Stinging Nettle

May 27, 2014



You know how you like adventure, but there is always discomfort in any adventure?  Stinging Nettle, (Urtica dioica), represents that for me.

When I was maybe six or seven, it occurred to my classmate and I that it would be possible for us to walk across the fields, as the crow flies, and explore.  If our Moms drove us, it was about four or five miles, but if we walked , each of us would only have to walk about a half mile to meet in the middle.

We did just that, and I can still remember the ideas we had about the caves which must be under the creek, and how we could dig to find them.  Exploring at six years old  is such a rush.  I’m sure our Moms could probably see us, but it felt like we were at the ends of the earth.

At some point we walked through a nice stand of Stinging Nettle, wearing shorts.  And then we started itching.  Which just makes it worse.  I’m not kidding you, these memories are vivid, even though I’ve probably never told this story to anyone.

Another Stinging Nettle story I remember is with my college friend, Konrad.  After graduating from college, my friend Doug and I drove down to Florida, all the way to the Keys, and I bought a surf board in Miami.  It was a short board, and I should have purchased a long board, as long boards make it easier to catch marginal waves.  I think Wisconsin would have to be the definition of marginal waves, right?

So I felt stupid when I brought the board home, but we started a sport based on a magazine article Doug read.  We called it “Streaming.”  What you do is tie a rope to a bridge where the river current is strong.  We modified the current with some logs we found to make it faster.

You grab the rope, and if the current is strong enough, and your balance is true, you stand, and you are stationary surfing!  So of course we had to share this with all our friends.  Did I mention you had to walk about a mile on the edge of a cornfield, where the weeds were over your head?  That’s just part of the fun!

My college friend Konrad came over for a visit.  I told him he may want to wear jeans, as the Stinging Nettle was bad, but he said it was never a problem for him.  Why am I such an asshole that I didn’t insist on him wearing jeans?  Of course he walked through the Stinging Nettle, and of course he itched.  I can still picture his face as he stood in the cold river water and splashed it up over his legs.  He was actually moaning.

So Stinging Nettle and I have a history.  The final chapter I guess is finding out it was edible, summoning up the courage to put it in my mouth, cooked, and enjoying it.  And then finding a woman who will cook it for me!


Wild Edible: Curly Dock

April 28, 2014



Curly Dock, (Rumex crispus), is very common on our farm.  I found it was edible in Sam Thayer’s second book, “Nature’s Garden.”  I was excited to try it, because its been a long winter and this plant starts growing even earlier than Stinging Nettle.

Sam recommended cooking it, and I concur, or possibly using it raw as part of a salad.  It’s a little too bitter for me to make it my entire salad.  I eat eggs nearly every morning and it’s a welcome addition, as pictured below.

Besides wild berries, I’ve only been learning and eating wild edibles for the past eight years, inspired by Sam’s first book.  Something I’ve learned is that even though I’m an adventurous eater, I need to try something a few times to get a taste for it.  By the next year when the plant is ready for harvest, my taste buds, or brain, or something, is primed, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it for many meals.


Meat and Greens

June 1, 2011

“Smell this and tell me if it’s good,” Citygirlfriend said, holding an old bag of hamburger.

When I met Citygirlfriend, she didn’t really eat or touch meat.  On our first date, I served her a single hamburger, with Goosefoot Greens, (Chenopodium album), on the side.

I guess she figured, ‘When in Rome,’ because she tried to eat it.  She’s been game ever since, and usually cooks meat or eggs for every meal.  I love it.

Melissa is a vegetarian, which is ok.  What I’m really enthused about is how she’s taken to foraging for wild food.  She has developed a recipe with Stinging Nettle leaves and Quinoa.  Quinoa is a member of the Chenopodium genus, and a relative of  Goosefoot Greens.

Hamburger and Chenopodium, who would a thunk it?

Citygirlfriend’s Garden

April 29, 2010

This is Citygirlfriend’s garden.  She and Gameboy planted it in twenty minutes. 

It is one foot wide by three feet long.  It includes Carrot, Cucumber, Lettuce, Mesculun, Pepper, Radish, and Tomato.  Hundreds of seeds were deposited from Gameboy’s hand to the loosened soil with a shotgun delivery.

My job was to keep Gameboy out of the Stinging Nettle.

Citygirlfriend asked me what I thought.

“I think we’re raising a family, not a garden.”

Wild Food Foraging/ Sam Thayer’s New Book, “Nature’s Garden”

December 20, 2009

Stinging Nettle, a delicious, wild edible, WHEN COOKED, profiled in “The Forager’s Harvest”, Sam Thayer’s first book on wild food foraging.

I’m excited!  I just received a mailing from Sam Thayer announcing the printing of his new book, “Nature’s Garden.”  This book is the second in his series on wild edibles.

