Sunday, March 25, 2012

Handmade Fresh Stinging Nettle Pasta

Fresh nettle linguine with butter , asiago and feta
Oh yes! Stinging Nettle Pasta.

Stinging Nettles. I really don't like these things. They grow really tall and threaten to sting me while picking blackberries or walking through my forest.
There is a HUGE area of them that cover almost half of the lower east side of our property (about an acre).
We were told the only remedy is broad spectrum herbicide or cutting before they go to seed. Since we are not fans of herbicideing an acre of natural Pacific Northwest Forest, we opted to wait till late spring to cut them down before seeding. Hopefully this repeated process will deter them over time.

It is officially SPRING! Nettles are now popping up everywhere over on the east side. I decided to get my revenge...
Rose gloves for protection

Nettles are edible. Oh yes, and apparently good for you. Go figure.

I geared up with a large metal mixing bowl, rose gloves with nitrile gloves under just in case and a pair of kitchen scissors.
I went out into the forest and cut me some nettle.

fresh cut nettle click pic to make bigger and see stingers
I read on several sites that the stems and leaves can be used at this young sprout age. I cut about the top 4 inches which was most of the plant.

I took them in and covered with water, drained and covered with water again.

Using a oriental style webbed scooper, I transferred them from the bowl into the boiling pot of water.

I ditched the water half way and started with fresh because the water was so dark green!

boiled nettle tips and leaves
After boiling the plants for at least 5 minutes, I put them in the strainer and rinsed.

Then I removed the leaves and tips by hand. I was going to use the whole stem, which may have been OK for saute but I was making pasta and wanted it smooth.

Next time I will just be picky and harvest the tips and leaves so I wont have to go through them after blanching.
nettle mush

I chopped 'em all up in the food processor with a little water. Next time may use olive oil instead.

It measured out a little over a cup.

nettle pasta dough
Used 3 tiny fresh eggs from my birdie Nutmeg and about 3 cups of flour and a large pinch of salt along with the nettle pure' to make the dough. 

Kneaded it and let it rest for a few hours under plastic.

tried the flat cut method

Rolled it out by hand with my trusty french pin and cut by hand.
Next time I will roll a tad thinner depending on the style pasta I am making.

I like the roll and cut method
Delish. Flavor is just like fresh spinach pasta.

I am blessed to live on a property so rich in natural wild food.

This is not something that i will make regularly because of the extra care I have to take when harvesting
 But, I think if you have the plant growing wild on your land, it is worth a go.

 I also read on many permaculture sites not to harvest and use nettle leaves if the plant is higher than a foot tall.

I used the following sites for reference and research before preparing this dish.
University of Wisconsin LaCrosse
University of Maryland Medical Center
University of California

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Visit to Oregon March 11, 2012

We went to visit my sister in Oregon.
This was my husbands' 1st time to see his new niece in person. I think they got along well.

Along the way, we stopped at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR.

The only thing we could not see was the Blackhawk. It was under cover in the hanger that was being used for a wine event.
They have a great selection of aircraft and exhibits. The museum is set up well with plenty of 1st class seats to rest in and a nice collection of engines and history exhibits. They also have guided tours for a little extra cash which are well worth the price.
The Spruce Goose is one big plane/boat! Very cool to be able to see this one-of-a-kind marvelous piece of engineering and craftsmanship in person.

If you are anywhere near McMinnville, Oregon, definitely worth the side-trip.
They also have an indoor water park that we opted out of. That parking lot was full.

And had lunch at the Blue Goat just down the road in Amity.

I recommend stopping here. The atmosphere is relaxing, casual and clean.
Food is great and made from locally sourced sustainable farms.
We sampled the local beers at a great price.
We do not care for the hoppy beers - should have expected it since hops is a major agricultural industry in Oregon!
Local Beer Sampler - very Hopsy
Cheese Pizza - yum!

WOW good pulled pork with sweet salsa and fresh fries.
Seasonal Veggie Pizza... in winter... Hmm....

Carmel Lovers' DREAM - Homemade caramel torte with chocolate ganache and sea salt! WOOO HOOO!


