Category Archives: semi-trailer livin

Want to Make Chutney? Green: Apple, Chilé and Plantain Chutney! Yum!

This is a welcome post to create.  One of my loves in life is to forage wild foods. Another is being an amateur photographer.  Crochet artist. Blog creator. Sewn books and paper art. Budding musician, happy painter, songwriter. Enthusiastic cook. Food preparer. A nutrition buff. Cookbook reader and recipe enthusiast.

Will I ever get out of the budding stage?
I don’t know but it sure is fun.

I’m going to take a break from all the research on wild foods and identification and authentication by sources and check…cross check methods involved in presenting a post about foraging wild foods.
Although it is pure joy for me.
Three planets in Virgo if that makes any sense!

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This post is about my own recipe.
How to make Chutney! I will show you how!

I delved into the discovery and process of making chutney rather quickly but I did remember to take some photos!

My partner really loves chutney.  And, since we share most, if not all meals together 2 to 3 times a day, every day in our semi-trailer workin’ life…
IT SURE IS NICE TO SPICE IT UP A BIT! LOL

We were happy to find some plantain (the banana type) at the grocery store in Abilene, Texas.  We bought a ripe plantain (yellow with black spots and streaks) and a green one.  Similar to a banana…bigger around and usually longer.

See my post about plantain dough empanadas! Yum

While at the store we also found a fresh green chile along with other welcome grocery goods!

I guess I really was in the mood to spice things up and I often look up Indian (eastern) foods and recipes for fun and inspiration!

Here is a little information about chutney and its history of use that you might enjoy taking a look at!
It is informative and fun. For example, It has a page for food poems, tips for cooking and recipes. It even has a food crossword puzzle site.

http://www.foodreference.com/html/artchutney.html

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Back to Makin the Chutney!

After reviewing several recipes for ingredients…I found one using ingredients and a recipe I thought I could manage…it helps to keep it manageable when cooking in a small space. 

And, as it turned out… we found some happy, firm green apples at the truckstop!

So, after surfing the web, and seeing both green plantain and green apples used in chutneys too…
My inspiration set in!

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Photo of green apples from hdwallpapers9.com

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Plantain photo from specialtyproduce.com

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Green chilé photo from 123rf.com

Here are the basic guidelines I read about for making chutney.

-Look for firm green fruit, i.e.  green mango
(next time for sure!,) green plantain, green apples, even green bananas… green tomatoes, probably endless options!
(A good use of green fruit).
And, other fruits would surely work.
-Look for firm texture since it will be cooked for 40 minutes or longer!

-*Perhaps some ripe fruit that can hold its texture such as green apples.
-Softer fruit such as berries won’t stand up texturally but if you want to add these…they would add to the syrup that is created with sugar, vinegar, and water which is reduced when cooking.

I think you will have fun because so many fruits or vegetables can be made into a chutney! I was happy to discover that!
-Other ingredients I found were cherries, coconut, sweet potatoes, raisins, regular potatoes and tomatoes…

I bet you have something to work with in your food bin, fridge or pantry right now…or from your garden or farmer’s market! Perhaps a foraged food. Now I’m thinking jerusalem artichokes, nopales…as ingredients… hmmm….

I’m feeling chutney enthusiasm right now!

What to do…

Use non-reactive cookwear and utensils.
Check out this helpful site!

http://www.thekitchn.com/food-science-explaining-reacti-73723

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Kudos to the following site from mobile.eatingwell.com

It’s recipe included 1 Cup each of vinegar, water and sugar which I used in my own unique recipe. I did not follow this recipe per sé…but it gave me the green light of confidence I needed to try it on my own.
*I also noticed it has some great fruit preparation and storage tips.

So, I used the amounts for sugar, vinegar and water as recommended and improvised with happy results for the rest!

http://mobile.eatingwell.com/recipes/fresh_fruit_chutney.html

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Here is my recipe:
Green: Apple, Plantain, Chilé Chutney.

What you need:

-Non-reactive pot i.e. stainless steel. Not aluminum and not cast iron.
-Wooden spoon or Plastic cooking spoon
-non reactive storage jar or bowl, glass, pyrex, plastic, etc.

