Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Greens and God's Green Tonic: Medicine for Body and Soul

A day or so ago I wandered around our hillside below our balcony and gathered many new and flourishing spring greens. There were three or four great growths of wintercress (barbaria vulgaris), also known in the south as creasy greens. I found numerous dandelions, not yet flowered (and thus not as bitter as they get later in the season), mats and mats of chickweed, wild chives and wild onions. There's also a whole slew of plants I haven't yet identified, so I don't know if they are edible or not. I gathered up about 3 of my plastic grocery bags worth and started grinning. I remember a post just like this one about a year ago. . . yup. Here it is. This hillside of ours is very fertile for foraging. I have to remember to ask that it NOT get weed-wacked. My neighbor is an industrious type and half the time I'm about to go harvest a ton of red clover flowers and BAM, he's out there weed-wacking them. Ah well. Have to do better this year.

Our elderly neighbor Fred broke his leg back in January and has been in and out of hospitals and nursing homes since. We brought him home last Saturday, where he gets around in his wheelchair, waiting for his leg to heal enough for him to walk again. He's one of those tough, wiry guys who is basically healthy as a horse but for his fragile bones and the rheumatoid arthritis. He's never taken pharmaceuticals, or rarely. It's funny when docs or other medics first talk to him. They always ask him what medications he's on and he always says "none." He does take nutritional supplements, but no drugs. Compare this to many elderly folks who take umpteen meds every day from killer statin drugs to blood pressure meds to this and that and then this one to combat the side effects of the others.... Anyway, Fred.

I put all the dandelion greens, some of the creasy greens, a bunch of the chickweed and a lot of wild onions and chives into a big pot of cold water with a couple of onions, some heads of garlic that were going soft and time to toss 'em, some cayenne pepper, a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar and set it to boil. Once it got a hard boil going, I turned it to simmer for an hour or so. The cider vinegar will help extract all the rich vitamins and minerals from the veggies into the broth. To finish it before straining, I added a tablespoon of some powdered garlic and onion and herbs that I'd made a while back from veggies and herbs I dried. Not bad, if I say so myself. This is a powerful spring tonic, this broth.

Vitamins and minerals in dandelions: beta carotene (more than is in carrots), calcium, iron, vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E, P, D and biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. And lots of all of those. Plus, in this broth, it's tasty and easily absorbed in the body. It'll do wonders for Fred. Wintercress is also highly nutritious and at this early stage in spring, quite tasty. Later it gets bitter as hell, and to some, it'll be too bitter even now, but not for me or Fred. We know that bitter is medicine for soul and body. You can see a good picture of wintercress here. Once you find this plant and ID it, you'll notice it every spring from now on. My eyes simply know now to look for it in early spring. The bright green lobes of the leaves will catch your peripheral vision easily.

I got three quarts of the broth--good for a start! Tonight I'll cook up the mess of creasy greens with some onion and bacon, and the chickweed, bless its soul, is going to be salad with some red onion and hard boiled eggs. This is fine eating, and free!

Do make some vitamin rich broth for your family. This is easy, simple to do, and your body will much appreciate its cleansing and healing properties.



Anonymous said...

Oh how I envy you....I can't even get out this year to see what I have out there. I was hoping to get out maybe tomorrow but I fell last night and hurt the muscles in my right shoulder. I am right handed so between my back and having to move my right arm with my left hand, I am about ready to learn a few new cuss words if I can find any! BTW, do you have any good recipe's for cats? (just kidding) the little demon I raised is just learning to spray so I have to get him fixed and quick!

Patricia said...

Ah, Charli. I'm sorry about your hurt shoulder! Hope that gets better soon. As for recipes for cats...I've never seen one. Good luck catching Trouble to get him fixed--a word of advice. Don't even think about it (the getting him fixed part) when you go to catch him. They're psychic, cats.
As for cuss words, make 'em up and when someone asks, tell them it's Serbo-Croat or something. that's what I do. :)
Onwards, Charli

bellanne said...

That broth sounds awesome. And sweet of you to help your neighbour!