Posts Tagged ‘Homesteading’

I found a post by WideOpenSpaces today that had a nice, simple deer butchering chart:

Click to go to Wide Open Spaces

Click to go to Wide Open Spaces

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Useful Herbs: Stinging Nettle

(You can also find this at the Expat Prepper)

I’ve always been fascinated by herbs, the different smells, flavors, medicinal and other uses never fails to astound me.   Think about it for a minute – how HUNGRY did the first person to EAT a stinging nettle have to be?  How did early humans discover the various uses for these herbs?  (I always imagine the downtrodden, much picked on Thag being poked with a stick and told ‘you eat that or we beat you, then, if you die, we no eat it.  Now eat!’)

There isn’t any deep or special relationship between my life and stinging nettles, my most memorable encounter with the plant was around 1980 at Camp Asbury in northern Ohio, and that encounter was me running as fast as my adolescent legs could carry me during a game of hide-and-seek, which in this case ran me right through about a fifty yard wide patch of nettles while wearing 80’s gym shorts, a tee shirt, socks and tennis shoes.   If you’ve ever had a bad encounter with the plant, at this point, you’re either wincing or your eyes are crossing thinking about the result.

220px-Nettle_Sting

The only reason I decided to use stinging nettles for the first herb to discuss on this blog is simple: I flipped through ‘The Random House Book of Herbs,’ by Roger Phillips & Nicky Foy looking for rosemary and thyme, two herbs I’ve grown in my back yard for years, and saw the entry for stinging nettles.  One wince of memory later and I decided to explore what can be done with this obnoxious plant. That being said, here we go…

Urtica Dioica

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“Nettle, or stinging nettle, is a perennial plant growing in temperate and tropical wasteland areas around the world. The plant has been naturalized in Brazil and other parts of South America. It grows 2 to 4 meters high and produces pointed leaves and white to yellowish flowers. Nettle has a well-known reputation for giving a savage sting when the skin touches the hairs and bristles on the leaves and stems. The genus name Urtica comes from the Latin verb urere, meaning ‘to burn,’ because of these stinging hairs. The species name dioica means ‘two houses’ because the plant usually contains either male or female flowers. (Taylor, 2012)

According to multiple sources, stinging nettle has been used for centuries to treat various types of pain, urinary issues including infections and an enlarged prostate, sinus pain, and insect bites.  “Scientists think nettle does this by reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals.” (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011)  Based on that, you would think that nettles are a miracle, wouldn’t you?  According to WebMD: “People use the root and above ground parts as medicine. Stinging nettle is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.” (WebMD, 2013)  Call me a skeptic, but anytime a corporation finds something that grows for free that people can use and bypass paying for a product, they tend to eradicate it or demonize it.   If stinging nettles didn’t provide some use, I don’t think the remedies would have stuck around for hundreds of years, being passed down from generation to generation.  NOW, I can probably spend an hour thinking of sixty different examples of ‘well, they kept doing this stupid sh#t, didn’t they?’ but we’re talking about PAIN RELIEF here, and I know in my experience, people have a pretty damn good idea when pain relief is working or not.

Moving on to the what, why and how of the piece, let’s start with medicinal uses, and then move on to culinary uses.  ***PLEASE NOTE*** Consult your doctor before using herbs for medicinal uses, this is for informational, survival and survival prep purposes, if NOT in those situations, ALWAYS consult a doctor before trying any of these remedies. ****

Stinging Nettle Medicinal Uses

  • Congestion
  • Coughs
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bronchitis
  • Laryngitis
  • Consumption
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatism
  • Gout
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Loss of muscle power
  • Paralysis*
  • Hay Fever
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Asthma
  • Hives
  • Sciatica
  • Neuralgia
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fever

(Various sources list MANY uses, far beyond this list; however, if a treatment is mentioned by multiple sources, it is in bold type.  Sources include: (Taylor, 2012) (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011) (Vance) (WebMD, 2013))