Ingredients:

2 medium size green apples with peel on

1 medium size green plantain

1/2 red onion…if I had green onions that would have gone with the green theme 🙂

1 medium size Raw/Fresh green chilé seeded
* green chilé tip: Perhaps cook a small piece to test for heat and spiciness as there can be variations. Mine had a mild heat to it.

2-3 pinches Ground black pepper

2-3 pinches Ground turmeric powder

2-3 pinches Ground cinnamon

A couple shakes of Sea salt

Handful roasted cashews chopped.
Save some to mix into chutney when done.

1 Cup Coconut Sugar
(I use Madhava organic coconut sugar)

1 Cup spring water/filtered water

1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar.  (I use Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar…especially since I had it on hand.  White vinegar is often in the recipe.  Perhaps other vinegars would work too…)

Directions:

Check out Option A or B
See step 2 or 3

Step 1.  Chop all the fruit and vegetables into roughly half inch chunks.

Step 2.  Option A: You can simmer onions and pepper first in the pan with oil or butter.
I recommend coconut oil for the oil.
After browning the onion and pepper add additional veggies, fruit and cashews. (Remember to save some cashews to mix in when the chutney is done.)
Add the water.
Turn heat on stovetop to medium.
Continue with Step 4 onward 🙂

(The idea of caramelizing the onion…browning until the natural sugars come out might be a nice touch.

*Personally, at the time, I wanted all the fruit and veggies cooking the same amount of time to preserve more of the texture. Plus I wanted to keep the process simple.)

Step 3. Option B: Or, if you want…do as I did and put all the veggies, including raw chopped onion and green chilé, fruit and cashews in the pan.
(Save some of the cashews to stir in later when the chutney is done)
Add the water and Turn on the stovetop heat to medium.

Step 4. Right after adding water, Add the vinegar, stir

Step 5. Then add the sugar, stir and stir often.

Step 6. Add your salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon
Stir to integrate the spices.

Step 7. Keep stirring regularly. Keep an eye on heat and turn down in intervals if the chutney starts to even think about sticking to the pan. To begin, Cook up to a soft boil then reduce heat and cook down gently. I turned the heat up slightly one or two times and then lessened the heat. Stirring often will avoid letting it to stick or burn.

Step 8. The liquid will start to reduce and will get more syrupy and thick.
You don’t want to remove all the liquid until it’s dry. You want your fruit and veggies to be coated in a sauce like liquid. Thick but not pasty in my opinion.

Step 9. I read a tip on a chutney site. You will know when the chutney is done when you stir it with your spoon and the liquid stops filling up the space from where you moved the chutney to one side with the spoon. Voila! This worked great for me!

Here is where I got that gem of info!

http://www.thekitchn.com/small-batch-recipe-an-adaptable-chutney-urban-preserving-with-marisa-mcclellan-173002

Step 10. Cook for 40 minutes maybe longer if you want any of your fruit/veggies softer. You may need to add a few tablespoons water to keep mixture from burning or sticking to the pan. Add 1 tbsp of water at a time if needed.

Some recipes require an hour.

…I was happy with the 40 minute cooking time. The plantains had more of a firm texture than the apples but I liked this.

Step 11. Now, add the amount of chopped cashews that were set aside into the cooked chutney. This will add something nice to the bite and flavor of the chutney!

…The apple chunks added sweetness and I liked how the green chile and black pepper added heat. The cinnamon added a sweet spicy element and included the Asian spice I was looking for.

…Be creative here if you want. I’ve read recipes that use cloves, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom, etc. Raisins are also popular.

…This recipe filled 2 pint sized mason jars. I was very happy with this amount.

…Right after I made it, I served it with tofu, mushrooms and nopales.
Some leftovers from the morning that I wanted to liven up.

Here is my homepage on preparing and wild harvesting your own nopales. (Prickly pear cactus.)

In many parts of the south, southwest and California nopales are already available in groceries, de-spined and ready to eat. Also many Mexican grocery stores sell them throughout the U.S.

Chutney goes really well with many foods such as: cheese and crackers, ham, turkey, tofu, as a dollop to lentil soup, a unique addition to a vinaigrette and other options. Try something new. Maybe as a filling for a pastry. An empanada perhaps? A ravioli filled with chutney. This is getting fun just thinking about it!

Check out the second half of the following post. It has lots of great tips on using chutney. I feel inspired!

