Monday, April 26, 2010

In Which We Hold A Nettle Stinging Competition

(The warning on this blender says: "Never block your intended recipient from placing a sock in their mouth")

Today I made something to clothe our lettuce leaves - and it was so good I took photographs to mark the event. I'm usually more of a vinaigrette kind of person, myself. You know: oil, vinegar, little mustard and honey, maybe some curry powder. Dump it into a canning jar and store it in the fridge. But today, I was inspired by the plethora of cucumbers in the fridge. Here they are in the blender with some parsley.
And here are some lemons before I squeezed their little hearts out. And some ginger. The parsley was just to add a frisson of excitement to the tableau. Nothing like a good frisson, eh?

Then I slowly added some olive oil, as you might to make a mayonnaise. A little yogurt. Your typical Green Goddess. I like to call this one a Green Dress, though. No goddesses in this house. Well, unless you count FDPG. I'm sure she'd like to be treated as a goddess.

But the real excitement came when we were gathering nettles. It seems that everyone I know is a huge nettle fan, and you know me and bandwagons: I jump on anything going by (if it's fun enough). Besides, my herb guru Susun Weed thinks all women should be drinking nettles. And who am I to argue with Susun Weed? It's not everyone who can get away with having two U's in their name when only one would do.

As a result, we've been actively seeking nettle patches this week. It's kind of weird how many people know about nettle patches. I put a post out on our local homeschool listserv asking for Recent Nettle Sightings and the replies came thick and fast. Today we were digging around in a massive patch in a rather posh neighbourhood behind the university, which had me slightly worried that some posh old lady might come huffing out of her house to chastize me and my giant plastic bag (and my clippers and my grubby sandals). This was the kind of place where all non-resident parking was Actively Discouraged. I had the only rogue car parked on the street. Then there were the twins, who were chortling most indelicately while hurling their Webkinz into the air (trying to land them in the nettle patch to see if Webkinz sustain nettle injuries or not). Max, being the Dignified Teen that he is (although I am not supposed to talk about him unless it makes him look smart and amazing), was sitting in the car pretending he had nothing at all to do with us. He had his sunglasses on and was examining a map intently. He obviously had no concern for the Webkinz and their potential nettle trauma.

It was when I was just finishing up that we started the Nettle Stinging Competition. A couple of weeks ago I was gathering nettles in a friend's yard and inadvertently stung myself. Well, okay, fine, I admit it - I did it deliberately. I wanted to know just how bad a nettle sting could be. It all started a long time ago when I worked for a university professor - a medievalist - who had me doing some research that led me past a weird little note in an old herbal: apparently nettle stings were considered an excellent cure for rheumatism. So I tried it on a hand I have that once got mashed by a Kitchen Aid. It's never been the same since. And the sting? It wasn't that bad. It was actually, dare I admit this, kind of interesting. Tingly. Pleasant even. Nothing painful or raw or nasty at all. And, being the irresponsible mother I obviously am, I must have mentioned this within hearing of the twins because they were all over the nettles.

"Can we get stung?"

"I want to get stung too."

I first made them promise not to blame me if they did suffer ill effects. There might have been a waiver involved...

Oh, honestly, I'm just kidding. (It was a verbal agreement only)

So we all dabbed our fingers onto the stinging bits of the nettles. Waved. Waited. Waved some more. And some of us even waved quite a few more times.

And after our highly empirical experiment our results were thus:

Nettles do not affect Dominic.
Nettles affect FDPG only mildly.
Nettle affect me only mildly unless I really rub my hand in a sea of them. Even then, there is no rash. Only a tingly feeling.

My bum hand is still bum. Nice and tingly, but still pretty much the same as before.
And look! Here, in our basement. Hanging nettles. Drying in the dark, greenly.

The Nettle Stinging Competition is over until another day.


Michelle said...

I love the squeezing the lemon hearts out thing. I'll have to say that the next time I'm squeezing a lemon. Has a nice, slightly violent ring to it.

That's strange, because my dh is forever going on about how horrendous and hideous nettle stings are. What a baby. Actually, he's probably never even been stung by one...there must have been a bandwagon going by that he couldn't resist...

Rebecca said...

You kids have all the fun!

sheila said...

A nice violent ring - Michelle, have I ever told you how much I admire your way with words? That sounds exactly what I do to those charming little yellow blobs.

You dh is a baby, obviously. I tried to get mine to run naked through them and he acted as though I was unreasonable. Honestly. In my mother's day men were men. Nowadays everyone's so concerned with comfort.

sheila said...

Come on with us, Rebecca. We'll let you go first next time!

Heather said...

I'm so glad you found a nettle patch, so nice to get it fresh. When I first saw your blender photo I thought you had some nettle in there for a smoothie, have you tried adding fresh nettle to a smoothie yet?

So interesting that nettle doesn't affect your son at all. I don't mind the tingly feeling from brushing against them but I noticed last time when I was pinching a bunch of stems bare-handed that after awhile my pinching fingertip was very much affected by it. It still felt sort of swollen and numbish the next day.

prinksl - I thought you might like that one.

Erin said...

I can only imagine the horror of the neighbourhood discovering a mother intentionally stinging her children with nettles! Are they home long enough to know that they are in fact, nettles??

Love how you hung them! I do need to buy some extra clothespins, anyways-perfect!

Andrea said...

congrats on joining the nettle bandwagon and thanks for the morning snorting laugh! I'm going to go drink my nettle infusion now... while not reading your blog so it won't come out my nose...

sheila said...

Heather, I didn't use nettle in the dressing, but I thought if you when I took that photo!

Erin, you'd be amazed at how effective this drying method was. Way better than my usual: put them in a paper bag and hang that paper bag. And no, I don't think those people even went OUTSIDE their houses.

Andrea! Do you drink nettles before or after you birth lambs?

Anonymous said...

Too funny! I would love to have seen peoples faces as you all were testing your nettle threshold.