Archive for April, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I know some of you have been waiting to see what happened to Cleo and the others, well the book is finished and its published. For those of you who want it, it is 4.99 at the kindle store: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, Cleopatra’s Journal. I am going to be working on a second book in this story. So soon I will be posting tidbits about Cleo’s Journal book 2.

 

Advertisements

Hello everyone, it’s been a while.

 

Well, I finally have the Journal finished. I am working on publishing it on my own now. I just wish I could spring for a professional edit and cover. Oh well. Life goes on. I will let you guys know the moment the book is published. Hope you all like it.

 

Cat

angiosperms-88466_640

Sometimes called coughwort, butterbur or the tash plant, coltsfoot is a valuable survival food that also has some good medicinal qualities.

The plant grows from a rhizome and can spread easily. An interesting trait of this wild herb is that the rhizomes put up leafless stalks, which bear the yellow flowers. After the flowers die back, the leaves grow out from the base of the stalk. The plant can grow up to a foot in height.

This plant isn’t native to North America, coming from England, Europe, Africa and Asia, but it has become naturalized. It grows in poor soils, so it is often found in waste places, along roadsides and in other areas that have nutritionally weak soil.

As a food, the leaves and flower stalks can be steamed or boiled. It can be added to soups, stews and cooked with meats. The flowers are occasionally used in salads and have a sweet taste, while the cooked leaves are mildly bitter. Rinsing after cooking can remove some of the bitterness. The leaves are occasionally dried and used as a substitute for salt.

NOTE: According to Japanese researchers, this plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. It should not be consumed by anyone who has a pre-existing liver ailment and it should not be eaten in large quantities, since liver damage can occur.

Coltsfoot has been used for a long time for coughs, wheezing, bronchitis, sore throat, congestion, sore mouth and inflammations. For this, it is usually made into a tea or occasionally smoked. This wild plant is considered to be one of the most useful for treating coughs of any sort.

While its worth as a food plant is limited and not on the order of many other wild plants, coltsfoot is still useful for someone who is looking for foods that will help them survive disasters.

The picture is by byrev, public domain, http://pixabay.com/en/angiosperms-coltsfoot-edge-flowers-88466/?oq=coltsfoot

Previous survival food: Dead nettle

dead-nettle-6248_640

Dead nettles are a European plant that has become naturalized in America and often now grows as a wildflower. Despite the name, this plant isn’t related to stinging nettles. Dead nettle is actually part of the mint family. The plant does have value for survivalists, however.

Dead nettle is an annual plant, normally blooming in the summer. The stems show the connection to the mint family, because they are noticeably and distinctly square in shape. This is very unlike the stems of stinging nettles. Also unlike Urtica dioica, dead nettles don’t ‘sting’. You can gather them with your bare hands without worry.

The stems can grow up to about two and a half feet tall and the lower part of the stem doesn’t have leaves growing from it. The rest of the stem has a multitude of leaves, usually a couple inches in length. The leaves grow in opposite pairs on the stem, and the pair of leaves above or below each pair grow a quarter turn around the stem. The leaves bear a striking resemblance to the deep veined appearance of peppermint leaves or to those of stinging nettles, which is how the plant gets its common name, in the latter case. When the leaves are young, they have a purplish tint that is quite attractive.

The flowers are tube shaped and are white to light purple, including the various shades between the two.

dead-nettle-320306_640

These plants prefer moist soils and are found growing along canal banks, in gardens, near forests and near streams. This trait is shared with stinging nettles and most kinds of mint.

For food, the plant can be steamed or put in soups and stews. The flavor is very mild, so it is good when served with stronger tasting foods. Steaming it with diced wild chive leaves is a good combination and it goes will with cooked dandelion greens. It can be cooked as a potherb and is edible raw as well. The flowers are also edible and sweet, making them good and colorful additions to green salads. The plant is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and it is very high in antioxidants.

This wild herb has some great medicinal properties, like so many wild foods. Tea made from dead nettles is good for treating inflammations and the tea has pain relieving properties. It is used to treat allergies, too. Additionally, the plant juices are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. The plant is astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic and mildly purgative, in addition to the properties already stated.

There is some disagreement among botanists as to whether dead nettles and henbit is the same plant, but is is a rather moot point as both are edible and can be used in the same ways.

This is a good plant for people to become acquainted with. In the event of disaster, dead nettle can be a great food source for people who are trying to survive. It is also a great wild food addition for hikers and campers.

