Monday, September 22, 2008

Lambquarters, Plantain and other miscelleanny

"There’s been an almost complete loss of cultural information from generation to generation in a lot of poverty communities. A lot of strategies of their parents and grandparents, the younger generation simply isn’t aware of. Just one example is lamb’s quarters. It grows pretty prolifically in every poor neighborhood on the street and very few people pick them and eat them. And they’re very tasty — I call them Oklahoma spinach. They’re very tasty and a good source of vitamin C and other things that you get in green vegetables, but people just don’t recognize that as food, they think of it as a weed, and so they don’t take advantage of the fact that they can get it for free, basically, just by picking it."

This is a quote from Bob Waldrop, a food activist in Oklahoma City. He works with the Catholic Workers to help feed, house, clothe people. Hen and Harvest has a very interesting interview with him on how food prices and availability are affecting poor people.

Lambsquarters is currently doing its seed thing. As I mentioned in a previous blog, you can harvest the seed, and this week I plan to do just that. The plant produces a large amount of seed--the trick is to use a paper bag to collect the seed, then separate seed and chaff at home by rolling the seed heads gently in your hands. The seed can be cooked into a breakfast cereal or ground into meal and added to other flour. The seeds are highly nutritious and said to be quite tasty. The picture above is what lambquarters looks like about now--check out that seed head!

As Waldrop noted, lambsquarter is prolific and nearly everywhere. But people do not recognize it as food. And they should, and I hope they will, for steamed lambsquarter is absolutely delicious. I've always been a spinach fan, and lambsquarters is better than spinach! It taste is mild, but add some butter and seasoning or pepper sauce or vinegar and you'll have one of the best greens I've ever eaten.

OK, enough preaching about the glories of this plant. If y'all don't want to eat weeds, it leaves more for me and mine!

When we were visiting our Amish friends this Saturday, their youngest son, about a year and a half, grabbed a hornet and found out the hard way why people should not grab hornets. His little hand started swelling right up and he was screaming with the pain. I immediately went out in the barnyard for plantain and picked a bunch of leaves. While Lydia held Chris, Emma, the eldest girl, got some vinegar and wiped his hand with it. I chewed up the plantain and started putting it on his hand. A light cloth was tied around the sting, and gradually Chris settled down. This all took place in about 10 mintues. After then plantain poultice had been on Chris's hand for about 15 minutes, the sting, the pain, and most of the swelling was gone.

When a hornet stung Michael earlier this year, I didn't think of the plantain quickly enough, and his foot stung like hell and swelled up--it stayed swollen for about two weeks! Plantain is a wonder herb for stings, rashes, bug bites, small wounds. Look around you--if you have enough, use some to make an oil or salve for the winter. You'll be glad you did.

Hmmmm. I just read in Just Weeds by Pamela Jones that the Indians gathered plantain leaves for use in the winter, greased them, and wrapped them in bundles. Then, when a leaf was wanted, it was pulled from the bundled and either put on the wound, or wiped off and used in a tea.

An infusion of plantain leaves was used in England as a treatment for ameobic and bacillary dysentery. Take 3 - 4 ounces of the root and leaves, bring to a boil in a pint of water, boil for 5 minutes, then take off heat and allow it to infuse for 10 more minutes. Drink as much of this tea as often as desired. Given that water will have to be carefully filtered in our near future, and no doubt mistakes will be made and dysentery will occur due to bad water or food, knowing about plantain for this common but devastating problem is a real benefit.

My hair has had a difficult summer with lots of hot sun in the garden, and general neglience. Yesterday I decided to condition it. I used the raw shea butter I mentioned earlier. Got my hair wet, and applied the butter directly to my hair, working it into the roots and out to the ends. I was afraid it wouldn't wash out when I was done, but it did, and I couldn't be happier with the conditioning job it did. My hair is soft and shiny and looking good today. I'm glad I found another use for the raw shea butter. The more multi-uses I can find for something, the better.

Another tip, but for ladies only: The best facial mask I've ever used is cream and baking cocoa. Both are very rich in butterfats, and your skin will drink them up. I used this yesterday as I hadn't done any "girl stuff" for ages. I used an egg yolk, heavy cream, and the cocoa. Mix together in a little bowl, then apply to clean skin for about a half-hour. It is great for the skin--the next day it feels as smooth as a baby's bottom, which is saying something for my sun-browned, cranky old skin.


Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your excellent blog! I'm happily working my way through everything you've written! I will try lots of your suggestions! FYI, next time you or yours gets a stinkin' bee/wasp sting. Try mud! Our boy got whacked by 3 at once and John wisked up some dirt, spit on it, and slapped it on the spots. Almost instant relief. Even soil in a fancy pot outside a restraunt has worked for us!!

queenbuffness said...

Not trying to be anonymous, just hit the wrong button. duhh

Patricia said...

QB: I will try mud, you bet. I've been reading about the health benefits of eating clay and using it topically. Clay and mud are good.

Serena said...

Plantain will also heal a brown recluse bite in less than a week. You put the crushed plantain on the bite as a poultice and change every 4-6 hours. I just did this about 3 weeks ago personally and the bite was healed in about 5 days. I have told friends about it after learning about this and 3 different ones healed brown recluse bites before I had the opportunity to do so.

We use it regularly for stings as it works so well.

We also love the wild greens in the spring. They are so full of life.