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/harvest/msg0417231231301.html

And most of all…

Have fun with your Chutney adventure! Mine was a fun one and I wish the same and more for you!

Here’s some photos I did manage to take!

The Chutney Cooking up to a soft boil:

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And, the next picture is the chutney when it was done.

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Photos were taken at night in the truck…I will add more photos from my next chutney making experience!

And here is the chutney added to a tofu and veggie dish. Yum! The mild taste of tofu really complimented the tangy, spicy chutney!

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I really enjoyed this chutney. It wasn’t overly hot (spicy) though had some heat. I liked the coconut sugar in it too.

For the last two tablespoons of the chutney…we decided to make a tahini sauce to go with it!

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“Quick and Yummy Tahini Dressing!”

Ingredients:

2 Heaping Tbsp Tahini
4 Tbsp hot water
Juice of one lime or lemon
4 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
2 pinches Turmeric powder
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Whisk it all together!
It goes great as a sauce for a veggies dish with a dollop of chutney!

Ironically we had a tofu and garlic dish. We don’t even eat tofu sometimes for months so this is funny. We must be in a tofu phase.
We topped the stirfried tofu with steamed red cabbage.

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And the tahini sauce went on top with the very last of this yummy chutney!

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Mmmm now I am hooked on the tahini sauce with the Green: Apple, Plantain and Chilé Chutney!
And easy is always a good thing.
🙂

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Here are some more tips on preparing chutney, what
fruit to use, etc.

http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookwithcondiments/a/chutney_2.htm

Thankyou for taking this Chutney Making Adventure with Me!
And please, if you’d like, feel welcome to share favorite chutney ingredients or tips for making chutney that you think people would enjoy!

What’s next you may ask? Mmmm check this out.
Mango Chutney is definitely on my next list!

http://m.foodnetwork.com/recipes/19594

Happy Fooding!

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Common Mallow, Malva neglecta Equals Foraging Fun!

Malva neglecta
Common Mallow
Malvaceae family
Nicknames: Cheeseweed, Dwarf Mallow, Round Mallow, Cheese Plant
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***important…please do not confuse Common Mallow with the Common Carolina Geranium Weed. The geranium weed has more deeply dissected leaves but these two can be easily confused!***

Please note image of the Carolina Geranium weed in the following site:

http://www.msuturfweeds.net/details/_/carolina_geranium_12/#weeddetail
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More about Common Mallow
Malva neglecta

Annual/Biennial
Habitat: grows in areas where
soil has been disturbed:

Vacant lots
Yards
Fields
Sides of roads
Cultivated fields
Likes sandy soil
Can grow in clay
or loamy soil
Likes full sunlight
Can do partial shade
Can grow with some dampness in soil
Prefers well drained soil
*Drought Tolerant

Can grow up to 2 feet tall
Flowers June-September
All parts including roots are edible

The following site is comprehensive and gives information on planting, pollination, avoiding nitrates, hardiness zones, where it grows in the world, etc.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Malva+neglecta

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Underside of common mallow leaf:
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These are all my photos. A happy endeavor and a learning reference tool also! Please bring a good field guide or forager who knows!

*Some people have confused ground ivy with common mallow!*
Some ground ivy smells like mint.
And, the edible ground ivy is in the mint family.

This is ground Ivy!

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Some ground ivy is edible*** but not all ground cover is edible.***

Here are sites on edible ground ivy

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Glechoma%20hederacea

http://www.eattheweeds.com/ground-ivy/

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Now back to Common Mallow:

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TRADITIONAL USE

According to http://www.livestrong.com:

Historians have traced Malva neglecta’s use as a vegetable back almost 3,000 years. The ancients used leaves and shoots as cooking greens and salad ingredients, while the seeds were used to accent dishes or as snacks. The plant’s traditional medicinal uses included soothing skin rashes and easing coughs. It was also used to reduce inflammation in the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.

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Not far away from this plant was this beautiful bridge above the Snake River.

