Though I awoke early enough to go for a good foraging jaunt, I also awoke to... my period. Since the first day of my period is always the heaviest, requiring a tampon change every 2 hours, foraging would have to be curtailed to a place close to home or postponed until tomorrow.
After taking 3 sips of a Blue Vervain + Red Clover infusion, the bitter taste made me feel instantly irritated (a liver sign) and then I felt extremely tired, so much that I fell asleep during my meditation! Blue Vervain is a nervine, after all, I told myself. Later that evening, however, after taking a few sips, this time my lips felt swollen and hot. Uh oh, another reaction to Blue Vervain, this time worse! I've never had any type of reaction with Red Clover, so I knew it was the Vervain. And that means, she's definitely NOT the herb of choice for me!
That's OK, because one forms an alliance with certain plants. Vervain is therefore most certainly a plant for whom I can enjoy her beauty, but not her taste :)
And speaking of Vervain, and where I found her growing, I decided to pay a short visit to Bellefield once again.
After parking my bike, I started up the path and saw a squirrel darting about close to the trees. Something told me to stop and wait.
So I did :)
I then walked over and immediately spotted Motherwort, indeed the same Motherwort plant who had graciously donated her seeds last year when I had been looking for some. She had literally pulled me over with her energy last year, while this year her energy was a lot subtler.
I could see why, because unlike last year, she was pretty much spent. Her tips had a few fluffy white-pink flowers, but the rest of her was deep with brownish seeds.
Aaaah, she had called me over to invite me to partake of her seeds once again! At first, I didn't understand, and had taken a few of her leaves, which I dry and add to the soup pot during the colder months. Her leaves have the save medicine (aka health benefits) as the rest of her, but in a milder form. That means you can add a handful of leaves to the soup pot, but no more or you'll feel her circulatory/emmenagogue effects.
I then proceeded to prune off those prickly bits embedded with seeds, snapped a few pics of my dear, sweet friend, said a hearty thank-you and went off to visit the field.
Unlike last week when I was in search of Goldenrod, I barely even glanced at them this time around. Instead, I was scanning the area for Dock seeds, as I've really enjoyed making a coffee substitute with them on the past 2 occasions.
I found a number of Dock plants with brown seeds, which is when you want to harvest them. Often, the leaves are brown and there are MANY critters hiding among the seeds, spiders being the most common and "plentiful" in my experience. This time, there were a couple of earwigs and only a few spiders.
There's basically 2 ways to remove the seeds from the stalk: 1- run your hand UP the stalk and remove as many seeds as you can and put the seeds into a paper bag OR 2- cut off the stalk and hold it IN the paper bag and then run your hand to remove the seeds, which will fall into the paper bag. You can also cut off the stalks, store them in a paper bag and then remove them when you get home. Up to you!
Since the plant is spent, don't feel bad if the stalk seems to snap off near the ground or if it seems you've uprooted the plant. You haven't! Dock plants have long yellow tap roots, and being a perennial, they'll all be sure to be coming up the following year :)
At first, I started using the second method of cutting the stalks off, holding each stalk in the paper bag and then running my hand up the stalk so that the seeds would fall into the bag. I found this way too time consuming and wasn't at all worried about getting every last seed. In fact, I wouldn't mind at all if there more Dock plants next year! So I switched to the first method and started running my hand up the stalks and removing the seeds that way. Of course, some of the seeds would fall to the ground, and that was just fine by me! Actually, I found the seeds to be a bit "old" somehow and wasn't sure that I would use this batch for flour.
Oh yes, didn't you know that ground Dock seeds make an excellent gluten-free flour? They do!! They have a bitter taste, sort of like Teff, and I find the two pair really well together. I've seen a few recipes for Dock crackers using 1 cup Dock seed flour and 1 cup any other flour. Add enough water to make a dough, then flatten dough onto cookie sheet thinly. Bake and eat. Here's a link with the full info :)
Myself, I had thought to make cookies and muffins and other quick breads with the seeds, except that body has not been into grains lately. I tried grinding Dock seeds just by themselves, then added a stevia blend and taste tested. Terrible!! Which is why half regular flour and half Dock seed flour is a much better ratio. Hm, perhaps coconut or almond flour might meld well with the Dock seed flour? Not sure, would have to try. Seems like it'll be experimentation time in the kitchen :)
As a coffee substitute, I used about 1/4 cup ground seeds to 4 cups water, then simmered it for 10 minutes before straining. Yep, I don't own a coffee machine or French press, but I was actually thinking about getting one after trying Dock coffee! I sweetened with a stevia blend and some almond milk and it was delish :) The only caveat that I noticed was the seeds seemed to be like oats in that they sucked up a lot of the water. I was able to make myself one cup of "coffee," and when I went back for another half cup, there was only about 1/4 cup left.
I haven't dried roasting them first and then grinding and making coffee, but that is something I could try. So easy to do, too: just use place seeds in a dry frying pan, put heat on medium-high, and keep moving seeds until roasted, about 1 minute. You can also put the heat on medium if you're worried you might burn the seeds, it'll just take a bit longer for the pan to heat up and toast them.
There's actually a lot of other wild foods that can be used to make coffee substitutes, sometimes the root and sometimes the seeds are used. Dandelion root and Chicory root (both bitter and usually roasted first) are common ones. Another one that I like to use is Rehmannia. She's a Chinese medicine herb excellent for yin deficiency and to strengthen kidney functioning and she is a MAJOR herb in TCM.
There's actually 2 types of Rehmannia, one cooked in wine 9 times (that's the one I mentioned above) and one that is unprocessed (builds blood). She's often paired with other herbs in a formula, such as with Dong Quai/Angelica and gelatin to build blood OR with Peony root and Goji berries to build yin.
