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Monday, April 28, 2014

Lamb's Quarters, Wild and Free

Spring Greetings from the hills!
Have you ever heard of eating lamb's quarters?

I hadn't until last summer when a friend mentioned that she likes lamb's quarters added to a pot of spring greens such as mustard greens, dandelion greens, etc. Interesting!  So, I learned to identify it (Images and more info are here.) and did a little research on its nutritional value and was pleasantly surprised to find that it's another free. super. food. to add to our foraging routine. It's off the charts in vitamins and minerals, in fact, it's really better for you than spinach. In light of that, I find it amazing that it's not lauded in health food journals more than it is. And lo, it's found in most areas of the country. We mow most of our property regularly so I found only one plant last year which wasn't a lot. I tried it and found it to be of a very mild flavor. Another thing I discovered is that it doesn't get bitter as the plant gets bigger. The leaves stay tender no matter the size. After emptying and refilling a couple of our raised beds with mushroom compost last month we found that we have a free crop of lamb's quarters sprouting & growing alongside our lettuce, cabbages and strawberries.
I've been having to resist the urge to pluck it out of the beds as it seems out of place among the other plants, but I haven't touched it.  I intend to harvest it as well. The flavor is very mild, something like asparagus, which lends it well to adding uncooked to fresh salads, also. The above portion of this post was featured on:

Green Thumb Thursday

See these gorgeous cabbage plants? Do you notice any of the usual holes from cabbage moth larvae?
The reason there are no holes is that I've had them covered with an old sheer curtain since they were planted.  They still get plenty of sun and the rain passes right through the curtain to water them.

It's working. I can't remember the source of that wonderful tip, but I'm grateful for it.

Have you ever whipped up a batch of homemade crackers?  I've made a lot of things in my time but never crackers until recently.

Our youngest made them and told of their wonders, and that got me rolling with the idea. You just mix up the dough. Roll it out in the pan you want to bake them in and score with (ahem) a dressmaker's tracing wheel then bake.

 I used a combination of flax meal and unbleached flour for this batch..

But my favorite recipe is tastier and great for snacks. They're delicious.  (See recipe below.)  And if by chance you forget and leave the salt out of a batch just eat them with small slices of feta cheese.  The saltiness of the cheese will balance the lack of it in the crackers.  Don't ask how I found that out. o.O

Homemade Fennel Seed Crackers
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup freshly milled wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • In a medium bowl combine the flours, flax meal, salt, fennel seeds and baking powder.  Mix to combine the dry ingredients.  Add the olive oil and the water, and mix until a ball of dough has been formed. Do not knead the dough; just mix until the ingredients are well distributed.
    Divide the dough in half or thirds depending on how thick you want the crackers to be.  With a pizza dough roller roll out the dough directly on two or three ungreased cookie sheets.  At this point you should cut the dough with a knife or pizza wheel to the size you want the crackers to be. I used a dressmaker's tracing wheel because I like to score the dough instead of cutting it completely. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until barely browned. Cool on a rack then store in a container with a tight-fitting lid to retain crispy freshness.
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 One last thing before I go. For years there have been only cheap, small clothespins available to buy and use for hanging clothes out to dry until The Deliberate Agrarian recently took the situation in hand and made a supply like the one pictured below on the right. Read the story HERE.  I can tell you I was mighty tired of having my pins flip off the line after I had just pinned up clothes to dry. I'm really glad to have pins that are strong and American made by an actual person and his family instead of a conglomeration of money-grubbin'... well, you know what I'm talkin' about.

The new, stronger, larger ones are not cheap but they are reasonably priced especially after all the work involved in producing them.  Most families of four save $40 per month on their electric bill by hanging their clothes out to dry. That puts a different light on the price of these clothespins, methinks. I've had mine just a short while, and they're already paid for in electric savings. ;-)

Hope y'all are having a great, productive spring!
Linking with Homestead Barn Hop, The Backyard Farming Connection Hop, The HomeAcre Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, From the Farm Blog Hop, FarmGirl Friday Blog Hop, The Simple Saturday Blog Hop, The Art of Home Making Mondays