatmeal.  Apparently they make awesome fritters, jelly, and even wine.  We haven’t tried those yet, but we did make a delightful cold soup with the flowers, blending them up with yogurt, almond milk, cattails (or cucumber) and some lemon juice & dill.

The yummy recipe: http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.com/2013/06/chilled-black-locust-flower-soup.html

And this oh-so-sweet article (among many others on the subject): http://mimithorisson.com/2013/05/29/acacia-flower-fritters/

Unfortunately the flowers only last a week or two – so it’s a season in life you have to grab a hold of.  Next year we may just have to throw an Acacia celebration here!  (Perhaps we were always meant to eat, and celebrate, around many of these seasonal ‘gifts’ of nature?)

Cats Cats Cats!

I actually put that that three times in the title above for a reason.  Because very recently we:

  1. Inherited my Mom’s *very* chatty indoor CAT. (Yay, us!) Such a perfect thing for tiny house people to have. :-o
  2. Caught & ate our first little CATfish from our pond.  It was so delicious!!
  3. Pulled up and ate CATtail shoots.  Also delicious!

Cattails are one of the best wild foods there is.  Edible and useful during it’s many stages of life – there are tons of resources online about them.  For one thing, the green tops (before they turn fuzzy), I have found excellent cooked and enjoyed like corn on the cob.  And recently we plucked some out of the water (it is a clean water source where we have them), and peeled the leaves off the bottom section to get to the tender white “pith” shoot in the center.  It is very refreshing raw – like a tender and seedless cucumber.

By the way, Vinny wants to make weaved baskets and mats with their long leaves, like the Native American’s did. When he someday sits in a rocker and has nothing else to do. ;-)

The Age of Valerian?

I find it strange that all the years I’ve been observing and studying wild edibles, I never noticed this plant before.  But out here, and right now, it’s profusely everywhere – it’s very tall, skinny flowers stretching high for the sky. (Some have white flowers while some light pink)  They are along the roadsides, in the hedgerows, and there’s even a whole field of it nearby!

I wonder if there’s a Divine-induced reason for it’s ubiquity right now?

Anyway, Valerian is a well-documented plant that has been, since ancient times, used primarily as a sleep inducer, and to soothe anxiety and even pain. (Interesting that these are big problems in our society now).  We’ll have to wait until the late fall (when roots have the highest storehouse of benefits) to try and tincture the roots for this purpose.  Meanwhile the leaves and flowers are said to give a similar, but much less potent affect when steeped as a tea.

While currently we don’t have any sleep or anxiety problems – I think it’s wise to dry the leaves soon, to at least have on hand.

But I’ll try to hide it from my cat though.  When I brought the plant in and showed him the leaves – he went ballistic!  I thought it odd – but then later read that Valerian has an opposite affect on cats!  It reacts to them like catnip.

And rats too. Supposedly in the original story of the Pied Piper, he actually had valerian root in his pocket!

I guess I’ll try to avoid doing that, as I don’t want to attract rats.

Or zany cats.

But meanwhile, we are enjoying the discovery of wild, amazing, and useful plants in “Our Little Eden.”

I’m sure I’ll be back with more!

Pamela

P.S. Because Valerian stems are stiff and hollow, they make fun party straws, too! :-O

 

 

Let There Be a Vegetable Garden! Hmmm, Not So Fast…

In the book of Genesis, the Creator is said to have spoke many things into existence. “Let there be light…Let there be seed-bearing plants”, etc…  Ultimately, whether one believes in evolution or not, people generally believe there was a big “kick-in-the-butt” somehow, and at sometime, to jump start us into such an amazing existence.  I believe it’s all a divine love story, myself, that we were given the earth to take care of.  Kind of like a wedding gift to much-loved kids from some awesome parents.

But I digress. :-)  We now have a garden on our property – one that wasn’t here shortly ago this Spring.  It wasn’t spoken into existence, however, but it did come from a vision – and then some long days of manual labor.  The good news, however, is that we utilized a no-till “Back to Eden” method that should mean less work year after year – as nature takes over and does what she was intended to do.

If you haven’t watched the free Back to Eden documentary yet, check out the link(s) provided HERE.

Meanwhile, we’d like to share a video of the garden we have put together so far.  It’s still a work in progress, especially for us newbies, but, “Lord willing and if the pond don’t rise,” next year’s plot should be even more humus-y.  :-)

Here is the video:
(Note:If you are reading this by email, you may have to click on the email link to watch it on the actual blog):

P.S. Keep in mind as you watch it, that we welcome your thoughts, ideas, and/or questions. Working with nature is a never-ending adventure of learning and adapting, and we are very much beginners at it..

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Back to Eden? Really? Watch this.

www.OurLittleEden.com
Last year we bought 7 acres of land.  We felt it was significant, and didn’t know what to call it – or if we should call it anything.  Suddenly (after a winter of abiding here) my husband Vinny had the inspiration… “Our Little Eden.”  Thus the name change of this website.  What used to be “PamSpock.com is now “OurLittleEden.com.”  (No matter what you type as the URL – it will unite).

