Archives for category: Medicinal Foods

Tatsoi in February

Do you wonder how you can join in the locovore movement when it’s so much easier running to the grocery after work and getting seduced by that plump red sweet pepper sitting proudly on the shelf? I feel the same way. Just taking one small step in the “eat what’s in season movement” can open the door to some delicious and healthy treats. Take for instance yesterday. I was rummaging around in the fridge and realized I had picked some tatsoi from the garden a few days back and it got lost behind some of my finds at the grocery. I was in such a hurry to get to work I dumped the bowl of tatsoi into my little glass lunch container along some grilled chicken and ran out the door. When lunch time came I pulled out my lot for the day and realized lunch was a bit slim, so I popped on over to Pasta and Co and picked up a little caesar dressing and a side of grilled veges. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the little spoon-shaped, slightly pungent tasting leaves of the tatsoi (spoon mustard). They were delicious, organic, a little bit of “home” at work and I realized I had been giving them the cold shoulder lately. I planted a 10″ square of seeds last fall of tatsoi  between some mixed winter greens and some left over lettuce struggling with the shorter days. It was a last-minute decision, I had read that tatsoi is a cold weather and fast growing green, why not try it along the collards, mustards, kale and peppercress? I planted the seeds close together since real estate was a bit scarce and thinking I would select the strongest seedlings to survive the winter. Before I knew it there was a happy crowded family in that little  space. So, this is what I did early winter. I yanked out the few remaining raggy unhappy stunted lettuces to make room for  the tatsoi,  each little one inch tall plant to its own spot, about 6″ apart.

Tatsoi ( front ) Kale and Mustards (back right)

It was gloomy and cold but I felt cautiously optimistic about these eager looking plants. I gently watered them with some compost tea. They grew slowly through the shortest days of the season but I did thin a few plants as they grew closer together and added the leaves to other leafy green salads and to stir fries too. In January Seattle got a thick snow fall that covered all of our winter greens and I wondered how those little plants would survive under the white blanket that lasted about four days. Guess what, they not only survived they were unscathed along with the other winter greens. I guess I am a doubting soul,  after all that is why I planted cold weather plants, geez louise, I feel like it is a miracle that those little tasty morsels are out there growing and ready to eat when we are still wearing wool and polar fleece to keep warm in the house. I love gardening. It is full of surprises, teaches patience, rislience….even hope. You would think after 40 years of being smitten with organic vegetable growing I would have a little more trust in the bounty the earth has to deliver. First, we need to plant the seeds and then have faith that nature will meet us eagerly.

Garden Calendar


Purchased seeds and seed starting mix

Planted spinach seeds in peat pots for a little experiment. Last year’s spinach sown directly in the soil had a low germination rate.

Planted Rainbow Swiss Chard seeds in a clay pot for the front porch

Organized and made a new box for seeds

Made a garden plan with Richard and reviewed last year’s winners and challenges

Divided crowded winter greens and transplanted  two each of the largest red kale and mustards to grow into larger plants

Mixed Winter Greens (used for harvesting young)


Kale, Collards, Mustards, Pepper Cress, Tatsoi

Rosemary, Bay leaves, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Thyme and Oregano

A few calendula flowers for salads

Still Eating

 stored spaghetti squash, butternut squash and delicata squash

We have a few little potatoes left and one big baking potato from last summer’s harvest


Plant lettuce  indoors and a few annual flower seeds

Plant  mustard, kale and collard seeds for fresh spring crop

Plant new rows of tatsoi

Dig up more grass to make way for  herbs and flowers

Cover up a bed with a plastic cloche to start drying it out for early pea planting

Lots more but those are the top ones for my list!

Dream of a beautiful bountiful garden

Goals for a healthier year:

Add more plain organic yogurt  (probiotics/calcium) into my diet, my daughter has strongly nudged me in this direction.

Learn to like sardines (high in omega 3’s and calcium)  Richard’s suggestion.  I bought a can at the co-op and I will eat those little things sometime this week,,,,eeks

Take turmeric daily as it is an amazing anti-inflammatory food.

Add ginkgo and coconut oil to my diet for brain food.

That’s a good start for me.

