The Cafe in the Woods goes GREEN….

Actually, seeing that this is a virtual blog, it’s not really green (unless you count the new header picture,) But I am pleased to announce that our household has become a bit more environmental-conscious. Well, I have, anyway. The hubby and kid just goes along with it.

I’ve been looking into organic eating before we moved from Chicago. Some friends of ours from Chicago had moved to Wisconsin a couple of years ago and now ran their own farm. Their tales of organic farming and eating made me rethink our own eating habits. I wanted us to have a healthier lifestyle–not necessarily turning into vegans, mind you, but I wanted to bring more vegetables into our diet and cut back on meat. Problem is, it’s not that easy to do. Organic food is somewhat pricey, as you all well know. The only way that we would be able to eat organic, I thought, was that we’d make a deal with a farm somewhere. I had started looking into that last year before circumstances caused me to absolutely forget it.

Then we moved to Wisconsin.

It seems like Madison overall has this green thing going–lots of bike paths everywhere, heavy emphasis on farmer’s markets. I guess that comes from the fact that the town’s situated in the middle of farmland. Where hubby and I work now is only about a mile away, a nice walking distance. But the best thing is that we’re now close to our friends who own the farm, and it just so happens that they have workshares: work a certain number of hours at their farm, and you get a box of veggies.

That’s right. I’m a temporary farmgirl now.

Every other weekend, I hop in the car and drive down to the farm where I help plant veggies, work with animals, and muck out stalls (though I haven’t done that yet, I’m sure my time will come). It’s hot, sweaty work, and if you don’t have a good pair of boots, then you’re better off going barefoot because flip-flops don’t work so well (as I learned last week). It’s humbling to know that the veggies I sow now will soon sit on our dinner plates. In fact, doing this workshare thing has made me more aware of what happens in farming communities, especially with the flooding that’s been occurring over the past couple of weeks.

It will be interesting to see how this will affect my writing. Already I know more about horses than I did before, and that will bring a major impact to my book writing. In the meantime, I’m going to get ready to pick up our veggie box. The first one we got had lettuce, chives and spinach, but it also had veggies I never had before, such as broccoli rabe, pea shoots and nettles. Nettles! People actually eat nettles? Well, we did, and man, was it goooooooooooood! So good, in fact, that I have to include the recipe I used it for. Maybe I’ll start doing this as a regular feature.

Sauteed Nettles with Green Garlic & Olive Oil
(Off the Mariquita Farms website)

Created by: Armando “Tiny” Maes of Lavanda

serves 6

1 ¼ # Nettles, Cleaned
3T Green Garlic (Chopped)
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (To Taste)

First preheat a large sauté pan on medium high heat, (one large enough to accommodate the nettles, you can even use a large pot as well). Second pour ¼ cup of the olive oil into the preheated pan. Then put all of the green garlic into the pan sauté briefly for about 30 seconds, just enough time for the green garlic to release its essential oils, being sure not to brown or burn the green garlic. Place the nettles into the pan and give it a good stir, let sit for just a second and then continue the stirring process. Once the nettles are completely wilted place them on a plate, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and place a couple of lemon wedges for garnish.

Note: The nettles do not have the water content like spinach or other similar greens. So it might help to put a couple Tablespoons of water into the pan after the nettles have started cooking, just to hurry the cooking process. Myself I do not put the water, because I like the texture of the nettles when you sauté them. It is like little crispy nettle leaves and it also brings about a certain nuttiness.


2 Responses

  1. I’m so glad you liked the nettles! I’ll try to get some more in the boxes before they flower and don’t taste as good. I myself love them in tea – a bonus is that the tea is very very green. Makes you feel fresh all over when you drink it cold on a hot day.

  2. This is great! My in laws have a small farm in Wisconsin and even sell some of their goods to local stores. It’s so refreshing for the body when you eat better.

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