Monthly Archives: June 2013

First I had a beer, then I made Plantain Dough

I guess I must have been seeing a lot of plantain…the banana type plantain…in grocery stores in Texas.

Just a few weeks ago when I was on the look out for Palo Verde trees…ripe with their peapods…


Terri and I got an opportunity to harvest these Palo Verde peapods just a few days after I embarked upon a new dough frontier for me.

Plantain Dough which I made for empanadas.

So there I was in the South Texas grocery store looking for fruit and vegetables and the ever beckoning plantain pulled me toward it. 
Remembering my year spent in Somerville, Massachusetts in the Winter Hill area the local grocery had plantains there.  I also visited Cuba that year and felt especially inspired to try the Plantain in my own modest studio apartment kitchen.  The result was that I really did like the fried discs and found them starchy, sweet and satisfying.  (Someday I want to try Tostones…fried discs then flattened and fried again.)

So here goes…I got the plantain and it wasn’t green…this time but yellow with black stripes and spots along with the yellow which reminds me of the ripeness of a banana.


But with characteristic black markings.
Immediately I surf the web and find a lot out about the plantain.  Many parts of the world use the plantain similar to a potato…mashed, fried…etc.  It is one of the main sustaining staples in many parts of the world and here I wanted to make a go of it myself! 

Oh yeah, in Laredo we found a specialty beer shop right next to our motel!  Needless to say…Terri and I were thrilled!


Yummy a toast to you and then I embarked on my plantain expedition.

I had read a surprising amount of posts about plantain dough empanadas!  How exciting.  Although traveling for the last 2 1/2 years with a 7 month stint in Asheville, NC…I had been living in New Mexico for 10 of the last 13 years. 

Empanadas definitely rang a bell.  Various Santa Fe restaurants sprang to mind and I do remember sampling some fried dough empanadas.  Plantain?  I don’t recall that but I definitely remember ordering savory fried empanadas before.

To get started I followed wisdom and advice of other plantain dough enthusiasts and although I concocted my own recipe…certain preparations remain consistent.

First:  use a paring knife cut the peel from end to end.  (The peels do not pull apart as easily as bananas do…even when the plantain is ripe.)

Second:  cut plantain into discs about 1/4 inch in size.
Then boil in salted water until tender…test with a fork it should slide right through when done.
Let cool off completely.



Third:  after plantains are cool mash them


And add a ripe banana.  (I suppose one could try boiling a green banana…perhaps throwing into pot partway through the boil of the plantains…but that thought just occurred to me and would make dough less sweet…)

Back to the Third step:
Add a ripe banana to cooled mashed plantains and mash it all together.  Add a pinch of salt.  Mix/mash it all together.

Fourth step:  perhaps this recipe could easily be paleo:  I haven’t tried it but maybe coconut flour or nopales flour could be added, etc .but I added Organic Corn Flour from Bob’s Red Mill. 
Work the flour in a couple of tablespoons in at a time.  The moisture from plantain and banana should be enough to work with as long as you don’t add too much.
Scoop some out if you add too much or if it’s borderline too dry try adding a bit of water.
Work the dough until it forms a slightly moist ball of dough but don’t overwork it.
Let it rest in a cool spot for 15 minutes.

Fifth step:

Separate dough into four segments.  I don’t have a rolling pin and could improvise but chose to roll segment into a ball shape in my hands.  Then I pressed it flat with palm of myy hand and pressed it out from the center with my fingers on a floured surface. 
It doesn’t need to be paper thin but moderately thin.

Sixth step:

Fill with your choice of filling.  This dough works well for a berry filled empanada.
I made a mixture of raspberries, blueberries almond butter a bit of coconut oil and cinnamon.  (What I had on hand)
I put a teaspoon of filling in middle of one side and folded the other half over it.  I crimped the edges with a fork which reminds me of what my mom likes to do…


*then heat up a non stick skillet and cook on each side a minute or so until dough sets and becomes more firm and browns slightly.


I know empanadas are often fried but I opted out of that and wanted less oil.


Yum!  This recipe made 4 empanadas.

I hope you have fun on this plantain dough adventure!  I know I did!


And here’s a toast to you for making it through! 🙂


Milkweed is for Monarchs and Mullein is a Soil Indicator!

Verbascum thapsus
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Common Mullein

What a Beautiful day today…travelin’ through Virginia!  So Beautiful, in fact, that I started to feel anxious! Were we ever going to stop and get out to take a closer look at all the beautiful wildflowers we were passing by.

And, passing by…is just that! I was jonesin for a closer look!  Two plants especially caught my attention.
Mullein and Milkweed.