Sam is the leader on wild food foraging for our generation.  I met him a couple of years ago when I attended one of his weekend seminars.  This guy lives what he preaches.

One of my goals for 2010 is to make foraging a bigger part of my life.  I need to figure out a way to phrase this goal.  I recently found Leo Babauta’s blogs and plan on using his techniques for accomplishing change.

Carb Diet

March 16, 2009


Can carbs be added to my diet without weight gain?  How much carbs can be added?  Is there a difference in carbs?  Will I be able to stabilize my weight?  Will I lose my sanity as I continue to document my diet and weight?  These questions will all be answered here.

This page will document my daily carb intake and weight.  My weight is taken first thing in the morning so look at the next day’s weight to see if carb intake from the day before correlated with weight gain.

I will continue to eat as much red meat as I care to.  Assume I am eating levels similar to the meat diet journal unless noted otherwise.

I will also document any exercise or unusually difficult farm work.

Carbs are in net grams, (carbs minus dietary fiber), and are taken off packages or estimated from other sources.  Challenge my figures if they seem off.

March 16:  149.5 lbs. Total grams Carbs:  53C.   4 sv. mixed nuts 16 gram Carbs, 1 sv. spinach 1C, 1 sv. celery 4C, half sv. radishes 2C, 1 sv. strawberries 5C, 1 Lindor dark chocolate truffle 15C?, small glass wine 12C.

March 17:  149.5 lbs.  Total Carbs:  59C.  mixed nuts 16C, celery 4C, radishes 2C, wine 12C, small cheesecake-type desert 25C?.

March 18:  152 lbs.  45C.  mixed nuts 16C, lettuce 1C, rice on a tuna sushi roll 20C, broccoli 1C, cauliflower 2C, strawberries 5C.

March 19:  NA weight.  45C.  mixed nuts 16C, celery 4C, radishes 2C, spinach 1C, strawberries 5C, broccoli 2C, lindor chocolate 15C.  Traveling,  tired today.

March 20:  149 lbs.  101C.  mixed nuts 16C, celery 4C, broccoli 2C, cauliflower 2C, chocolate 15C, half banana 12C, baked potato 50C.

March 21:  150.5 lbs.  ?C.  mixed nuts, celery, broccoli, milkshake, cake.  Attended a hospital benefit dinner.  Passed on the bread and potatoes.

March 22:  152.5 lbs.  Birthday cake.  Much driving this past week.  Looking forward to getting back into a walking routine.

March 23:  154.5 lbs.  It appears I can’t have my cake and eat it too.  I have gained 5.5 lbs. in the last three days.  That is a respectable rate-of-gain for my pigs and cattle.  If I continue at this rate, I will be clinically obese in a month.  Today I ate a bananna, radishes, celery, spinach, and a little chocolate.

March 24:  154.5 lbs.  Apple, broccoli, pecans, strawberry-rhubarb pie, 2 pieces pizza, long island iced tea.  Had a date with a woman from Honduras.  She doesn’t speak English.  I don’t speak Spanish.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t the most awkward date I’ve ever had.

March 25:  153.5 lbs.  Mixed nuts, apple, radishes, bun, baked beans, small strawberry sundae.

March 26:  155 lbs.  Mixed nuts, celery, 3 pieces chocolate, tuna roll sushi, fried cheese curds-Wisconsin appetizer.

March 27:  154.5 lbs.  Peanuts, celery, mashed potatoes, chocolate, cookie.  The carbs are making me feel washed-out.

March 28:  154 lbs.  Peanuts, celery, chocolate, vanilla malt, chili, apple, onions, peas.

March 29:  154.5 lbs.  Red wine, bananna, apple, radishes, strawberries, 3 cookies, ice cream.  The more carbs I eat, the more I want to eat.

March 30:  155.5 lbs.  Bananna, apple, radishes, strawberries, broccoli, chocolate.  Walked more today.

March 31:  154.5 lbs.  Bananna, apple, radishes, strawberries, mixed nuts, cinammon roll, chocolate, red wine, popcorn.

April 1:  156 lbs.  Bananna, apple, radishes, strawberries, mixed nuts, chocolate, broccoli, lettuce.  Played basketball tonight.

April 2:  156 lbs.  Bananna, apple, radishes, mixed nuts, chocolate, ice cream, green beans, yam, red wine, popcorn.

April 3:  153.5 lbs.  Bananna, apple, radishes, mixed nuts, chocolate, pizza.  I have no idea why my weight dropped.  Ate mucho carbs yesterday.

April 4:  155 lbs.  Bananna, apple, mixed nuts, donut, chocolate, pizza, cookies.  Ran 2 miles on track.

April 5:  157.5 lbs.  Bananna, cookies, apple pie, apple, chocolate.  The carbs are biting back.  Exercise ineffective antidote.  Playing basketball tonight.

April 6:  155.5 lbs.  Bananna, apple, broccoli, radishes, pineapple, chocolate, pecans, ice cream.

April 7:  154 lbs.  Apple, radishes, onions, chocolate, Mom’s homemade oatmeal rolls, yum!

April 8:  154 lbs.  Oatmeal rolls, broccoli, mashed potatoes, celery, strawberries, raspberry/pretzel/cream cheese dessert.

April 9:  155 lbs.  Oatmeal rolls, mashed potatoes, strawberries, celery, raspberry/pretzel/cream cheese dessert, chocolate.  I’m buying shares in a cacao plantation.  Anyone else like to invest?

April 10:  156 lbs.  Strawberries, celery, chocolate, mixed nuts, apple, monster cookies, cheesecake.

April 11:  158 lbs.  Bananna, apple, mixed nuts, sweet corn, broccoli, cheesecake.

April 12:  158 lbs.  Bananna, apple, mixed nuts, sweet corn, cheesecake, raspberry pie.  Next holiday will be spent planting a tree instead of eating my weight in cheesecake.

April 13:  157.5 lbs.  Apple, mixed nuts, sweet corn, raspberry pie, peach pie.  Rain today.  Feeling washed out after my hard week of planting and guests and refined carbs.

April 14:  155 lbs.  Apple, mixed nuts, celery, cookies, chocolate, pizza.

April 15:  157.5 lbs.  Apple, green beans, chocolate, cookies, spaghetti, potatoes.

April 16:  157.5 lbs.  Green beans, celery, chocolate, cookies, spaghetti, mashed potatoes, popcorn.

April 17:  156.5 lbs.  Chocolate, cookies, chicken noodle soup, jello, baked potato, broccoli.  Had my teeth cleaned today.  Hi to Carrie.

April 18:  155.5 lbs.  Chocolate, bannana, jello, potatoes, stinging nettle.

April 19:  155.5 lbs.  Bananna, apple, chocolate, biscuit, pineapple, celery.

April 20:  156 lbs.  Bananna, apple, chocolate, biscuit, potatoes, cookies, ice cream, pizza.

April 21:  157.5 lbs.  Apple, chocolate, celery, cinammon roll, baked potato, pizza.

April 22:  157 lbs.  Chocolate, celery, cinammon roll, cookies, green beans, mashed potatoes, ice cream.

April 23:  156.5 lbs.  Chocolate, celery, cookies, spinach, onions, apple.

April 24:  155.5 lbs.  Chocolate, cookies, spinach, radishes, bannana, apple, rolls, vanilla malt, mixed nuts.

April 25:  156 lbs.  Chocolate, spinach, bananna, mashed potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, grape tomatos, mixed nuts.

April 26:  158 lbs.  Chocolate, spinach, bananna, strawberries, tomatos, mixed nuts, celery, pizza.

Well it’s been another six weeks.  I’ve gained back about half the weight I lost on the meat diet.  But I’m still ten pounds lighter than at the start of the meat diet.  I think I know how to control my weight with a restriction of refined carbs.  I’m suspending my daily diet log but will keep you aware of any new health developments.  I will take another, better, lipid test next winter.

Wild Food Foraging Fun

February 26, 2009

What is going on in the header photo?  Someone asked if I was in a cult?  Does a cult get muddy in the Mississippi river?

We were foraging for Wapato or Arrowhead.  Tremendous amount of stomping in the mud to break loose golf-ball sized tubers that were a staple in the diet of some Native American tribes.

It was a class taught by Sam Thayer.  Forager’s Harvest is his company, which seeks to bring responsible wild food foraging, his passion, to a wider audience. 

Sam is a genius.  When he walks through the woods, he not only knows every plant; he also knows the scientific name, life cycle, habitat, which part is edible, and how to prepare it.  He presents all this information in a fun way.  I couldn’t help but catch his excitement.

The classes are an interesting mix of people of varying ages and skill levels.  This photo was taken by Rose Casey, a middle-aged gardener from Madison.  Thanks Rose.

If this interests you, don’t be shy, jump right in.  It’s the best way to learn.  Sam’s book is the best; but there are other books available as well. 

Don’t eat anything you don’t know.  And don’t worry; you will be able to accurately identify plants.  It is what we are meant to do.  Do you have trouble identifying a dandelion? 

I was foraging long before I knew Sam.  I just didn’t think of it as foraging.  When the wild raspberries are ripe, I eat my fill in raspberries every day for about two weeks.

As a farmer, we are always battling weeds. To eat my enemy gives me great satisfaction. 

Stinging Nettle is a plant that has tormented me since childhood and is one of the first to appear in the spring.  Cooking renders the plant unable to harm.  Sam says Nettle is higher in vitamins and minerals than spinach.  I’m looking forward to spring.  Happy Foraging!