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INSIGHT AND REFLECTIONS:

I found the common mallow about 3 miles away from the Snake River Gorge in Idaho. This bridge and shadow forms an ellipse. A path that brings you back. After an orbit of other experiences. Like a marker in time. It helps me reflect upon the fact that the common mallow was the first edible/medicinal weed I learned about on this journey of documenting wild plants. It caught my interest as I was web surfing wild edible and medicinal plants. I posted it on facebook to share with others. I had found a helpful site…all about common mallow. Malva neglecta. I wanted to share an interesting site. That event was a marker for me. A few months later, I started writing and researching and photographing wild edibles myself. I started the blog that you are reading now. Malva neglecta took me on a journey. An elliptical one. Like an orbit. I am changed now since I first posted an internet site about common mallow. Because, it caught my interest then. And, now I have first hand experience looking for, researching and eating mallow as a wild edible. I have come around the ellipse changed. And, malva neglecta got me there. Waiting for me to turn the bend around the ellipse to find it in real space and time.

I am learning a lot about wild edibles. Documenting and photographing plants when and where I can. I am an enthusiast and a student as I go. I research as much as I can.

I wonder too, about the qualities each plant contains. Common mallow is mucilaginous and soothing. It helps with stomach upset. It soothes skin abrasians and heals skin wounds. It is common. It is found many places in the world. It has been a food during times of starvation. It is nutrient rich and is related to such beautiful plants as hollyhock and the beautiful Rose of Sharon. Even jute leaves are edible. The mallow family has taught me a lot and I have only just begun.

I did an art and poetry piece about common mallow: Malva neglecta. Reflecting on what I have learned about the plant and how it reflects some learning in my life.

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So learning about plants and wild edibles and medicinal edibles means you get to “get real” about the experience. So, the next day after locating some and photographing it, I picked some common mallow for the first time. I wonder how many of my ancestors foraged for mallow too? I was excited about foraging. It did not look like an area that had experienced run off from farms or other pollutants. Common mallow can absorb nitrates from contaminated soil so some caution here is warranted.
But, it looked like a good foraging area to me so I went and picked some.

I tried some common mallow along with young lettuce leaves. What I noticed is that soon after I picked it the mallow wilted quickly.

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I have limited refrigeration as I travel so I put the mallow in a bowl with a bit of water to keep it from wilting too much. I harvested at noon so the noon heat in Idaho in July may have contributed to the wilting. When I took the mallow out later they had absorbed the water and looked perky again.

I harvested the small wheels of fruit which people say look a lot like small wheels of cheese. I foraged the flowers, flower buds, stems and leaves too.
I boiled them for just a few minutes. They were delightful tasting. They could easily substitute or be mixed with spinach either raw or cooked.
I had a very favorable experience foraging Malva neglecta. I hope you do too!

(On a cautionary note here is some information about nitrates:)

http://www.livestrong.com/article/283850-why-is-sodium-nitrate-bad-for-you/

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While learning about foraging and wild edibles and medicinal plants, I really enjoy and appreciate this perspective by Susun Weed:

http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Malvaceae-family.htm

“Let’s focus on the Malvaceae family for a moment. One of my favorite ways of learning — and teaching — about plants is through their families. Each plant family is a group of plants that has the same flower chacteristics. Interestingly enough, the plants in a family frequently have the similar actions and uses. Learning about a plant family, rather than just one plant, not only helps you identify more plants, it gives you an idea of how to use them.”

HEALING PROPERTIES and FOOD USE:

Also according to Susun Weed:

“Virtually all parts of the mallows have been eaten or used as medicine including the fresh leaves, dried leaves, fresh roots, dried roots, and both green and ripe seeds.

The primary effect of most mallows is to soothe and heal mucus surfaces. Overheated respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems especially benefit.

The mucilage present in the roots and seeds, and to a lesser degree the leaves, can help ease and heal irritations and infections such as sore throats, acid indigestion, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, bronchitis, chronic coughs, badder infections, interstitial cystitis, colds, and dry mouth. Some sources find mallow medicine helpful for those with diabetes, painful periods, and lack of menstruation.”

The mallow family includes beautiful, edible, medicinal, and useful plants such as hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, hollyhock, marshmallow, okra, jute, and cotton. (Cotton is not edible)

Susun Weed also describes mallow’s benefits including malva neglecta:

Excellent for “healing and relieving the pain of cuts, scrapes, boils, bruises, swellings, and stings…
I (Susun Weed) especially likes mixing chopped fresh hibiscus or mallow leaves with honey and applying this to my eyelids to relieve tired, sore, dry eyes. Works great as a facial, too!”

