Friday, 16 April 2010

Making the most of stinging nettles.

Being a stay-at-home Mum and having to make a very limited budget go far can be challenging but it was how I was brought up so I'm not short of an idea or two. My mother would make the sunday joint last 4 days at least and grew all her own veggies but somehow even she overlooked the usefulness of the highly nutritious stinging nettles. (Her homemade tomato sauce was bloomin' lovely though and so now I can't really bear ketchup!)

So today I 'harvested' the fresh young nettles at the bottom of our garden and used them for two things. Firstly, as I saw demonstrated on 'The Edible Garden' on BBC2 the other day, I put some in a bucket of water and have simply left it in the greenhouse. Eventually, according to Alys Fowle, it will start to stink and when it smells really bad it will be ready as a lovely tonic for the tomato plants. With the rest of the nettles I made soup. This is not as disgusting as it sounds and to prove it I can honestly say that whenever I make this, my husband and kids eat it all up. I mean, c'mon. If man and child will eat it, it must be ok!

It is not difficult to find a recipe but this is how I make mine:

Firstly, I make my own stock with left over chicken bones if we recently ate wings or drumsticks or the whole carcass. I put them in the slow cooker on low for 24 hours with about two and a half litres of water, a couple of chopped onions, a couple of cloves of garlic, a couple of sticks of celery (chopped), a teaspoon of paprika and a couple of bayleaves.

Next, I drained the liquid into a clean saucepan, added the stinging nettles (wear gloves and wash well!) and cooked them for about 20 minutes.

Then I liquidised and seasoned the soup and on this occasion I stirred in a little cream that I had left over in the fridge.

I've seen other recipes that I think included potato, but this version was delicious.

Oh, and, if you were wondering, nettles are very nutritious, rich in vitamins A,C &D, iron, calcium, manganese and potassium. They can also be eaten on the side, as a vegetable, like spinach.

More homemade treats:

Hubby made the kids these bows and arrows from stuff just lying around.

And then we went for a walk in the woods to collect fallen branches so that we could make little tents in the garden. They were fascinated with this hydrant sign so we talked about that for a bit.

Gotta go now. 'Ashes to Ashes' has just started. Luv it!

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