Ciao for now,



"Chanterelle and Shiitake Mushrooms"

It’s dark in the woods, it’s raining, dreary, what’s there to be happy about? Mushrooms! Lovely, golden chanterelle mushrooms raising their grand heads out of the damp forest floor. The perfect  side dish to warm your heart and stomach, sauteed chanterelles and shiitakes  in butter, a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt while cooking. Toss them into a bubbling cream sauce to stir into some freshly made pasta. Yum…..makes my heart happy to think of  it. Not only do mushrooms add a beautiful low note to sauces or sauteed veges they are so versatile they can be a grand main dish as in grilled portobellos. My favorite mushroom is the shiitake, which is not only delicious to eat but also has been used in Chinese  medicine dating back to 100 AD. The extracts of the shiitake are used in herbal medicine to help boost the immune system against certain cancerous tumors, heart disease and unwanted inflammation.  Recently on one of our first dreary days of autumn I was craving some comfort food. A warm bowl of sautéed mushrooms sounded appealing  so I picked up some fresh chanterelles and shiitakes from our local market. I love this time of year when there are piles of fresh chanterelles from forests close by. Even more I love when my adventurous  friend Brenda calls me up to tell me on her last hike she picked chanterelles and she saved some for me!   I don’t grow my own shiitakes yet but Seattle Tilth will be offering  a class this winter or early spring in growing the revered mushroom.  I love mushrooms and the thought of growing the mysterious fungi makes me crazy happy.  Other mushrooms I love are criminis, morels and porcinis, a gourmet delight my friends Dennis and Maria introduced me to after they returned from a year living in Italy .  One of the delights of tramping around wild places in Seattle is finding beautiful edible mushrooms growing nearby. The shaggy mane mushroom was pointed out to me earlier this year while walking one of the many wooded trails of our area. My friend Maria and I brought it home to her husband for positive identification and shortly after Dennis was cooking up a delicious shaggy mushroom treat.  Next weekend The Puget Sound Mycological Society will be hosting “The 2011 Wild Mushroom Show” at The Mountaineers at Magnusun Park, see the link below for more information. As you know, never eat a wild mushroom unless you are absolutely positively sure it will not kill you or make you bigger or smaller “Just ask Alice when she’s nine feet tall”

For more information on the “2011 Annual  Wild Mushroom exhibit” October 14th and 15th at Magnusun Park check out:

PSMS: Annual Wild Mushroom Show

Mushrooms are Highly Nutritious

I found in researching the medicinal qualities of mushrooms that they are highly nutritious. Mushrooms are full of protein and fiber, contain selenium, B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, polysaccharides, vitamin D and more.

Mushrooms: Fun Facts & Statistics

The Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

WHFoods: Mushrooms, crimini

Mushrooms Have Medicinal Qualities


NOTE: In researching the medicinal properties of mushrooms I found lots of information. Check out the links below which will give you a place to start. I found an article that button mushrooms both white and crimini are effective in boosting the immune system. In the last link I checked out  on the Puget Sound Mycologial Society’s page was a link to an article by Doctor Weil saying you should cook the button mushrooms thoroughly to prevent consuming toxins. The information can be confusing but my love of mushrooms will give me the strength to carry on.

Shiitake Mushroom

Are Mushrooms Good For Your Health? – Dr. Weil

The anti-cancer diet – introducing a healthy new way of life | Mail 

Medicinal mushrooms – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

                                                 Cooking Mushrooms

There are many ways to cook a mushroom but I usually opt for the easiest way:

Brush off or rinse the mushrooms, I usually place them upside down on a paper towel for a couple of minutes to dry

Slice in whichever way you want. I usually like mushrooms sliced, halved or quartered lengthwise depending on the shape of the mushroom and what dish it is going in

Heat up  the butter and/or olive  oil  on medium high heat until bubbly, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan then throw in the mushrooms, sprinkle a little salt over the top and let them brown a little and stir until they look softened and golden, about 5-10 minutes

shiitakes can be a little tough so I allow more time for them to cook and soften before adding more delicate mushrooms like the chanterelle if I am combining the two

All Time Favorite Side Dish of Button Mushrooms

Clean and trim the stems off  the white button or crimini mushrooms (save the stems  to use in other dishes)

Allow at least three per person and even at that you will be fighting over these tasty treats

Melt equal parts butter and olive oil in a heavy saute pan on medium-high heat (I use my iron skillet and just enough butter and oil to cover bottom of pan when melted) you can add more oil or butter if needed during cooking

When the butter and oil are melted and sizzley hot add the mushrooms cap down, sprinkle with  salt

When the tops are rich toasty brown, turn them over and cook until brown and tender

It will probably take about 4 minutes a side if the burner is good and hot

The heat needs to be high enough to brown the mushrooms quickly so stay in the kitchen and pay close attention, I keep tongs handy to turn each one separately

I add a little more salt at this point

This is amazingly easy and delicious

The simplicity of the ingredients lets the mushroom flavor shine!

Other ways I use mushrooms:

Roast or saute and add to lasagna, casseroles, quiche, burritos, dips

Add mushrooms to stir fries, rice pilafs, omelets and pasta salads

Wild Mushrooms of October — Grow Food Seattle

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