Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nettles to Earth Day

It's been a busy busy week!

Seven days ago, I started off up a murky old Malahat

to spend the day taking tickets at lovely Fairburn Farm,

home of Vancouver Island's famous herd of water buffalo,

where Mara Jernigan

and her team presided over a Stinging Nettle Festival.

Farmer John Ehrlich, of Alderlea Farm, talked about the biodynamic farming uses

while Katy Ehrlich talked about medicinal and nutritional aspects of stinging nettles.

Mara gave a demonstration on the making of nettle spanakopita.

Nettle tea was on offer

You could have nettle pesto (and extremely local buffalo mozzarella) on your pizza

or a flowery bowl of nettle soup

or a piece of nettle tart

and end, if you wished, on a piece of rhubarb tart.

Much of the rest of the week was taken up with food preparation and planning for a one-off catering event. On Thursday, Dayle and I celebrated Earth Day and the new municipal cosmetic pesticide ban by providing a pesticide-free lunch to 100 people at Saanich City Hall. We had musical accompaniment

and a good-ish crowd who milled and ate over the lunch hour, checking out the pesticide alternatives information and talking to stall-holders like Glendale Gardens. I was very happy to be able to give a resounding NO to the person who came by to ask if the food being served would be hamburgers?

With the help of Dayle's versatile farmer Jordan, we served cauliflower-lime soup with cumin,

Michell's farm hubbard squash soup with ginger and tamarind; accompanied by Wildfire croutons,

raw almond-carrot pâté wraps (wrapped in kale, collard or chard leaves)

and chocolate-beet cupcakes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

HOW does one handle stinging nettles? I still remember running through some as a kid. Not a pleasant experience, either then or in the tub trying to get rid of the toxins on my legs and arms. Pamela

6:27 p.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

Apparently the answer is: rubber gloves (and long sleeves). I was unfortunately unable to leave my post to take the nettle tour during which participants were shown how to pick - and eat! - a nettle leaf off the plant, with bare hands. I believe it has to do with observing the direction of the barbs and then rolling the leaf to eat it. But I hear that some people can experience a bit of sensation eating cooked nettles, which are safe for most of us.

11:32 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to try the choccy-beety muffins -- just saw some beets in the greengrocer's yesterday (and had a talk about philosophy & poetry with a pregnant mum whose toddler was sleeping it off).

Wish I'd been there to taste all your offerings!

Love, Nancy

12:49 a.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

I wish you had been there too, Nancy! (And if you want to try the muffins, here's a link to the recipe on the Terralicious website; she used a simple chocolate ganache for icing)

8:04 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw something shocking in the Safeway or Co-op flyer the other day: they are now selling muffins which have just the tops, no bottoms. How narrow-cast is that?

9:15 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And from a philosophical point of view, is a muffin with no bottom a muffin any more? PB

9:31 a.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

I think the muffin question is an important one: under what name are they sold? Does anyone remember that food called donut holes? (although it's a good word, I don't think "timbits" works as a generic, since it is branding)

10:06 a.m.  

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