Mullein has a fabulous stalk rushing out the top…with glorious yellow blooms! 

I’ve heard and read that mullein has many medicinal uses such as for cough, respiratory ailments.  A friend of mine even dries the leaves and smokes it to ease lung irritations!  I guess the smoke eases his symptoms.

Look at this grand mullein plant!


The mullein stalk, when in bloom, bears beautiful, small yellow flowers. These flowers, when infused in oil, make a good remedy for ear infections. A traditional remedy.


Not for use with injured ears or perforated eardrums.
Seek medical help when needed.

Here is an interesting blend of 5 leaves that can be mixed as an alternative to tobacco. Some leaves are recommended dry whereas some with some moisture still so please be sure to check it out. It is a wonderful guide written by Amy Jeanroy who I also quote further on.

Here are the 5 herbs recommended as a substitute blend for tobacco and perhaps helpful for non tobacco users as well.

-Raspberry Leaves
-Lemon Balm

And for those of you looking for medicinal uses here is some good info.

Here is a website that has mullein uses:

I can’t resist in showing you some of the photos I captured of sensuously lusty Mullein I found today in Virginia!

Basal leaves of Mullein




Here are some old dried remaining stalks of mullein.


So it is the lovely Mullein that encouraged me to poke around today.  There is so much to learn and I am a passionate enthusiast of foraging.

Here is a VERY USEFUL piece of information that I have learned from Amy Jeanroy on the above posted site (please click on link above)

I use this information and use mullein as an indicator of contamination in soil not just for mullein itself but other nearby plants. *******

****”mullein is a wonderful indicator of a soil’s contamination level. When looking for wild mullein, only harvest from straight, vigorous stalks. The crooked stalks indicate a high level of chemical contamination in the soil.”****

Mullein near the atlantic ocean, in the dunes and sand.

Here also is a wonderful site for those who are also interested in a spiritual and/or holistic view of plants. Mullein in particular. It definitely did act like a torch for me. Leading me toward it and around it. Comforting me by its familiarity and intriguing me by its extensive amount of uses. This is an inspiring, historical account and very useful site in understanding Mullein’s many useful preparations.

And here is a species of Mullein I noticed in New Hampshire.

I had never seen one with so many flower stalks!


(above image from wikimedia commons)

Nearby the healthy, useful and beautiful mullein that I saw was the glorious common milkweed!

The nearby Milkweed was showing its beautiful blooms!


I was lucky enough to take some beautiful pictures of milkweed and their immature blooms and foliage today! There are many types of milkweed but, I believe, this is Asclepias syriaca.

I am concerned about butterfly habitat. I used to write about foraging the common milkweed but, encourage planting and preserving the habitat of the Monarch Butterfly instead of foraging. Milkweed is habitat for the Monarch butterfly. AND, the Monarch butterfly is in serious danger. 

So, preserving and protecting and extending their habitat and the habitat of the milkweed is my goal of emphasis for this post now.

Plant milkweed, be a part of the Monarch butterfly’s habitat and the milkweed’s. It’s that easy and fun, too.




Signing off for now….wildlettucegal


Yellow Wood Sorrel and Plantain greens

Oxalis stricta
Yellow Wood Sorrel
(An oxalate food. Consume in moderation)

Info on Yellow Wood Sorrel:

Plantago major
Plantain greens
(Consume in moderation. Over-Consumption may cause Unwanted Laxative Effects. Consider dehydration effects, etc.)

Three types of green plantains see this site as reference:
How Our Story of Yellow Wood Sorrel and Plantain Greens Begins.


Got up…got out of bed…made a cup of coffee to wake my sleepy head! 


Then my lovely cat Hibiscus is like….meow meow meow! It’s nice out….get me the heck outside….you can take your coffee with! Courtesy google translate
🙂  here is a photo of him…in kitty bliss


This work stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania turned out to be a great boon of wild edibles and other beautiful plants…some of course….deadly poisonous…
But, I’ll focus on the edible ones…highlighting Yellow Wood Sorrel!


I’ve just learned about this plant but know it also rests in my unconscious memory of fields and edges of forests!
It looks a lot like a shamrock.

One way I recognize it is that it has 3 leaves per stem.
Each stem is heart shaped and has a crease down the middle.

Here is some good identification information from kingdomPlantae:

“Yellow wood sorrel is distinctive from other wood sorrels in that the seed pods bend sharply upward on their stalks, and the stalks also grow at a sharp angle from the main stalk (both angles are about 90 degrees). It also tends to grow in a more upright fashion than other wood sorrels (stricta means “upright”). Wood sorrels are also called sourgrasses or shamrocks.”

