Yesterday I began my first day of class at Stanford! Its called the Ecology of Cuisine: Food, Nutrition and the Evolution of the Human Diet. We went on a walk through campus foraging and taking a look at different varieties of plants, fruits, and edibles that are available in our immediate environment. We went to the cactus garden (pic), the edible garden and walked through the Main Quad. We found California wild flowers, chestnuts, currants, elderberries, kumquats, persimmons, avocados, and tons of fresh herbs! I picked bay leaves off trees and tucked some fresh sage into my bag. Sweet.
Later that afternoon, I went back to SMIP farm for a few hours to help out with transplanting, weeding, and shoveling compost. I brought Mary some homemade gluten free cookies (next blog post) and they sent me home with tons of fresh herbs. I was out there with a knife picking handfuls of wild lavender, bunches of chamomile, fresh thyme (with those lovely purple flowers, see first pic), rose geranium (which smells like perfume), and 3 different kinds of mint: spearmint, bergamot mint, and yes, CHOCOLATE mint!
I love fresh herbs, but they are always so expensive to buy in the store and their flavor and freshness die out so quickly, that it is hardly worth it. Buying this abundance of herbs would have cost me over $40 in the store, but just foraging and having friends, I got my delicious herbs a gratis. So go out and forage, or grow your own at home (I have oregano, parsley, mint, and rosemary plants)…your wallet, health and taste buds will thank you!
Herb tea was the perfect thing to unwind at the end of the day yesterday. I combined fresh mint, chamomile (stems an pods), rose geranium, and a strawberry to make a very light soothing tea. These herbs all have great healing properties too.
Strawberry Herb Tea
A few Mint leaves
A branch of Chamomile, leaves a pods
A Rose geranium flower
A few slices of a sweet, ripe strawberry
Rinse all your herbs and fruit. Bring a pot of water to boil. Reduce to a simmer and add all the herbs. Stir and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add strawberry in the last minute. Turn off, let cool slightly and strain into tea cups. Add ice for a hot afternoon iced tea (or infuse water with herbs, strawberry, and lemon in the sun– sun tea!).
Mustard Greens with Strawberries, Thyme, and Goat Cheese
Bunch of fresh mustard greens, rinsed and chopped into 1-1/2 in pieces
Sweet ripe strawberries, quartered
Olives (black or kalamata), halved
Juice of a lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme sprigs, remove stem
Optional: toasted pistachios or almonds
Place greens in a large salad bowl and add strawberries, olives, EVOO, lemon juice and salt. Toss to combine. Add fresh thyme to the goat cheese in a separate bowl and stir to combine. Crumble herbed goat cheese on top of salad and add toasted pistachios or other nuts if desired. Serve with freshly ground black pepper.