Preparation of Stinging Nettle for use

Traditional Preparation: Both the root and the leaves are traditionally prepared as infusions. Dosages depend on what one is taking it for. In herbal medicine systems, as a healthy prevention to prostate difficulties or to maintain prostate health, one-half cup of a root infusion 2-3 times weekly is recommended (2-3 ml of a root tincture or 2-3 g of powdered root in capsules or tablets can be substituted if desired). The natural remedy for BPH is one-half cup of a root infusion 2-3 times daily for 30-90 days. (2-3 ml of a root tincture or 2-3 g in capsules or tablets 2-3 times daily can be substituted if desired.) For allergies, inflammation, and hypertension: one cup of a leaf infusion is taken twice daily in traditional medicine systems. This also can be substituted by taking 3-4 g of leaf tablets/capsules twice daily. (Taylor, 2012)

Preparation of Stinging Nettle Tea

Find the Right Plant: Ideally, you want a plant that is small enough you can comfortably reach the parts you will need for the tea. I find that younger nettles tend to produce a better quality tea.

Cut off The Leaves: The leaves are where the principal goodness of this plant is stored. Cut off as many leaves as you feel would make a decent cup of tea.

Boil Your Water and Serve:  Boil your water, add the leaves. You may wish to do this in a separate container, as it’s always difficult to gauge the correct amount of water and leaves you will need for a single cup.

Allow it to Infuse. This is incredibly important! Unless you allow the tea to infuse for at least 10 minutes, the sting will still be there – ouch! (Low, 2011)

After searching around for quite a bit, tea seems to be the most common use other than drying and powdering the leaves to use in capsules (or simply take like a headache powder.)  Dosage is all over the place.  I did find a recipe for a hair tonic that was basically the tops of stinging nettles combined with white vinegar, however I doubt a shining head of hair is high on ‘must prepare for disaster’ lists other than with the film and stage group of people.  Searching any of the links at the end of this article will give information on how to prepare stinging nettles, though be prepared to dig, even the recipes I found for curing ailments seem to skip the steps between finding this plant and using “X” milligrams.

Culinary uses of Stinging Nettle

               Other than the tea recipe above, which could be placed in the culinary section, references list using stinging nettles everywhere you would use baby spinach.  “…they are rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, flavonoids, histamine, and serotonin—all the great chemicals one needs to reenergize after a cold winter and to combat spring allergies.” (Diehl, 2013)  The author continues to detail how to harvest nettles without getting stung, including washing and blanching the leaves at a slight simmer for ten minutes, and includes a link to nettle soup.

On one of my favorite culinary websites, Hunter – Angler – Gardener- Cook, Hank Shaw has a growing list of recipes, including one for using stinging nettles to make pasta, and another to make nettle pesto.  Just because you are in a survival situation doesn’t mean half-cooked rabbit on a stick. (Every time I see ‘something dead 3’ above a campfire in a movie, I wince, those shots are made and directed by folks who have NEVER tried to do that.  On the flip side, the hobbits in Lord of the Rings put their CAST IRON pan right on a small bed of coals to cook bacon.  They were doing it right.)

“We made quick work of the two grocery bags’ worth of nettles. Like all greenery, it shrinks massively in the blanching process. After its bath in the ice water, I set the now stingless nettles in a colander to drain. I pressed it to release more water (which I could have drunk as nettle tea), and then put it into a kitchen towel.

Here’s an important part to prepping any green potherb, not just nettles. Take the towel and roll the greens in it like a candy wrapper: One end twists one way, the other end twists the opposite way. Squeeeeze! More blue-green liquid runs out. Now you’re done. You now have prepped stinging nettles, ready to be frozen in a vacuum-seal bag or Ziploc, or cooked in any number of ways.

strettine-cooked

This is your standard prep when dealing with nettles. Is it worth it? You bet. Unlike acorns, there is no shortage of information about the benefits of Urtica dioica, the common stinging nettle. Even within the smallish world of the food bloggers I can think of more than a dozen experiments and posts, my favorites of which I will list below.” (Shaw, 2010)

As you can see, Hank Shaw thinks a lot of stinging nettles, and honestly, though I’ve never eaten one at this point, if he thinks they are worth the time and trouble, so do I.   Spend some time at his website, and you’ll come to trust his judgment too, it turns ‘we shot a deer, how do we cook it?’ into a wide range of great tasting options, rather than ‘kill it and grill it or smoke it.’

I hope you enjoyed this short foray into one of the many useful herbs.  I’ll keep digging around for other found-in-the-wild gifts to somebody surviving and write more soon.

Dyrewulf

Diehl, K. (2013). About.com Scandinavian Food. Retrieved 4 16, 2013, from About.com: http://scandinavianfood.about.com/od/cookingtechniques/ss/Nettles.htm

Low, K. (2011, 1 21). ilmdamaily. Retrieved 4 16, 2013, from http://ilmdamaily.hubpages.com/: http://ilmdamaily.hubpages.com/hub/Stinging-Nettle-Tea-How-Why-You-Should-Make-It

Shaw, H. (2010, 1 28). Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Retrieved 4 16, 2013, from honest-food.net: http://honest-food.net/2010/01/28/grasping-the-nettle/

Taylor, L. (2012, 12 18). Raintree. Retrieved 4 16, 2013, from http://www.rain-tree.com: http://www.rain-tree.com/nettles.htm#.UW2CvLWTh8E

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Complementary Medicine. Retrieved 4 16, 2013, from http://www.umm.edu: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/stinging-nettle-000275.htm

Vance, K. (n.d.). Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Legacy. Retrieved 4 16, 2013, from http://www.herballegacy.com: http://www.herballegacy.com/Vance_Medicinal.html

WebMD. (2013). Find a Vitamin or Supplement. Retrieved 4 16, 2013, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-664-STINGING%20NETTLE.aspx?activeIngredientId=664&activeIngredientName=STINGING%20NETTLE

Just a heads-up: I’ll also be doing some writing and cross-posting at a friend of mine’s site, The Expat Prepper.

expat

Click to go to the site

 

The site will be short survival preparedness and survival tips and tricks posts, head over and check it out.

Thanks

Niko

Ok – I’m winging this recipe.  The goal is to make a nice, shredded beef stuffing, top it with the white cheddar, slap ciabatta on either side with some horseradish sauce and eat hearty.  (Resisting temptation to quote ‘300’ at this point.)

Onions, peppers and garlic simmering in merlot and beef drippings

Onions, peppers and garlic simmering in merlot and beef drippings

 

Beef_roast

I’ve already browned this cut up chuck roast in canola oil with salt and pepper. The roast was marinated in Brisket Sauce and Liquid Smoke for an hour.

ciabatta_bread

No explanation needed.

The recipe is pretty basic: marinate a cut of beef, in this case a cut up chuck roast.  Brown it fast in canola oil, with salt and pepper, then deglaze the pan with red wine, add onions, peppers and garlic, more salt and pepper, and when the vegetables soften, return the beef to the pan and pour Coca Cola over top until level with the meat.  I also added (roughly) one teaspoon of thyme, four cloves, and one teaspoon of basil.  I’ll cook the beef in my heavy Dutch oven at 315 for 6-7 hours, then shred, and the wife and I can add whatever sauce we prefer (she prefers none) to the meat before making our sandwiches.

Ingredients:

Beef roast (or flank steak, it can be a cheap cut really)

1 onion

1 bell pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp basil

1-2 tsp salt and pepper (to taste)

2-4 cloves

1 cup red wine

1 cup water

1/2  to 1 can of Coca Cola (or soda of choice, I like Coke for the acidity)

Dash of canola oil

heavy pot or Dutch oven

From the Wild Turkey Zone — by Rob Ramsdale —
Field dressing is essentially gutting the bird in the field while leaving the feathers on. Removing the guts or entrails is important to help allow the bird to cool faster and to keep the “juices” inside the bird from spoiling any meat. If it is a cool day and you aren’t far from home, you can skip the field dressing step and wait until you are home before cleaning the bird.
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Here are the steps for gutting or field dressing a wild turkey.

  1.     Lay the turkey on its back.
  2.     Follow the breast down to the rear of the bird until it narrows to a point between the legs.
  3.     Pull up on the tip and cut the bird open by making a shallow horizontal incision (through the skin only) between the tip of the breast and the vent (anus). It helps to pull out a few of the feathers in this spot so you can cut more easily.
  4.     Make the incision large enough to insert your hand and pull out the entrails, making sure to pull out the heart and lungs.
  5.     Cut around the vent (anus) by carefully following the intestine back and then cutting around its exterior. This is where you need to be careful since you don’t want any of the intestine’s contents getting on the turkey.
  6.     Remove the crop (sac-like thing filled with what the turkey’s been eating) by making a cut on the neck of the turkey and reaching down and removing the crop located at the top of the breast.
  7.     Rinse out with water and wipe with paper towels if you have these available.
Click to read more!

Click to read more!

 

In my never ending quest to find more stuff for you folks, I found an interesting web site just now: “Honest Food.”  The recipes and culinary know-how looks very good so far, and I will be picking one of the recipes to share later.  For now, head over to Honest Foods and check out the wealth of information.

sliced-venison-heart

Click to visit Honest-Food.net

Most of the sites I visit start with the idea that you’ve already got the ingredients prepped and ready to start a recipe, this author has a more comprehensive approach, in other words, the author starts assuming you’ve obtained your game, what next?

 

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The Real Avid booth also has Zippo products – the most interesting Zippo item I handled was this Axe/Saw/Hammer – it’s STOUT too, not some flimsy thing.

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Click the image to go to ARC’s website!

 

I loved this product – it’s a hollow handle, with multiple kits available. One for limb-trimming/sawing, one for game processing, etc. The blades change in a similar fashion to an X-Acto blade, and there is an accessory which enables you to use any limb roughly the right size as an extension pole. Very cool!

Ok, easy to make, but somewhat boring.  I mean, VERY boring.   I have a long-standing interest in making recipes simple to use if possible.  In this case, that meant I bought pre-made pie crusts (Pilsbury), precut and half-cooked potatoes and onions, and some other quick-to-use items as a way to make this a quick process.
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I used one small ‘rutabaga,’ or turnip, and minced it fairly small, my wife doesn’t like turnips very much.  I also used my grater to make quick work of the carrot, it saves time, it’s safer than chopping the carrot up with one of my knives when I’m running on 10 hours sleep over three days, and the cooked results are impossible for the wife to pick out of her food.

After combining the potatoes, carrots, turnip and ground beef, I added some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Using the pre-made pie crusts like this works very well for a lot of recipes, I don’t like the pre-made, pre-formed pie crusts, the ones in the disposable pie tins, because they’re usually a lot drier and often broken.  The Pilsbury ones are very nice, sealed, and just need brought up to room temperature to be perfectly workable.

One of the things I learned is to pay more attention to the meat and vegetable ratio in mixing the filling.  I was VERY tired this morning when I got off of work, and since I was trying to modify the recipes I’d read over the weekend, I didn’t even think about measuring and balancing the stuffing mix.  I ended up adding too little meat, not by a large margin, but I could have had about a quarter pound more meat. The grocery store didn’t have any ground pork this morning, and with my lack of sleep I didn’t feel like buying pork and grinding it (though usually I like doing that) so the filling was just a little lacking in flavor.

As a final note on the filling, by failing to measure the ingredients, I ended up with a bit more than I could use for four pasties, which lead to me overstuffing the last two pasties a bit, and still having a handful left over to pan fry for an eggs-and-hash breakfast while the pasties were cooking.