Also according to kingdomPlantae: Nutrition and Uses of Yellow Wood Sorrel:

“…when you’re hot and thirsty, wood sorrel is wonderfully thirst quenching and refreshing to eat. The leaves, flowers, and immature green seed pods are all edible, with a sour, lemon like flavor. It’s a fine thing to find along the trail, which is how I generally eat it, but it can also be added to salads, used in soups (the same way as garden sorrel), used in sauces (traditionally served with fish), or used as a seasoning.

A chilled, sweetened, wood sorrel tea makes a refreshing beverage along the lines of lemonade.

Wood sorrel is quite high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and may provide other nutrients but, as with many of our common plants, the research appears scanty to non-existent.

***Wood sorrel also contains rather high amounts of potassium oxalate and oxalic acid and should therefore be used in moderation, and avoided by people with kidney disease, kidney stones, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.

Medicinally in Moderate Uses:

Wood sorrel is cooling (refrigerant, febrifuge), diuretic, stomachic (soothing to the stomach, relieves indigestion), astringent, and catalytic. It’s also attributed with blood cleansing properties and is sometimes taken by cancer patients.

-The whole plant produces an orange to yellow dye.”


Sometimes you will see these leaves creased together somewhat on the fold.

I’ve read that wood sorrel has other bloom colors such as violet or white, etc…but, this morning I found the Yellow Wood Sorrel.

Some interesting facts from Wikipedia in regard to Native American use of Wood Sorrel:

“Wood sorrel is an edible wild plant that has been consumed by humans around the world for millennia. [3] In Dr. James Duke’s “Handbook of Edible Weeds,” he notes that the Kiowa Indian tribe chewed wood sorrel to alleviate thirst on long trips, that the Potawatomi Indians cooked it with sugar to make a dessert, the Algonquin Indians considered it an aphrodisiac, the Cherokee ate wood sorrel to alleviate mouth sores and a sore throat, and the Iroquois ate wood sorrel to help with cramps, fever and nausea. [3]”

Also according to following source:

1. “Edible Uses Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root; Seedpod. Edible Uses: Drink…

2. (Further medicinal uses/effects for: Febrifuge; Poultice; Stomachic.)

3. …An infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of fevers, stomach cramps and nausea[257]. A poultice of the plant has been used to treat swellings[257].”

I Have Found That When I Learn The Story Of One Wild Food. Another One often Comes Along In The Adventure Of The Day. Along comes Plantain.

There were a lot of plantain greens growing too!  Which I grew up thinking that it was strictly bunny food!

Well, I’m part bunny as you can see!


Turns out human bunnies can eat not only wood sorrel but plantain leaves too!  New tender leaves can be eaten raw and tougher leaves are recommended boiled/steamed.

Wikipedia Source:

“Plantago major is one of the most abundant and widely distributed medicinal crops in the world. A poultice of the leaves can be applied to wounds, stings, and sores in order to facilitate healing and prevent infection. The active chemical constituents are aucubin (an anti-microbial agent), allantoin (which stimulates cellular growth and tissue regeneration), and mucilage (which reduces pain and discomfort). Plantain has astringent properties, and a tea made from the leaves can be ingested to treat diarrhea and soothe raw internal membranes.

Broadleaf plantain is also a highly nutritious wild edible, that is high in calcium and vitamins A, C, and K. The young, tender leaves can be eaten raw, and the older, stringier leaves can be boiled in stews and eaten.”

Here is an excellent site also about types of plantain plants and medicinal uses too! Check it out!


Needless to say Hibiscus and I and Fella (our dog) and Terri had a very fine stroll on the outskirts of shipment yards we park near!  Here’s a fun pic of Terri and Fella! 


Terri is enjoying that bagel and Fella too…snack bites!

Well, back to the Yellow Wood Sorrel…I gathered clumps of it and gathered about 5 tender new leaves of plantain.

After rinsing…I added these fresh to quinoa that Terri made last night!

These wild greens were tossed in fresh…seasoned with coconut oil, walnuts, lemon, a bit of almond butter and topped with grated parmesan!


The greens above and the dish below:



Thanks for taking a spin down Yellow Wood Sorrel way…and for letting all of us including Miyu the cat who prefers the safety of the truck….say hello! 
Hi from Miyu


And thanks to Plantain Greens for making a cameo
And love and happy foraging from me!


That one is just for fun!

I created this blog as an exploration. An exploration of art, photos, a discovery of wild edibles, and foodways and preparation while living and traveling with my partner…a dog and two

I created this blog as an exploration. An exploration of art, photos, a discovery of wild edibles, and foodways and preparation while living and traveling with my partner…a dog and two cats..