Hi, I am Wilma.
I am Julia’s friend. We met at her workshop and we clicked. Unfortunately I now live in Kaikohe, Northland and I miss her. There is so much to learn, so many questions to ask my friend. Sure I have books and hers but somehow in my eyes the real plants never look the same as in the picture. Yes, I have made an appointment with an optometrist but somehow I don’t think new glasses will make a difference.
It is no surprise that hearing about edible weeds excited me. John and I are totally committed to feeding ourselves from the garden but having moved around so much, establishing a garden takes time. I know how to eat Cavolo Nero in a million different ways because that veggie was always the fast growing one but when the weed lover made it clear to me that there was always more to eat than just my Cavolo Nero I loved Julia on the spot.
So home I went to look for weeds and dazzle John with an extended menu. Hmm, with her they were so visible, for me they were hiding. Where were they? Honestly I could not even find Chickweed or Plantain. John came proudly with some Plantain he found, he too looked forward to a change in diet, but even I could see (Ok after a second close look at the leaves AND the plant) that they were leaves from a Lilly type of plant.
However when Julia came to visit her weedy friends immediately made themselves visible to her!
She found Chickweed, Mallow, Mint, Plantain, Herb Robert, Dandelions, Dove Geranium, Penny Royal and more and all these were growing under my nose and I couldn’t see them.
She even made a steamed dish with some of them. I have forgotten what she used so next up is to ask her what she picked AND where, so I can steam some too.
Then my smoothies, hideous they were. Here my weed adoring friend went too far, I thought; what on earth was yummy about them. Who was she fooling until I tasted hers. I know she gives recipes in her book but a few green leaves were not good enough in my book. With enough Cavolo Nero to feed an army I could do better than a few leaves. I picked and picked, stuffed all the leaves in the blender with dandelion and a meagre apple for ‘taste’ and both John and I gave up on smoothies pretty fast after a few of those ghastly concoctions. Apart from causing us to overdose on oxalic acid I also caused us to give up smoothies; I told you I need my friend……. so when she made her smoothie while she was here I learned a thing or two.
I am obviously nowhere near putting weeds on my daily menu yet. Until I can go out with the flair and eye of my weed fairy friend I need my hand held. She is too far away to do that literally so I thought to create an online support mechanism. I write my questions and doubts; Julia can give me answers and confidence. It seemed a shame to keep all her wisdom and my mistakes to ourselves in a private exchange, thus Julia will publish our conversations on her website. Rest assured, my ego has been dented eons ago and the weeds can do with the attention.
Enjoy, learn and give the weeds the kudos they deserve.
And of course if you like to join the fray, you are most welcome.
Hey Julia, before I sign off I want to ask you what on earth you steamed that day when you were visiting us. With all the weeds that I can find none make sense to steam so please help me out.
We get people for lunch on Saturday so maybe I can surprise them with a weedy dish, you reckon?
thanks so much for writing and starting this lively exchange about our weed friends! I too am sorry you are now so far away. It was a lot of fun visiting you near Kaikohe and discovering what you had in the garden you are care taking. It was even more fun foraging amongst the many herbs and vegetables with you showing you which ones we could eat. Me getting all excited to find them and you going “oh that’s what that is.”
I honestly can’t for the life of me remember what I steamed, but I can whip up some suggestions. There was a nice patch of wild mustard with big leaves that you called Māori mustard. I’m sure I picked a handful and also speedwell as you had heaps of it, along with chickweed, creeping mallow for the mucilage,
winter cress (photo left to remind you which one that is) for its spiciness, hawksbeard for the bitters and any green like some kale. But you know all about kale.
If I was doing it again I’d add some Salvation Jane. This is a pretty purple flowered weed totally new to me with leaves very similar to borage. We don’t have it in the Bay of Plenty. I had to find out what it is and discovered it has two names either ‘Patterson’s curse’ or ‘Salvation Jane’. Coming from Australia where it is either cursed for invading after bush fires or cherished when there’s nothing else for animals to eat. Horses shouldn’t eat it though. I read cautions about it online for humans because it is in the same family as comfrey and borage which I know are edible. I remember we asked the nature spirits about eating it and were given the ok to eat small amounts. Steaming would also lessen the effects. Since you have it in abundance I’d start eating it.
Once you’ve steamed the weeds and greens squeeze some lemon juice over them, add some salt and some olive oil and you have a yummie vegetable dish! Let me know how you get on.
Love from Julia