The opening picture is of common dead nettle and it is public domain, taken by Jana, http://pixabay.com/en/dead-nettle-violet-spring-6248/
The second picture shows dead nettle with white blossoms. It was taken by ariesa66, is public domain as well, http://pixabay.com/en/dead-nettle-white-deadnettle-hummel-320306/

The last survival food in the series: Stinging nettles

Stinging nettle plant (Urtica dioica)

Stinging nettle plant (Urtica dioica)

Anyone who has inadvertently brushed up against stinging nettles probably remembers the painful experience, and probably quickly learned to identify the plant. This wild plant is covered with what appear to be fine hairs. Actually, they are silicon tubes, much like tiny glass tubes, each with a tiny bulb at the end. When a person brushes up against the plant, the bulb breaks off and the tube acts like a very sharp syringe, injecting the contents: Formic acid.

It is no wonder that this burns. Formic acid is the same base that contains the venom of stinging ants and certain bee stings.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time describing the plant, since the pain has probably etched the image of stinging nettles into your mind. However, this plant is widely distributed and is found in the Americas and in Europe.

Many people might find this surprising, but stinging nettles are a tremendously valuable survival food. Cooking the plant deactivates the formic acid and breaks down the silicon tubes. The hard part is in the collection, which should be done using gloves and wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt. Though even the mature plant is edible and contains health and nutrition benefits, after the plant is taller than about eight inches, the silicon becomes fixed and food made from it will have a gritty texture, rather as if a handful of sand has been added.

The young plant can be boiled or steamed and served as a potherb. It is excellent when it is steamed, before adding some milk and a pat of butter, to make cream of nettle soup. The soup is so delicious that some people collect stinging nettles every spring, when the plants are still young, specifically for this purpose.

Nutritionally, a cup of cooked nettles contains less than 40 calories and this is a good source of both protein and carbohydrates. It is very high in vitamin K, high in vitamin A, and is a good source of vitamin B6, ribovlavin, folate and niacin. It is also between high and extremely high in calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and copper. Nettles is a very good fiber source. At the same time, it is extremely low in fat and contains no cholesterol.

Medicinally, stinging nettles is used to treat arthritis, swollen joins, sore muscles, anemia, gout, sprains, tendinitis, hay fever, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure and it has diuretic and blood thinning properties. It is sometimes used to ease itching of insect bites, too.

The plant and the root can be dried, which also negates the formic acid, for later use as a tea for the medicinal benefits and treatments.

This is one of the most valuable wild herbs for survival and arguably one of the tastiest. It is so wide spread that it is also pretty easy to find some, except in drier places. The plant often grows along river banks since the roots do like being able to take a drink.

The picture is by byrev and is public domain: http://pixabay.com/en/acetylcholine-dioica-histamine-88521/

Last survival food in the series: Alfalfa

 

alfalfaWhen people think of survival foods, edible wild plants in particular, there is an excellent chance that they won’t often think about alfalfa. After all, alfalfa is widely grown, harvested, baled and fed to livestock. However, this is a very good food for surviving whatever holocaust might come your way.

To say that this plant is widespread would be understating it. It occurs in the wild, but its value as a high protein livestock feed has resulted in it being cultivated and grown almost everywhere except in the polar regions.

The leaves look quite a lot like those of clover, which alfalfa is related to. However, alfalfa can grow much taller than clover. With some support, the plant can easily reach above four feet in height.

The flowers are blue to purple and occur on a flower cluster that grows from one of the main stems. The clusters often have one to two dozen flowers in it. The flowers have a slight but sweet scent that is favored by bees and hummingbirds.

As a food, the young shoots and the leaves can be simply picked and eaten, they can be added to salads, they can be added to soups and stews and they can be steamed or boiled as a potherb. The flavor is sweet and mild. As a potherb, a pat of butter seems to bring out the sweetness. The stems tend to get a little tough, but they can still be cooked and eaten if they are chopped up. Since the flavor is sweet but bland, alfalfa leaves are sometimes added to potherbs that have a bitter or particularly strong taste.

The seeds are also edible when they are sprouted. Alfalfa sprouts are sometimes sold in stores for additions to sandwiches and salads, and they have a slightly nutty flavor.

This plant is quite high in vitamin K and is a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, magnesium, manganese and copper. The plant is also high in protein, which is of course the reason it is grown for livestock, and it also has a good amount of fiber.

Additionally, alfalfa has medicinal properties. Tea made from the fresh or dried leaves can be used to increase appetite, to stop bleeding including in women during menses and to treat digestive ulcers, it can lower cholesterol, it increases the number of white blood cells so it can help when a person is trying to overcome an infection, it is a powerful source of antioxidants and it has even been used to increase milk production for lactating mothers.

Safety note: The seeds shouldn’t be consumed by people who have ever suffered from Lupus.

Alfalfa may not be commonly consumed, but though it does have medicinal value, the nutritive value is great. The flavor is good, too. This is a plant that definitely belongs on the checklist of survival foods.

