Back in March, I posted about making Spring Pesto with greens from our yard, especially using highly invasive garlic mustard (Allaria petiolata). As a member of the Brassicaceae family, garlic mustard contains many healthful and medicinal qualities, so please see that post. Herbal vinegars are truly an excellent way to preserve the goodness of nutritious, tonic herbs and to create a valuable nutritional supplement. I am not talking about the 'culinary vinegars' decorated with a few sprigs of kitchen herbs like rosemary or thyme, but rather concentrated herbal formulas using nutrient-dense herbs and wild foods like Burdock, Nettles, Dandelion and other wild foods/greens. The Spring Pesto post from March has great foraging and plant identification books listed.
In April, while harvesting to make yet more pesto - YUM! - I saved the roots and crowns (the part where the stem meets the roots). Then, after gently washing away the dirt, I chopped them all into small pieces using a scissors since the some of the roots are thick and dense.
(Wise Woman Tip: Remember that you should be in a good mood when working in your kitchen and using medicinal botanicals..... Set the tone with music, etc., whatever puts you in good spirits because the act of creating adds your own energy to the process and the items you make absorb your positive energy. The same principle applies to making meals: prepare them with positive, loving, healing thoughts and vibrations, and your family will receive that love two-fold!)
This is the simpler'smethod for making an herbal vinegar, so you will fill the jar twice.
On an Environmental note, join me and other like minded folks concerned about the environment, global warming, sustainability and peak oil at this month's Transition Newton meeting on May 17th. Held on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7PM... at the Unitarian Fellowship located at 1 West Nelson St., Newton, NJ.
This month is a free screening and discussion of Tom Shadyac's film "I AM". "I AM is an utterly engaging and entertaining non-fiction film that poses two practical and provocative questions: what’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better? The filmmaker behind the inquiry is Tom Shadyac, one of Hollywood’s leading comedy practitioners and the creative force behind such blockbusters as “Ace Ventura,” “Liar Liar,” “The Nutty Professor,” and “Bruce Almighty.” However, in I AM, Shadyac steps in front of the camera to recount what happened to him after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a race, could improve the way we live and walk in the world."
As you know, we have been waiting, watching, and waiting some more since January 2011 for our mushroom logs to produce shiitake mushrooms. (Did I mention that we've been waiting?) The logs started showing signs of emerging mushrooms back in the beginning of March, (see post) and as you can see, they are finally here! My daughter and I ceremoniously harvested the three mushrooms with care and reverence, and then promptly made Mushroom Risotto for our dinner on Mother's Day. Since we only had three fresh mushrooms, we added some diced baby portabellas and rehydrated the dried porcini mushrooms from the pantry. YUM!
The stems were so dense, that I decided to make a mushroom vinegar with them, and they are now steeping in organic apple cider vinegar. I will continue to add the stems as more mushrooms bloom.
From a medicinal perspective, shiitake - taken in the form of LEM - has antiviral, antifungal and immuno-modulating properties, and studies have shown tumor inhibiting properties as well.
From a food standpoint, shiitakes are a nutritional powerhouse. As with most mushrooms, one gains the maximum nutritional benefit only upon cooking them. They contribute a wide range of essential amino acids, are low in fat, high in fiber and provide a wide range of vitamins including Vitamin D, thiamine, niacin, ascorbic acid, riboflavin and biotin.