Herbal Medicine

Warming Winter Congee Recipe

As the cold and dark of winter settles in it’s important that we eat rich and warming foods. These foods are easy to digest , warm us from within and are good for our immune systems.  Congee is a simple rice porridge found throughout Asia that fits the bill.  Congee is slow cooked rice with different herbs, vegetables, meats and spices. Congee can be made sweet and aromatic, with herbs like cinnamon and cloves, or it can be made rich and nourishing with additions like bone broth and chicken.  The possibilities are endless but the basic concept of warming nutritious food remains the same.
 
Here is a basic congee recipe to get you started. This is a richer version great for combatting the cold and strengthening the immune system.
 
Garlic Ginger Congee
 
1 cup white or brown rice
6-8 cups bone broth, stock, or water
3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 inch of ginger, minced or grated
Salt, shoyu, or plum vinegar to taste
 
Add all ingredients to a big pot and bring to a boil.  
Reduce the heat to low and cover.  
Cook for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.
The rice will break down and the congee will thicken.  
Add salt or tamari to taste.  
 
There is a lot of room for experimentation with congee! You can add other vegetables like carrots, bok choy, or broccoli. You can also try adding sliced chicken or fish. Add these ingredients towards the last 10-30 minutes of cooking so they aren’t over cooked.  

Garlic Ginger Congee Recipe

Time For Nettles!

Kopiva.JPG

Right now young shoots of stinging neetle plants are popping up all over Oregon. They can sting you so be careful handling these pokey plants.  The leaves and stems, which have small spines on them will cause mild skin irritation and itching when they touch the skin.  However, it is well worth the effort to harvest these delectable plants.  

The stinging neetle is rich in vitamins and minerals.  It also contains active compounds that reduce inflammatory cytokines in our bodies.  It is used in the treatment of arthritis, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.  

Due to their high mineral content stinging neeltes promote hair and finger nail health. Nettles are often found in shampoos and other care products.  They are also often used in formulas to nourish the blood and improve circulation.   

Stinging neetles are easy to harvest.  Check local regulations regarding harvesting plants. Be sure to bring gloves, a good bag and cutting shears!

Once the plants are collected they can be cooked into foods, made into alcohol tinctures or boiled into tea.  Once thoroughly cooked the stinging fibers of the neetle become neutralized.  

Images From Wikipedia

Stinging Nettle Recipes

Image Credit:   Kopiva.JPG

Image Credit: Kopiva.JPG

Chickpea & Nettle Soup

This is a hearty and satisfying soup.  It is filling and warming, richly peppered with warm aromatic spices.  This soup is a lovely addition to a cool spring evening.  

Ingredients:
Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
A baking potato, peeled and diced
Two white onions, peeled and sliced
Garlic to your liking
Spices such as cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, or star anise
Lots of fresh nettle tops
A can of chickpeas
Vegetable stock, six cups

Making soup isn't particularly difficult. Experiment with these ingredients and have fun making this soup.  

Lightly fry the spices in the oil until they become aromatic. Don't overheat them, this will change their flavor.  Remove the spices and add the onion and fry in the oil until soft. Then throw in the potatoes.  Cook for a just a couple minutes before covering with stock. Heat to a simmer until the potatoes are cooked then blend the soup.

Wash the nettles removing any thick stems and any dirt. Wear gloves for this part of the process. Cook them in rapidly boiling salt water then drain them in a colander. Chop up the nettles and add them to the soup.  Pour in the can of drained chickpeas. Heat throughly and serve. 

Nettle Aloo

In Indian cuisine potato and spinach is a mainstay.  It is know as aloo saag, literally "potato and spinach". This recipe simply replaces the spinach with stinging nettles giving the dish a fresh and delicious flavor.  

Ingredients:
One large white onion, finely chopped
Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped
One teaspoon of mustard seeds
Two teaspoons black onion seeds
Two teaspoons fenugreek seeds
Salt and pepper
2-3 potatoes, depending on size, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
Nettles, lots.

Blanch the nettles in boiling water then drain in a colander. Finely chop them and set them to one side.

Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes. Stop before they are fully cooked.

Fry the spices in oil, lower the heat then add the onion and cook until soft. Add in the garlic and then the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are soft throughout then add the chopped nettles. Cook the greens down with a little water if necessary, season and serve with rice or another curry.

Thanks to Alex Rushmer for these lovely recipes!