The picture is by Pollinator, creative commons share alike 3.0 attribute.

Last survival food post

Large burdock leaf

Large burdock leaf

Burdock is the bane of many gardeners and is considered a weed and a pest, but it is also a great survival food. It is native to Europe and has become naturalized throughout much of the world. The plant is biennial and is known for the seed pods that they produce and which are covered with hook-like appendages that hook on to fur, feathers and clothing easily, necessitating a good deal of time to pick out the burrs. This trait is how the plant gets its common name.

This plant shouldn’t be confused with cockleburs, but except for the burrs, the two plants don’t look much alike.

Though the first year burdock doesn’t usually grow very tall, in the second year it can reach nearly three feet in height. The leaves have wavy edges and taper to a point from a thick base. Some leaves can be large and have stalks that are a foot long. The flowers are purple in color.

The long, tapering tap root is quite edible, especially if it is from the first year plant. Older roots can become tougher, more fibrous and bitter and may need to be boiled in more than one change of water.

The roots are normally peeled and thinly sliced before boiling. These can be especially tasty when seasoned with soy sauce and ginger, or wild ginger. The roots, cooked with wild onions and chicken broth, can make a very agreeable chicken soup.

A cup of the root, sliced and boiled, has only about 110 calories and it is quite high in vitamin B6, as well as being a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, fiber, and a fair source of calcium and iron. The downside is that it contains about 300 mg of sodium in the cup serving.

The flowering stalks, while they are still young and before the flowers open, can also be peeled and eaten raw or boiled. Since burdock is related to globe artichokes, it isn’t surprising that the flavor is similar.

The roots and seeds also have good medicinal value and are usually dried and made into tea for this purpose. The tea is good for treating scruvy, stomach problems, rheumatism, menstruation, dropsy, kidney problems and as a general tonic. The infusion is also a diuretic, helping the body flush toxins from the system. Externally, the tea is useful for treating ulcers, sores, bruises and boils. The leaves can also be used medicinally, but they tend to be bitter when taken internally.

Burdock is a useful plant for anyone needing to survive, or even to make meals stretch a little further. There aren’t many places where it can’t be found growing, so foraging is usually uncomplicated. Some people even grow it on purpose, even though it is known as a weed.

The picture is by Hans, public domain image, http://pixabay.com/en/great-burdock-journal-large-green-62435/

Previous survival food: Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Portulaca_oleraceaThe purslane, also known as pigweed, pursley and moss rose, is a delightful survival plant with nearly a worldwide distribution. In the United States, this wild herb is considered to be a weed, but in some countries, it is cultivated on purpose. There are really good reasons for this, owing to food and medicinal value as well as the fact that it can grow in nutrient poor clay soil and can withstand drought conditions. All of this makes purslane a terrific survival food in times of trouble.

The wild plant has round stems and oval shaped fleshy leaves. It is classed as an annual, but it is also a succulent and grows readily from seeds. The plant usually grows close to the ground, though some species can grow as tall as 16 inches in height. The flowers are small and yellow, giving way to seed pods, each of which have many seeds. The pods pop open when the seeds are ripe.

Purslane is widely eaten in Europe, Asia, the middle east, Mexico, South and Central America and even Australia. The Greeks call this andrakla and cook the leaves and stems, mixing them with tomato, onion, garlic, olive oil and feta cheese.

The flavor is sour but mild, so it is good when eaten in salads, raw. The stems and leaves can also be fried, stir fried, steamed or boiled, with other ingredients or as a stand-alone potherb. The potherb is similar to spinach, though the plant doesn’t shrink as much as spinach does when it is cooked. This herb is great when used as an ingredient in soups and stews, such as wild stews, because it is slightly mucilaginous, in the way that mallow is, though not quite as much. In fact, moss rose is quite good when cooked with mallow. It can even be cooked in pastries, and this is a favorite way of preparation for the Turks.

Thicker stems can be pickled in much the way that cucumbers often are, too.

As a food, purslane is a healthy addition to the diet. The herb is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, fiber and is extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane is packed with antioxidants and appears to inhibit the growth of tumors, while preventing them from becoming cancerous. Few plants are higher in vitamin A, calcium or iron.

It has been and is used medicinally to treat insect bites, snake bites, bee stings, punctures, burns, boils, sunburn, rashes, and internally for diarrhea, bleeding in the digestive tract and hemorrhoids. For external use, the plant can simply be crushed and rubbed on. It can be made into an infusion, but this is seldom necessary.

In short, this wild herb is a powerhouse just waiting to help the survivalist or anyone else who wants to live healthier. It is found all over the place, is tasty and is easy to identify.

Picture by ZooFari, creative commons 3.0 unported attribution.

Last survival food in the series: Dock