I found the following site and cited text very helpful.

http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/plants-c/bio414/species%20pages/malva%20neglecta.htm

“Uses Commonly used as a demulcent or emollient (7). Stems and leaves can be made as a poultice to relive pain and inflammation (7). Tea is pleasant tasting, good for sore throats and tonsillitis(7). Traditionally drunk in New Mexico for facilitation of labor and as a wash for skin irritations in infants (7). The tea can also help indigestion, stomach sensitivity, and can be gargled for cough relief (8). Entire plant has been boiled and eaten esp. used in soups; flowers are more pleasant in taste (2). Flowers are popularly eaten after being pickled (2). Leaves and young fruits have been used in salads (2).”

TRADITIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN USE:

Source: http://montana.plant-life.org/species/malva_neglec.htm

“The Cherokee Indians put the flowers in oil and mixed them with tallow for use on sores. The Iroquois Indians made a compound infusion of plants applied as poultice to swellings of all kinds, and for broken bones. They also applied it to babies’ swollen stomach or sore back. The Mahuna Indians used the plant for painful congestions of the stomach. The Navajo, Ramah Indians made a cold infusion of plants taken and used as a lotion for injuries or swellings. The plant is also an excellent laxative for young children.”

“Other Uses: Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads. The root has been used as a toothbrush.”
(The roots can be untwisted and dried to make a brush.)

http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/flowers/m.html

*Sap from the leaves, called ~mucilage~ can treat bites and stings.
*Mallow makes a weavable fiber…useful fiber

“The flowers were used formerly on May Day by country people for strewing before their doors and weaving into garlands. Musk mallow, was also used to decorate the graves of friends.”

NUTRITIONAL QUALITIES:

According to this Source: http://www.squidoo.com/malva

Mallows contain:
-Vitamin C
-Vitamin A
-Calcium
-Magnesium
-Potassium
-Iron
-Selenium

I have a treasured reference. A book I refer to often and have with me whenever I need to look at something or gain more information about a plant or how or when to forage, etc. This is it.

Edible Wild Plants. North American Field Guide to over 200 Natural Foods. by Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman, Sterling Publishing 1982.

Here are guidelines and information from this reference. P. 146

FOOD USES AND PREPARATION:

Eat malva fruits raw
*Boiled root water can be a vegan
Substitute for meringue!
Strain roots also
Sweeten liquid
Boil until thick
Beat and drop spoonfuls on waxed paper and cool to make a candy. Roll in confectioner’s sugar

Fry boiled rootslices in butter
And ch. onion until browned

The whole plant contains mucilagelike material

Leaves can be eaten like spinach raw or cooked

Use in soups as a thickener

Flowers and fruit and seeds are edible
Along with stems, leaves and roots

Flower buds are good pickled and most likely fruit too.

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I hope that you enjoy foraging for Malva neglecta! Common mallow is a commmon wonderful edible and/or medicinal weed! Enjoy!

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Wild Prickly Lettuce. The love of Aphrodite and the death of Adonis.

Lactuca serriola
Wild Prickly Lettuce
An annual plant
or biennial plant
-It can grow to over 6 feet in height
-found in fields, disturbed sites such as roadsides,
vacant lots
-Originally a plant from Europe. Originating first
In Eurasia.

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Wild prickly lettuce going to seed.

***Use a good field guide to identify plants. Forage with someone who knows.***

I often refer to:
Edible Wild Plants. By Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman. Sterlingpublishing.com
*Plus I research numerable other sources…please do the same.*
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Wild Prickly Lettuce on the side of the road in Idaho
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Well, our semi-trailer truck broke down. A great spill of oil from our engine. A deplorable event for the immediate environment and for our day. Wouldn’t you know it? We broke down to the closest town. Bliss, Idaho.

Once we sussed out what was going on. Put the emergency triangles out. Made calls to emergency repair trucks (who ended up ripping us off for $300,) got the pets comfortable, made calls, sipped on water in the difficult heat with no AC…made lunch to fuel our reservoir of energy for dealing and enduring what became a 9 hour or longer wait by the side of the road, made more calls, waited twice for tow trucks that didn’t come, had our hopes dashed when one of the tow trucks forgot to bring required equipment. Tried to navigate our options. Finally in the late evening we got towed to the Freightliner 50 or so miles away. Cha-ching what a day.