I have tried Rehmannia all on her own (well, with Licorice root), as a decoction, and she tastes amazing! I then added almond milk and maybe a touch of stevia for extra sweetness, and really yummy! Rehmannia has a sweet taste, but "dark" like coffee. I really like adding in White Peony root (there is a red one), Goji berries, Bupleurum root and whole Licorice root decocted with the Rehmannia. It comes out very sweet, not the same as just plain Rehmannia, but really delish and nourishing :)
Back to the field: interestingly, the area where they had mowed the plants close the water was now "sporting" some small Nettle plants. Aah, Nettle! She has big roots and she's in the Mint family, can't be getting of rid of her with a mowing anytime soon!
Of course I brought my gloves and stopped to pick a good amount. I wasn't sure whether I was going to use her for my next pesto recipe, as I am out of fresh greens, or for future infusions. None of them had seeds, so they were viable for tea.
I decided to walk down the path and check on the other Nettle patches to see how I would use Nettle.
Uh oh, mowed down!
Not sure when they did that, crossed my mind if it might have been due to some strange lady picking flowers (um, me), except last week I didn't pass by the Nettle patch.
There was 1 trampled plant that had been left and while I contemplated taking her leaves, I thought better not. There were a few plants that hadn't been touched and I took my pruner to cut them short of their seeds. I didn't bother to take the leaves as they seemed old.
Hm, not much Nettle here and walking a bit further down, the other patch had been completely destroyed. Well, they'll be back! And perhaps back in time to get another harvest before the winter comes :)
I spotted Sumac and said hello, but didn't feel inclined to take any berries. While being high in Vitamin C, the astringent nature of them are akin to Lemon and Lime, and my sensitive teeth have not been enjoying those either lately.
I popped back to the field, collected some more Dock seeds, as well as a few Red Clover flowers, then stopped to see Tansy. I decided to take both her flowers and leaves, as she had offered them to me last time, and there are still tons of bugs on the Cuke plants.
And that reminds me that I also, um, displaced a lady bug! While it wasn't my intention, I did collect a few more Red Clover blossoms (not that much, about a dehydrator tray and a half, because they had pummeled the left side of the field where the burned Red Clover was growing). And while I was doing that, I spotted a lady bug and popped leaf and bug into paper bag! When I arrived home, I showed lady bug a really good eating place, placing her right on a buggy leaf. She seemed to be right at home and started eating away :)
I tried this with another lady bug but she flew away ;) I added a lady bug to my garden because this morning I noticed one sleeping on a Cuke leaf. I thought, of course, what I need are lady bugs! The Cukes, to be honest, seem to be drying up, but I'll wait and see a bit longer. Perhaps those lady bugs can remedy the situation as they are voracious eaters!
I added some Radish, Coriander, Dill and Parsley seeds to a few pots in the hopes of having a fall harvest. If the Cuke plants don't make it, then I will sow more Radish seeds. There were tons left on the store shelves, tsk tsk! Not sure why people don't eat more Radishes, but they are excellent to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, as well as helping to mop up fat and aid with weight loss....
Back to the field: I went and explored an area of the field that I haven't ever before. It was an area that was pretty much bare because they had previously dredged up all the plants. Weeds beings weeds, there were some prime weeds that had started to repopulate the space, Red Clover being one of them. While no flowers yet, the leaves were fine looking, some with chevrons and some without. I collected a fair amount, to dry and add to the soup pot come the fall and winter months :)
I then walked to an area close to where the field was enclosed by a fence.
Ah yes, that is whom I thought might be growing there.
In fact, when I had walked along on the other side of the fence the last time I had visited Bellefield, I had noticed Lamb's Q growing there but was unable to harvest her because of that fence.
But now, there I was and there she was, this tall plant that came up to my waist and that had thick green stems streaked with purple.
Yep, purple = oxalic acid, so you know I'm going to be cooking her before pureeing her into a pesto!
YAY! I was happy to have found some fresh greens for my pesto, in fact, there were 2 other Lamb's Q plants growing nearby, one as large as the first one and the second a bit smaller.
I confess that I stripped them all naked, but being an invasive weed--- where on the other side of the street there was a disturbed area with what looked like tons of Lamb's Q--- I didn't feel too bad.
I did thank the plants for their food and energy, and on walking back the way I came, I noticed some other infant Lamb's Qs had also started to take up residence and started repopulating the bare earth alongisde the Clover.
See, enough magic for everyone to go around :)
I wasn't much up to taking pics, not sure if it was the plants or me (probably me), but I did take a few. In fact, I noticed a few Evening Primrose plants (one was really big, about the size of Burdock minor), and some Jewelweed growing right close to the water.
After leaving the field, I decided to have a look-see behind the mall.
Yep, the city usually does that during the summer and all the plants were gone.
I hadn't really been foraging there much, there were mainly Sow Thistles growing there and I haven't felt like juicing.
I then slowly rode along an alleyway close by, noticed a few Dock plants, but nothing that sparked me to stop.
I passed by the Rose bushes before heading home. It will soon be Rose Hip harvest time! Time to collect the hips to make some vitamin-C rich cream for my face :) Might make some jelly or jello, will see.
I cooked the Chokecherries I collected from work, then mashed them with my hands before straining the liquid using a nut milk bag. Tomorrow it will be Chokecherry jello time, where I'll add in some sweet juice to the gelatin to counteract the sourness from the Chokecherries.
Alrighty m'dear sunshine, you have been right-side sunny up these past several days and I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot more of your burning brightness on the next foraging adventure :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: