Thursday, May 24, 2012

5 Facts About Nettles

1. Feed them to your poultry, and they act as a natural de-wormer.

2. A 1-cup portion of nettles provide 369-493 percent of you're daily value of Vitamin D.

3. Drinking nettle tea can help reduce joint pain, fight allergies, and clear your sinuses.

4. Just a small handful of nettle leaves provide more than 100% of your daily value of Vitamin A.

5. Nettles contain 40% protein, an amount unheard of in vegetables.

Talk About Living Off The Land!!!

"You sure you want to eat that, Bean?" Questioned my grandmother as I took a heaping spoonful of, what I believed to be, cooked spinach.
"Yeah, why? Don't you like it?" I replied. She just gave me a look and turned back to the stove. "I like spinach." I continued, "We never eat it just plain, like this." Then, as I caught Mum smiling at me, something clicked. "Oh! Is that nettles?"

Funny as it seems, it occurred to me to be a very likely possibility. After all, Mum had recently printed a Swedish recipe off the internet for nettle soup, and just that morning had commented on how the dangerous weeds were popping up in the strawberry bed. And I was right. She had harvested them that morning.

I smiled, pleasantly surprised, and sat down to eat. Yes, I was nervous...I'd been stung by nettles enough to know that eating one that had not been properly cleaned would result in a rather unpleasant experience, but I was curious, none the less. Dad then entered the kitchen, and started fixing himself a plate. "Spinach!" Mum whispered urgently at me, pointing to the green heap on my plate, "spinach!", so I nodded and played along.

We went through dinner quietly, with only small talk, until Dad finished and leaned back in his chair. "That was good, Mom." He said.
"How'd you like the spinach?" She inquired.
"Good, different. We don't usually eat that."
"Good." She replied with a straight face, "Because it wasn't spinach. That's nettles."
"No sa!" My Dad laughed, "Really?"

We all agreed that they tasted, and certainly looked, exactly like spinach. Although certainly not the best thing you'll ever eat, the nettles didn't taste as bitter as we would have initially thought. We can't wait to try them in something, like a quiche. And so, that was our first experience eating nettles. But how did Mum actually prepare them, you ask?

To harvest nettles, pick the top leaves off the plant (make sure to wear gloves! They are called Stinging Nettles for a reason). Then rinse them in water, and boil for ten minutes. This will be enough time to rid the nettles of their sting. Rinse the nettles again in cold water, which will ensure they keep the bright green color! You can either eat them plain as a side-dish, or as a substitute for spinach in your favorite recipe. If you will be freezing them for future use, make sure to squeeze as much of the water as you can out, because they do hold a lot of moisture.

The water you boiled the nettles in will have turned a brown color; save this water and use it on your plants, or to prepare nettle tea. Directions on tea making will come soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rainy Day Doughnuts

When the weather takes a turn for the worse, it can mean only one thing for our family: Rainy Day Doughnuts! This is a new take on the 'originals' that my grandmother makes. They make an awesome treat for breakfast, or a sweet snack in the afternoon.

Pillsbury Biscuit Dough
Vegetable Oil
Powdered Sugar


1. To begin, open the package of dough and separate the rolls.  Using  a doughnut hole cutter, punch out the middle of each roll. Save this middle part to make 'munchkins'. If you do not have a doughnut hole cutter, simply make a hole using your fingers.

2. Next, pour vegetable oil into a cast iron skillet, until there is about an inch of oil in the pan. Once this oil has heated up, drop doughnuts and doughnut holes into the skillet. The doughnuts will begin to brown and raise. It takes them only a minute to do this; once one side is cooked, flip them over with a fork and cook the other side.

3. To make a glaze, mix powdered sugar, milk, and a little vanilla in a bowl, until you get the right amount and consistency. Dunk doughnuts and doughnut holes into the glaze; allow to drip on a wire wrack before serving.

And there you have it! Quick, fun Rainy Day Doughnuts. If you'd like, try experimenting with different frostings and flavored glazes to discover your favorite.

Monday, May 21, 2012

NH Farmer-Wife

So, hi, I'm Gillian. I'm a 15 year-old high school student living in NH, and my Mum is Carla. Actually, she's the reason I'm writing this blog.

Someone once said to my mom, "You're such a farmer's wife!", to which Mum quickly replied, "I'm no Farmer's Wife, I'm a Farmer-Wife!". She was right! Not to say that my dad doesn't help out around our family homestead, it just seems that the pioneering spirit runs deeper in Mum's veins than in his. 

I've been toying with the idea of writing a blog about my mom for a while, mainly because there's so much material. Mum homeschools my brother and I, is the leader of our amazing 4H club, and runs her own machine quilting business. She owns four horses, enjoys fox hunting, and has been teaching herself to ride side-saddle! She also grows veggies for our table, cans peaches and makes jam, butchers chickens, hatches eggs, sews, and heats our entire house by wood. She truly wears many hats (literally! we're also really into vintage-style clothes!). 

Another reason I thought writing this might be nice is because her quilting customers are always asking her questions. Some of the long distance ones are curious about our lifestyle here in New England, seeing they've never been able to visit our beloved family farm. Maybe this will provide a peek into the (sometimes hectic) Yankee family life.  

I'm sitting downstairs in the sewing room with Mum. Through the door, I can distinctly hear the sound of The Simpsons coming from the living room...we simply can't leave the boys (my brother, AJ, and Dad) together, apparently, without them getting into some mischief we don't put up with when we're in the room... :)

So, this ends our first post! I now officially take on the role of Dr. Watson, carefully recording the happenings of my brilliant friend, Sherlock...

...but I call her 'Mum'