Amidst all this chaos and lapses in the heat. I couldn’t help but admire the wild prickly lettuce greeting me assuredly from the side of the road. The name of my blog is wildlettucegal…I knew eventually, sooner than later, I would have amassed that lovely combo of timing, information, inspiration to write and the opportunities to inspect and photograph the lettuce.

I even wrote a blog about the road breakdown but, I deleted it. It lacked the oomph. I needed to tap into the tipping point of inspiration. And, today, two days later…I have found it.

As a child I was happily feverish about reading Greek and Roman mythology. I would spend hours, especially, reading about Odysseus or Ulysses. Other myths fascinated me. Medusa fascinated/terrified me. Images of her snake filled crown devastated my ability to sleep at night. The age of nine is when I distinctly remember flipping through a book on Greek mythology…only to be transfixed by her graphic image. Beheaded no less.

Needless to say I could have benefitted from wild lettuce’s soporific, dream inducing qualities. Being nine was a bad year for insomnia. That’s when I saw clips from the exorcist. Cinema’s graphic and gorey cinematic mythology. I did not sleep much at the age of nine.

I now have a tattoo of Medusa on my arm. When I started painting 15 years ago…Medusa was my first series of paintings. Somewhere during that series I remembered an image of myself at the age of nine flipping through a Greek mythology book and spotting the image of Medusa for the first time. I’m glad I took the art route around that one.

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So, as you may now understand, in my quirky sense of jubilance…and even current interest in mythology old and new, I was thrilled to learn the mythology connected to wild prickly lettuce.

According to Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactuca_serriola

The lovely, passionate and triumphant goddess Aphrodite had put to final rest the lovely mortal Adonis who was slain by a boar.

She was transfixed by this beautiful mortal and grieved of his loss.

Aphrodite laid Adonis to rest on a bed of wild lettuce.

Sappho is also known to write and account this myth.

(Wild lettuce has a connection to the world of the dead and I wonder if it is its soporific qualities which provides this kind of mythological link. The dreamworld perhaps being a portal to the world of the dead. Or perhaps a closer realm?)

The Egyptian god Min is also associated with wild prickly lettuce.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Min_(god)

The ancient greeks believed the juice of the plant was good for eye ulcers.
The Navajo use it as a ceremonial emetic.
It has a reputation as being calming and sleep inducing for insomniacs. It is even said to have mild opiate qualities.

Even today wild prickly lettuce is eaten in Crete. A variety of Maroula or agrimaroulo is eaten boiled. Culinary traditions remain to this day.

I’ve never tried it for anything other than an edible wild food but wouldn’t mind its calming effect either.
Similar to purslane which contains lithium. I like when food helps me feel better. But, I’m not recommending an overuse of the plant.

The plant seems to have a built in mechanism for overuse. Eating too many leaves causes stomach upset. And the seeds contain some tannins.

*For those of you interested in the healing aspects and indications of wild lettuce…here is a helpful site.

http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/wild-lettuce.html

*Also, here is a comprehensive page about Wild Lettuce which also distinguishes it from
Lactuca virosa

Wikipedia describes Lactuca virosa as well:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactuca_virosa

Here is a picture of Lactuca virosa

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This image is from the following source:
© Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary’s College. Permission to use is granted freely to not-for-profit organizations and for a per-image fee for commercial use. Contact Prof. R. P. Olowin at St. Mary’s College rpolowin@stmarys-ca.edu for more information.

And it is used medicinally and/or as a mild psychotropic but is not my focus here and has a wide range of historical use, but, not necessarily as wild edible. There are also a lot of side effects to its use. But, I wanted to include it here so as to distinguish it from the wild edible Lactuca serriola

Back to and in regard to Lactuca serriola

*I like the harvesting ethics outlined by Merriweather

http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/foraging-ethics.html

NUTRITION AND HARVESTING TIPS:

*Lactuca serriola a.k.a. wild prickly lettuce is an annual or biennial plant so leave some plants to reproduce by seed.
*according to Elias and Dykeman: Leaf shapes can vary and can be multilobed/with points and/or oval oblong. Leaves are toothed and spiny along margin and main vein under leaf and the lower leaf surface.Proper identification is crucial.*
*I’ve read that older leaves are slightly toxic
*According to Merriweather,when the wild prickly lettuce plant flowers it is said to be inedible.
*Harvest young leaves they are the most tender
*Best to harvest from plants under 8 inches.
*older/larger leaves can be eaten when boiled
*Edible during spring and summer before the plant flowers or is in seed
*the spines on back of middle vein of leaf are usually soft enough to be eaten when the leaves are small.
*the spines on leaves do not tear clothing or injure
skin. But gloves may be useful re: sap, etc.
*leaves can be boiled as a pot green.

