Wild Foods


Summer was Grand.

I am so grateful that we were able to stay on the island, and loved every minute of it. It was short and hot rather than long and mild like many of the summers we get here on the West Coast, and September spent most of its days raining and blowing gales. We took our tent down just in time, the day after a huge wind ripped the tarp from its grommets and left our little summer house open to the wet sky.

So much happened this summer, let me sum it up with some pictures, found here! Needless to say, we are excited about returning to our wild island next spring!

We are now in full on Fall and enjoying the harvest!

Vitamin C.

Rosehip Harvester.

Hawthorn Berry Harvest. I have a new tea in my repertoire…hawthorn berry. Picked today from the field’s edge, I can taste the summer condensed into a mug of fall’s infusion. An amazing heart tonic too!

Hawthorn Berry Harvest.

Peppers at the Market.

Pumpkin at the Market.

Sweet Hugs and Carrot Harvest.

Kale Harvest. (Heather made amazing kale chips!)

Mushrooms! We didn’t harvest these ones, but chantrelles have been abundant on our menu!

Big Mushrooms!

Apple Harvest!

We are currently staying with my mom on Salt Spring Island and David has been working long hours on finishing up the Airstream for our journey South for the winter. We had hopped to be on the road by now, but as is always the case with construction projects, it is taking a lot longer than we predicted! What with all of the curves in that thing (nothing is at right angles) and David’s learning curve (this is his first solo construction project) I think it is coming along beautifully! I have been sewing pillows and curtains whenever I get the chance. I’ll try and post pictures soon!

I must admit that I am fully enjoying the extra time with family as we’ve been floating between Lasqueti, Victoria, and Salt Spring recently. Our chosen “homeless” state has really opened up lots of opportunities to bond with loved ones. You never quite “get” someone in the same way that you do when you share a roof with them! It has, honestly, taken a bit of adjustment. We are so used to knowing people at a distance, and there are very few people who know just how it is that we brush our teeth, what we look like first thing in the morning, the grand scope of all of our moods and colors through out the day, our tiny precious eccentricities,  our preferences about cleanliness, all those little private things that make up daily life as a human. It is a wonderful thing to live with people, something that brings us closer to our hearts and deepens our practice of love.

I’m off to enjoy a mug of hawthorn berry/rosehip tea with my Love David!

Blessings, Katrina.

Ohhh Sweet Honey! (honey at Cafe Bliss)

Something that my intuition and my body has always told me is now being confirmed by some of the very people who worked so hard to bring agave to the mainstream: agave is the worst “bandito” of all sweeteners!

I bought one bottle of agave about 4 years ago after seeing pictures on David Wolfe’s site of a beautiful young woman pouring it down her throat, straight out of the bottle! I thought, wow, a sweetener that is so good for you that you can drink it like water!?

I tried it, I didn’t like it at all. It tasted like corn syrup to me, and made me feel awful. So I went back to what I have always used and loved, honey. Over the years since then, I have had many opportunities to enjoy raw treats made with agave. While I do enjoy them in my mouth, everything after that point is a mess. Or should I say, I am a mess! Katrina + agave = basket-case. I feel edgy, anxious, hungry, grumpy, and all those unpleasant things that go along with blood sugar imbalance. So I do my best to avoid the stuff.

If you are still using agave in your household, please read the following articles and then go and pour it down the drain!

The Agave Blues by David Wolfe

This “Tequila” Sweetener is Far Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup by Dr. Mercola

Agave Nectar, the High Fructose Health Food Fraud on Natural News

So, that brings me back to honey! I felt inspired to write a little ode to honey….. Honey is magical. Bees are magical. Flowers are magical. Eating honey makes me feel magical.

In Organic Farming and Beekeeping, it becomes a partnership between bee and honey farmer. The symbiosis is beautiful, and as a honey eater I feel tapped into a beautiful, life affirming circle. And, honey is LOCAL! We get our honey from Babe’s Honey Farm, and it is beautiful, and it gives me a pleasant, gentle buzz.

And did you know that bees will produce up to 3 times the amount that they need to survive? In ethical beekeeping practices, both the bees and the honey eaters benefit.

I love visiting honey farms and listening to the hum of the bees. See if you can find a honey farm near you and start to visit whenever you need a little sweetness.

Honey is expensive (at least compared to conventional sugar) but in my mind this is a good thing. It just means we use less of it and are more careful of our consumption. When it comes to sweetener, a little mindfulness is a very good idea! It also means we are paying the honey farmer a living wage rather than paying pennies for sugar grown by people living in abject poverty in countries miles and miles away.

Of course there are other alternatives to sweeten you treats, and honey may not be the one for you. If you are working with blood-sugar issues such as diabetes or candida, you will want to be even more aware of your sweetener choices. The above articles do a good job at listing out other sweeties to choose from.

In closing, if you needed another reason to start buying organic, this might be it. Saving the Honey Bee Through Organic Farming.

I’d love to hear your experiences with agave, and what your household’s sweetener of choice is!

It has been a mild winter here on the West Coast….wet, gray, fogged in day after day, but mild. And that means early nettles!

Here is some info on nettles from Susun S. Weed in her book The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year (a book I HIGHLY recommend if you are planning on having babies) :

The common stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica, is one of the finest nourishing tonics known. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known to be necessary for human health and growth. Vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and sulphur are particularly abundant in Nettles.

Benefits of drinking Nettle infusion before and throughout pregnancy include (Katrina’s note: I feel that many of these benefits are sure to be true after the birth as well!)

~Aiding the kidneys.

~Increasing fertility in men and women.

~Nourishing mother and fetus.

~Easing leg cramps and other muscle spasms.

~Diminishing pain during and after birth. The high calcium content, which is readily assimilated, helps diminish muscle pains.

~ Increasing the richness and amount of breast milk.

~ Improves the elasticity of the veins. Good help for varicose veins.

Feeling inspired to get out to the nettle patch and do some picking!?

As with any wild food harvesting, make sure you know what you are picking before you eat it! I find a pair of garden gloves and a plastic bag works best for harvesting nettles, but a pair of rubber gloves or even a thicker plastic bag for your picking had will work too (they really do sting!) Picking the top 1-2 inches of the plants in early spring (or late winter on the West Coast this year) gives you the tenderest treat, but I found that picking and using even the tougher late summer leaves was fine.

I did loads of nettle smoothies (and nettle tea, and steamed nettles) while I was pregnant with Sophia last spring and on into the summer. My intuition is that nettles and other green smoothies were part of the reason that my iron levels stayed in good range throughout my pregnancy (I was not taking any iron supplements or eating any meat.)

My favorite nettle smoothie:

1-4 cups nettle tops (they are very strong tasting, so if you have never had raw nettles before, start small!)

2 bananas

3 cups blackberries

1 apple

2 cups water

BLEND! YUM!

I also really love steamed nettles with a little bit of coconut oil and tamari. Simply put a huge pile of nettles, stems and all, into a pot with some water on the bottom. Bring water to a boil, and then turn off, leaving the lid on the pot and letting the nettles steam for about 5-10 minutes. Remove steamed nettles from the water and add a little coconut oil and a dash of tamari. After you have eaten the nettles, you can drink the water that they were steamed in!

Nettle tea, or infusion as Susun Weed calls it, is another staple in my kitchen. Here is how Susun recommends making a water based infusion:

Use one ounce of dried leaves (two handfuls of cut-up leaves or three handfuls of whole leaves) in a quart jar. Fill the jar to the top with boiling water, put the lid on and let it steep for four hours at room temperature.

Leaves contain the potent healer chlorophyll. Long steeping extracts all the chlorophyll, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and other medicinal components of the leaves. Steeping in a closed jar keeps the water-soluble vitamins from escaping in the steam.

Having the time to harvest and dry your own nettle leaves for tea is wonderful, but if you don’t, you can almost always find dried nettle in the bulk herb section of your local health food store! If not, try out our favorite bulk herb shop on-line, Mountain Rose Herbs.

There you have it, one of my favorite wild foods, the common stinging nettle.