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Stuffing the pasties is straightforward – lay out your 9″ dough, put your filler on one half, leaving plenty of room to crimp the edges, fold, brush the edge with water and crimp. Afterwards, I cut three vent holes in the top of each pasty and baked at 350′ for an hour.  One thing I should mention that I forgot at this point: most of the recipes called for adding a tablespoon of butter to the filling before folding and crimping, and I forgot to add the butter. Luckily, halfway through baking, I remember this, and the vent holes I cut were large enough for me to put a cut piece of margarine in the top of each without much trouble.

I should point out that my long-term intention here is to make this recipe MINE. I want to be able to say “Ok, I’ve got odds and ends in the fridge… how about a chicken and broccoli Pasty with cheese sauce?”  or “Time to make some venison sausage pasties to take to hunting camp.” The base recipe I’m using is just to get myself used to the process and iron out any issues I could have later, and it worked perfectly to accomplish those points.
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The end results were decent – two of the tops split, probably because I tried to overstuff the last two so I wouldn’t have any stuffing left over. I think these needed cheese, a bit more meat or a mix of meats, and possibly some more onion.

When I make pot roast, I always have a lot of left overs, quite on purpose I should add.  I make  a lovely pot roast hash with eggs and sourdough toast the next day, or simply reheat the leftovers.  In this case, I’ve found a nearly perfect use for leftover pot roast.  Use some of the broth to make a savory gravy and use chopped potatoes, celery, carrots and roast with just enough gravy to bind it together in pasties.

I could do the same with turkey, chicken, venison, etc. etc.  These show promise.  I know this isn’t rocket science, or some rare meat in aspic with truffles, but the entire point is to have PRACTICAL recipes to both make food and life more interesting, and to use left overs more efficiently, since unless it’s my lasagna, my wife shuns leftovers. (She’d fight the Avengers for my lasagna. She’d probably win, too.)

I’ll close up by saying this: the end result of my experiment was edible, but boring. When I woke up this afternoon, I reheated one of the pasties after pouring part of a jar of ‘Savory Beef Gravy’ over it, with a bit of Chipotle Tabasco on top, and that was fantastic.  So, adding a bit of gravy saved the day.

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Don’t forget – the best soup stock in the world can be made from the rest of the turkey after deboning.   I just put a nice freezer bag full of connective tissue, bones, and odd bits of roasted turkey skin in the freezer.  There are  a lot of recipe sites that have more precise recipes for stock, but this is what I do:

One rough chopped white onion

Two cut up carrots

Three stalks of celery, rough chopped

Dried savory and/or marjoram

Two tablespoons of salt (this is important START LIGHT ON THE SALT! You can adjust it later, but reducing the stock towards the end will INCREASE the salty flavor, so DON’T GO OVERBOARD)

One tablespoon of black pepper

One half cup of fresh cut parsley (Optional – you can add fresh parsley to the soup, but I like doing both.)

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I put the bones and above ingredients in the largest stockpot I have filled two-thirds full of cold water and bring it to a boil.  I let it boil for 8-10 minutes, then reduce to a light simmer for 2-3 HOURS, uncovered.  Taste the broth to see how salty it is at this point, but don’t add any salt yet.

I then strain the broth to get the bones and whatnot out, this isn’t a precision strain, just a regular wire-mesh strainer to catch all the big bits, there should still be some cloudy bits in the soup from fine particles of turkey meat etc.  I like those.

After straining, I return the broth to a MEDIUM simmer, trying to reduce by one quarter to one third to concentrate the flavors.  Once you think you’re ready to cut the heat (another 2-3 hours the last time I did this) then taste the broth again, and add salt if desired. Only add a small amount, like half a tablespoon, at a time, stir it well, then taste it again, it’s not really difficult to cut the sodium flavor, but why have to work to get something out of the soup when you can just prevent adding too much to begin with.

At this point, I put a tiny, tiny PINCH (like, probably ten grains) of SUGAR in the broth.

After that, it’s just a matter of using the broth, storing the broth, or both.

Enjoy!