Ohh.... I can't forget the Great Israeli restaurant we stopped at on the way back into WA!!!
I did, because I forgot my camera in the car and I was too busy eating this awesome food to care. Luckily, my hubby has one of those new I phone thingies and shot a pic.
Hummus Bel-Laham -  Lamb - OMG!
We decided to take the loop by the airport in Portland instead of the I-5.
Used the I phone to find a place to eat on the WA side of the river. I found a little Israeli restaurant in a little strip mall right off the highway.
The Jerusalem Cafe , in Vancouver, WA

Everything we had was fabulous. The service was friendly. The atmosphere was clean and the decor was beautiful and creative. The prices were reasonable.
 We have found NO good local restaurants where we live, much less a good Mediterranean place. We love good Mediterranean so, we plan on making this a regular stop whenever we go down to visit my sister.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Poor Red Chicken

I went to check on the girls this morning and Red was in her box grunting. Yes.... GRUNTING. I have never heard a chicken grunt. Like a dog, horse or person, she was grunting. I didn't know they could do that.
Poor red chicken. No wonder.

She deserves a break. 
The next day she laid an ultra-small egg of 24g.

 Video of them out later that day in the snow. No sound. They decided they don't like the snow. No bugs and the grass is all covered up :-(


What is it?
Simply, plastic bags made into a "yarn".

It is a fun way to re-purpose those plastic grocery sacs.
Disclaimer: I try to always bring my re-useable sacs to the store.
They are great. most are made of recycled plastic, and can be washed and dried.
If I have to use grocery bags I save them. They can be dropped off at almost any grocery store for recycling.
I like to re-use them as trash bags. They are great for in the car, small trashcans, around the house and yard.

My stock started to overflow the container in which they are kept.
I decided I would try the plarn thing.

I made a cute little egg basket.

Tips: I don't suggest knitting with it because it is difficult. I used a crochet hook.
1. Flatten out the bags and stack on top of each other neatly.

Here is how to make plarn.  ------->

2. Roll the stack on edge.


3. Find the lower part of the handles.


4. Cut off the handles.


5. And cut off about 1" off the bottom

6. cut off about 1 inch pieces from the roll ---->

7. Separate the round strip

8. Place the strips as shown     ------->

9. Take the end of the bottom strip as shown

10. Pull the inside bottom strip over the top as shown   --->

11. Pull it under and through as shown

12. be sure to pull gently and evenly  --->

13. pull the knot smooth and tight.

14 continue from the end with additional pieces  ---->

14 a. An easy way is to place on top and pull through from under

14 b.

14 c.

14 d.

14 e.

You can roll this stuff up in a ball and use it to crochet stuff that needs to have some stiffness.
 I made an egg basket.    

Saturday, March 3, 2012

1st Science Fair

Science Fair Time. Those three words ignite fear in the heart of most parents across the USA.
We were totally surprised when the 10 page packet came home with our 3rd grade daughter about the science fair. Most folks around my age remember only doing ONE science fair and not until Jr-High at least!

Panic ensued. What can we do that is 3rd grade age appropriate and in the very little amount of time we were given to complete the project?
We had to think of something we could do quickly and with limited resources and at a 3rd grade level. She had some great ideas but had to be coached is the difference between a research paper and a science fair project. Lots of great questions but, the answer could be found with some research and  - problem solved. Science fair projects are more involved.

A great science fair project is one that teaches the scientific process.
For example....

Research paper Question = how does an engine work? <---Too general. Better ---> How does a combustion engine work?
Science Fair Question = Does the fuel mixture make a difference in the performance of a combustion engine?
Here you use the research paper question, and try to figure out a specific result about a comparable scenario.
ie. you can TEST it by COMPARING several different fuel mixtures in the engine IN A CONTROLLED SETTING to record MEASURABLE RESULTS and draw CONCLUSIONS based on evidence and variables. It also has to have an applicable purpose. In this example, one can discover more efficient fuel combinations for better performance or economy.
That is the part my art-sy 3rd grader can't quite grasp at this stage in her development.
By the way... The engine example is not safe for a 3rd grader to do - just sayin'.

So, with some guidance, we chose to use our pullets and test them to see if it made a difference to them what color their food was.
I got to be a judge on the oral presentations portions and see most of the projects from Kindergarten throught 5th grade. I love going to these things and seeing these little minds at work and the excitement in some of these young scientists' eyes!

Here is her 1st Science Fair Experience

one of the rows at the Fair

Principal with 1st, 2nd (My kid), 3rd and Honorables in 3rd grade

 I fuzzed the kids on purpose out of respect of not posting without their parent's permission.
My kid  - happy it's over.
Now, she wants to go to Regional at the end of the month..... To Be Continued?

Ah yes... Continued.
We attended the Regional Fair this past Saturday March 24th in Tacoma.
Huge and lots of participants. Woke up early to be there at 8am and stay till 2pm for awards.
She was the ONLY student from the ENTIRE district to participate in the regional fair.
She did not place but gained great experience as to what to expect next year.