This week have have the lovely Saige from @freestonehandmade .
I had the pleasure of vending next to her at an event in Arcata last year, and we totally hit it off! Since then, we’ve shared many moments helping each other through small business questions, trials, and successes. The more I grow closer to her, the more grateful I am to have her as a friend of mine. She makes amazing jewelry, that I wear pretty much daily. It’s soft, feminine, and elegant. This post she wrote inspires me to remember the magic of cooking, remember that it’s another beautiful ritual to enrich my life. I have to say, cooking is one of those things that is totally meditative and exciting for me. I zone out, trying to bring in all of the flavors together. I love how it can take me to a place of joy and contentment. It can help me ground down, and nourish myself in the ways that I need.
Now, A little bit about nettles…
If I was stranded on an island, I would hope there were nettles around.
They are so nutrient dense!!! One of the things I like to say to people who are new or overwhelmed with the herb world is start with nettles. Nettles can help, nettles are your friend. It’s been used to make fabric, food, tea, among many other things. “The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated more acres of nettle than any other crop, and they used it extensively as food and medicine as well as in clothing.” Nettles are a nutrient dense powerhouse. Rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially iron and calcium. Full of chlorophyll and protein. Nettle is a tonic herb meaning when you take it on a daily basis, say every morning with breakfast, and it builds upon itself. It is able to nourish you more deeply, become more attuned to you and your body. Nettles have been used as a daily tonic herb for things such as growing pains, allergies (it has antihistamine properties), liver detox, PMS, prostate issues, and many more. If you’re feeling tired throughout your day, try to get nettles in your day at least once.
Nettles are magic and they may grow wild near you…
Since it’s Spring right now, it’s the perfect time to harvest the delicious fresh nettle tops if they grow in your region. I highly recommend filling a half gallon jar a little over halfway with fresh nettles, then adding hot water and letting it steep overnight. Strain in the morning, and drink all day long! This infusion is earthy, a little spicy, and extremely healthy. I like how easy it is to get such a potent dose of nettles with this infusion.
Now that you’ve read a little bit about the properties of nettles I’d like to share Saige’s article.
Grab a cup of tea and enjoy…
My first introduction to Nettle was while I was cooking at a farm-to-table restaurant where the menu changed every two weeks. On the first day of the new menu it was always a total free-for-all, fend for yourself- stressed mess of line cooks. Imagine you’re learning a new menu, 4-5 of the dishes are your responsibility, each with 2 sides of their own and a sauce, you might know the recipe but if you don’t you’re relying on your trusty friend google, and you have approximately 2 hours to get er’ done and ready for service. C.h.a.o.s. During this new menu day mayhem, the owner brought in her usual crate of produce, I reached in without hesitation, full intention, both hands and grab the “mystery” greens... instant regret. What the hell is this!? Nettle.
I don’t cook professionally anymore, not because of the Nettle. Ha! For many other reasons, but when I decided to quit my job as a line cook I hadn’t expected my relationship with cooking and food to change as much as it did. For a long time the way I cooked at home was very similar to the way I cooked at work; rushed, competitive, and complex. It wasn’t until I started my first garden that I really felt a shift in the manner I cooked and the way food made its way to our table, It’s always been with passion, but it hasn’t always been slow and patient. Having a garden, which has been 100% trial and error, has really struck an interest in the plants that i can grow at our shady home, and an interest in the plants that are already there. Of course interest has formed into a relationship of sorts, and every spring I look forward to seeing those first signs of nettle so that I can patiently, meditatively and lovingly prepare this pesto as slowly as I want.
Nettle & Walnut Pesto
5 Cups of fresh Nettles
3⁄4 Cup Toasted Walnut halves
3⁄4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano (Optional)
1⁄2 of a Lemon-Juice
1⁄4 -1⁄2 Cup Olive oil- Desired Consistency
1⁄4 Teaspoon Salt
1⁄4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
2 cloves of Garlic
Harvest the Nettle. With gloves on, use garden shears to cut the top 6 inches (ca. 15 cm) of a 1-2 foot tall stem in Spring.
Cut the leaves off of the stem with the garden shears or kitchen scissors into a bowl or strainer. Rinse off the garden grime.
Toast walnuts in oven at 350 for 10 minutes, let cool.
Bring a quart of water to a boil and blanch the nettle leaves for one minute.
Strain and rinse with cool water to remove the heat from the leaves. At this point the nettle is cooked and you can now touch it with your bare hands. Put the leaves on a tea towel and blot them dry.
Add to food processor or blender with all the other ingredients.
Buzz until desired consistency.