Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mud-Luscious and Puddle-Wonderful

in Just-
spring    when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles    far    and   wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far     and     wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan       whistles

--E.E. Cummings

This may be my favorite Spring poem.  I shared it with Anne's 8th graders the other day and we had such a good discussion about it and they were able to 'get' it.  It was magical.  I recited it for the kids last night as we ate our favorite Spring tradition--nettle soup!  OM and kids and my kids and I went on the lovely hike yesterday to gather nettles and just get out in the gorgeous Spring weather.  It was a fantastic day:
Jack's ladybug friend

Gino and Caroline with special rocks and little daisies

They dammed up the creek!

Photo documentation of OM drinking her FIRST beer--a Newcastle Nutbrown Ale!

Angelina and Caroline taking a break from their dam work!
looking up at the sky through the trees' mossy arms

OM and I picked nettles while the rascals dammed up the little creek SO well, that it flooded over the trail.  Then, they had the job of unblocking the culvert, which took several jabs with long sticks, muddy hands and lots of determination.  But they did it and it was pretty exciting when the water started whooshing through again.  OM and I got a lot of tender nettles while the kids did their work.  The nettle plants were pretty small, but abundant.  In early Spring, their top leaves are sort of purple-ish-- lovely!  We of course wore gloves and plucked several leaves off of each plant, leaving enough for the plant to go on.  I filled about half of a paper grocery bag--enough for soup and a frittata, but I'd love to go back in a few weeks and get more for pesto.  Here's a few pics of the soup, followed by Greg Atkinson's delicious recipe:
This is right after I added them to the pot--they cook waaaaay down, like spinach.

My kids love nettle soup!  

 A bright sauvignon blanc would have been especially delish with this, but all I had was zinfandel--still good!
Greg Atkinson's Stinging Nettle Soup

Nettles lose their sting as soon as they're cooked to become a heavenly green leafy vegetable.  They taste like Spring itself!!!
(makes about 6 cups of soup)
1/2 pound (about 8 cups, packed) stinging nettle leaves
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper (I leave this out as my kids aren't pepper fans)
4 cups (1 box) chicken broth (I use low-sodium, organic)

1.  Pick over the nettles (wearing gloves) and remove any debris; pile them into a colander, give them a rinse.
2.  In a soup kettle over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil; add the sliced onion and saute', stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until it begins to color.
3. Stir in the potato chunks, nettles, garlic, and broth.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
4.  I used an immersion blender to chop it up, but you could also use a blender, in small batches, to puree' it.  (I think I'll do that for today's lunch.)  I also add a squeeze of lemon just before serving, to bring up the flavors.

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