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This tasted good with boiled greens just 2 or 3 minutes added to pasta. 🙂

Herbalextractsplus.com sites these NUTRITIONAL qualities also:
When dried, the leaves produce a milky latex substance called lactucarium, which is used in herbal medicine. Some of the constituents in Wild Lettuce include the important milky latex substance (lactucarium), sesquiterpene lactones ( lactucopicrin), caoutchouc, mannitol, lactucin, fiber, coumarins and valuable minerals and vitamins.

Beneficial Uses: Wild Lettuce is considered a mild sedative herb.

ADDITIONAL NUTRITION:
Contains vitamin A, B and minerals

*I agree with Merriweather and only harvest one or two leaves per plant. I also consider how many plants are in the area I am harvesting from. Also look at the plant and harvest in such a way as not to kill the plant if you can.

Here is a picture of a young plant:
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And here is a couple of pictures featuring the spines on back vein of a leaf:

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Wikipedia describes:
It is known as the compass plant because in the sun the upper leaves twist round to hold their margins upright. [3]

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Here are some new flowers emerging. I was happy to find these.

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And here is a picture of wild prickly lettuce when it is a bit larger
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Flowers developing:
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And flowers sprouted out on long stems from the top
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And a closeup view of flower buds
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The leaves have a bit of a firm texture. Even the new leaves. The prickles on main vein of back of leaf are edible when new leaves are raw.

I thought the leaves would be good in a salad.
I tasted them raw and un-garnished and they do have a bitter aftertaste. But, I enjoyed them.
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I also harvest 1 or 2 leaves per plant to avoid over-harvesting. I grasp the leaf and carefully strip it from the stalk. Another forager taught me this tip. You can see the ends on the leaves above were harvested this way rather than being sheered off.

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Milky sap after pinching the top leaves off… were bitter when eaten raw…

You may want to wear gloves because the sap was milky. This may cause irritation to skin and it was sticky.

More on Mythology and Cultural Accounts of use of Wild Prickly Lettuce that inspired me to write this blog are these entries:

I found this on Mesocosm.net

a Sumerian poem about lettuce

Lettuce is My Hair

My hair is lettuce, [planted] by the water,
It is gukkal-lettuce, [planted] by the water….
My attendant arranges it,
The attendant arranges my hair which is lettuce, the most-favored of plants.
The brother brought me into his life-giving gaze,
Shu-Sin has called me to (his) refreshing …. without [end].
[…]
You are our lord, you are our lord,
Silver (and) lapis lazuli – you are our lord,
Farmer who makes the grain stand high, – you are our lord,
For him who is the honey of my eye, who is the lettuce of my heart,
May the days of life come forth…..
It is a balbale of Inanna.

Translated by S. N. Kramer, from the indispensable volume
Pritchard JB (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Princeton University Press. 1969.

***And, finally I found this wonderful site on plants in mythology and have excerpted their info on Prickly Lettuce here:

http://www.theoi.com/Flora1.html

LETTUCE, PRICKLY

Greek : Thridax
Species : Lactuca serriola
Description : The ancient Greeks cultivated the wild prickly lettuce. The plant has tall stalks with elongated leaves, yellow flowers and feathery seeds. The ball-shaped lettuce of today is a derivitive species (Lactuca sativa).
Sacred to : Aphrodite (the plant was associated with impotency)
Mythology : Death of Adonis. Adonis was a handsome youth loved by the goddess Aphrodite. He was slain by a wild boar in a bed of lettuce, or was laid out amongst the plants by the goddess following his death. The lettuce was therefore regarded as the plant of the death of love, and so of impotency. Others say that the baby Adonis was hidden in a lettuce bed by the goddess following his birth from the trunk of the tree Myrrha. (Source: Athenaeus)

Death of Adonis by Peter Paul Rubens
Death of Adonis by Luca Giordano
Aphrodite and Adonis, Attic red-figurearyballos-shaped lekythos by Aison, ca. 410 BC,Louvre.