Why is it the perfect name change for this website? (and to some degree, our property)

For one thing – it is a small attempt to express a current segment of our life – and even to some degree – a conviction of God’s ultimate desire for His creation that is not “blocked and hopeless,” but abundant with love and good intention.  These are actually convictions that have been evolving and morphing – I trust – into something quite marvelous for those who have ears and eyes (and HOPE) to believe.

Let me explain more.  No – let me share a video.  “Back to Eden” is a provocative documentary that I watched several years ago, when I was still single.  It really impacted me – so that when I met Vinny and he too was impacted by it (and studying and practicing permaculture as well), I was quite amazed.

To summarize, it presents a revolutionary method of growing food, (which is foundational to our physical existence on earth) that in turn has spiritual implications.

(Frankly, you can read whatever you want into things, but if you don’t get the physical metaphor of things like this – you miss the spiritual counterpart.)

When I first watched this video – I was flabbergasted.

Yes it flipped my traditional mindset about gardening upside down.  But it also challenged my current beliefs about “Eden”.

It challenged my belief that we are under the curse and doomed – and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Maybe more important – it expanded my view of God’s love for every single person on earth – and the earth He placed them on.  And that’s a good thing, right?

At least that is how I saw this video.

Anyways, we hope you can set apart an evening soon to watch “Back to Eden.” Believe me – many lives have been affected by it.  It won’t be a waste of your time.

The free video can be watched here:
http://www.backtoedenfilm.com

or on YouTube (make sure you get the full-length version, not the related videos that are tours, etc.).

Enjoy!

P.S. Next time I write, I hope to explain more (with pictures!) how we are TRYING to get on board with all this, in the way we live on our property.  And why it is to some degree “trying,” and not all the way “doing” yet.  (Although the two concepts are close…)
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Talkative Trees – What I Learned on A Guided Hike

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.“ – Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday we went on a nature walk through what is called an “Old Growth” forest.  It was led by a couple of experienced forest conservationists, and WOW, my mind was being blown!  (Yes, stuff like this feeds me more than almost all the “sermons” I’ve heard put together) :-o

One of the things they talked about was “forest evolution,” and in that, how the undisturbed mixture of very old trees with a younger generation of trees is so important.  But forests containing these “elder” trees are becoming very rare, as older trees are seen as a financial commodity.  Loggers will tell property owners who have woods that by their service of cutting bigger trees down, the smaller ones will grow faster and healthier.  This is not true!  Being ignorant of the symbiotic relationship between trees and the overall “oneness” of nature is something that is slowly going to kill the planet unless more people become less greedy, and more awakened.  It even has implications for us socially and spiritually, if we have the ears to hear.

Fortunately there is more progressive thinking happening. For example a woman named Suzanne Simard has been making waves with her shocking studies in tree communication, giving evidence that they have a complex social structure and communication network. They actually talk among themselves in order to survive pests and diseases.  (If interested, check out her fascinating Ted Talk : https://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_simard_how_trees_talk_to_each_other)

Picture of the StumpThe Tenacity of Trees

There is hope for a tree, that if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and will not die.   – Job 14:7

At one point along the hike our guide called attention to a very old tree stump and how the outer edges were thickened.  He said this was the tree continuing to grow, and that what we think is death in a tree, is not death.  Trees that are cut down continue to draw wisdom and life from the world above and then communicate these things through their extensive root systems to other trees they are connected to. It reminds me of a quote in one of my favorite movies, “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

“Death may end a life, but it does not end the relationship.”

I don’t know about you, but I was very encouraged by this stump image (and I will not be so quick to remove them, either.)

The Cheerfulness of Trees

For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. – Isaiah 55:12

Quaking Aspen TreeOne of the reasons we wanted to go on this walk is because we have a good amount of woods on our property.  We want to better stewards of our “Little Eden” by learning how to care for the trees.  It’s going to take a long time (eternity even) to learn all their names and fully appreciate them.  Meanwhile I do know the name of one tree that we have a lot of.  “Quaking Aspens” are known for leaves that shimmer and shake with the slightest breeze.  I call them the “Happy Clappy Tree.”   I also heard a friend call them the “Applause Tree.”  I like that too!  When we hear them clapping, we can be reminded of the truth that, “God is for us, not against us.”

Nature is a constant reminder of His love and wisdom.

Not the least of which are trees!

 

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It’s Finished! … Well, One Thing Is Anyway…


I love “before and after” pictures, don’t you? They are an encouragement that anything is possible!  There is a lot missing, however, between the two extremes that we don’t see. Days and days of mundane baby steps. Getting up and not feeling the energy to do anything. Or encountering challenges that interrupt your flow, or worse yet, require a do-over.

There were many such days on the way to a new bathroom in the 420 square foot building we call the “Red Shed.” (see picture below).  When we bought this property last fall, it was the only structure here, and had been gutted out by the previous owner – leaving no electric, no plumbing, and all the windows & doors need replacement, too.

Our goal for this building?  Hopefully it’s for our guests to enjoy.  It will also have a hardy kitchen for processing garden vegetables, canning, making cider, etc. And a small relaxing area with a wood stove.