Truck Stop Showers. A Room of One’s Own.

Roll down the road.  Negotiate space, cook on a 1 burner coleman stove.  Dodge surefooted frisky companions.  Keep a relationship going amidst huge hurdles of tiredness, fatigue, long days…beautiful scenery, yummy homemade meals, occasional music sessions inside the truck, my blog, lots of good books, some read outloud, sirius music and cd’s from friends, hectic schedules and close calls with haphazard drivers.  How do we maintain space when the charm and cozy nuance can no longer satiate an eventual need for a “room of one’s own?”

The answer:  the truckstop shower.

Follow me and I’ll take you on a virtual tour of the one thing that can sometimes save not only your social sense of self but, that integral holy thing.  Privacy and a room of one’s own.

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And the fork says it all.  Little enjoyments and essentials restore equilibrium and establish privacy in space.

We fueled up…a grotesque ordeal considering the oil industry…but, nonetheless 50 gallons of fuel earns you a shower with co-driver shower.

We’re in like flynn.  Park the truck.  Make sure the animals are comfortable and that the weather is not too forbidding to leave them…or we set the temperature…lock the truck and go in with a few basics to shower.

The key being…we could share a shower but all the sharing we already do…why not get a small 10 by 10 foot room.  I haven’t actually measured it but that feels equivalent.  Perhaps less tall.  Definitely less tall.

But, nonetheless we are on our way.

We’ve been talking a lot about Virginia Woolf lately.  The time traveling and gender bending Orlando. 

Like before and after experiences.  Where you feel completely transformed.

Yes, I was relishing the experience of this small sequestration.  Perhaps a half hour at the most.  As Virginia so rightly knew and could explain.  A room of her own.

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Here is the ticket.  That magic set of numbers.  The time and space lottery set of numbers.  The open sesame if you will of your own individual portal of space.

Here are the accomodations.  Towels provided.  A dispenser of soap that I have relinquished other more costly and cumbersome products…more or less.I am of this tribe.  This wandering collective.  Adept to circumstance and not about to shrug the total experience.

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But, first the magic wand part.  The keypad.  Which often you have to press the prescribed numbers twice.  Then the red light indicates go when it turns to green and you venture inside.

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This is your doorway through.  A private universe of your own experience.  Defoliating the roughness of time’s churn against your body.  A way in and through.

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Any transformation is filled with potential pitfalls and hazards but signs do not necessarily have to be adhered to as precursors of fate.  I venture in.

Roadweary and dazed.  But, not unhappy.  Just temporarily consumed.

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I always lock the door.  Who knows what confused soul may linger into the portal of my room alone.  Sketch factors remain.  I’m locking that possibility out.

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Coffee comes with.  Clean underthings or new set of clothes.  I look around at my prospects and resemble as much as I may ever do…a deer in shower stall lights

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I need to shed some hyper alertness and defoliate as I said the unwanted confines of the day’s wear and tear.  Even amidst foraging bliss.  Even the wildflowers need a good rain.

I’m ready for mine.

This is where my feet get to land.  For a brief stay in this room of mine.  I’ve never been kicked out for staying too long.  But, it’s tempting to negotiate this space through some magical realm and stay longer than ordinary circumstances would normally permit.

But, I have secured the premises from the inside.  And, here my feet have landed and I can stay.

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The alchemical sweetness of being part of earth.  The wonderful access to water.  A sweet enabler of clear transformation.  A joyous exalt into watery realms.
A relief.

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Looks plain and simple.  Yet relief is inherent in this simulated rainfall.  I can claim this transformation herein.  Perhaps on entry I was anticipating the result of entering a whole new world.

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But, overall something deeper and more calm can often satiate.

I can embrace the twilight of a crepuscular event coming in the new dawn. 

I can begin again.

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Full version cited here of Virginia Woolf’s:
“A Room of One’s Own.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91r/complete.html

Excerpts from “A Room of One’s Own.”
By Virginia Woolf

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. ” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.