First priority was a bathroom, however.  As you can see from the pictures above, Vinny started off with some challenges.  But bit by bit, project by project, he tackled them.  Meanwhile I was doing my part, like looking for things on Craigslist, and when we were out and about, begging him to drop me off at a thrift shop!

Finally, it got finished – and it is a great feeling! :-)  Here is a short video showing the end result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2E3EilfbBk

Or, some pictures:

Some helpful Tips…

Besides doing the work ourselves, which saved money of course, there are some other things we used to complete this project inexpensively:

1. Advanced Craigslist Searching

Vinny calls me the “Craigslist Queen,” and for good reason I think. :-)  It helps that it is the absolute best place to find used items, but I’ve also learned to master the advanced search functions. For example, when looking for an old claw foot tub, I figured some people spell it “clawfoot.”  Still others don’t mention claw feet at all, but instead just call it a “cast iron tub.”  Not to mention it can be called either a tub OR bathtub!

It can get a little complicated, but finding what you want is much faster if you include all possible search terms in an algorithm.  For me, I used this: (tub | bathtub) (clawfoot | claw) | iron.  The “|” symbol means “or.”

Also – if you have too many results, you can use the minus symbol to hone things down.  For example, my algorithm above showed ads for faucets and other accessories for clawfoot tubs, as well as the tubs. Although I did want to see these items too, you may not, so you can add subtractions to your algorithm. For example: -faucet -showerhead -hardware, etc.

Another great help is expanding your search area!  Because we live near several CL divisions, I usually use either the choice (on the left column) to “include nearby areas.”  Or below that is another option for giving your zip code, and searching for anything within a certain mile radius. You may want to do this if you are getting too many results.  And oh, did I mention they have a price range, too?

Finally, we all want to live life and not be glued to the computer every day checking our searches. So save them.  Or utilize Craigslist to email you when something new pops up!  After you get your perfect search nailed down – just go to the upper right corner and click “Save Search.”  But if you want to be emailed for something new, make sure you then go to that page and turn the email function on!

For more information on advanced searching on CL – see: advanced search tips on craigslist

2. Bring pictures on your phone, to the stores

As the bathroom was taking shape, I would take pictures.  For example, I did so after the major pieces were in place by Vinny, and the walls were painted yellow. Then when I went to the thrift shops, I would use the pictures to help me find accessories that might look good.  Or sometimes I would take a picture of an item in the store, and then bring it back to the bathroom to visualize the item there. (If you have an iPad or tablet with a camera, it’s even better because of the larger image).  I’m not good with color – so admittedly it was frustrating at times. But I have a friend who is good with colors. She offered some good advice – including finding the daisy bush which I pretty much centered everything else around.

Speaking of thrift shops, more and more “Habitat For Humanity” Restores are popping up.  We found several things there, including the interior door for $25, the clock above the tub for $2, and the medicine cabinet/light for only $8. You can find ones in your area here: https://www.habitat.org/restores

3. Treasures in trash

We were fortunate to stumble upon the sink vanity being thrown away by some neighbors.  But keep in mind that many cities and towns have annual “trash days” when people can put furniture and other large items on the side of the road to be picked up by the trash department.  I’ve never been ill-disposed to dumpster diving, or roadside collecting (thanks Mom!) and it’s unbelievable the things that people throw out.

4. Other sources

Sometimes Craigslist is not enough.  For example, I was having a hard time finding a propane stove on Craigslist that was cheap or in decent shape (for the future kitchen). So I joined some local Facebook Sale & Barter groups.  There were a bunch for our county, not to mention smaller ones for our nearest towns and cities.  I put a “wanted” ad on several of them, and a man replied that he had a perfect stove for us, for only $100.

Oh, and one other thing.  A friend told me about another website for used items, offerup.com.  I was surprised at how populated it was with stuff in our area.  I’ll be checking that out from time to time, I’m sure.  And also freecycle.org – just heard of this one, too.

5. Paint

Last but not least, paint.  It covers a multitude of sins, and if you make a mistake, you can always paint over something.  It’s a great way of saving money.  The claw foot (or claw foot) :-) tub was pretty yucky on the outside.  A little sanding, and some rustoleum primer and paint – and it was good to go.  If you are a bit more daring, you can also stencil or paint designs – like I with painting a row of daisies on the wall.

Next Project…

As mentioned, the next project on our plate is the kitchen.  Personally I don’t like revealing pictures of a work in progress.  But bless Vinny – he has no qualms about that :-), so for his sake I’ll show a couple of pictures of the kitchen area – before it’s done.  And oh, while I’m at it, I will throw in another “before” picture, too ;-)

P.S. I’ll let you know when I have some “after” pictures.  (Although honestly, the “Vinny project” is very challenging, and likely going to take a long, long time.) :-)

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In closing, if YOU have any changes you want in your house, or even in your body (such as weight loss, etc.) – and you are determined to take the project on – try to remember to take some “before” and “during” pictures.  Believe us, it’s easy to forget to do so.  But they can be very motivating to look back and see the changes!

Until next time,
Pamela
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